When I tell people that I am headed to the Arctic in winter, the general response is ‘less than enthused’.
In fact, a few weeks ago I had a reader email me and extremely condescendingly tell me how foolish I was for visiting Denmark in January, and that a girl like me would much prefer to visit Croatia or somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Condescension (and a hint of misogyny) aside, this reader seemed to find it unfathomable that somebody could actually enjoy cold climates, but I promise you, such people exist.
I have never been one to dream about summer, beaches, white sand and blistering heat. I can not recall one time in my life that I have found myself longing for these things.
There are a bunch of explanations for why I have an aversion to warm weather.
Maybe it is a result of getting hideously sunburnt at aquatics when I was in year five? It was horrible, by that afternoon the skin on my arms had already bubbled up and become pus-filled blisters. The skin on my forearms has never truly recovered from this burning – it is much darker than the skin elsewhere on my body, has mild scarring and more freckles than you can poke a stick at.
Or maybe it is because of where I was born? Growing up in South Australia meant that I was never too far from a beautiful beach, and maybe this has had an effect. We seem to desire things that are perceived as foreign, exotic or unattainable, so could it be that my lack of desire for summer and beaches is because such things were always well within reach?
Or could it just be a simple case of the ‘grass is greener’. Could I be romanticising winter and snow simply because they are the complete opposite of what I have?
Whatever the reason, I really do prefer winter. To me, it is the only time of year that seems truly magical.
I love winter clothes and thick winter socks. I love hearty soups and a good hot toddy. I love rain and snow and bitterly cold winds. I love curling up in front of a fire (or heater) or just turning on my personal heating system with a few too many whiskys down at a cosy pub. I love mulled wine and European Christmas markets. I really just love everything about cold weather!
Sure, there are downsides. Cold feet make me grumpy (thank god for woolen socks), cold wind gives me chapped lips and makes my hair look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards. Sitting on a freezing cold toilet seat is a rarely discussed form of torture and getting out of a hot shower (or out of a warm bed) is a constant exercise in mental strength.
However, despite all these downsides, for me, Winter is still by far the best time of year.
Travelling in the heat fricking sucks! I get sweaty, I get gross, I have to do laundry more often, my energy levels fall down into my boots and it just seems inevitable that I end up sunburnt.
In contrast, the winter seems to energise me. It seems to give me the ‘get up and go’ and unlimited drive and excitement for exploring new places.
So, with that said, yes, I am travelling to the Arctic and Europe in the winter time. I set off in a few weeks and am counting down the days with the most excitement that I have felt in ages.
It is fine if you do not fancy visiting colder climates in winter, after all, every person likes different things, but before you go and write off my travel plans as ‘stupid’ or ‘unpleasant’ or ‘unwise’, have a little think about the following:
Winter travel is synonymous with white snow, snowflakes on eyelashes (stop me before I start singing Raindrops on Roses), reindeer, dog sledding, the Northern Lights, hotels made completely out of ice (yep – stay tuned, I will be visiting an ice hotel), snowmobiling, less tourists and the amazingness that comes with stepping into a real life winter wonderland.
Denmark, Greenland, Svalbard and Sweden – get ready, I am coming for you!