Author Jessica

And Finally, Rome

This was the view tonight at about 6pm, at the top of the Via Garibaldi, below the American Academy in Rome, where we arrived last night and will be living until June. From the Janiculum, you wind your way down to Trastevere, where the narrow streets give way to exceptionally beautiful alleys and courtyards, with gardens and fountains and cobblestone streets as far as you can see.

Halfway Home

Today marks the halfway point in our 29,000 mile odyssey around the globe. 83 days in, 83 to go. Herewith, some random observations about and pictures of our last week in Amsterdam, readjusting to winter, visiting with friends, touring museums and eating far too well and too much, beginning with a birthday lunch on Monday at De Kas, where the greenhouse supplies much, if not all of the menu.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is enchanting in every way, We’d forgotten that people leave their curtains open, so you sometimes mistake a restaurant or a shop for what is simply someone’s lovely home. At twilight it is especially entertaining to look into the lives of the lucky inhabitants of this charming city. Spring is just around the corner here, with bright green grass and snowdrops just about up.

Fiona’s New Pals

We had a cocktail party here on Friday night, where Fiona charmed the crowd by refilling drinks and made a new friend — Massimo Vignelli. All a warm-up, as it turns out, for yesterday when we went to a spectacular winery for lunch, and we sat beside Martha Stewart. (And Massimo too.)

Tea at the Mount Nelson

My mother adored places like the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, which boasts (among its other delights) perhaps the world’s most luxurious high tea. My father has wonderful memories of their trips here, and therefore insisted we make a pilgrammage: and so we did. We opted for morning tea as it is a bit more in our price range, but is served nevertheless on the terrace overlooking the garden. Tea is taken rather seriously here, and once selected, is brought to your table in a small glass teapot alongside a timer, so that each pot is steeped to perfection.

But that’s nothing compared to what comes next: a small sampling of what they brought us, after the jump.

Day 63, In Which We Are Assaulted By A Penguin and Our Car Is Ransacked By Baboons

This is the face of the little penguin who took offense when we took his picture and got just a little too close with the camera. Which, thanks to the little penguin, now has a little DENT in the lens.

But that’s not all.

Crazy For Cape Town

All across Asia and Africa there are people posing in goofy costumes, waiting for you to play the tourist card and take their picture, whereupon they hit you up for cash. I proudly resisted the gorgeous saree-clad woman in Bombay who was walking her dwarf monkey, but for reasons I am hard put to explain, the egg man got me.

Goodbye Safari, Hello Cape Town

Yesterday began in the pouring rain, in a Jeep, water sloshing everywhere, a scene utterly miserable in every way — but then we stumbled on a huge herd of buffalo … an astonishing sight, especially as so many of them resemble Teddy Roosevelt.

The Animal Kingdom, Day 2

Safari life is bookended by two drives — one early and one late — that maximize the light, minimize the heat, and catch the animals grazing in their natural habitats. We’re up by 5:30, in the jeep by 6am and not back until half past nine when we’re rewarded with a spectacular breakfast. The morning is quiet here at the lodge, where we work, swim and eat lunch on a veranda overlooking a grassy valley where elephants roam. We’re back in the jeep again by 4:30 and not back until after sunset. This is unlike anything else: even though we live in the country and see our occasional share of bears and bobcats, nothing compares to the bounty of this experience.

Safari!

This is the face that greeted us on arrival in MalaMala yesterday, where the air is pure, the sun is hot and the landscape is nothing short of breathtaking. We’ll be doing two jeep safaris a day between now and Sunday, and posting photographs as much as we can. Goal here is to see the “Big Five” (rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard) and we saw all but the buffalo on our first drive: but there’s so much more — from birds to trees to learning to decode pawprints to golden spiders and technicolor insects, plus the most gargantuan termite hills known to man.

What we caught on video last night, however, warrants a word of caution, as it was not, um, what we planned on when we imagined the educational benefits of this trip for our children. Video — not for children below a certain age — after the jump.