{April in Paris}

Well hello there blog land. Per usual I popped in quickly and then didn’t make a return anytime soon. Oops! I always have the best of intentions to give this space attention, but somehow it always gets pushed to the bottom of the neverending to-do list. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you already know that we bought a house (more on that later)! And that’s what’s been taking up all of our time on evenings and weekends. We’ve also taken a few fun trips to Los Angeles (to meet my adorable new nephew) and to Vancouver, B.C. (you know, because we were really missing using our passports!). I have so many photos from the past months and even year to share and I fully plan on getting them up here!
I’ll start by looking back on an amazing trip I took to Paris back in April. I got a call from one of my best friends at the beginning of the month telling me she will most likely be coming out to Amsterdam and Paris for work (we work at the same company, score!) and would I be interested in joining her in Paris? I mean, you just don’t say no to that! So even though we had just gotten back from South Africa and had many more trips planned that spring, I booked a train ticket to Paris for a weekend away with one of my dearest friends. We had an absolutely incredible time touring the city, eating delicious food and catching up after being oceans apart for far too long. These are memories I will cherish forever and ever.
A few highlights from our trip:
-Hot chocolate at Angelina — how did it take me four visits to Paris before I made it here? You can’t miss it if you’re planning a trip!
-Brunch at Cafe de Flore – a Parisian institution. Amazing people watching!
-Dinner at Le Coupe Chou (not pictured, but trust me it’s incredible!)
-And of course, pink champage and sweet treats at Laduree – as girly as it gets!

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{South Africa Day Seven}

Two days in a row! Look at me! hehehe

So, back to the South Africa posts… Our seventh day in South Arica was a fun one! We started our morning with coffee from Deluxe Coffeeworks. If you’re into good coffee (we’re Portlanders, so you know we are…) then you must stop here if you’re ever in Franschhoek. We strolled the adorable downtown (which is basically just one long street) and then headed out for a day of wine tasting. We visited La Motte, Tokara (this one ended up being our favorite), Thelema and La Petite Ferme. There are obviously so many wineries to visit and there were many on our list that we missed, but we loved all the places we went – great wine and amazing views. Couldn’t complain!
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Birthday Weekend in San Sebastian}

First off, hello! Long time no… blog? This weekend, a good friend of mine asked me if I stopped blogging. I took a quick glance at my blog and realized why. No updates in 20 days, and spam comments running rampant on all my recent posts. Oy vey! The good news is, no, I haven’t stopped blogging – not intentionally anyways. Life has just been really nuts these days (although it feels like this is just status quo now…) with work and visitors and weekends away. I’ve been too busy living life to blog about life, which I guess is a good thing! But the truth is, I really and truly miss blogging and I hope to get back to posting more regularly soon…

I have so many posts to catch up on, but for now I just wanted to share some iphone snaps from our awesome time in San Sebastian this past weekend. We were there for my birthday and it was so incredibly special, fun and delicious (because we stuffed ourselves silly with pinxtos and rioja!). 

P.S. For those of you who’ve asked about what iPhone apps I use to edit my photos – I primarily use Camera+ and Instagram, but for the photos below I used a new-to-me app that is quickly become my favorite called PicTapGo. I highly recommend it! Hope this is helpful 🙂

{South Africa: Days Five & Six}

Hello, hello! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, the good news is I wasn’t eaten by a lion 🙂
We got back from our safari 8 days ago. I can’t believe we’ve already been back so long.

I want to continue on with a couple short posts giving a general overview of each day of our stay in SA, then I’ll do some more detailed posts on where we stayed, our itinerary, restaurant suggestions, the whole deal. I’ve already gotten several requests for a detailed itinerary to follow, so I will definitely be working on that!!

On our fifth day in Cape Town we finally got to take things a little slower. We slept in a bit and then made our way up to Table Mountain. We booked our tickets on the gondola ahead of time as we’ve heard the lines can get pretty long. Luckily there weren’t any lines at all! Cape Town is just full of amazing views. We didn’t think we’d be up at the top of the mountain long, but of course we ended up taking our time walking around and enjoying the scenery. It was a warm and beautiful day! 

Later that day we ventured over to Camp’s Bay – the more “posh” beachside area in Cape Town. We strolled along the beach as we got lost trying to find our restaurant and wished we would have come down earlier and spent the day soaking up the sun (took note for next time!). We ended up getting appetizers and cocktails and watching the sunset at The Bungalow. I must admit, while it was a nice experience, it wasn’t really our scene. One of our friends had told us it was very “South of France”, but I would have gone further to say it was more Miami. I felt a little out of place, but it wasn’t anything a couple drinks couldn’t fix 🙂 We ended up seeing a beautiful sunset and having tons of fun. 

