Island Vibes December 2023

20 Wintry travels and epic excursions By Isabel Alvarez Arata TRAVEL Greenland and Iceland Kathy Magruder has taken each of her four grandchildren on an epic adventure. The tradition started in 2018 when Magruder’s husband was unable to join her for an Antarctic adventure. She asked her children if they wanted to go in his place, but both were busy. Thankfully, her daughter suggested Magruder take one of her teenage grandsons instead. That was the beginning of what would become ‘epic travels with Gran.’ Magruder took her other grandson to Russia, Mongolia and Turkey the following year. Her oldest granddaughter was next, joining Magruder for a South African and Zimbabwean safari. This past summer, she took her youngest granddaughter Ellie, who is 12 years old, on a cruise to Greenland and Iceland. They chose this itinerary because Ellie wanted a relaxing trip and a cruise allowed them to visit various ports of call from the comfort of the ship. Magruder had never been north of the Arctic Circle or to Greenland or Iceland. She found the scenery in Greenland and Iceland truly unique. From volcanoes, geysers and subterranean caves in Iceland to the sparsely populated island of Greenland, the breathtaking views from the ship included glaciers calving as they sailed. Glacier calving refers to the breaking away of ice chunks from the edge of a glacier. Magruder and her granddaughter visited the renowned Blue Lagoon, did a walking food tour in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, and enjoyed local delicacies including fermented shark and Icelandic liquor for Gran. During their adventure, Magruder tried whale skin and her granddaughter swam in waters above the Arctic Circle. “The weather was cool, but not freezing,” said Magruder, who was happy to escape the Lowcountry climate for a short time. She and Ellie made memories to last a lifetime. After all, how many 12-year-olds can say they’ve enjoyed ice cream in Iceland with their Gran? Greenland and Iceland Europe, etc. Nancy McWhorter and her husband, Larry, recently took a Viking cruise that began in Bergen, Norway. During their adventure, the couple cruised to Portsmouth and Falmouth in England, Paris, France, Porto, Portugal, and Malaga and Cartagena, Spain. After the cruise ended in Barcelona, the couple spent an additional 11 days in Spain, further enjoying Catalunya by visiting Tarragona and Sitges, then heading southwest to Madrid. Having visited Spain in 2012, the McWhorters had the opportunity to revisit favorite places they’d discovered over a decade ago. The McWhorters also uncovered new favorites this time around. “Cartagena was a surprise — a small, clean city with the ruins of a beautiful Roman amphitheater that was only uncovered in 1987,” said McWhorter. In Madrid, they discovered a newly opened museum, the Royal Collections Gallery, that houses treasures of Spain. Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral also stood out as highlights they consider worth visiting time and again. In addition to exploring cities, landmarks and museums, McWhorter enjoys local food tours. She believes these tours are the best way for visitors to experience local gastronomy and culture. Tasting one’s way through charming cities and historical sights sure sounds like a great way to take it all in.