I thought this was super cool. The International Space Station high above Mallorca. Hi astronauts!!
Category: love love love
South Africa*Kruger National Park
Africa has been on my bucket list for a long time. It FINALLY happened and man, what a fantastic experience. I can’t wait to go back.
I saw the Big Five – Lion, Leopard, African Buffalo, Rhino and the African elephant within the first few days of starting our safari. My favorite, the leopard. WOW, which we were told, pretty much lets you see it when it wants you to see it. Otherwise, good luck. Thank you Ms. leopard, I was in awe.
There were thirteen of us in the group, not including Lucky, our tour guide extraordinaire. We called ourselves the Lucky 13. 🙂 In the group were my parents and 10 other Americans. We had this trip planned for 2020 but you know what happened then. The company we went with was OAT travel and I have to say that the interior of the trip (the safaris, the excursions, helping us with the visas, transports, hotels, etc.) was fantastic. But the exterior (the OAT online/ in office staff, the information, etc.) was not so great. We received different information every time we called, which we had to do because it took weeks to get back an email response. And because of that misinformation, my parents and I ended up paying about $1000 more because of things we needed to add – hotel rooms, flights. But that is all I will say about that because this post is about the fabulousness of our Africa experience.
First up is Kruger National Park. We were in three different National parks – Kruger in South Africa, Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and Chobe National Park in Botswana. All of them were a bit different. OAT broke up each safari stop with a more restful place so it wasn’t all safari safari safari. We stayed in each place for three nights and then would move on to our next adventure, the trip in total (with our Cape Town extension) was almost a month long.
We flew into Nespruit from Johannesburg and stopped at a road side market on the way to Kruger Park. I bought some delicious macadamia nuts and a handmade carved wooden statue of a kudu. And I must add that I NEVER saw that again – the kudu statue nor someone selling the nuts. Some people didn’t buy anything because it was our first stop but later regretted it. So if you like something and especially if it’s a road side event, BUY IT. Don’t just think that you will see something like it again. Here are the two men who make the wooden animals. They were so happy to talk to us about their craft.
We drove inside Kruger National Park which is the largest of South Africa’s parks, with a total area of 7,500 square miles, Kruger is also one of the largest parks in the world. Bordered by the Limpopo and Crocodile rivers, the land spreads a stunning 200 miles at its widest point. Once inside the park we switched vehicles to take us to Buffalo Rock Camp. About 10 minutes from camp we saw a beautiful elephant just hanging out. The welcome committee! When we arrived in camp, we were shown to our tent/cabins where we had a little time to unpack. Isn’t it lovely? The bathroom with shower was in the back – it was outside but had a roof and walls that had an opening at the top.
Then we met back up for a drive out – Saw many impalas, a few warthogs, an African eagle and some hippos playing in a lake. Next, stopped for a sundowner drink of Amarula Liquor which is a cream liqueur from South Africa. It is made with sugar, cream and the fruit of the African marula tree. Then it was dark and we drove back with a spotlight on to try to see night animals. We did see two hyenas finally. It was cold! We all called it a night after dinner since we had a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call. We were given a hot water bottle (which they called a bush baby) to keep us warm. Since it was dark you must be escorted to your room by a person with a rifle and a flashlight. That night I heard some animal making strange sounds out there. The camp is completely open so animals can walk through at any time – hence the people walking you to your room when it is dark with the rifle. If it’s light out you can walk to the lodge yourself – It’s only about 75 feet away. Just be sure to give a good look!
The animal noises I heard at night were hyenas fighting. WOW. Such a strange noise. We left around 6:30 a.m. where one of our first sightings was A LEOPARD!!! OMG what a gorgeous creature. Simply amazing. He was perched on top of a termite pile and stayed there for at least five minutes while we were all trying to take pics and get a closer look with the binoculars. Just look at this beautiful creature.
So now we’ve seen three of the Big Five – c’mon lions and rhinos! We went back for lunch and headed out after that for some more sightings where we saw zebras, giraffes, warthogs, steenboks (they are so cute), hyenas and near the end we stopped to take a picture of the sunset and there was a HUGE baboon in a tree with lots of baboon family around. After about ten minutes they started heading down the hill towards us – we were outside of the jeep taking pics of the sunset!!! We quickly made our way back to the Jeeps and watched them move from the hill to the other side where it was higher and rockier. Really cool to see the whole family progression. Do you see the big guy in the tree? And some of the family too his right and the ground.
