Travel Planning

The Dark Side of Dreams

We know we’re lucky.  We not only identified a dream but, even crazier, we’ve made it a reality.  It’s an honor and a responsibility, because many people who are more worthy and more able don’t get this chance. 

It’s also terrifying to bring a dream out into the light.  Dreams are much safer locked in our minds since you won’t know what a dream will really be like until you’re in it.  What if you dream to live in a cloud, but you get there and all you can see is fog?  Or you dream to live in a sunbeam, but once inside it’s only a glare?  It’s easier to put dreams on a pedestal instead of letting life smudge the ideal.  Safer.

Not this time.  Not us.  We still can’t believe it.  And maybe it’s because we knew of our dream’s disadvantages that we haven’t been disappointed.  We knew it would be dirty and uncomfortable.  We knew we’d get tired and hungry.  We knew we’d fight.  We knew we’d be scared.  And we know we may still fail.

In knowing the dark side of our dream, we’re able to revel in it’s light.  And in the lowest times of our dream, it’s still an honor to live it.

Taken in Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa

The Wild Coast and Drakensberg

Below is the breakdown of our wonderful time in the Wild Coast.  Also, Click Here to view our Wild Coast and Drakensberg Photo Gallery!

We woke up before sunrise for the long drive from Jeffreys Bay to Coffee Bay.  As we got closer, it became apparent that we were arriving at the “Wild” coast.  The roads got dodgier and the towns shrunk to rural villages.

We arrived at Coffee Bay and decided to stay at the Coffee Shack.  Very laid back vibe with fun travelers and a close walk to the beach.  We surfed every day, hiked, enjoyed the beach and ate some of the amazing food cooked by the local chefs.

We crossed a stone path across this stream to get to breakfast and dinner every day!

Nelson Mandela curtains are an obvious must for any modern hut!

In Coffee Bay, the effect tourism has on a village is much more apparent.  The Coffee Shack makes a very conscious effort to curb the bad effects of tourism and enhance the good.  There are instructions everywhere on how to be a responsible visitor and they’ve set up a sponsorship program for secondary school scholarships.  I don’t want to spoil anything but you may soon be reading a post about how to be a more responsible traveler.  It’s just too important.

After Coffee Bay we headed to the mountains.  The Drakensberg is a region of breathtaking mountains carved many moons ago.  First stop was the Southern Berg where we stayed at Sani Lodge.  The owner, Russell, is a fascinating guy and he and his wife promote projects with the Bushmen (the indigenous population that descends from the first men of Africa) to try and encourage their economy.  It’s worth the visit just to listen to his knowledge of the area and it’s history.

In the Southern Berg we had another delight.  On a trip like ours, stuff doesn’t always work out.  But sometimes, you walk into the most charming farm cafe, get greeted like you’re family and informed that they’re just about to take today’s special, homemade lasagna, out of the oven.  Blakely almost wept.  The farm also has an art gallery, a petting zoo (for Ryan) and homemade ice cream!

After that heaven, we headed to Central Berg for the World Heritage site and the Rock Art.  We weren’t disappointed.  If the gigantic mountains weren’t enough, seeing art that is carbon dated back 5,000 years put our existence into a nicely miniscule perspective.

"I'm not sure...it could be a person.  Or a lion.  Or an antelope actually."

In Central Berg we stayed at Inkosana Lodge which has gorgeous grounds and views of the surrounding mountains.  It’s also conveniently close to Valley Bakery which has delicious sandwiches and homemade sweets.  Another favorite!

So ends our South African Road Trip.  We’ve survived the pot holes, enjoyed breathtaking nature of all types and learned so much along the way.  We’ll forever be grateful to the people of South Africa for welcoming us into their beautifully diverse home.

Next up: Johannesburg and volunteering with the Lonely Road Foundation!

That's What We Did on the Wild Coast and Drakensberg and Click Here to read What We Learned.  Or Click Here to view our Wild Coast and Drakensberg Photo Gallery!

