It rained a lot this week. There was some pretty serious flooding in Kuwait. All schools were even closed to students on Wednesday so the schools could clean up. But now the weather is GORGEOUS! The outside of the buildings are just a little cleaner and brighter. The air is clear and we can see for miles from our 15th floor apartment. I’m pretty sure we can even see Iran from our kitchen (my phone doesn’t do it justice!).
Where we stayed:
This was a week-long trip broken into 4 parts. Our first stay was at Lisbon Hideaway in Graskop. It’s a trio of stilted cabins overlooking a stream with a field in the distance. As we arrived during the dark of night, I can’t imagine a more perfect place to wake up to South Africa. During Part II we stayed at Africa On Foot (seen above). It’s an unfenced camp located in the middle of a private game reserve. It is also incredible. It’s eco-friendly, offers home cooked meals and completely worth the money. I can’t speak enough about this place. I’d go back in a second. Part III was in Kruger itself, split between three of their wonderful restcamps; Olifants, Orpen and Skukuza. Each camp offers a simple room with ensuite bathroom, porch and full outdoor kitchen. They were perfect for what we needed. Olifants offered a fantastic view, Orpen offered a feeling of seclusion and Skukuza offered the most amenities. You’re not going to go wrong picking a restcamp. We finished our trip by staying at Del Roza Guesthouse in Middleburg; an absolute diamond in the rough. This walled off oasis is smack-dab in the middle of an atrocious industrial town, and I’d spend every weekend there if I could.
What we ate:
Like its most famous natural inhabitants, South Africa is carnivorous. Pork, beef, chicken and game are abundant and cheap. Every accommodation we stayed at had a braai (read; grill) as this is the main method for cooking anything in SA. We were more than happy to oblige. We mainly grilled proteins and vegetables with few exceptions. We were also introduced to Pannekoek at Harry’s and grilled chicken at Nandos. Wow. We ate like kings and drank like sailors. We tried a few local treats like biltong and amarula (though not together).
What We Did:
I’m struggling to think of everything, so I’m going to list it out;
- Saw some National Geographic-level scenery on the Panorama Route.
- Went on multiple safari’s in an open-air truck.
- Drove a manual transmission automobile on the wrong side of the road.
- Watched (and photographed) two lions getting it on in a dried out riverbed.
- Witnessed an absurd amount of wildlife that we’ve only ever seen in zoos.
- Almost got into a fight with a water buffalo.
- Sat with our mouths open as a herd of elephants passed by our tiny car.
- Visited Ellis Park, arguably the most famous rugby stadium in the world.
- Many other things I probably forgot but were equally awesome.
* Vodacom offers cheap data plans for your smartphone. 3g is iffy in the park, unless you’re near a restcamp. Wifi is virtually nonexistent.
* Pack a flashlight and go on a “night-shine” in the restcamp. Walk along the fence and flash your light into the trees and outside the fence. Decide how badly you want to know what belongs to the eyes reflecting back at you.
* You can fly into Johannesburg and rent a car or fly into several closer airports and rent a car. Weigh carefully your options. You miss NOTHING on the drive from Jo-burg to Kruger that you can’t get from flying into a closer airport. It all depends on if the increased ticket price is worth it for you. I can tell you this; it’s worth thinking about.
Life has been crazy around here. We have lots of things to share…however no time to do so!
In the meantime, we wanted to share some pictures from our gym. Occasionally they have a photographer and occasionally we get into some pictures.
- Last year I participated in a group ‘personal’ training session. A picture of me made the info page.
- A few weeks ago I went to the launch of the Gravity Training System. Here is an album that includes some pictures of me.
- Jeff and I went to the Les Mills release last weekend. We did an hour of Grit. Don’t judge us for how tired we look.
- You can find all their albums here. We pop up sometimes.
We’re approaching our Kuwait weight and bodies…and working hard to get there!
Now that we’re back in the swing of things in Kuwait we want to share our summer adventures! It was an amazingly crazy, awesome summer that we’ll never forget! Besides our major events, we spent lots of time geocaching, drinking, going to Darkhorse, and enjoying the company of friends & family.
June 10-13: Heidelberg
June 15: Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties
June 16-22: Treehouse (week at a lake in northern MI with Lissa’s family)
August 3-11: Holland camping (with Jeff’s familiy)
August 11: Ward family golf outing (much fun is always had!)
Where We Stayed:
Because we had such an amazing first experience with airbnb in Athens, we tried it out again in heidelberg – we were not disappointed! Our flat was perfectly suited for our needs and only cost us ~$70 a night. You can read the review on airbnb’s website, but if you don’t want to click through just take my word for it. Or thing worth mentioning is that it was NOT near the city center, which was fine with us. We definitely felt more local where we were.
What We Ate:
Oh man, where do I start? German food is heavy and delicious. We tried two local breweries or “braueri” , Lowenbrau and Kulture. Both were excellent. We sampled the schnitzel and liver dumpling soup at Lowenbrau and split a mountainous plate of pork in mushroom sauce, asparagus and spaetzle at Kulture.
We kept things light with salads at a little cafe off of Bismarkplatz called MEDOC. They were HUGE, fresh and delicious. Anyone looking to change things up a bit away from the heavy food, I recommend it.
Our other restaurant experience that’s worth mentioned was “Schnitzelbank.” It’s a hole in the wall place off of a side street and if you’re in Heidelberg, you need to go there. It’s family style seating, which means there are a bunch of long tables and you share them with whoever is around. It amazed us how many people didn’t know this when they walked in and it was fun to watch them squirm with the discomforting idea of sitting next to someone they don’t know. Lissa and I started with snails in garlic and butter sauce then split Gorgonzola schnitzel and a plate of bratwurst, fried potatos and sauerkraut. It was all fantastic. Do yourself a favor and find this place, try the garlic schnitzel and let us know how it is. We were dying to try it but couldn’t tear away from the other two.
