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Kerre McIvor – Queen of the road

Since returning home, Kerre's already planning for her next adventure.

My word, it feels like I’ve been away forever!

Five weeks is a long time to be away from home, hearth and husband but I’m very grateful for the opportunity. It’s been five of the most extraordinary weeks of my life.

To climb Mount Kilimanjaro in the company of a fantastic group of people was a privilege. Then spending five days on safari in Tanzania was a dream come true.

I had five days between the end of the climb and meeting up with the group I was hosting on a cruise through the Baltic region.

Four and a half days in aeroplanes and airports or five days on safari? No contest and, although I had to bung it on the mortgage, I have absolutely no regrets and will be spending the next two years saving up to head back over to Africa, but this time with the husband.

To be so close you could reach out and touch lions, elephants, giraffes and zebras was magical. I didn’t expect to see tigers though. I know there are no tigers in Africa after being put in my place by a twelve-year-old talkback caller called Lewis, who told me I was stupid for suggesting a tiger sanctuary in Africa because tigers didn’t live there and everybody knows that.

I informed Lewis icily that, self-evidently, not everybody knows that, thanked him for his call, hung up and blushed. So no tigers in Africa but I saw just about everything else.

When I joined my tour group for a cruise through the Baltic, it was then I realised I truly was living the dream.

I had never travelled to any of the Scandanavian countries before and not only are they beautiful, so too are the people.

We visited, among other ports, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm and Visby, and while I imagine there must be some plain, unattractive people living in these cities and towns, I certainly didn’t see anyone who’d been bashed over the head with the fugly stick. Every single man and woman I saw was long of limb, tanned and blessed with white blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. They were polite, friendly and able to shift between three or four languages as the occasion demanded.

 Those Vikings must have brought back only the very best DNA from the European countries they pillaged and plundered all those centuries ago.

Mind you, we were visiting during the summer and every day dawned hot and sunny with cloudless skies. Meet the poor sods after nine months of a brutally long and cold winter and they might not be so chirpy. They’d still be gorgeous, however.

The group of Kiwis kept their end up on the cruise, though. Within the first couple of nights on board, the captain hosts a cocktail evening. It’s usually a time when urbane Americans lead off the dancing with foxtrots and salsas. Not this time.

The Kiwi couples did us proud by being first on the floor, the men glamorous in black tie; the women lovely in sparkly frocks; and moved around that dance floor with style and grace.

It’s wonderful watching couples who’ve been married forever dancing together. As I watched them, I thought how much I’d love to bring my husband on a trip like this. And I will.

I might not be able to get him on the dance floor – that would be a step too far – but I think, when I tell him the stories and show him the photos, I’ll be able to bring him back to visit the places I’ve fallen in love with over the past five weeks.

Listen to Kerre’s lively discussions on Newstalk ZB, Monday to Thursday, 8pm to midnight.

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