Tuesday 5 December 2017

Hot v cold

This excellent photo by @stevefrancees on my Instagram feed is exactly the reason why I'm done with hot places. I mean, look at it: it could be anywhere! My first thought was Tahiti, specifically the Manava Suites resort I stayed at way back in 2007 - or, possibly New Caledonia. Or Fiji, or Aitutaki in the Cooks - or, honestly and truly, pretty much anywhere around the world between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn: turquoise sea, coconut palms, thatched sun shelters, pool... It's actually Aruba, which I've had to Google (yes! I know! shocking admission for a so-called travel writer but the Caribbean is untrodden territory for me). (Apart from having sailed through there when I was three, that is.)
Anyway, the point is that, admittedly gorgeous as it is, you have to admit, it's all a bit samey, innit? And also, there's not much to do, other than lie in the sun trying to avoid getting burnt, or snorkelling, or maybe going for a kayak (or sailing in a dinghy helplessly towards the horizon and having to be ignominiously rescued by a bored resort worker - but that's another story). Relaxing, I suppose, but that's not what I need in a holiday. My everyday life is pretty relaxing. (Sorry.) And if I want turquoise sea, all I have to do is look up from this computer and out of the window. (Again, sorry.)
No, what really appeals to me these days is cold places. All you need is the right clothes, and then you can really get stuck into the dramatically different scenery, and wildlife, and culture and history. I did try to get to Iceland this year, but it didn't happen because I've lagged behind the trends, and everyone's going there, two million tourists a year, and the 300,000 residents have had enough. So they're not looking for any extra publicity, dammit (though that has at least relieved me of the difficulty of choosing between summer trekking on an Icelandic pony, or winter viewing of the Northern Lights). I wouldn't mind popping up to Churchill to see the polar bears, either, while they're still there, poor things. 

But neither of those things has been a possibility for me this year (let's not lose hope - it could still happen). What I have managed to set up though, after about three years of hints and nudges, and more direct requests this year, and lots of patience and quite a bit of luck, is a cruise to - tarah! - Antarctica. (Though the house-sitter is surprisingly unenvious. I dunno, something about Waiheke in summer.)

It's a cruise with (regular readers - ha! - will not be surprised to learn) my old mate Silversea. Not, fortunately as it turns out, Silver Cloud, which was strengthened this year and refitted for sailing through icy waters but, *cough* recently had to turn back from its maiden Antarctic voyage because of engine problems, but instead Silver Explorer, which is less fancy but more workmanlike. It still has butlers and such, of course - this is Silversea, what are you thinking? - and all the usual trimmings, so we'll hardly be slumming it, I know you'll be reassured to hear.
It's an 18-day cruise, from Ushuaia, southernmost city in South America, to the Falklands/Malvinas, South Georgia (for Christmas), Elephant Island and the Antarctic Peninsula, finishing with what I'm hoping will be an uneventful crossing over Drake Passage, one of the roughest stretches of water on the planet, back to Ushuaia and thence Buenos Aires.

So, I've written up Africa, I'm tidying away some NZ pieces, the weather here has recently and dramatically switched over into summer and I'm - honestly - on the verge of having my first swim in the sea; and I'm also thinking about layers and merino, and gloves and scarves. And penguins, lots of penguins. And, who knows, perhaps even, finally, endlich, an orca or two. Fingers crossed. Or, you know, watch this space.
(This is Mauritius, which came to mind because the sole American in our Africa tour group was heading there next - and HAD NEVER HEARD OF THE DODO!!! Can you believe that?)


the queen said...

By an amazing coincidence, this is the second blog post I've read this morning from a blogger going to Antarctica. Dave from www.Blogography.com is poised on the edge of the edge of South America ready to board right now. He is not on a Silversea cruise, though. I am wildly envious, particularly envious of you and your Antarctic butler.

TravelSkite said...

Way cool! I'll see how he gets on. Yes, it's so exciting to be going there, though it feel a bit like cheating to have the butler and so on...


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