On December 24th we went to the airport to begin our honeymoon/ trip of our lifetime. We decided that we would miss Christmas with our family in Canada to experience somewhere we have never been before, South Africa.
Mfolozi River on our way to St Lucia
We left for the Airport just after a family Christmas eve dinner for a 10pm flight to New York. I was surprised at how busy the airport was on that day. For some reason I thought late night Christmas eve would be quiet, it wasn’t. Our flight to New York was overbooked and Air Canada placed us on standby. We usually use Westjet for our flights in North America cause there is no nonsense and we get to our destination without hassle. I was quite nervous about missing this flight, but realized that we would be going to New York that night because we had a connecting flight the next morning to Johannesburg, South Africa.
We made it to our hotel in New York that night near JFK airport and were able to get about 6 hours of sleep before waking up before sunset and heading off to the Airport. It was Christmas morning but it didn’t really feel like it. There were no gifts to open, Christmas trees or large family dinners. Our minds were set on getting to our destination. The airport was extremely quiet. Christmas day is a great day to travel if you are fine with missing holiday festivities. We booked our flight with South African Airways. They are a great airline with fantastic service. It was a long 15 hour flight which is the longest flight I have ever been on. We spent that time sleeping, watching movies and discussing our itinerary for next few weeks.
I remember that people would always ask us why did we choose South Africa as our honeymoon destination?!? We wanted to experience something different. A place that I’ve dreamed about visiting for a while. We love animals, hiking and wild landscapes so those were a big attraction. There are few countries where you can experience the ocean, safaris, hiking in the mountains like in South Africa.
How did we plan this trip? We didn’t use a travel agent. I researched our destinations and already had an idea of the types of places we would like to stay. Then I booked out the hotels, flights, cars and activities. It was lot of work to make the itinerary work, but well worth it.
We stopped in Johannesburg, the Drakensberg mountains, Durban, Uhmlanga, St Lucia, Tembe Elephant Park, Hout Bay and Capetown. In the next few posts I look forward to sharing some of our adventures.
The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park
About 3.5 hours northwest of Toronto is Bruce Peninsula National Park. We had the opportunity to do some car camping there last summer. Charlene and I have never been car camping before so it was a unique experience from the get go. We also had the opportunity to share in this adventure with her sister’s family. Once again, another first for us. We have never traveled with anyone else in this capacity. Continue reading
Clayoquot Sound – Tofino, B.C.
Travelling isn’t cheap and in order to do more of what we love we had to come up with some creative ways to save money while on our trips. We are providing you with some travel tips that we hope will save you some money on your next trip.
1. Don’t travel during peak times
The peak season of travel is June through August, the majority of people take time off of work and use this time to travel. This means that during this period prices are the highest. I’ve also found that weekends are a busy time to visit countryside locations (Parks like Grand Canyon and Algonquin Park, small towns) making it the most expensive time of the week to visit. For us, shoulder season has been the best time to visit our destinations, that’s the period between off season and peak season. Hotels know that summer and weekends are busy times and increase prices for both of these periods. We have saved lots of money by visiting countryside towns during the week and cities on the weekend. It has been my experience that the hotels in the city lower their prices on the weekend since the business travelers are gone. Not everyone has the ability to travel during shoulder season but if you do you can save lots of money by taking advantage and putting that money towards something useful on your vacation. Some of the advantages of shoulder season are less crowds, moderate weather and better prices.
The Glasgow Necropolis
Just outside the heart of Glasgow is an old Victorian cemetery. I’d say it took us about 30 minutes or so to walk there from downtown. I’m always looking for free or lost cost activities to do while on vacation because costs really add up after a while. The Glasgow Necropolis reminded me of one of those graveyards you would see in an old horror movie but obviously since we visited during the daytime we were able to fully appreciate the craftsmanship of the headstones and enjoy a nice walk. Continue reading
Every trip that I go on I always try to make sure that we get to do something adventurous and something that we haven’t really done or seen before. When we visited the Lake District in England I researched horseback riding… because what could be more English than riding in the countryside. If you are visiting the UK you should definitely look into horseback riding as one of your activities.
Edinburgh is an old city with lots to see. We stayed for about 5 days and drove in from the Isle of Skye on the west side of Scotland. Tourism thrives here and the people of the city are extremely friendly. Here are 5 things to do on your next visit to Edinburgh.
1. Calton Hill
For those days that you would just like to go for a walk and relax while on vacation I highly suggest visiting Calton Hill. While it takes a bit of energy to get to the top of the hill, the views are magnificent. The hill overlooks the city and seems to be a common place for locals and tourists to enjoy themselves. We spent part an afternoon here and enjoyed some sunshine.
The view from Calton Hill
Overlooking the city
Cornwall was our first destination on our trip to the UK. When planning this I had researched pictures of scenic oceanfront hiking, old fishing villages and beaches and knew this was somewhere that I wanted to visit. It took about 4 hours of driving to get to our hotel in St Austell from Gatwick airport in London and we were pretty exhausted upon arriving. Continue reading
” It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore’s Office
While in London we had the chance to visit the Warner Brothers Studio for Harry Potter. What an experience! If you are a fan of the Harry Potter movies this is a must. The studio was very detailed and had just about every prop that you can think of from all of the movies while also showing how they did some of the magic from the movies. Continue reading
On this day the sun was shining bright and I knew this would be an amazing evening to visit Neist Point. I’ve seen pictures online and knew this was somewhere I wanted to stop given the opportunity. The roads are so skinny in Scotland, so much so that we had to pull over every time a car was coming in the opposite direction. We did lots of hiking and this was just a short walk to get to the lighthouse, about 45 minutes round trip. Neist point is located on the North Western portion of the Isle of Skye and takes about 45 minutes to get to from Portree which is one of the main towns on the island.
A Photographer Taking a Picture of the Sunset
A Moose in Algonquin Park
Every Canada day weekend in July Charlene and I drive up north to spend some time camping in the woods. We have done it for 5 years now and it has become a tradition. Algonquin Park is without a doubt one of our favourite parks because of the wildlife and the quiet time we get while camping deep in the woods. Continue reading