Antarctica Continues To Heat Up, As A Cruise Destination

Crystal Cruises

Antarctica is the southern most continent on Earth and can reach temperatures as low as −129°F (−89°C). But to cruise travelers, the home of the South Pole is one of the hottest new destinations around and cruise lines are sending them there in ever-increasing numbers. Once seen as a place of treks for hearty explorers, burly men of substance and adventure travelers, luxury cruise lines are finding Antarctica a popular choice, offering a variety of itineraries.

In ‘Antarctica For Sissies? Hardly, As Luxury Cruise Line Turns New Page‘ Gadling reported luxury line Seabourn refitting Seabourn Quest to make 21- to 24-night expedition sailings later this year. The 450-passenger ship will sail from Buenos Aires, Argentina, stopping by Montevideo, Uruguay, then the Falkland Islands before spending five days in Antarctica, running Zodiac landings to a variety of ridiculously amazing places.

Now, Crystal Cruises is sailing to Antarctica for a Christmas/New Year’s cruise beginning December 21, 2013. The Buenos Aires-Valparaíso voyage aboard 922-passenger Crystal Symphony sails through Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Falkland Islands, Drake Passage, Cape Horn, and the Chilean Fjords, going ashore on the Antarctic continent multiple times.Unique to the Crystal version of Antarctica, passengers can fly, hike, and zodiac over and on the icy continent and overnight at the Chilean Eduardo Frei Antarctic Base (INACH). Neither are cheap rides though, prices start at $7,450 per person.

Ice Melting in Antarctica From Underneath

Top ten cheap local fast food items worldwide

cheap local fast foodFood is usually a major cost on the road, a significant component of any careful travel budget. Very good, inexpensive food is on offer in most of the world’s destinations, no matter how expensive average meals may be. Here are ten delicious fast food items from ten different destinations around the world.

1. Burritos, San Francisco. San Franciscans are passionate about their burritos. It’s easy to inadvertently inspire an argument through an offhand if opinionated claim about your personal burrito likes and dislkes. Try a riceless burrito at La Tacquería (2889 Mission Street) or drizzle your burrito from Tacquería Cancún (2228 Mission, among other locations) with distinctive green salsa. For $6, you’ll be sated for hours.

2. Currywurst, Berlin. Currywurst is an extraordinarily popular German fast food, a sliced pork sausage doused with curry sauce. At Konnopke’s Imbiss, a famed food stand in Berlin, a currywurst goes for just €1.70 ($2.25).

3. Okonomiyaki, Osaka. This delightful, greasy food item can be found in a number of spots around Japan, though it is firmly associated with Osaka. It’s a cabbage pancake topped with several ingredients. These often include pork, green onion, other vegetables, shrimp, fish and seaweed flakes, mayonnaise, and a dark sauce. An all-but-the-kitchen-sink okonomiyaki in Osaka will set you back around 750 yen ($9).

4. Pintxos, San Sebastián, Spain. For just a few euros, you can fill up on extraordinary pintxos (Basque tapas, see above) in countless bars in the lovely seaside city of San Sebastián. That San Sebastián is also home to some very expensive restaurants is an entertaining notion to contemplate while you’re scarfing three perfect €3 ($4) pintxos for lunch in a crowded bar. See Todo Pintxos for a listing of pintxos perches.

5. Hawker centres, Singapore. Many of Singapore’s hawker centers, which are more or less open-air food courts, serve up very high quality portions of food for very little. As little as S$4 ($3) will get you off to a good start. Among Singapore’s many hawker centers, check out Maxwell Hawker Centre, Chomp Chomp, and Lau Pa Sat.6. Kizilkayalar’s Islak burgers, Istanbul. They’re cheap, at 2 lira (under $1.50) and they’re delicious. These small burgers are a late night Istanbul mainstay. Kizilkayalar has two locations in Istanbul.

7. Bò bía, Saigon, Vietnam. This delicious Vietnamese food item consists of pickled vegetables, sweet sausage, small dried prawns, and noodles wrapped in a rice paper roll. This typical Saigon street food item, adapted from Chinese popiah, is cheap and delicious. Cost: around 10000 dong ($.50) per portion.

