Exploring Antarctica

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“Good morning everybody…”

We awoke on day three to expedition leader Cheryl’s silky voice announcing over the loud speaker that we were about to enter the famous Lemaire Channel, a spectacularly narrow passage lined with towering peaks, walls of ice, and jagged glaciers. I pulled back the blackout curtains to discover the waters dotted with icebergs; minke whales surfaced just off our window. We and our fellow passengers took to the decks staring in all directions, oohing and awing at the epic awesomeness of it all. Penguins leapt through the water alongside the ship, others sat on chunks of ice drifting through the channel. This was the Antarctic dream.

Our first excursion took us to the surreal iceberg graveyard off Pleneau Island. Our zodiac driver Derek, who leads walking (!!!) tours to view polar bears in Churchill, Canada when he’s not exploring the poles, slowly Continue…

Setting Sail across the Drake Passage

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Setting sail for Antarctica was easily one of the most exciting moments of our lives. Boarding the Akademik Sergey Vavilov felt like we were boarding a ship to an alien world. There was a palpable sense of epicness, of venturing into the unknown, that is quite rare in the 21st century. I’m sure my fellow shipmates felt much the same. One by one, we walked up the ramp into the converted Russian research vessel to be greeted by our One Ocean Expeditions crew. From the first handshake, it was clear that the trip was going to be “awesome”.

Thomas and I slowly made our way up to the fifth deck taking in the details along the way. Signs and labels were all in Russian with English subtitles where necessary. Raised door portals and steep functional staircases distinguished the Vavilov from typical cruise ships. This baby was designed for real Continue…

Ushuaia: The City at the End of the World

Cumbres del Martial, Ushuaia

Half the articles out there about Ushuaia reference the “end of the world” or the “fin del mundo.” Yes, the title has become a cliche, but this is precisely Ushuaia’s claim to fame: it is the legendary city at the edge of the earth. In the old days, this is where they used to draw dragons and prophesy that sailors would sail into the abyss. In modern times, we’ve Continue…

Argentina’s Blue Market

Argentina's blue market

NOTE: As of December 2015, the Argentinian government has lifted its control on the foreign-exchange market. From this point on, normal bank exchange rates should apply. This means visitors can use their credit and ATM cards and exchange foreign currency in banks without loosing any money.

During our travels in Argentina, we will be referencing the country’s “blue market”. For visitors to Argentina, understanding the country’s currency issues, its blue market, and the associated problems for travelers is absolutely ESSENTIAL. Even if you aren’t immediately headed to Argentina, the topic is pretty surprising and definitely worth a read.

The Basics

In 2007, the government of Argentina instituted currency controls which severely limited the exchange of Argentinian pesos into dollars. This created a black market for the illegal trade of pesos for dollars. Continue…

Buenos Aires

Thomas in La Boca

After almost six months of incredible adventures in Peru, we’ve finally moved on to Argentina. Our first stop is the country’s glamorous capital Buenos Aires. We came to Buenos Aires with the specific goal of slowing down, staying in one place for a while, and catching up on work (yes, travel blogging is more than just traveling).

In real time (as opposed to blog time), we have been in Buenos Aires for over a month. To be honest, we have had some difficulty with the transition to Argentina. When we first got here Continue…