Rio de Janeiro – Cristos on the Corcovado

Posted by Catherine on December 16th, 2009

When my baby, when my baby smiles at me I go to Rio de Janeiro…

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, with yellow feathers in her hair and dress cut down to there…

Tall and tanned and long and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking and when she does…

It is official. I can’t stop singing.

Rio feels like the South American version of Nice. I keep saying this and we later find out that their waterfront is based off our beloved South of France. No wonder we love it here.

It is the end of the journey. Time to splash out. It is oddly enough the first time that we have started saying Merry Christmas, despite the fact that it is quickly approaching.

We have a list of things we want to do. Things that have been recommended or listed in our trusty “1000 Things To Do Before You Die”. The city is full of beautiful people (however we thought everyone was going to look like Model Giselle–and not so much) who are ready to play.

First things first–we are itching to see Cristos on the Corcovado–the massive landmark statue of Jesus with a 30-meter span of his arms stretched out. We take a taxi, then a tram (which is reminiscent of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong). We were not prepared for the magnitude of the statue. Just massive and beyond impressive. We are moved. We are having a great day and are snapping pictures like mad–just in time. Clouds eventually roll in, (while we are still there having such a great time and staying longer than others) and no sooner had the clouds rolled in, Cristos disappeared. What is great about the Corcovado is that you have a great view of the Sugar Loaf and the renovated Maracana football stadium.

Base Station

Base Station

Base Station

Base Station

View of Sugar Loaf

View of Sugar Loaf

Cristos

Cristos

Cristos

Cristos

Cristos

Cristos

Cristos

Cristos

The JW Marriott was a stone’s throw away from Copacabana Palace (CHECK THIS) and is significant because it is stunning AND because it is where Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire first danced together on screen. We go for a fabulous dinner in the most stunning, over the top, gold guild room. We love Rio!

Copa Cabana

Copa Cabana

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Ukutula Lion Park

Posted by Catherine on December 15th, 2009

Lions and tigers and cheetahs–oh my.

We didn’t see any bears, but tigers? Check. Cheetahs? Check. Lions? Check.

No Kidding

No Kidding

We drive to Ukutula Lion Park and are again surprised at how far telling people “it is our honeymoon” will get us. A private tour of the lions? A private lion walk? Marc has already suggested that we keep telling people it is our honeymoon for the rest of our lives.

We arrived and the place was quite full. We didn’t realize that we only have to play our honeymoon card…

We have a tour and meet the countless lions the reserve has. It is full of white lions with ice blue eyes who are not allowed to mate with each other because the probability is very high that they will produce an albino baby. They are stunning.

White Lion Mom

White Lion Mom

White Lion Teen

White Lion Teen

Older Boys

Older Boys

Teenager

Teenager

Snooze

Snooze

I am not happy that the females have flies all over their noses and in their eyes. Our guide explains that it is because of the meat they eat.

Flies

Flies

The Flies Are Bugging Them

The Flies Are Bugging Them

Felix is the resident male who has fathered most of the offspring. He is a spectacular beast. I want to groom him. Marc says I am not allowed.

Big Boss with Family

Big Boss with Family

The Ladies

The Ladies

Thinking Pose

Thinking Pose

This place has a tiger called Raj. He is gorgeous and a rescue. It is beyond amazing to see a lion and a tiger playing and living together.

Lion And Tiger

Lion And Tiger

Rescued Tiger

Rescued Tiger

We go and see the kids. They are too much. Some of them are bit snappy (Marc has learned a few lessons from his leopard encounter) and no one gets bit. Phew. These lions are kids. There is a nice mix of white lions with the standard tan whose legs are really spotted before they reach maturity. None of them have manes yet. We both take our chances and pet a few. Heaven.

Don't Get Too Close

Don’t Get Too Close

Hello, Who Are You?

Hello, Who Are You?

First Petting

First Petting

Respect

Respect

Pet, Pet

Pet, Pet

Give Me Five

Give Me Five

We say good-bye and visit the nursery. They are so damn adorable. There are a few cheetahs living in the creche with the lions. They are all too adorable and are showing off their new trick–how to get over the fence. Of course one figured it out and showed everyone else. We couldn’t help but loving these antics.

Afternoon Nap

Afternoon Nap

Little Guy

Little Guy

Cheetah Kid

Cheetah Kid

Then we went on a lion walk. We weren’t too sure what this was, but we definitely wanted to do it and were thrilled when they accommodated us.

We meet Wilson. An older black man who has just started at the reserved. We don’t know what to expect. We go back to the pen where the kids are. He has a bucket with a lid on it. Wilson opens the door and calls out a few of the lions. Five of them to be exact. They start running, pouncing on each other, playing…they are having a marvelous time out of the pen running around with no leashes. We start walking. The lions are stalking each other. They are climbing trees. They are trying to learn how to roar (they haven’t mastered this yet) and are too gorgeous.

Four Lucky Fellows

Four Lucky Fellows

Playful - Freedom

Playful – Freedom

Posing

Posing

Isn't This Awesome?

Isn’t This Awesome?

In the covered bucket Wilson has a chicken leg with the foot intact. He has a hard time believing that in China, chicken feet are served for breakfast. Mmm…delicious.

