Everything You Always Wanted to Know About a Billionaire’s Time Off* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) – pt. 1.

Hi folks!

Since there are a few days until my next business trip, followed by two weeks of well-deserved vacationing, there’s a short window to pause, have a think, and come up with a topic that’s both unusual and (I hope) interesting for you, dear readers. And this is what I’ve come up with…

As a company, we’re big into social media. And I personally am big into it too. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Flickr (besides my own blog, which you’re reading now) – and that’s just in English! I get lots of comments on those different accounts but, alas, I simply don’t have the time to read them all – much less get into discussions there. However, when a bit of free time does appear, I take a good long look. And one such occasion arose recently…

I was browsing through a stack of questions, when one caught my attention in particular. It went: “Why does a billionaire pretend to be a simple tourist?” Another went: “Tell us about the yachts and boats you sail on, what fancy camera you use for all your pics, and how you organize your big events.”

Re camera: I got a Sony Alpha 7 in 2015, and in 2022 I upgraded to a Sony Alpha 1 (pics [plenty of goodies!] only; Russian text). Yes, I like my Sonys.

Re how we organize our big bashes: I’m awaiting full info from our corporate events team. We’ve been putting on big events for decades now, and in recent years they’ve been numbering around 20 per year. So, yes, we know a thing or two about conferences and other big pow-wows and celebrations. Let’s see what they come back with. Meanwhile… check this tag out.

Re yachts and boats, and assorted other expensive pastimes and tourisms, for those that are new to this here blog – I can only disappoint: no yacht, no castle, no soccer team, no jet… None of that’s for me. However, one thing I do like to spend my hard earned rubles on is… – adventure tourism. So, here, I’m going to go over some of that – to introduce it to the newcomers among you, and to refresh the tales-from-the-extreme-tourism-side for the old-timers here…

And I’ll order things from the bottom up: from the deepest oceanic depths and up to the highest mountainous (better – volcan-ous!) heights – and higher!…

Starting with ocean depths – this will be brief. I’m a contemplative-meditative tourist, so I was never too keen on going deep-sea diving. Bathyscaphes and submarines – no thanks: you can hardly see anything when real deep anyway. I need to see something beautiful to contemplate-meditate upon…

Closer to the surface, though there’s visibility, everything’s still somehow rather banal. Sure, I’ll partake in a few scuba dives in, say, Seychelles, Maldives, Australia, or among the Galapagos Islands – but I’m no fan. Accordingly, I can’t report on anything too extravagant in the shallow underwater regard – no matter how exotic the location.

But on the surface of seas and oceans – now that’s more my thing. Evidence? Already three long ship cruises around the Kurils, with daily disembarkations onto the volcanic islands. Yes – I think it’s fair to say that’s exclusive – hardly anyone does the Kurils like that. More exclusivity? Does a trip to Antarctica on a large research vessel with artists from all over the world count? )

Aha – here’s a pic from that expedition. Oh, and can you guess what that land mass on the horizon is called? Look closely ) ->

So yes, No. 1: the Kuril Islands. Astonishingly beautiful islands – but in an astonishingly unhospitable climate. And, like I say – folks just don’t go there. There are no standard tours there, so you have to plan the route yourself (or with the help of knowledgeable folks). You also have to find a sufficiently large ship – and well in advance (like – a year or even two years in advance!). In short – the Kurils aren’t easy, and they’re not budget-friendly – but they’re still crazy beautiful!

I’ve managed to travel the full length of the Kurils Islands (of which there are 57), and I’ve put ashore on 15 of them. In 2019 I managed to do the full length of the string of islands twice – top to bottom (north to south), then back again. And mercifully we were blessed with freak amazing weather. Check out my series of posts thereon.

Btw, the Kurils are home to the most beautiful contemplative-meditative object on the planet, IMHO – Krenitsyn volcano. Check it out!

You can sit and stare at Krenitsyn forever. Simply out of this world ->

Its neighbors are similarly extraordinarily beautiful too; for example, Ushishir:

And you’ll notice – no one about! This is another bonus that makes the Kurils ever so special )…

Btw, we toured the isles on the simplest of vessels: in no way is this a yacht with all its creature comforts. But what can you do? It’s the only option. Sure, it wasn’t too comfortable, but we didn’t do the Kurils for 5* comforts now did we? )…

Oleg Tinkoff said I really should use his La Datcha yacht. Tempting, but our group was bigger than 12 pax (the max for any private yacht). Also, I wanted a captain who knows the locality – the bays, the cliffs, the good islands, the not-so-good, etc. – not one better acquainted with the Mediterranean’s more salubrious ports-of-call ).

No. 2Antarctica cruise, 2017

We rented the rather large Akademik Sergey Vavilov for the trip:

…Which took modern artists and art performers (and me and a few colleagues) on a cruise along the shores of Antarctica and surrounding islands:

Such a tour can be bought by anyone with fairly deep pockets; however, undertaking one in with strangers – all modern artists from all around the world, and in such extremely unique surroundings – that was something uniquely unusual, unforgettable, and – dare I say – exclusive? )

Moreover, the expedition’s leader – Alexander Ponomarev – knows the captain well, which adds a little something to the experience. Example: you can enter the bridge, shake hands with the captain, then watch as he proceeds to navigate the ship to calmer waters. “18-meter-high waves? Not today thank you,” I recall him saying ). No joke though: after all – he got us safely through the infamously treacherously turbulent Drake Passage!

Btw, Midori Kuma came with us on the expedition. He was most impressed with Antarctica and the artists that traveled with us. Whereas I was most impressed by how modern-arty my photos of him amid Antarctic landscapes came out ) ->

And that’s all for today folks. First installment of the mini-series on my extravagantly-exclusive travels – more in terms of extreme locations than extreme opulence – done. More to follow; stay tuned!…

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