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Archive for June, 2009

From November 21 – December 13, 2009, Travel Dynamics International will follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton, cruising to South Georgia Island, the South Orkneys, Elephant Island (where Shackleton climbed a mountain range following a 700-mile open-boat trip) and the Antarctic Peninsula. For a voyage of this magnitude, celebrating the impossible achievements of one of the world’s greatest explorers, it’s only fitting that a great explorer should accompany us. We have two.

Peter HillaryPeter Hillary made history in 1990 when he and his father, Sir Edmund Hillary, became the first father-and-son team to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. On another expedition, Peter blazed a new overland route to the South Pole. For more than 25 years Peter has challenged some of the most demanding, most dangerous environments on Earth: he is the first man to traverse the 3000-mile length of the Himalayas; he made the first ski descent of Mount Aspiring, known as “the Matterhorn of the Southern Hemisphere;” and he has participated in more than 38 mountaineering expeditions, including ascents of Mount Everest, K2, Makali West Pillar, and Mount Vinson, Antarctica’s highest peak. Peter holds a commercial pilot’s license, is a much-sought-after speaker, and is the author of eight books, most recently In the Ghost Country: A Lifetime Spent on the Edge.

dave-hahnDave Hahn holds the record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest—ten times (out of 14 tries), more than any other non-Sherpa climber. He has guided climbers to the summit of Mount Rainier 245 times, and led 25 attempts on Denali, reaching the summit 18 times. Dave also holds the world record for the Vinson Massif in Antarctica—he has reached the summit 25 times. In 2006 Dave led a team of professional athletes on an expedition to ski Mount Everest. In 1999 Dave participated in the expedition that recovered and identified the remains of explorer George Mallory, who died trying to scale Everest in 1924. A renowned expert on Ernest Shackleton, Dave has led seven expeditions to South Georgia Island and led trekkers overland on the “Shackleton Traverse,” which in 2004 won Outside magazine’s Trip of the Year Award. Dave shot high-altitude video for the PBS NOVA program Lost on Everest, and led the film crew into the mountains of Antarctica on a journey of discovery that resulted in the Emmy-Award-winning film, Mountains of Ice.

If you book this trip before JULY 9, you’ll receive FREE AIR TRANSPORTATION from Miami to Ushuaia, Argentina, economy class, on LAN Airlines. If you’d like to upgrade to business class, we can arrange that for you for just $2,500 more (availability limited). All guests on this trip will enjoy free limousine transportation from your home to the airport (if you live within 50 miles of your departure airport). Opportunities like this, with such illustrious travel companions, don’t come often, so we encourage you to download the brochure from our main site and give us a call at (800) 257-5767.

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On the CruiseCritic.com forums, user Winegirl writes:

Corinthian II vs Endeavor vs Polar Star-any first hand knowledge?


Spouse is 46 and I’m 57. I have long been a student of polar exploration and am planning a trip to see some of Antarctica–only, not Falkland Islands. Spouse can get away for only a couple weeks, so we are looking at 15 day or shorter trips. Various options called to our attention are: Corinthian II, 114 passenger all suite ship. Online information looks pretty appealing–a smaller ship option so hopefully more personal service, a lot of valuable inclusions. Not cheap but seems good value for price. Other option is NG Endeavor. NG name carries a lot of weight, but the prices are sky high and the overall accomdations look less appealing than the Corinthian II. Polar Star looks promising as well. Spouse likes space and luxury, but does not like snobs. We both love great food and wine, and have done some soft adventure travel, plus some backpacking in the Rockies. He is a real science and nature buff and I just want to visit the “last place on earth. I’d feel better about having an MD on board, just in case, although neither of us has medical issues. I’d like to have maximum options to go ashore, even possibly camp overnight ( I know some ships offer that option at times.) Being from Wisconsin, the weather will be relatively similar to our January/February weather–cold, damp, overcast, etc.

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don’t allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!

User Harbor32 responded:
I was on a Corinthian II cruises to Antarctica in Feb 2007. We had one of the best crossings of Drakes passage (both directions), great weather and a totally wonderful trip. (more…)

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“Imperium sine fine”, they termed their empire: “dominion without limit.” Well, the Goths, Huns, Vandals and Moors had something to say about that. But Philip Parker’s new book, The Empire Stops Here, has a most intriguing concept:

to travel the entire length of what the Romans themselves termed the “limes”, the frontier zone of their empire. As The Guardian reviews it, the result was a journey epic enough to satisfy even a Virgil. As Parker sums it up, with justifiable pride, “I have encountered more than five centuries of Roman history, in some 21 modern countries, covering a range of climactic variations from a snowstorm in Switzerland to a sandstorm at 45 Centigrade in Egypt’s Dakhleh Oasis, and have covered more than 20,000 kilometres on the ground.”Yet his book is far from being a conventional travelogue. Once the introduction is done, the first person barely intrudes. Neither a work of history, nor a scholarly gazetteer, nor a guide, but rather a blend of all three, The Empire Stops Here is a book in which weather-beaten masonry serves to crowd out human beings, and in which the people who most truly come alive are those who have been dead for 2,000-odd years.

