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.
One of the things we love the most about Austin is all the amazing places to eat. We vowed to not eat at the same place twice in order to ensure that we try a variety of new places. I love looking at restaurant recommendations on other blogs so I thought it might be fun to share the places we’ve tried and loved so far.
I don’t really crave BBQ but you know, when in Texas. So we yelped this restaurant and made a quick reservation. It’s downtown and actually quite large inside with two floors. There’s usually live music and a great bar if you’re waiting for a table. The menu is basically meat and sides – so make sure you’re hungry! C and I opted to split the short rib (basically a dinosaur bone as seen below) and a few sides – corn, brussels sprouts…yum! I had a delicious cocktail which was basically a moscow mule made with Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka (grapefruit).
I found this gem on yelp and knew it was perfect for a working lunch. I ordered the Turkey Sweet
and an iced tea – talk about heaven! I’m not really a sandwich person but this sandwich was life changing. The croissant, the shaved turkey, the onion apple marmalade…it was all just so amazing! This place quickly became a repeat offender so our rule has not applied here. We’ve been back!
I discovered this place from another blog and I’m so glad we tried it out! This adorable, low key restaurant had a great, simple menu and gorgeous outdoor seating. We particularly love the East Side of Austin.
Start-ups. Apps. High tech. Wireless. Key-less. These are the words flooding our world these days. There are so many cool innovations out there today and this past weekend I had the pleasure of trying out a whole bunch of awesome new-to-me companies/products.
Lots of trips back and forth to Austin this summer means a great excuse to rack up some miles/points. jetBlue offers a direct flight from JFK to AUS which is awesome despite the longer drive to the airport. Plus, I love that jetBlue offers free wifi (because it’s in Beta mode), free TV, tons of delicious free snacks (yum PopChips!), and lots of legroom. So far, my experience has been great especially coupled with the awesome perks located in Terminal 5 at JFK. I’m already looking forward to my next jetBlue flight in 15 days!
A fleet of SmartCars at your disposal! C and I signed up for a membership because it’s an easy way to get around Austin (especially for him since he doesn’t have a car). Unlike ZipCar, you can pick up a C2G wherever you see one on the map, get in, drive to your location, and leave the car right where it is. You do not have to return the car to any designated area or parking spots (just keep it in the “home area). They are so fun to drive and there are tons of them all over Austin. Another fun perk, you can pick up a car at The Parking Spot at the Austin airport and then drive it to your location! This worked great for me when I landed after midnight last Thursday. I was able to reserve a car with I landed, take the Parking Spot shuttle, grab a d car, and be on my way. When I arrived at C’s house, I just parked the car and left it there. Easy!
So Uber is nothing new if you live in Dallas or NYC, but newsflash, not a lot of Uber cars in little ‘ole New Haven. Uber used to be in Austin but due to some regulations, they had to shut down for a little while. Now it’s back and it being offered for FREE until June 19th to celebrate their first two weeks back. I had the pleasure of testing out UberX when I needed a ride to the airport to pick up a rental car for the weekend. My driver was great and my $33 ride was FREE! Use this code to get $10 ride credit.
A few weekends ago, we spent the day up in Mystic, CT for an impromptu getaway in an effort to take advantage of the temporarily nice weather. I took my dSLR camera along with me for once so that I could practice my photography skills.
There’s no simple way of doing things in Photoshop and Lightroom. When I went back to look at these photos, I was honestly at a loss. I wasn’t entirely sure how much editing they needed or how to make a collage…that didn’t take 600 steps. I’m sure I’ll get better over time but for right now, blog posts are taking a lot longer than usual.
Either way, if you do find yourself in Mystic you should definitely eat the The Engine Room
(think burgers, bourbon, and beer…yes please!) and take a 10 minute detour to visit some of the vineyards in the area like Stonington
On another note, I’m really hoping to take this blogging course and explore the possibility of taking this blog to the next level. Have you been to any really great blogging courses that were useful and not totally intimidating?