Chobe National Park

On Saturday, August 10th, Rebecca and I touched down in the heart of Botswana’s Chobe National Park, Savuti.  I even got to co-pilot from the front seat on the short charter flight from the Okavango Delta.  It took about 20 minutes to reach Savuti Safari Lodge by road, but the game viewing through the expansive savannah wilderness set the tone for the next two days.  We were shown a warm welcome and had made it in time for a spot of lunch.  Our guide Isak introduced himself and we chatted about Chobe.  The lodge is situated on the winding waterways of the Savuti Channel that stretches from the Linyanti River all the way to the Savuti Marsh.  It has a fascinating history of flooding and drying up, but does have permanent pools that bring in the game from far and wide so there is always something to see there.  He asked what animals we wanted to see and I told him that the elusive leopard was on the top of my list.  We got settled in our timber thatched chalet and relaxed before afternoon tea.  We started our drive with Isak at 3:30pm and met two couples that would be with us in the Landrover for the next two days.  The afternoon drive proved abundant with wildlife spotting two jackals, lion, dwarf mongoose, warthog, giraffe, blue wildebeest, impala, kudu, steenbok, spur-winged goose, and Verreaux’s Eagle Owl.  Isak heard talk over the radio about two leopards with a kill in a tree so we raced off to the location.  Sure enough, there was a male leopard with an impala hanging by its horns in a big dead tree.  The fact that the tree was dead and bare with no leaves made for great viewing.  The male fed while a female lay on the ground hoping for a snack to fall from above.  The sun was setting and all vehicles must be out of the park by 6:00pm so off we went.  We spotted three old buffalo bulls on the way back to the lodge and one of them charged the truck.  Isak punched the gas and got us the heck out of there.  We had drinks by the campfire followed by a communal dinner while being amazed at the hoards of resident elephants coming to drink, bathe, and play at the local watering hole.

First game drive in Chobe

Impala munching on some tender leaves

Marsh Pride male lion

Dwarf mongoose

First sighting of the elusive leopard

Sunset in Chobe

Charging buffalo

Morning wake up call was at 6:00am and we were in the 4×4 by 7:00am.  Isak thought it would be good to head straight back to the leopard kill to see if they were still around.  To our surprise, there were now three leopards there; the male, the female, and her cub.  Being solitary animals, Isak figured the only way the male would tolerate this gathering was if he had sired the cub.  The female made her way up to eat, then, after some nervous attempts, the cub got up there and Bec and I were sure he was going to make it fall to the ground.  After seeing enough of his prize disappear, the male climbed up and, with a not so playful swipe of a paw, got the youngster quickly looking for the ground.  It was an amazing encounter.  When the guides all have their cameras out and are busy snapping away, you know you are seeing something special.  A call came across the radio for another rare spotting.  The two resident cheetah brothers were sleeping off the previous night’s kill near the marsh.  We left the leopards and were soon watching the two brothers lounging around.  They seemed to take turns keeping an eye out for any lions.  The last wildlife stop of the morning was to visit the Marsh Pride, a group of lions that are very well filmed and documented.  Isak told us that the two dominant brothers have ruled for a number of years longer than the average male would, and that his sons have been sending some serious threats their way.  We stopped to visit the ancient San rock paintings at Gubatsa Hills and then it was back to the lodge for the usual lunch, siesta, and tea.  The afternoon drive was a little quieter with the leopards having moved on.  We went down to the marsh and watched a huge herd of elephants before visiting the Marsh Pride once again and were lucky to see a litter of newborn cubs.

Male leopard advising the cub to step aside

Down he goes

Cheetah brother

Marsh Pride cub

Baobab tree

Marsh Pride male

Monday was our last day in Chobe, and Africa for that matter, but that didn’t mean Desert & Delta did’t squeeze one last drive in for us.  We were off with Isak again in the early morning and he told us that the guides had heard much commotion from lions in the hours just before sunrise.  We found a lone female lion who seemed to be looking for something, so we tailed her for a bit.  She then turned into some trees and found the cubs she was looking for.  There were calls on the radio that a leopard had been seen crossing a road, but disappeared into the thick bush.  Isak was also gathering an interesting story over the radio.  The Marsh Pride had come into the North Pride’s territory (sons of Marsh Pride) and had killed a buffalo bull.  The North Pride had skirmished with the Marsh Pride and had successfully chased them off and this was what the guides had heard.  We soon found the North Pride and watched them until it was time to go.  On our way to the airstrip, the buffalo kill lay in the middle of the road seemingly yet undiscovered by the North Pride.  The lives and goings-on of the animals really pulled in Bec and I in such a short period of time.

