Guest Post! My Favorite Vacation: Annie of Insideology

Hey guys! We landed in Brussels early this morning and took a train straight to Paris (I cried the entire way out of a mixture of exhaustion and excitement, it was really attractive). We’re here! We’re finally here! While I’m off squeezing as much of this amazing city in as I can, I’m delighted to introduce my first (of 8!) guest-blogger to you. Take it away, Annie!

Hey everyone, it’s Annie from insideology here. Erin is currently swooning around the streets of Paris, croissant in hand, and has asked me to drop by and tell you about my favourite holiday.

I have been to many beautiful places in the world but Patagonia is the one that has stayed with me more than any other. The wildness, the scale and the awesome strength of nature. That feeling where you are nothing more than an insignificant dot that can be whipped off the top of a mountain at any moment by a playful gust of Antarctic wind.

In 2007 I was lucky enough to spend three months travelling around South America. In the middle of January, still weak from having just spent five days in a Peruvian hospital recovering from Salmonella, I set off from the Mediterranean warmth of Buenos Aires to the harsh Andean summer of the Torres del Paine and Fitzroy national parks.

We walked most days of the two week trip through the bottom of Chile and Argentina, sometimes for up to ten hours a day. I was hard, it was gruelling and it was cold. Really cold. But it was worth it.

For most of the trip we camped, sometimes on sites where no fires were allowed, where there were no toilets and no way of keeping warm. Nights where I would sleep cuddling a Sigg bottle filled with boiling water, stuffed into a sock. And other nights on a site with a huge log cabin serving salami and red wine in front of a roaring log fire (honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten) and the most powerful, hottest shower I’ve ever stood under.

We walked and we walked and we walked. Like the Grand old Duke of York, we marched to the top of mountains, just to march back down again. The paths were steep and relentless. I had plenty of chance to practice the technique I’d learnt from my Inca trail guide of walking diagonally, methodically up such paths. We oscillated between sheltered, green valleys and freezing cold glacier-topped peaks. Layers of clothes were on and off like light switches.


I found myself constantly re-adjusting my perception of beauty. One minute marvelling at dirty ice-topped moonscapes, the next the soft green cosiness of the forests. The handsomeness of rugged, stripey peaks and the astounding beauty of ice.

The scenic rewards were worth every shiver and every aching bone. The view of the continental ice cap after hours of trekking up a snowy, windy glacier to reach it. Turning around at the bottom of a lengthy, taxing descent from a laguna to see the peaks of Fitzroy mountain through the trees. Looking down on turquoise icebergs peacefully bobbing around crystal lakes.  The relief of dropping off freezing, blustery mountain tops into calm, green valleys and icy, white rivers. Catching sight of a comet on a midnight trip to the toilet.

This was a trip that stripped me raw. I slipped off a glacier and spent a whole day with my boots full of the coldest water I’ve ever experienced. I thought I was going to get frostbite on my fingers owing to my stupid lack of waterproof gloves. I nearly got blown off the top of the Loma del Diablo by a malevolent gust of wind (my feet actually left the ground). I’m not really someone who gets frightened but I cried on a Tyrolean traverse from abject terror. I had a full on panic attack on a canoe that was going backwards, lacking the upper body strength to paddle it upstream through the strong current.

But in the end you re-assemble yourself into a stronger version of what you were before. A feeling of pride that you conquered something, rose to and met a challenge. Fears that dissipate and the satisfaction that comes with having survived extreme conditions with endurance, will power and a pair of walking boots. The happiness deep inside that comes from having seen and experienced something that few people will in their lifetime. This is the stuff that adventures are made of.

I mean, WOW, right? Aren’t those pictures incredible? I’d never have as much courage as Annie to undertake a vacation like that. What about you guys? Can we give Annie a round of applause for kicking things off? Thanks, Annie!

17 thoughts on “Guest Post! My Favorite Vacation: Annie of Insideology

  1. Gosh what an adventure and such fabulous photographs! I like the idea of having a holiday like that, but doubt I will ever have the guts to book it.

