Monday 5 April 2021

To be not disappointed

 Although I had two pages in the Sunday Star-Times travel section all to myself yesterday, the triumph was somewhat mitigated by the cover story being about the Southern Lights flight. This is a special organised by Viva Expeditions with Air NZ, to fly from (and back to) Christchurch in a Dreamliner on a 10-hour search for the aurora australis. The plane flies in the dramatically-named stealth mode, all external lights off, internal too, so everyone's eyes can adjust and fully appreciate the aurora.

They found the lights quite quickly, and they were pretty spectacular, according to the photos and video. But - and this is a HUGE but - not according to most passengers' actual eyes. The trouble is, our eyes, and especially older eyes, aren't very good at picking up the colours, so what almost everyone saw were swirls of white - the green and pink only showed up via cameras.

Now I would have found that deeply disappointing, to put it mildly. Seeing the aurora is one of my top wants, but to pay all that money, fly all that way and only see white? Nah, Instagram has spoiled me for that. I want proper colour, end of. And if I have to go to Finland, or Norway, or Alaska for my chance to see it, well, that's just icing on the cake. Or actual ice. Whatever. Even if it turns out my eyes can't do the business, at least I've been somewhere interesting and not just been squashed into a plane for ten hours, flying from A to A.

Travel should not be about disappointment, especially when it involves world-famous spectacles or landmarks. I'm happy to report that right up there with cast-iron guarantees of satisfaction (for the locations, tourist throngs notwithstanding) are the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, Easter Island's moai, the Eiffel Tower and Tower Bridge. There are lots of others. As further proof, most of those listed I've been to more than once, and been 98% thrilled to see them again. And, for today's connection, two of those - Machu Picchu and Galapagos - I visited the second time courtesy of Viva Expeditions. Thanks, Rachel.

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