I’m a journalist, travel writer, editor and copywriter based in Melbourne, Australia. I write pacy travel features, edit edifying websites and fashion flamboyant copy. My articles and photographs have appeared in publications worldwide, from inflight to interior design: I’ve visited every continent, and have lived in three. Want to work together? Drop me a line… 

Follow

 

Savour the flavour of Australia: Food experiences across Australia

Tasmania’s Red Feather
has been serving patrons since 1842.

Unleash your hunter-gatherer instinct with a do-it-yourself food
adventure in Australia.

So you think you can eat? Oh, much neglected blog, this is what I’ve been up to lately. This story was published by Tourism Australia, who is inviting the world to dinner with its newest campaign, Restaurant Australia

Design a wine in the famed Barossa Valley or
hook a big barramundi on a day’s fishing in the wild, remote north.
There are truffles to hunt in Canberra, mudcrabbing in Queensland,
coffees to pour in Melbourne and once you learn the indigenous
Australians’ secrets of finding bush tucker, you’ll never starve. If
you’re not sure how to put it all together, go with the pros and sign up
to a cooking school, where they’ll teach you the tricks of the trade to
create the perfect Aussie feast, with food and wine matching. Savour
the flavour of Australia.

Wine blending in South Australia

Step into the home of Australia’s most prestigious wine, Penfolds
Grange Shiraz. Think you can match it? Roll up the shirtsleeves and make
your own red wine blend using Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre grapes, a
great souvenir to take home with you. Tours run daily at Penfolds
historic Barossa Valley cellar door in Nuriootpa, one and a half hours’
drive north of Adelaide amidst rolling farmlands and vineyards. While
you’re there, be sure to taste Penfolds’ extensive range, from the famed
Grange to its everyday drinking range of reds and whites.

Barramundi fishing in Western Australia

High on the Western Australian coastline, the Kimberley Coastal Camp
is a tiny cluster of ecologically sustainable bures reached only by
helicopter or boat. Visitors are lured by ancient Aboriginal rock art,
birdwatching and the mighty barramundi – ‘barra’ if you’re talking to a
local. You can fish barra all year round up here, though they’re more
active in the warmer months of April and May, and again in August. The
camp’s experienced fishing guides will kit you out with quality
equipment and teach you the tricks of thinking like a barra to make the
catch.

Truffle Hunting in Australian Capital Territory

Rug up for a wintery morning in an oak forest on the outskirts of
Canberra, and you’ll be rewarded with the jewels of the kitchen:
truffles. Snuffle the truffle dog and owners Sherry and Gavin
McArdle-English will teach you how to hunt and handle French black
truffles that will make their way to market and be served in Australia’s
best restaurants. The hunt ends in the warm truffle shed with a
weight-guessing competition and truffle crème brulee. Truffle hunts run in winter, from June to August.

Mudcrabbing in Queensland

So you love crab? Learn to wrangle them on a two-and-a-half-hour
cruise down the Tweed River, about 10 minutes south of Queensland’s Gold
Coast. The daily tours
let you trap live crabs, hauling crab pots and tieing them up for a
great photo op. You can also hand-feed massive, ever-hungry pelicans and
throw a hopeful fishing line in the river. They’ll supply the gear, you
bring the luck.

Finding bush tucker in the Northern Territory

Go on safari
in one of the world’s great wildernesses to find turtles and snakes,
gather fruits and yams and celebrate with a bush feast around the
campfire. An open safari truck takes you through Kakadu National Park,
three hours’ drive from Darwin in the Northern Territory. Meet Kakadu’s
Aboriginal community, learn about their languages, bush lore and their
“dreamings” and witness birds massing at the Gindjala wetland. You’ll
finish at sunset with a cup of billy tea, hot damper (bread cooked in
the fire’s embers) and the results of your day’s hunting and gathering.

Game fishing in New South Wales

Get your Hemingway on and chase the big fish of the deep blue sea in
the rich waters off the south coast of New South Wales. There’s mighty
marlin to lure as well as yellow fin, albacore and striped tuna. You may
spot some powerful broadbill swordfish and sharks, and while they’re
not for anglers, majestic Humpback whales use this corridor on their
annual journey to and from Antarctica. Keep your eyes open for seals,
sea eagles and penguins, too. Freedom Charters
supply all equipment and you can catch and release, or capture your
haul. Eden’s thrilling game fishing season runs from November till
July.