Get Up There

Get Up There

He Almost Got Me

He Almost Got Me

Water

Water

Stunning

Stunning

We hang out with these beasts for over an hour and then we walk back to their pen. They were tired from all the playing. We now literally know where the expression ‘herding cats’ comes from. They were too much. We love them.

Coming Back From the Greatest Fun

Coming Back From the Greatest Fun

Back Home

Back Home

The day isn’t over! We haven’t seen the lion babies. They have just been fed, so they don’t need a bottle yet. They are five weeks old and “adorable” just doesn’t sum it up. They are outside in a coral playpen. There are so many of them. They are smaller than a regular house cat. They don’t have teeth yet. We sit down and they hand us each a baby. We are so happy. We are both madly in love.

Baby Lions

Baby Lions

Sooo Cute

Sooo Cute

Happy

Happy

On the Lap

On the Lap

Happier

Happier

Help, She Squeezes Me To Death

Help, She Squeezes Me To Death

Double Team

Double Team

Brother Love

Brother Love

My baby crawls away (we were sitting on the ground) and a little Jack Russell dog named Apple climbs into my lap. Really cute–but we are here to see the lions. The stupid volunteer thinks an effective way to get the dog out of my lap would be to put a baby lion in there as well (we heard the story about Apple biting one of the volunteers who tried to remove him from another guest’s lap).

Where Did the Dog Come From?

Where Did the Dog Come From?

There was a carcuffle. I came out unscathed. I kicked out Apple and got a new baby who promptly peed on me. I didn’t care. A mother doesn’t mind those things. I start trying to plot with Marc on how we were going to get one out. Unfortunately they have the babies all counted. We come away walking on cloud nine and lionless.

Loving Parents

Loving Parents

No Teeth, Yet

No Teeth, Yet

Ultimate Happiness

Ultimate Happiness

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Entabeni Reserve

Posted by Catherine on December 13th, 2009

Going on safari, going to see a big one…

Dirty Road Again

Dirty Road Again

Gate To Entabeni Reserve

Gate To Entabeni Reserve

First Wildlife After Two Minutes

First Wildlife After Two Minutes

Welcome Committee

Welcome Committee

We drive to Entabeni to go on a Safari. We are stoked and listening to African music the entire way. Entabeni is the same game park that Marc went on safari nine years ago with his parents. It was really exciting to find their names in the guest book.

Entabeni Reception

Entabeni Reception

Marvelous View

Marvelous View

Guestbook Entry From 2000

Guestbook Entry From 2000

Entabeni has grown into a huge game reserve, resort, and golf course. The Legend Golf Course they are in the process of building has the longest par 3 in the world. You have to take a helicopter to the tee. Marc starts itching to play. Unfortunately we were a little too early.

World's Most Extreme Hole in Golf

World’s Most Extreme Hole in Golf

Great Markings

Great Markings

Lions in the Afternoon Sun

Lions in the Afternoon Sun

Our room is stunning. It is a cabin to ourselves and we are knocked out with the view and the safari inspired decor.

Our Lodge

Our Lodge

Kitty And The Germ

Kitty And The Germ

We have four safari rides booked. As with most safari rides, they take place early morning and at dusk. We load in and see zebras, foxes, groundhogs, warthogs, monkeys, giraffes, cheetahs, elephants, and lions over the course of the safaris.

Going On A Game Drive

Going On A Game Drive

A Bit Chilly

A Bit Chilly

Impalas

Impalas

Wild Cheetahs

Wild Cheetahs

Jackal

Jackal

Just Born

Just Born

Wildebeest

Wildebeest

Warthog

Warthog

It is one thing to see a lion in a zoo, but to see one in the wild, hear him roar, and witness behavior that is identical to that of a domestic cat. Seeing a cheetah run full tilt is nothing short of freedom.

The King

The King

Yawn

Yawn

Roll Over

Roll Over

Old Man

Old Man

Scary

Scary

On our first day we were waiting on our safari jeep to arrive in the main lodge where breakfast had just been served. Marc came to a sudden halt and pointed. The room was full of monkeys. Yep–monkeys. They were stealing sugar packages from the coffee table and jumping through the rafters. These monkeys were so clever they had figured out how to get in, where the sugar was kept, how to open the sugar and escape–unusually unnoticed. I of course think this is absolute genius. We are both so impressed with their party tricks that I decide to help with the cause and leave sugar packages around the trees of the lodge.

Monkeys

Monkeys

Stealing the Sugar

Stealing the Sugar

Entabeni made us a big BBQ and we dined outside under stars that have seen no equal. It was breathtaking. The sky was lit up and South Africa is considered one of the best places for stargazing in the world.

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

Performance

Performance

Tagging Along

Tagging Along

More safaris are definitely on the books and future to-do lists.

Final game drive to viewing point:

On Top of the World

On Top of the World

Nature

Nature

Stones

Stones

More wildlife:

Exotic

Exotic

Taking a Rest

Taking a Rest

Only the Fittest Survive

Only the Fittest Survive

Zebras

Zebras

All Have Different Stripes

All Have Different Stripes

Watching Us

Watching Us

Impala Dad

Impala Dad

And His Family

And His Family

Grazing

Grazing

Hartebeest

Hartebeest

Long-legged giraffes walk with the limbs on one side of the body lifted at the same time. This gait is called a pace and allows a longer stride which saves steps and energy.

