Saturday, January 27, 2024

Antarctica 2023-4 - Days 0-1 - 12/25-6/2023 - To Ushuaia

This trip had been in the making for a long time; but the timing turned out not to be so great from a personal health perspective. Fran and I decided in February 2023 to pull the trigger on the Antarctica trip that we had been considering for a few years. We booked a 14 day tour through Intrepid Travel, mostly because they had offered a discount to Googlers last year (though sadly not this year). The bad timing part is that I somehow came down with prostatitis (an inflamed prostate) in early September, and, despite a few attempted treatment methods, have since had an overactive bladder and frequent pelvic discomfort. Needless to say, this is less than an ideal situation for the trip we are calling our honeymoon; never mind the tens of thousands of dollars we spent on it. You can imagine that I've been stressed out about this for a while, and stress is a contributor to prostatatis and can make symptoms worse. And unfortunately, the previously somewhat manageable symptoms began to flare up much worse 2 days before the trip.

We left on Christmas day, taking an 11ish hour overnight flight from JFK to Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires. I'll spare the details, but mention that the pelvic discomfort made this the most uncomfortable flight experience that I've had (though keeping in perspective that there are many people in much worse situations). Thankfully I had Fran there for support and reassurance; and it helped to have the two outer seats on the Boeing 767, giving us unobstructed access to the aisle. We both managed to get a few hours of (admittedly low quality) sleep during the night.

We arrived at EZE a little after 10am, and then had a 5pm flight from the other Buenos Aires airport, Aeroparque, to Ushuaia. The line to get through immigration was initially overflowing the queuing area, but things sped up as they distributed the foreigners to the VIP and Argentinian lines once those had receded. As we exited customs we found a stand for Tienda León, a company that we knew offered a shuttle bus between the airports. We also found out there that they offered a taxi transfer, so we opted for that instead - it was about twice as much as 2 tickets for the bus, but would get us there much faster (an immediate 45 minute ride vs waiting 45 minutes until noon and then a 1.5 hour ride).

We got to Aeroparque (which is just north of downtown) around noon, 5 hours before the flight. We couldn't check in until 2pm, so we found a cafe to grab a quick bite and then wandered around the airport grounds for a bit, looking for an outdoor seat to enjoy the nice weather (it was sunny and around 70° Fahrenheit). I was still dealing with discomfort and frequent urination, but managing. Matters were not helped by the discovery that the wheels of my (admittedly old) giant suitcase had both cracked in half; but they were thankfully still usable. We checked in and dropped off the luggage just past 2pm. We both noticed that our suitcases were tagged with "Sky Priority" by the agent, but didn't think much of it at the time. We next exited the airport grounds and walked across the road to check out the Christopher Columbus monument by the water, then returned to go through security.

Upon lining up to board the 4 hour flight, we found out that we were to board in the Sky Priority line. At that point we realized that our seats in the first row of the plane were probably not ordinary seats - they turned out to be in first class, something Fran didn't know when she selected them (and they were not expensive tickets either). That surprise certainly made the flight less uncomfortable, given my state at the time.

Flying into Ushuaia

After landing in Ushuaia we made our way to the taxi stand. There were a man and woman from an earlier flight in front of us who were trying to figure out how to make it to somewhere far, as they had missed their transfer from the airport. We didn't think too much of it at the time (besides that it was an unfortunate situation), but they would end up having an impact on our trip by the next day. We took a taxi into town to our hotel for the night - Isla Bonita Suites. We were both quite tired by now, and didn't stay up much later.


My favorite pictures from the trip can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.