Lioness searching for her cubs

In need of some rain

Lilac-breasted roller

North Pride male

Southern yellow-billed hornbill or “flying banana”

North Pride male on the lookout

Cruising in Chobe

The winding Savuti Channel from the Cessna

We flew out on the Safari Air Cessna Caravan 12-seater aircraft to the largest centre in the Delta, Maun, dropping off passengers on the way.  We picked up our large suitcases that were in storage and came to learn that our Air Botswana flight to Jo’burg was delayed, thankfully not enough though to cause any problems with the overnight flight back to AD.  It was an unforgettable journey through Southern Africa and the perfect way to celebrate our 10 years of marriage.

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Okavango Delta

After breakfast on Thursday, August 8th, we said goodbye to the lovely people at Tongabezi who had treated us so well.  We were starting on the last leg of our journey that we had booked with Desert & Delta Safaris – a two night stay in the Okavango Delta and two nights in Savuti – Chobe National Park. We transferred by car heading west to the confluence of the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers.  This area is an interesting place as it is the meeting point of four countries’ borders; Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.  We crossed the river on a passenger ferry in the shadow of a massive new bridge currently under construction.  We were told that the existing Kazungula Ferry often leaves transport truck drivers waiting for days on end to get across.  The completion of the bridge is expected to boost trade and the economy once finished.

We arrived at the Kasane International Airport around 10:30am and checked in for our flight.  As limited baggage is allowed on the small aircraft we would be using, we had planned to send our big suitcase ahead of us to Maun for pickup later.  Our 5-seater Gippsland Aeronautics Airvan GA8 Safari Air flight eventually departed around 1:00pm and flew west over Chobe National Park and the dry sands of the Kalahari Desert.  The arid landscape gave way to green grass and shallow waters.  We had arrived in the world’s largest inland delta, the Okavango, a World Heritage Site.  We touched down on Xakanaxa Island to drop another couple off and were soon airborne again to make the 15 min flight to our home for the next two nights, Xugana Island Lodge.  Side note: the X in these names is actually that popping noise made with your tongue…I can’t do it!  We jumped onto a boat near the airstrip and were soon racing through the narrow channels lined with tall reeds.  We received a warm welcome at the lodge and had made it in time for afternoon tea.  During tea time, one of the guides gave an interesting talk on the geography of the region’s flooding process.  After tea, we got back on the water in what is known as a “mokoro” or traditional dug out canoe.  Our guide, Vee, poled us through the small channels where we got a close-up view of the water and reeds.  The wildlife was bountiful seeing elephant, hippo, frog, great white egret, African darter cormorant, reed cormorants, African fish eagle, crocodile, water monitor, hooded vulture, Egyptian goose, saddle billed stork, marabou stork, and glossy ibis.  We had a quick sundowner on the water before heading back to the lodge.  We freshened up in the room before heading down to sit by the fire.  We had a communal dinner and got to meet some of the people staying at the lodge.

Flying into the Delta

Arriving in the Okavango Delta

Our Gippsland Aeronautics Airvan GA8

Resident croc at the lodge

Collen poling a mokoro through the reeds

Dan standing in the mokoro

Reeded waterlogged oasis

The morning wake-up call came at 6:00am followed by a quick continental breakfast.  I realized I hadn’t been as diligent with the mosquito spray as Rebecca had been the night before and I was soon tallying up the numerous bites.  We were back on the water at 7:00am heading to Sausage Island named for the trees of the same name found there.  We would be doing a wilderness bush walk with our guides Flame and Vee.  The knowledge of the guides is remarkable, most of whom were born and raised in the area.  The walk focused on the tracks and droppings left by the animals and the vegetation, but we still saw many animals including elephant, red lechwe, reed buck, baboon, kudu, common tsessebe, squirrel, white faced duck, bush buck, roan antelope, sable antelope, and the biggest hippo skeleton our guide had ever seen.  We headed back to the lodge to have our brunch and had some quiet time in the room before afternoon tea.

Little bee eaters keeping warm

Dan, Flame, and Rebecca

Dan & Bec on Sausage Island

We set out with Flame on our afternoon game drive around 3:30pm.  We soon found a herd of male buffalo and were entertained by a pair of bull elephants showing off their dominance to one another.  We found the resident pride of lions and stayed with them until sunset.  On our drive back to the lodge in the dark, Flame showed us how the light reflected from a herbivore’s eyes is a greenish blue while that from a carnivore is red.  We used this technique to spot a leopard which was the perfect ending to our drive.  We had another communal meal and turned in for the night.

