Travel to Antarctica with Borton Overseas | By Alyssa Thompson

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AN EXPLORATION TO THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD

Antarctica is.
Antarctica is: a continent.
Antarctica is: 5.405 million square miles.
Antarctica is: primarily composed of rock, ice, and snow.

Antarctica is.
Antarctica is: a continent.
Antarctica is: 5.405 million square miles.
Antarctica is: primarily composed of rock, ice, and snow.
Antarctica is: dry and high. In fact, it is the highest and driest continent in the world.
Antarctica is: cold (although the summer averages between 32° and 40°F along the peninsula).
Antarctica is: isolated; even the water currents don’t allow for warmer water to penetrate.
Antarctica is: home to a penguins, seals, birds and whales.
Antarctica is: pristine.
Antarctica is: beautiful.
Antarctica is: mysterious.
Antarctica is.

The above list is what Antarctica is to most people. The list is true and yet it seems flat and lifeless, unlike the continent it is meant to define. That is because Antarctica is more than just a sum of its parts. Antarctica is a feeling, a distant memory of what the world used to be, and it leaves an imprint on your heart. Antarctica can be a harsh and brutal place to live, and yet ironically it is the place that I felt the most alive. Antarctica is otherworldly and at the same time the most earthly place I have ever been.

My name is Alyssa, and I recently traveled to the White Continent with Borton Overseas’ On the Keels of Giants Signature Journey as one of the two group leaders. I have worked for Borton Overseas for the past two years and done my fair share of traveling, but this expedition-style cruise to the bottom of the world is by far the most unique trip I have ever taken. I mean, “expedition” can be a scary word for someone for whose idea of camping means a cabin with working plumbing. But I had always enjoyed cruising and having grown up in Minnesota, I wasn’t scared of a little ice and snow.

The trip began with a series of three flights from Minneapolis, MN to Punta Arenas, Chile, where we boarded Hurtigruten’s newly refurbished Midnatsol and set sail for the Antarctic Peninsula. Although our Signature Journey group comprised only 14 travelers, there were 398 passengers on board the ship. Despite a diverse mix of passengers from all walks of life and from all over the world, it felt like we were a small community of neighbors, united in our desire to explore the extraordinary White Continent. Each day I would find myself comparing experiences with my fellow travelers around the dinner table; we may have all explored the same place, but we definitely took away different things.

The ship itself was small in comparison to the large Caribbean cruises I was familiar with, but it wasn’t lacking in amenities. There wasn’t a pool, shows, or a casino, but my cabin was comfortable, the food was delicious, and the expedition staff was attentive and knowledgeable. The Midnatsol is actually one of the largest ships sailing the peninsula that can still do a landing on the Continent. While there are options for a more intimate experience on a smaller ship, the added stability and steadiness of the Midnatsol is worth considering when crossing the occasionally ferocious waters of the Drake Passage. We were indeed happy to have that added stability on our return journey through a hurricane!

I will never forget our first landing in Antarctica. We stepped out of the Zodiac onto a rocky beach and into the very different world of Half Moon Island. We were greeted by a few grumpy-looking Chinstrap penguins, who ignored us as they waddled about doing their penguin business, two lazy-looking fur seals, and the remains of an old wooden boat. After a shore briefing and a group photo, we dispersed to explore. I spent the next hour and a half climbing the rocky beach watching penguins jump, seals play, and seabirds soar through the cloudy blue sky.

In Antarctica only 100 people can go ashore at any given time, so our landing times were staggered. It didn’t feel like the beach was crowded; there was space to roam, and plenty of places to sit down and just soak up the scenery. It was the perfect setting to just listen, to just breathe. To just … be.

And then it was time to swim. My polar plunge in Antarctica was one of my favorite experiences. It was exhilarating, exciting, and, yes, cold! We stripped down to our swimwear, waddled into the water (much like the penguins), flopped around for a few moments (much like the seals), took a quick dunk complete with some sputtering (just like the whales), and then it was back to the ship to warm up with some hot chocolate and a hot shower! It was brief, but definitely worth it!

We landed a total of six times along the peninsula. Each day was a new adventure; occasionally we had to find alternative places to land/cruise due to unfavorable seas, rogue icebergs, or wind, but our captain and crew were flexible, efficient, and knowledgeable. We always found something incredible to see and do!
Antarctica is: dry and high. In fact, it is the highest and driest continent in the world.
Antarctica is: cold (although the summer averages between 32° and 40°F along the peninsula).