Walk On One Side

Walk On One Side

Giraffes

Giraffes

South Africa:

Hot Dog, Anyone?

Hot Dog, Anyone?

Countdown

Countdown

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Addo Elephant National Park

Posted by Catherine on December 10th, 2009

We drive to Addo Elephant Park. Marc has been there before. It is a drive yourself sort of safari. We were handed a map of the park, but on the other side of the map, it has pictures, names and checkboxes of the wildlife they have there–everything from dung beetles to elephants.

Welcome To Addo!

Welcome To Addo!

What A Great Day

What A Great Day

Lots To See

Lots To See

On entry we see a herd of elephants, having a drink. It is from a viewing station and everyone standing around, snapping their cameras as quickly as their shutters with allow. We climb back in the car and start to creep around the different paths. We see everything small–from various birds to mongoose. Wart hogs are everywhere. Zebras are everywhere. Where the hell are the elephants? We came for elephants. We want to see elephants!

Bird With Long Beak

Bird With Long Beak

Meerkat

Meerkat

Yellow Mongoose

Yellow Mongoose

Warthog

Warthog

Ostrich On The Road

Ostrich On The Road

Our wildlife checkboxes are quickly filling up, but still, no elephants. We are a little disheartened. We finally spot a small herd. Our view is a little obstructed, but we are happy as clams watching these wild, massive beasts roam and graze freely. It is a far cry from the other elephants we have seen so far. Don’t even get me started about India. India wins the award for officially being the worst country in regard to their treatment of elephants. They still use them for logging?

First Elephant Sighting

First Elephant Sighting

Turn Around, Please

Turn Around, Please

Some cars stop, have a look, but are quick to drive on. Marc and I don’t move. We are in awe. We wait. We watch. Finally we decide to keep exploring the park and low and behold, a lone elephant comes out from the bush. We stop the car and can’t believe it. The elephant walks up the road, right toward us, gives up an unimpressed glance as he goes to meet up with his friends that we had just been admiring. A few meters in, this beast could no longer be seen. We were shocked–not to mention thrilled. Another one of my life’s great moments.

Here Comes Big Guy

Here Comes Big Guy

Minding His Own Business

Minding His Own Business

Checking Us Out

Checking Us Out

Hello Mister

Hello Mister

Off He Goes

Off He Goes

We continued driving and saw a group of cars stopped. We knew there was something good. What? How about a family of elephants having a drink and a bath at the waterhole. There is a baby. It is so fantastic. I am giddy. Once they have finished getting their drink on, they turn around, cross the road and head back into the plains. All but one young elephant. Surprise, surprise, the teenager didn’t go with them. He is officially not done.

Family At Water Hole

Family At Water Hole

Baby Elephant...

Baby Elephant…

...Leaving With Her Mom

…Leaving With Her Mom

The group of cars dispersed, but we were still basking in the afterglow and next thing we knew, another family, with another baby came out of the bush, into the clearing, to have a drink. The new mama kicked out the teenager (who rejoined his family) and proceeded to drink and bathe freely at the watering hole.

Here Comes The Next Family

Here Comes The Next Family

Teenager Pushed Aside By Next Group

Teenager Pushed Aside By Next Group

Elephants Go First

Elephants Go First

I don’t think happy begins to describe it.

Female Kudu

Female Kudu

Male Kudu

Male Kudu

More Kudus In The Wild

More Kudus In The Wild

Black-backed Jackel

Black-backed Jackal

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Wilderness

Posted by Catherine on December 8th, 2009

We spent the night at the beach in Wilderness. Crappy hotel. We ate at a fancy looking place but the food wasn’t that good. Our beach walk was the only positive here. Thank god we left the next morning.

Sunset At Wilderness Beach

Sunset At Wilderness Beach

Models

Models

Rainbow

Rainbow

Flowers

Flowers

Some people have lost their minds. I knew we were going to the world’s highest bungee jump (if you pay extra you can zip-line to the jump area under a bridge) but we had already discussed it. It took us a long time to find each other, we weren’t about to risk everything by jumping off a bridge. We were however fascinated by others who loved the thrill and we watched in disbelief.

You Can See The Ocean From Here

You Can See The Ocean From Here

Get Ready

Get Ready

Highest Bunjee Jump In The World

Highest Bungee Jump In The World

Pure Adernaline

Pure Adrenaline

Jump!

Jump!

No Fear

No Fear

Next we went to a national park to see and cross the suspension bridge that goes over Storm River. That was thrilling enough for us.

Waterfall At Storm River

Waterfall At Storm River

Dassie

Dassie

Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge

Kitty

Kitty

Storm River

Storm River

Three Part Bridge

Three Part Bridge

Woohoo

Woohoo

Storm River National Park

Storm River National Park

Rough Ocean

Rough Ocean

Beautiful

Beautiful

Garden Route

Garden Route

We ended the day in Port Elizabeth where we stayed at a tiny hotel that Marc didn’t want to leave. He wanted to move in–for good. We can’t recommend Manor 38 guest house highly enough. The people who were running it were so kind, so gracious, so hospitable, and the hotel was formidable. The food was amazing and when we told the hotel it was our honeymoon, she gave us a bottle of wine.

