Sunday, November 11, 2018

Prequel - Our Hurricane Season Adventure

By Kathy

This post is a quick prequel to our hurricane season adventure. It feels like I am writing a Star Wars movie using the word prequel. When I was working on the NYC post I realized some background information might help along the way. We also have gotten many questions on how we came up with the countries on our itinerary, when we booked the trip, and how we found all of the places to stay. This post will also help in the coming weeks when we tell you about our adventure over the last few months.

Most of you know that during peak hurricane season SandStar is out of the water therefore we do not really have a place to live – our water house is on land and our land house is rented. But we knew these few months of the year would give us an opportunity to knock something off the bucket list. We wanted to go somewhere that we would need more time to visit than what we normally have available when we live on land with jobs and school. 

Africa was our primary focus for this year’s trip. At first, we were going to stay in Africa for the entire trip but then after lots of flight researching and creating a secondary bucket list we were able to incorporate a few more places for the same flight cost. 

Here is our itinerary:

New York City – 5 days

Scotland – 7 days

Ireland – 5 days

South Africa – 30 days

Greece - 8  days

Total: about 55 days. We also have a few extra days of long flights and a buffer day in NYC before heading back to Grenada.

Of course we had a few reservations. The main one being everyone's happiness and sanity with such a long trip and moving around so much. 

Why Africa??
For years Dan and I have been saying that we would love to take the kids to Africa to see the animals in their environment before a time comes when they might not be as easy. So Africa was always high on the list but planning a trip to Africa can be very daunting. It is a big continent….where do you begin??? The flight time alone could make you steer away from going.

We had lots of help from some special friends when we were in the Bahamas – SV Panache and SV Cool Runnings. Both are from South Africa, but they actually live in Florida when they are not cruising. They were a huge help to us when talking through our itinerary. We quickly figured out that South Africa was the country to focus on and we came up with a rough itinerary from our very important meetings over pancakes and muffins with SV Panache and wine and beer with SV Cool Runnings.

A little sundowner planning with Gudrun and Dave from SV Cool Runnings
A breakfast meeting with Gideon and Brett from SV Panache and my Aunt Arlene and Uncle Mike who were visiting.

Did we book everything way in advance??
This is another question we get a lot especially when people find out that we changed locations about every 2-3 days. How in the heck did you book this trip going to so many places? The next sentence that follows is usually – You must have been planning for months. The truth is quite the opposite. We booked everything very close to our departure and we actually left Grenada with only a little bit of our lodging booked. 

Here is what we had booked before we left:

Flights - Booked mid-July for a departure in September

Rental Cars – Booked for Scotland, Ireland, and South Africa

NYC lodging – booked mid-July. We would be visiting during a holiday weekend, so I wanted to get this one booked first.

Scotland Lodging – Booked 5 of the 7 days

Ireland Lodging – None

South Africa lodging –Booked only our RV rental in early August for the last two weeks we would be there in October along with the camps for the first 8 days we had the RV.

Greece – None

What did this mean during out trip??
It meant that when we had some internet it was spent researching our next stop or next few stops during our trip. Our trip would have been much different if we had booked everything in advance and to focus on all of these locations at once would have been overwhelming. You also talk to people along the way and pick up little bits of information that can change where you want to go next.

Flights –
Dan found a great website to search for flights. It was called Opodo. It took a few long nights of moving dates around to come up with the right combination for a low price for our big flights between countries. It is amazing what one day can do to the price. We ended up flying with Turkish Airlines. We had one ticket that got us from Ireland to South Africa to Greece to NYC all of them flying through Istanbul. We were pleasantly surprised by the service and comfort on Turkish Airlines. We did lots of catching up on movies and the food was even good!  

Lodging –
This is a very long trip with a modest budget for the amount of time. We would need to keep an open mind to some different types of lodging along the way. I will provide a link to our lodging in each area in our future blogs, so you can see the types of places we stayed.

Our time in NYC will be our next blog and will have a bit of a different spin than a typical trip to the Big Apple!

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