First Goodbyes

We are getting closer and closer to the departure date of our trip. We’ve definitely been getting swept up in the anticipation. Luckily, a lot of things are coming together for us: we have both spoken to our jobs and have a start date for our leaves, we have someone potentially lined up to rent our house, we have a plan for our kitty, we have major plane tickets booked and a safari planned! But, there are definitely some things we are not looking forward to. I had to face one of those tonight.


Today I taught my last Zumba class at Dancing the Soul. It is a wonderful dance studio where I have worked for almost the last three years. It’s a strange thing to say goodbye to something that has been a constant part of your world and routine for so long. It was also time to say farewell to some of the wonderful women I have been dancing with every Wednesday!

Saying goodbye is never an easy task. I know that this will be the first of many goodbyes we will have to undertake before we leave in just over 2 months. It will be goodbye to family, friends, routine, familiar faces and places. While I am so excited for the adventure this trip will be, I am dreading the part where I have to do things like this.

But enough with the sad stuff for now… back to the anticipation. Even though I will be leaving Dancing the Soul, I hope to not give up Zumba for the year. One of our goals is to attend Zumba classes in as many different places as we can! Just keep your eye out for posts tagged Zumba Round the World and I’ll let you know what it’s like to Salsa in Slovakia or Cumbia in Kathmandu!

For those of you who can’t wait to dance around the world, check out this song!  Zumba Round the World (All Around the World by Paulina Rubio)


Fast Forward Friday: Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is near Krakow, Poland. It was built in the 13th century and was mined for salt until recently. Now it is mostly a tourist attraction. It boasts the beautiful natural wonder of a salt mine with caverns and beautiful crystals, but also interesting man-made sculptures, statues, churches, altars, and bas-reliefs in the rock salt.

I Wear Your Granddad’s (Travel) Clothes… I Look Incredible!

As we’ve been planning for our trip, we have had to think about what clothes we want to bring that can stand up to a year of travel. We’ve read all about getting fabrics that are durable, quick drying, odor resistant, etc. The easy way to do this would be to go to REI and have ourselves a shopping spree…

but that’s not really our style!



We’ve been shopping for our travel clothes at… surprise, surprise… the THRIFT SHOP!

Why the Thrift Store?

We’ve always shopped at the thrift store for a cheap source of everyday clothes. As part of keeping our trip affordable, we figured we would take the same approach when searching for travel clothes. You can find quality clothing for reasonable prices. Despite Macklemore’s song, it’s not all multi-generational hand-me-downs or quirky, outlandish things. Brand names are not that hard to find.

How to Search

It does require a little bit of extra effort to find items appropriate for travel. It’s not like there is a special travel section like you might find at a “new goods” store. First, we did our research on the kinds of things that we were looking for. Most people tout clothing made out of synthetic fabrics like polyester because it dries quickly. Other people say merino wool is even better for temperature control and odor resistance. Most thrift stores organize all of their clothes by size (though some by color). We have gotten pretty good at gauging fabric as we’re flipping through hanger after hanger of shirts or pants. We have also mastered the art of finding the tag that lists fabric type and care in almost no time at all.

What We’ve Found


Eric’s Haul



Della’s Haul


We were excited to find some of the brand names that we would probably have searched for if we were looking for new clothes such as Go Lite, REI, and Columbia.

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What’s Left?

We aren’t only shopping at the thrift store. Certain items, like underwear and shoes, we think are better to buy new. Also, we have received some excellent gifts of other new items. We have also utilized Ebay and Sierra Trading Post (which has been great with coupons and an easy return policy).

We definitely recommend making the thrift store part of your travel shopping plan!

Macklemore said it well… “One man’s trash, that’s another man’s come up!” 




Fast Forward Friday: Prague

Prague's Old Town

Prague will be our first stop in Europe. We’re looking forward to a completely different vibe than Africa. Prague is home to numerous tourist attractions, not limited to the amazing Prague Castle. The historic center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll have to fight the loads of other tourists, but we think it will be worth it. Lots of amazing things to see… AND beer to drink!

How We’re Getting to Europe for $200

We’ve bought our second set of plane tickets for our trip! It wasn’t quite as cheap as our first flight, but we were still able to use miles!

The Africa leg of our trip will be concluding in Cape Town, and the next stop on our journey is Prague in the Czech Republic in Central Europe. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to search for award flights between these two airports.

As with our flight to Africa, the Star Alliance seemed to be the best bet for finding an award flight because they have the most members that fly in the region. It costs 30,000 United miles to fly from South Africa to Europe. Luckily, Della just got 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (transferable to United) from the Ink card, and Eric had just enough left over from his Sapphire bonus.

Award availability was good for the week we wanted to fly as well. For a while we just watched the flights and pondered which day of the week we wanted to leave. It seemed like the best bet was going to be on Turkish Airlines flights with a layover in Istanbul. However, by the time we got around to booking, that flight on that day had disappeared.

