Over 10 years I wanted to go to Antarctica. This February I actually did it. I gained a lot of impressions and experiences and I lost a dream.
Since my return I have tried several times to describe this trip. There is so much I could tell about: the friendly people in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia; our fantastic expedition leader Alex from G Adventure; the Drake Passage and the long periods of seasickness; the gigantic icebergs in their gorgeous colour variations from white to blue to emerald green; the Antarctic silence; the cruises among seals, sea leopards and whales; the abandoned and active stations (I met more people in the uninhabited Antarctica than in the inhabited Arctic.); the experience to cross the Arctic circle; the unique landscape of the Antarctic main land; the calving of the glaciers; the knowledge to partake of a world, which we destroy with such a vehemence, that already the generation following us will not see it, as we did; passing Cape Horn while the albatrosses fly around the ship; and of course the penguins, these cute gentlemen in tailed coats, who measure 45 cm and have a self-assurance as if they would measure 2 m. But I don’t know how to put all these into words.
In Red Rock Ridge, the southernmost point of our journey a fellow traveller from Australia and I were watching a small colony of Adélie penguins when he suddenly asked: "How can one describe this to the people at home?" We both agreed: "One cannot. One has to experience it." We can give an account of our journey, we can show photos and videos but this doesn’t cope with Antarctica. Maria Semple wrote: "[…] if Antarctica could talk, it would be saying only one thing: you don’t belong here." Maybe Antarctica punishes us for trespassing with the course, that none who has ever been there is able to describe what it really means to have visited Antarctica.
When I was back in Vienna it was -16°C. The lowest temperature I had experienced in Antarctica was -1°C. Everyone who asked me: “How was it in Antarctica?”, I answered: “Warmer.”