Buffalo on Xugana Island

Female ostrich

We had heard some branches crunching through the night and came to learn that the lodge had been visited by hippos overnight.  Escorted down to breakfast, we could see the big hippo prints on the path.  Another game drive with Flame would be our last activity on Xugana Island and we were on the road at 7:00am.  Flame almost immediately picked up the tracks of a lone male lion.  Bec and I were amazed as Flame was able to follow the spore, even off the road across the grasslands.  We stopped and could hear his moan and zeroed in on his location.  Then, there he was and Flame did not recognize him as a local lion.  We watched as he sadly moaned staring off into the distance.  He was on the move again and we slowly tailed him until he arrived under a tree on a mound.  We could then see his focus; the resident pride lay on another mound in the distance.  Flame mentioned that the pair of dominant resident males had not been seen for a few days and were maybe away patrolling the pride’s territory.  Otherwise, this young lone male would never have ventured so close to the pride.  We watched and photographed the lions in the soft morning light.  It would have been interesting to see how this encounter played out.  We toured the island a little more before being dropped at the airstrip from which we had arrived two days before.  The density of the game had been much more than we had expected and loved every minute in the Delta.  We were airborne at 10:30am and first stopped at Camp Okavango to pick up more passengers before flying to Savuti in Chobe National Park.

Elephant in the morning light

Lone male lion

Resident pride not sure what to make of the interloper

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A Stay on the Zambezi River

After departing Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, our road transfer picked us up from the Victoria Falls Hotel to take us to our next destination on the Zambezi River in Zambia. The place we were staying was called Tongabezi and was the initial inspiration behind this 10th anniversary trip (which was supposed to be a long weekend until Dan got a hold of the itinerary). Due to the Rovos Rail timings, we were not able to stay in the main lodge for the full four nights we had booked, but rather we had to split them between their two properties, Sindabezi Island and Tongabezi Lodge. Initially, this did not sound ideal, but I must say, it ended up being fantastic.

Two nights on Sindabezi Island

We arrived in the late afternoon on August 4th and were ferried to Sindabezi Island, a 10 minute ride downstream from the main lodge, passing some hippos and crocodiles along the way. We got settled into our amazing open-air chalet and had a light lunch before heading out on the water again for a sunset cruise. We were lucky enough to spot a herd of elephants on the Zimbabwe riverbank who were pretty interactive, many birds, and some hippos. The colors of the sky on the river were terrific. Dinner followed and then communal drinks around the fire pit.

The first hippo sighting

Can you spot the croc?

Bird life

Dan relaxing on Sindabezi

The next day, we decided to have a relaxed morning on the island, spotting Wallace the local hippo and a land monitor. We were soon off again on the water for an island picnic lunch. That evening was sadly our last on Sindabezi so we enjoyed the fireside drinks and dinner in the tree-house.

Island picnic lunch

Is that a hippo behind me in the water?

Locals crossing the river at sunset

Zambezi River sunset

The next morning, we awoke early for a sunrise cruise. It was brisk, but we were lucky to have warm coffee and blankets on board. It was a beautiful sunrise over the water and we saw more hippos, impala, monkeys, great kingfisher and white egret birds. We then had to say goodbye to Sindabezi to make our transfer over to Tongabezi Lodge.

Zambezi River sunrise cruise

Hippo popping up for some air

The white egret

Two nights in Tongabezi Lodge

We got settled into our River Cottage and were soon off for lunch. Always changing the dining spot, this time they had set up our lunch on a boat. Once we finished, we took the boat out for a short ride. Dan wanted to go fishing that afternoon so, after a short nap, we were out on the river again. Unfortunately, he didn’t catch any tigerfish but it was lovely just being out on the water. We stopped for drinks at the Sandbar with some fellow guests and then we headed back for another delicious dinner.

Tongabezi River Cottage

Dan looks ready for some fishing

Sandbar happy hour

On our last day, we had a relaxing morning and a nice lunch and then were soon strolling along the Zambian edge of Victoria falls. We decided we had to see it from the other side as well. We did manage to squeeze in a bit of shopping afterwards at the local market. Back in our cottage, we were enjoying a glass of wine on the deck when we heard a hippo approaching to chow down on the vegetation below. He even showed us his amazing chompers. We had one last fireside G&T and a fabulous meal in the “Lookout” overlooking the water to end our stay on the Zambezi River, the 4th largest river in Africa.

