1 year later: Los Angeles

It was roughly a year ago that I fell off the blogging bandwagon, simply because I couldn’t adequately put something together that could do justice to our trip. And here I am a year later, and all I can think about each day is every moment of our trip. So while TimeHop is helping me, I thought I’d put something small together.

Wednesday-Thursday 11-12 June 2014

Freezing in Joburg. Flying for 9hrs. 8hr layover in Abu Dahbi. 14 hour flight to NYC. Arriving in NYC. Freshening up in the bathroom. Buying the wrong “ice coffee”. Breaking the wire from my braces as we land. 6 hour flight to LA. Free (kosher) food on Jet Blue. Finally reunited with old friends! Eggplant parmesan. Incredible hospitality. Snacks for days. Packing our own groceries. Ben & Jerry’s. BEDTIME.

Friday 13 June 2014

Jetlag. Universal studios. Minion photos. Simpsons ride. Studio tour. Jurassic Park dinosaurs. The Mummy. Orthodontists. Rest time – shabbat!

Saturday 14 June 2014

Sleeping late. Visiting the shul. Chabad next to aerobics studio. Lunch at the Machbubis. Planning for Disneyland. Afternoon naps. Third street promenade.  No indoor smoking. Slushy margaritas.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Hiking to the Hollywood sign. Avenue of the Stars. Shopping. Jeff’s Gourmet Burger. Magic Castle.

Monday 16 June 2014.

Disneyland. Indiana Jones. Almost losing our sunglasses. Thunder Mountain Railroad. Splash Mountain. The Haunted Mansion. Peter Pan’s flight. The Disneyland parade. Matterhorn. Roger Rabbit. Toon-Town. Disney Princesses. Mickey Mouse. Fast pass. All the snacks. Fireworks. Sound and lights show. Too many emotions.

Tuesday 17 June

Venice Beach. Vegan restaurants. Target. Outdoor malls. Takeout sushi. The dreaded red-eye flight…

And then… we headed to New York!

I’m up each night reminiscing about the details of this trip, yet when it comes to writing it down – words fail me. Going through pictures I feel I never took enough, as the scenes in my head I don’t have evidence of. It  was a busy week, and I can’t put into words the experiences we had and how eternally grateful I am to our friend Rocky who hosted us, fed us, drove us around, and was all round incredible to us.

We left a piece of our hearts there. LA – we’ll be back!

A long weekend in the winelands

These extravagant long weekends. I feel they’re definitely a uniquely South African thing. We love a good public holiday, and they really are absolutely joyous.

We decided to take an afternoon drive out the the Paarl winelands side. Have you ever thought how many wineland areas there are in Cape Town? Constantia, Durbanville, Paarl, Franschoek, Stellenbosch… not bad for a small stretch! We’d had a cheese fondue the night before so weren’t really into cheese tasting at Fairview, but we thought we’d try some wine tasting at Backsberg Estate – lucky for us – kosher wine.

We brought our usual picnic attire: food, blankets, books, and our latest addition – the selfie stick. We found a secluded spot (exactly where my friends got married, actually) – were we allowed to picnic there? We’re not sure, but we did anyway.

It’s been a while since we hung out somewhere just the two of us, and took a silly amount of photos. So we took full advantage, and selfied ourselves silly! We don’t always have a chance to get out much together these days, between Greg working in Stellenbosch every second weekend and his studies, I have to book afternoons out with him in advance. Which is fine, I guess it makes those planned outings more exciting.

Then we actually went to taste some wine – we’ve never been to a tasting before. It all seemed (and sounded) very fancy, even when a bloke of student age explained it all us (hey, he definitely knew more than we did!). I can’t say I remember all we learnt, other than the merlot and pinotage were particularly delicious. Oh, and that we look silly when smelling and holding wine correctly.

And in the spirit of yolo, and exploring our beautiful City  like a tourist, we hopped on over to Babylonstoren next door. I’ve heard so much of this place and it’s really so beautiful. It definitely is sucky not being able to eat at these places, but walking around the gardens were really beautiful enough. I wish we’d had more time, but we’ll definitely be back. I’d love to stay in one of their cottages, but a little google search told me I’m far from being able to afford a night there. I’ll settle for a Sunday drive.

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I like a good day exploring, and the great thing is you don’t really need a long weekend for it – it’s close enough for a simple Sunday afternoon! Here’s to more adventures.

I’m still here. I surprise even myself.

I’ve been away for so long, and now I’m back so quickly. Want a general update? Well it’s really pretty great.

