29 October 2012

{Elephants at Dusk}

I snapped these photos over our engagement weekend spent at Wild and Free Game Lodge.  While on a sunset drive one evening, we were lucky enough to happen upon this herd of elephants and it was such a treat to observe them interacting with one another in their natural habitat.  I don't know about you, but for me elephants have always seemed to have the kindest and most intelligent eyes.  When they look at you, you can almost sense their wise old smile peaking through. 

Experiences such as these always remind me of what a blessing it is to live in Africa.  Although Jurgen and I live the city life the majority of the time, it's so easy for us to slip away for a weekend and take in the natural beauty that radiates through this continent.  

Put simply, moments like these are good for the soul :)

26 October 2012

New York, NY {Part II}

Something just feels right about New York.

I think it may be the fact that there's something for everyone.  The city has character.  One minute you can be walking down 5th Avenue and then the next minute you turn a corner and find yourself amongst old exposed brick buildings littered with graffiti.  One more corner and you're in China Town.  One more and you'll find yourself in boho-chic Soho surrounded by trendy shops and boutiques.  The city seems to have developed a serious case of split-personality, and to be honest, I love it.  

{Idyllic flats in Greenwich Village}
{The infamous Flatiron Building}

Nothing like a little variety to add a bit of spice to life, right!?

Wandering through Greenwich Village {feeling like I could run into Ted and Robin from How I Met Your Mother at any moment}, I found myself dreaming about owning a little flat in the city for a couple of years.  I think Jurg and I would quickly settle into the New York lifestyle and discover our little cafe, our favorite coffee shop, our go-to market, and our perfect after-work pub.  It would be blissful.

Then, mid-daydream, I was kindly informed that the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village is $8,000.00 - and I'd be lying if I said my growing bubble didn't burst a little bit.

Still, I guess you can never say never right?  But, for now I think I'll just keep dreaming :)

 - - - - -

For New York {Part I}, see here.

Also, the $100 J.Crew gift card giveaway is still up and running on Daryl's Blog until Monday.
Head on over and enter here!

24 October 2012

{On the Bucket List}: Base Camp, Everest

I've decided to start a {bucket list} series on this little blog of mine, as a way of sharing just a few of the thousands of things that I hope to experience/accomplish/witness within my lifetime.  Not only in an effort to hold myself accountable to follow my own dreams and passions, but also in the hope that it will inspire some of you to do the same.

"Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
Mary Oliver

A couple years ago {two Decembers to be exact}, my Mom introduced me to a Discovery Channel reality series called {Everest: Beyond the Limit} while I was out visiting California.  The show follows the journey of several climbers as they attempt to summit Mt Everest amongst a myriad of obstacles and potentially life-threatening situations.  For many of these people, this is their one chance at fulfilling their life's ambition; for others, they are already on their second or third attempt at reaching the summit.  Having never really known what it takes to summit the tallest mountain on earth, I was immediately intrigued.  I downloaded the previous two seasons and the whole concept and illusion of Everest quickly transformed into somewhat of an {innocent} obsession.

Still, it was intrigue from an outsider's perspective, as I happen to have zero technical climbing skills, am weary of the extensive risks associated with attempting a summit {several people die each year and several dozen lose fingers and limbs to frost bite}, and can't seem to find my way around the minor detail that I don't happen to have $60,000+ lying around to cover the expedition costs.

That was until earlier this year, when a friend casually mentioned that she wanted to join a trekking tour to Base Camp within the next couple of years.  Base Camp is where the official climb to the summit of Everest begins and it's substantially less expensive than joining a summit tour.  The Base Camp trek also doesn't require any technical climbing expertise and the potential health risks are considerably less.  Still, it presents quite the challenge as it requires over two weeks of strenuous hiking at very high altitudes.  And the scenery on the way up is supposed to be unparalleled.  The route weaves through tiny little mountain villages, past huge glacial valleys with rivers winding through them, and even approaches ancient monasteries tucked away into the hills.  And... imagine the atmosphere that must permeate through Base Camp.  People from all over the world, some having already reached their destination, others still preparing to attempt a summit, and still others successfully returning from conquering the highest point in the world.  

