We took a long weekend in Provence in 2008, to get away and relax with great views. The hotel we go to is owned by some of the people who created, and expanded, the Hotel du Vin. By coincidence, the previous weekend we’d been to the new hotel of another HdV owner, and couldn’t resist a little bit of name dropping in Provence when we were greeted by the assistant manager. He took this very much to heart for the whole break!
Not everything on our 3-month trip to South America was planned in advance, and not everything went correctly when we started to go “off the beaten track” into the less touristy areas of Chile.
Like in Namibia, we got excellent views of the night sky from the Atacama desert. The Frenchman, resident astronomer in Atacama, was very entertaining. He mentioned that every civilisation thought that they were at the centre of the universe ... but that only the French were correct in that!
It’s amazing how close you get to the animals in the Galápagos. At times you would step on them if you weren’t careful.
Our journey through Chile didn’t all go according to plan. After a 4.30am alarm call in Santiago, we made it to St Pedro de Atacama in the midday heat of the desert sun.
On our first evening at Parati, Brazil, I got talking to one of the girls (Jo) who was also staying at the hotel, and we talked about going running before breakfast. Anyway, we started going out each morning at 7am to run along the beach. To get there, you have to go up & down a steep hill & there was also a stream to ford!
On safari in Kruger National Park, I went cycling with a guide – in the heat of the mid-day sun! We saw plenty of animals, but he said he’d chosen a route where they don’t see many lions (obviously the lions still pass through, it’s just that there are plenty of hiding spots so you don’t see them!)
One of the guides, Christian, in Patagonia decided that I bore a passing resemblance to the new James Bond actor, who was filming in Chile at the time (Daniel Craig).
We had been trekking for almost a week in the Annapurna region of the Himalaya, so were very grateful for a relaxing hotel spa, with great views, in which to recover. Sue suggested a Nepalese massage treatment, and they did a “his-and-hers” package of simultaneous massages, and so I thought “why not?”
After 3 foot of fresh powder, we chose a great day to take out an off-piste guide in Lech, Austria (2009). He got the measure of us, and took us down some great runs. Sue had one nasty head first face plant, but regained her confidence quickly and carried on.