Our Roadtrip up the Garden Route

We set out from Capetown in Betty (our Around About Car Rental and fearless companion).  This wasn’t just any old highway—we drove along Whale Route and the views were spectacular.  We stopped by Stony Point to see a huge penguin colony and then drove on to Hermanus.

In Hermanus, we stayed at the lovely Baleia Hermanus B&B.  Hermanus is known for whale watching but, since we aren’t the type who can patiently wait, we decided to take the Cliff Walk and keep our eyes peeled.  This walk runs for miles and takes you all along the rugged coast with greenery around you and the beautiful ocean views.  We even stopped by an amazing cafe called Nourish as an after walk treat!

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The next day we drove on to Cape Agulhas, the most Southern Point in Africa (and, with the cold winds whipping us, it felt it!).  It’s beautiful with a lighthouse that dates back to the 1800’s and one of the most helpful tourism departments we’ve ever met.  Morine, if you’re reading this, we love you!

We then booked it up to De Hoop National Park.  We stayed outside the park at Potterberg Guest Farm.  The owner cooked us a homemade traditional South African meal that included “bobotie.”  It’s a delicious minced beef with curry and it warmed us right up!

The next morning we hit De Hoop Nature Reserve.  This was one of our favorites.   The park has rugged beaches, huge dunes, and wildlife around every corner.  It being low season, we hardly saw a soul and it felt like we were explorers discovering the rugged coastland ourselves.

Afterwards we drove to Gansbaii- the capital for Great White Shark diving.  The reason shark’s love this area is this: Off the coast, there are two islands with a very large seal population (which happen to be Great White’s favorite meal).  The channel between the islands is called Shark Alley.  It was absolutely freezing, but we got to see some beauties and gain a new appreciation (and apprehension!) to the seas.  We even saw a whale and her pup on the way back to shore!

DO NOT COME ANY CLOSER!

After that we drove to Wilderness and stayed at The Beach House.  With gorgeous views from our cottage and a short walk to the beach, we wanted to stay forever.  

The next morning we had breakfast at a favorite called Flava Cafe.  Then we headed for adventure.  We started at Eden Adventures who outfitted us with a canoe.  We paddled up the local river to the trailhead and hiked up to a waterfall. We had the trail to ourselves again so we’re starting to feel spoiled!

After the hike we drove through Knysna and, thanks to a tip off from the locals, stopped by an amazing wood shop called Timber Village.  These craftsmen use only wood native to South Africa and partner with South African National Parks to ensure the conservation effort of their beautiful trees.  If that wasn’t cool enough, the finished products are gorgeous and we had to resist purchasing some of their furniture (it won’t fit in the pack!).  They even make custom designs to order (be still my heart!).

Next we drove on to Plet Bay in time for a goodnight sleep and then we conquered the hike at Robberg Nature Reserve.  This one is a favorite.  We hiked along their cliff peninsula blessed with caves, amazing overlooks, and Swiss Family Robinson beaches.  Oh, and whales galore!  

"I can't look at you now, I just saw a whale."

Next we drove to Tsitsikamma Forest.  This park is wonderfully clean and even has family style lodging.  We hiked through the lush and ancient forest to their beautiful suspension bridges.

Afterwards, we drove to Jeffreys Bay and stayed at the lovely Beach Music.   Jeffreys Bay is known in the surfing world for it’s “perfect wave."  Unfortunately, during a surfing competition the week before, a Great White Shark attacked a competitor on live television (don’t worry, miraculously he wasn’t injured).  The attack scared us and others into staying on the shore, plenty of surfers were out there enjoying the surf.  To complete the magic, a huge school of dolphins came to play in the waves beside the surfers.  Unfortunately, Blakely was jumping too much to take a picture so you’ll just have to trust us!

I dunno...they look like seals to us!

While at “J Bay" we ate at two favorite restaurants: Nina's Real Food for a wonderful, filling, and healthy breakfast.  Then Kitchen Windows for seafood and traditional South African fare.  Both had exceptional food and incredible service.

J Bay ended our Whale Coast and Garden Route road trip.  If you can’t tell from all of the effusive adjectives, we loved it and hope with all our hearts we get to come back.

Next up: The Wild Coast and the Drakensberg Mountains!

