Everest, synonymous with global adventure, exploration and danger. A place only few dare to venture and even fewer return. This is the kind of reaction I receive, reliving my trials to anyone who'll listen, or those who've no choice but to listen. In reality, the most enduring events of my trip were being a bit out of breath, working our way around a village that had been washed down a mountain and the mistake of smoking a cigar at 18,000ft.
I will say this now, everyone can and should visit this part of the globe. I am mostly fuelled on gin for goodness sake, and I managed it, until the cigar that is, but I'll get on to that.
So there I was boarding a twin prop Yeti Air, which can only be described as a flying kitchen appliance. As transportation goes this did have me edgier than usual, although I did feel safer than the time I rode a Camel in a sandstorm, the blasted thing bolted. But really I was more concerned about the landing, the runway is on the edge of a cliff, Lukla Airport is supposedly the most dangerous airport in the world. So I was off to a good start.
I should stress if you have at all a fear of heights, probably best to take deep breathes here. The bridges are terrifying. Suspended across vast ravines several hundred metres high. It was bad enough that you can see through them, but for my mother, who has a lot of experience up here, summiting mountains in their entirety, crazy woman, to tell me her cook was washed away on one when she last came up here, does encourage adrenaline to start racing.
Being late August, it was still the dreaded monsoon season blowing up from the sub-continent of India, which I had the pleasure of visiting only days before. However, and our Sherpa agreed, it was the most glorious weather we could have hoped for. In fact, in all of his treks up to Everest he said he'd never seen better conditions. Most impressively he's been to Everest base Camp 67 times. He's only about four feet tall and yet until recently, was a porter carrying loads of up to 100kg all the way up. Unbelievable.
Ok, so you've probably figured out that the way up is by means of my most hated form of transport. Walking. However you can take my favorite form, a helicopter, but really I came away from London to be adventurous not lazy. So walking, it really was rather pleasant, as I recall we were doing about 5 hours a day and bearing in mind I had done no training, it was a breeze. Well until we practically ran out of air somewhere near Everest Base Camp when I felt like we had practically left the atmosphere.
So there we were, rambling through one of the most sparsely populated regions on the planet, however you still come across an overwhelming amount of culture. The beautiful stupas adorn routes in all directions encasing Buddhist relics. Soon we found ourselves at our first point of rest. Namche Bazaar, which is essentially the world’s highest shopping centre, I say that loosely, but I did see an iPhone for sale, quite convenient at 12,000ft.
As culture goes, Nepal has one of the richest. But of course like any ancient kingdom it is usually focused around two things, Religion and Royals. Unfortunately, and more so frustrating for me being a monarchist, Nepal lost its royal family in 2005 after a long civil war. So I had the pleasure of exploring the culture of religion found across Nepal. From meeting a close relation to the Dalai Lama, to witnessing the cremation of bodies at one of the 7 most sacred places in Hinduism, it really is a master-class in adventure and travel, so a strong bench mark for any global traveller.
As I have previously told, it is rather hard to breath at altitude. Now me being, well me, I assumed this was nonsense created by those serious environmental types. The only way I could describe them is if Bear Grylls and that woman from Countryfile had a child. That would be the demographic I'm talking about.
Anyway, I digress. Now I enjoy a delightful Cuban as much as the next jet-setter, but please for your own sake, the highest I would recommend smoking one is Courchevel 1850. I was at the equivalent of Courchevel bloody 6050. It was honestly one of the most unpleasant things. I don't think we could breathe properly for over a day I won't go into the details of how ill it made me, but rest assured it is not a classy way of consuming luxuries.
After this tragically poor decision, we continued up. Crossing the world’s highest glacier, still in melt from the summer, the entire body of ice, an entire landscape, creaked, groaned and was essentially breaking beneath our feet. There are huge crater like crevasses, some large enough to consume Sloane Square in its entirety. It is a staggering landscape which we were indeed treading carefully upon. Base Camp itself is nothing that exciting, just a collection of very smart tents with patrons preparing coffee and acclimatizing to summit. So we did it, well what we set out to do, I'm not crazy so just above base camp, summiting it seemed a bit too keen for me. Although reflecting I would actually love to summit Everest.
In essence it is a remarkable place, filled with delightful places and people. It just oozes culture and stories, which people do find fascinating back in London. Here the most enduring trek is the walk from the Jubilee to the Piccadilly Line at Green Park. If you have a keen hunger for exploration I urge you all to go, just do it. Simple to organize and knowing the right people you can access hidden gems and relations to religious leaders.
Until then, keep on jet-setting!
Freddie Ardley is a travel blogger and photographer.
To see more of his work and see more photographs by this Jet-setter, visit:
" It just oozes culture and stories, which people do find fascinating back in London. Here the most enduring trek is the walk from the Jubilee to the Piccadilly Line at Green Park. "
" Namche Bazaar, which is essentially the world’s highest shopping centre, I say that loosely, but I did see an iPhone for sale, quite convenient at 12,000ft. "
Happy New Year, Jet-setters!
We asked our Twitter followers to send us their snaps of where they will be/have been in the past to celebrate the New Year. In fact, some of you down-under have already engaged in frivolous debauchery and watched your nation spend ludicrous amounts of their budget... on fireworks. Many of the shots are based in London, whilst others are from destinations as far flung as the Caribbean and Vegas. We've collected the best images and compiled them as a gift to you for 2013!
Wherever you're spending it, we hope that you spend the New Year in style. Keep on jet-setting!