Vic Falls from the Zambia side

If you look closely, you can see those chompers

View of Tongabezi from the water

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Rovos Rail Journey to Victoria Falls

Bec and I wanted to do something special to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary so we decided a two week adventure in Southern Africa would fit the bill.  We flew to Johannesburg on Wednesday, July 31st, met our car transfer, and made the short drive north to South Africa’s capital, Pretoria. We would be spending one night at the Sheraton which had a great view of the Union Buildings, the official seat of South Africa’s government.

Pretoria Union Buildings

The next morning, we arrived at Rovos Rail Station.  I had heard about Rovos Rail from a colleague years back and decided this was the perfect occasion to travel on “The Most Luxurious Train in the World”.  We checked out the small rail museum and were given a tour of the bustling yard with rail car maintenance activities going on before sitting down to enjoy the welcome drinks and snacks.  Unfortunately, there was a problem with the rail line heading out of town so we were transferred by coach to Pyramid 20 km north where our train was waiting for us.  We were shown to our home for the next three nights, a wood-paneled sleeper Pullman suite named Walvis Bay.  It was furnished with a day time sofa-couch that converted into a double bed in the evening, with en-suite bathroom and shower.  After popping the bottle of Tradition brut, we were soon trundling northwards on the narrow-gauge railway with the final destination of Victoria Falls.

Lunch was served in the dining car of salmon, leek and ricotta tartlet while traversing the Magaliesberg Mountains.  The meals served on board the dining car were fabulous and always complemented by a selection of fine South African wines. We enjoyed the afternoon teas and the observation car at the back of the train was a great spot to relax or join other guests for cocktail hour.

That evening, the train stopped so we could enjoy our dinner stationary.  The train then continued on throughout the night into the early hours of the morning when we reached the Limpopo River, the natural border with Zimbabwe.  We would cross the border into Zimbabwe in the morning.

Arriving at Rovos Rail Station

Rebecca waiting to get our adventure started

Heading north from Pretoria

Relaxing in the Pullman suite

Tradition Brut

The train started rolling while we were enjoying breakfast and we spotted Nile crocodiles sunning themselves on the river rocks.  The train crossed at Beitbridge and we waited for the train staff to complete the border crossing formalities while a troop of baboons passed through the rail yard.  Our train continued north and we made a stop in the town of Gwanda that afternoon.  It was nice to stretch the legs and to meet some of the locals who had set up a handicrafts market nearby.  That night, the train stopped in Bulawayo around 11:00pm and we were glad it didn’t move again until the morning making for a better night’s rest.

Enjoying our time on the train

Local kids in Gwanda

Some Gwanda youngsters

On Saturday, the train covered the world’s longest stretch of straight rail – 114 km.  That afternoon, we entered Hwange National Park and stopped at Kennedy Siding where The Hide safari resort is located.  There, we jumped into the Land Cruisers and headed out on a safari drive.  We saw plenty of wildlife with the highlight being the lone male lion guarding a baby elephant kill.  There was a sunset cocktail reception waiting for us when we got back to the siding.  After enjoying the sundowners, we hopped back on the train to get ready for another wonderful dinner.  Rebecca and I enjoyed the formal dinners each evening with men wearing jackets and ties and the ladies in evening dresses.  No cell phones were allowed at meals or in any of the common areas (hence the lack of food pics).  That night, there was a cocktail party for the guests in the observation car following dinner.  We enjoyed a night cap to end our last evening on the train.

Entering Hwange National Park

Wildebeest in Hwange National Park

Giraffe

Zebras at dusk

Passing through the dining car after returning from the drive

Ready for the dining car

The next morning, the train got rolling from Thompson Junction during breakfast and the landscape began to change from the generally flat terrain that most of the journey had been.  We arrived in Victoria Falls around 10:00am and said goodbye to the train staff who had looked after us so well over the past three days.  We stored our luggage at the famous Victoria Falls Hotel and set off on foot to the Falls.  We entered the gates and were immediately impressed by The Devil’s Cataract.  What is Victoria Falls?  That’s a big question.  It is one of the world’s 7 natural wonders.  David Livingstone was the first European to have laid eyes on this wonder and I could spout a few facts, but those like me will need to click on the link to Wikipedia…the world’s font of information to get the full history and geography of the falls.  I will say that our drivers and guides referred to it as its known locally as Mosi Oa Tunya (the smoke that thunders).  It is truly a sight to behold and as Livingstone wrote, “…scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Falls.  We were prepared to get soaked but the water levels were lower than normal for the time of the year due to a drought that was beginning to have severe effects on Zimbabwe.  We enjoyed the leisurely paced walk along the pathways leading to amazing lookout points.  In fact, we even re-traced our steps after turning around at Danger Point to take in the views one more time.