On our sixth day in Cape Town we checked out of our amazing hotel (can’t wait to tell you more about it!), and drove an hour outside of the city to wine country! We didn’t even make time to drop our bags at our guest house as we had lunch reservations we could not be late for! Going into this trip we actually had a lot of recommendations. A meal at Maison was at the top of our friend’s list, so we booked weeks in advance to make sure we wouldn’t miss out. The second we stepped in we understood why they had said it was their favorite meal of their entire trip. Everything was flawless. The decor, the service, the food, the wine, the grounds. My my my. We ended up spending a good 3+ hours there just making ourselves at home and contemplating never leaving (maybe they wouldn’t find us if we hid in their awesome bathrooms?). It was an afternoon to remember. There will definitely be more to come on this place! 

After checking into our cute little guest house in Franschhoek we made our way to Dieu Donne Vineyards to enjoy the view (and a glass of wine of course). I wish my camera could have captured the insane beauty of the landscape. It literally took my breath away. We were so excited to be in wine country and couldn’t wait for a full day of tasting the following day! 
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Quick Update}

Oops! Well, I made it for four days of travel updates and then we lost our wifi connection for a couple days and it’s been a whirlwind since then!
Just wanted to check in before we fly up to Kruger National Park for our safari tomorrow, where I’m fairly certain we won’t have wifi access (how will I ever survive?! joking. kind of.).
If you’re missing me like crazy, you can always check out my Instagram, where I’ve been keeping up on posting. We even took Bri’s advice and created a hashtag for our trip photos (#DenfeldsinSA). You can check those out here!
Thanks for all your great comments on the South Africa posts so far. It’s a truly incredible country and we are having the time of our lives!
Excited to post more photos soon, but those will have to wait until we return to Amsterdam! 
Hope everyone has a happy Easter weekend!
{Photo taken at the Knysna Elephant Park}

{South Africa Day Four}

Our fourth day in Cape Town was adventure-filled!
We started the day with a drive to Simon’s Town to see the penguins on the beach. 
Did you know you could see hundreds of penguins on a beach in South Africa? Incredible! If you go to Boulder’s Beach you can actually stroll in the sand and get right up close to them – as in, inches away! 
The penguins are just the sweetest things and they didn’t seem to mind the people around. There are very strict rules that you don’t touch them or torment them in any way, so they seemed super happy to just be lounging in the sun. 
I really wanted to take one home, but apparently that’s really against the rules. Too bad.
After Simon’s Town we drove down the coast a little bit to Kalk Bay. It’s a tiny little beach town with not much to it, but our hotel recommended the Harbour House for lunch. We dined on another giant platter of sushi and took in a gorgeous view. 
We barely had time to catch our breath before we went back to the hotel and changed into hiking clothes. We had heard that a sunset hike up Lion’s Head was a must, but we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into! This isn’t like the hikes we know and love at home. There were several times we were convinced the hike was over because we couldn’t see a trail. Well, that’s because you had to climb rocks and basically scale the mountain to get to the top. It was intense.
But as you can see, the view at the top was totally worth it.
Quick story on that photo of me standing on the rock with the city below. Corey really didn’t want me to get on that rock. But I couldn’t resist the amazing photo opportunity. So after 10 minutes of back-and-forth (me insisting it would be fine, Corey insisting I stay right where I was), I got on the rock 🙂 I’d say the photo was worth the risk, right?
We ended this long, fun and exhausting day with an awesome casual dinner at the Royale Eatery (they specialize in burgers and Corey said his rivaled any burger he’d ever had in the States. Score!). Oh, and they also specialize in milkshakes. We shared an out-of-this-world banana and peanut butter milkshake. Hey, I had just scaled a mountain, I deserved it!
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{South Africa Day Three}

On our third day in Cape Town we woke up bright and early for our tour to Robben Island. We’d heard from many people that we should book this tour in advance, so we always knew Tuesday would be Robben Island day. As you can imagine it was fascinating and powerful. We learned so much and all of our guides were spectacular. If you’re ever in Cape Town I highly recommend you do this!

After our tour we ate sushi for lunch at Willoughby’s. It’s this sort of strange restaurant in the indoor mall at the V&A Waterfront. Not the kind of place I would’ve picked if I was just strolling by, but we got it as a recommendation from an instagramer so we went for it. And I am so glad we did. The last time I ate sushi was 5 months ago, so I was seriously overdue. I was a happy girl!

