While many vacationers relish the thought of tiny grains of white sand clinging to their sunscreen and sweat, the very thought has no appeal to others. Thousands of people wait all year for the chance to rush off to exotic locations with umbrella drinks and pesky sand gnats. But to some, showing off an out-of-shape lily white body in the extreme heat and humidity is not now, nor will it ever be, on their vacation agenda.
There are places much more relaxing than a crowded beach at an overpriced tourist destination, where it is possible to actually escape the summer heat rather than run to it. You can still drink but you’ll need to bring your own little paper umbrellas if it’s that important to you.
Ice Hotel – Jukkasjarvi, Sweden
Your ultimate igloo awaits. The Ice Hotel is totally reconstructed in a different design every year with ice is taken from the Torne River. It can accommodate 100 guests and has a full bar, a reception area, and of course, the main hall. All guests are given parkas and sleeping bags at check-in.
Hand sculptured ice statues and carved walls adorn the rooms, and guests are treated to cuisine specially prepared by award-winning chefs. In the bar, even the glasses are made from ice.
There is also an ice church where couples can tie the proverbial knot. Hundreds of ceremonies have been performed over the years. Same-sex marriage is legal in Sweden so many couples who can’t marry elsewhere come to the church to take their vows.
The location of the hotel affords guests a spectacular view of the Northern Lights, and reindeer reign freely through this winter wonderland. If there was ever a place to live out a true-life fairy tale, Ice Hotel is surely that place.
Cerro Castor Ski Resort – Ushuaia, Argentina
While everyone else is boogie-boarding in the pool at Disney, why not go snow-skiing instead?
When it’s blazing hot in North America, it’s snowing in the mountains of Argentina. Nothing beats snow skiing on summer vacation.
Cerro Castor offers 26 ski trails of varying difficulty so even those at the beginning level won’t be left out. If you don’t ski, not to worry, go snowshoeing down a forest trail.
For the most fun you’ll ever have, take some snowboarding classes. The eight lifts are modern so chances are slim you’ll be indefinitely suspended in space waiting on a mechanic to arrive.
The best accommodations are located at the base of the mountain at Castor Ski Lodge which has a 4-star rating. It’s convenient to the airport and close to downtown Ushuaia which is a treat in itself. Other good accommodations can also be found in town.
In a country where the thermometer never registers over 60 degrees, no matter what time of the year someone travels there, it’s going to be cold. Iceland offers one of the most beautiful landscapes ever seen. One step outside any of Iceland’s city limit signs will land a person in a raw and untamed wilderness, fresh for the exploring.
Iceland’s largest city, Reykjavik, population 203,594 which is two-thirds of everyone in the entire country, is quite modern and offers all the amenities of home, and probably then some.
As odd as it may sound, snorkeling is a big deal in Iceland. The Silfra is a popular area where a fissure was created causing it to be flooded with water as clear as found off any Caribbean island. It’s cold but not as bad as it would seem. The temperature holds steady at 35 degrees. Dry suits are worn.
The toughest thing about the nightlife in Reykjavik is knowing where to start. There are over 50 bars on the main drag alone. More down the side streets. The street is also lined with coffee shops and cool bistros.
What serves as a restaurant during the day might turn into one of the best hot-spots in town at night. The clubs change frequently so if you go there don’t bother searching them out ahead of time. The ones you pick might not be there when you arrive. Just ask around.
Iceland is full of hot springs. There is even a hot river just outside of Reykjavik. Many people travel there just to enjoy those. Reykjavik is a popular stopover location on flights to Europe so its easy to add a little spa time to your European vacation.
You won’t find an invasion of chain restaurants in Iceland so expect to eat well, and healthy. You may feel compelled to try weird traditional foods like fermented shark, but Reykjavik is leading the way in a Nordic
Drive the Alcan Highway
For the adventurous who prefer the solitude only afforded by vast amounts of wilderness, driving the Alcan from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, near Fairbanks, Alaska, is the way to go. It’s a 1000 mile stretch with very few amenities along the way, so if you do this, plan accordingly.
Right alongside the highway, not behind electric or barbed wire fences, sojourners will see bison, bear, caribou, moose, and an assortment of smaller creatures. If they look up they’ll see eagles. They’ll be surrounded by snow-capped mountains, giant fields of wildflowers, and spruce trees galore.
What travelers won’t see are amusement parks, the Hyatt Regency, tourist traps or souvenir shops. They also won’t find an all you can eat Denny’s breakfast bar, and even if the McRib is available, tough luck. It’s best to pack some snacks.
The highway is no longer the almost impassable road it was in 1942 when it opened. The entire 1000 miles is two-lane asphalt and can be traveled in relative comfort.
Wally Hidinger, Yukon’s director of transportation engineering said, “We still get people showing up with 15 jerrycans and 9 spare tires on the roof rack. You just don’t need it.”
There are guides available to help plan the journey and it is always recommended one be reviewed prior to starting out. They’ll give you pointers such as gassing up at lunchtime since most stations close early.
So while everyone you know is getting blistered from overexposure to the sun they’re worshipping, be a rebel. Strike out on your own and do something they would never dream of. Take a cold climate vacation.