    Love the fact that you took your camera on a midnight trip to the loo :)

  2. This looks absolutely fantastic and like an awesome adventure – I will be looking at these photos over and over again

  3. Crikey, Annie – you don’t do things by halves, do you?!!!! :O
    It looks like quite the adventure of a lifetime and the views are absolutely awe-inspiring. Did you know what you were in for when you signed up for this holiday?! Would you do it again?

    I must admit, I am far too chicken (and far too fond of my creature comforts!) to ever do anything remotely like this but I applaud you unreservedly for squaring up to nature and living to tell the tale.

    What an incredible start – I can’t wait to see who’s next!!! :D

    P.S. Sorry I wasn’t here to wish you happy travels, Erin but – woo-hoo!!! – you’re there (so near and yet so far!) and probably still weeping happy tears at the splendor around you. Have a dreamy eight days, kiddo! xoxo

  4. My word, what a workout of a holiday. One reserved for the under 25’s I think! What amazing views, it’s lovely that you were able to get over your frostbitten feet (brrrrrr) and feel empowered by it. I’m not good with heights and those cavernous drops would well freak me out.

    Well done lovely x

    Who’s next i wonder ?

  5. love it! took me back to my own adventures in south america, and i’m sorry, but i cackled with wild abandon at your mention of inadvertently careering backwards in a canoe… because i too have come face-to-face with my fears in a rushing body of water on that side of the globe strapped into what i later referred to as “a floating coffin”…
    amazing photos… just beautiful… and what a sense of achievement you must have looking back on it all!

  6. Woo-hoo. Annie, with no heels, no cocktail in her hand and no MJ bag! Wow… this is the other Annie, the no comfort creature, hard wearing and tough adventurer… how amazing. This trip does look incredible and honestly, I don’t think I would survive!!! I have far too many phobias to entertain a trip like this..

    My neighbours do these sort of things every year and love it. I happily look at photos and listen to the anecdotes.

    Hats off to you Bird. Truly a trooper!! x

    Erin, you lazy git… got everyone to do your work??? Hope you’re are having a wonderful time…..

  7. Oh Bird, great photos btw and Macaron (maybe with a real one in her hand right now), your blog is looking ‘pukka’. I love the larger, coloured logo and all the changes. Like a true hostess, she got her virtual ‘pad’ ready for the guests. Well done you. x

  8. Oh my goodness, Annie. I applaud you for your courage. I personally would’ve cowered behind a rock and never move. My jaw just hit the ground when I saw the photo of the comet. Incredible. I’ve always loved the way you write. I felt as if I was actually there.

  9. Wow. Wow. Wow. What a fantastic, life-changing trip that was for you. I’m stunned, just reading about it. My family jokes that I like the “Out of Africa” version of camping (“Aren’t you glad I brought my china and my crystal?”) so I don’t think I’d ever have the courage to do what you did. What moves me is how beautifully you describe it. “I found myself constantly re-adjusting my perception of beauty…” Powerful words, those. xo

  10. Annie, this is beautiful. You are an amazing wordsmith. “I found myself constantly re-adjusting my perception of beauty…” was so, so inspiring. You really don’t do things by halves do you! Love it. Happy new week to you. xxx

  11. Thanks guys, you’re the best! xxx I’m thinking my posts look better on Erin’s blog!
    And now I’m thinking Susk has outdone me, can’t wait for tomorrow….xx

  12. Oh, Annie, this trip looks ah-mazing! I think I’m due for a trip like this…One that strips you raw and makes you appreciate life and rethink your strength. The photos are breathtaking. I can certainly see how this trip would be life changing. This was your Eat, Pray, Love trip. :) Well, the pray part anyway. You’re awesome!

  13. I’ve always wanted to go to Patagonia, but your photos just moved it up to the top of my list. It’s adventures like yours that stay with you and really change how you view the world! You have an adventurous spirit and that is such a gift. I’m about due for something like this..haven’t been really scared traveling since my husband and I had to walk through the Guatemalan forest at night and saw one too many pairs of yellow eyes staring back at us.

  14. Just wow! The adventure, the breathtaking pictures. I have to admit I don’t know if I’m cut out for a trip like that but would love to try…

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