Tag Archives: antarctica

How to do time-off in lavish, adventurous style, pt. 2.

Hi folks!

Since in part one we finished up in the Antarctic, let’s stay there – remembering fondly our journey to… the South Pole!

It all happened suddenly and wholly unexpectedly, yet it turned out to be one of the most memorable trips of my life. Accordingly, it comes in at No. 3 in this here list of mine highlighting my most unusual, unique and unbelievably amazing touristic adventures from the awesome side…

No. 3: the South Pole

Briefly about this trip – here; in depth about this trip – here. Today though – a summary, plus few pieces of crucial photographic evidence… ) ->

First up – selfie, using the actual (ceremonial) South Pole to get our reflection in! ->

The more cynically/critically-minded among you, dear readers, could be forgiven for thinking something along the lines of: “South Pole? Sure – cool, but hardly super-exclusive/awesome, and actually costing something like the price of a small car”. And I’d have to agree; however, our expedition to the South Pole was uniquely unusual…

Read on: How to do time-off in lavish, adventurous style, pt. 2.

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 ) ->

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024

Instagram photostream

Poles, meridians, tropics, circles – a brief digression.

What with our crossing – on foot – the Tropic of Capricorn in Namibia, which I told you about in yesterday’s post, I got to thinking about the two very important geographical points, seven lines, a pair of meridians, and five parallels that adorn our globe – in all, nine objects:

– The North Pole;
– the South Pole;
– the Greenwich meridian;
– the 180th meridian;
– the equator;
– the Arctic Circle;
– the Tropic of Cancer;
– the Tropic of Capricorn; and
– the Antarctic Circle.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been at both the Poles and I’ve crossed all the meridians and parallels plenty times (mostly not noticing – high up in a plane). But it’s alas only seldom I’ve walked across, along, and photographed these geographical objects like I did recently with the Tropic of Capricorn. Still, let me go over what I have ticked off, and what remains still in my to-do list…

I. The North Pole: been.

All my tales from the northernmost side point are here. Specifically, a highlight for me – taking a dip in a hole cut in the polar ice (at the Barneo ice base) – here!

https://instagram.com/p/BpmWGgEAuhd

And btw: in good weather, the North Pole looks like this:

Read on…

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Arctic or Antarctic?… The answers.

Hi folks!

As promised, herewith, my answers to Thursday’s polar quiz questions:

Ok, first – my answers to those four non-visual questions:

Question 1: How do you get to the North Pole?

Answer A: The simplest and cheapest method:

Buy a plane ticket from Dubai to Seattle or San Francisco. These routes fly real close to the Geographic North Pole. I believe the route Anchorage-Frankfurt (on Condor) also still does too (I flew it back in 2013, but I was sleeping around the time of the near-polar-flyover). While back in the mid-nineties there was a direct Aeroflot flight between Moscow and San Francisco, and they even gave out ‘flown over the North Pole’ certificates!

Answer B: Another, more expensive, way of getting to the North Pole – this time actually right to it, up close and personal freezing – is on one of the regular expeditions organized by the Russian company VICAAR.

Those two gents in the above pic are Victor Boyarskiy and Leonid Plenkin, who escort you up to the North Pole if you decide to go with VICAAR. Btw, that photo was taken in an Antonov An-74, en route from Svalbard to Barneo; from Barneo to the North Pole you take a helicopter.

Read on: another simple way …

Photo-quiz: where were these pics taken – the Arctic or Antarctica?

Hi Folks!

As promised, herewith, a rewind back to all things polar… – but with a twist. It’s not a full-on description of what I was doing recently up at the North Pole, or why; that, I’m sure (if I do ever get some free time, finally!), will come later.

No, this post is a bit of fun. Why fun? Because I’ve been on the road for three weeks now, visited 10 counties/territories in the process, and think I – and by extension you – need a little fun. (And I need to get home fast too to recharge my batteries, catch up on sleep, and lower the levels of adrenaline in the bloodstream.)

So, fun?…

Yes: for this here post is a quiz. Just that in itself is a twist (since when has a whole post of mine been nothing but a quiz?). But there’s more twistiness: it’s a purely visual quiz – as in, all questions relate to photographs (taken be me). No wordy brainteasers.

Ok, now, the word in bold above gives the game away to some extent as to what these pics are of (and, thus – what this quiz is about), but, and here’s even more twistiness: it just so happens that this quiz, based on these pics, isn’t just about the North Pole. It’s also about the South Pole, since, handily, I’ve been to both. And since I don’t know many folks who have been to both the top and the bottom of the world – and in fact none who are also photography freaks like me – well, I thought I’d capitalize on this rare lucky combination and have a bit of fun with it. Crikey, that’s a long intro to explain just what this post is about!

Ok, long explanation over, let me put it another, laconic, way: this is a visual quiz where you have to work out where all the following pics are taken: near the North Pole in the Arctic, or near the South Pole in Antarctica. That’s it! (What could be simpler?:)

Oops, nearly forgot: there are four non-visual questions in this quiz too. They are:

  1. How do you get to the North Pole?
  2. How do you get to the South Pole?
  3. Why would you want to get to the North Pole?
  4. Why would you want to get to the South Pole?

I’ve quite a few different answers to those four (they’ll come in a later post), but I’m just curious as to what you might come up with. Maybe your answers would be way cooler than mine?