Bec and Dan at Victoria Falls

The Devil’s Cataract

Bec working that camera

Dan spotting Livingstone Island on the other side of the Falls

Main Falls

Bec and Dan at Danger Point

Back at the Hotel, we enjoyed a thirst quenching beer with a couple from our train before saying goodbye.  We were then transferred by car to the Zimbabwe border post over Cecil Rhodes’ brainchild, the Victoria Falls Bridge, where we would cross into Zambia and onto the next leg of our journey, a stay on the Zambezi River.

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10th Anniversary Celebrations

We had a great weekend planned to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. After work on Thursday, July 25th, Dan and I met at the newly opened Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort. We toured the hotel and watched the falcon show. Then we popped the bottle of Cristal champagne we had bought for the special occasion and exchanged our gifts – this years theme being tin and aluminum. I got Dan a stir-tin with double teardrop stirrer and aluminum grade dash darts for his bitters bottles and Dan got me a lovely pewter wine bottle chiller from Italy. The next morning, we had breakfast, hit the pool, and then went for a hamman treatment in the spa. We wanted to stay longer, but we had an anniversary dinner party planned that evening so we had to hit the road back to Abu Dhabi.

Falcon show time

Dan and the resident falcon

Cristal champagne to celebrate

Morning pool time

We decided we wanted to share our 10th anniversary and wedding memories with a few of our friends in Abu Dhabi. So we got out the wedding video, photos, and recreated our wedding menu including the cocktail list, wine, and dinner menu. I got real creative and even made the name plates and destination seat names from our travel and wine themed wedding. The 9 guests arrived and we served them their choice of lime margarita or cosmopolitan with a bruschetta appetizer and did a silent slide show of wedding photos in the background. We watched a short 10 minute slide show video and then sat down for dinner of Greek salad and chicken Catarina with asparagus, dilled carrots and baby potatoes. We then forced our guests to watch the wedding video with some ad-lib commentary. Dessert was Tiramisu which Dan had made from scratch including the ladyfingers. It was a great night and our friends were really impressed by the re-creation. Happy 10th!

Waiting for the guests to arrive

Sitting down to eat

Elevator selfie

Happy 10th!

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Wedding in Serbia

Rebecca was lucky enough to be invited to her colleague’s wedding in Serbia and we knew we had to go.  After arriving back from Canada on June 29th, we were catching the red-eye to Belgrade the following weekend on Friday, July 5th and arrived around 5:30am.  We had to wait a little while for the car rental agency to open, but we were soon cruising in our Romanian built Dacia compact.  The wedding would be on Sunday in Serbia’s 3rd largest city, Niš, so we had 2 days to do some exploring.

We set out east of Belgrade and arrived at Smederevo Fortress about an hour later.  The Fortress was built on the banks of the Danube and was completed around 1430.  People were taking their morning walks and jogs inside the imposing walls.  From there, we drove to Viminacium, a Roman ruin.  We continued southwest to our 3rd stop of the day, Golubac Fortress.  Located on a strategic narrowing of the Danube, it has recently been renovated to return to some of its former glory.  After Golubac, we had a nice lunch of perch and catfish from the river at Restaurant Kafana Stil.  We then followed the scenic drive south along the Danube through Djerdap National Park.  Our 4th and final archeological stop of the day was Felix Romuliana, the ruins of an Imperial palace built by Emperor Galerius in 298 AD.  We then tried to find Jovic Winery, but, in hindsight, we found the farm and not the shop which was just 200 m away…oh well.  We were starting to feel the effects of the red-eye, so we thought it would be best to get to our hotel.  We drove through the picturesque town of Knjazevac and started the climb up to Stara Planina.  Stara Planina is a ski resort in the Balkan Mountains, but is also popular in the summer for hiking and escaping the heat of lower elevations.  The high mountains form a natural border with neighboring Bulgaria.  We grabbed a couple of beers and dined in the hotel that evening before heading off early to bed as it had been a very long day.