Put simply... I must do it.

There are several different companies that host Base Camp treks, but so far REI seems to be my favorite.

Here are some of the tour features:

Length: 19 days

Cost: $ 3,300

Group Size: 2 - 15

Cost Includes: National Park Fees, 4 nights hotel in Kathmandu, meals as noted on the itinerary, Sherpa guides and porters, cooks and commissary crew, tents, foam sleeping pads, community cooking gear, baggage portage, and airport transfers.

Cost Excludes: International air transportation, internal flights in Nepal, certain meals, visas, optional trips, immunizations, insurance, laundry, and alcohol.

Difficulty Rating: Strenuous {5}

So... who else is in?!

My hope is to somehow find the time and money to do this within the next 5 years.

- - - - -

Also, on a completely different topic, if you haven't yet entered the $100 J.Crew giveaway happening right now on Daryl's blog, you might want to mosey on over and enter here.

22 October 2012

$100 J.Crew Giveaway!!!

Today I'm so excited to be co-hosting a giveaway with the lovely Daryl of Roots, Wings, & Other Things!!!

Up for grabs is a $100 J.Crew Gift Card ! 
{Because really, who doesn't love J.Crew!?}

Head on over to Daryl's blog and enter HERE!

{Note: This giveaway is open to international readers and will run through Monday, the 5th of November.}

- - - - -

Also, today I'm guest posting over on Caley's adorable blog {Ellie Love} about a previous trip to Victoria Falls during which Jurg and I may or may not have found ourselves smack dab in the path of a huge bull elephant taking a leisurely midnight stroll.  Head on over and check it out here!

And really, elephants aside, Caley happens to be one of the sweetest bloggers  around so if you don't follow her already, you're going to want to change that pronto.  It's really a win-win :)

16 October 2012

New York {Part I}

Remember that time that I went to New York over a month ago?  Yep, I still haven't gotten around to blogging about it, but that's all about to change right now.

Put simply, I loved New York... in a head-over-heels "I would move there in a second" kind of way.  I loved the hustle and bustle of the city, the sheer size of central park, the unlimited restaurant options, the fact that everything stayed open until the wee hours of the morning, the subways, the shopping, the view from our hotel room {see first picture below}, the taxis... you name it!

It was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

 And... I'm pretty sure my Mom loved it too!

In the two and a half days that we were there here's some of what we did:
{in order of photos}

-- Enjoyed lunch at Grand Central Station --

-- Got lost navigating the subway system {more than once} --

-- Sat in on the Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon --
{no cameras allowed}

-- Enjoyed the most delicious burgers at Shake Shack--
{and I'm being totally serious about their deliciousness}

--Went shopping in SOHO--
{my life is complete}

-- Hopped onto the very touristy red double-decker bus --

-- Paid our respects at the 9/11 memorial--
{more to come on this later}

-- Went to a Broadway Show --
{We saw Once and it was amazing!!!}

-- Took in the view from Top of the Rock --
{And enjoyed a little too much shopping in NYC at The Rockefeller Center - couldn't resist!} 

- - - - -

Needless to say we packed a lot into the small amount of time that we had!

Thanks to everyone who commented leaving New York suggestions and recommendations.

We would have been lost without you!

08 October 2012

Nike's #WeRunJozi 2012!

Yesterday, Jurg and I took part in Nike's #WeRunJozi race through Sandton and Alexandra!  Running a 10km has been sitting on our 2012 bucket list for quite some time, and with the end of the year just around the corner, this provided us with the perfect opportunity to cross it off our list!  

This is Jurgen's 'I just ran a 10km and don't want to take a picture' face ;)

Here goes for a quick race re-cap...

