Hello again! Welcome back to the Milk + Honey Travelers series.
For those of us stateside, we are smack in the middle of winter season. All that makes me want to do is get on a plane somewhere where the sun is shining and there is a legitimate reason to wear my bathing suit. It’s the reason why I choose to live in places where snow only exists on T.V. and anything below 60 degrees calls for over exaggerated declarations of how freeeeezing it is. Personally, I am not one to vacation in destinations that are experiencing their cold weather season, because to me sunshine is far too important of a factor in my enjoyment. However, if you happen to be a person who likes travel for more cultural exploration, there are a lot of great deals to be found when you travel to a destination during their “low” season. Flights are cheaper, hotels can be found for far better rates, and places are not nearly as crowded, so it’s definitely something to consider.
Let’s take a quick look at how the rest of the world is fairing weather wise right now and how that may factor into new places you might want to explore early in 2015..
This time of year is generally the best one to visit Southeast Asia when drier, cooler weather prevails. You will encounter high hotel costs and large crowds since the rest of the world is trying to escape the European and North American winters as well.
The seasons in Australia and New Zealand run opposite of those in North America and Europe, so this time of year would be peak summer season. Because these are their summer months, most places will be experiencing high tourist traffic, but be pretty amazing and perfect weather-wise.
It’s the opportune moment for a trek in the Moroccan desert, a trip across the Maghreb or for visiting countries such as Senegal or Egypt before the higher temperatures arrive. The prices at this time are affordable too. South Africa currently basks in warm temperatures with low rainfall, which sounds just about perfect to me.
Right now Europe is full of cold places, rainy places, and places that just aren’t seeing too many hours of sunshine. Head here if you want to go on a cultural break and visit some stunning museums or have the opportunity to eat at some amazing restaurants and have some big-city fun at a fraction of the cost. If winter sports are your thing or you just really enjoy the beauty of winter, you can take full advantage of all the snow.
Central America, South America, and the Caribbean are having beautiful, sunny-but-not-too-hot weather right now, and of course Hawaii is always close to perfect no matter what time you go. These are great times for romantic getaways to these destinations because it stays away from the rush of spring breaks and summer vacations and takes advantage of the perfect conditions.
The last few days have been downright chilly. Probably not what you would call a legitimate cold front, more along the lines of a pansy west-coast definition of cold. But it did remind me of probably the coldest place I've ever been in my life... Russia in winter. The following is a blog from Winter of 2010, when I arrived in Moscow with a hoodie on and some flimsy hand mittens from Walgreens. Coldest moment of my life. I actually really enjoy places that look and feel like winter, but more from the perspective of looking out a window sitting next to a fireplace. I did end up going back to Russia in the summer and Moscow can be a very interesting place to visit. However, it probably won't ever make my list of recommendations for winter time.
I’m in Russia, but I have yet to start feeling the love. For starters, this internet I’m on? It cost me $60 bucks. No, that’s not a typo. For 24 hours of connectivity to the world, I pay the price of what it probably costs to provide wifi to the whole hotel. You’d think I would at least get a nice glass of champagne with my purchase. No such luck. I’m also tired. Like, my head wants to split in two, type tired. Right now I’m debating on trying to tough it out and stay up til dinner, or let it get the best of me and just wake up in the middle of the night and be a starving, ravenous monster. I’m leaning towards monster.
I’d love to say that I’m going to spend some of my free time seeing some of the sights in this country because I’ve never been here before, but that would be a big fat lie. I don’t plan on stepping outside of this hotel unless I’m making a mad dash to the bus that is going to take me to the track. It’s cold here. scratch that, it’s freezing. My flimsy California cold-weather attire had the nerve to show up here and think it was going to do something against this kind of cold. As soon as I walked outside I started coughing like I had been a smoker for the last 50 years of my life. My lungs just didn’t know what to do. I think I actually saw the driver chuckle at me.
Which brings me to the one thing I have experienced in Russia thus far. The lack of smiles. I keep grinning at people and offering a polite acknowledgement and it has yet to be returned. This must be a cultural thing, akin to what nice Midwest folks think when they visit New York, just on a slightly grander scale. I’m going to make it my mission to find a Russian that will crack a smile for me. I know it’s in there somewhere; maybe they just save them for warmer weather. Which by the way is totally understandable. The one man who did smile at me was actually hitting on me. He wanted to give me his number and offered to take me around and show me the sights, to which I had to politely decline. Not because of the weather though…just because it was downright creepy.
Other than that, I’m doing great. I just plan on resting up and getting ready to jump on Sunday. I will be up against a strong field of Russian long jumpers, half of whom I probably have never heard of, but who nonetheless will go out and pop a world leading mark and disappear back into obscurity. I swear, this country produces long jumpers like nobody’s business. Until next time…
***Let’s make today “smile at a stranger day” and hold the smile until they are forced to smile back!