Journey to Antarctica – Day 3
Today started with a rather early get-up. 2am to be precise. I’d really struggled to get to sleep so by the time my alarm sounded 2:00 am, I felt like I’d only been asleep for around 20 minutes. Groggy beyond belief. However, after a not-so-warm shower (cold in fact), I was soon dressed, packed and down in the hotel foyer the rest of the tour members, helping myself to some much needed coffee. At around 3:00 am out two coaches were fully loaded and on our way to Santiago airport only for ours having to return briefly to the hotel as one member of our team (who shall remain nameless) realised he forgotten his laptop of all things.
Our flight to Punta Arenas in southern Chile took around 3 hours, and we all soon became aware of the big temperature change from the summer heat of Santiago to the cool and windy 8 degrees presented to us as we border the coaches for our 20 minute journey to our downtown hotel. Fleeces and jackets suitably adorned.
The hotel Rey Don Filipe was pleasant and modern and I was now sharing a room with my future shipmate buddy, Dominic. We had some free time to explore Punta Arenas, before each having to attend a boot fitting to size up the rubber boots we would required for our trip to the Antarctic. A presentation from the Antarctica XXI tour operation team followed a little later which included things like safety and how to dress for the zodiac boats and landings. The each member of our group, suitable adorned with rather large name tags, were asked to stand up and say a little about ourselves and our passion for photography. It was an eclectic mix, with the majority from the USA and Canada, but also a sizeable (and noisy) bunch from Australia, as well as a smattering of Brits, Swiss, Polish, Irish and even someone from Israel. All, I have to say, a pleasant and friendly bunch; rather different from my previous trip!
The day ended with a trip out to one of Punta Arenas premier restaurants set within a delightful old colonial house. Good food and plenty of wine were enjoyed by all during which it was announced the weather for the following day was good and our flight to Antarctica would go ahead in the morning. You could feel the anticipation rising. We were going to Antarctica!