Back in January, we bit the bullet and booked a trip to Africa. It’s been on our bucket list for some time and we realized that it was only going to get more difficult to take this kind of trip. We worked with a close friend’s mom from Adventure to Africa to put this once in a lifetime trip together.
Our adventure began with a quick three hour drive up to Baltimore on Friday morning to drop the pup off with her doting grandparents. Around 9pm that evening, we started the long 36 hour journey to Africa.
By Sunday afternoon, we finally arrived in the South African bush and made our way out to our lodge which was on the Timbavati Nature Reserve (connected without a fence to Kruger National Park). We decided to stay at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp for a few reasons. The “glamping” atmosphere seemed a little more doable to us (vs. straight camping) but we also didn’t want to go for the “full glam” experience of a 5-star resort in the middle of the bush. This was a happy medium and we loved it. It’s incredibly affordable which is another bonus. Some highlights include private cabins/tents that are cozy, clean, and warm. Additionally, the lodge is not fenced in and the animals can (and do!) roam right through the camp. We regularly spotted lion tracks just outside our door in the morning.
Each morning around 6am we would head out for the morning game drive which was so cozy and exciting. We’d make a quick stop in the bush for coffee or cocoa and then be on our way spotting animals again. In the evening, we’d head out around 3:30pm and do the same. The whole experience was literally WILD. It’s hard to put into words how magnificent it is to see these kinds of animals just basically LIVING in their natural habitat. We saw all of the Big Five with hours of being in Africa. A seriously unforgettable experience. A zillion more animal photos here.
After four nights in South Africa, we moved on to a nice, relaxing beach town in Mozambique. We stayed at Bahia Mar Club which we truly enjoyed (so cheap for Americans!). The scenery was stunning but the poverty is a shocking. There is definitely a “them vs. us” feel staying at a resort like this in a community that depends on tourism as it’s #1 industry. We were very conscious of that.
Overall it was an unforgettable trip and I’m so glad we were able to make it happen. If you can handle 2 days of travel on either end of your trip then put Africa at the top of your list!
We took a quick little trip over President’s Day weekend to get together with friends in Santa Fe, NM. I’ve never really spent much time in the southwest and I was excited to spend some quality time with our couple friends from business school. We stayed at a family house and made some breakfasts and dinners at the house but I’ll share all the other foodie things and activities below.
For C’s grad school spring break this year, we decided a quiet beach vacation was in order. We found a cheap, non-stop flight from JFK that would take us all of 3 hours to land in paradise otherwise known as Turks and Caicos. The entire trip was perfection. Your choice of glorious pools, a world-class spa, and a remote island with only about 100 guests. Talk about heaven!
Bonus points for C being offered a job while we were here!
As the Christmas break drew closer, C and I started throwing around the idea of jetting off to CA to visit some friends & family while getting a little R&R. After we finally booked the flights, I got right to planning. I actually really enjoy doing the research and making a plan. We have lots of friends who’ve lived in CA or recently visited, so I was able to gather lots of tips. We covered so much ground on this trip (over 800 miles!) and had a blast the whole time. All that due diligence paid off and we had one of our best vacations yet. Photo heavy post to follow!
My aunt, uncle and cousins live just north of San Diego in Del Mar which an adorable beach town (their backyard is sand!). C and I had been out there three years earlier for my cousin’s wedding and we had a blast. It was great kicking off our vacation at Chez Huebner. It consisted of lots of low key family time, a stroll through Solano Beach, and a sunset walk on the beach. CA was having a cold spell so it was sort of hilarious to hear everyone complaining about the “cold”.
We decided early on that we’d take our time heading up the coast and eventually ending in Napa. I looked at the map and picked Santa Barbara as an overnight stop. LA traffic meant we arrived after dark to our adorable AirBnB
and wandered around in search of food. We settled on Tre Lune
for some pizza and wine which was pretty good.
This was such a fun drive. It add a considerable amount of time (about 2 hours) to the drive from SB to the Carmel area but it was so worth it. We had a great time taking in the sights and stopping wherever we pleased to soak up the view. The elephant seals were so cool and also so strange. We stopped at Nepenthe
for lunch and it was so worth the wait (and being a little chilly). The view was stunning and we even saw part of a whale! The food was pretty good as well. This stop also made for the perfect excuse to have a Bailey’s and coffee…mmmm.
Staying here was such a special treat arranged through a friend (thanks Jordan!). Our room was unbelievable with a great view and a stunning fireplace. We had a low key dinner (apps and dessert) at The Bench
which has fire pit tables outside. It was so cozy and in the morning, we were able to see that the restaurant looks out over the 18th green! 17 Mile drive was really neat as well, I mean the views are just outrageous.
Saved the best for last! We had such an amazing time and will definitely go back someday. We stayed at the Inn on Randolph on a recommendation from a friend. It was absolute perfection. I almost don’t want to tell you about it because I feel like it should be kept a secret. There is no where else I’d ever stay. The cottages were adorable and Karen (innkeeper) thought of everything. We had a delicious complimentary breakfast each morning and fresh baked cookies in the afternoon. Devine. We ate at The Pear
. We LOVED Angele, probably one of the best meals we’ve had. The Pear was good but not anything special. We purchased 6 bottles of wine throughout our visit typically our favorite wines from each place. When they arrived a week later, it was really special to open the box and remember the experience. We’ll save most of the wine for a few years and I’m excited to open a bottle for a special occasion. Definitely such a treat. Elizabeth Spencer was by far our favorite.
We’ve been doing our best to take advantage of some free weekends as well as our close proximity to a bunch of really cool small towns. A few weeks ago, we got up early, booked a room on Hotel Tonight and hopped in the car for a few hours to drive up to Kennebunkport, ME.
We were so lucky to get a last minute room at this adorable B&B because EVERYTHING was booked when we initially looked. I’ve never used Hotel Tonight before but it was awesome, and kind of a rush! You feel like you’re getting such a deal when you snag a last minute room.
The wait is over, part two is here! Did you get a chance to check out part one?
We stuffed ourselves to the brim at Olivia
after a recommendation from a trusted friend
. Classic, yummy brunch food with a twist. I mean, do you see those eggs? They were served over the most delicious french fries! And yes, we did order pancakes as well. But our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.
A HUGE thank you to Erica and Tyler for picking out this place and for our sweet wedding gift to eat here! Olive & June is so cute with adorable outdoor seating and a great dining room. The food was great right down to the drinks. We had a lovely date night and even ended up trying another restaurant owned by the same group, The Backspace
, the following night.
Two words. Butter coffee. Yes. I’ve mentioned it on this blog before but this place makes it and dang, it’s good! The idea is that the healthy fats from the butter, MCT oil (or coconut oil) blended with coffee make a well balanced breakfast. It’s Paleo inspired and they serve a variety of meals that are also Paleo. It’s such a fun place to grab a coffee and start your day!
Do I really need to say anything about this place? Meat. BBQ. Meat. Beer. Meat. Texas. ‘Nuff said.