With over 20,000 runners competing, we were both generally very impressed with how well the race was organized from start to finish.  We were able to walk straight up to the counter and pick up our race packs on Saturday without any wait at all {which is basically the equivalent of winning the lottery in SA} and our packs were stuffed full of exciting goodies like a Nike race t-shirt, green body paint, a bright green Nike race bracelet, and special trackers to record our times.  At the starting line, Nike staff walked around and offered us sunscreen while we were taken through a pre-race group stretching routine broadcasted over a huge screen near the starting line.  At the finish, everyone received a medal, a bottle of water, and an ice-cold energade {think powerade}.  Part of our entrance fee also went towards funding a youth race in Alexandra {one of South Africa's poorest townships} the previous morning, so it felt good knowing that we were also giving back by participating.

The race started in Sandton {one of Johannesburg's most affluent areas} and then headed straight into Alexandra {which is known as one of South Africa's poorest and most dangerous townships}.  Side note: In Jo'burg, many of our wealthiest suburbs sit right next to our poorest, with only blocks separating the two areas.  The vibe in Alex was beyond incredible, with many of the residents lining the sides of the route to cheer us on and a ton of small children high-fiving us as we ran by.  For many South Africans this was their first time ever stepping foot into a township and it was wonderful to see so many runners stopping on the side of the road to offer the children their Nike race bracelets or bottles of water.  The sense of community was invigorating and made the time fly.  The race finished on the M1 {one of South Africa's major highways} and they actually closed down a portion of the freeway for the race.  Put simply, the route was epic!!!

The one big disappointment for me had to do with the sheer number of runners.  Jurg and I were towards the front of the crowd and only crossed the starting line seven minutes after the race had started.  Then, the pack never thinned out.  We were literally running amongst a mob of people from start to finish, with many of the participants choosing to walk large portions of the course.  At several points throughout the race, the road would narrow and cause a bottleneck and we would be forced to walk until it widened out again.  I initially went into the race hoping to PR, but very quickly realized it wouldn't be realistic to run for time.  After a few minutes of frustration and failed attempts to weave through the crowd, I decided to slow down and just enjoy the experience for what it was.

Still, {numbers aside} the race was a lot of fun and an experience that I'll never forget!

I'm so grateful that Jurg also enjoys competing in these type of things and is willing to wake up at the break of dawn to run with me!  Hopefully, we'll be able to squeeze in at least one more before the end of the year :)

Hope everyone had a great weekend, and here's to a fantastic week ahead!

05 October 2012

{The Travel List Challenge}

Even though I just got back from my trip to the States, I've been suffering from some serious wanderlust as of late!  Not like that's anything new though.  Travel is without a doubt my biggest passion and if I could get paid to travel around the world and document my life, I would do it in a heart beat. 


To be honest, one of the most difficult adjustments in moving to South Africa has been getting used to earning on the Rand {which doesn't go very far abroad} and having to come to terms with putting my travel plans on hold while I try to finance my studies and daily life {boring, right?}. 

Luckily, I happened to fall in love with someone who also loves to travel and who is very open to living abroad in Europe, the Middle East or elsewhere for a couple of years before settling down :)  So, after I finish my Master's next year, if the opportunity presents itself you can bet we will be packing our bags and heading somewhere new and exciting together!

Until that time comes though, I'll just have to be patient and live vicariously through all of my favorite expat bloggers and continue taking mental notes on all the places on my "must-see" list.  In an effort to funnel all of my travel energy somewhere, I thought it would be fun to share where I've been so far via The Travel List Challenge today!  I saw this on In the Pink and Green a few months ago and have been meaning to do it myself ever since.  Places I've been are bolded in green and I've also added some of my own travel photos as well as some photos via Pinterest for the places I haven't been, but hope to visit in the near future :)