Read more from The Guardian here.

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stellenboschSouth Africa is coming up in the world. Just a couple of days ago it hosted the UEFA Confederations Cup of soccer, in which Brazil defeated the U.S. (yes, the United States!) 3-2 for the championship; next year the country will host the World Cup.

South Africa is also “the world’s ninth largest producer of wine, an up-and-comer in the global marketplace, and the winner of more than its share of accolades in international competitions.” But a canker grows amid the vineyards of Stellenbosch, and her name is Jane MacQuitty, a wine critic for The Times of London.

According to The New York Times, “In late 2007, she tasted a run of South Africa’s flagship reds and wrote that half were tainted by a “peculiar, savage, burnt rubber” odor. In a later column she called a selection of the country’s best-rated reds “a cruddy, stomach-heaving and palate-crippling disappointment.””

This was, of course, something that Stellenbosch’s luminaries needed to tackle head-on. So, for the past year, “vine-and-wine detectives from the department of viticulture and oenology at Stellenbosch University have been working the case. The “burnt rubber team” includes sensory scientists and analytical chemists. They taste, they sniff, they scratch their heads. They are looking for the golden thread that ties together a single taste that was born in multiple locations. Is the problem with the root stock, the soils, the storage, the bottling, the techniques of fermentation? Gas chromatography is being used to separate wines into their chemical compounds, searching for a culprit among the molecular units.”

The story of this sleuthfulness is completely worth reading in full.

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Chahlstun,” you’d say if you were speaking like a native. We’re heading down to this languorous antique of South Carolina on our cruise of America’s Historic Atlantic Shores, in late September of this year, and in May and October of 2010, and just in the nick of time Forbes.com has a delightful piece on the changes and continuity seen in the city where the Civil War began.

“Come Hell or High Water” – that’s the title of a great book on Charleston my dad (born in Georgetown, halfway up the coast between Charleston and Pawley’s Island) had on his bookshelf; and that’s the way it goes when you live in Hurricane Alley. 1989’s Hurricane Hugo blasted through the town, leaving in its wake “a degree of devastation unprecedented in anybody’s living memory,” according to Charleston’s once and present mayor, Joseph P. Riley, Jr. But, as Forbes reports,

“…what came in Hugo’s aftermath was a surge of investment and prosperity that has washed over Charleston and left it sparkling in the Low Country sun.

The city that once liked to say it was “too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash” has reclaimed its magnificent downtown; inaugurated a nearly year-round slate of tours, exhibitions, and festivals (including the 17-day culture party, the Spoleto Festival); spawned a culinary awakening; and erected a new signature structure, the sail-like Arthur Ravenel, Jr., Bridge. Oh, and ponied up for the paint–lots and lots of paint. Charleston is more fun now than it has been since the predawn fireworks show of April 12, 1861, when P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter. You might even say the city has been transformed. Sort of.

“That’s true!” she answered. “But, well…not true. For instance, I can look at the bird’s-eye map of Charleston from 1850 on my office wall and still recognize every street. I could use it today to get around town.”

That’s Charleston for you: The place, to put it mildly, is not afflicted with the amnesia effects of American Progress. Around here, the new must always accommodate itself to the stubborn tenacity of what came before. It was Charleston where Oscar Wilde claimed he had complimented the moonrise over the harbor only to be told, “You should have seen it before the war!”

This is a city famously marinating in self-regard. The old wheeze about Charleston being located “where the Ashley and Cooper rivers join up to form the Atlantic Ocean”–you will not leave town without hearing it–is meant to be taken as self-deprecating: See, we can joke about thinking we are the center of the universe. The subtext: Actually, that is exactly what we think.

Here are a few of the American “firsts” claimed by Charlestonians during my visit: first historic district, municipal college, country club, golf course, water buffalo, fireproof building. Charlestonians have convinced themselves that they invented the cocktail party, too. Perhaps it’s just that parties elsewhere didn’t count.

Read more of this really entertaining article that definitely captures the spirit of Charleston, SC.

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RoyalOntarioMuseumIf you’re heading to Toronto this summer, The Washington Post has thoughtfully written up a number of good restaurants in the Yorkville neighborhood, around the Royal Ontario Museum – designed by Daniel Libeskind. Libeskind’s tetrahedric design works perfectly for the museum’s restaurant, C5.

“Chef Ted Corrado, who has the boyish looks of a teen pop star, sources local products at C5 to produce a limited yet sublime menu on which the ethnic flavors of Toronto shine through his studied technique. Offerings change with the seasons, but recent choices included porcini papardelle with white anchovy and paquillo peppers, and rack of wild boar with eggplant cream, baby leeks and litchi. On a budget? Order a cocktail and an appetizer, and savor the city view through the enormous tilted windows.”

Read more from The Washington Post.

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In her book, A Classical Education, Caroline Taggart says the ancient Greek and Roman influence is still alive and well in many aspects of the modern world, from language, architecture and science to art, maths and astronomy. But do you know your Plato from your Pluto? Take The Guardian’s quiz to find out.

You could do something else, too. But we’re not telling. Okay, here’s a hint.

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