The national park is home to 147 species of land mammals—the highest number in Africa—including all of the “Big Five” (lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros). Thousands of zebra roam Kruger as well, but no species can keep up with the impala, which number more than a million here. On this day the park was having a few free to the public days so the park was a bit busier than normal but the cars needed to be out of the camp by sundown. We were driving around 6:00 pm and there were cars driving by us so fast. Why? They needed to leave! It was almost sundown and they were going to be fined. But as karma has it a huge pack of buffalo were crossing the road and just stood there. They were not going to move out of the road so they were definitely going to be late.
OAT Travel likes to include discussions about sometimes difficult topics. That night we gathered at the lodge for an enlightening conversation about gender stereotypes in South Africa’s game lodges—and how more and more women are challenging these outdated stereotypes that still exist in the game lodge and conservation world. The conversation was led by a female game ranger at Kruger. We learned that less than 30% of entry-level nature guides in South Africa are women—and in more specialized roles such as trail guides, less than 8% are women. And just 13% of head chefs in South Africa are female. She shared what it was like for her to break into this traditionally male-dominated industry. Kudos to her for being determined and fighting for what she wanted.
More animal noises last night! Wake up call person said to be a little careful because there were hyenas and possibly a lion in the area! Yikes. That got my attention. This was our last day in Kruger and we still hadn’t seen a lion or a rhino. But Lucky said he was feeling lucky. 🙂 We headed out again at 7 a.m. and within fifteen minutes we were rushing to see another leopard! As I’ve said, they are not that common to see so it was a treat. She was beautiful. Hanging out on a fallen tree for about five minutes before she decided she was tired of us.
Then not even thirty minutes after seeing the leopard we found ……. A pride of around 8-9 lions gathered around a buffalo kill. AMAZING. There were two large male lions and two female and then a few cubs which were around 3-4 months old. Just chowing on the buffalo (sorry and thank you mr buffalo). The older males were fighting a bit about whose turn it was to get a bite with a vulture circling overhead. They were about 90 feet away and in the brush so it was hard to get a really good picture but so cool. And the sounds!!
So luck was on our side. Next up, a rhino. The guides knew where they liked to hang out. It was about an hour or more drive but it was worth it. Because there it was, the first one was pretty far away walking through large bushes but I got a picture. The other was by a watering hole but it just wanted to rest in the shade and show us its backside. The Big Five – CHECK.
And that was our adventure in Kruger National Park. We arrived back at Buffalo Rock Camp around 3:00 where we relaxed until 5:30 – it was hot! Then it was a discussion about elephant dung (which was EVERYWHERE). It was actually very enlightening. Here are a few uses for elephant dung: If you forget insect repellent you can burn a dried piece of dung to keep insects away. You can also burn it and inhale the fumes to get rid of a headache or a nosebleed. Lucky actually did this because he had a headache and he said it went away! And as it turns out, elephants are a great source of biogas. This is due to their herbivorous diet and the large amounts that they excrete daily. Their dung produces gas for stoves, heat and can even generate electricity. Good job elephants! How about a picture of one from Kruger for you.
A HUGE thank you to everyone at Buffalo Rock Camp, especially JB and Nico – you made the experience so nice with your warm hospitality and happiness. I love that the place is powered by solar energy, leave the smallest possible foot-print in this pristine wilderness. That night we had a dinner under the stars, good conversations, some wine and went to sleep dreaming of the all the beautiful animals that we had already seen.
Happy Earth Day
Happy Earth Day, Y’all! Remember there is no Planet B.
Hey y’all. It’s been a long and trying year. But we are still here! There’s a vaccine, it’s almost time for a new year and hopefully there have been some silver linings in this crazy time. But I know it hasn’t been the easiest. Keep on hanging on, you can do this.
Yesterday we went to the local grocery store to buy duck breast, Black Angus and some veggies for the upcoming days. Since restaurants must close at 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays and we have a curfew of 10pm, everyone was doing the same and planning a dinner at home. The meat and cheese counters were packed and people were picking up already ordered legs of ham and suckling pigs. I waited twenty minutes before my number was called and bought the last of the Black Angus, as many things were selling out fast.
This Christmas, we are staying home in Mallorca. No family coming to visit, no friends joining us for a glass of glühwein, just the two of us – and five cats. We opened our presents last night, it was well paired down from years before of many presents. And we had a feast of black angus beef fondue with homemade curry, teriyaki and béarnaise sauce.
Over the next few days we might venture into Palma to look at the Christmas lights that are up in Passeig del Born and view the newly purchased Christmas tree of lights in front of the cathedral, La Seu, albeit wearing a mask. And don’t forget to stay 8 feet away from each other.
