The Artisan Blog
There’s a saying that is popular among residents of Alaska.
“If you cut Alaska in half” they’ll say with undisguised pleasure, “Texas would only be the third largest state in America.”
to truly get under the skin of America's 49th state would take a lifetime
We all know that Texas is pretty large but, from the temperate rainforests of the south to the Arctic tundra in the north, Alaska is immense and to truly get under the skin of America’s 49th state would take a lifetime of exploration. In the north particularly, the terrain becomes pretty inhospitable, magnificent but inhospitable, and light aircraft have become an integral part of life in the more isolated northerly parts. I’ve enjoyed some remarkable flights in my time but the journey across the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks to Coldfoot will last long in the memory.
Ice Road Truckers – The Nicest People You’ll Never Meet
My life working in travel has taken me to some spectacular places and along the way I’ve met countless fascinating and kind-hearted people but, it was the people I didn’t meet on Alaska’s James Dalton Highway who impressed me as much as anybody.
Next services 240 miles
The Dalton Highway was built as a service road to support the construction of the Alaskan Pipeline and nowadays its principal purpose is to serve the oilfields in the far, far north of America’s 49th state. Kings of this particular highway are the huge trucks that ply their trade along its 414 mile course and any fans of the TV programme “Ice Road Truckers” will be familiar with their burly, lumberjack shirted drivers. Theirs is a dangerous job. Here in Alaska’s wildest frontier there is little in the way of shelter or support for any driver whose truck breaks down or, worse yet, crashes. The road signs tell the story best. For example, as the truckers head south from Prudhoe Bay they encounter the news below.....
We live crazy modern-day lives, always on the go with little time for relaxation or reflection. Of course, there are all sorts of quick fixes for the stresses of contemporary living such as yoga or visiting a spa but we’re prepared to bet that few people consider dog sledding as the antidote to the hustle and bustle of our present-day existences.
Time to think......imagine such a thing!
By its very nature, dog sledding takes you to a quieter and more remote place far removed from the traffic and crowds of our urban centres but, it also provides time to both reflect and relax. Imagine yourself standing on a sled being pulled by a team of willing canines. On easy stretches such as a vast flat frozen lake, there is little to do other than marvel at the scenery, enjoy the near perfect silence and think. Time to think....imagine such a thing!
My swim between the land masses of Europe and America was far less of a challenge than I initially anticipated, it required neither years of training and preparation nor support teams and record breaking feats of endurance. On the chilly February morning which had been chosen for my swim, I woke in my cosy double bed in Reykjavik (which was to be the starting point of my adventure), enjoyed a delicious continental breakfast and waited for my crew to collect me in reception, without any real sense of trepidation at all.
Credit: Dive. is
That was the cry in the late 1890’s which sparked one of the greatest human stampedes in history. The rumour mill was rife and, motivated by tales of nuggets as big as a fist just waiting to be picked up off the ground, a wave of humanity headed towards the vast northern wilderness. In those days there was no TV, no internet and no mobile phones so the news slowly filtered down to Seattle and San Francisco from where it spread like a gathering wildfire across North America and further afield.
From all corners of the world, it is estimated that at least 100,000 wildly optimistic would-be miners set out for the north with absolutely no knowledge of what lay ahead. They had no inkling of the long bitter winters that awaited them nor did they know of the huge distances to be negotiated across the vast, untamed and largely uncharted wilderness that lay ahead. From the UK, Europe, Australasia and elsewhere they came; lawyers, dentists, factory workers, teachers, newspapermen, conmen, farmers simply gave up their work and headed north in search of the Promised Land.
The Alentejo Coast is not the Algarve nor does it pretend to be.
This long overlooked stretch of dramatic cliffs, villages of white walled houses and sandy beaches is where the more discerning Lisbonite now chooses to take their holidays and who I am to argue.
In their search for a more secluded and authentic experience the Portuguese are finally making the most of what is right on their doorstep. My own experience on the Alentejo Coast began in Milfontes just two hours from Lisbon. It is the perfect size with a great selection of restaurants – where else do you get the opportunity to eat a delicious seafood stew while watching the owner's pet octopus reach out of his tank to high-five the customers.
I woke up this morning in my cosy Northern Lights Cabin and looked out of the window to see the sun shining down on the far side of the river.
I went to Harriniva to see my guests. They were super excited as they were about to go out on a 17km Husky Safari. I was telling them all about our 420 dogs and their smiles got bigger the more I told them.
Céret which was once referred to as home by Picasso and Matisse is famous for its art and artists.
Located South West France close to the Spanish border and at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains, Céret is a quaint little town. Here you will find characterful buildings, quirky art shops and charming cafés.
Céret which is often referred to as a haven for artists was given an added artistic boost when the Museum of Modern Art opened. Artists have flocked to the area to view the many famous paintings by Picasso and Matisse. It is not only these two artists who have frequented the area, others include Chagall, Dufy and Dalí who have all visited.
One of my first trips when I joined The Artisan Travel Company brought me to the beautiful island Gozo. After arriving at Malta airport, my taxi driver was already waiting for me and I was brought to the ferry port to board the ferry.
Already just the crossing from Malta to Gozo gave me a holiday feeling.
As I was so excited about the trip I almost forgot to pick up my luggage, but thankfully my friendly taxi driver reminded me to do so. My adventure could then finally begin.
I checked into my lovely room and had a wonder around the hotel, which has a converted 350 year old farmhouse as its central area.
The village of Xaghra is only a few minutes' walk away, so I decided to go and was positively surprised, to be honest. It is a small, picturesque village and also offers a historical heritage.
After I had seen the village, I decided to stroll back to my hotel and enjoy the rest of my day and the lovely sunshine.
As my grandma always used to say "to be on the move is good for your body and soul".
That is probably why I've always been a person who likes to leave the car in the garage and go for a walk.
There is nothing better after a long day at work or when you just want to escape daily life.
After I started working for The Artisan Travel Company, I had the opportunity to do this wonderful self-guided walking trip and as I really like walking and hiking this was the perfect trip for me. For safety reasons you are not allowed to do it by yourself, so I just had to convince my colleague Jono that walking can be great fun!
When we arrived at Ajaccio Airport our taxi driver brought us to our hotel, which was the perfect starting point to explore the city. It is only a couple of yards away from the beach, nice restaurants and the port. After checking into our rooms we had a wander around the city and a meet and greet with our local experts. They gave us a lot of tips for our walks and provided us with useful maps and route notes. We then finished off our day with a delicious dinner in a restaurant near to the port.
Articles by month
- Ali Mclean (19)
- Amy Hope (13)
- Barry Nolan (2)
- Amy Walkington-Gray (1)
- Dawn Kitson (14)
- Jono Archer (5)
- Katrina Seator (1)
- Graham Hughes (3)
- Katharina Rogalski (4)
- Sarah Whale (1)
- Andy Marshall (2)
- Jenni Meikle (2)
- Alex Charlton (2)
- Mark McFaul (11)
- James Hamilton (2)
- Allan Cooper (1)
- Lauren Wiggett (2)
- Kirsty Wood (4)