25 September 2011

Weekend Away in Kruger (aka Safari Time!) Part II

During our time in Kruger we moved around quite a bit because we wanted to get a feel for what a few of the 13 different rest camps had to offer. These camps are set-up and run by SANParks {a government agency} and offer many different accommodation options ranging from camping to tented camping {where tents are already set up with beds in them} to bungalows {which we made use of on this trip} to guest houses. All of the options are great for the everyday visitor looking for a mainstream park experience and we were generally very impressed with the overall set-up. However, within Kruger there are also many private concessions housing Luxury Lodges which offer honeymooners or others seeking a more upscale experience a variety of options as well... someday!

On this trip we stayed overnight at Pretoriouskop, Satara and Skukuza and stopped for lunch one day at Lower Sabie. Of the three we actually stayed at, Satara was our favorite and Skukuza our least favorite just be cause it is the most popular {and situated next to one of the main entrance gates}, so it was absolutely swarming with tourists and school groups. Each rest camp is equipped with a small grocery shop, a petrol {gas} station, a little fast food sort of joint and a nicer evening restaurant. What more could you need?

Entrance of Pretoriouskop
Can you see the hippos?
Bungalows at Satara
Eating area at Skukuza
Look out deck and eating area at Lower Sabie
Can you spot the leopard? (hint: look for her tail!)
Restaurant at Skukuza on an old railway platform - the inside of the train is the bar :)

Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and can't wait to explore some of the other rest camps located within different sections of the park.

See Part I here.

24 September 2011

Weekend Away in Kruger (aka Safari Time!) Part I

Last weekend, Jurgen and I were able to take a long weekend away in the Kruger National Park.  It was wonderful getting out of the city a little bit and taking it easy and we were lucky to see a LOT of wildlife.  In South Africa everyone's ambition is always to see the Big 5 (Rhino, Elephant, Water Buffalo, Lion and Leopard) and we were able to check three of those off our list plus a whole lot of other animals :)  This time we focused on the southern part of the park because it's the most popular and the closet to Johannesburg, but I think next time we'll try and go more north where the vegetation is more lush.

Aside from spotting animals, we braaied a ton, drank a lot of wine, watched South Africa dominate Fiji in rugby and even met up with some friends of ours :)

Part II coming soon!

13 September 2011

Weekend Recap (and 1st Race Recap!)

It seems like lately all of my posts are in the form of weekend recaps - I really need to get back into my normal blogging routine!  I always have the best intentions to blog and then once I sit down I get so immersed in catching up on all of your lovely blogs that I never end up posting on my own!  Does that ever happen to any of you?

Never the less a lot of fun stuff actually happened this weekend and I'm excited to share everything with you!

Friday wasn't all too interesting, but I did manage to make it to the gym and then Jurg and I went to Piatto to grab dinner and do some studying.  I was so excited when I discovered that they had jalapeno poppers as an appetizer on their menu that I let out a little squeal of delight!  They are one of my favorite foods and one of the things I always make sure I eat when I'm in California :)  Unfortunately these ones were extremely spicy and couldn't compare to the American ones, but still better than nothing!

Saturday, I went to the Fairway Spa in Randburg for what I thought was going to be a quick trim (haven't cut my hair in almost 6 months - yikes!).  I ended up leaving with a cut, color, hair masque and pedicure!  While it's not something I can afford to do often, I must say it was so nice to treat myself for an afternoon after having such a hectic past two months at work (and it gave Jurgen a break from having to dye my hair for me :)

That night Jurgen made his famous spaghetti bolognaise and we loaded up on carbs for the morning's race.  I started getting serious pre-race jitters that night because I haven't run 10km's in one sitting in over a year and normally only do about 3km's on the treadmill a few days a week.  Plus, the whole week prior I hadn't been on my game and had been struggling to make it even the normal 3km without stopping.  Still, I was excited to see what the morning would hold, especially with all the support and encouragement from Christine and Christy (thanks ladies!).

