Places I Didn’t Go for the Holidays

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[For Christmas, 2020 we were all in pandemic mode, so nobody travelled anywhere for the holidays. One of the things that the extended Morris clan did to be festive was to publish an online Christmas card (technically a blog) of our fantasy, family holiday, bounded only by imagination. Everyone contributed, and everyone did a great job. In recent days you have seen recipes (contributed by Sandy), music (son Jacob), funny videos (son Patrick), and cultural events (daughter-in-law Whitney) curated by family members. Daughter-in-law Hannah took care of the accommodations, and every few days she would pile us into the magic sleigh and take us somewhere new and exotic.

Now, it’s 2021 (not for long), and we find the pandemic very much part of our present lives. I thought members of The Jungle might enjoy a quick visit to some of the locations that the Morrises visited last year. SB SM]

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To celebrate the end of this most-unusual year, we’re embarking on a 12-day world tour on a private jet. It’s all-expenses-paid, COVID-free, and best of all, there’s no jet lag! Our first stop is as close to the North Pole as we’ll get: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Lapland, the northernmost region in Finland. Here, we’ll stay in individual glass igloos so we can watch the Northern Lights as we fall asleep. Enjoy the sauna and sleep well, my friends, for new adventures wait for us tomorrow! 

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort - Official website

We’ve had a wonderful first day at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Lapland. After a hearty dinner of pickled herring and onions, we relaxed in the sauna, then fell asleep with the northern lights flashing over head. After a good night’s sleep (we think … it was just as dark when we awoke as when we went to sleep) we had a hearty breakfast of pickled herring and onions.

Today, we are going on a sleigh ride, pulled by reindeer, of course. After lunch, smoked herring and onions, prepared over an open fire, we’ll ride snowmobiles to a church in the wilderness for a little peace and quiet. Then we’ll try our hands at ice fishing.

Up early, hit the breakfast buffet (pickled herring, smoked herring, candied herring), and tour director extraordinaire herds us into the Magic Sleigh.

We’re off to warmer climates: Marrakech, Morocco. The sweet smell of olive-wood smoke and oranges fill the air. We’re staying at the El-Fenn, and yes, those are candles floating on the pool. Take a virtual tour through their Instagram page and pick out your rooms. We’ll meet for cocktails at dusk on the rooftop bar. 

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Next morning, we’re off to the Jemaa el Fna medina to hunt for treasures — exquisite glass lanterns, hand-woven Moroccan rugs, exotic spices, jeweled kaftans. 

We’ll finish the day with an indulgent spa treatment at the Royal Mansour, a luxury hotel originally commissioned by His Majesty as sanctuary for traveling dignitaries.

Up early, back into the magic sleigh for a quick hop across the Mediterranean. The weather is perfect (what else?) as we descend towards the boot of Italy.

Today, we’re on the Amalfi Coast, and the heavens have graced us with summer weather. We check into the Belmond Hotel Caruso and set out for an afternoon picnic in the enchanting ruin of Sant’Eustachio. Then it’s a vigorous hike on an ancient path that links Agerola and Nocelle, offering stunning views of the shimmering blue sea and mountains in the distance. 

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Tour guide Hannah has us up early and back into the Magic Sleigh. Rudolph’s red nose begins blinking, and … whoosh! … we have arrived.

Greetings from the white sand beaches of Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania! After a quick lesson in Swahili, we’ll unpack our bags at the Baraza Resort and Spa and indulge in some relaxation by the pool and on the beach. In the afternoon, we’ll take a tour of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a magical mélange of palaces, winding streets, markets, antique emporiums, and ancient forts. The food here is out of this world, a delicious mash-up of Indian, Arab, Chinese, Portuguese and African cooking traditions. 

This is the same planet as Finland

After we spend the morning snorkeling in the emerald waters, we’ll visit one of the last remaining tropical forests on the planet, the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, home to the rare Zanzibar red colobus monkey.

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Our tour guide is relentless” Enough with the beaches! Today we’re off to the Cappadocia region of Turkey, known for its remarkable rock formations and cave dwellings. We’ll stay at the historic Museum Hotel, set in the restored site of thousand-year-old stone homes. 

Cappadocia lies in central Anatolia, in the heartland of what is now Turkey. The relief consists of a high plateau over 1000 m in altitude that is pierced by volcanic peaks, with Mount Erciyes (ancient Argaeus) near Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) being the tallest at 3916 m. The boundaries of historical Cappadocia are vague, particularly towards the west. To the south, the Taurus Mountains form the boundary with Cilicia and separate Cappadocia from the Mediterranean Sea. To the west, Cappadocia is bounded by the historical regions of Lycaonia to the southwest, and Galatia to the northwest. Due to its inland location and high altitude, Cappadocia has a markedly continental climate, with hot dry summers and cold snowy winters.[7] Rainfall is sparse and the region is largely semi-arid [from Wikipedia].

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And we had such a good time travelling Hannah’s Magic Sleigh in 2020 that we did it again in 2021! You’re invited to join us next year!

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