As the world watched the Blood moon last week, I looked up at the sky wishing the last of the monsoon clouds would disappear from Mumbai and we could enjoy better visibility. The blood moon celebrated traditionally as sharad pournima calls for a cup of delicious masala milk as you bask in the moonlight.
With just a handful of stars visible in the sky and the moon hiding behind the clouds it hardly made sense to celebrate the full moon. Just back from a visit to Canada, I couldn’t help but wish that I had stayed back for a few more days. October is a special month in Canada as the fall season is in full swing and the maple trees colour the country in gorgeous hues of yellow, orange and crimson. It is also the month when Jasper, one of my most favorite places in the Canadian Rockies, celebrates a dark sky festival. The royal Astronomical society of Canada has declared Jasper as a dark sky preserve where you can participate in many events in the month long dark sky festival, the best time for stargazing as you enjoy live entertainment and dine on delicious cuisine under the stars. Take in the pristine night skies in the wilderness of Jasper as you lose yourself in the symphony of the orchestra. For those with more time on their hands a trip to the north of Canada in the Yukon territory is a must to witness the magic of the northern lights in Whitehorse. The Aurora Borealis is indeed nature’s live show as the sky is painted in hues of green and purple due to the solar winds. Cuddle up in a warm and cosy log cabin or tent and sip away on hot drinks or snacks as you wait for the spectacle to start. Winter can be truly magical and if you choose to visit after the snowfall has painted the town white you can ride a snowmobile or be drawn by the wonderful huskies in a sledge ride.
If you wish for modern comforts and late night parties as you watch the northern lights, a trip to Reykjavik should be on your list. One of the only capital cities which is just two degrees south of the Arctic circle, Reykjavik is a perfect hideout to watch the northern lights. It is also the gateway to your Iceland adventure where a trip in winter promises unlimited fun with snowmobiling, ice fishing, frozen waterfalls, wonderful hikes, volcanoes, geysers and a relaxing geothermal blue lagoon spa to wash away your stress. Surrounded by amazing nature, the blue lagoon is an oasis of relaxation as you soak in the naturally heated waters in the cold. Iceland in winter is indeed an unabashed romantic destination.
The trick to enjoying winter is to dress in layers as I discovered on a trip to the ski area of Val Thorens of France. With my skis on my shoulder I struggled to trudge along on the snow with the oh- so- heavy ski boots and wiped the sweat off my face. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief as the weather display on the ski slopes pointed to a staggering minus fifteen. The sun was shining brightly, there was music in the air and the festive atmosphere was very uplifting. Surprisingly, I was not cold at all and the layers of clothes went on and off as the weather changed. Kids were fearless ski students I discovered as I fell flat on my face a few times before gliding down the magic carpet on the beginners ski slope. Skiing is fun from the second day onwards so experts suggest a week’s program at a ski school or at least a minimum of two days if you just want a taste of this popular sport.
If the snow-white mountains don a fairytale look every winter, the cities in Europe are not far behind. With free skating rinks, Santa grottoes, discounted sales and Christmas lights on the streets, it’s probably the best time to visit the European capitals as you sip on mulled wine and shop for knickknacks in the Christmas markets. And if you wish to meet the real Santa this year, remember to head out to Rovaniemi in Finland. This winter experience the magic!