Making coffee in Victoria

Nobody drinks coffee like Melburnians drink, and its fabulous café
society just keeps evolving. If you love the bean and want to try this
at home, Sensory Lab‘s
45-minute one-on-one barista classes will have you frothing, tamping,
grinding and pouring like a pro. Start as a beginner, learning all the
skills to flatter with your latte, or caress with your capuccino. Take
it to the next level and get serious with milk texturing and making
those pretty little hearts and ferns on the top of the cup or go into
syphoning.

Cooking class in Tasmania

Roll up your sleeves and cook Tasmania’s top produce, much of it
sourced from the markets on the morning of your cooking class. The Red Feather
has been serving patrons since 1842, when it was built as a coaching
inn by convicts sent to “Van Diemen’s Land” from the United Kingdom. The
beautiful sandstone buildings are just south of Launceston, Australia’s
third oldest city. You’ll learn the secrets of perfect baking, smoking
and curing meats and whatever the markets offer that day. And the best
part? You get to eat the fabulous fruits of your labour (with a little
help from a chef, of course).

This story by Belinda Jackson was first published by Tourism Australia, who is inviting the world to dinner. 

To read more about Australia’s fantastic food culture, best restaurants, wineries and producers, visit the brand, spanking new Restaurant Australia website.


Search for the glow: Norway’s Northern Lights

The Aurora throws out a curtain.


EDIT: I am very pleased to note that this feature, originally
published in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, has won the Australian Society of Travel
Writers’ 2014 award for Best Cruise feature.

Dodging trolls and and black ice, Belinda Jackson rugs up to hunt the Northern Lights. 

Boarding the MS Midnatsol, the first thing we see is a tall
Norwegian woman welcoming us on to the ship. The second spectacle is of a
tall English woman being stretchered off the ship.

“She slipped and fell on the ice,” reports one of the crew.
Instinctively, I want to crawl. Happily, the lady reappears several days
later, smiling but in a wheelchair. Norwegian winter cruising, it
appears, has a touch of the blood sport about it. Forget bikinis and sun
loungers: there’s a layer of difficulty travelling in the far northern
winter.

Actually, there are many layers. Going outside for anything more than
a quick photo on the promenade deck becomes an epic exercise in
wrestling with thermal underwear. And two pairs of socks. Fleece.
Waterproof jacket. And the boots with ice grips (hmmmm – the casualty).

Crown it all with a tight beanie that will resist the wind’s
insistent fingers. Some people even pull on a balaclava, but that’s all
just a little too Douglas Mawson for me, though I am sporting a dangling
pompom that holds a 90-degree angle to my head in prevailing winds.

We do it because we’re hunting the light: the Northern
Lights. Yes, there’s reindeer sledding, midnight concerts and hot
tubbing on the top deck while it snows. But right now, our sun is in the
midst of exceptional solar activity, and boffins say that this winter
and next are the best in a decade to see the elusive Aurora Borealis.

Norway is one of the world’s top viewing locations and
doesn’t require frostbitten fingers, drinking sterilised wee or eating
your own dogs to get there.

Light-hearted: the Aurora from the deck of the Midnatsol.
Photo: Bob Stephan

In fact, it’s all rather civilised on the Midnatsol, one of
12 Hurtigruten ships that undertake an 11-day round trip that traverses
the length of the Norwegian coastline. A ship sails every day.

The coastal express mail and goods run started in 1893, with
passengers hopping on and off between farming villages and port towns.
Norwegians still use the Hurtigruten as public transport, but they are
now outnumbered dramatically by tourists keen to cruise the fiords and
wild coastline as the ship pushes up into the Arctic Circle. There’s a
healthy showing of Aussies among them, forsaking a southern summer for
temperatures so low, the locals don’t even bother to say “minus”.

You can pick the Norwegians: they’re the ones glued to the
live chess tournaments on the television in the main lounge, silently
sculling black coffee from tall thermo-mugs. The rest of us have our
noses stuck to the ship’s panoramic windows, waving at fishing trawlers
and making such blindingly obvious statements as “Gosh, it’s cold!”.

Doing nothing to dispel opinions of Norwegians as a teensy
bit boring, Norway’s national TV station NRK’s home-grown programs
includes 12-hour documentaries on stacking firewood, knitting and a
minute-by-minute program of the Hurtigruten journeying down the
Norwegian coastline, from Bergen to Kirkenes. It was a 134-hour,
non-stop broadcast, and it rated!