It’s quite possible that we’ll get a cortado, maybe even a cerveza. Oooohhhh, a churro sounds fabulous. Of course though, we will have to sit outside as all indoor dining areas are closed because of Covid. We could even call up a few friends to join us but only 4 friends because we can’t be in groups larger than 6.
It’s been quite a trippy year to say the least but all my friends and family are healthy and doing fine. And that is the most important thing. I do hope this time next year we will be able to celebrate together. But this year I will see my family on our Christmas Zoom call in a few hours.
So here is to a better year and not have me end up doing this again.
To end this post for the year… unless I get some needed motivation, I want to send out a very special thank you to all frontline and essential workers who have put their lives at risk every single day of the ongoing pandemic. I am so very grateful.
Happy Holidays to one and all.
That’s MADAME VP to you.
What a week it has been! Am I right or am I right? But it has turned out to be all worth the wait. Biden beat Trump and we have our first female vice president! Kamala Harris has made history and I love her words – “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”
BIDEN HARRIS you did it! WE did it! Time to celebrate and feel the relief and happiness that this news brings to us and our country.
Sometimes I treat my blog as my diary and this is one entry I don’t ever want to forget. Get your party on America! Things are looking up. XO -k
Valentine’s Day Ideas
Hey Y’all! Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it. Give that special someone some extra love. I have a few ideas for you.
My Wife Is Hotter Than My Coffee – coffee mug. Damn straight she is! In the shop there is also – My Husband Is Hotter, My Girlfriend Is Hotter, My Boyfriend Is Hotter. I got ya covered.
Awwwww this is the cutest. CACTI + CACT YOU = CACTUS.
Who wouldn’t love Dipped Oreo cookies?? One dozen dipped Oreo cookies with You’re My Favorite, Valentine printed on them. I’ll take an order!
Mrs. Always Right Boy Brief Panties. I mean, she IS always right.
The XOXO thong is always a sexy gift for your love.
Maybe some comfy pajamas are more her style. Kisses 25 cents PJs are super comfy and cute.
All of these items come in a variety of products – t-shirts, mugs, bags, cards and much more! Of course, a present isn’t necessary. You can always just say
I LOVE YOU.
Adios Christmas Stress
It’s that most WONDERFUL time of the year again! Or is it? The Christmas spirit is in the air but you just feel like you want to curl up in a ball and slip into your bed until the new year is here. I totally get it. There is a lot of pressure to have this amazing time with family and friends, not to mention buying gifts, maybe attend a Christmas party or two and then what about the decorations, the perfect dinner. It can stress out even the best of us who handle stress like a charm.
Here are a few of my tips, how I decompress from all the Christmas madness.
- Let’s Remember The Reason For The Season And it’s not about the present. It’s about love and celebration. I’m trying to minimize the amount of presents everyone gets. One big present for my brother’s family – a game or a picture of them or blanket, something that they can all use and enjoy. And that’s it! My parents get one gift each, same with the other family members. And if you have a big family, maybe suggest a Secret Santa – everyone draws a name and that’s their person to give a present to. And they don’t even have to be store bought. The best gifts, in my opinion come from the heart and are handmade. And don’t forget that online buying is your friend. A few clicks and DONE.
- When It’s Just Too Much, Get Out! Keep up your exercise routine, go for a walk around the neighborhood or if you’re lucky enough to live by nature, go there. Breathe in the fresh air from the sea or the woods. Look around and find the beauty that is everywhere. A hike in the forest or mountains or walk on the beach gets anyone’s mood lightened.
- Make A TO DO List It’s good to see what you need to do on paper and when you can do them. These past two weeks I’ve made a daily list. It really helps on managing your time and helps you feel more grounded and not spinning out of control. Add days with the times you are going to do these things.
- Be Easy On Yourself You didn’t get Christmas cards out on time? Let it GOOOOOO. I never mind getting a Christmas card from a friend in January, heck sometimes it’s the better time to get it. But if you didn’t get it out at all, guess what – It’s OK! Try to schedule yourself some me time in that TO DO list as well. A massage or facial or pedicure will give you some pampering time to relax. And last but not least, it is okay to say no. Don’t feel like you need to accept every Christmas get together. You don’t even need to accept the family get together. You want a Christmas with just you or just you and your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend – enter significant person here – then that is what you do. Be easy on YOU.