The next morning we were up early and on our way to the race venue by 6am.  The race was at 7am and we had to scramble to find where we could check our sweaters and personal items - so much so that we almost missed the start!  We jogged quickly to the starting line, found our place in the middle of the pack and then the whistle blew within about 30 seconds. #closecall

I felt good throughout the beginning of the race, but it was difficult to get past people and I kept getting boxed in.  I lost Jurgen within about a minute of starting and never saw him again until the race was over.  I felt pretty good up until kilometre three and then the race started getting a little "hilly" and the sun started really beating down on us.  I started feeling tired, but kept picking people running ahead of me and trying to pace myself behind them.

Around kilometre six I started feeling much better and really found a comfortable pace.  I noticed one girl who kept passing me and then falling behind me over and over and so I decided to stick with her.  Around kilometre eight we veered into the zoo and from there I knew the finish couldn't be far so I picked up the pace.  I ended up crossing the finish in 57:50 minutes which I was really happy with :)  Due to all of the hills I thought that I would have for sure gone over 60 minute mark so I was very happily surprised to see my time!  I will definitely be signing up for more races - there are two in October which I'm already thinking about :)

Jurgen came through a few minutes later and then we spent a couple of hours checking out all of the animals at the zoo (our race entry included free admission!).  It was awesome because all of the animals were really active since it was so early and the zoo had just opened.  We even had a "close encounter" with a brown bear who jumped against the glass and scared Jurgen so much that he fell backwards!  Unfortunately, I had left my camera in the car though - so no evidence pictures :(

After looking at a few of our favorite exhibits we rushed home to catch the South Africa's first game in the Rugby World Cup.  We braaied (South Africa version of a BBQ) good old fashion hamburgers and kicked back to enjoy the game.

Please excuse my completely dead once lotus plant in the corner

South Africa played Wales and was able to pull off a win!  It was a close game (17-16), but I'm glad they were able to take it in the end - going forward they will need to up their game though if they want to stay in the competition. 

America also played (yes America has a rugby team), but it was during my race so I missed it.  They lost to Ireland, but apparently put up a good fight and really surprised everyone.  I'm really looking forward to rooting them throughout the rest of the competition.

That night Jurg and I wrapped up our weekend by taking our work to the Design Quarter and grabbing a quick dinner.  It was the perfect way to end our "more busy than usual" weekend and get ready for the week ahead :)

How was your weekend?

PS: Sorry this post is so lengthy and congratulations if you made it this far - in the future I definitely need to split up weekend and race recap posts into two.

06 September 2011

Highlights & Lowlights from the Weekend

I'm linking up with the lovely Taryn from Taryn Leigh again for her weekly series Highlights & Lowlights from the Weekend.  Even though poor Taryn is swamped at work this week and won't be able to do her normal post, I'm going to carry on the tradition for her and hope that she'll be back next week :)

This week there are a lot more highlights than lowlights :)

  • Celebrating submitting my HUGE semester project on Friday with Jurgen at Lucky Bean in Melville - I don't know if I've ever been so happy to submit an assignment before after pulling two all nighters in a row #procrastinationstrikesagain
  • Continuing the celebration with dessert - sticky toffee pudding = pure deliciousness
  • Not touching work or studies the entire weekend and sleeping in until at least 10am on Saturday AND Sunday
  • Meeting up with Megan and her boyfriend Flip for lunch and Rugby on Saturday afternoon, although my team lost - boo.
  • Grabbing seafood stirfry and a prawn and avo baguette at Woolies in the Design Quarter as per our usual Sunday routine.
  • Finally signing up to run a 10km next weekend!  What's even better: Jurg's agreed to run it with me and it's at the Johannesburg Zoo - such a cool place for a race!  A big shout out to Christy and Christine for all the motivation they've given me through their fabulous running blogs.  First race recap to come this weekend! 
  • This wonderful 25 degree weather we've been having and being able to leave the flat without a jacket for the first time this year - yay for summer!
  • Getting to talk to my Grandma on Skype for a whole hour :)

  •  The terrible experience we had at the Cubana in Cedar Square on Saturday night.  This was the second time we've left before even being seated due to the hostess telling use we couldn't sit at an inside table unless we were sure that we were both going to order mains.  Definitely won't be trying our luck there again.
  • Missing celebrating my Mom, Dad and Gradma's birthdays this week - can you believe all of them have their birthday in the same week!? - but still happy I was able to talk to them over Skype.
  • Being swamped at work this week due to not working over the weekend - but I must say that it was oh so worth it :)

What were your highlights and lowlights of the weekend?