“Did you see the program?” the urbane concierge at Oslo’s
beautiful Grand Hotel asked me several days before boarding. “It was
great!” His patriotism makes me almost forgive Norway for being so
expensive that it makes my muscular Aussie dollars wimper and
hyperventilate.

Back on the ship, it’s time to throw out all my cruising
expectations: there are no little towel animals at the end of the bed
each night, the theatre hosts astronomy lectures instead of chorus
girls, and all the staff are locals.

It’s a dramatic change from the United Nations of staff that
you meet on most cruise ships, and it’s lovely to have locals’
experience and advice (“It’s Sunday night. This town is dead. Don’t
bother getting off.”)

But hey, it does a mean buffet. Scandinavians invented the
smorgasbord. The Norwegianised breakfast buffet features caramelised
cheese, mustard herrings and salmon done three ways (roasted, smoked,
cured) every morning. There’s reindeer pate and cloudberries at
lunchtime and a local salmon served, classically, with dill steamed
potatoes at dinner. And yes, there is a gift shop, full of hideously
misshapen trolls and heart-breakingly expensive snowflake knits. The
Hurtigruten is undeniably Norwegian.

The total journey from Kirkenes to Bergen is 2465 kilometres,
stopping in at 33 ports, some as little as 15 minutes, just long enough
to sling a crate of parcels overboard. After a few days, we slip into
the routine of busy mornings exploring towns and afternoons of quiet
contemplation and panoramic viewing.

It’s dark by 4pm but we don’t care: we’re here to see the
light. The Japanese say a baby conceived beneath the lights is a special
child. The Sami believe the lights are a trail left by a fox scampering
across the sky. Everyone from ancient Chinese to American Indians have a
theory: the lights are souls, they’re a bridge to heaven, a good omen, a
bad omen.

But let me blow a few myths: if you were standing on deck in
sub-zero temperatures at midnight waiting for a ray of green light to
zap you between the eyes, you’d be waiting a long time. Guest lecturer
and British astronomer Dr John Mason says most of the colours in the
Northern Lights are invisible to our eyes: we just can’t see the red and
turquoise bands with the naked eye.

MS Midnatsol

“You probably won’t see colour, but
you will see movement.” Green is the most apparent colour, followed by
violet, but even then they’ll most likely show up as a hazy grey cloud
against the clear black sky, he warns.

Point a camera at the grey clouds and you’ll see the eerie
green rays appear in your final photo – and even then only when you open
the lens for up to 15 seconds or more.

To see the lights, the sky has to be dark, with no light
pollution. You also need a cloudless sky and your eyes also need to be
dark adapted, which can take up to 10 minutes, which is a long time on a
windswept ship’s deck in the black of a polar night. “When the lights
appear, we’ll make the announcements over the ship’s PA, and you have to
hurry,” Dr Mason says. “We don’t know how long they’ll last – You’ve
got to be ready.” We’re all so ready.

“We’ve been on six nights, from Bergen, and haven’t seen
anything yet,” says glass artist Bob Stephan, from North Carolina. Armed
with a fish-eye lens and balaclava, he helps me lash my camera to a
deck chair in lieu of my lost tripod.

There are two important things to note from this
conversation: one is that most tourists tend to stay on the ship for the
entire 11-day round journey, from Bergen up to Kirkenes and back again.
The second is that the Northern Lights are fickle.

But we strike it lucky: second night on board, and the show
is on. The deck is jam-packed as people point cameras to the sky. The
sky swirls and a soft grey-green light gusts and drifts into view. It’s
not the “hit-me” colours of the brochures, or a white night. But the
wild wind, the snow gusts and the dancing sky leave us light-hearted and
light-headed: we are but mesmerised little people dwarfed by the glory
above.

The Lofoten archipelago.

The serious photographers are rugged up and settled in for
the night, but the crowd drifts off after an hour or so. The next night,
the lights show even longer, a static display that has the astronomers
scratching their heads, though the ship is pitching wildly.

It’s also cold enough to bite your nose off.

We dash down below decks to thaw out, when one of the
astronomy tour members, Patch, pulls out his phone. The Aurora Australis
has been putting on a spectacular show in Tasmania, just an hour and
$100 from my Melbourne home. Groans from we Australians. Tasmania?
That’s next year’s plan.

The writer was a guest of Bentours.

AHOY! Norwegian Getaway has a three-storey sports complex that includes an eight-foot over-sea “walk the plank”.