February 6: Cape Horn (Chile)
February 8: Half Moon Island
February 9: Damoy Point
February 10: Neko Harbour
February 11: Gonzalez Videla & Waterboat Point
February 12: Cuverville Island
February 13: Whalers Bay/Deception Island

Antarctica changed me. I have been back home for a month now. I notice the change most in moments of calm that surface in my fairly hectic life, when the man-made world fades giving way to a misty land of snow and ice in my mind. And in the moment when a bird swooping across the sky, reminds me of a Wandering Albatross, come to call me back. I have become an explorer, and the compulsion to GO has grown stronger. Every doorway holds the possibility of a new adventure; every road has the potential to lead somewhere new and exciting. Next time, and yes, there will be a next time, I want to see more. I want to cross the Antarctic Circle, go farther inland, camp overnight, and maybe even stay for an Antarctic winter.

Before I left on this trip, I was asked the question, “Why Antarctica?” At the time I didn’t really know; all I could say was that I wanted to go. But after experiencing it, I better understand the “why.” You should go to Antarctica to understand how vital its eco-system is to our planet and why it should be protected. You should go to see how beautiful our Earth is, in the one place where it hasn’t changed for thousands of years. But really, you should go because you will find something about yourself that you didn’t know was there.

Although it is one of the coldest places on the planet, Antarctica will be sure to melt your heart.

Antarctica is.

Join us to learn more about this extraordinary journey to Antarctica and how you can start planning your own at Borton Overseas’ upcoming travel Seminar at Norway House April 12. Follow this link for more details.

1-800-843-0602  |  info@bortonoverseas.com 

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Norway House Hosts

send off party for Ambassador Samuel Heins

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A bon-voyage reception was held at Norway House on Thursday, March 3 celebrating the appointment of Minnesota attorney Sam Heins as the new Ambassador to Norway! Sam, his wife Stacey Mills, along with his 97 year old mother were honored by a group of Norwegian American leaders, college presidents, political leaders including Governor Dayton, and Norway House supporters. After a lengthy approval process, Ambassador Heins fills the position that has been vacant for nearly 900 days. Senator Amy Klobuchar was instrumental in moving the process along to final approval. We look forward to frequent updates from the Ambassador and his wife about their time in Norway. We know that all Americans will be well represented by their leadership.

To view more photos from the event, follow this link:

 

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SENATOR KLOBUCHAR Visits Norway House

Senator Klobuchar Welcomes Samuel Heins as Ambassador 

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The Norwegian-American community gathered on February 13th at Norway House to celebrate the nomination of Samuel Heins as US Ambassador to Norway. Senator Amy Klobuchar welcomed the new Ambassador after 869 long days pending in congress. Speaking on Heins, Ms. Klobuchar stated, “Minnesota is home to more people of Norwegian heritage than anywhere except Norway itself, so it is only fitting that the new ambassador hails form our state.”

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To view more photos from this event, please follow this link: http://amphotography78.pixieset.com/senatoramyklobucharnorwayhouse/

 

 

 

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Embrace Norway’s Wonders

Join Borton Overseas on a guided tour through Norway!

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August 12-23, 2016

Join Borton Overseas on this delightful guided tour through Norway! This 12-day tour features many of Norway’s most popular highlights with some exclusive small group experiences sprinkled throughout. Explore the Nordic cityscapes of Oslo and Bergen, ride the famous Flåm Railway, cruise through the legendary beauty of Sognefjord and travel up the western coast aboard Hurtigruten’s Midnatsol for an authentic taste of Norway! This incredible adventure also includes special group activities, including a piano recital at the former home of composer Edvard Greig, a visit to a husky farm accompanied by lunch in a Viking long house and a King Crab safari and feast in Kirkenes!

Host David Engen

Embrace Norway’s Wonders is an exclusive Borton Overseas Signature Journey. Signature Journeys are premier tours hosted by Borton Overseas’ Destination Specialists (and sometimes special guest hosts) to the destinations we offer. This tour will be co-hosted by Borton Overseas Scandinavia Specialist Nicole Anderson and David Engen, the 2015 winner of Alt for Norge, a Norwegian reality show where Norwegian-Americans compete for the chance to meet their relatives and find out more about their personal heritage. This tour has been specially crafted to feature some of his favorite experiences from his time on the show! With David and Nicole’s insights and personal experiences leading the way, this trip is sure to entice both first time and seasoned travelers to truly embrace Norway’s wonders.

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Price from $4,205 per person land and cruise

Receive a free cabin upgrade* on Hurtigruten now through March 20! Use Code: NH-Upgrade when booking. Space is limited; call to reserve your spot today!

*Restrictions apply. Cabin upgrade is only valid in conjunction with this package. Call for details.

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