Africa Bucket-list trip

I have wanted to go to Africa ever since I can remember and it was one of the best trips I have ever taken.

Every day I didn’t think we could top what we had seen the previous day but we did and it was the most amazing experience ever and I still look at the pictures every week.

If you want to see a similar itinerary to what we did, it is detailed out on the Africa page of this website

Cape Town is such a beautiful city and we spent four days there plus touring around the area seeing the African Penguins at Boulder Beach, Robben Island where Mandela was held prisoner, took the cable car to Table Mountain, toured wineries in the Stellenbosch regions and still didn’t see everything.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain

Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope

African Penguin

African Penguin

 

We then went onto Kruger Park and stayed at the Lion Sands Private Reserve in the Sabi Sands area which was having an extreme dry spell at the time. (not good for the animals but very good for our viewing)

Here is a video when we came across a lion family with some baby cubs – we could have watched them all day (and we were so close)

 

From there, we spent a day in Johannesburg where we visited the Apartheid Museum and all agreed, could have spent an entire day there – it was very sad but very enlightening.

After the big city visit, we flew up to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe after that and splurged to stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel which was just a short walk away from the falls.  Also an incredible experience to see from all the different angles.

 

To finish up our fantastic journey, we went to Botswana to the Chobe River and it was so interesting to see the animals from a different perspective.  We did a river safari and since the animals come to the river to drink, managed to get very close to them which was exhilarating.

 

If Africa is on your list, don’t put it off any longer because you will not regret it.

Rocky Mountaineer Train from Banff to Vancouver

I travelled on the famous Rocky Mountaineer train in their Gold Leaf car from Banff to Vancouver and the food, scenery and experience was spectacular.
Also visited Lake Louise prior to getting on the train and the pictures turned out like postcards, such a beautiful place to visit.
Included shots of Silver Leaf and Red Leaf in the video also but Rocky Mountaineer discontinued the Red Leaf service in 2016 (so all the cars will now be either Silver or Gold)

Amazon River cruise from Brazil to Peru

If a trip to the Amazon is on your bucket list, then a great way to experience it is on the river of course.

One of the best ways is on a small ship and I was fortunate enough to be on the Sea Dream II. They would deploy their zodiacs which were stored at the bow and load us in for our daily adventures. Swimming in the Amazon – why yes you can! Not in the muddy waters but in the black water tributaries that were found everywhere as we motored along. One day we were able to get into the water with the pink dolphins (who are grey when they are born but turn pink as they age) and they were just as curious about us as we were thrilled to see them.

We visited a few villages along the way and met the locals who looked happy and healthy even though they were living in such remote places only accessible by boats. Their whole lives are based around the river and it was fascinating to see how they lived. They have to build their homes on stilts due to the rising water levels. We were invited into the home of an elderly midwife who gave us an acai berry drink, lovingly mixed with sugar (and ants!), which we drank to show our gratitude.

A trip to Monkey Island had us all laughing like little children when the squirrel monkeys would dive from the trees onto us, landing on our heads or shoulders and jumping from one person to the other.

The zodiacs were also used to take us out on expeditions in the jungle and the four guides that we had along with us were so informative and passionate about the Amazonian area, made us appreciate all the different species we were able to see.

During the day, the guides were able to spot birds, reptiles and animals embedded in the foliage that had us straining our eyes to focus on. I was thankful for a new camera purchase that had a great zoom lens to capture many pictures including the one of a sloth hanging out in the trees. One day we paddled through the reeds to completely immerse ourselves with surrounding vines and were treated to sounds like being at a symphony with the instruments consisting of birds chirping, monkeys squealing and frogs croaking – it was breathtaking.

We were lucky on the night expeditions as the full moon illuminated the zodiacs through the darkness where flashlights would light up the eerie eyeballs of the caimans in the water. The guides were fearless of the river and many times would thrust their hand into it and pull up a snake, frog and even a small caiman for us to photograph.

