09 April, 2023
At long last, after a long COVID winter in which we have all suffered, we are about to embark on a trip which was booked and paid for well before the pandemic, but was cancelled. This is our opportunity to use up a lot of accumulated travel credits, but we also notice that all prices have escalated sharply and we have had to fork out a lot more cash for expeditions and even on a daily basis. We'll be flying British Airways to London. Qantas, an airline we have been loyal to for decades, is just too expensive. Qantas may have come out of the pandemic financially better than most other airlines (maybe?), but in the process the company has managed to completely alienate its staff and its previously loyal customer base. We'll see what we think of the BA experience, before we head further north!
We won't go into details of our intended itinerary here, but these are some highlights, some bucket list items, we hope to achieve. Of course, the photographs below are not mine.
Saint Michael's Mount, Cornwall
Having been captivated by Mont Saint Michel in Normandy on our last trip, it was inevitable that we would seek to visit this historical tidal island near Marazion in Cornwall. At high tide, the causeway floods, the Mount becomes an island and access is only by boat. At low tide, you can walk there. The Cornish name for the island translates to hoar rock in woodland. On the privately owned (since 1611) island, there is a village with a harbour, and a castle on the mount. We expect to be swamped by other visitors, since we will be there in peak season!
Everyone has seen the iconic picture of Bergen's colourful skyline as, apparently, seen from the water. We look forward to this sight. The photograph below was taken on a rainless evening, by the look of it, whilst, on average for the month of our visit, it rains 13 days.
We can only hope to get as good a view of polar bears or walruses when we visit Svalbard as shown in this fantastic capture by A.Weith. Probably not the season for it, so if not, maybe we'll have more luck with puffins in this northern outpost, an abandoned whaling base, and a lot closer to the North Pole (1300km) than we have ever been, even when we visited Barrow, Alaska (2100km).
Fingal's Cave, Staffa, Scotland
A picturesque cave made famous after being visited by composer Felix Mendelssohn in 1829, who, entranced by the accoustics, composed an overture The Hebrides, Op. 26 to be played here. We doubt if we'll have an orchestra for this visit, but maybe someone will bring an MP3 player with a bluetooth speaker? Such was its fame that it was later visited by Queen Victoria and Jules Verne even mentions it in Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and elsewhere.
Scottish Northern Islands and the Faroes
Just off the northern tip of Scotland, the sparsely populated Orkneys and Shetlands have been made famous by popular police dramas on TV. They were part of Norway until the 1470's. The Faroe Islands, with Viking ancestry, are further north and belong to Denmark. There are puffins here too, in case we miss them in Svalbard.
Iceland and Reykjavik
Iceland was first settled in 874AD by a Norwegian chieftain, but it has been an independent nation since 1918. We hope to see many parts of this island, and do a self-driving trip in the popular environs of the capital Reykjavik, including the geothermal highlights of the Golden Circle. We're not likely to get as good a shot of the Gullfoss Golden Falls as this aerial view by Nickspix.
And then we come home!