Black Headed Heron, South Africa – Re-Cropped

After my last post, I kept returning to my photograph of the Black Headed Heron taking off. It’s one of my favorite photos from the trip, despite the fact that it is far from perfect. The bird lifted off much more quickly than I expected so I missed getting the perfect composition and had to resort to cropping the image. There’s no way to fix the fact that the tip of the wing was slightly cut off, but I just wasn’t happy with the cropping I’d done.

Luckily, I always save the unprocessed original, so here’s my second attempt, along with another photo of the heron as it flew away in the distance.

black headed heron in South Africa



Much better…

Here Birdy, Birdy- Mosaic Sanctuary Birds

Between the quad ride and driving with my guide, Vitalis, around the Mosaic Sanctuary, I not only enjoyed the beauty of the environment, but found myself fascinated by the birds.

Flamingos in the wild? Beautiful.

Flamingo Birds

One of the funniest birds I’ve seen in South Africa, the Guinea Fowl.

South African Birds

But my favorite was definitely the Black Headed Heron. Vitalis knew the habits of this magnificent bird and put me in the right position for each shot. Thank you, Vitalis!

The Black Headed Heron is one of the most beautiful birds.

¬†And in flight…

Birds Black Headed Heron in Flight

These were just the first of the trip. They make me smile as I remember how speechless I was. I know, a first time for everything. ūüôā

Waiting for Whales – Hermanus, South Africa

There is something about whales that I find amazing. The only opportunity I’ve had to see them in person is when I traveled to Antarctica in 2009. So, it was a delight to see a Southern Right Whale just off the shores of Hermanus, South Africa¬†on my trip last month.

I imagine if I lived in or near Hermanus, my butt print would permanently be etched on one or more of these rocks.

Wait for it…

Hermanus, South Africa

Sometimes nature just takes my breath away.

Hermanus, South Africa

Experiencing an Ahhhh Moment – Mosaic Farm

Mosaic Farm Luxury

You know that moment when you’ve finally arrived? That moment when you just want to collapse? That ahhhh moment? When I was shown my suite after 40+ hours of flights with layovers and a two hour drive, I experienced that moment.

I was finally in Africa, South Africa to be exact. I pulled in to Mosaic Farm near Hermanus and was welcomed by Vitalis and Simone. I stepped out of my car and they called me by name. All the tension left my body and I could have melted on the spot.

They quickly took over handing me snacks and drinks while my luggage was taken to the suite and I relaxed in the Lagoon Lodge. Then it was time for Simone to show me where I was staying. I’m sure my jaw dropped to the floor when I stepped inside. I’m not sure I’ve ever stayed anyplace that was so luxurious.

After wandering around in disbelief, I laughed with delight. Then, it was time for a brief catchup nap in the lap of luxury.

What a way to start a trip of a lifetime.

Love Locks – Frankfurt

Love Locks Bridge Frankfurt

There are thousands of locks in all shapes and sizes, each of them representing the love between two people. It’s a growing collaborative sculpture that expresses the beauty of love and relationships.¬†

The Eiserner Steg Bridge in Frankfurt, Germany, was originally built in 1868-1869 and updated in 1911. ¬†I’m not sure when the padlocks began appearing, but I’m glad that they are allowed to remain on this historic bridge.

I met a nice couple from Malaysia who were in Frankfurt on vacation with their children. We took pictures for each other and had a wonderful time sharing stories on the overcast day. 

Then I pulled the lock out of my bag. It had traveled with me all the way from the U.S.  The special love of my life is my son. So our love lock is now attached to the bridge. 

Love locks in Frankfurt Germany

As I headed back to the train station so I could return to the airport before my flight, I wondered about the people who had put their own locks on the bridge. Are they still together? I sure hope so. The locks are a way to freeze a moment in time when love and hope are strong.

If you ever head to Frankfurt, Germany, I highly recommend visiting the Eiserner Steg Bridge. It was the highlight of my brief time in Frankfurt.

I love you, Travis!!


Bubble Man of Frankfurt

Sometimes getting lost in a big city is a good thing.

I left the airport in Frankfurt for a brief tour of the city during my layover. Almost from the moment I stepped out of the train station I was lost. The streets listed on the map were so small, I had a hard time reading them. A few blocks later, I decided to ask for help. A friendly couple stopped and pointed me in the right direction. I traveled a few streets too far and ended up on a pedestrian style mall. There I found the Bubble Man. He was a street performer unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and he spread his joy with bubbles.¬†

Bubble Man Frankfurt

The children laughed chasing the bubbles down and the adults laughed along. There is something about bubbles that sends me back in time to when I was a kid. I found myself giggling out loud.

Bubble Man Frankfurt

The Bubble Man reminded me of a conductor and we all stopped to appreciate his music. About five minutes later, the rainstorm hit and the magic was packed away. I never would have found him if I hadn’t been lost. What a fun moment in time.

Thanks for sharing your joy, Bubble Man!

Preparing for a 10 Hour Layover

skyline of Frankfurt at Hauptwache
The layover hits almost right in the middle of my 40 hours of travel to Cape Town, South Africa. 40 hours? Yes, 40 hours, 10 of it in Frankfurt, Germany.

I can choose the very conservative option of playing it safe and hang at the airport. It may be less stressful, but I think sitting for ten hours in preparation for my 11 hour flight to Johannesburg would drive me crazy.

The other option is to take the train from the airport into downtown Frankfurt to visit a few of the sights and to have an early dinner that includes anything other than airport food. The ability to get my body moving and my blood pumping sounds great. While I’ll be careful about what I plan so that I’m back in the airport in plenty of time for my next flight, I can still take a few hours to see a very small part of Frankfurt. It’s a beautiful city in the country of my ancestors and I don’t want to miss out.