We asked for a dinner recommendation and were immediately told that Ginger is the place to go to. We were given a card and it had a picture of a martini glass, a pink drink and a slice of lime. Marc immediately said–your favorite. The lady said–ah, strawberry daiquiri and I didn’t correct her. When we got to Ginger (which was packed) and seated at our table, two strawberry daiquiris arrived at our table. ‘Compliments of your hotel…’ I have never been treated so well at any hotel before.

We finally got our final parcel sent home. Note that South Africa doesn’t have any packaging stuff at their postal outlets. We had a lot of things to send home. We went to Pick’n’Pay (really popular chain of grocery stores throughout SA), got a box from the loading dock, bought a box cutter and packaging tape from a hardware store and sent home a box with 10.5 kilos surface. Another 2.5 airmail parcel. We have really no idea what we have purchased in the past few months. It will be a surprise when we unpack our loot.

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Oudtshoorn

Posted by Catherine on December 7th, 2009

It is hot. Sweltering hot. We have lost the offshore breeze and are more inland.

Garden At Our Hotel

Garden At Our Hotel

Vacation South African Style

Vacation South African Style

After we check into our small hotel, I am chomping at the bit to go to Cango Wildlife Park. We wonder if we are too late. Nope. I head directly to the cheetah enclosure. They let me in. There are two cheetahs. Their names are Josh and Jordan. They are sleek. Built for speed, not for strength. Their coats are exquisite. I am fearless, petting them, realizing that they had to stay where they were–they were far too big to fit in my bag.

Entrance To Cango Wildlife Resort

Entrance To Cango Wildlife Resort

Getting Ready For Cheetah Encounter

Getting Ready For Cheetah Encounter

Approach Slowly

Approach Slowly

Happy Petting

Happy Petting

Big Cats

Big Cats

Kitty, Josh & Jordan

Kitty, Josh & Jordan

Purrrr

Purrrr

Thirsty

Thirsty

A cheetah can get up 120-140 km/h and can get up to 70 km/h in 2 seconds. Marc pointed out that even the fastest cars have a hard time doing that.

The park is closing. I start to panic. My animal-loving self is far from done, despite seeing white tigers, lions, and petting the cheetahs, I don’t want to go.

Cheetah

Cheetah

White Lion

White Lion

White Tigers

White Tigers

Shhhh, Don't Wake Them

Shhhh, Don’t Wake Them

Tiger Love

Tiger Love

Even when I went in to love up Josh and Jordan, the guy kept saying ‘ok’, to get me to exit the cheetah enclosure. Really? You need to be more direct than that. I need to hear–lady, move your ass–to get me out of there. It is time to get out now. Repeating ‘ok’ let me know, he wanted me to go, but sorry, I am petting CHEETAHS. Be direct or else I’ll never leave. Finally he kicked me out.

The guy who let me in the cage told us that if we keep our tickets, we will be let in for free tomorrow. Marc had already promised me that we could come back. I am too happy here. I want to work here.

Birds

Birds

How Old Might This Turtle Be?

How Old Might This Turtle Be?

We go out for an ostrich dinner. We have a really nice bottle of wine, then another one and I feel the need to start IM-ing which is the equivalent of drunk dialing and leaving a trashed message. Kristi got the best message. I forgot who I was IM-ing mid way and thought I was messaging Lisa–my father’s receptionist who BTW changed her online moniker and I sent her a message thinking it was Kelly. Kristi’s IM-ing was full of typos and a request to show a cheetah picture to my father. Kristi wanted to know how wasted I was when I wrote this. I didn’t think THAT wasted…

The next morning we are gutted. It starts raining hard. Oh no. We shuffle our plans for the day and go to famous Oudtshoorn caves. The caves are lime stone caves that are really fantastic. We get pretty far in and our guide tells us that they used to have concerts there but had to stop as people were breaking off parts of the formations to take home as decorations and souvenirs. He wants to who will sing. It was silent for a second. Finally I raise my hand and simply say–I’ll do it. Marc has no idea what song I have up my sleeve. It was so obvious. I break out and sing with gusto a rendition of O’Canada which my countrymen would be proud of. Of course I sing the entire anthem and finish to a loud round of applause.

Cango Caves

Cango Caves

Discover The Caves With This?

Discover The Caves With This?

"Honeymoon Suite"

“Honeymoon Suite”

Cave Entrance

Cave Entrance

Great Formations

Great Formations

Centuries Old

Centuries Old

About 800,000 Years Old

About 800,000 Years Old

After the cave tour (we didn’t do the adventure tour because you had to crawl on your belly for large portions and there actual replicas of the various tiny openings which made me quickly think of Pooh Bear in the rabbit hole). We went back to the animal park. This time we take a guided tour and all I want to do it go to the nursery and get my hands on a baby cheetah.

Birds

Birds

Tiny

Tiny

Vultures

Vultures

Flamingos

Flamingos

More Wildlife

More Wildlife

Python

Python

Kangaroos

Kangaroos

There are a bunch of baby cheetahs who are smaller than one of my parents’ cats–Bear. They are adorable, but everyone on tour thinks so and there is a queue.