 

Garden Route Learnings

1.  The Garden Route and Whale Coast Route run along the Southern coast of South Africa.  The views are similar to Highway 1...without all the Malibu traffic.

2.  Wildlife, including whales, performs for no man.  You gotta be patient.

3.  When whale watching, you can determine the different whale species by the shape of the spout of water that the whale projects.  The Southern Right Whale (which is common in SA) spouts a V shaped spray.

"I can't look right now I just saw a whale."

4.  Scientists have yet to record how Great White Sharks give birth or mate.  So that's something to think about.  Also, Cage Diving with Great Whites is a lot easier when you're too cold to be scared.

5.  Every price is a negotiation.

6.  Our new scale for accommodation negotiations: Over $40 per night, no way.  $35-$40, it should be on the beach with a beach view.  $30-$35, it better be a block from the beach and include breakfast.  $20-30, is it safe and clean?  Ok fine.

7.  While we think monkeys are adorable, locals here find them a menace.  They break into homes and cars, steal, bite, and wreck.  Ends up this isn't too far off.

8.  African cuisine is hearty and ALL about the meat.  The food has tribal, Dutch, and Indian influences.  When eating at someone’s home, it’s polite to leave a bit of food on your plate after you’re finished to show the host that you’re satisfied.  We're having a bit of trouble with that one.

9.  KFC is huge in South Africa.  It’s everywhere.  The small villages may not have a grocery store, but they have a KFC (no we haven’t given in and eaten there yet.  We are models of self discipline.).

10.  Driving on the left side is easier than expected.  Tip for the driver: Always keep yourself at the center.  This is the opposite of our advice for couples traveling.

Next up, The Wild Coast and the Mountains of Drakensberg!  Until then, Click Here to read details on What We Did on the Garden Route.

Ryan and our noble steed, Betty.

Baboons.  Are.  Everywhere.

Rollin.

The view from our room at our hostel in Wilderness, SA.  

That Time We Chose Love.

Our trip is focused on love (duh).  And two things happened around the same time that helped us to choose the big L as our trip's focus.

We've already told you the first reason. But there's a second reason that was too precious to shout.

It's this: we watched Andy Stanley's message on the definition of Christianity.  Yep.  That loaded and terribly convoluted word "Christianity."  And, as usual, he made so much sense.  

What only a few people may guess, Christianity is only about love (not mostly.  Only).  And his words reminded us of this and this and this and we felt encouraged.  But then we remembered this and this and this.  And we got furious.  And so sad.  But mostly furious.  Furious that it got so wrong.  And overwhelmed with how to make it right.

The harsh reality is that, in most places in the world, Christianity is associated with judgement, ignorance, and even hatred.  And that is exactly the opposite of everything we should be.  In the beginning, disciples of Christ were known for their extraordinary, unconventional, and unconditional love.  And now look where we are.

So.  Back to us.  

We aren't the smartest in the world.  Nor the bravest.  Nor the wisest/coolest/rightest/anythingest.  We can't do much.  But we can do this.

So we are.  To as much as our (very) limited abilities allow, we're gonna shovel out love as we go.  And we'll fail tons of times.  But we gotta start somewhere.  And frankly, as Christians, we have a lot to make up for.

This is the last time we'll say on the blog that we're Christians.  It's our hope that, by our love, everyone will know.

Frequently Asked Questions

We will talk about this trip until our faces are blue and our vocal chords are dry.  But there is a more efficient way to handle this.  So here are answers to the questions EVERYONE asks.  And now, when we talk we can focus on the more interesting topics.  Like Ryan's beauty regiment on the road. 

