My mother inspired our trip to Antarctica. At 72, she’d visited six of the seven continents and had only one more left to go—Antarctica. My brother and I weren’t about to let Mom go on this adventure of a lifetime alone; so we joined her that January of 2010. On the ten year anniversary, it seems a fitting time to revisit that moment in time.

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The three of us, along with my father, had been on big family vacations over the years, but nowhere on earth—no matter how extraordinary, is comparable to Antarctica. The forgotten continent (some world maps don’t bother to include it) is like Mars: remote, void of any visible plant life and indescribably extraordinary. It’s one of the strangest and most beautiful places on earth!

The journey to our peculiar, icy destination began in Argentina. We flew into Buenos Aires and spent a couple days there immersed in many of the typical tourist attractions—tango lessons, a tour of the colorful La Boca neighborhood and dinner at La Cabaña restaurant (a well-known steakhouse).

Our expedition, led by the Norwegian company Hurtigurten, flew us from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. This tiny town is affectionately known as the end of the earth. The Pan American highway, which begins in Alaska and stretches south across the American continents for 119,000 miles ends in this small coastal enclave.

From Ushuaia, we boarded our ship, the MS Fram—home for the next eleven days. The Antarctic ship was compact compared to a large cruise ship. It held a maximum capacity of around 200 people, for this type of expedition. 160 people from 17 different countries set sail with us.

Onboard, three official languages were spoken: French, German and English. Our excursion groups onto the Antarctic coast were divided by language. So we quickly became acquainted with all of the English speakers aboard—fellow seafarers from Norway, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Japan, China, Australia and a whole bunch of us from the U.S.

The MS Fram set out to sea in a perpetual twilight. The sky never seemed to darken fully in January this far south. It was summer in this hemisphere and pitch-black night was kept at bay.

Our first night on the boat, we headed to the dining room and looked for empty spaces at tables of English speakers. The tables filled up quickly, and everyone was giddy and friendly. But by the next night, there were far fewer people in the dining room. And by the third night, we were surprised to see that large portions of our fellow travelers skipped dinner all together. The notorious Drake Passage was taking its toll on the stomachs and equilibrium of everyone onboard. Many, like me, who failed to put on their seasick patches 24 hours earlier, had sequestered themselves in their rooms to wait out the rough waters and queasy stomachs. I was too excited to spend all day in my room, besides all the decks were stocked with easy-to-find barf bags if things got really out of hand.

Prior to this expedition, I’d never been seasick. That’s because I’d never experienced the Drake Passage—the tumultuous, roller-coaster-ride of ocean, where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet. While I sat in a presentation orienting all of us to our first landing on Antarctica, I saw a seated woman, catapulted out of her chair! She was thrown onto the floor by the hard-knock, rock and rolling of the “Drake Shake.” Later, a friend described the journey through the Drake Passage as the one place that, “will make a grown man cry.” He wasn’t exaggerating.

Over the course of eleven days, we boarded Polarcirkel speed boats for four landings and went ashore to explore the Antarctic coast. We spent the rest of our waking hours lounging inside the MS Fram on the panoramic observation deck, drinking hot cocoa, and marveling at gargantuan mountains, glaciers and icebergs towering like skyscrapers out of the ocean.

What struck me most about Antarctica? The sky. The vast, undulating expanse of sky that framed every soaring iceberg and glacier as a perfect canvas painted in shades of blue, grey and white.

And yes, the penguins were inexplicably cute too. But my goodness—they were stinky! You definitely smelled them before you saw them. They reeked like a neglected fish market mixed with outhouse aroma.

Would I go to Antarctica again? Absolutely! There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as hiking up the side of an Antarctic mountain then sliding full tilt, downhill on your bottom to the cheers of your fellow travelers who had just done the same!

All Antarctica photos by Adele C. Berry.