To manage our time effectively we go to the newly open crocodile feature. Marc changes into a swim suit and gets in a cage. The cage is on a mechanical hoist and they lower him down into the crocodile infested water. I have zero interest in doing this and am the photographer. One of crocs takes a big snap at him. The female wants to eat him for lunch and begins to circle the cage. A different crocodile knows how to unlock the cage but thankfully can’t manage both locks at the same time. When he gets out, there is a camera crew, and next thing I know Marc is being interviewed for TV about the crocodile dive. Only Marc.

He's Hungry

He’s Hungry

Ready?

Ready?

Croc Dive

Croc Dive

Waiting For Some Food

Waiting For Some Food

Survived!

Survived!

Interview

Interview

We go back to see the baby cheetahs and everyone is gone. They are beyond delicious. We have the same guy from the day before letting us in. I go first. You have to approach the babies slowly. Any sudden movement startles them and they hiss–just like a regular cat. There are seven of them. I am loving them up, kissing them, plotting on how I am going to get one out of the park without being caught. Marc joins me and we are both going absolutely crazy over their cuteness. Marc has a turn and they start saying ‘ok’ again. I had already explained to Marc that ‘ok’ means you’re done, but ignore it until they say ‘get out’. We used that method again. They eventually said get out.

Cheetah Club

Cheetah Club

Climbing All Over Me

Climbing All Over Me

Seven Cubs

Seven Cubs

Happy Family

Happy Family

So Cute

So Cute

Take Me Home

Take Me Home

Kiss

Kiss

Can We Keep Him?

Can We Keep Him?

The plan was to go to an ostrich farm. Oudtshoorn is famous for their ostriches. Eat them? Done. Ride them? On the list. Sadly (perhaps fortunately) the farm got rained out. Maybe it was a good thing. Ostrich riding–an animal who runs on two legs might have spelt trouble. At least it is giving us a solid reason to go back…

Ostrich Farmland

Ostrich Farmland

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Agulhas

Posted by Catherine on December 5th, 2009

Driving along the garden route–Marc is afraid we will never get to Agulhas because I keep insisting that we stop for a photo. The drive is one of the most stunning I have ever seen. It is gorgeous, breathtaking, rugged, and beautiful.

Drive To Agulhas

Drive To Agulhas

Beauty

Beauty

On our way out of town we pass the townships. They are the slums. Entire villages made up of shanty, metal shacks.

Driving By The Townships

Driving By The Townships

We go to Monkey Town and I almost cry when I find out that the monkey encounter doesn’t start until next week. I want to carry a monkey around like a baby. We still tour the place anyhow and they have so many species of monkeys.

Checking Us Out

Checking Us Out

Enjoying His Hammock

Enjoying His Hammock

Cute

Cute

He Was Swearing All Day

He Was Swearing All Day

Chimpanzee

Chimpanzee

Monkey Time

Monkey Time

He Wasn't In The Mood

He Wasn’t In The Mood

Watching

Watching

Papagei

Papagei

We decide to continue on the scenic route and I am waiting for more photo opportunities. We travel on a beautiful high way (and say how unlike India there are no cars coming at you; similar to India there are people walking on the high way) The road suddenly becomes a dirt road. We are jostled and Marc, my little compass, is sure that we are going in the right direction, but doesn’t remember this dirt road from when he was here last.

Looking Back

Looking Back

Kitty And The Germ

Kitty And The Germ

End Of The Road?

End Of The Road?

No, Just A Dirt Road

No, Just A Dirt Road

Sheeps

Sheeps

Back On Paved Road

Back On Paved Road

Finally we make it to Agulhas.

Welcome

Welcome

L'Agulhas Coast

L’Agulhas Coast

This town is famous for a few things. First and foremost, it is the Southern most point of Africa. The Indian Ocean and the Atlantic meet there. We took a few pictures of the sign. Secondly it is the lighthouse.

Most Southern Lighthouse

Most Southern Lighthouse

Ocean Merge

Ocean Merge

Southern Most Tip Of Africa

Southern Most Tip Of Africa

Flying High

Flying High

Kitty And The Germ

Kitty And The Germ

Fishing

Fishing

Our hotel is small, stunning and has impeccable service.

Our Fabulous Hotel

Our Fabulous Hotel

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Cape Point And Cape Of Good Hope

Posted by Catherine on December 4th, 2009

The next day we drive to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. There are signs everywhere about the baboons. Yay! There are baboons! I am not to feed them or pet them. I keep a watchful eye.

Hout Bay

Hout Bay

Hout Bay And Table Mountain

Hout Bay And Table Mountain

Spray

Spray

Honeymoon

Honeymoon

Kommetjie Beach

Kommetjie Beach

Lighthouse Near Kommetjie

Lighthouse Near Kommetjie

Do Not Feed

Do Not Feed

Rocky Beach

Rocky Beach

Pose #1

Pose #1

Pose #2

Pose #2

Surfing

Surfing

Vail In The Wind

Vail In The Wind

When we get to Cape–it is so windy. We have a fantastic view and come down only to be greeted by a baboon.

Cape Point

Cape Point

Not Quite The Southern Most Point

Not Quite The Southern Most Point

Cape Point

Cape Point

A Windy Day

A Windy Day

The Cape Point

The Cape Point

Cape Of Good Hope

Cape Of Good Hope

And Who Is Carrying Me?

And Who Is Carrying Me?

Did I Say Windy?

Did I Say Windy?