As we neared the end of our voyage, an unforgettable day was celebrated as we had breakfast in Brazil, lunch in Columbia and dinner in Peru. Disembarking in Inquitos, we were very sad to say goodbye to the hardworking staff plus the new friends that we shared many amazing adventures with. I’ve made a quick video of some of the highlights – hope you enjoy.

France River cruise on the Seine

I loved my river cruise on the Seine, it was so diverse from the beauty of Claude Monet’s place in Giverny to the emotions felt in Normandy. This trip should be on every ones bucket list !

Plus starting and finishing in Paris was also a highlight – to see the Eiffel Tower come to life before your eyes is something you won’t forget.

Yangtze River Cruise-Chongqing to Shanghai

The Yangtze River is the largest river in Asia and the third largest in the world. This was the most interesting cruise I have even been on and learned so much about history and customs that so many of us still use today.  There were night excursions, mountain tours, Sampan boat rides, the most amazing view over the Three Gorges Dam and a far greater appreciation of what the locals went through when this project was being built.

Spent a few days in Shanghai after the cruise and absolutely loved this city, so easy to get around.

River Cruise on the Danube River-Nuremburg to Budapest

Took my first river cruise along the Danube River in Europe and I was hooked.  It was with AmaWaterways aboard the AmaDolce from Nuremburg to Budapest and I fell in love with every city we stopped at but my favourite was Budapest, it is the most picturesque place to visit.

One of the best parts is that the ship only carrys around 150 people so you get to know your fellow travellers. It was so nice to dock either right in town or very close to it and no lineups to get off and on !  They even had small group walking tours  (divided into slow and fast walkers so you could keep pace with your own group).   Very relaxing dinners and truly an enjoyable way to see the heart of Europe. They even had free Wifi onboard so I could catch up on some work while away.

 

 

 

Oasis of the Seas

In 2010 I was lucky enought to be invited to the inaugural sailing of the Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world.

It was an incredible experience, I couldn’t believe what they built into this floating megaship.   It has a rock climbing wall, an indoor ice rink, a wave runner to practice your surfboarding, an outdoor water show, a replica of Central Park New York complete with real grass, a full broadway play production in the theatre and too much more to list.  We went from dawn to dusk trying to do everything and felt amazed to be a part of what would change the cruise industry forever.

 

 

 

Multigeneration Cruise

In 2006 our family did a Pacific Coastal cruise to celebrate a 50th Anniversary.  We had a variety of ages from 75 down to a 1 year old and a great time was had by all. It is always interesting to play tourist in your own backyard and we had fun visiting cities that we would normally not get to.  When we visited Prince Rupert, we were trying to look up the birthplace of a family member who was no longer with us and we were shocked when we went into the public library there to find a women who not only knew what we were looking for, gave us directions to the exact location !  (the beauty of friendly small towns)

 

Disneyworld and the ride that’s always closed (for me)

The funniest thing happened to me when I went to DisneyWorld in 2006 with a group of travel agents to check out Epcot and MGM Studios.

To backtrack a bit, I had been to Disneyland with my parents when I was a kid and the only ride that was closed when we visited was Pirates of the Caribbean.  We didn’t think it was that big of a deal until we got home and everyone commented about how they said it was their favorite ride so we felt like we’d really missed something when had to admit when didn’t get a chance to go on it.

Fast forward to when I had children and we arranged a surprise trip for them in which my parents were also joining us.  My dad talked about how the only ride he really wanted to go on was the one we missed years ago so we couldn’t believe it when we got there and much to our dismay, it was closed for renovations !!  We had a great laugh and told the story many times.

This catches you up to my trip to Disneyworld where I told this story on the first day of our group meeting. The woman who was in charge audibly gasped after and started apologizing before I could even decipher what she was talking about.  Well, lo and behold, when we headed out the next morning, just look at the reason for her gasp !   I guess it just wasn’t meant to me but what are the crazy odds that it would be closed for a third time ?

Pirates of the Caribbean closed!

Pirates of the Caribbean closed!