What We Did:
Frankfurt is a wonderful walking city, and walk we did. It was vacation and I had a cell phone, so we grabbed a few geocaches throughout town. Have I mentioned that this is the single-best vacation game ever invented? We walked up and down the Bismarkplatz, visited the Shloss, hiked all over the Philosophenweg, and stopped at cafes and bakeries in between. Honestly, you only need a day or two for Heidelberg. We stayed 3 and were lazy, relaxed and laid back about it. We loved it.
* If you fly into Frankfurt, take the Lufthansa shuttle from the airport. They’ll bring you right to the crowne plaza downtown and they’ll do it for €42 per person, round trip (€40 if you flew Lufthansa to get there). Just be sure to make a reservation!
* As soon as you get into Heidelberg, buy a Heidelberg card. It gives you entrance to a bunch of places and, most importantly, gives you free and unlimited access to public transportation. It’s totally worth it.
* if you’re looking for a prepaid SIM card, go with TMobile. I’ll save you the hassle of checking out the other places, whose prices are absurd. We paid €10 for 100MB of data, which is more than enough for 3 days, even with geocaching
Want to see all our photos?
It might sound silly….but after 3.5 months of being a minority in the “eastern world,” it’s nice to be back in the west. During the last 36 hours countless people have mistaken us for Germans (including a guy who pulled off the road and asked us a question in German while I was wearing a Notre Dame hoodie). It feels good to blend in for a change!
The weather today progressively improved and now we’re back in the apartment enjoying a beautiful evening!
We wandered to the castle today and stopped for a beer and pretzel on the way (duh!).
The views from the castle were pretty spectacular! There were a lot of French tourists…it was fun to hear my favorite language again
Afterwards we headed to the brewery that our AirBnB host recommended (Kulterbrauerei). We started with sausage, a pretzel with amazing mustard and their house beer.
We’re pretty sure someone died while we were at Kulterbrauerei. Seriously. First our server and another woman were standing looking out the alley to the street. Then the observers grew to 5 people. We were quite curious after 10 minutes of this so Jeff went to get up and peek. Our server VERY sternly told him to sit down. But he saw a body being wheeled out on a stretcher. Too bad we don’t read German so we can’t look for the news in the paper tomorrow.
We meandered back to the tram with a pit stop at GelaTo Go. I’ve never had chocolate chili ice cream before…it was spicy enough to make me sweat a little while the ice cream made me cold. Weirdly satisfying!
After stopping at the grocery store for dinner and breakfast provisions (hello French red wine!), we’re in for the night and are planning to get caught up on Community and Game of Thrones. Luckily it’s already 8:30pm so we’ve managed to stay awake to eat some dinner and see the sunset!
We made it…
* through our 4th and 5th years teaching.
* through our 1st year in international educations and in kuwait (with lots of ups and downs).
* to the airport (…I started packing approximately 1.5 hours before we left).
* to Frankfurt (even though the plane a a few too many crying babies).
* to Heidelberg and our apartment (after 2 hours in the rain figuring out how to do so…we’re two for two with AirBnB, no phones and rain!).
Yesterday we relaxed a little at the apartment before heading down to Altstadt for some walking, food (read beer) and tourist info.
Can you find the Kuwaiti dinar?!
The weather was nothing like what the weather channel said it would be…
But we made it work
We returned to the apartment, fell asleep on the couch at 5pm and woke up in bed at 7am this morning! Guess we needed to relax and rejuvenate a little!
After a short run this morning (outside, green, wet and gorgeous!) and some yummy breakfast, were headed to check out the castle!
One of the deals we are giving our 5 siblings is a trip (once) to visit us. Abby is here for the semester subbing and Andrew came to visit for his Spring Break! Shannon was studying abroad in Barcelona so they met up in Kuwait. It was a memorable week for all! (see Shannon’s post for proof)
There was a little miscommunication ..Shannon arrived on Friday, March 22nd and Andrew arrived 24 hours later. Luckily we like Shannon so it worked out just fine
It actually ended up being quite an interesting experience: Shannon met a guy from Portugal on the plane. He was visiting friends but they weren’t able to pick him up at the airport. Our friend, Dana, was driving so we all piled into her car and took him to Marina Mall. We invited him to have breakfast with us at Pain Quotidian…and ended up finding out he was visiting some Kuwaiti royalty that he had met on a road trip. Crazy! We ended up hanging out with him all day and had quite a bit of fun being hospitable. Bonus: he’s a great (self-taught) photographer!
The afternoon consisted of coffee and pedicures. Saturday was another early morning to pick Andrew up at the airport.
We had an amazing breakfast (as always) at the Cocoa Room before heading out to the desert!
Full and satisfied, Dana, Andrew, Shannon, Abby, Jeff and I headed out to do some desert hiking. We found some interesting things along the way!
We also managed to do some GeoCaching…
…and found lots and lots of bullets in the process.
It wasn’t the clearest day but we had a great (HOT) time! Check out the entire album for many more pictures
Before they came, we compiled a list of all the things we wanted to do with them. [As you can see, we take our food very seriously!] It was actually a pretty busy week! We gave them a taste of a lot of things and know we missed even more. Contrary to popular belief, there’s actually a lot to do in Kuwait (if you’re looking). Some of the blogs I use to find goings-on: 2:48AM, Life in Kuwait, The Grapevine Kuwait.
Shannon introduced me to Red Mango…how did I manage to get through the first 7 months here without ever stopping to try it?!
Our last night, we ventured to one of our favorite restaurants for some Turkish food and shisha.
Abby’s friend from high school (Lance) was in Kuwait for a couple months working on the oil fields and joined us…small world!