The Tale Begins…

First, to explain how we ended up going to Antarctica. A couple years ago Teri Stoner told us about a guy in Seattle who offered fantastic trips at incredibly low prices. To find out what he offers you have to subscribe to his free e-mail called Travel With Alan. So we did. And, sure enough, about every two weeks we received e-mails with incredible deals, all tied to the cruise industry.

In 2010 we took a cruise to Alaska, which was a fantastic experience. But, generally when we travel, it is just Dianne and me and we go at our own pace to places we have checked out on line many times over. Traveling with large groups on tight time lines has very little appeal. We travel for the experience, not just the sights.

Last year Dianne retired and, in addition to the many blessings that retirement brings, we how had the opportunity to look at travel over the winter months when prices are generally lower. After some discussion, we decided that this would be a perfect time to plan a trip to Hawaii, a place we have never been. So, I began the usual research, we talked to people who had been there, and we were literally within hours of nailing down plane trips and making reservations, when all of sudden we get an e-mail from Travel with Alan offering a huge discount for a trip to Antarctica!

Prior to receiving this e-mail we were not even aware that such a trip was possible, so it was nowhere on our “must see” priority list. Dianne and I received the e-mail separately, but we quickly agreed that this would be the trip of a lifetime and it was within our original budget for Hawaii. Within 24 hours after receiving the notice, we booked it.

Now, this is not just a trip to Antarctica. It begins in Santiago, Chile at the end of January, stops at a number of ports, rounds Cape Horn (a sailor’s dream) and proceeds to the frozen continent. After three days there, we head north to the Falkland Islands, then to Montevideo, Uruguay and finishes with two days in Buenos Aires, ending on February 18.

Well, not only was Antarctica not on our radar screen, the same could be said of almost all of South America. Our interests have long been in other places, especially Europe. At the time be booked the trip we knew almost nothing about Chile and the Falklands and very little about Argentina, except we had seen Madonna in the movie version of Evita. That was pretty much it.

These places at this time of year are in the last throes of summer, so we would be going from summer to winter and back to summer all in the course of a few weeks. Packing is never easy, but in this case it was a twisted puzzle. When we go overseas we just pack a carry-on, but we knew we’d never get away with that on this trip. It was too long and covered all four seasons. Plus, in a cruel twist, the cruise ship has formal nights. So, to the carry-ons we added one larger bag each. These were barely enough.

In spite of very short notice and all the other challenges, though, on January 27 found ourselves at the Cleveland airport, bound for Santiago.

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