WHERE TO NEXT?

Dear Traveler,

“Cheers!”

We clinked glasses with huge grins on our faces. Sitting in a full bar and dining room the energy was all smiles and laughter. In front of us Hever, our bartender at Refugio Grey, poured us Gin & Tonics.

These were beyond special G&Ts. Our guide, Andrea, had carried a 2 lb bottle of Calafate Gin (calafate are berries that grow in Patagonia) the entire 50+ miles for this surprise celebration. Hever added a special twist, serving them over a chunk of glacier ice.

We felt amazing – having just completed a physical challenge we planned 10 months ago. We were happy (and relieved) we were done and enjoying recounting the fun moments on our trek.

Our basic refugio accommodations were a testament to the fact that luxury is relative. We did not need to be pampered with high thread count sheets and Italian Gama hairdryers (that will come the second half of the trip) in order to enjoy this spectacular place.

We powered through some high velocity winds (video), at times even the water from the lakes was swept up in the wind and carried in our direction giving us a sideways mist. Our first day on the hike to the Towers we had snow. But three days in, the weather began to turn – for the better! We had glorious sunshine and beautiful blue skies. That continued for the final 6 days of our trip.

Friends of mine from Santiago hiked to the Base of the Towers a few days after us and sent me pictures in tank tops. For Patagonia this was an unusual and welcome surprise!

Some travelers to Patagonia want to do things more luxe the entire trip and that is easily done (more on that next week). But for those of you who want to consider giving yourself a physical challenge like we did, here are some tips to make the W Trek as luxe as possible:

  • porters – they will carry your gear so you have just a daypack
  • buy out a bunk room or book a cabin for yourselves
  • opt for a dome hotel the first night
  • have an incredible guide who surprises you with treats and supplements your meals with fresh avocado, fresh fruit, French Press coffee, peanut butter and bananas and salami, cheese, crackers and delicious bottles of wine (thank you Andrea!)

We had so many special moments together including a delightful picnic at Paine Grande watching avalanches happen in front of our eyes. Big shout out to KJ for willingly joining me on this adventure!

It’s also important to mention that the founders of Patagonia and North Face have given vast sums of their wealth to create National Parks and preserve these areas of all of us.  Read more here and watch Wild Life, the National Geographic documentary.

As with most things, I love a good contrast. So after our hike to the W Trek, we booked stays in a luxury lodges. Rewards are sweeter after a big accomplishment! For us, having had both experiences, we would 100% do the W trek again, forgoing the traditional luxury for after we finished the hike.

PS Last week I mentioned we saw every combo of parent and child, except a mom with her daughter. The day after I wrote that, on the last day of the W Trek we met a mom with her daughter. 🙂 Being outdoors on an active adventure with your adult (or teenage) children is a spectacular way to create incredible memories! My daughter, Jessie, did the W Trek on her gap year in March, and I have a new appreciation for what she endured!


This week’s inspirational articles include cozy winter retreats, Italy’s most glamorous hotel bars, extreme travel adventures and how to do Tuscany in the fall and winter.

Safari inspiration includes the best time to visit South Africa and the exciting news that Kenya plans to get ride of visas for visitors. 

You’ll also find information on why you need a travel uniform (written by a friend of mine), best gifts for moms and upgrades to East Coast skiing.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season! I am behind on buying gifts!

Warmly,

Below:

  • W Trek photos
  • This week’s highlight – glacier hiking
  • Hot New Hotel Opening – The Fifth Avenue Hotel
  • Inspiration + Information

Memories from the W Trek….

Lodge moments…

Where we picnicked watching avalanches…

Approaching our next refugio on a spectacular day…

View from our cozy cabin warmed (unnecessarily but it was wonderful ambience) by a fireplace…

KJ and Andrea next to porters we met (not ours – we carried everything). Look at the size of their backpacks!

The suspension bridge near Grey Glacier…

The end of the W Trek, sunbathing while waiting for our catamaran (in the distance)…

GLACIER HIKING

The blue!

The brilliant blue glow coming from the glacier is real. To see it in real life is imponente! (new Spanish word we learned which means majestic or awe inspiring)

Taking a glacier hike may sound like a big endeavor – you must get geared up in a harness, carry an ice axe, strap crampons on your shoes and take a RIB boat over chilly waters to get there.

But it’s so worth it!

Drinking freshly melted glacial water from a blue stream.

Seeing that radiant blue up close.

Gazing out for miles over a sea of glaciers as far as you eyes can see.

Watching a glacier calve in front of you.

It’s imponente!

You can go glacier hiking in:

  • Patagonia – Chile and Argentina
  • Alaska
  • Iceland
  • Antarctica
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Northern Europe
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

Put it on your list for your next adventure!

 

The blue water was so clear!

Tadeo our fearless guide

To get perspective on the size – see our close, tiny boat in the bottom left…

🌟 In October, The Fifth Avenue Hotel opened in New York’s NoMad neighborhood.  A historic building turned into a luxury hotel, “The Fifth Avenue Hotel is rich, layered, textured, and highly bespoke not only in the décor, but in the hotel experiences,” said the property’s founder.

Why visit The Fifth Avenue Hotel?

  • The great location – centered around Madison Square Park, you are near Fifth Avenue shopping, the Flatiron Building and Union Square. Also you are close to Slate Cafe, a favorite coffee bar, Atomix – book a seating at their Chef’s Counter and beloved independent bookstore, Rizzoli.
  • All rooms and suites are unique with distinctive artwork and colorful furnishings. Some rooms have terraces – a rarity in New York!
  • Enjoy Café Carmellini, the signature restaurant with glowing trees and sparkling chandeliers overlooking Fifth Avenue. The Portrait Bar serves sophisticated cocktails and elevated bar food in front of a warm fireplace.

Of course it comes with the usual perks and VIP treatment when booking your stay through Truvay Travel.

📷 The Fifth Avenue Hotel

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