Josh Zietcer - Editor
Having visited Rome on numerous occasions I feel well placed to give advice
on which sites in this magnificent city you should visit. Since the founding of
Rome in 753 BC it has become the centre of the Roman world, the centre of the
Catholic world and now a city, which is the capital of the most stylish country in
the world. The eternal city really does need a lifetime to explore but if you are in
a hurry here are some of the highlights that the City can offer:
The Vatican City:
Simply the greatest collection of classical and renaissance sculpture in the world,
while the Sistine Chapel is so famous for obvious reasons and St. Peter’s Basilica
is one of the greatest examples of religious extravagance in Europe. Despite
enormous crowds (in the Sistine Chapel you will be swept slowly through by
the power of the human current regardless of attempts at changing direction)
the collection on view is awe-inspiring and will probably give Dan Brown novels
The Roman Forum & Coliseum:
These two sites are next to each other and were the centre of Imperial Rome
around 2000 years ago. They form the postcard image of Rome, so I shan’t speak
of what they look like but only say that age does make things beautiful, and
walking through the Forum is the closest that you can get to understanding the
power that Rome had.
This also is an iconic image of Rome but for those who are unfamiliar with the
culmination of high baroque sculpture it is a mass of figures strewn over rocky
outcrops, which project semi organically from the façade of the building. Its taste
may be dubious but it is an undeniably exciting place to visit. Tourists and street
vendors always surround the fountain while at night it is carefully lit so that a
coin being tossed over the shoulder can always be captured on camera.
The National Museum of the 21st Century Arts is notable for its architect
more than its collection. Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid won a RIBA Stirling
prize for this building and just looking at it you can see why. This building is
unashamedly modern and part of its success is that it has no shame in being so
different from the rest of the city.
The most iconic square in Rome is home to the famous fountain of the four rivers
by Bernini and the Church of Sant’Agnese by Borromini. The square itself is on
the site of the stadium of Domitian and still retains that shape. It is a thriving
square at all hours and is one site in Rome where Romans equal tourists in
An iconic area within Rome surrounded by a wealthy shopping area its famous
138 steps were once the meeting place for artists and models and it still retains
this vibrant feel. This area is also host to many of Rome’s finest ice cream
These form just some of the highlights that the dynamic city of Rome has to offer;
however Rome is such a timeless city that on any trip you will be boundless to
find your own unique, favourite spot somewhere nestled in the famous seven
hills. Needless to say, if you're looking for the full jet-setting experience, luxury shopping and alcohol will be of the utmost importance. These experiences are truly easy to come by and are best left to the individual to discover.
Sydney is a city for everybody; it has it all: the sights, the bars, and of course, the beaches. It’s a must visit in any case, if it’s simply to enjoy the views over Sydney Cove, or to hit the city on a Saturday night and see where you end up. Either way, like with any city there are places you just cannot miss!
The city centre may not be huge, but it has a lot to offer. The Rocks, by Argyle St and George St, are an easy maze of pubs, bars and hotels that’s definitely worth an explore. The Australian Hotel is definitely a great visit. In particular it has the service which says “we care”. Friendly and knowledgeable, like any good Aussies, they’ll insist you try their local drafts, especially the Aussie craft beers. Don’t forget to try the Duck Pizza! Various events are also staged in locations throughout the area and it’s really worth checking out what there is to experience.
A good night out can never happen without at least visiting here! It has the clubs, pubs and restaurants that make it a perfect hub, especially for tourists. Loud music and lots of lights is what to expect during the night, most certainly a Saturday. During the day it’s a different story. Fancy a chilled lunch? Or a stroll through the convention centre to check out all the expos? Every Friday and Saturday there are also the 9.30pm fireworks. Check it out!
This is arguably the King’s Road of Sydney, so it’s the place to be. Toko cocktail bar gets a high recommendation from all who've been and its about fine dining and quality service here.There aren't any reservations but it's worth the wait with one of their cocktails to sip on. Gnome café and Trinity's pub are also essential visits for a chill-out and a drink. If you’re into your brunch then give Bill’s a try, it can arguably boast the best in town!
The Opera Bar:
Everybody who’s anybody will be here. It’s the perfect place if you just want a quiet beer to enjoy the views over harbour bridge, or a number of drinks with mates to have a celebration. It's right by the water and underneath the Opera House and is all about location, location, location.
One of the coolest places I’ve had a cocktail in a long time! 47 floors up and the seating area has a 360 view over the city, and the bar revolves! It opens at 5pm but the views are best seen at night anyway. Their cocktail range is standard, but quality excellent. In addition to the usual cocktails they have their seasonal specialities that just aren’t worth missing out on.
Oxford Art Factory:
Into your photos, your fashion, your gigs? This must-visit venue has it all, but with only a 500-person capacity... it is small. Depending on what’s currently on, get a taste of the arty side to the city. You may not have heard of some of the bands but that should definitely not put you off exploring new musical horizons.
Bondi Beach is the most famous and notorious, if only for Australia’s real-life response to ‘Baywatch’, ‘Bondi Beach Rescue’. It’s very touristy and busy but it’s hard to admit it’s not still fun. Perfect for a swim, a sunbathe or if you’re daring, hire a surfboard! But careful, the water is colder than it looks, even on the hottest days. If you want a more Aussie beach, take a stroll down to Tamarama and Bronte beaches. It’s not far and you’ll undoubtedly stumble upon a barbie or two.
Being Australian, and still so close to wildlife, Sydney has the best of both worlds – the city and the outback. If you’re limited to the city for transport, then Taronga Zoo is where you want to go but be warned, it is busy and can get costly. But it might be worth the ferry trip from Circular Quay to get there, with views from the water you’ll never forget. If you have a car then maybe Featherdale Wildlife Park is more up your street. It may be a bit of a drive out of the main city, but have you ever cuddled a Koala or petted a Kangaroo? Because that is the place to do it!