Dan at Smederevo Fortress

Golubac Fortress on the Danube River (Romania on the left bank)

Field after field of sunflowers on the way to Viminacium

Enjoying our perch and catfish

Bec at Felix Romuliana

Arrived after tasting hours

On Saturday, I awoke to quite a fright.  Bec wasn’t feeling well and headed off to the bathroom while I was fast asleep.  I awoke sometime later and realized she wasn’t in bed, so I hopped out of bed to check on her.  At the same time, the bathroom door opened and she was visibly quite upset.  Apparently, she had passed out in the bathroom due to pain and had fallen and hit her head.  She slowly removed her hands to show me her forehead and I cannot repeat what I said.  I rushed down to reception to get some ice for the whopping goose-egg.

Needless to say, we relaxed in the hotel for the morning to make sure the head injury was okay.  I did manage to convince her to go out for a short hike to the top of the resort at 1550m.  The rocks there are named Babin Zub or Baba’s Tooth for the way they jut out of the mountain top.  Back at the resort, we relaxed in the hotel’s sauna and pool area before lunch.  That afternoon, we made our way back down the windy road and started towards Niš.  We did make one stop along the way at Vinski Podrum Malca, a winery and restaurant, before finding the New City hotel right in the heart of town.  It seemed everyone was out enjoying the nice summer weather so we did the same wandering around and exploring the city.  That night, we dined at the traditional Mali Podrum restaurant.  After dinner, we wandered over to Tinkers Alley, a street lined with cafes and restaurants, and bumped into another colleague of Rebecca’s who was also there for the wedding.  Bec and I found a table near the street and watched the endless parade of people while sipping some local brews.

Hiking to the top of Babin Zub in the Balkan Mountains (that ridge is the border with Bulgaria)

Traditional Serbian meal at Mali Podrum

Bec people watching on Tinkers Alley

Sunday was the big day.  The wedding ceremony was at 12:00 so I had time to drag Rebecca to one last tourist site, Skull Tower.  It was a long, hot walk, but the tower itself is quite interesting as it originally contained 952 Serbian skulls belonging to rebels that had been put down by the Ottoman occupiers in 1809.  We opted to take the bus back to the hotel and got ready for the wedding which was at the nearby Orthodox Cathedral.  The ceremony was spoken in Serbian, but was interesting nonetheless as we had never attended an Orthodox ceremony before.  We had a little time before the reception so we returned to Tinkers Alley for a drink and a snack.  The reception started at 3:30 pm and the food service started soon after…and so did the dancing.  The live band would come on between courses and played a real variety of music from traditional Serbian, rock, pop, and more.  Later in the evening, a brass band made a short appearance.  It wasn’t too late of a night as we had to be on the road at 7:30am to get back to Belgrade airport.  Luckily Bec’s head injury didn’t show for the wedding festivities – however the next morning two black eyes started to appear.  Bec thinks the cause was pure exhaustion from all the archaeological sites I made her go to!

One last ruin for Bec to enjoy

A section of Skull Tower

Dan & Bec at the Cathedral in Nis

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70th Birthday Bash

When we were back in Canada in March earlier this year I asked my mom what she wanted to do for her upcoming milestone 70th birthday in June. We tossed a few ideas around but when I mentioned having a dance she perked up and hence the planning began. We hired a band, settled on a venue, found a caterer and bartender, and were soon sending out invitations for the party on Saturday, June 22nd.

The party was a huge success with 70 guests in attendance. The celebration started at 6:00pm with a Harvey Wallbanger welcome drink cocktail. Dinner was catered by Rocky Mountain BBQ and included both beef on a bun and pulled pork along with garlic roasted potatoes and fixings, coleslaw, and BBQ baked beans. The food was delicious. After dinner, the Jana and Danny band started playing and got the crowd on the dance floor. We cut the birthday cake that my mom’s friend Bieny had made around 10:00pm with everyone singing Happy Birthday. People started slowly trickling out after that but we had a few people make it to the last song at midnight. Everyone had a great time and my mom was happy to see so many family and friends.

Waiting for the guests to arrive

Jana & Danny band getting set up

Toonie Bar is stocked

The cake arrives

The crowd gets up to dance

Catching up with old friends

The Cousins made it!

Having a good time

Finally time to cut the cake

We were home for a total of 10 days this visit.  I made it downtown to Proof for cocktails with Jen and Steven, caught a movie with my Sis and stayed at her new condo, had an afternoon barbeque at my Dad’s, and visited with a few close friends. Dan was busy as well spending time out in Strathmore, Red Deer, Sherwood Park, Viking, and Calgary. It was a great visit home and we all were so happy to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday with her!

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