The Antarcticles: Icebergs! And A Few Of My Favourite First Time Experiences

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Today I saw my first iceberg. John came and found me as I was working and told me that I could see it from my porthole if I wanted to have a look. As if it was a mere shower of hail, everyone else who’d experienced this phenomenon before shrugged at the offer and continued drinking their coffee or reading the paper; very blasé about the whole thing. I threw my cleaning stuff on the floor and in a frantic scrabble grabbed my coat and headed straight for the aft deck. Bearing in mind it’s bloody cold- cold enough for there to be icebergs bobbing about- and I was standing there in my gym shorts having just come up from a workout to restock the fridges, staring with the biggest grin on my face at this humongous block of ice. If you think a choppy sea is intimidating, wait until you come face to face with a rogue iceberg. The only obscurity in a 360 turn of a landless horizon, my buddy berg shone an excellent white as the sun hit his ragged edges and illuminated his thawing curves. It was magnificent.

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This thing must have been over thirty stories high, maybe more and seemed to sing with an epic sense of power, of self-assurance and confidence. The only one of his kind for miles around Mr. Berg floats soundlessly, only revealing his head whilst his body stretches down hundreds of metres below, potentially tickling the sea floor with his icy toes and scarring the seabed and all its inhabitants. As I stood there with my weight now naturally shifting from leg to leg with the motion of the waves, I was struck yet again by that great sense of awe I often talk about in my blogs. That overall tingling buzz, the deep excitement that squeezes all the air from out of your lungs and makes your eyes widen. I have been so lucky in my life that I have experienced this feeling countless of times. And after borrowing a camera from one of the scientists and taking some snaps of bergy myself, I began reflecting on all the times I’d had my breath taken away by experiencing something for the very first time.

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First mountains: I first went skiing in 2016 with my ex and his family, I was lucky enough to stay in a chalet in the foothills of Mount Blanc and wake up every morning to a gloriously pink ‘Monte Rosa’ while I ate my breaky and prepared for a day on the slopes. I’ve driven through non-snow covered mountains before in Vietnam and I’ve hiked and camped on the ridges of the Salkantay Mountain in Peru. However nothing had quite prepared me for the intense feeling that I felt on my first chair lift to the top of the slope. A tiny speck of dust flying silently between the bodies of these colossal landmasses, like protective white giants they encompassed me. The first time I had ever felt happily insignificant, so content with being inferior as we glided through the frozen sky. I have yearned for the mountains ever since and recently went skiing in the Pyrenees, as the lift ascended I smiled with relief as all the amazement  I’d experienced last time came flooding back to me.

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First dive: I went diving for the first time in 2015 on the small island of Koh Tao in southern Thailand, a very popular destination for diving and getting qualified as it boasts over 75 dive schools. I did my open water diving course with my brother who is a qualified instructor courtesy of the island, and his friend who was my official instructor. Now I’ve jumped out of a plane at 14,000, I’ve hiked on cliff edges, I’ve zip wired through rain forests and all thankfully with little or no fear; however diving and the thought of diving scared me senseless. I don’t know, I guess it’s partly the fear of the unknown and partly because once you’re down you can’t just pop back up again if you get a bit spooked or something goes wrong. To be honest with you, I can’t even remember agreeing to take the course in the first place as I’d had a few and I fancied my brothers friend so much that I think I’d have agreed to anything… all I remember was my brother giving me the thumbs up and me returning it. And after all the training and trying to play it cool and pretend I wasn’t absolutely terrified, I jumped in and we headed on down. It’s surprising how soothing diving is, just the strange sucking sounds of the ocean and your own breathing. All the creatures around you just carrying on with their normal daily routines as you glide noiselessly past them, observing their behaviours and the reefs they’ve made their homes.

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First volcano: Whilst I was working on board the Super Yacht I had some pretty bad personal but some pretty decent travel experiences. The best was definitely sailing very closely past Stromboli, a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the north coast of Sicily. Home to one of three of Italy’s active volcanoes it bubbles away constantly and has done since 1932, making it one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It was a beautiful sunset and we turned off the engine and I sat cross legged on the bow, my eyes glancing from left to right to try and absorb both views.

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Christ The Redeemer: Rio had been a big one on my list for so long, a place that had always appealed to me because of the unique blend of the vibrant city and blissful beaches. As luck would have it my flatmate was studying out there as part of her year abroad and invited me to come and join her for ten days before we both flew down to meet our other friend in Peru. Of course the day finally came when it was time to pay a visit to the Big Jesus and I was so eager to get up there and tick the box that had been such an early addition to my bucket list. The weather was perfect and the blue skies provided an ideal backdrop for this beautiful statue as I gazed up at him and his huge arms that stretched out in protection over the city. The view that overlooked the chalky white estates and the favelas was equally as spectacular, helicopters circling overhead and a humid haze that coated everything and made it all seem like a scene from Avatar; definitely an incredible moment for me.

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Gelato in Venice: Anyone who knows me knows I have a huge soft spot for Italy. It was the first place I’d ever travelled to alone which it why it’ll always hold a bit of sentimental value. It’s still one of my most favourite countries due to its familiarity, its culture and of course its unbeatable beauty. I’ve been to a fair few different parts of Italy, some more picturesque than others but as cliché as it sounds Venice stuck out as being particularly wonderful for me. I’ve got friends who are from Venice and despite them clucking at me and telling me that ‘everyone in Venice is sad and depressed’ ‘the food puts Italy to shame’ ‘it stinks’ etc. I don’t care because I had a great time there. I was working on a boat that was based a few hours away and I got the train to meet my brother who had flown over from Berlin to spend the weekend with me. My brother and I are as thick as thieves and spent our time running around in the sunshine like kids, dancing to the street performers and eating everything in sight. One of my most treasured memories is getting a big ol’ scoop of gelato and heading down to the waterfront to watch the gondolas float past and the light dance on the lapping waters to the distant sound of an accordion being played.

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There are so many more I can think of and each one puts a huge smile on my face… I will never tire of travelling and the wonderful feelings it brings and I will be forever thankful for the memories I have made over the years. I won’t say I’m lucky though- I have worked hard to be able to live this lifestyle, but I am thankful for my ability to always appreciate what I am doing and never take any of it for granted.

I’d love to hear what your guys’ most memorable moments are if you want to leave them in the comments section and get me all inspired !

 

C.J.R xox

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