Here is how I’ve prepared:

  1. Reviewed and printed the map for the Frankfurt airport
  2. The train to downtown actually leaves from the terminal where I’ll be and there is an information booth nearby where I can get the scoop prior to leaving
  3. Checked out possible places I want to visit on Trip Advisor and other tourism sites
  4. Discovered I can leave my carry on luggage at airport storage so I can travel light
  5. Made sure my travel outfit will include comfortable shoes and a jacket

I’m looking forward to this part of my trip almost as much as the rest. It will be good to get out an walk for a few hours. I have a few surprises planned and will be posting photos.

Do you play it safe on long layovers or go experience new adventures while you are on the ground?

Dipping My Toe into the Solo Travel Waters

The freedom of solo travel

The first time I ever traveled solo was the day I stepped off the train into Salzburg, Austria in the fall of 2000. I broke the first rule of solo travel safety by demonstrating that I was an obviously lost tourist as I opened the large noisy map and studied it closely.¬†Thankfully, a small older woman quickly pointed me in the right direction and I was on my way. I loved Salzburg. I had a wonderful time viewing areas I’d been long admiring in the movie The Sound of Music. I returned to Munich and reunited with my friends later that night.

While I’m not quite a solo travel virgin, my upcoming trip will challenge my ability to travel without anyone I know. My first few days, I’ll be on my own just outside of Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been to the Cape Town area before. It’s a beautiful city where people are very friendly. This is where I have scheduled the cage diving with the great white sharks. There is a BIG smile on my face just thinking about it.

Then, I head to Namibia where I’ll meet up with fellow travelers I’ve never met who are joining me on the safari. There will be a maximum of eight people and our guide. So, my first solo trip isn’t really solo. It was a good compromise to help me begin the adjustment.

My love of travel has taken me to many exotic places, some of them are locations where very few people I know want to go. The trips are usually about two weeks long and can be expensive. I save and plan my vacations around these opportunities to travel. For me, the choice is to learn to travel on my own for those times when my travel buddies can’t come, or to just not go. I don’t consider delaying or missing an opportunity to travel a good option,¬†so I’m on the path for solo travel.

I’m not someone who minds being alone, as a matter of fact, I’m an introvert so I need this time to recharge. I’m also single, so I’m used to doing things alone at times, like eating out and going to the movies. Still, I am a bit nervous about not having someone else to rely on when traveling in other countries.

Luckily, there are women who have already traveled this road and are very happy they did. Here are just a couple of my favorite solo travelers who inspire me and provide great information for those of us on the same path.

Journey Woman

Solo Travel

This trip is an adventure in many ways and I’m excited to get started.¬†Let the countdown continue…

Is solo travel something you’ve ever considered? Any tips?

Ebola and My Trip to Africa

Illustration of the Ebola virus

I’ve been asked numerous times this week whether or not I’m afraid to go on my upcoming trip to Namibia and South Africa with the current Ebola outbreak on the African continent. My answer is no, for the following reasons.

I spoke with Ian from the Africa Adventure Company yesterday to finalize a few details on my trip. I asked him what impact they have been seeing. At this time, he isn’t aware of any travelers who have cancelled their plans, but people are asking if there are specific things they should be aware of while they travel.

Many countries in Africa rely heavily on tourism and if the ebola virus spreads or if travelers panic and refuse to visit, it will be a financial catastrophe for each of those countries. I’m not surprised they are taking it seriously. Not just because of the financial implications, but because they want to protect their citizens.

Will I be taking some precautions? Yes.

  • I’ll be wiping down hard surfaces on the airplane with anti-bacterial wipes. I’m still doing research on which wipes I’ll purchase. I’m not sure if it will help, but it certainly won’t hurt.
  • As always, I’ll be vigilant about washing my hands throughout the trip.
  • There are experts in all these countries that have far more knowledge than I do, so I’ll be listening and acting on the instructions provided at the airport and other locations.

I can’t even begin to imagine the horror and sadness of those impacted by the Ebola Virus in Sierre Leon, Guinea and Liberia. Just following the headlines will tell some of the story. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone suffering from this terrible virus.

Ebola Outbreak Instills Terror in West African Families

As I write about my trip, I’ll be including what I’m seeing and experiencing relating to the impact of this outbreak in the countries I’m visiting. Please sign up to be notified of new posts if you are interesting in following along.¬†

Driving on the Other Side of the Road

driving on the left side

My International Driver’s Permit is in hand. Watch out world!

It was surprising how easy it was to get. I’m not quite sure what I imagined, but a passport style photo, a valid driver’s license from my state of Colorado and payment were the only requirements. I walked into my AAA office and fifteen minutes later, I had my permit.

Now comes the more difficult part, actually driving on the other side of the road on my trip to Africa. I’ve never done it before. I’ve always been the passenger. So this will be one of the adventures associated with my trip. Not only learning a new way to drive, but doing it alone in another country. So how to begin? By Googling it of course.

Here are the tips I’ve found so far:

  • Follow the other traffic
  • Write a note reminding myself to stay to the left and tape it on the dashboard
  • Confirm I’m driving an automatic so I don’t have to think about using a stick shift on the opposite side at the same time I’m concentrating on staying on the left side of the line
  • Add GPS to the car rental so I easily know how to get to my location
  • Think “hard left, wide right”
  • Keep the center line on the driver’s side

While I’m nervous, I’m also excited. South Africa seems like a great place to start. Once I get used to it there, it will be much easier to drive when I travel to England and Ireland where the roads are much narrower and the rock walls much less forgiving.

Here’s one of the YouTube videos that gave some great tips and pointers:

Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?