Journey to Antarctica – Day 1
Well this is something new for me. Writing a blog whilst on the plane. I’m not usually one of those who gets a laptop out and works while flying, and in this case I’m travelling without my iPad, but do have my new 11-inch Macbook Air. The Macbook Pro has been swapped for a rather diminutive but extremely lightweight Macbook Air. The reason? Well I’m on my way to Antarctica (currently en route to Santiago), but this time flying from Punta Arenas in Southern Chile to King George Island in the South Shetlands Islands, where I board my ship. I’m restricted to just 20kg on that flight which includes both check-in and hand carry luggage. I’ve spent the last couple of days swapping in and out gear trying to get the weight down, which hasn’t been an easy task, and so far I haven’t quite managed it. Luckily we’ve been told we can leave some stuff at our hotel in Punta Arenas, so my final decisions on what goes can be addressed later.
Well I’m now at my hotel in Santiago. I’ve chosen to arrive a day prior to the tour start since I simply don’t trust the airlines enough to get you and your baggage to your destination together on time. It seems at least half the participants thought the same, and one at least has arrived without his bags. My BA/Iberia flights were basic but OK; the Madrid to Santiago section a rather tedious 12-1/2 hours, but I did manage to get a few hours sleep. I felt quite rested upon arrival but the feeling of relaxed anticipation was soon dissipated by the experience getting through Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. The queue for immigration in a hot un-aircondition hall was horrendous, and took almost an hour an a half to get to the front of the line. That was followed by utter chaos in the baggage hall. There was no indication what-so-ever of my flight or which baggage carousel to collect it from. I eventually found it buried under several others piled up in a corner. At least it had arrived. An almost equally long queue then followed to get my bags scanned at customs before I finally made it out to the arrivals hall. Quite the worst 2-1/2 hours airport experience I’ve encountered for many a year.
Luckily I met one of the course instructors, Kevin Raber, just about to get into a taxi, so shared the ride to our hotel in central Santiago. Now rested, showered, and beer in hand, I’ve had the chance to chat with some of the other people about to share this voyage to Antarctica.