Swim Like a Mermaid
A more glamorous time can be had at the beach. And don’t just pack a swimming costume. Bring a mermaid tail. The craze for wearing a mermaid’s tail began in the United States, inspired by films such as Splash and The Little Mermaid. Now it’s arrived in Europe.
The most fashionable, colourful custom-made tails for mermaids and mermen, with silicone scales and dramatically shaped fins, can cost $1,500 or more. And before venturing into the ocean you’ll need some coaching.
Christian Riel is a 25-year-old trainee teacher from Bavaria, who also works as a model under the name “Merman Chris.” In 2018, he was the face, fins and tail of a promotional campaign run by the Hotels.com website for mermaid schools in Spain, Japan and Mexico.
“Mermaids are a huge thing,” Riel says. “It’s not only little girls that have this ‘mermazing’ dream. I know mermen from France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany and Belgium. People see mermaids as something magical and you can do whatever you want to make your mermaid dream come true. The swimming part is so much fun. You’re so much faster with a tail!”
Check out the 50 best beaches in the world!
Photo: Marathon Des Sables
A Race Across the Sahara
The Marathon des Sables may prove a step or several too far for most people. This six-day, 251km ultra-marathon across the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco has been called “The Toughest Footrace on Earth.” Anyone can pay $4,800—the 2019 entry fee to enter—in order to endure tortures such as an 80km-plus run, a near double marathon, in a single day.
Arthur Worsley, an Anglo-French traveller and blogger, has a taste for such extreme adventures. He entered in 2016 as one of four close friends.
“It was an opportunity to spend time in the desert together,” he says. “No distractions, no phones, no emails—how often does that happen?”
At the time he booked, Arthur could barely complete a 3km run. He had 10 months in which to get fit. “I just ran wherever I happened to be,” he says. “I got chased by a lot of dogs. It wasn’t always easy, but it was also an amazing way to get to know the world around me.”
Marathon des Sables competitors have to carry all their food and equipment with them. So Arthur trained by running with a backpack filled with more than 20 full bottles of Coca-Cola. “I learned to stop resisting the pain that comes with ultra-running and really fell in love with the sport.
“Stepping back and appreciating the desert is one of the main things that makes all the pain and suffering bearable. Its sheer size and beauty is deeply humbling. It really puts your problems in perspective. The marathon was relentless, unforgiving, demanding, empowering, life-changing and a lot of fun. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
We count down the 10 most extreme travel destinations.
The Antarctic Option
Swapping polar ice for Sahara sand is another way to experience the world around us. Head to Antarctica, the most unexplored corner of the planet.
Until recently, the harsh and inhospitable seventh continent was largely inaccessible, but now, following strict environmental guidelines, tourists can travel on expedition vessels, navigating through icebergs and glaciers to witness rarely seen sights. Which is not without its surprises.
A centenary voyage retracing the steps of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1914 got stuck in the ice for a week and 52 people had to be airlifted by helicopter and transferred to an ice floe near the icebreaker Aurora Australis, which had tried but failed to break through to the trapped ship.
Don’t miss the world’s snowiest travel destinations.