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Tag Archives: Animals

Cape Town: The City of Animals

15 Dec

Baboons run so freely in Cape Town that the city has employed official "Baboon Watchers" to help guard and protect the citizens and their homes. Sneaky little monkeys they are...with their red fannies out for all the world to see!

For an animal lover like myself, Cape Town is truly a city of angels (wild animal angels that is).  In addition to the jaw dropping beauty that the city has to offer, it seemed that at every turn in the road, another furry or feathery creature appeared.  Although, I must say that there is actually nothing that angelic about a baboon.

Our tour of the Cape began at Table Mountain, a flat top mountain that offers gorgeous panoramic views of the entire city.  A cable car takes you all the way up to the top – but the lines can be out of control.  Tickets can be purchased in advance online at http://tablemountain.net/ – but I suggest having your hotel buy them for you right before you go in order to be sure that the cable car is operating and that the mountain is open.  Unpredictable winds play a big factor in cable car capability.  We also suggest hiring a driver that is not above offering a small bribe to one of the workers to sneak you up the back elevator.  I bet we saved at least an hour!  By the way – if you are traveling with children, they are a free ticket to the secret elevator ride.  But be careful on the cable car…the floor moves like one of those  revolving restaurants from the 1980’s and it unexpectedly reveals open windows at times.  One father almost had a Michael Jackson moment with his baby girl.

Brett taking in the view and sipping on wine at Table Mountain Cafe

The ride to the top took less than 10 minutes, and the temperature dropped what felt like at least 10 degrees.  We had been forewarned that it would be chilly up there…so I sported my own cape in honor of THE Cape.  After admiring the view and taking an acceptable amount of photos, we stopped in at the Table Mountain Cafe (a surprisingly cute and trendy spot) to enjoy the scenery (free from the wind) over a glass of fine South African wine.

Typical honeymoon solo photos! On top of Cape Town's Table Mountain...in a cape!

The reality is that Brett and I are not the greatest at sticking to a schedule during vacation.  So when we made it back down the mountain an hour late…our driver was a little frazzled.  In his defense, our expectations were very high on the amount of things we wanted to see in one day.  So…our tardiness – due to newlywed giggles caused us to miss out on the boat trip to Seal Island.  While we hated to miss out, it was our driver who fell into a short-term depression over the miss.  He was determined to for us to see some seals.  He didn’t disappoint.

I even got to feed one! Feeders beware though - we learned that seals actually bite!

After the seal feeding and baboon sightings, we couldn’t wait to see what other animals might emerge.  Again, Cape Town did not let us down.  And, as we turned the corner heading to the Cape of Good Hope, a lady ostrich chilling by the sea raised her long lovely neck.

Sunbathing Ostrich by the Sea. You just don't see this everyday in Beijing...or New York...or Murray, Kentucky...or Columbus, Ohio for that matter!

Morgan and Brett Hutchinson at the Cape of Good Hope

Posing by the sea at Cape of Good Hope before climbing to the top

On Top of Good Hope

At the very top! Only 12,933 kilometers to Beijing!

Brett on top of Good Hope. I was trying to be artistic with the new camera... What do you think?

After a tasty seafood lunch (late lunch I should say…we were actually hungry when our dishes arrived) and a not too shabby whale sighting from our seats at the restaurant on top of the Cape of Good Hope, we headed back in the direction of One & Only for our grand finale stop of the day.  Cape Town’s very own flock of beach penguins!

Seriously - two of the greatest things ever...Brett laughing and beach penguins.

A feathery angel in a tux. Obsessed.

Falling in love with the strange and seemingly misplaced little sunbathing birds...

I think I found a true connection with the penguins of Boulders Beach. As a Blonde in Beijing…I often feel misplaced myself!

Cape Town is an exquisite city.  We had no idea how much we would fall in love with it, and we hope to be able to go back. It is a bucket list destination for sure.

Up next…Our trip to the Delaire Graff Estates and Winery in Stellenbosch.  Wine, art, and diamond lovers stayed tuned!

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The Circus Comes to Cairo…Tents, Belly Dancers & a Lion!

11 Oct

Birthday Dinner by The Great Pyramids! FASHION: Off White Linen One Shoulder Jumpsuit with Detachable Gold Lame and Metallic Green Brocade Skirt. Tailored Made in China.

Our last day in Cairo fell on my actual birthday (which I had clearly been celebrating for over a week already…typical only child, right?). Spoiled by a fantastic boyfriend – I woke up to the sound of room service wheeling in a table with fresh pancakes and cold champagne. While the waiter popped the cork, Brett surprised me with another birthday treat – stunning diamond hoops.  The day was off to a spectacular start! Although I must say that I would have been happy with a bowl of Rice Krispies and a Hallmark Card – so long as Brett was there beside me.  That said – what girl doesn’t like champagne and diamonds!

The plan for the day was pretty simple:  room service, a bit of sightseeing and lunch, some pool time, and dinner in a tent overlooking the pyramids.  In my opinion, it was the equation to the PERFECT 30th birthday!  A good friend of mine recommended a lunch spot in Al-Azhar Park that overlooks the Citidel and offers lovely views of the entire city.  The weather was actually very pleasant that day with a nice breeze, and because it was Friday (the Muslim equivalent to Sunday for Christians) the park was hopping!  Honestly, I was a little concerned when we first got in line to buy our tickets to the park.  I couldn’t believe it – the ticket counters were divided by gender!   Brett and I had to stand in separate lines.  Although the funniest thing about it was that my line moved faster, and I was still able to buy 2 tickets.   So – it really didn’t make all that much sense….