After sushi we made our way to Kirstenbosch Gardens. We didn’t get to see much of it when we went for the concert on Sunday night, so we knew we wanted to return. We got there too late for any of the tours (but we hear the shuttle tour is great!), so we just spent time strolling around on our own. It ended up being perfect because we were there during golden hour (photographers you know what I mean), so I was in heaven. The gardens are so breathtakingly beautiful, I kept saying “oh my gosh can you believe this?” “Holy crap this is so incredible!”. It’s another must-see in Cape Town.  

We ended our night with a super romantic dinner at Fork – another great recommendation from a blog reader (you guys are keeping me well-fed!). 

P.S. I’m not sure what’s going on with the size of the fonts and I’m way too tired to figure out how to fix it, so sorry about that! 🙂

{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{South Africa Day Two}

Yesterday, after 12 hours of sleep, we woke up to rain in Cape Town. 
We surprisingly weren’t that bummed. We just took it as an excuse to really slow down, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and French press coffee at our hotel and get settled into vacation mode.
We had originally planned to hike Table Mountain, but since it had rained that morning conditions wouldn’t be great, so we changed plans and decided to drive to Cape Point instead.
What could take you around two hours to drive ends up taking an entire day because the scenery is so breathtaking you just keep stopping to take photos (and this is typical – not just because I’m photo crazy!).
We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when we left the hotel, which is why I hiked in hot pink pants and floral boat shoes 🙂 But hey, I made it work!
It turned out to be an incredible sunny day with some of the most stunning scenery we’ve ever laid eyes on!
{Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{South Africa Day One}

We arrived in Cape Town today!
After an 11 hour overnight flight and driving on the wrong (to us) side of the road, we made it to our hotel!
We had just enough time to shower and freshen up before heading out for the afternoon for a summer concert at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. 
I am so glad we booked this in advance and made it work with our schedule because it was so much fun. South Africans really know how to dance and have a good time!
Despite being really tired from sleeping on a plane and still not feeling 100% myself after my illness last week, we still managed to have an awesome and memorable first day in Cape Town.
But just to keep it real – we are ending it with cereal in our hotel room and an early bedtime. Need to catch up on our sleep so we’re well-rested for the upcoming adventures 🙂

{Happy Friday + Meet Jenna!}

Happy, happy Friday!!!
You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t blogged since last Friday.
Well, Tuesday I got really sick with the stomach flu or food poisoning or something that had me completely bed-ridden and miserable. 
That put me out of commission until Thursday. 
Thursday was an insane day at work because it was my last day in the office before our two week trip to South Africa (!!!). 
And right now, as you read this, I am in London for the day.
So needless to say, it has been a craaazzzyyyy week and I have many things on my to-do list that have yet to get done.
But alas, tomorrow we’re off to Africa. A place I honestly never even dreamed of going. It just seemed so far away. We couldn’t be more excited! 
Everything we’ve read and heard about South Africa is that it’s the most incredible place in the world.
As I was packing I realized that I completely forgot how to prepare for big trips like this – it’s our first vacation over a week since our honeymoon in 2010!
I have a feeling I didn’t do a very good job packing for all our activities, but only time will tell 🙂

I have this crazy idea that I’m going to blog a photo and a travel memory  each day(ish). While we’re gone. Knowing me, I can’t be sure this will actually happen. But I’m putting it out there because I want it to happen. I think it’d be really awesome to look back on, and I also think it would be fun to keep you guys updated on what we’re up to. It may be a photo from my camera or just one from my phone (but I promise it won’t be one I already instagramed). So, wish me luck with that!
And last, but certainly not least I want to introduce you to another sponsor! It’s particularly awesome and coincidental that I’m introducing you to Jenna from A Home Away From Home this week because she just so happens to live in South Africa!! In my opinion she puts my blog to shame as she posts about all her incredible and unique travels through Africa.   She got engaged to the love of her life last summer and is planning on getting married in South Africa this December! You should really head over and check out her exciting life. I have a feeling she’ll become a new daily read for those of you that don’t already know her! A little more about Jenna below (in her own words!).
Hello Explore.Dream.Discover readers!  My name is Jenna and I blog over at A Home Away From Home about my life as an American ex-pat living in South Africa.  South Africa started out as a semester study abroad experience for me, but after I met and fell in love with a local I just sort of never left, and still find myself here five years later!  Most of my posts are about our adventures in and around Johannesburg, but you’ll also find plenty of travel, ex-pat, and recipe posts thrown in for good measure.  And… in the most recent turn of events Jurgen proposed {!!!}, so you can bet that a quite a few wedding-related posts will also be making their way into the mix soon 🙂  I hope you’ll stop by and say hello!