But… we noticed one of the other flights that was available had a 8 hour layover in Munich, Germany. Sounds like a good chance to add another country to the itinerary! Eric was especially excited when he found this well-organized guide to Munich layovers. It is always nice to have the options so well laid out, plus a chance to see the oldest brewery in the world is hard to pass up!

In the end, the fees were a little higher than the Turkish Airlines option: $100 a person. But, the departure date was right and the opportunity to (briefly) see Germany seemed cool too, so we went ahead and booked:

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Fast Forward Friday: Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the most well-known cities in South Africa. Obviously, we’re looking forward to climbing Table Mountain and seeing all of the amazing views of the city from there. But there are lots of other things to be excited for in this area: Penguin spotting at the Cape of Good Hope, wine tasting, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), and great neighborhood site-seeing.

Underrated Destination: Oakland

We had the privilege of visiting Oakland this last weekend. Oakland often gets overlooked in favor of San Francisco, but we thought it was a fantastic city with lots to enjoy. It is, of course, blessed with the presence of Dana, Della’s sister, which would make most places awesome. Though, Oakland was pretty fun in its own right!


We thought the downtown area was quite nice. Pretty clean and easily walkable. There were plenty of places to eat and nice outdoor gathering areas. We spent an afternoon exploring much of what the area had to offer.

Preservation Park

This park has 16 historic buildings. Some of them were there originally and others were moved to this location. The houses are all currently in use housing things like non-profits, cafes, legal offices, etc. They were beautiful houses and the park was very pleasant. Our only complaint was that the signs were mostly worn off so we weren’t able to read all the information!



The signs were mostly worn off.

China Town

Oakland has a bustling China Town with lots of good-looking shops and eateries. We were bummed we didn’t get to try one of the Cambodian restaurants we spotted.


Lake Merritt

Lake Merritt is in a great central location. It has a wonderful walk/bike trail all the way around the lake. There are great views into downtown and across the lake itself. The general mood around the lake was busy and merry. People jogging or strolling around with kids or dogs during the day and barbecuing, listening to music, or picnicking in the evening.




Oakland Cathedral (Christ the Light)

On the northwest side of Lake Merritt, you can’t help but notice the amazing Oakland Cathedral. This was on of the more architecturally interesting cathedrals we have been in! Once inside, you’re struck by the amazing amount of natural light and the way everything inside draws your eyes up and to the depiction of Christ at the front. It is somehow created by all natural light coming in through grating behind. This is definitely worth a stop.


The church is the amazing building on the left.


That image is all natural light coming in from the outside

Lakeside Park

The park is located on the northern end of Lake Merritt. It is a very pleasant park that includes a free botanic garden. We wish we could have explored the park more, but in the late afternoon it decided to rain on us.



Grand Lake Theater

The Grand Lake Theater is a great old theater in Oakland. It shows current movies now (we saw Divergent.. it was only OK) but has been around and showing films since 1926. It was beautiful inside and out. We definitely recommend seeing a movie there!

If you have a chance to visit Oakland, we recommend it!

Special thanks to Dana for hosting us!  Check out her blog at and maybe even give her a donation to her Climate Ride coming up! 


Fast Forward Friday: Sossusvlei

Sossusvlei is part of the Namib Desert. It is filled with sand dunes with very little life. I imagine it will be a little like visiting the Great Sand Dunes here in Colorado. Though, check out those trees. So dead yet so beautiful. I think this is one of the places in Africa that I am most excited about.

Brewing Up Some Fun at Beer Bike

As part of planning for our trip, we’ve read that it’s fun to visit local festivals. We were in Houston visiting some friends and heard of a festival called “Beer Bike” that same weekend that sounded interesting. We like beer and bikes, so we figured we’d check it out

  • Where: Rice University campus
  • When: Saturday March 29 at 11 AM
  • What: Some sort of bike race between different groups(dorms??). We think there was chugging involved too.
  • Who: Mostly Rice students and alumni. Most wearing colorful t-shirts with funny slogans. We hate to say it, but some seemed slightly inebriated for it being so early in the morning!

There were three different bike races among the groups. It was a little hard to follow the results from our vantage point, but it seemed like one of the groups was clearly better – the ones wearing maroon and gold. If we had to choose a favorite team, we definitely would have chosen them!



As most of you reading this blog probably know, Beer Bike is not just a random festival we stumbled upon. We are Rice alumni, and Beer Bike is one of the biggest events of the Rice social year. A lot of alumni return just to see the races, so we wanted to come to see both the event and reconnect with friends.

The “team in maroon and gold” is our “residential college” (for those unfamiliar with the term, think the Hogwarts houses in Harry Potter”), named Will Rice. We are the only college to have swept the three races at one event – and we have done it five times! Unfortunately, this year we only won two of the three races, so no sweep but still a good showing.

It wasn’t technically practice for going to a random festival in a new city, but definitely a fun weekend!

Special shout out to Jenny and James for hosting us, and to Caitlin for driving us to and from the airport