FIVE MORE GREAT PLACES TO HUNT THE AURORAS
TASMANIA The Aurora Australis has been seen as close to Hobart as
Seven-Mile Beach (near Hobart Airport), on the Overland Track and Bruny
Island. Get viewing tip-offs from this local alerts page facebook.com/groups/215002295201328/.
ALASKA Fairbanks and nearby Denali National Park are Alaska’s
playground for aurora hunting, and boast an 80 per cent chance of
spotting the lights from August to April, see explorefairbanks.com.
ICELAND Make sure you’re in the glassed-in bar of the Ion Hotel when
the lights deign to shine. The new eco-hotel is an hour’s drive from
Reykjavik, see ioniceland.is.
CANADA Head for Whitehorse, Yukon, on the edge of the wilderness and
hunker down in a yurt while you wait for the performance to begin, see arcticrange.com.
FINLAND Tuck up in a snow igloo in Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, in Finnish Lapland, a thousand kilometres north of Helsinki, see kakslauttanen.fi.

TRIP NOTES
GETTING THERE Fly Sydney to Oslo via Bangkok with Thai Airways or via London with British Airways (britishairways.com). From London or Bangkok, book early to catch Norwegian Air’s cheap flights (norwegian.com).
CRUISING THERE The nine-day Best of Norway Cruise departs daily from Bergen
or Kirkenes, with astronomy tours available in winter. From $2877, twin
share (winter) to $4448 (summer), 1800 221 712, see bentours.com.au.
MORE INFORMATION visitnorway.com.


Sustainable Melbourne

EDIT: I am very pleased to note that this feature, originally published in Honda Magazine, has won the Australian Society of Travel Writers’ 2014 award for Best Responsible Tourism feature.

Little Hunter, 195 Little Collins St, Melbourne

Travel
can be a guilty pleasure for the green-minded, but Melbourne shows how to blend
ecology and exploration without stinting on the good times, discovers Belinda
Jackson.



SHOP SUSTAINABLY
For
clothes with karma, vintage clothing is the classic sustainable fashion option:
what goes around, comes around.  Forget
fusty, Melbourne’s top shops yield fabulous finds. Check out one of Australia’s
largest vintage stores, Retrostar,
in the equally vintage Nicholas Building (1st floor, Nicholas Building,
37 Swanston St), while Shag finds all its clothing in
Melbourne (Centreway Arcade) and Circa
Vintage
has fashion dating from the Victorian era (1st Floor, Mitchell House, 358 Lonsdale St). 
Serious hunters, book your spot on a Melbourne Op Shop tour (0421 431 2780421 431 278, melbourneopshoptours.com.au).
Don’t want to wear clothes made by small children or
workers in life-threatening factories? Melbourne’s Etiko sources eco-friendly range of footwear and clothing from
owner co-ops in Argentina and Pakistani micro-businesses, so you can look good
outside and feel good inside. Shop online or see etiko.com.au for stockists.
Lisa Gorman designs
You can go green with current fashion: each season, top
Melbourne designer Lisa Gorman releases her gorman organic range, which uses organic and sustainably produced
fabrics produced without pesticides or with non-chemical processing (GPO Melbourne, Bourke
St Mall, gormanshop.com.au).
Out of the CBD grid, make like a Melburnian and jump a
tram for the fashion label, shop and café that is Social Studio for limited-edition garments handmade from reclaimed
and up-cycled material (126-128 Smith St, Collingwood, thesocialstudio.org).  On Saturdays, dig for handmade treasures at
the artists’ haven of Rose Street
Markets
(60 Rose St, Fitzroy).
ON THE TABLE
You know organic
and sustainable production are on trend when the quest takes you to some of the
city’s top tables, including Vue de
Monde
, for its salt-cured wallaby (Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins St) and the signature smoked trout broth at Attica,
recently voted number 21 in the world’s top restaurants (74 Glen Eira Rd,
Ripponlea). Even old-school can go new school, as Italian dining staple Cecconi’s has demonstrated, becoming
the first restaurant to compost its food waste through the Closed Loop system:
the compost is used to grow vegetables on its Bellarine Peninsula farm (61
Flinders La).
Head underground to a recent Melbourne edition, Little Hunter, tucked away beneath city
streets, and order up on beef from the remote Tasmanian locations of Cape Grim and Robbin
Island or tiny Chatham Island’s Blue Cod with seagrasses.
Chef Gavin Baker sources all produces from farmers committed to organic
production and humane treatment (downstairs, 195 Little Collins St)
Melbourne’s café
scene is justly famous: check out the winner of the 2012 Tourism Victoria
Sustainability award, Silo by Joost, a
café that doesn’t have garbage bin. Everything is recycled, renewed or
composted, including the bench you’re sitting at (123 Hardware St, 03 9600
0588). Meanwhile, newcomer Dukes
Coffee Roasters
is pushing toward a carbon-neutrality with its emphasis on
minimising waste and off-set power, with organic and ethically produced
products. What does that mean for you? Seriously fine coffee (247 Flinders La).
And shoppers at Melbourne Central can grab a cuppa at social enterprise STREAT Café, which has so far trained
60 young homeless and at-risk kids into a hospitality career (Cnr Elizabeth
& La Trobe St and 5 McKillop St).
Kinfolk cafe, 673 Bourke St, Melbourne
Kinfolk is a rare bird: it is environmentally sustainable and also socially
responsible, its staff training volunteers to run serve local, organic,
good-tasting food. A private enterprise by young entrepreneur Jarrod Briffa,
its high overheads are eased by the generosity of its patrons: coffee is
donated by crop-to-cup pioneers Di Bella, while meat is from renowned Barossa
organic producer Saskia Beer (673 Bourke St).