  • Work is fabulous. The one thing I am so proud of and so happy with is the level of job satisfaction I have. Sure it’s hard many times. Sometimes I even wonder if it’s normal to be this happy at work.
  • I work with the greatest bunch of people, and I’m constantly in awe at how much my immediate team has grown. I’m so happy working with them all. In general, I work with people who really do teach and inspire me every day, and that’s something special.
  • Greg is studying again this year. It has been very time consuming recently, but he’s working so hard and I’m very proud of him. It’s not easy working until 3 (often later), studying (a good few hours a day) and still being able to be a husband sometimes.
  • On top of his studies, he’s building on his magic career. I know I am 100% biased, but this guy is flpping talented. I know because, well, I know, but also I see people’s reactions. He’s got a regular gig performing at a restaurant in Stellenbosch – The Thirsty Scarecrow. He’s there every 2nd Sunday between 1 and 4, and he’s a real vibe. (Psst, he’s there this week.)
  • I never finished my 365 scarf project. I got to the round number of 300, and I think that is achievement enough in itself. Yes, it was 65 days from the end, but I wasn’t enjoying it so much, so I was ok with my decision.
  • You read about my wanderlust, and how it consumes my thoughts. I constantly fantasies about Israel, Paris (well, Euro Disney if we must be honest), Thailand, Las Vegas, Orlando, Japan, India… just a few on the bucket list.
  • One of the highlights of my week is the pilates class I go to at the gym. I literally wake up smiling at 5:45 every Wednesday. I suck, and it’s some form of “pilates fusion” or something, but it’s cool, works some muscles, and I think my balance is improving (but I still can’t touch my toes).

Until next time (hopefully).

Hello – are you still there?

It’s been a while, world. A long while. Do I even know how to do this anymore? I used to have fun with this, love it actually, but it just became to time consuming – and subconsciously, I think I started doing it for other people. After our America trip I was so consumed with writing the perfect blog posts… that I got overwhelmed and just never did it. And I haven’t been back.

But here I am. And today’s topic: Wanderlust.

It’s a real (first world) problem. Why is it the only thing I can think about? Why do I literally feel (almost) comfortable about emptying parts of my savings to travel parts of the world? I feel it’s become the norm these days. To travel, because yolo and all, and we’re still young and stuff. True, right?

But shouldn’t I be responsible and keep my money for things like a house, and children (eek – not quite ready for that yet!), and life insurance, and financial advisors, and, and… you know.

I haven’t seen my brother for a year and a half almost, and I really miss him. He lives in Israel and can’t visit South Africa much. I also miss my friends there (there are too many), and I actually miss the place. But it being so close to Europe is so hard… and the fact that in the next few years we’ll become grown ups and have a family and stuff and I just want to get all the travelling in.

I spent a bit of time today fantasy flight shopping, which I do on occasion. And I found my dream flight. Greg is reserved about it all. He’s studying this year and he only has 1 single week off, which is what we’re looking around. Anyway, my grander travel plans may or may not happen. I’ve planted a terrible seed in my own mind, and tend to obsess to work towards things when I know I can do it.

Hopefully writing all of it down, will get it out of my system so I can have a good night’s sleep, and not have me sitting on my phone looking at airline websites until my phone falls on my face.

On almost being halfway to 50.

So I’m on the brink of turning 25. On the one hand it comes across as pretty daunting – “quarter life crises”, being 1 step closer to 30 and being halfway to 50 and all. On the other, well, I still feel quite young. That counts, right?

And so I was pondering this whole “getting older” thing, and came to the conclusion that I don’t feel very old at all (this might change on birthday morning). I’m still chirped of being “so young” at work, so I guess that is ok. I started thinking what have I done in my life? Broad, and perhaps too retrospective, I know. I mean, did I even do anything mentionable in the last year? And where do you start. You could say how “unaccomplished” I am. I’m not a bustling business woman with a towering empire. But when you really put things in perspective, I’ve achieved a lot in 25 years and when you really think about it – no milestone is too small.

  • Learning to move, support your entire body, walk and talk. (Oh how we’ve progressed from being actual babies!)
  • Learning to count, read and tell the time (I can’t even remember not being able to do these)
  • I’ve literally learnt all the things I know. Which I assume is so much, I can’t even begin to quantify it.
  • Lived roughly 9125 days (give or take those leap years)
  • Getting through 12 whole years of school (that ranges from colouring in and learning to count, to working out scientific equations in matric!)
  • Traveling to Israel for 4 months in grade 10, my entire gap year and a honeymoon funded entirely by us.
  • Learning to drive.
  • Getting an entire University degree
  • Being an intern.
  • Getting my first job (and subsequent second job!)
  • Found a significant other, dated, gotten engaged and subsequently married.
  • Successfully transitioned from baby – toddler – child – teenager – adult. I think.

