Our ski-less winter holiday in Avoriaz

Our ski-less winter holiday in Avoriaz

This winter, Pav and I hit a few travel milestones and some travel firsts (somewhat unexpected). We had originally planned a family ski holiday in Avoriaz, France, which didn’t quite pan out as we imagined it. First, it was just the two of us without the rest of the family and, second, we had no snow to actually ski on. Which made for quite an interesting holiday.

We arrived in Avoriaz on Dec 31st, 2017 definitely ready to greet 2017 with a big hug. We got there around 4 PM after quite a few delays due to freezing fog, which was present across all airports we visited (we flew Prague-Brussels-Geneva). As we were driving towards Avoriaz our transfer driver suddenly pointed to a cliff and said “Up there is where you’re staying.” My first thought was that I’m glad I’m not afraid of heights.

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Immediately after got dropped off and checked in (which took all of 10 minutes), we put our suitcases into our room and decided to go explore. We put on our fleeces (yes, it was too warm for our ski jackets in the mountains) and went outside.

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We immediately got a stunning view of the valley below us, the sunset and the town. Our mission was simple – find a place to ring in 2017. After a couple attempts at finding a restaurant, I finally spoke to the owner of a small pizzeria and he told us to come at 7PM. Not a minute later or he wouldn’t seat us. With that, we turned to go back to the hotel to get ready for our big night out.

That night, we had tartiflette and some sort of potatoes with cheese and assorted hams, saw the fireworks (by complete accident we ended up being right across from them when they happened) and made friends with a couple of the local bartenders. Everyone we met that night made sure to warn us not to ski due to the terrible conditions of ice and artificial snow, so we decided to heed their warnings and reconsider the skiing in the morning.

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We welcomed 2017 with all the glory it deserves, so we ended up spending January 1st in our hotel. In the evening, we took a short walk up to the top of our nearest slope to see what the snow conditions were for ourselves. There was plenty of artificial snow, but we still decided to wait.

Instead we spent the following days hiking, going to the water park, visiting Morzine and doing other mountain activities. Keep your eyes open for more articles, which will come soon!


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Zimbabwe

In 2012 on my trip to South Africa, we decided to explore a little more, packed our bags and flew to Zambia and crossed over to Zimbabwe to see the Victoria Falls. This crazy short trip, only two days, a little north of South Africa was definitely worth it!

We stayed at the Lokuthula Lodge, which has one main building, but more importantly, there are little huts, which is what we stayed in. Heads up, these huts aren’t closed all the way, they have a wall that is open, that you can close just with a flap door. So make sure you close the mosquito net around your bed, so that at least your bed is bug free. For breakfast we went to the main building, where the restaurant overlooks a watering hole, so during breakfast you might see zebras, giraffes, and even elephants stop for a drink. Since the restaurant is also an open space, watch out for bugs. You might suddenly find you are sharing your glass of orange juice with a grasshopper the size of your hand. Yes this actually happened._DSC1116

Since we were in Zimbabwe for a very short time, we had lots of activities planned out. First, we went on a boat ride on the Zambezi river during sunset. I definitely recommend this, because it starts late in the afternoon, they take you around to see hippos and even point out birds and lizards on the bank of the river. Then, they serve you dinner as the sun starts setting over the river. It’s very peaceful way to spend the evening, just in the middle of the river enjoying the sunset, listening to the roar of the falls on the distance.

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The next day we had a very early morning. We got up when it was still dark for morning elephant rides. On our way there we saw the sunrise over the bush. Once we got to the park, we got breakfast as we waited for the trainers and the elephants. Though elephant rides are very controversial, the parks that offer these rides by the Victoria Falls, rescue orphaned elephants and train them through positive reinforcement. The guides talk about how important the positive reinforcements are, because elephants have a very long memory, so if they use any other methods, the elephants will remember and might attack even several years later. This positive reinforcement creates a bond between the elephant and trainer that found and rescued them. So taking this ride can actually be very educational. The ride takes you through the park and you might even get to see some zebras and impalas. This was definitely fun and I even learned new things about elephants, which is always great!

