A Salute to June
by Noelle and Dave
It’s been the best of times, it’s been the worst of times. But as you’ve read about some of the latter, we’ll keep the focus of this post purely on the good stuff. Just as with May, we each compiled our Top 10 moments of the month as a way to remember the highlights.
These will probably continue to be the most fun posts for us to write. It’s impossible to explain the mentality that goes along with this type of trip – but it’s easy to get lost in the 24-hour planning, traveling, experiencing, blogging, eating, etc, so this is a perfect time for us to really stop and take a look at what COOL stuff we’re doing. Once-in-a-lifetime stuff. This blog is as much for us as it is for you readers moms, so thanks for letting us indulge in self-reflection here.
As before, we didn’t share our lists with each other until we were ready to post, and have agreed at that point they’re locked in. However, that was before I saw what Dave’s TOP MOMENT for June was while on our once-in-a-lifetime, round-the world adventure…alas, I let it stand in the end, but COME ON.
So without further ado…
10. I have to say, Dave’s excitement at every animal during our trip is kind of awesome. He’s like a little kid with the camera when we spot anything, asking “did you see that??” and trying to find the source of every bird call. At one point, our Simiens guide asked if we had cows in America because Dave was enthusiastically taking photos of them in the mountains. And we still have the safari (and a full memory card) ahead of us!
9. Getting news that not one but TWO of my favorite ladies had their beautiful baby girls! Isabelle Sunkin and Alexis Joseph were born, and while we had worried about being so far away, the emails with photos and stories made us realize how connected we were, even from across the world.
8. ETHIOPIAN FOOD. That is all.
7. The climb and visit to the top of Table Mountain was really cool. At one point, we perched atop a rock and just sat for a while, taking in the views and being quiet. As you can imagine, we don’t do a lot of that (I realize that sounded ironic because we I continually talk about amazing views…but I meant the being quiet part).
6. Our breakfasts at Villa Sofia (not to mention the views – SEE??) will continue to be a visual I grab hold of when in future stressful moments. For a week, each morning was met with crystal blue waters hugging a town nestled in the mountains while enjoying a melty croissant, fresh fruit and coffee.
5. This one may or may not be affected by its direct proximity to our departure from Ethiopia. Our first meal in Cape Town was at a sushi restaurant on the waterfront, overlooking our future the moored yachts. Cozied up at a table outside with cold gin martinis, salty oysters and the freshest sushi I had ever tasted (want to note again the potential for dramatic over-exaggeration, but it was truth to me at the time) by candlelight. I never wanted to shed my provided comfy blanket to leave.
4. Lying on the floor looking up at the ceiling of the Selassie Church in Lalibela may not have immediately been in my thoughts for “top 10” but when I thought back to what I will most remember, this keeps coming to mind. As we gazed at the ceiling painted over 400 years ago, doing exactly what Christians had been doing for centuries, you couldn’t help but be moved. Followed by our guide’s reenactment of a service, playing the ceremonial drum and chanting the prayers, the experience is still something I can vividly bring to mind.
3. Our hike on the Amalfi Coasts’s Path of the Gods was hands-down some of the most brilliant scenery I’ve ever seen. I’m a sucker for sea and sky views, and this didn’t disappoint at a single turn. Stunning.
2. The day we toured Rome was pretty awesome. Roaming the streets of such an ancient city and visiting such famous landmarks was an incredible way to spend the day (interrupted with a gelato break, of course). Hearing the history of the Coliseum as you stand inside, tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain and looking up at the Sistine Chapel with only silence surrounding you are things that don’t happen everyday. Plus, that evening we re-visited some of the sites, just us, as night fell, then got lost in the streets and stumbled upon some really cool squares where we listened to live music and watched street artists. Really special.
1. While the first 48 hours in the Simien Mountains still gives me cold sweats to think about, realizing how Dave and I could get through ANYTHING was really comforting. With some of the adventures we still have left ahead, it was a big lesson in trusting your spouse to take care of you (even when that’s particularly hard for some of us to do). HE FISHED MY SHOE OUT OF AN AFRICAN TOILET IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. So, I’d say he’s got my back.
10. Our daily breakfasts at Villa Sofia in Positano. Every morning we were treated to fruit, croissants, toast, jam and coffee on a terrace that looked out over Positano and further west along the Amalfi Coast all the way to Capri. Pretty awesome way to start each day.
9. Our very first time having BRUNCH since we left. I finally found a bloody mary, and the food and atmosphere at Manna Epicure in Cape Town (near the base of Signal Hill) were great.
8. Touring the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. After getting past the amazement of how each church was carved out of one giant piece of rock, touring each of the churches and hearing about the history of each was a great experience.
7. Our Path of the Gods hike on the Amalfi Coast. We had a perfect day to do it with clear skies and warm weather, and the views stopped us in our steps more than a few times.
6. The food in Italy, specifically in Rome and Naples. Even though I despised most other aspects of Naples during our quick stopover, the pizza was out of this world. And the food in Rome was just as good, with our pizza al taglia at Pizzarium and the Cacio e Pepe (a pasta dish which I ordered at three different places) making me a happy human.
5. Table Mountain in Cape Town. The hike up was more exhausting than I anticipated, but the payoff at the top was more than worth it. The views over the city and all the way down the coast to the Cape of Good Hope under crystal clear blue skies were amazing.
4. Ethiopian coffee and food. I’d never had Ethiopian food before we went there and was a bit skeptical, but came to be obsessed with all types of it while we were there. Beyond being delicious, it was fun to have something that was so different from any other food we’d had to that point of the trip. The Fasting Platters of injera smothered with all sorts of vegetables and spreads were great, as were the various meats we had. And the coffee is second to none. We will definitely be seeking out Arabica beans when we get home, even if that makes us coffee snobs.
3. The entire day of our guided tour through Rome and the Vatican, followed by our self-guided tour of other parts of Rome. While many things from the guided tour standout, the Sistine Chapel was the best part for me. The history and significance of it, and the fact that the frescos are all original works of Michelangelo made the entire experience truly breathtaking. Making our way back to our B&B through cool side streets, Campo de Fiori and sitting by a fountain while staring at the Pantheon all lit up at night were equally as enjoyable.
2. The Simiens Trek. Depsite some hurdles we had to cross at the start, it was fun to have our first camping trip together. The views were great throughout, but seeing all the baboons and other wildlife is what stands out most for me.
1. The Blackhawks won the Cup!!! Yes, I realize that has nothing to do with our own travels and where we went in June, but nothing tops this. Second Stanley Cup in four years, and all the more dramatic for me due to having had to watch the games in the middle of the night throughout the month. This takes the cake.
Let’s do this July. A month in Africa packed full of road trips, wine country, countless wild animals and taking in a countryside that has so much nature and culture to offer – its bound to be an incredible ride.