And
finally, self-caterers can find local produce at Queen Victoria Markets, which also has a section devoted to organic
fresh fruit and vegies (513 Elizabeth St).
PLAY NICELY
A night
on the town can also be good for your conscience when you start (or end) with a
drink at Shebeen, Australia’s first
not-for-profit bar. All profits go back to the countries where their drinks are
sourced: think Chilean wines, Sri Lankan beer, South African cider, (36
Manchester Lane).
Melbourne is also a playground for ‘green’ brewers. Pope Joan pours beers from Victorian independent
breweries such as Victoria’s Secret Hoppy Wheat Beer from North Melbourne and
Moondog ‘Love Tap’ Double Lager from Abbotsford (77 Nicholson St, Brunswick
East). Get on your bike into the Mountain
Goat Brewery
for real beer and pizza (Wednesdays & Fridays, 80 North
St, Richmond) or tram it to Monkey  for local, organic and biodynamic wine, beer and
cheese (181 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North).
Alto on Bourke hotel
ECO-EXPLORE

Take a walking tour of the
city to orientate yourself (1300 311 0811300 311 081, melbournebyfoot.com)
and uncover the city’s vivid street art scene (03 9328 555603 9328 5556, melbournestreettours.com) or to get under the city’s skin, through its literature and laneways
(0407 380 9690407 380 969,meltours.com.au) Hit the shops with hunters of high quirk
(03 9663 335803 9663 3358, hiddensecretstours.com) or discover the city’s Aboriginal heart
(03 8622 260003 8622 2600, koorieheritagetrust.com)

SLEEP EASY

Alto on Bourke is Australia’s first carbon-neutral hotel
and winner of domestic and international sustainability awards. The 4-star
hotel uses 100 per cent renewable energy, harvests its rainwater, recycles and
uses energy-efficient cars. There are even beehives on the roof, as part of
Melbourne’s rooftop honey project: see the results on the breakfast buffet
alongside the fairtrade coffee (rooftophoney.com.au) There are 50 hotel rooms from petites to
three-bedroom apartments with full kitchenettes, employing the best environmentally
aware technology including LED lighting, low-water showerheads and an electric
Goget hire car on site, with free parking for all hybrid cars  (1800 135 1231800 135 123, altohotel.com.au)

GETTING AROUND GREEN
The best start to a green escape is to offset your airline flight, which
costs around $2 per flight. Melbourne’s CBD grid is a walker’s paradise: you
can cross the city by foot in about 20 minutes. Otherwise, it’s a short tram or
bus ride: the red Number 86 City Circle
tram
does free tours, as does the Melbourne
Shuttle Bus
(131 638, thatsmelbourne.com.au) If you need a car, consider a green car, which can be hired by the
hour from $15 (try flexicar.com.au,  greensharecar.com.au
or goget.com.au) or go
luxe with an eco-limo (ecolimo.com.au) Melbourne
Bike Share
hires bike for 30 minutes for free (1300 71 5901300 71 590, melbournebikeshare.co.au)

DIARY DATE
Keep a day free for the 2014 Sustainable Living Festival,
held annually in Melbourne. Expect fabulous fashion, thoughtful thinktanks,
green markets, gardening and art. Now on until 23 February, 2014, slf.org.au.
This article was published in Honda magazine. 


