Conquering Antarctica. The 7th continent, the final frontier, the land of the penguins

I don’t remember when I first mentioned Antarctica to my friends but it’s been years.

If you ask someone to mention 5 things they think about when you say Antarctica, “penguins” is guaranteed to be one of them.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a great fondness for penguins. There is just something adorable about their posh always-wearing-a-smoking lifestyle in a mini-world where no-one else is around; even though most of the rest of the world doesn’t seem to appreciate it for anything else than vast, cold and inhospitable.

Adult penguins don’t have alot of natural enemies as there simple aren’t anyone else that bothers going where they go (okay, there are a few enemies but not many) – the inanimate nature, on the other hand, is different story!

This is good, because except for their flappy flippers, they are virtually defenceless. Although, thinking about it, their incessive squawking and their godawful smell is probably enough to deter all but the most hardened.

So why am i rambling on about penguins when the title of this post is Antarctica? Because, of course, if you ask someone to mention 5 things they think about when you say Antarctica, “penguins” is guaranteed to be one of them (ice, snow and cold are other excellent candidates).

They are such an integrated part of the antarctic landscape and the main reason why I want to go there.

So, the point is that I’ve wanted to go for quite some time. Some people want to buy a car, some people want to renovate their house and since I’ve already done both, I’ve decided to spend it on a trip to Antarctica. I’ll get into the cost of this adventure in another post after the trip is done so hold tight – spoiler – it ain’t cheap, folks!

However, with a steep price tag, only a 5 month season and a trip to “Fin Del Mundo”/”End of the World” aka Ushuaia at the tip of south Argentina to even begin your journey, only about 34.000 people a year make it to Antarctica.

There are of course other compelling reasons like bucketlist checkboxes and bragging rights. Having conquered the 7th and final continent ensues monumental bragging rights. However, with a steep price tag, only a 5 month season and a trip to “Fin Del Mundo”/”End of the World” aka Ushuaia at the tip of south Argentina to even begin your journey, only about 34.000 people a year make it to Antarctica. Which is of course also a big part of the reason why it’s so unspoiled, raw and pristine.

I realized, that since the season is so short and because it’s time for me to go back and work it might very well be now or never that I’ll able to have the time, money and energy to embark on such an expedition.

From here, everything happened very fast – see if you can hold on!

  • On the 13th of November, 2018 I booked a one way ticket to Ushuaia hoping to go from bureau to bureau to find that sweet last-minute deal.
  • On the 16th of November, 2018 I found that deal.
  • On the 26th of November, 2018 I will embark on the journey of a lifetime.

The man on the phone gave me 12 hours to accept the offer he had found.

The man on the phone gave me 12 hours to accept the offer he had found. “Now or never”, he said. “This is it”, he said.” It checks off all your boxes”, he said. “I called everyone – this is the one”, he said. “You can pay by credit card”, he said, “Tina will take care of you”.

And with that my dream was about to become a reality.

Antarctica and penguins

I will be posting more about this trip, so stay tuned. There is no internet on the boat, so the posts will be slightly delayed until after I’ve returned.

Free camping on the beach on Maui, Hawaii

We rented a car for a few days, bought a tent in Walmart and went free camping. Free camping is free camping on public land.

Can you do it on Maui? Absolutely. Is it legal? meeeeeehh. Ish.

It’s tolerated and if you stick to a few rules, you’ll be fine. Ask me in comments if you want advice.

 

This is the view when we wake up in the tent – I mean, holy smokes. The night before we actually very seriously feared that the tide would swallow our tent!

When you wake up, you’re in the middle of the obscenely beautiful landscape that is Maui. You’ll be enjoying this view all day and all the beaches are spectacular!

So what are you waiting for? Hawaii doesn’t have to be so expensive.

Contact me on your favourite social media or here in the comments if you want advice or just want to chat

 

i,

“Are we there already?”, aka riding a bullet train (shinkansen) in Japan

Tokyo is a busy city

We’ve been in Japan for a few days now and we’ve posted a few pictures on Instagram about the hustle and the bustle of this insanely busy city.

There are literally more people walking than cars – this is a complete u-turn compared to the scooter heavy streets of South East Asia.

Tokyo has an extremely functional public transportation system. It makes the city calm even with this many people. There are literally more people walking than cars – this is a complete u-turn compared to the scooter heavy streets of South East Asia.

Bullet trains

Speaking of Public transportation, we’ve been on one of the famous shinkansens (or bullettrains). They are rather pricy but tourists can buy 1/2/3 week passes – a bit like interrail.

Bullettrain in Japan
The bullettrain in Japan is arriving at Shin-Shirakawa station, heading for Tokyo

The trains are hella cool. We took the first train from Tokyo and even though they have 22 platforms, with trains arriving every 10 minutes (on each(!) platform) they are not late.

On time

The trains arrive 3 minutes before departure. Everyone is lined up outside in marked areas for people going on the 1st departure and 2nd departure respectively. When the train comes – everyone enters and the train is moving within minutes. At the smaller stations it’s not even a minute.

After departure the people in the line for 2nd departure move into the line for 1st departure and the loop repeats itself.

As an example we’re going from Shin-Shirakawa to Kyoto and with the bullet train it’s about 3 hours (+ half an hour getting to/from the station) for a total of about 4 hours door-to-door. With car, on the premium expressways, it’s 8 hours!!!

I mean, even a plane couldn’t do the roughly 600km’s in a straight line faster than that!

Once inside

Once inside, you’ll see that the trains are spacious, the seats lean way back, there’ll be a nice lady with a trolley selling snacks and even though I clocked it at almost 300 km/h, it’s dead quiet. Even the people are quiet – in fact, the Japanese are not loud people under any circumstances!

I’ve been on a train in Myanmar going 45km/h’s and the sound was deafening. It felt like the whole train would fall apart any minute. Trains are not just trains!

Futhermore, they’re even talking about magnet trains coming soon, with speeds up towards 800 km/h. It’s absolutely bonkers and it blows my mind how they do it when the trains in the rest of the world are struggling at maybe 130km/h

I’m writing this as I’m sitting comfortably, leaned back, using high-speed free WiFi on the train.

Conclusion

There’s a reason bullet trains are so famous. They are amazing and I’m thoroughly impressed with them