1) Alamo
San Antonio, Texas


2) Alhambra
Granada, Spain

3) Andros Island

4) Angel Falls

5) Angkor Wat
Angkor, Cambodia

6) Atlantic City Boardwalk
Atlantic City, New Jersey

7) Ayers Rock

8) Big Ben
London, England

9) Bora Bora

10) British Museum
London, England

11) Canals of Amsterdam
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

12) Cathedral of Seville
Seville, Spain


13) Cave of Crystals

14) Christ the Redeemer
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

15) Cinque Terre National Park

16) Colosseum
Rome, Italy

17) Crater Lake National Park
Oregon, USA

18) Dead Sea

19) Death Valley National Park

20) Devil's Tower


21) Dome of the Rock
Jerusalem, Israel

22) Easter Island Statues

23) Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh, Scotland

24) Eiffel Tower
Paris, France

25) Empire State Building
New York City, NY


26) Forbidden City
Beijing, China

27) French Quarter
New Orleans, Louisiana

28) Galapagos Islands

29) Gateway Arch
St. Louis, Missouri

30) Gettysburg Battlefield

31) Glacier Bay Basin


32) Glacier National Park

33) Glowworm Cave
New Zealand

34) Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, California

35) Grand Canal
Venice, Italy


36) Grand Canyon

37) Grand Mosque in Mecca
Saudi Arabia

38) Great Barrier Reef

39) Great Mosque of Cordoba
Cordoba, Spain

40) Great Wall of China

41) Hagia Sophia
Istanbul, Turkey

42) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

43) Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, California

44) Iguazu Falls
Argentina & Brazil

45) Kiyomizu-dera
Kyoto, Japan

46) Kremlin
Moscow, Russia

47) Lake Titicaca

48) Las Ramblas
Barcelona, Spain


49) Las Vegas Strip
LasVegas, Nevada

50) Leaning Tower of Pisa

51) Louvre Museum
Paris, France


52) Macchu Picchu

53) Matterhorn

54) Mayan Pyramids of Chichen Itza
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

55) Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City, NY
{I ran past it in Central Park... does that count!? ;)}


56) Mount Everest

57) Mount Fuji

58) Mount Kilimanjaro

59) Mount Rushmore
South Dakota

60) Napa Valley

61) Ngorongoro Crater

62) Niagara Falls
New York

63) Notre Dame Cathedral
Paris, France

64) Pacific Rim National Park
British Columbia, Canada

65) Pebble Beaches of Nice
Nice, France


66) Petra

67) Petronas Twin Towers
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

68) Portland Head Lighthouse
Cape Elizabeth, Maine

69) Puerta Del Sol
Madrid, Spain

70) Pyramids of Giza

71) Redwood National Park

72) Rock of Gibraltar

73) Rocky Mountain National Park

74) Ruins of Athens
Athens, Greece

75) Ruins of Pompeii
Pompeii, Italy


76) Sagrada Familia
Barcelona, Spain

77) Willis Tower (formerly Sears Town)
Chicago, Illinois

78) Sedlec Ossuary
Czech Republic

79) Sistine Chapel
Vatican City, Italy

80) Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC

81) Space Needle
Seattle, Washington

82) St. Peter's Basilica
Vatican City, Italy

83) Statue of Liberty
New York

84) Stonehenge

85) Sydney Opera House
Sydney, Australia

86) Taj Mahal
Agra, India

87) Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Kyoto, Japan

88) Teotihuacan

89) Tian Tan Buddha
Hong Kong, China

90) Times Square
New York City, NY

91) Varanasi
Uttar Pradesh, India

92) Victoria Falls

93) Wailing Wall
Jerusalem, Israel

94) Walt Disney World Resort
Orlando, Florida

95) Washington Monument
Washington, D.C.

96) White Cliffs of Dover
Dover, England

97) White House
Washington, D.C.

98) Winchester Cathedral
Hampshire, England

99) Yosemite National Park


100) Zion National Park

- - - - -

That brings my total to 32!  Only 68 more to go! ;)

How many places on the Travel List Challenge have you been?  

If you also decide to participate, please leave your link in a comment as I'd love to compare travel notes :)