Lunch in Al Azhar Park. FASHION: Silk Chiffon Animal Print Jumpsuit with Metallic Gold Empire Waste Detail. Tailored Made in China.

Inside the gates, the park was filled with people.  It was wonderful to see all the families scattered about sharing picnics and playing games.  We strolled for a bit and weaved our way to the restaurant, located at the highest point of the park to provide the most optimal views of Cairo.  While the park appeared to be full of locals, the restaurant had more of an eclectic crowd of tourists from all over the world.  The menu offered some familiar options (sandwiches, salads, etc.) as well as some popular Egyptian dishes.  After stuffing our bellies and taking in the views, we heading back to the hotel to relax by the pool.

SIDE NOTE: I want to be sure that I am clear about something for anyone visiting Cairo….even though I have not mentioned it – we did NOT skip the Egyptian Museum.  It is a must see!  How can you leave this city without seeing the mummies and the treasures from King Tut’s tomb?  The answer is that you cannot!  Tip: you have to check your camera at a little security building outside of the museum by the ticket office.  We learned this the hard way and waited in line to get inside the museum twice.  Also, we went without a tour guide, but I think you might find a guide helpful.  The museum is in the process of moving to a new location, and it is not all that easy to navigate.

Now….back to the birthday! After the perfect amount of Vitamin D, we headed up to the room to shower and get ready for dinner.  Our fabulous concierge, Noha, organized a tent dinner for us overlooking the pyramids.  She timed the reservation perfectly for sunset.  We feasted over lamb and chicken kofta (kabobs), delicious hummus, and other Egyptian cuisine.  Not to mention…I smoked a hookah pipe for the first time in my life.  The most popular flavor of tobacco used is apple.  Truthfully, this

Smoking a Hookah Pipe

sounded terrible to me (let’s just say there may have been an incident in college involving an apple martini) but it was actually sort of fun and the apple taste wasn’t very strong.

At the end of dinner, Noha came to escort us to a “different” table for dessert.  Little did we know that she (with help of course) had prepared an entire surprise birthday party complete with balloons, confetti, belly dancers, traditional Egyptian performers, and cake!  What a treat! We even got to learn a little belly dancing ourselves….

Surprise Party!

While Brett and I rested from the belly dancing lessons (harder than you might think) in the tent, I noticed a man in the distance holding what appeared to be a rather large dog. Brett agreed that something looked a bit off, and slowly we both realized that not even Cujo had paws that size.  It was not a dog at all – it was a lion.  I knew that it was probably some sort of money making scheme – but I really didn’t care. How many opportunities do you get to hold a baby lion?  Plus – it saved me the expense of a microdermabrasion treatment. Their tongues are no joke.

At the end of this perfect night, I found myself feeling sincerely guilty.  It had been the best day. Thank you, Noha and everyone at the Four Seasons 1st Residence!  To Brett – there are no words…. You seriously outdid yourself!

Next up:  Luxor

Destination: Dalian, China

20 Jul

Before moving to China I had never heard of Dalian – a city due east of Beijing on a peninsula.  I assume that most Americans are not familiar with Dalian either, which is funny because it has over 6 million people (over 2 times the size of Chicago – the 3rd largest city in the US).  Brett and I have been spending quite a lot of time in Dalian due to his work, and I imagine there will be many more trips in the future.  So – I think the best way to document the city is through photos and captions.  This way I will be able to update the stories and experiences of this city by the sea often and easily.

The beaches in Dalian are actually quite bare. While there is definitely no shortage of humans, luxury resorts have no presence at all. In my opinion, someone is missing out on a great opportunity here. Will someone please get on this? I would love to have a cheap beach option that is only a 1 hour flight away from Beijing!

Of course most places by the sea offer tasty and fresh seafood but Dalian takes this to a new level. Almost all of the restaurants allow you to visit tanks within the dining space to select your main course while it is still living. Sometimes your dish is still living when it is served! This is Brett kissing our sashimi. The fun part....it kissed him back!

Hand picked lobster. I waited to eat him until after he was properly prepared!

Back wall of restaurant - lined entirely with tanks, buckets, and baskets with everything from sea sausage (don't ask and don't eat) to king crab.

We typically stay at the Kempinski Hotel during our trips to Dalian, which is right across from Labor Park. The park is sort of a hybrid between an amusement park and a pedestrian area. There are beautiful gardens with areas to relax mixed in with a handful of rollercoasters and games. We took the gondola ride to get a better view of the city. Unfortunately it started to rain shortly after our trip began....but on a positive note - we did get a lovely view of the inside of a cloud!

The Gondola at Labor Park

This little girl is literally fishing for gold fish. I think this explains why they are so thin. Clearly...this is going to be my new diet plan.

Enjoying local ale at the Paulaner Brauhaus & Restaurant. This place has a great live band every night. And...like everywhere else in the world - they are googoo for GAGA!

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