2018 in retrospect

As I sit here and stare back over the year that was 2018 I can hardly believe that all of 12 months have passed. It’s been a crazy whirlwind of a year. It’s been an insane mixture of good and bad and crazy moments stitched together. But we made it! We survived! And while I know that most people had a really hard 2018, mine for the most part, has been good.

  • Firstly, and perhaps the most extraordinary part of this year, was the fact that I married the love of my life. On 30 June 2018 on a beautiful Northern Natal guest farm, we promised each other honestly, love, support and to stick by each other even when things got hard. It was the most perfect day. Literally nothing went wrong, and we were super chilled. I did pretty much everything myself with the help of my family (old and new) and even my dress appealed to the sentimental in me…it was made by my mother dearest. It really was the best day in the history of forever!
  • My brother, SIL and my two gorgeous nephews came for a visit (especially for the wedding) and I got to spend a week with them before the wedding. It was so lovely to have them!
  • We spent an amazing two weeks exploring Italy as part of our honeymoon!

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  • I obtained my international certification.
  • I spent the first 5 months of the year traveling up and down between SA and Namibia and planned most of my wedding from my hotel room and the hotel’s skybar.

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  • My husband (yes I still love the sound of that) spent the bulk of the year traveling to Cape Town for a few days each week…let’s just say this got exhausting eventually.
  • After the wedding we moved in together and attempted to merge two completely furnished homes. It was easier than I thought and there were literally no disagreements. We spent ages beforehand discussing which big-ticket items we were keeping and which we will be getting rid of…I honestly believe this helped.
  • Husband attacked a second degree (which he plans to finish in 3 years max despite working full-time) and passed his first year cum laude (ALL THE PRIDE).
  • My parents retired and will be moving away from my hometown early in the new year to start a whole new life as adventurous retirees. So excited for them.

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  • Saying goodbye to my hometown (I will probably never go back there as there really is no reason to) was harder than I thought it would be and it made me a little sad.
  • There were some health scares in the family. I don’t want to go into this in detail, but it’s been a bit scary and plenty sobering. Every single day is a gift by grace…truly.
  • I said goodbye to friends who moved overseas. I find rather than easier this becomes harder every single time.
  • I became godmother for the second time!

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All in all it’s been a crazy beautiful year with some unexpected twists and turns. I am grateful for each moment, each lesson, each adventure, each blessing, each memory and each day we receive as a gift by grace.

Bring on 2019!

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Dear Europe (Day 7)

Yes, it’s been a year since my trip…I realise this….but I’ve already spoken about my lack of blogging in the last year here.  After much consideration I decided to complete my posts on my trip regardless of the time-lapse.  They are lovely to look back on and with so many awesome memories they are definitely worth putting up.  So I’ll steadily be posting the last few days of my holiday last year.

So….Day 7…the day I meet up with my tour group from TopDeck Tours.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.  Here I was all on my own in a strange country where very few people understood me waiting to join a group of people I didn’t know from a bar of soap.  The group was only scheduled to arrive at 2pm as I was joining up with an already existing group who had been traveling for a week already, so I went for a bit of a walk about in the morning to explore my immediate surroundings.

Rome is AMAZING!  It is the strangest mix of absolutely ancient history and modern buildings all rolled into one.  There is so much to see and the locals LOVE the foreigners…it’s the strangest thing…they just want to chat to you and find out all about you.  I wasn’t brave enough to explore the public transport system yet at this point, but I headed back to the hotel lobby to meet up with my group.  They were slightly late, but when they walked in I was engulfed in a group of loud, all over the world awesomeness.  The group consisted of people from Australia, Canada, America, China, Italy, Japan, Korea (north and south), Nieu-Zeeland and Romania, and of course when I joined South Africa.  I was immediately included and regarded as a friend and some of them I still consider friends:) The tour guide, Micelle, is actually originally from Rome, so we were in for a treat.

Shortly after their arrival we set off on a walking tour of all the major areas of Rome.  Micelle showed us how the public transport system works and gave us a map of the city with all the major touristy things marked and he made sure to indicate to us where our hotel was situated.  The walking tour basically teaches you all about the city and its history without going into all the major touristy places….so we went to the Colosseum but we didn’t go in etc. There would be plenty of that the next day when we were free to roam Rome.  It was during this walkabout that we ate ALL the gelato in Rome…truly, nobody makes it like the real Italians.

A street scene from our walkabout in Rome
A street scene from our walkabout in Rome

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The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain

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That's our tour guide, Micelle, sitting up top telling us a story...
That’s our tour guide, Micelle, sitting up top telling us a story…

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A mixture of old and new
A mixture of old and new
The Colosseum..it is majestic!
The Colosseum..it is majestic!

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We ended off the day in a quaint little restaurant where we had a choice of all kinds of awesome Italian dishes and wine and where I scored a LOT of free wine due to the fact that I was South African.  I thought Micelle had been joking when he said I will probably find that people in general would be drawn to me because of where I come from..he was not wrong. I even got a tour of the wine cellar:) After dinner we went out for a couple of drinks and then headed back to our hotel…super tired and excited for all the exploring we would do the next day.

Love
Ruby
xxx

 

Dear Europe (Day 6)

The day I leave my travel companions behind in Switzerland and jet off to Italy had finally arrived. I was super nervous and super excited all at the same time.  I was up early to make sure all my stuff was packed and ready to go and then all 6 of us jumped on a bus to Zürich.  The plan was that we would lock up my suitcase in a locker at the train station in Zürich (as I would need to catch a train to the airport from there later in the day) and explore Zürich (read visit the Lindt factory) for the day.

Zürich is an incredibly beautiful city, and I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t love to live there. It is an interesting mix of old and new and not a second goes by without feeling safe and secure…even when you’re a female walking all on your own. There are fresh water fountains throughout the city, everything is CLEAN and we were amazed to find tons of people just swimming or floating along the river going through the city. Apparently this is the “in” thing to do during summer in Zürich.

How awesome is this piece of "art" I found in a shop window?
How awesome is this piece of “art” I found in a shop window?
MINIac for life:)
MINIac for life:)
The view from one of the many parks....those dots in the water = people swimming/bobbing
The view from one of the many parks….those dots in the water = people swimming/bobbing
Proof that I was there... :P
Proof that I was there… 😛

 

One last selfie with G before leaving
One last selfie with G before leaving
Fresh water fountains everywhere in the city
Fresh water fountains everywhere in the city

We spent the day visiting little markets and exploring and finally spent a good amount of time and money in the Lindt factory. Guys….this place is heaven…I swear. You can smell the chocolate from blocks away and because everything smells like delicious Lindt chocolate even the lampposts and side walks look good enough to eat. And then you walk inside and there is just chocolate EVERYWHERE…more kinds than we could ever imagine here.  Right in the centre is a Lindt ball pick and mix bar with so many different balls…..the choices seemed endless.  I bought a fortune of chocolate….for me, as gifts, for my folks…for me.. *side eyes*.

A rather limited view of the inside of the store at the factory...Lindt FTW
A rather limited view of the inside of the store at the factory…Lindt FTW

And then it was time for me to catch the train to the airport.  I was a little sad to say goodbye to my friends…it had been an amazing week with them.  But I was super excited to see Italy and France and to meet new people. Switzerland had stolen my heart. It is an amazingly beautiful country. EVERYTHING about it is awesome…and even now as I think back I can’t recall a single thing I didn’t love.  But my Alitalia flight was waiting and Italy was calling my name.  Tonight I’ll be sleeping in a hotel room in Rome and tomorrow…tomorrow will be filled with Italian adventures.

Love
Ruby
xxxxx