A Night Of Stars And Mountains
I never realised how many stars there actually are in the sky. Millions of them. Billions of them. Zillions of them even. You just don't see them until you are out of the city, where the air is clean and unsullied by garish lights and fumes and car horns. When you do see them, and you actually take the time to look at them, you notice they dance in an ever-graceful arc, shimering to their partners and making their way slowly yet happily across the inky dancefloor.
I noticed the stars for the first time from my window at the Hermitage Hotel at Mount Cook Village, in the South Island of New Zealand.
Mt Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, and the Hermitage is one of the most well known hotels. Originally built in 1895, but rebuilt in a slightly different location since then, the Hermitage has been the prefered base of a plethora of mountaineers and adventurers over the years. Even Sir Edmund Hillary, conquerer of Everest, stayed here in the late 1940s, while still a novice, getting his first taste of snow and ice.
Since then, the hotel has become the place to stay for the rich and famous, or for those after a special retreat, a romantic break, or wishing to spoil themselves. And the prices reflect this - a chalet (which sleeps 2) will cost around $240, and the most expensive rooms cost $775.
But it is luxury with a capital "Mmm", and your every whim will be catered for, you will feel pampered and secure, and if you are lucky, your room will face Mount Cook itself, with stars dancing their intersteller steps over its snowy peak.
If you are looking for something cheaper, there is a fine YHA Hostel nearby, with beds for $30. But they don't have a minibar... [more ]