- Be One With The Moment When the time is upon you, your friends have gathered or your family is around, take the time to be in that moment. Embrace the happiness and the love that you are surrounded by. Don’t stress about getting to the kitchen to start that turkey or if the house isn’t clean enough or if everyone is happy. Everyone is with you because they love you. Sit down and take it in. Look around and smile, rejoice and remember. Grab a loved one to give them a kiss, give them a hug, say thank you for being there. Time passes so quickly and before you know it, we will be back at our regular day life. So enjoy this moment that is finally here. Look at those lights, sip that eggnog, and feel all that love.
Have a very Happy Holiday season y’all. xxoo -k
Mykonos * Greece
Of course after the hustle and bustle of walking everywhere and seeing the sites of Athens we needed (we deserved) some down time to relax on a gorgeous Greek island – or two!
Since we were Greek virgins (how’s that going to pan out in Google search) we decided the top two islands we were going to check out on this trip would be Mykonos and Santorini. Mykonos is the party island, and Santorini was supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. And they both lived up to their name and more.
Our ferry from Athens to Mykonos was somewhat early and we were supposed to arrive at least an hour before it departed. I had researched the ferries on different sites and found a lot of people complaining that the ferry services were a bit of a shit show. So I was a bit concerned. But I can confirm that both ferries were just fine. I freaked out over nothing. Athens to Mykonos I believe it was BlueStar Ferry and Mykonos to Santorini it was SeaJets, or vice versa. They were both perfect. Easy boarding, comfy seats, food, tv, clean. NO PROBLEMS. Thank goodness.
Mykonos is VERY wiiiiiiiiiiiinnnndddyyyyyy. I didn’t know! Getting off the ferry we were almost swept away. I thought it was just the day but our driver said it was always quite windy in Mykonos. And speaking of having a driver – all of the hotels I booked in Greece offered a service to pick us up whether it was the airport or the port. But our Mykonos hotel is the only one that offered this service for free – including taking us back to the port on our departure day. That, for me, is great service. The hotel was lovely – The Mykonos Dove hotel. It’s directly on beach Platis Gialos and beach chairs are included (not the first three front rows), breakfast buffet is included and very yummy and lots of restaurants are close by.
Mykonos town is a quick 15 minute bus ride. For the most part I was very satisfied with Mykonos Dove. My only complaint would be when we checked in they gave us a welcome drink and we sat outside for over an hour before anyone would show us to our room or even tell us a timeline for when we could check in. We knew we were early but we would have happily just walked around a bit if we had known we would just be sitting there for an hour or more.
But finally we were shown are room. Cute, a little small but not too bad, it had a small balcony over looking the street. The hotel does offer rooms with a private small pool but we were good without one. We freshened up a bit and then needed some grub. That sea air was making us hungry. We wandered past some places – a small shop with a little bit of everything (we actually bought snorkels and face masks there later), some restaurants, some bars pumping out hip retro beats – and then we decided on Thea Restaurant. I’m not sure if you read my Athens blog post (see link in the first paragraph!) but our Greek eating theme was tzatziki. And this place did not disappoint. The stuffed mushrooms and calamari was so very excellent.
We had two entire days in Mykonos so this first day was a lounge by the beach and be a little lazy. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. The beach umbrellas had a outlet to charge your gadgets with solar power. I LOVED this. Nothing better than using natural resources to charge things. The sun was warm, the day was perfect and the water was … COLD. So very cold. But in the end, refreshing.
Next up, dinner at the hotel and then a night out in Mykonos Town. Since we were at the very end of the tourist season it wasn’t too bad. Crowds yes, but manageable. We wandered around. I loved the white and grey cobblestone looking streets. We stopped for a drink at Alley bar and then headed over to Caprice for a little dancing and then caught the bus back to the hotel. Easy peasy. Mykonos Town –
Jess’ New Year’s resolution was to snorkel. She had never snorkeled before so the next day was all about checking that off her list of things to do. We bought masks with snorkels and walked over to the next beach where we heard was good for snorkeling. It was about a 15 minute walk. We found a little place off towards the east side, caught some vitamin D and then waded in the water with snorkel and mask in tow. The water was clear, the fish were abundant and the sea floor dropped off about 15 feet to really get the experience.
That night was perfect with getting our fill of one last evening in Mykonos. A bit of people watching at the ritzy Scorpios restaurant and bar to see the magical sunset. There were some crazy people there! And it was super packed and SUPER expensive. It was by the beach we snorkeled at so we walked over again and then on the way back we stopped at Nikolas Tavern for some more delicious Greek grub. Check out more of the fabulousness of Mykonos in my pics and then we are off to Santorini!!!