8. Chivitos, Montevideo. Chivitos are the top Uruguayan fast food option, a huge mess of a beef sandwich with egg, bacon, mayonnaise, vegetables, and other toppings. A fast track to a heart attack for sure, but a delicious one. The cheapest chivito at Guga Chivitos goes for 90 pesos ($4.50).

9. Som Tam, Thailand. This spicy salad made with not-yet-ripe papaya is a popular street food (and restaurant dish) across Thailand. It’s an appealing taste sensation, with sweet, salty, spicy, and sour components. A decent helping of som tam shouldn’t set you back more than 60 baht ($2).

10. Roti, Port of Spain. The capital of Trinidad and Tobago is full of roti shops selling this extraordinarily filling Caribbean fast food, and locals have very strong opinions about which shop does the best job. You shouldn’t need to part with more than TT$30 ($4.75) at any of several dozen roti shops for a perfect lunch.

Thanks to fellow Gadling contributors Jeremy Kressmann and Meg Nesterov for suggestions.

[Image: Flickr / RinzeWind]

Sun-loving world travelers seek endless summer

Call it a refusal to grow up, an inability to tolerate winter weather, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but some travelers will do anything to prolong their summer vacation.

A recent CNN article profiles a handful of travelers and entrepreneurs who have planned their lives around seeking sun rather than snow. Appropriately enough, folks like this are sometimes referred to as “summer chasers.”

If the pursuit of sunshine appeals to you, the article offers the following tips:

Plan ahead
Couple Jared Heyman and Lauren Goldstein saved their money to fulfill a longtime goal: to travel the world for a year, visiting every continent without a set itinerary. Their one requirement: to only visit places with warm climates. Says Heyman, “To us, summer means freedom. Since we’re taking a year to travel…without work or other responsibilities, summer seemed like the most appropriate season to chase. Our strategy is to always be wherever it’s summertime, even if that means switching continents and hemispheres when necessary.”

The couple is currently in Italy, but following stops in Greece and Croatia, they will head to the Southern Hemisphere, visiting Cape Town, South Africa, Mauritius and Zanzibar. Then on to South America for the holidays, followed by Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives (hopefully they won’t decide to get married there), and the Seychelles.

Find a job that lets you live in endless summer
If you don’t have the savings to quit your job so you can travel, why not find a career that keeps you in a warm climate, or on the beach?

Michael Turner Winning of British Columbia is a private chef on a Florida yacht. The job enables him to travel and experience summer nearly full-time. He works 11 months a year in balmy climes like Maui and West Palm Beach.

Take your professional aspirations where the sun shines
Thanks to technology, working remotely is easier than ever, even from a private island or multiple countries.

Twenty-two-year-old (!) Colin Pladmonton of Washington state co-founded Spreadsong, a company that develops mobile applications. His occupation is enabling him to travel the world indefinitely, staying in hostels and affordable rented bungalows in temperate parts of Argentina, as well as Montevideo, Uruguay, and Panama.

“No Reservations” season 4, episode 14: Uruguay

Location: it’s a Bourdain family vacation to Uruguay, the hidden secret of South America. Quietly tucked between beach-strewn Brazil and boisterous Argentina, Uruguay is the unsung hero of grilled meats, beautiful scenery and a quintessential “laid-back” lifestyle.

Episode Rating: Four bloody meat cleavers out of five. The cleavers are extra bloody this week from the insane amount of meat Tony eats during his Uruguayan odyssey. It’s worth noting that the high ratings so far this season are not inflated – every single new episode this summer has made for highly-watchable television.

Summary: Little did we know, but the Bourdain family has a colorful family history, starting with Tony’s grandfather who headed across the Atlantic in 1918 to settle for a few years in Uruguay. It is this mysterious voyage across the ocean which frames Tony’s trip. Who were his ancestors? What was life like in early 20th Century Uruguay? To help in his quest, Bourdain invites along his brother Chris, and the siblings set off to try and find some answers (and possibly eat some animal flesh during their downtime).
There’s no better place to begin a trip to Uruguay then by visiting the country’s capital, Montevideo. It’s a majestic old gem of a city, full of crumbling old buildings and picturesque streets. And perhaps no landmark is more emblematic of Uruguay than the Mercado del Puerto, arguably the “beating heart” of the country. The market is filled with vendors selling a virtual cornucopia of meat of every shape and size, slow-cooked a la parrilla (on the grill) over the burning coals of a huge wood-fed fire.

