New adventures on the horizon - from luxury camping to ?????

There comes a time in every traveller’s life when one takes a huge leap of faith and just plunges feet first into the next adventure.  With that being said, I had now inadvertently committed to traipsing around Europe with my 16 year old niece for part of the sweltering hot summer months.  Usually one to economize and travel on the off season, when flights and hotels are at least 35% cheaper, I was now forced to (egad!) pay full price for an airline ticket on a cheap over-crowded charter carrier that was crammed full of loud, obnoxious and care-free teenagers out to conquer the world.  Yikes!!  What had I gotten myself into?

Don’t get me wrong here.  There is nothing more entertaining than hanging out with the French Revolutionary kid, getting banned for life from stepping foot into the Palace of Versailles (kind of kidding, but not quite), eating pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and being called a “mean ol’ Auntie” at least once or twice a day, oftentimes on an hourly basis, as required in order to achieve the desired results.

So, the next couple of weeks are certainly going to indeed be interesting, if not challenging.  The kid has an upcoming summer European school trip and the plan is to meet up somewhere on the continent afterwards.  Busy reading up on her travel books, my niece had some far-out ideas about what constituted an ideal holiday.  Let me share a couple of the highlights of excursions that we are most definitely NOT undertaking this time around:  Camping out in the tropical rain forests of the Amazonian jungle is not the picnic “walk in the park” that the kid made it out to be and unless we’re going to go all out and jump on the “glamping” bandwagon, then this middle aged pink-sneakered Auntie will just go check herself into a luxurious spa hotel instead. Like, seriously - relieve my pre-historic girl-scout misery of desperately rubbing two sticks together in order to channel non-existent fire? You call that fun?  More like deliberately tormenting impressionable youngsters into believing that caveman Fred Flintstone mumbo jumbo.

This “glamping” thing, on the other hand, has me quite intrigued.  Apparently, it’s the “new and improved” upgraded luxury version of archaic old-fashioned “sludging around in the mud” camping.  Why cram yourself into a confining sleeping bag in an equally smelly claustrophobic tent, endure being eaten alive by swarming mosquitoes and allow yourself to become possible prey for wandering bears and coyotes – all in the desire to commune with nature?  Why not go “all the way” and hang out with the llamas, giraffes and crocodiles from a more chi chi and glamorous perspective instead? “Roughing it” in the wilderness from the comforts of your opulent “home away from home” is a far more pleasant experience when you are sleeping on designer bed-sheets, walking barefoot on luxurious Persian carpets and being catered to by on-site chefs.

Cropping up in the early 1990’s in Africa and Thailand, the phenomenon of “glamping” found a niche market in safari adventure seeking tourists anxious to enjoy the comforts of a five star hotel whilst hanging with the zebras and exotic jungle animals in their native habitats.  Willing to fork over hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per night, these “glampers” have brought boy-scout camping to an ultra glam level of “spare no expense” sophistication.

The origins of a more refined and dignified way of “roughing it” goes centuries back, to the time of the Ottoman Empire, where sultans languished the days away in sumptuously furnished tents, their every whim coddled to by their armies of chefs and servants.

And so my dilemma has unofficially begun…where oh where should my pink sneakers take me? The possibilities are endless – from magical carpet rides along the Sahara to house-boating on the river Seine – perhaps I’ll just close my eyes, spin the globe and see where my pink-sneakered feet land.  After all, life is an adventure, n’est-ce pas?

Next week – Stay tuned!!

Come traipse along the twisting, winding cobble-stoned paths with me....take a page out of your travel books and imagine the possibilities....

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