Europe is cold, expensive and we don’t have a tan anymore. Not exactly how we imagined ending our dream holiday. Plus, after spending 74 days on an Italian cruise ship, whose bright idea was it to stay an extra week in Italy anyways? If you’ve ever been, I’m sure you can catch what I’m throwing down. If you haven’t been, you probably have never told an old lady to F-off. Soooooooo…….We have changed our plans to go here instead:
The last few weeks have been a crazy blur. I don’t even know what to say. We went 4x4ing in Dakar in the sand dunes on a truck that had only 2 out of 10 wheel lug nuts on the front tire that also had no roll bar where we were sitting. That was pretty interesting. We decided to climb up a cliff (Jacobs ladder) in St Helena 30 minutes before we had to be back on the boat to get a two minute view (totally worth it). We saw the Canary Islands and fell in love with Madiera Portugal. Rode a wicker basket down the street which was so much fun. We sailed into a pretty crazy storm to assist in search and rescue of a yacht in distress, they were rescued by another ship in the area thankfully. We ate too many Tapas in Malaga Spain. And now are on our last sea day for the trip. We have Marseille tomorrow then we finish in Italy the next day. We have also met many really fun people on the ship in the last few weeks. How we didn’t meet them before I don’t know. We have an entire German and Dutch family now. In addition to our South African and Australian family that we met earlier in the trip. Then there’s the crew on the ship who we have gotten to know for months now, I adore them so much. They are all so sweet. They are from all over the place – the Phillipines, Indonesia, Honduras, Guatemala, and a few Europeans. But now we are getting the end of cruise blues to have to say bye to everyone. 74 days is a long freaking time.
Well, we’ve been gone for two whole months now! That’s the longest for both of us away from home. The problem now is that time is starting to move too fast and the end of our trip is quickly approaching. We keep talking about extending it a bit longer…. Wouldn’t that be nice? We have already found a couple trips that we could do…and have lots of places we want to go back to. If only we could win the lottery! We have won something like $130 Euros at the casino here but that’s not gonna cut it! Also, the crib wars tally is now Bryan 85 – Char 76. Too bad we don’t get paid to play. 😉
Anyways, Walvis Bay Namibia was a pleasant surprise! We saw huge flocks of Pink flamingos, pink salt lakes and mega sand dunes (dune 7, the second largest in the country). I also had an awesome afternoon sitting in a pub built out over the water. It was beautiful! We just arrived in St Helena Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and are chilling at a cafe in Jamestown. Super cute city!
I am a big big big fan of shark week. I mean, come-on. Who isn’t? So naturally when I found out we’d be in Cape Town this was the first thing on my to-do list: swimming with the Great White Sharks! (PS: I know we didn’t mention this to our parental units, we didn’t want you to worry!) Anyways, we were able to secure a booking for cage diving right as we left Calgary and I cannot even explain how freaking excited I have been about this day for months now! I was like Aunt Sue (one of Kristen Wiig’s characters from SNL). It’s the one thing I have wanted to do more than anything on this trip. But the downside was only day we had available was Jan 1st. And they picked us up at 2:45am! Our only option obviously was to not sleep and stay up and par-Tay like it’s 1999! We were completely pickled as our Aussie friend would put it. Anyways, it was a 2 hour bus ride out to the site and our driver got lost so we arrived late, then from there it was pretty much chaos. Nothing like what you see on shark week. Plus we felt horrible (a.k.a. hung over) and Bryan was getting seasick on top of that. What were we thinking! The first few people in the cage had a couple sharks swim past, but they were smaller and not too close to even get a good view. We went in the second group into the cage. As we were getting in a MASSIVE shark surfaced right beside the boat. The dorsal fin was almost 2 feet tall and then we saw some of the tail as it swam down in the water. It must have been 4 metres long! So we rushed into the cage and sat there in 14 deg C water for 30 minutes and didn’t see one shark! Such a bummer! Just the tail of that one as we were getting in for about 5 seconds. Obviously they are wild animals and you’re not guaranteed to see them which is understandable but it’s still disappointing since that was our only chance. Then since we didn’t get any sharks for a while they cut our tour short and took us back to shore. Some people didn’t even get to go in the water. Then more chaos trying to rush people off the boat, someone took our bag with our passports, I nearly lost my mind looking for it (but to be fair, I hadn’t slept yet, and was super hung over so I’m pretty sure that was allowed). Eventually we found it then crammed back on the bus for another 2 hours home to Cape Town. We will have to go back and try again another time. Maybe I can work for the Discovery Channel!
Anyways, Cape Town is such a beautiful beautiful city, and the exchange rate is very much in our favour. 10ZAR to 1USD. And things are very affordable! For example, a beer was only 14ZAR. Two movie tickets with popcorn and soda was 200ZAR. A really nice dinner out at a Greek restaurant was 450ZAR. Beautiful 3 bedroom waterfront properties with a pool are only 4 million ZAR ($400,000 USD). Definitely a place we want to come back to. It was really fun to be here for the New Year. We went down to the waterfront festivities for a while, but it was so packed so we went back to the ship and had a perfect view of the fireworks from the top deck. That was a nice perk! We have more to cross off the to-do list in Cape Town still. We will be back. 🙂
I found some free wifi today so I could finally upload some pictures from our safari! The name of the game reserve we went to out of Richards Bay South Africa was called Hluhluwe-imfolozi (pronounced Shush-Louie imfolozi). Which supposedly is the sound a hippo makes when pulling its foot out of the mud. We didn’t see any hippos so we can’t confirm that but we saw lots of giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, warthogs, monkeys, antelope, rhinos, impalas, and birds. Pretty good for one day safari and only a couple of hours at that. Also there was a torrential rain storm. I mean like buckets falling out of the sky for at least an hour straight. Our open air jeep thankfully had a roof but we still got soaked though. All part of the adventure right! There was a lot of rain on the East coast for a few days so we were supposed to go on a second safari in Durban South Africa the next day but it was cancelled because the roads got washed out. Bummer. 😦 So we hung out on the beach in Durban instead. That was an experience in itself. The photos I previously posted don’t do it justice. There were literally thousands of people. Crammed into such a small space. Unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. I will try to upload a video next time I get free wifi. It was so cool!! Anyways, here’s some pictures from our safari!
