Two Years {And South Africa}

Have you ever heard the quote from Anne of Green Gables, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ?  I love that quote because like most people who choose to live in the northeast, Fall is my favorite time of year. (I know, I’m really original like that).

We celebrated our two year wedding anniversary last week with some gorgeous flowers, a box of chocolates, and a night on the couch not doing any housework.  We finally cracked that bottle of champagne we were given at our wedding that we were supposed to drink last year but I was in that whole two-week-period-of-the-month-where-I-didn’t-know-if-I-was-pregnant-or-not-yet (I was not). It might not sound super romantic, but it was exactly what we needed this year.

I thought it would be appropriate to finally show you some pictures from our Honeymoon two years ago. We took an amazing trip to South Africa – spending 4 nights in Cape Town visiting the surrounding areas and then 4 nights in Kruger National Park at a private resort going on safari rides every day at dawn and dusk.  It was an amazing trip and one I always said I would love to make again (maybe when this whole ebola thing dies down?)

I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but feel free to ask me any questions in the comments!

So a big part of this trip was the work that went into planning it.  Obviously traveling to an unfamiliar country brings its own risks (and rewards!!) so we decided to go through a travel company.  We actually did our own research and mapped out the trip we wanted and priced it out to book it all ourselves and then took it to a travel company that was willing to take on the trip as we planned it (versus one of their canned tours) and actually handle the bookings for us.  It wasn’t any more expensive to go through the travel company, AND it gave me piece of mind that if a car wasn’t at the hotel to pick us up to bring us to our next destination, we had a main contact we could call that would help us with any issues.  It just felt a little more secure (read: SAFE) and less of a headache than to have all of the contact numbers for all of the places we were staying and all of the inter-country car services we needed.  

So here is my super secret tip for exotic travel:  Plan the trip you want (as opposed to a canned tour that might not have everything you want to do in it), and reach out to a reputable tour company that will take on the bookings for you, and will make sure all of your connecting travel plans are safe and punctual.

Also now that we live in New Jersey, and yellow cabs aren’t just waiting outside our stoop to bring us to the airport, we need to rethink how we get to and from the airport when we take trips (even domestic flights).  And, when we go on vacation, why not make a little money while we are at it? This is where RelayRides comes in. (My super-but-shouldn’t-be-a-secret tip for domestic travel.) It’s a peer-to-peer car rental service, which is a great way to either save a little money when you are in another city, and/or make a little money on your car that would otherwise be sitting in your driveway at home/long term parking at the airport while you are away.  People have been doing it with their homes for years now – so it only makes sense we start doing it with our cars as well.  They even have a new initiative to help newlyweds travel well with airport rentals while on their honeymoons – they are in tons of cities and growing! Of course RelayRides also works great if you just need a truck for a day to get some yard work done, or a mini-van to cart a bunch of kids around for a day at the museum.

Ahh, now I want to plan our next trip abroad…

Our trip to Norway!

Our trip route was Oslo > Bergen > Alesund > Trondheim > Bodo > Tromso > Back to Oslo

In early November, Tom and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary by taking a week long trip to Norway.  It was amazing for so many reasons. We were able to meet some of my extended family (Hallo!), visit some beautiful cities, go reindeer and dog sledding, and see the Aurora Borealis!

We got some pretty damn awesome pictures too.

Wandering in Bergen

Bergen at night

Oslo Opera House

Views from the NSB train

Church in Trondheim

A few of our friends, and actually quite a few Norwegians that we met asked us why we chose Norway.  It’s my guess that they don’t see a lot of American tourists (we were definitely the only Americans we met on our entire trip, which was the exact opposite of our trip to South Africa last year).  There were many reasons why this trip made sense to us now:  1) I have extended family that I always knew I would want to go to meet someday (and next time I would love to take/send my mother and aunt!!)  2) We knew we wanted to do a bit of an adventurous vacation as we are hoping to have kids in the future, and a lot of this trip would have been much harder with kiddos. 3) Once Tom saw some pics of the Aurora Borealis, it was all he could think about! 4) We thought that the idea of going to Norway, and doing a cold vacation in the arctic circle was a really nice bookend to our honeymoon spent in South Africa.

Views from the Hurtigruten cruise ship

Getting “christened” with ice water as we crossed the arctic circle by King Neptune!

The sami tent we slept in overnight

Playing with the dogs before we went dog sledding

Over the river and through the woods…

Our reindeer Gobo that pulled us sledding the night before

I’m no Anthony Bourdain, but we did get to eat some exotic dishes from an American perspective:

Reindeer soup in the sami tent

…and deep fried whale in Tromso!  Tasted just like beef. Delicious.

Last but not least, some of the blurry pictures I was able to take of the Aurora Borealis!

Getting better at focusing in the dark…

And the non-blurry pic that the professional photographer took.  Clearly he earns his money 🙂

It truly was an amazing experience, and Norway is a beautiful country to visit. I”m keeping this post short on words, but if you have any questions about our trip feel free to shoot me an email or post in the comments!