25 years sure has felt like a long time (and by long time, I mean my entire life). We thought school was a long time and that was “only” 12 years. So I guess there really is so much to look forward to. Who knows where I’ll be at 50? I like to think we’d had a family by then, have a pretty awesome career, or having worked on some cool things, worked with cool people, made new friends, learnt SO many things. I guess I need to celebrate all the achievements.

Maybe I’m being optimistic, but hey, I’m feeling good about turning 25.

26, well, that’s another story (and next year’s problem).

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“They’re just things,” right? No.

We arrived back in South Africa on Friday after a whirlwind belated honeymoon, 2 weddings, and awesome trip to America. Our luggage however, did not.

We knew they couldn’t be lost. The chances of both our bags not arriving in Johannesburg was a little fishy. After a delay at JFK and a mad rush to our connecting flight in Germany (escorted by the airline’s flight attendant), we had a feeling we knew where our luggage might be. But that feeling that all your things are abandoned somewhere in a foreign country is terrifying. Not to mention the fact that we had just gone on an expensive trip and bought ourselves some expensive things. Also you know, clothes and toiletries and things from home (because you had to go overseas with something).

“Pack essentials in your hand luggage in case your suitcase goes missing!” they tell you. And I was so pedantic on this. To the point that Greg kept telling me I’m being neurotic. Not only did we pack essentials (pyjamas, change of clothes, underwear etc), but I even went so far as making sure we each packed half of our clothing in each suitcase, so even if one of our bags did go missing, we’d each still have clothing to wear.

This was on the way there. On the way back we were more worried about being overweight. Ironic, considering by the time we left Johannesburg after my friend’s wedding to come home to Cape Town, we didn’t even have luggage. Thank God we took Greg’s suit bag with his suit (surprise?) and my dress for my friend’s wedding out of the suitcase or we’d have to have run around finding that too.

They’re just things. It’s all about the memories. Right? If anyone had to tell me this I might have slapped them. Or rather responded with an “I know, but…!” and not really be able to describe it, knowing full well that at the end (well, the very, very) end of the day they might just be things. But no, don’t tell me that minutes after. (Don’t worry, no-one did, I’m just being defensive here.)

Yes, we have the memories in our mind and heart (awwww). We had taken photos and videos – which by the way, never feel like enough. But sometimes, you just want those physical memories and mementos too. At a handful of points, I literally just wanted to curl into a ball and cry. Some of my favourite headscarves were in that suitcase. Not to mention all my beautiful accessories, which I’ve literally invested so much in. And they all come from Israel. The new things I’d bought. Our Mickey Mouse key rings and “Just Married” badges from Disneyland. The new boardgame we bought. My awesome nail transfers. My maps of Disneyland and Universal Studios. My Minnie Mouse ears. My hungry caterpillar pencil case (that I’d already planned to use as my new make-up bag). So they might just be “things”, but they were my things. Most of them hadn’t even entered my little life yet, and some played such a big part.

Did I mention that I also stupidly left my unused wallet in one of these suitcases, with my bank card and sim card inside? No? Well, that happened. You see, it was an emotional 6 days.

We’re lucky that they found our luggage and couriered it straight to our door. (I won’t let you think about our biggest fear, was that they’d delivered the wrong bags. Don’t worry, they didn’t). I’m not going to tell you the entire sob story, or name and shame the airline or airport. It wasn’t one person, just a clear lack of communication which was terribly frustrating. But it’s been a learning experience in what is important (the answer is that your things are still important, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise even though at the end of the day, in the very back of your mind you know they’re just things and eventually you’d realise that. But still, they’re your things.), and so I leave you with these pearls of wisdom.

  1. Always take out travel insurance. Always.
  2. Pack smart, all the time.
  3. Pester airlines and airports until they make your case important.
  4. If you have an important meeting/event/wedding (i.e part of the purpose of your trip), don’t pack those in your suitcase.
  5. Be lucky enough to have friends as good as ours (I had to borrow clothes for Shabbat, as well as a scarf for my friend’s wedding).

I really hope that none of you ever have to go through the process of lost luggage, being that close was already too close for comfort!

It’s official: We’re going on honeymoon!

A little late you might say, but as the old saying goes – better late than never.

