It’s funny in a way, hardly any of my friends are into the kind of travel that I often prefer: hiking, getting close to nature and exploring local food and culture. However, most of them would join me in a heartbeat to one of the upmarket establishments that I occasionally have the privilege to visit through work! But I am working hard to widen their horizons, and get them to step away from their hairdryers once in a while!
I’ve got a few trips coming up where I will take friends and family on Slow Journeys. I’ve used a combination of carrots, sticks and plain deceit to make them happen.
There’s the city break to Tallinn (Estonia) with my dear friend who is very well travelled, but a self-confessed scaredy-cat that prefers her creature comforts. She’s pretty game for the dinner that I have arranged at a home in the edgy Kalamaja district. She’s a foodie, and it’s described as a “delicious 4-course dinner” so it was an easy sell. However, to spice things up I have asked them to prepare only local specialities. We’re also going to a traditional finno-ugric spa, but here she has firmly drawn the line at the Finnish Sauna. I am on my own with the birch whip while she is getting a much more sensible full body massage…
Then there’s my fabulous foodie friend who will never say no to a culinary experience regardless of what it contains, but who is rarely spotted more than a few kilometers away from the city centre. It was a plain dare that got her to sign up for a week of hiking in various locations around the country. Oh, and perhaps the promise that we would not sleep in tents. Her final words were “God help us all”… Then some mutters about possibly having to train. She’s one of those people that can eat good food all the time, not exercise at all, and still keep her figure in shape. I would hate her if she wasn’t so nice. Let’s see if the niceness lasts through the ascents to the top of the Amphitheatre in the Drakensberg. In any case, with her on my team I am looking forward to exploring some gourmet versions of padkos (food for the road).
Later in the year, we are going on a family holiday with my folks to celebrate Mother turning an esteemed age that I have promised not to reveal. It was my parents who instilled a love of nature in me, and some of my earliest memories are of hiking, camping and canoeing through the beautiful Swedish forests and lakes. However, Mother now claims to be too old to rough it and cannot be convinced, for love nor money, to enter any establishment less than 3 stars… We’re going to Madagascar, where we’ll be visiting quite a few nature reserves. I may have neglected to tell Mother that the Malagasy definition of “lodge” may be slightly different to the South African… I’m sure (read: hoping as hell) that she will enjoy it once she gets there though! Sorry Mother, I know you read my blogs but now that we have paid for the trip I thought it was ok to put all cards on the table!
All of these people have taken me on journeys in the past, where I have discovered so many things I didn’t know (about people and places and about myself). So here’s to taking friends and family on My Slow Journeys! I really hope that they will enjoy them as much as I do. Watch this space for updates.