Christmas in Antarctica

I am not a morning person.

When I heard the churning of the ship’s motor getting louder, I groaned and tried to grasp onto the remaining moments of sleep, hating the location of our cabin. As the offending noise continued, waking me up a little more, I suddenly realized what that noise meant.

It meant the ship was slowing down, preparing to stop. Which meant we had arrived. All the anticipation of planning a trip to Antarctica led to this.

I think Amanda realized it at about the same moment because we looked over at each other, and then jumped out of our beds to look out the tiny circular windows of our cabin. We couldn’t have been happier that they had upgraded us from an inside cabin to an outside one.

travel to Antarctica
our first view of Antarctica, taken through the window of our cabin

The morning sun bounced off the snow and the ocean as we slowly sailed closer. We stared out those windows, unable to stop smiling. This was what we had been waiting for, and we were finally there. Months of anticipation at home, long flights, buses, more than a week on a cruise ship with too many at-sea days, and I was smiling so much my face hurt. It was worth the seasickness we endured while crossing the Drake Passage. We couldn’t wait to check out some of the activities we could do in Antarctica.

travel to Antarctica - me and Amanda in front of Cape Horn
me and Amanda in front of Cape Horn about to enter Drake Passage

Remember when you were a kid, and you woke up on Christmas Day bursting with excitement because you could finally run down to the tree and open your presents? When Christmas was the best day of the year, the only day you didn’t mind getting up ridiculously early?

The day we reached Antarctica was the first time I felt that way since I was probably seven years old. Amanda and I were two little kids impatiently waiting to open our gifts of snow-covered mountains, icebergs, and penguins. Last year, Christmas came in February, and Santa Claus lived at the South Pole.

travel to Antarctica - iceberg with tiny birds on it
See those tiny black things on the iceberg? Those are birds. That’s how big the iceberg was.
travel to Antarctica - Paradise Bay penguins
Penguins at Paradise Bay. Trust me, it didn’t smell like paradise.
travel to Antarctica - penguins
More penguins!
travel to Antarctica - penguins
Even more penguins!
travel to Antarctica
Paradise Bay, Antarctica, 7 February 2009

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