December Dream Vacations

The holiday season always makes me appreciate all of the wonderful people I have in my life, and I’m very fortunate that so many of them live near me in the San Francisco Bay Area.  However, some of the most important important people, for some reason, prefer living in a not-so-moderate climate.  That’s right, we’re off to Minnesota next week to freeze our butts off spend Christmas with my in-laws!

Don’t get me wrong, my husband’s family is totally great.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am that they’ve always been incredibly welcoming ever since I first met them.  I’m especially looking forward to a Cinderella-themed slumber party with my 2 1/2 year old niece, playing with my sister-in-laws’ awesome pups, catching up with my husband’s adorable grandparents, and spending time with everyone else… but, man will it be cold!

Although I’m going to freeze in Minnesota this year, here’s a list of warmer places that I’d like to visit during future Decembers:

Clockwise from top left: Zanzibar, Milford Sound, Turks and Caicos, Langkawi

Clockwise from top left: Zanzibar, Milford Sound, Turks and Caicos, Langkawi

1) Southern Africa + Mauritius: it would be an absolute dream vacation to go on safari in South Africa or Tanzania, visit Mozambique and Zanzibar, then relax on Mauritius.

2) Australia + New Zealand: although I’ve already spent lots of time in Oz and NZ, I cannot wait to go back with my husband to sail the Whitsundays again, visit Milford Sound, and hoard Tim Tams.  I’m pretty sure that he’ll like it there as much as I do :)

3) Turks and Caicos: my husband hasn’t been to the Caribbean before, and since we’ve heard such fabulous things about Turks and Caicos especially, I think we’d have to go their first.

4) Malaysia: I’d love to relax on Langkawi and explore the other gorgeous islands in Malaysia.  Friends have told us that Turtle Island is a must-see, too.

Wherever you spend your holidays this year, I hope you and your loved ones are warm and happy!

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Real Honeymoon: South Africa & Mozambique (Part 2)

Yesterday I published the first half of Becky and Bryce’s incredible African honeymoon.  The second half is below – enjoy!

[A continuation of “The best part about our honeymoon was…]

Benguerra Island, Mozambique – Marlin Lodge

Again so many amazing moments so here are a couple:

We arranged to take a tour of the island with two locals who worked at the lodge. We took a jeep around the entire island – saw where all the villagers lived and how they lived (all in grass huts). It was a very humbling experience to say the least. Every time we drove by the kids on the sand streets they would run behind the jeep smiling, waiving and laughing. We also visited their local school and got to talk with and meet the headmaster and some of the children. The children were a bit shy at the beginning but once we showed them the picture we took sitting with them at their desks, we instantly bonded!!!

Benguerra Island School

Hanging out with the kids of Benguerra Island, Mozambique

Maybe my favorite moment was a private picnic lunch the lodge put on for us. They boated us to the other side of the island where they had the most incredible arrangement waiting. There was an umbrella with a blanket and chairs set up as we arrived. They had a gourmet lunch laid out as well along with our drinks of choice – Rosé and Mozambican beer, Manica! There was nothing around us but warm Indian Ocean and white sand – it was surreal! They then left us there all afternoon – we really felt like it was our private island at this point. We liked it so much we did it again the next day!

Benguerra Island Picnic

A private picnic on Benguerra Island

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Nothing, other than we would have gone for 3 weeks instead of 2!

How much planning did you do in advance?

A lot!! I give all the credit to my amazing husband, Bryce, who put a lot of time and effort into making this the best trip of our life!!!!! He found all the hotels and lodges we stayed at and worked with a travel agent to set up the logistics.

Mozambique Sunset

A beautiful Mozambique sunset

What was your biggest honeymoon splurge?

Once we got there everything was already paid for which was very nice. The only place to shop was in Cape Town where I bought some jewelry and my husband got an African warrior shield.

Where do you want to go on your next big trip?

Now that we’ve come to grips that it will be next to impossible to top this trip, we can’t wait for our next adventure. We’re thinking about Russia, Colombia, Sri Lanka or Antarctica.

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Real Honeymoon: South Africa & Mozambique (Part 1)

When Becky sent me the following information about her honeymoon, my jaw hit the floor.  She and Bryce took a KILLER trip to South Africa and Mozambique, and now all I can think about is when I can plan a similar trip myself.  Since Becky sent me so much great information and a bunch of photos, I decided to split it up into two Real Honeymoon blog posts.  Enjoy the first half now, and come back tomorrow to check out the second part.

When and where did you go on your honeymoon?

We left for our honeymoon the night after the wedding, September 30, 2013. We had some long flights ahead but our final destination was worth it! We spent our honeymoon in South Africa and Mozambique. Our adventure started in Cape Town, South Africa and we were there for 3 days. Then we flew to the Sabi Sands Reserve where we went on a 4 day safari. From there we flew to Vilanculos, Mozambique and took a boat to Benguerra Island for the finale of our honeymoon. Here we had 5 days of relaxing on the white sand beaches of the most incredible island we have ever been on!

Gold Restaurant

Becky and Bryce in Cape Town, S.A.

How long was your trip?

All in all, we were gone for 2 weeks.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Africa was always our number one. We threw around several other ideas but we always came back to Africa. We both are well traveled and we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had ever been so we could experience it for the first time together. We also wanted adventure, culture, and beach! At the end of the day we new Africa was it – so we decided on South Africa for the culture and adventure, and Mozambique for the beach (but there was definitely culture and adventure there as well)!

Safari

On safari at Sabi Sand Reserve

The best part about our honeymoon was…

The entire trip was a highlight, a few of them include:

Cape Town

We had the most amazing dinner and experience at Gold Restaurant.  We started the evening with learning to play the African drums. We then had like a 15 course dinner – all African cuisine. Throughout dinner the staff performed singing and dancing throughout the restaurant, it was truly amazing. I even got pulled up to dance with them, had gold flakes sprinkled over us and they also painted our faces. At the end of dinner they pulled everyone up to dance together. Sooooooooooo fun and so delicious!

Gold Restaurant

Dinner and dancing at Gold Restaurant

Sabi Sands Reserve, Notten’s Bush Camp

We have so many amazing moments from the safari but our top two was when we saw a pride of lions and a pack of elephants.

During our morning game drive we came up on about 2 female lions in the bush. As we got closer, there was an entire pride of lions walking towards a little hill area to try and find shade. There were about 15 female and young male lions all gathered together – they looked like they were waiting for something. A few minutes later we saw the male lion (the leader of the pride) slowly walking in. As he approached every lion got up and greeted him with a gentle embrace then went back and sat down. We were so close to all of them we felt like we could reach out and touch them. Once they decided it was too hot – they all got up one by one and left!

Lions

Lions!

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