Tag Archives: History

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)! 

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!

One Week in Italy

1 Apr

In November of 2012, Matt and I spent 8 days in Italy. I have already posted our recommended TO DOs for each city (Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany), but below is our detailed itinerary. I hope that it shows that you can really see a lot in Italy in just 8 days!

Friday: We had a 9:05pm flight to Rome.

Saturday: We arrived around 2pm in Rome. We took the train from the airport to the main train station. We walked straight to the hotel (Hotel de Monti) and dropped off our luggage. We then changed into running clothes and ran around the town to explore. In particular, we ran to the Colosseum and Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. Afterwards, we got dressed up and decided to walk around more on the way to get dinner. We walked to the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and then got dinner on the way to the Pantheon. After dinner we walked to the Pantheon and then back over to the Colosseum. Seeing the Colosseum at night is a MUST.

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Sunday: We ran in the morning and then went inside the Pantheon. Afterwards, we had our scheduled Colosseum tour. Our tickets included admission to the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill. We then had gelato at Giolitti and then went to the hotel and rested. Later that evening we went to dinner at the best pizza place I have ever been to, Pizzeria Baffetto, and then went to an Irish pub, Scholars Lounge, to watch American football.

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Monday: We had a morning Vatican tour. Afterwards, we had pizza and gelato outside the Vatican wall. The gelato place is a MUST and is called Old Bridge. It was so good and cheap(er)! At night, we had dinner outside the Pantheon at Scusati il Ritardo. Great food and amazing view! After dinner we went to visit the Trevi Fountain again since it is just so magical.

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Tuesday. We spent our last day in Rome visiting the Aventine Key Hole (MUST) and getting a tour of the main synagogue in Rome and the Jewish ghetto. We took a 7:20pm train to Florence and arrived in Florence by 9:25pm. We checked into our hotel, Botticelli Hotel, and then went to have pizza. We still had time to see the Duoma (from the outside), ride the carousel at the Piazza della Repubblica, see the Ponte Vecchio, and see the David replica.

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Wednesday: We spent this day exploring Tuscany with WalkAbout Tours, which we booked through Viator.com. I posted information about our tour here. Afterwards, we came back to Florence. We ate dinner, walked around some more, and went back to the hotel.

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Thursday: We took a 9:25am train from Florence to Venice that arrived in Venice at 11:33am. We checked into our hotel, Abbazia Hotel, and then did our normal routine – ran around to see as much as possible. We got lost a bunch of times, but we were just awe struck by the beauty. Afterwards, we continued to explore and ate a lot! This town is really great for walking, exploring, window shopping, and eating. We ended our evening having prosecco and tiramisu next to the water and Piazza San Marco.

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Friday: We spent all day in Venice. We rode a gondola, saw the Jewish ghetto, visited Piazza San Marco again, shopped, and ate, ate, ate! We had a great dinner at Hosteria al Vecio Bragosso.

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Saturday: We left Venice for the United States at 7:40am. We arrived back in the U.S. that same day.

ADDITIONAL TIPS:

  • Because our time in each city was short, we stayed near the train stations.
  • Literally run around the city to see as much as possible.
  • Don’t waste money on hotels in Italy, instead, “waste” the money on food!
  • Bring good walking shoes.
  • Pack light so that you can travel around easily.

Enjoy Italy!

The MUST SEEs of Rome

8 Mar

Matt and I only had a few days in Rome, but we were able to see A LOT.  Below are some of our MUST SEEs of Rome!  And, make sure to stay tuned to CourtneyMara.com for the post containing our full Italy itinerary, which will show how we really saw so much of Italy in just 8 days!

  • Visit the Trevi Fountain

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  • Tour the Colosseum.  Book your tickets in advance (DO DO DO).  This saves you from waiting in the line that goes on forever!  Also, I highly recommend the tickets that include the upper level and dungeons.  The photo taken below was from the upper level.  You can only go there with a tour.  We booked our tickets through TickItaly.com.

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  • Visit the Vatican.  Again, I recommend booking your tickets in advance to skip the huge line and I highly recommend a tour.  We bought our tickets through the Vatican’s website.