Seasons Greetings! Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! Buon Natale! Frohe Weihnachten! We are back on the ship after visiting Mauritius and Reunion Islands. We went scuba diving in Mauritius, first to a shipwreck, then a reef. And our new underwater GoPro camera was awesome! We wish we had it from the beginning of the trip. Afterwards we explored the city markets and we were obviously tourists (read: white) so people were trying to pull us in different directions and sell us everything they could. We got scammed trying to buy our customary souvenir fridge magnet. The guy was trying to get $36 from us for it ($1000 rupees). I’m not even going to tell you what we paid. It was ridiculous! I don’t mind paying the “tourist tax” here and there, but I really don’t like being hustled out of my money. But other than that we loved Mauritius. We had an awesome experience at the hotel Le Suffren. We were meeting the dive company there and we were early so we went to the restaurant for a coffee while we waited. (We were running off of two hours sleep after partying at the disco the night before so we were pretty haggard, which by the way the only thing missing on the ship are the 2am dirty nachos, and all our friends and family of course, ah those were the good times). Anyways we went to settle the bill, and our server (whose name was Lovin, a distant cousin of McLovin I assume) gave us our drinks on the house! Then the front desk and security were also super helpful to connect us with the dive company who were late and went to the wrong meeting place. Anyways, we would stay at/recommend that hotel in a heartbeat!
Next was Reunion island which is actually a part of Le France! You have to say Le France and with a big grunt because that’s how they do it and it’s awesome. Anyways, Le France has been paying them handsomely since the 70’s because they didn’t want to be associated with an island in poverty. As a result, the island was beautifully built up and maintained. The roads were a bikers paradise, beautifully paved winding up steep volcanic mountains, with gorgeous views of the cities and ocean below. We need to go back so we can rent motorcycles. We went on a full day tour up the volcano instead which is still an active volcano (although it hasn’t erupted since 2007 so we didn’t see any liquid hot magma) but the views were breathtaking and the craters were massive!
We sail past Madagascar today so we might have to rent Madagascar 3 on the pay per view to celebrate (Polka dot circus! Polka dot circus!) then we have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at sea which should be interesting. Our next stop is AFRICA! We cannot wait to go on safari! Keep your fingers crossed that we get to see lots of animals! We hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas! Drink lots of rum and eggnog in the moose mugs for us! We will be thinking of you all and look forward to the next time we can talk and hear about what’s been going on at home! Love and hugs!
PS. I’ve been trying to upload pictures for over an hour now and it’s not working. I will upload some in a later post.
Ok I’m a bit behind here. Still talking about Australia… Melbourne was our next stop. Unfortunately that day was a complete write off for us as we had to deal with our 2nd broken camera lens issue all morning. Then it poured rain for the rest of the day and before we knew it we had to be back on the boat. So we pretty much missed Melbourne which sucked.
Then we had three days sail to Perth. The first day we sailed past Tasmania through a storm that was the roughest seas we have ever encountered! It sounded like the ship was going to snap in half! The captain said it was 8 meter swells, and 60 mile/hour winds. It was like bad airplane turbulence for 36 hours straight. Our ship is big, but not big enough to skip across those waves. Fortunately it got better closer to Perth, but because of the storm we were arriving 6 hours late, so we missed the city again as Perth is a bit of a drive inland still. We did get to see a bit of Freemantle which is the suburb where the ship docked and it was lovely! We want to go back and spend more time. We didn’t get enough time in Australia! That’s the one big downside to taking a cruise. We’re bound to someone else’s schedule.
Anyways, we had originally booked a tour but because we were late we went instead to Caversham Wildlife Park with 600 of our closest friends. OMG It was like the circus showing up to a meditation garden! The highlight for us however, was the kangaroo enclosure. They were so sweet they came right up to you. We found one guy that was just like a puppy. We had a handful of food but were giving it to him one at a time, so he went straight for the hand with all the food and was sniffing around and nuzzling us for more. Then when Bryan walked away he stood up and held out his arms like he wanted a hug. I felt bad for the poor kangaroo. I don’t like when Bryan leaves either. 😉
Other than that so far we are surviving the 7 day stretch over the Indian Ocean. It’s been too cold to hang out outside for the past couple weeks so there’s not much to do. On the plus side, most of the banana hammocks have gone into hibernation so my nightmares have subsided for now. But I really hope it warms up soon! It’s supposed to be summer here! We are not looking very “sunbitten” anymore! But I’m not changing the name to Frostbitten just yet! Hopefully it doesn’t come to that…
PS: Mom and Dad don’t worry about the rough seas. We are safe.
Also, the crib tally is now Bryan 63 – Char 61. Bryan is not so safe. He should be afraid. Very afraid….