Going For A Ride

Going For A Ride

Driving to the other cape we see a ton more baboons and a bunch of ostriches. South Africa is animal heaven.

Baboon Family

Baboon Family

Baboon Mom Looking For Food

Baboon Mom Looking For Food

Ostrich Walk

Ostrich Walk

Ostrich Mom

Ostrich Mom

Dad

Dad

Having A Snack

Having A Snack

Cape Of Good Hope

Cape Of Good Hope

Coast

Coast

Attention

Attention

Rocks

Rocks

On our drive back to Cape Town, we stop at Boulder Beach. There is a penguin colony there. I had no idea that I loved penguins so much. I adore them. I start plotting to put one in my purse and smuggle him home. I want one SO BADLY. Marc puts his foot down and insist that I removed the penguin from my purse and lets me know that I will be kicked out of South Africa, most likely forever, Phillip, my new penguin, comes out of purse.

Bolder Beach Penguin Colony

Bolder Beach Penguin Colony

More Warnings

More Warnings

Penguin Lover

Penguin Lover

They Are So Tiny

They Are So Tiny

So Cute

So Cute

Take Me Home

Take Me Home

Wild Hair Day

Wild Hair Day

Going For A Swim

Going For A Swim

Learning About A Penguin's Life

Learning About A Penguin’s Life

Tuxedo

Tuxedo

Cape Town is hosting the FIFA draw for the World Cup. All of Long Street is shut for a massive party and the draw. Charlize Theron is hosting (in a red gown with a thin, black patent belt) and is stunning. David Beckham is helping her. Charlize and Becks–we love you! The crowd was thick and since there were so many people already on Long Street, they had closed all entrances. I was ready to give up and watch it on the TV. Marc had a strategy and I know that when Marc has a strategy on where we should be, he is always right. Yep, we got in and made our way to the front.

Long Street

Long Street

Watching The Draw

Watching The Draw

The Streets Are Packed

The Streets Are Packed

Brazilians And More

After the draw, we decided that it was far too fun to go back to our hotel, however we were starving. We saw these girls with pitas that looked so delicious. They pointed out where they were from and we got in line. While there we saw a guy and I said–hey, doesn’t that look like Tim Mathieson? It was his Doppelganger. He was as tall (if not taller) and keeping line control. We were getting very annoyed that so many people were trying to bud in front. Our friend Tim was keeping everyone in line. We are at the front and salivating and this guy, a Germ (they are EVERYWHERE) takes a vantage point and asks a girl (who is behind us) what she wants in German. Marc gets out of line and tells the guy we are waiting (in German) and gets (in German) why are you talking to me? I officially hate this guy. I turn to Tim and let him know that the horrible Germ is trying to get in front. He congratulates Marc for doing to right thing and gets in a fight with the horrible Germ. ‘Get in the F*ing line!’, shouts Tim. The horrible Germ ignores him. Tim grabs him by the scruff. Rip–there goes the horrible Germ’s golf shirt. The horrible Germ calls Tim a hooligan and Tim gets in his face and says ‘I am South African, you cock sucker’. We order our food, think Tim is a rock star, snicker at the horrible Germ and keep repeating Tim’s infamous line all night.

Party...

Party…

...Into The Night

…Into The Night

Tim Mathieson–we couldn’t stop thinking of you AND it is your 2nd twin in South Africa. We never knew the guy’s name, but it felt fitting to name him Tim.

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Cape Town

Posted by Catherine on December 3rd, 2009

Marc has been here before, but I am knocked out by the stunning beauty of South Africa. It is gorgeous. No one is taking my picture. Yay!

King Protea - South Africa's National Flower

King Protea – South Africa’s National Flower

I refuse to stop singing and playing on repeat–I bless the rains down in Africa…

The first time Marc was in this beautiful country was with his parents and sadly the last time he saw his late father alive. It is approaching one year of the loss of my beloved Wolf. I am overwhelmed on arrival and let me just say that the first few days in Cape Town were a boohoo fest for me.

We have dinner at Cafe Paradiso and I committed to learn how to make Boef Bourgingnon. A huge feat considering I don’t cook…

We can’t stop drinking red wine. Local. Delicious.

We went to Table Mountain. Often there is cloud coverage which is known as the table cloth, but we have sun and the bluest of blue skies. There is a lack of industrial pollution and the sky is bluer than Marc’s eyes. That is saying a lot.

Cloud Cover

Cloud Cover

Clear Sky The Next Day

Clear Sky The Next Day

The Inside Rotates 360°

The Inside Rotates 360°

View East - Camps Bay

View East – Camps Bay

Awesome...

Awesome…

...View

…View

Dassies

Daisies

Beautiful Day

Beautiful Day

On Top Of The World

On Top Of The World

So Much Fun Up Here

So Much Fun Up Here

Hoot, Hoot

Hoot, Hoot

Stunning Creature

Stunning Creature

Pointing To Cape Of Good Hope

Pointing To Cape Of Good Hope

Turtle Rock

Turtle Rock

Robben Island In The Distance

Robben Island In The Distance

Cape Town

Cape Town

Happiness

Happiness

Kitty On Top Of Table Mountain

Kitty On Top Of Table Mountain

We see a family pushing their boy in a pram. I think that Wolfie would have loved it here and was thinking that we should be pushing our pink pram. Shit. I am crying again.