It’s here that Tony lays out his “meat manifesto” for his brother while the two gorge themselves on steak, sausages and loins served with a side of the ubiquitous chimichurri sauce. The consumption of potatoes, vegetables or bread of any kind while eating meat is forbidden! It only serves to fill you up so you can eat less meat. Mercado del Puerto truly seems tailor-made for Mr. Bourdain.

But this is Uruguay after all – there’s much more grilled flesh to be eaten, so Bourdain and his brother travel to “Gaucho country” near the village of La Galleja to visit a Uruguayan estancia. While there, Tony is hosted by a family originally from Canada that has made the Uruguayan countryside their home. The family cooks a huge feast in honor of Chris and Tony’s visit, including a whole piglet a la parrilla, an Estofado (a South American stew) made with sweet potatoes and Nandu and the centerpiece: an armadillo. Tony’s reaction: it tastes like chicken. Really Tony? Is this not the cardinal sin of food television?

Next up is the sleepy village of Garzon, population 200, where Tony pays a visit to renowned chef Francis Mallmann. Mallman has retreated from the glitzy dining scene of nearby Punta del Este to focus his energies on simple, traditional Uruguayan cooking. To demonstrate his new focus, he prepares Tony a meal using the traditional styles of asado – meat cooked between two iron grills, meat cooked in salt crust, vegetables cooked in hot ash and a pascualina spinach-egg pie on the side. As they eat this simple, delicious meal, Francis and Anthony discuss virtues of patience and the ultimate simplicity and primal nature of barbecue. The normally vitriolic Bourdain is downright mellow and rightfully so – an enormous simple meal of grilled meats seems to be perfectly suited to Bourdain’s temperment.

Seemingly satisfied with his time in the interior, Bourdain heads for the coast where he relaxes in Punta del Este, Uruguay’s infamous summer beach retreat for the rich and famous. After sunning himself on a beautiful stretch of sand, Tony and Chris have dinner seaside at La Huella, where they dine on fire-roasted prawns and sauteed octopus. Not surprisingly the Uruguayan seafood is just as good as the barbecue.

The two brothers then head up the coast to the hippie enclave of Cabo Polonio. They drink at a small bar with a local named Raoul, downing shots of the local moonshine made from grapes while the bar’s pet penguin, Pancho, scurries about beneath their feet. How did the penguin get there? He just sort of got lost one day and decided to stay. About the same way most wanderers find themselves in Cabo Polonio.

Upon their return to Montevideo, Tony and brother Chris conclude their visit at a raucous street fair featuring chorizo sandwiches, some drum based candombe music and siete y tres cocktails made from a mixture of red wine and coke. Though Bourdain and his crew clearly planned the event for television, the scene quickly becomes a full-fledged party as the friendly locals notice the commotion and begin to gather. It’s fairly typical of Uruguay – it just sort of sneaks up on you with its beauty, its surprising and fantastic food and the unassuming friendliness of the locals. But don’t expect Uruguay to stay under the radar much longer – a place this good can only stay a secret for so long.

NY Times on Uruguay

MontevideoIt always brings me great pleasure to come across travel stories on Montevideo or the country of Uruguay as a whole. South America is a continent I have yet to set foot on, but I’ve always told myself that when I go, Uruguay would be the first stop. You could say I’ve always been attracted to the name mainly, but somewhere deep down inside I have this hunch that Montevideo has a lot to reveal. Reading this NY Times piece on the country certainly confirms many of my own preconceived notions, but a flight over would seal the deal.

In their piece they point potential visitors to the National History Museum to start. From the museum walk your way to the Palacio Taranco, a sprawling castle from 1910 with stone urns and Roman arches. Beyond all, the story goes to say that design geeks will be pleased to find that design is growing and growing. Wander the town and scope out the graffiti in Plaza Independencia or the odd building known as Palacio Salvo. I could tell you more, but if you’re as interested in visiting Uruguay as I am, you’ll probably want to do yourself the favor of reading it on your own. I didn’t even get to the half of it, plus NY Times also serves you the 411 on getting down there.