Archive | December, 2013

2013 in Review

31 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

South Africa and Mauritius Itinerary

10 Dec

Are you interested in traveling to South Africa and Mauritius?  Well, check out my 2 week itinerary!

Day 1:  Depart for Cape Town.

Day 2:  Arrive in Cape Town.  Hotel:  An African Villa.  Transportation from airport provided by Discovery Tours.

Day 3:  Cape Point morning tour with Hylton Ross (penguins, Cape of Good Hope).  Lunch at V&A waterfront (in particular, the market).  City & Table Mountain afternoon tour with Hylton Ross of Cape Town including Table Mountain, Camps Bay, City Hall, a market, and Malay quarter.  Dinner at V&A Waterfront.

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Day 4:  Great White Shark cage diving with Great White Shark Tours.  4:10am pick up.  Returned to Cape Town around 3pm.  Dinner near hotel – Sawadee (Thai food).

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Day 5:  All day wine tour with lunch through Wine Flies.

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Day 6:  All day Cape Town cultural and Robben Island tour through Hylton Ross.  Visited District Six Museum, Langa Township, and Robben Island.  Dinner at Raj in Camps Bay.

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Day 7:  Depart Cape Town for Kapama Game Reserve.   Hotel:  Kapama Karula.  Afternoon game drive.

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Day 8:  Morning elephant-backed safari.  Afternoon game drive.

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Day 9:  Morning game drive.  4+ hours at the spa.  Afternoon game drive.

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Day 10:  Morning game drive.  Afternoon depart for Johannesburg.  Hotel:  D’Oreale Grande Peermont.

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Day 11:  Depart Johannesburg for Mauritius.  Hotel:  Sugar Beach Resort.

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Day 12:  Beach day.

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Day 13:  Beach day.

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Day 14:  Catamaran – snorkeling, see dolphins, visit an island and lunch.

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Day 15:  Beach day.

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Day 16:  Depart Mauritius.  Return home.   7 hour layover in Johannesburg was spent exploring airport shops, lunch at City Lodge Hotel, and working out at Phela Live Wellness Centre.

Day 17:  Arrive home.

One Week in London Itinerary

10 Dec

Day 1, Tuesday:  

Leave for London in AM.  Arrive in London in PM.

Day 2, Wednesday:

Walk around London

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Day 3, Thursday:

Walk around London (again)

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Day 4, Friday:  

Trip to Paris for the day.  Booked Eurostar and Hop On Hop Off bus through Evan Evans Sightseeing Tours (Note: booking through a tourist agency was way cheaper for us than booking the Eurostar alone.  However, we also only booked the night before when Eurostar prices were really high).  We also bought metro cards when we arrived.   The Hop On Hop Off bus takes over two hours so to skip a lot of the delay we utilized the metro to get to a lot of the sites.

Some of the sites we visited include:  the Eiffel Tour (we didn’t go up), Le Louvre (we went inside and ran straight for the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa), Catedrale Notre Dame de Paris (we walked inside), Arc de Triomphe (walked underneath it), Opera National de Paris (only the outside), and we had lunch on the Champs-Elysses.   The absolute highlight of our trip was seeing the Eiffel Tour at night.  We had crepes and wine while watching the Eiffel Tour sparkle (at night, the  Eiffel Tour sparkles the first five minutes of every hour – after that, the lights are just the normal, beautiful lights).      Also, the best viewing spot is outside of Trocedero station.

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Extra Helpful Tips: (1) I would not attempt to go see the Catacombs if you only have one day.  It seems like the wait is hours any time you go.   (2) If you are planning this day trip in advance, book your Eiffel Tour fast pass tickets online.  We booked our day trip the night before so the Eiffel Tour tickets were already sold out. (3) Wear comfortable walking shoes.  If you are only doing a day trip, you will walk a lot!

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Saturday, October 26:

9am Train to Cambridge.  Arrived at 10am.  Walked around Cambridge, UK.  Visited John’s College and King’s College.  Had lunch near the river.  Shopped at the markets.

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We were back in London by 3pm.  When we got back to London we went straight for the NFL rally in Trafalgar Square (one of the reasons we were in London was for the NFL game that Sunday).  Afterwards, we walked around Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, and then we went to Covent Garden for cookies and macaroons.

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For dinner we went to Brick Lane for Indian food and then afterwards we went to a speakeasy – Callooh Callay.

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Sunday, October 27: 

For breakfast we ate at Up Market near Brick Lane (HIGHLY recommend).  Afterwards, we shopped at Up Market and at Spitalsfield Market.

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In the late afternoon we headed to Wembley for the NFL game (Jaguars vs. 49ers).  When that game was over, we went to Sports Bar & Grill at Victoria Station to watch more American football games.  At the very end of the night, we returned back to Buckingham Palace to take pictures at night.

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Monday, October 28:

We spent the morning walking around London some more: going inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, seeing the financial district, etc.  In the early afternoon we left London and arrived home in the evening.

Enjoy London (and Paris)! 

Options for a Layover in Johannesburg

8 Dec

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Stuck at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg for a while?   Well, we were too.  So, I created a list of some of the options for layovers.  Please note that the pricing may have changed.  Enjoy!

Have only an hour or two before your next flight?  I would just stay in the airport – there are quite a few stores and restaurants.  However, make sure that if you sit at a restaurant to let them know when your flight is.  We thought we had plenty of time – about 50 minutes before our flight started boarding – but the food came out after our flight was already boarding.

Want to workout?  Right outside the airport (it’s really across the street – walkable) is Phela Live Wellness Centre (see picture above).  They charged us $15 per person to use their gym for the day.   The gym is great: lots of treadmills and other cardio and weights.  They also have classes, but not while we were there.  In addition, they have a spa.  At the time we were there (November 2013) they had a great deal – $40 for two half hour sessions (for example, 1/2 hour foot massage followed with 1/2 hour head massage).   This is a great option if you have three + hours between flights.

Have a while and you want to rest, maybe hang by a pool, possibly even workout?   Head to City Lodge OR Tambo.  It’s about a block or two away (there are signs – it’s walkable).  City Lodge was going to charge us $60 total for a day pass (until 6pm) where we could get a room to wash up & rest, use the pool and utilize the gym.  Also, their restaurant had good food.

Have 1/2 a day or more?   Check out Emperor’s Palace – there are restaurants, a casino, shops, and a movie theater.  There is also a free shuttle from the airport.

Have almost a full day?  Check with local tourist agencies and book a day or 1/2 day tour of Johannesburg, Soweto, or the other sites nearby.

Are you arriving in the afternoon and leaving the next morning?  I recommend getting a room at the Emperor’s Palace complex.  We stayed at D’oreale Grande Peermont and really enjoyed it.  We slept well, had dinner at the Italian restaurant and were able to workout.  There is also a movie theater, a free shuttle to and from the airport,  a pool, shows, a casino, restaurants and shops.

Hope this helps!   Enjoy JoBurg!

Video

Our Honeymoon to South Africa and Mauritius

2 Dec

 

I created a video of our honeymoon to give you an idea of what can be done in two weeks in South Africa and Mauritius.   Soon I will be posting our itinerary and more detailed information about each of the locations.  Stay tuned to CourtneyMara.com!