Anyway, without much more of ado, let’s get this polar quiz started:

  1. To start with, two of my fave polar pics. No guessing needed for these two; they’re just a warm-up:

    Btw: you won’t believe how far those mountains in the background on both pics are. Ok, you can guess those distances too ).

Read on…

The Terrific Travels and Astonishing Adventures of Midori Kuma.

Midori Kuma came into this world in Tokyo, Japan. We know little about his childhood, in fact – almost nothing at all…

In his youth he led a somewhat free-and-easy, unrestrained way of life – indeed the antithesis of the archetypal Hikikomori. According to folks who knew him back then, Midori Kuma was often to be found at various Japanese parties, presentations, exhibitions and conferences. In other words, he led the same kind of life he leads today – that of an active participant doing the rounds on the society circuit.

Read on: Midori Kuma gets attention from ladies…

A Floating Hotel – Almost.

I can’t tell you all about my Antarctic adventure without telling you all about the ship we sailed across the Drake Passage on. So here we go folks, a post on the one and only Akademik Sergey Vavilov. Here she is, in all her glory:

First up, the engine room. Here’s it’s all about electronic automation, but more of an analogue kind (see the analogue dials) than the full-on digitization of today – a sign that this ship was born in 1988. Yep, that’s when the ship first hit the water – in Rauma in Finland (be ready for quite a bit of Finnish language coming up…). Back then this was state of the art; still today it does a grand job…

Read on: Big thanks to all the crew!…

The Passage of Drake – Sure Makes Ships Shake.

[Titles ON]

On the recent Antarctic adventure I was accompanied by:

  • Our green bear (in Japanese – Midori Kuma, or 緑熊);
  • My travel companions A.S. and D.Z.;
  • A large troop of modern artists taking part in the Antarctic Biennale;
  • Journalists, photographers, bloggers (inc. moi!), etc.;
  • The crew of the Akademik Sergey Vavilov;
  • The OneOcean team (who were absolutely great, btw) (// I’ll be doing a special advert for them later on; for now – modest props:);
  • If there’s anyone I haven’t mentioned – apologies; will make up for any oversight.

[Titles OFF]

So, how does one get to the Antarctic Peninsula?

Well, you could go on a special plane (yep, they have aerodromes there), or, like most polar adventurers – by ship. By ship you’re likely to set sail from the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage to the northernmost tip of Antarctica (yes, that does sound an odd combination:).

You thought it was a mere ‘English Channel’ between the civilization (bed, shower, toilet, Internet) of southern Argentina or Chile to the wilderness (not much besides ice, whales, penguins, icebergs) of the northernmost Antarctic islands? No, it’s a lot further than that – a whole 1000km (600 nautical miles) – and all of them in the Drake Passage, meaning the icy winds of the 60th parallel south, which are fiercer than the Roaring Forties.

Read on: But we were lucky…

The Intriguingly Unique World of (Antarctic) Polar Stations.

After artists, penguins and whales, the time has come to talk about… Antarctic polar stations!

This may at first seem rather a dull topic, but I can assure you it isn’t. I mean, just how do folks live their daily lives so far from civilization? Remember – civilization here = ~0! No roads, no comms, no utilities, no shops, no schools, no… people – hardly ).

Just how folks live here depends on the location of a particular polar station.

Both the American Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station (right next to the South Pole) and the Russian Vostok Station at the southern Pole of Cold have a winter running ~ from May to September, when it never gets light – non-stop blackness for nearly six months! – plus temperatures among the coldest on earth. Both stations run completely autonomously every winter – meaning no one comes or goes for six months, and it’s hardly worth even stepping outside it’s that cold and windy. Lovely. Even the International Space Station is more hospitable for Homo Sapiens – at least they can hop down to earth when they need to. Here – the residents have to wait until summer for the privilege.

And talking of privilege, I was privileged enough to have been inside the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station – the new, roomy, two-story one that’s still there today. Have a look at my pics – here. It even has its own hothouse.

The polar stations on the Antarctic shore have it easier – and the further north from the polar circle, the better (warmer). The inhabitants we met say that living conditions at the Belllingshausen Station are more comfortable than in the Russian Far North. And the pay’s better!

Here’s Bellingshausen, from both the inside and out:

So, fancy a stint of ultra-isolation for half a year? Thought not! Actually, even if you did – you’ve hardly a camel’s chance in Antarctica: the competition to be among the chosen few is really tough, we were told. Who’d have thought it?

Read on: Oh my gorilka!…

Humpback Whales Having a Whale of a Time.

Hi folks! Herewith, more tales from the Antarctic side…

In this installment I’ll be telling you about the third most-important inhabitant of Antarctica – whales.

Whales are third-in-line in the Antarctic pecking order after penguins (second-in-line) and Antarctic Krill (top dogs crustaceans). What the Krill? King Krill? Never heard of them, right? Well this lesser known species is Antarctic city hall since it’s first in line in the food chain down here. It’s because of the abundance of this crustacean (I’m talking probably megatons thereof in polar seas) that both whales and penguins are able to get more than their fill of animal fat. However, Krill live underwater all the time so you never get to see any – and that went for us too, so I’ll not be telling you about them. I’ve already told you about penguins here. So next up – whales; specifically – humpback whales, which were the ones we saw…

1.

2.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSUSBQcBCEz/

Read on: a veritable