Journey to Ascension – Christen Nagy & Tolga Babur
by Tolga Babur -- March 3rd, 2014
Our first day mostly consisted of long plane rides and even longer layovers. It took us a total of 36 hours to get to Ascension Island with two overnight plane rides. By the end of this long day we were tired but happy nevertheless to have finally arrived at this remote piece of volcanic eruption in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
During our layover in Oxford, we had 12 hours to explore the city and visited the University Museum (natural history). The museum had a wide selection of exhibits ranging from minerals to skeletons, pottery to evolution. The skeletons included a comparison of various cetaceans, a large Japanese spider crab, and even a cast of Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), which at first we thought was the actual Lucy. The museum is famous for the dodo bird skeleton as well as its extensive fossil collection. Although we had over two hours, we all felt we needed more time to go through every exhibit.
After the museum we went to the Eagle and the Child for dinner. It was a favorite restaurant of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. It was apparent we were all pretty hungry and we quickly cleared our plates of the delicious food. With a few hours left before the flight, we spent our time in a local hostel until the driver came to take us to the military base from which our plane would depart.
Being a remote island with mostly military functions, Ascension has no commercial airline flights. The only way to get to the island is to take a Royal Air Force plane that makes two trips per week and only has 10 seats for civilians. As none of us had ever been on a military plane before, we got specific directions as to how to dress and behave while traveling. To our surprise, however, the flight was quite normal and the plane more comfortable and spacious than those of most commercial airlines. We received two meals including chicken fajitas for dinner and eggs for breakfast, which surpassed our expectations.