  • What electronics are you bringing?  1 iPhone, 1 iPad, 1 Kindle, 1 iPod, 2 computers, a SLR camera, and GoPro.  Note: this is ENTIRELY too many but we're allowing ourselves an extra computer and a kindle.
  • Are you really only bring 1 backpack each?  And how?  Yes, 1 backpack each.  Honeytrek has an awesome packing list that we started with.  The list breaks down to us each having about 12 shirts, 6 bottoms, a few dresses for Blakely, raincoat, long underwear, base fleece, bsuit, underwear and hats/gloves/misc.  Our style will be nomad-chic.
  • What about shoes? That's a doozie-- 1 pair of hiking shoes, 1 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of nicer shoes. 
  • Anything else?  Cool things like steripens to sanitize the water and a sewing kit to keep ourselves together.  
  • What are you most excited about?  Blakely says SE Asia.  She's never been to that region and it promises to be so different and beautiful.  Ryan says safaris in Africa.  But he promises to keep the car doors locked.
  • What are you most scared of?  Ryan says the first moment when we break down on each other (how to avoid that: keep Blakely fed).  Blakely says random acts of violence that could occur in a foreign country (but could also occur in New York, so...).
  • Where are you going? See Blog.
  • How did you plan the trip?  See Resources.
  • Do you have the entire trip planned out?  Yes and No.  We have our itinerary based on seasons and priorities.  We have our Must-Dos and recommendations for each country.  But our lodging and most activities we will book when we get to each place.  Since we're traveling slowly, this will be the main way to save money since we can barter.
  • How do you pick where to go?  First of all, there's a checklist.  But the breakdown is: first you write an insane to-do list (we're thinking about posting this, stay tuned).  Then you prioritize that list.  Some of those priorities will have certain time windows (seasons) and you start puzzle piecing it together.  Next comes the budget and the saving.
  • How will you give back?  We have scheduled some volunteer opportunities ahead of time.  Those are the ones with organizations that require a bit of notice (orphanages, animal hospitals, etc).  But as we travel, we'll give back as we go.  We'll pick up trash while hiking.  We'll speak in schools when helpful.  In cities, we'll give out money (Baha just kidding.  Who do you think we are?  We will give out food though).  The opportunities to do small unremarkable good are everywhere.

Keep the questions coming.  It's our dream and who gets tired of talking about their dream?

A Southern Girl's Guide to Planning a Trip Around the World

A picture of Blakely's misspent youth.

To be read phonetically.  

Note: The entirety of this content uses phrases directly from our Southern childhoods.  It is written from the POV of a supportive, but sassy Southern lady (as if there is any other type).

 

 

 

This trip is a doozie and I'm proud of y'all.  But thinkin of y'all in some foreign land gets us all as nervous as cats on a tin roof and alotta folks can't make heads or tails of why y'all're leaving.  Honey, you're as stubborn as a mule so I don't need to worry about you changin' course.

Now this trip won't all be easy.  Plans'll go cattywampus just about when you're all hot and bothered.  You'll want to bless out every good-for-nothin who gives you the short end of the stick.  Don't fly off the handle or get your pretty feathers ruffled.  Just take a breath, eat somethin wholesome, have a cocktail, put on some color, and get back out there.

Sugah, now, you can't go trampin around the world in your pearls and lace.  They'll be on you quicker than a duck on a June bug.  So cover up what God gave ya and mind your manners.  That doesn't mean they won't get onto you.  But you're in their territory so you gotta respect that.  Just say "yes m'am," "no m'am," "yes sir" and "no sir."  Honey catches more flies than vinegar.

Dahlin you know I think the world of you and the babies think you hung the moon.  So have a fabulous time.  But remember who you are and who's you are.  And y'all hurry back now, ya hear?

We Cracked that Saucy Minx (Our Itinerary).

We NEVER thought it would happen.  With all seasons and hemispheres to contend with, we were in despair.  Blakely called off the trip or said we'd need 10 years to do it.  And then, it clicked.  

This is very loose and will absolutely change.*  And we're sorry we can't go to all of your places (see post on why we are skipping Europe*).  But cheers to having a great place to start.

*DISCLAIMER: RTW LOVERS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO EDIT, SHIFT, NIX, ADD TO, ENHANCE OR JUXTAPOSE (?) ANY PORTION OF THIS ITINERARY IN PART OR IN WHOLE.  PLEASE DO NOT BOOK FLIGHTS TO MEET THE LOVERS WITHOUT CONSULTING THEM FIRST (MOM).

Click Here to See It.