At The Base Station

At The Base Station

Kitty And The Germ

Kitty And The Germ

Flowers At Table Mountain

Flowers At Table Mountain

We go to Signal Hill to get a view of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. It is stunning and I am voting South Africa as one of the most beautiful countries–ever.

View From Signal Hill

View From Signal Hill

Lion's Head

Lion’s Head

Company's Garden

Company’s Garden

South African National Gallery

South African National Gallery

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Can You Smell It?

Can You Smell It?

Parliament Of South Africa

Parliament Of South Africa

We notice that ADT security is everywhere. In the residential areas, everyone has a fence around their house, with barbed wire on top. We don’t like this.

We walk from our hotel to the waterfront. It is World Cup crazy throughout the entire city. We walk through a lovely park in the middle of the city. We get to the waterfront and are enjoying the shops, the lighthouse, and the ships. We get asked if we would like to go for a cruise to see the sunset. We take one look at the boat and can’t get on quick enough. I was waiting to see Jay Z on this pimpin’ ride. We get a great view of the new football stadium built for the World Cup. It is lovely. We see dolphins and seals swimming and get into the champagne. We couldn’t be happier. Our champagne whistle is wet.

Victoria & Albert Waterfront

Victoria & Albert Waterfront

V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront

Clock Tower

Clock Tower

Leaving For Sunset Cruise

Leaving For Sunset Cruise

Sunset Cruise

Sunset Cruise

What A Ride

What A Ride

View From The Water

View From The Water

Look, It's Table Mountain

Look, It’s Table Mountain

We see a beautiful sunset from our gorgeous boat, then head back to Victoria and Albert Waterfront. We buy a street-performers’ cd for our rental car. Marc explains that it is going to be a long two weeks listening to “Africa” (the remake) on repeat. We go to Hildebrand (a restaurant Marc had eaten at on the first trip) and we sit outside, have a great meal until I start thinking of my beloved Wolf and can’t stop crying. Oy vey.

Abonwabisi Brothers At Waterfront

Abonwabisi Brothers At Waterfront

Ocean View Of Lion's Head

Ocean View Of Lion’s Head

Sunset

Sunset

Cape Town At Night

Cape Town At Night

Sunset, South African Style

Sunset, South African Style

Getting Ready For The World Cup:

World Cup in 2010

World Cup in 2010

It Will Be Great

It Will Be Great

Brand New Soccer Stadium

Brand New Soccer Stadium

What A Location

What A Location

Kick It

Kick It

World Cup Coming Shortly

World Cup Coming Shortly

Remember The Tango Ball?

Remember The Tango Ball?

Bowl

Bowl

Table Mountain And Stadium

Table Mountain And Stadium

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Dubai

Posted by Catherine on December 1st, 2009

We landed in such a clean, efficient airport, we would expect nothing less from Dubai. No lines, no garbage, and only a brief couple minutes at customs. We’re set.

There were a few things running through our heads concerning Dubai. First are the have and the have-nots–no place where it is more articulated than here. Second–the economic crisis which was really making headlines when we arrived (I read Josh Levy’s Facebook status a few days before we arrived which said “Surprise, Dubai, you can’t build your economy off of indentured labor and slavery” ) and finally the comparison to Las Vegas.

Still Plenty Of Construction

Still Plenty Of Construction

The biggest surprise for us was how few people there were. The city felt empty. There was very little traffic (amidst the most high-end cars we have ever seen), no street vendors, no pedestrians. The fact that you really couldn’t walk anywhere was a big drag. You needed to take a taxi everywhere.

The really big thing here are the shopping malls. There are two malls that are unbelievable–unreal. The first is the Mall of the Emirates. This is the mall that has the ski slopes. With the first glimpses of these man-made slopes including a T-bar, a J-bar, a magic carpet, a two-person chair lift and a tubing area) I was absolutely speechless. If skiing or boarding isn’t your thing, why not bowl, or hit the pool hall?

Mall Of Emirates

Mall Of Emirates

Skiing In The Mall

Skiing In The Mall

Bunny Hill

Bunny Hill

Four Seater Going Up

Four Seater Going Up

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

$150,000 Kicker Table

$150,000 Kicker Table

Juggling Performance

Juggling Performance

Crazy Guy

Crazy Guy

Bowling At Emirates Mall...

Bowling At Emirates Mall…

...Or Shooting Some Pool

…Or Shooting Some Pool

We later laughed at a radio advertisement we heard in a taxi that said “become an expert skier in three hours” Really? Sign us up.

What also left us speechless was the realization that unless you are in a hotel–no booze. No wine, no beer, no liquor. Marc has a virgin margarita which would have been delicious if there was some tequila in it…

Virgin Margarita

Virgin Margarita

The streets there may be empty, but the malls are packed. Except for the Christmas rush, you have never seen so many people. 10 pm on Monday?

The hotel Burj Al Arab is just as fantastic as you think a 7-star hotel would be. The security is tight, the cars are expensive.

Kitty At Burj Al Arab

Kitty At Burj Al Arab

The building that knocked the CN Tower out of #1 position for the tallest structure in the world is called the Burj Al Dubai. It is located at the Mall of Dubai. This mall has over 1,200 stores (yes, over a thousand). There is a grid system for the map which has number and letters–just like a real map because it is so extensive.

