Antarctica – I will pass thanks

So the pundits say that remote places will be top of the list for destinations once travel settles down a bit. Places like Galapagos and Antarctica for example. Mmmm – well Galapagos would be good. I haven’t been there yet (notice the optimism in that statement). But Antarctica – sorry I will have to pass.

You see me and the cold just don’t get along – which is unfortunate as when we were choosing where to emigrate to we looked at both Australia and Canada. We knew about snow having taken a few vacations from Southern Africa into the Austrian Alps. Looking back at those ski trips I have to laugh. I thought two weeks in a charming Austrian chalet style ski hotel gave me a real taste of living in a cold climate. Yep – I can hear you laughing.

You see a ski holiday in a place like Obergurgl (still love that name) is such a treat. The lifts are very close to the hotel and the apres ski is authentic and fun and the temp rarely gets below -4 in January. However very often we found ourselves sitting on the verandah after our ski lesson with jackets off enjoying the warm mountain sun.

Fast forward to Calgary – our first winter here got down to -40 with no chinooks for weeks. Talk about shock and horror. It definitely took a few years for my blood to thicken up for this type of weather – and I am still not really there. But I do forget very easily.

Like the winter we travelled to Yellowknife for a company retreat. I was SO excited about seeing the Northern Lights that I was prepared to put up with freezing cold feet – waited outside until about 1 am with no lights. Went back on the bus to go back to the hotel and just as we were leaving someone said – Hey, the lights! Couldn’t see a thing through the fogged up windows and the bus driver had suddenly gone deaf (it was probably the end of his shift).

So going to Antarctica? Yeah no as they say. I did send my brother out though on a cruise there. I booked him on Silversea. It had been on his bucket list for so long and he loved every minute of it. The Drake Passage was its irritable self as usual and the whole family was sea sick except for him (our dad was a sailor so that’s where it comes from). He took part in every single excursion (and there are two every day) which required togging up in the special boots, trousers, jackets that you need in that part of the world.

They call Antarctica the closest thing on earth to another planet and say that their ships take you so far off the beaten track, there is no track. No worry about crowds there, that’s for sure. I am sad actually that I probably won’t visit Antarctica just because I don’t manage the cold very well. I saw all the ships in harbour when I visited Ushuaia and watching people boarding there was definitely a sense of anticipation, excitement and adventure. Sitting on the dock at Ushuaia, which they call the end of the world or Fin del Mundo, it really did feel as if these ships were off to explore another unknown, unpopulated world.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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