Tripping the light fantastic: Northern Lights in Norway

On Deck 9, Midnatsol, Norway. Photo: Bob Stephan

There’s reindeer on the menu and light shows in the polar night, as Belinda Jackson cruises around Norway.

The temperature says it all: it’s 2.2 degrees C but the wind-chill
factor drags it down well below zero.

The ground is slippery with black
ice and it’s only 5pm, yet the sun has long given way to a dark, polar
night.

Norway’s extreme north is turning on a chilly welcome this November eve.

The town of Kirkenes is the starting point for my sea journey from high
up in the Arctic region to the gentler climes of Bergen in the south of
Norway, just a hop-skip across the North Sea to Scotland’s Shetland
Islands.

To help you place Kirkenes on the world map, it’s 400km past the Arctic
Circle, 7km from the Russian border and 37km west of Finland. There are
reindeer burgers on the hotel menu and rather prosaic tips on sleeping
during the midnight sun (close the curtains).

The next morning, my chariot awaits. More precisely, it’s the
Hurtigruten. Even more precisely, Hurtigruten is not one particular
ship, but a route (‘hurtig ruten’ = fast route) that links Norway’s
coastal towns and villages.

A ship leaves Bergen every day of the year for the journey to Kirkenes
and has been doing so since 1936, interrupted only by wars. My ship, the
MS Midnatsol (Midnight Sun), was built in 2003 and with 644 berths, can
take up to 1000 passengers (and not just tourists), drawn predominantly
from the UK, USA and northern Europe – not to mention more Australians
than you’d expect. Our ship has also a substantial smattering of
Norwegians using the ship for its original purpose: as a means of
transportation, and the staff are all locals, too, save a few
foreigners…from Sweden.

My cabin is a cosy little affair: two couches fold down to make
comfortable beds, there’s a little desk and a bathroom that can be
described kindly as ‘petite’. There are hooks and nooks to tuck your
gear away in, though the ship’s lounges, cafes and libraries are
preferable, with their panoramic windows and wi-fi which,
understandably, gets a bit shaky when the weather is tossing the ship
around on the stretches of open sea.

Panorama Lounge, Midnatsol, Norway.

Unlike most cruise ships, there’s no grand piano chained to the floor,
there are no dancing chorus girls, and the stars are not belting out
their ’70s hit parade but glittering overhead in the black depths of the
winter sky.

“You won’t starve on the journey,” a waitress tells me sorrowfully at my
first meal. My induction to the chef’s hand is lunch, which today
features five types of fish including roasted cod, gravalax and tubes of
Mills Caviar, as well as reindeer casserole with onions and mushrooms.

Stopping at coastal habitations, sometimes for as little than 15
minutes, we’re encouraged to jump off and explore: from the excellent
polar bear museum in Hammerfest to walking the mediaeval streets of
Trondheim or feeling your skin prickle during an eerie, uplifting
midnight concert in Tromso Cathedral.

Cruising in winter has a couple of fairly obvious disadvantages:
firstly, it’s seriously cold and secondly, you’ve got to cram your
sightseeing into the brief hours of daylight. Nobody’s worried – we’re
all here for the big winter drawcard: the lure of spotting the Northern
Lights.

They’re fickle beasts, those lights. They flicker and swirl without a
care who’s watching, but winter 2013/14 and 2014/15 are considered the
best in a decade for seeing what local legends describe as the dancing
souls of the departed, or a shining bridge to the heavens. There are two
astronomy groups on board, so we’re treated to guest lectures and the
ship hands out a memo of photography tips.

And we get lucky.

Rugged to the eyeballs – literally – we camp out on
Deck 9, the open deck at the top of the ship, which also houses two
outdoor jacuzzis that steam invitingly. The wind’s agile fingers tear at
our clothes and the ship rolls and churns as we strive to catch the
roiling clouds of green light in our camera lenses as, for two
spectacular nights, the Aurora Borealis deigns to put on a show.

Down below, we break from viewing to drink hot tea and peel back the
layers of clothing. The talk is all about the lengthy light show and
photos are admired and emailed onward. Many travellers slip into a
reflective state, absorbing the daytime scenery of fresh snow on
dramatic peaks and revelling in the nocturnal adventures in the sky.

There’s a sense of camaraderie among us all: we have tripped the light fantastic.

Belinda Jackson was a guest of Bentours.

This article was published in Get Up & Go magazine. 


Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google