Burj Al Dubai (It's Really High)

Burj Al Dubai (It’s Really High)

It Just Fits

It Just Fits

Jump

Jump

Jump Higher

Jump Higher

Ice Ring Inside Mall Of Dubai

Ice Ring Inside Mall Of Dubai

Kitty At Dubai Mall

Kitty At Dubai Mall

Mall Directory

Mall Directory

I got yellow carded on entry. I didn’t meet the dress code. Knees and shoulders must be covered. Of course I was wearing a floor length strapless dress. The list of rules started off with dress code and included “no alcohol” (despite the countless restos and cafes) “no public displays of affection (had a picture of people holding hands) and “no smoking”. Thankfully I had a pashmina in my purse and was permitted entry. This mall didn’t have a ski slope, but it did have a skating rink, a waterfall, and a huge aquarium with sharks, sting rays, and huge schools of fish (think Chicago or Atlanta aquariums–world class).

Covered In The Mall

Covered In The Mall

Cool Fountain

Cool Fountain

Aquarium Inside Dubai Mall

Aquarium Inside Dubai Mall

It's In The Middle Of The Mall

It’s In The Middle Of The Mall

The Gold Souk was recommended in “1,000 Things to See Before You Die”. I have never seen gold like this. 24 carat–so yellow, so ornate. Not our style, but fun to see. Dubai was put on the map for trading long before the oil boom in the 60s. Gold and precious stones were their first currency.

Gold Souk

Gold Souk

Gold, Gold, Gold

Gold, Gold, Gold

After the visit to the Gold Souk, we hired a boat for an hour and went on a tour of the older part of Dubai. Even on water I’m an attraction.

Boat Tour

Boat Tour

Old Dubai

Old Dubai

Private Boat Cruise

Private Boat Cruise

Even Here Everyone Takes Pictures Of Me

Even Here Everyone Takes Pictures Of Me

On a recommendation, we went on a desert safari. A driver came to pick us up and drove us 40 minutes south to the desert. We were in 4x4s and then it dropped us off at this holding ground where there were two monkeys (of course I got them a bag of chips) and a midget who posed for pictures and then of course wanted a fee…

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Feeding Chips To Monkeys

Feeding Chips To Monkeys

Notice That Kitty Is Sitting

Notice That Kitty Is Sitting

Desert Safari

Desert Safari

We got into our 4×4, buckled up and went dune bashing. Really it was one of those life moments we will never forget. Up and down like roller coaster, we went over the desert dunes. I definitely let out a few screams and when we stopped for a photo opportunity, all I kept thinking about was how much my mother would have hated the entire experience. We found it thrilling.

Ready, Set, Go!

Ready, Set, Go!

Desert

Desert

Sand As Far As You Can See

Sand As Far As You Can See

Sunset And...

Sunset And…

...Moonrise At The Same Time

…Moonrise At The Same Time

Kitty And The Germ

Kitty And The Germ

Hug

Hug

After about an hour of dune bashing we drove to a Bedouin camp and went for a short camel ride. Riding a camel is a lot more like riding a horse (much more than an elephant). I enjoyed it, but felt horrible for my camel. It was groaning and moaning every time it had to get up.

Camel Ride (For A Minute)

Camel Ride (For A Minute)

Pretty Good Food For A Place In A Desert

Pretty Good Food For A Place In A Desert

Once we were done our camel ride, we went inside the tents. An option was to put on Arabic clothes for a photoshoot. I had assured my father that the likelihood of me ever wearing a Burka would result in the unlikely event of me being kidnapped and being forced to wear one. Now since I could put one on (and take it off) on my own free will–I thought why miss a once in a lifetime opportunity to wear a Burka. I told Marc that I would make this photo my new Facebook profile picture and he said that it wasn’t PC.

Dressing Up At Bedouin Camp

Dressing Up At Bedouin Camp

Scary

Scary

We both had a fascination with the Burkas. What the women were wearing underneath (I saw one girl’s robe open slightly and she had on a black T-shirt that said ‘top dog’ in hot pink letters) the clothes they were buying (we saw two girls really examining a sexy sundress with keen interest–we both wanted to know, where are you going to wear that?). What are they are buying from such high-end stores? You’re wearing a Burka, what the eff are you buying from Carolina Herrera? The choice of shoes was also a point of interest (from converse to stripper heels) as well as the embellishments that some women included on the back of their headdresses (sequin patters were really quite popular) and the stores at which you found such clothes (La Reine was our favorite).

La Reine (Mall Of Dubai)

La Reine (Mall Of Dubai)

At the Bedouin camp, we had a Lebanese dinner (eaten off the floor of course) followed by a belly dance performance. The dancing girl was good (very Eastern European) and the next thing I knew, she had pulled Marc out of the audience and he was up there shaking his hips, giving her. I couldn’t stop laughing. I love my Germ.

Belly Dancer (Russian!?)

Belly Dancer (Russian!?)

Marc Gets Called Up On Stage...

Marc Gets Called Up On Stage…

... And Is Rocking The House

… And Is Rocking The House

Next stop–South Africa. Mmm–meat and booze-together at the same time. It sounds like heaven.

Dubai Coca-Cola

Dubai Coca-Cola

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