Ever since we went to the USA a few years ago with a tour group, we’ve been dying to go back. We wanted to go last December, we thought we’d go this December, and then an opportunity came to do it early, in summer which really makes a whole big difference. And we’ll already be there… this time next month!

I’ll be honest with you. It was far from an easy choice. I have one of my best friends’ wedding in Australia this year, and as of this week, a friend in Israel’s wedding too around a similar time. My best friend is getting married in Joburg in June, and another best friend of ours in New York in the summer, which is kind of what egged us to bring this trip forward. So in one trip we’ll manage 2 weddings. It’s so hard when you have to choose and make decisions like this. It was a really tough decision, one that still plays on my mind sometimes, but thankfully, my friends are amazing, and well, we might be across the world from each other right now, but please God we will reunite someday. I mean, that is the plan ultimately.

Anyway, we are terribly excited. We have visas, Greg is waiting for his passport and we’re doing our final bit of money saving before getting foreign exchange organised. We’ll be visiting New York and LA to stay with and see friends, and just – go on adventures! Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to doing:

Los Angeles:

  • Reuniting with friends and seeing their lives
  • Disneyland
  • Universal studios
  • Visiting the Magic Castle, an exclusive club for magicians. This has been on Greg’s bucket list for years!
  • Kosher food!
  • Beaches
  • OK, we haven’t fully discussed our schedule with our friends, we know there are many more things she’ll be taking us to. But guys – DISNEYLAND!
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DISNEYYLAAANND! I even have Minnie Mouse ears ready.

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I keep forgetting these places are theme parks. Have I mentioned I’m so excited to go here, but terrified of roller coasters?

New York:

  • Seeing our friend, and being at his wedding
  • Walking the streets of Manhattan
  • China Town and Little Italy
  • Broadway! I am desperate to see Wicked, but my bank account says others. Otherwise, Daniel Radcliffe (from Harry Potter, don’t judge, this is my entire childhood!) is performing in a new play, which I am very tempted to see too.
  • Times square. Obviously. Which includes the M & M, Disney and Herscheys stores
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    I can’t explain how wonderfully overwhelming this place is. We love it.

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    i’m dying to see this show. Like, really dying. And I think I may have even found some “reasonably” priced tickets – hurrah!

  • Perhaps a little shopping
  • More kosher food.
  • Walking the Highline. I’ve been told it’s amazing, it was an old railway track turned into a beautiful walkway.
  • Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Greg want’s to visit 770 in Brooklyn, the central headquarters of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch. I mean, it’s not really my scene, but we’ll check it out.
  • Take the Staten Island Ferry. We’ve been up the Statue of Liberty, so taking this free boat ride for the view is a good one.
  • Picnic and walks in Central Park. I found a tour online around the park relating to scenes from movies which sounded pretty cool.
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A friend told me about the Highline. I just love how it’s this beautiful park, elevated above the city.

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We’ve been up close and personal with Lady Liberty, so a free ferry ride to snap some photos should be sufficient.

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770 in Brooklyn. It’s really just an address.

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The Brooklyn Bridge! They say it’s a really great walk, and guys, I’m all about being a tourist here.

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Ah, central park. I cannot wait to enjoy leisurely walks and picnics with you.

  • Perhaps the Lego museum exhibit, maybe Ripleys museum… I need to do more research on attracttions.
  • Museum of Natural History. I don’t think we’ll be going to galleries, I went to the MET last time, saw my Jackson Pollocks and had a photo outside the Guggenheim, so I think I’m good.
  • Grand Central Station, maybe even catch one of the tours.
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The very grand, grand central terminal.

  • The New York Public Library, if time allows.
  • An Improv Show. I found some places with some great sounding stuff. Links here (this one is in LA too, so maybe we’ll catch a show there), here (I love the sound of this one!) and here.
  • A free walking tour with Free Tours by Foot. They offer tours of Central Park, Grand Central, even photography and graffiti themed tours.
  • I found this thing called Accomplice New York. It’s a mix between a murder mystery (and if you didn’t know, I held an epic one for my birthday party last year), theatre and a walking tour. It’s a little pricey at $80, but if we have the time and money it’s something I wouldn’t mind trying! Actually, this is something Greg is really keen to do.

OK, the more I research and compile this list… the more I feel there’s no way we’re going to do all of this, so will probably have to visit again 🙂 (Which, I’m totally ok with).

The time has really creeped up on us. I mean, we’re leaving in 4 weeks today! I seriously just can’t wait for a little bit of travel, a lit bit of friends a whole LOT of adventure!