Next up was the helicopter ride over the Victoria Falls. This was absolutely phenomenal. So beautiful and great way to see the falls. You fly circles around, so you can literally take pictures from every angle!

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Lastly, we went to the Victoria Fall park/visitor center, where you walk along the opposite bank of the Victoria Falls so you can take lots of pictures. Although, quick tip, be careful, there is lots of water in the air from the falls, it feels like it’s constantly raining, so be careful with your camera so it doesn’t get ruined! But there are lots of photo opportunities as you walk along the park and even if you are too worried about ruining your camera, it’s a great place to just stop and enjoy the view!

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Last tip for Zimbabwe: have an idea of what you want to do! Especially if you are there for a short amount of time. Look around for deals and packages for different activities, it will be cheaper!

After so many activities, we packed up and left for Zambia, spent some time at the tiny Livingstone airport and headed back to Johannesburg. It was a great trip and I definitely recommend going to Zimbabwe. The falls are beautiful and you can do so much around them!


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South Africa Part 1

South Africa is one of my favorite places I have traveled to! That is probably why I have been there six times. Although, that also has to do with the fact that I had family living there. With each visit I saw something new or even went to a new country! I will break down what I did on each trip, so here is what I did the first time I visited:

February 2010, my first trip to South Africa.  It was amazing and beautiful! We saw so many things in that one short week. We stayed in Johannesburg which became a headquarters of sorts, but we also went to the Kruger National Park  and Cape Town. 6 years later and I still can’t believe we managed it all.

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Landing in South Africa was like entering small paradise. Absolutely Beautiful. We enjoyed the traveling and the wonderful weather, before we had to go back to the cold February weather in Prague.

24209_370421519249_4916125_nWe didn’t get much of a chance to explore Johannesburg, because left for Kruger Park at 3am the morning after we landed. We did get a chance to go the Lion Park. This was a great way to set the mood for the entire trip. Not only did we get to see grown lions, whose caretakers were casually drinking coffee by the open gates into the lion enclosure, but we also got to pet and hold lion cubs!

Kruger National Park was another great trip. Although we got lost on our way there from Johannesburg. So good luck, don’t get lost, because it doesn’t feel all that safe when you are driving at night past signs that say “hijacking hotspot”. So, one important tip make sure you know where you are going and get a GPS!

We only had a couple of days, but we managed to go in the Park in a Jeep with a guide as well as on our own, in our car. There were a couple of scarier moments when we were in our own car, one of which included an angry looking elephant that did not look like it particularly cared for us. In fact, it looked quite mad that we were on that road at all.24209_370436149249_3604956_n

We also had time to go to a evening/night safari, which was a whole new experience. This was in a private park with a guide, which meant we could go anywhere in the park and follow the animals into the bush. For the first time in my life I even saw giraffes sleep, which looks absolutely amazing, because there were like 10 giraffes lying on the ground, with their necks still sticking up. Not something you see all the time. This private park was a great place to go, because it was just us, possibly one other tour happening at the same time. Even though there were roads for the jeep, the nature had an untouched feel to it. I definitely recommend looking into these private parks.

SA5One short flight took us from Johannesburg to Cape Town. A guide took us to so many beautiful places around Cape Town. Since we had a local guide, he managed to take us to several little places, that would have been so easily overlooked if you didn’t know they were there. Not only did we get to see the Cape of Good Hope, but we also saw the penguins that come to the cape of South Africa, when it’s too cold in Antarctica. He took us to some small towns around Cape Town, some of which looked like they belong in the Wild West. The guide also took us to a Cheetah Outreach center, where they take care of and breed cheetahs.

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After we got back, we got one more taste of Africa when we went to a local market. The market was in a garage parking lot and the locals were selling all sorts of products. Anything from little souvenirs to practical clothing and kitchenware.

More about South Africa and Africa in general coming soon! Check back to learn more about where to go and what to do!


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