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  • Eat a lot of gelato!   I recommend Old Bridge, which is next to the Vatican, and Giolitti.  

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  •  Visit the Aventine Key Hole.  Amazing view of St. Peter’s Basilica.  The picture below is of Matt looking through the key hole.

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  • Go inside the Pantheon!  It’s free and just incredible.  

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Enjoy Rome!

Mount Vernon

20 Oct

A visit to Mount Vernon is a MUST, especially if you are in DC in Spring or Fall.  Take a stroll around the property.  It is a romantic atmosphere, but can also be used as a historical stop for you and your family.  I recommend getting a timed ticket to see the house or the wait can be long.  Also, if you live in DC and you think you will go on more than one visit to the estate in a year (especially if you have a lot of visitors), I recommend getting the annual pass.  Finally, make sure to check the calendar to see if there are any fun events.

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Smithsonian Folklife Festival

25 Jun

To me, the week leading up to the Fourth of July in DC = the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  The Smithsonian holds this festival annually on the National Mall and usually includes three to four topics.  Past festivals have included topics like Colombia, Peace Corps, NASA, and “Roots of Virginia Culture.”  This year the festival will be held from June 27-July 1 and July 4-8, 2012.  The topics of this year’s festival are Campus and Community, Citified, and Creativity and Crisis.  The hours are from 11am to 5:30pm.  There will be performances (concerts and dancing), food, demonstrations, and more.  If you happen to be in DC, visit this festival!

BRAZIL

12 Jun

I lived in Brazil for a year from 2003-2004 and I traveled back to Brazil for five weeks in 2007.  I have seen a lot of the country, but I still have a lot more to see.  Here are my recommendations of the MUST SEE spots in Brazil:

Iguacu Falls:  Cute animals.  Beautiful waterfalls.  Easy to get to Paraguay for a day of shopping.

Sao Paulo:  Huge city.  Tons to do.  Recommend exploring for at least a day!

Santos, Sao Paulo:  Beautiful beach town with few non-Brazilian tourists (since most everyone goes up to Rio).  Highly recommend.


Northeast Brazil:  If you love beaches and culture then you must head to the northeast of Brazil.  I especially love the state of Bahia.  Amazing culture, beaches, and food.  MUST MUST MUST!

Rio:  MUST SEE.  Obviously go to Sugar Loaf Mountain.  Hang out on the beaches.  Just explore!  Amazing city!

Florianopolis, Santa Catarina:  Another amazing, beautiful city that does not get a lot of non-Brazilian tourists.  There is an island and main land and so much to do including eating seafood, sand boarding, and tons more.

Curitiba, Parana:  I love this city.  Not a huge tourist destination, but nice to visit if you have time.  Can get really cold in winter.

Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais:   Must see if you like history and/or historical towns!  Lots of culture here!

Enjoy Brazil!

Things To Do In MIAMI by Chris

21 May

(Digital photo taken by Marc Averette; Found on Wikipedia)

FOOD

NIGHT OUT

Historic/Touristic

Events
  • If you happen to be in Miami on the last Friday of the month (check the website to be sure of the date:  http://www.viernesculturales.org/ ), then go to Little Havana’s monthly street festival called Viernes Culturales.  It’s a festival with live salsa bands, live cuban folk bands, live contemporary bands, artists selling paintings/crafts on the street, street vendors selling food, coffee, etc.  People dance in the street, sing to their favorite songs, restaurants stay open later than normal and you get to see the best in Cuban and Cuban-American art, crafts, culture and politics.  Absolutely amazing experience and it ends by 11pm/12pm so you ca still hit up bars and clubs afterwards.  It’s 100% cuban culture and something that can only be seen in Miami.  Also, it’s free, costs about $5 to park just off calle ocho.

A Monumental Run Around DC

26 Mar

Last Saturday Matt and I ran 4 miles around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. We passed the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and the MLK Memorial. And, on top of that, we were lucky to run on one of the last days of the cherry blossoms. I had my Iphone with me to snap some photos of the beautiful scenery (see below). Despite the dreary weather, we had a great time and got some good exercise. I highly recommend taking a “monumental” run around DC!