Surprise Vacation 2015

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Oh SNAP. You guys. It’s back. It’s that time of the year again and I am PUMPED!! Surprise Vacation 2015 is upon us and I’m freaking out.


For those of you who are new here – let’s start at the beginning. Surprise vacation has been a longstanding Dalkin family tradition since we were kids. It started when I was 9, my sister was 6, and my parents would throw us birthday parties. Now that I’ve thrown a party or two, I know how much work they can be, PLUS add in some screaming and crying children, ummmmm NO. So my parents decided to do away with the birthday parties and instead they’d plan a surprise vacation for us each summer.

So what’s a surprise vacation you ask? IT’S A SURPRISE. And it’s basically the highlight of my year. I’m obsessed. They plan a vacation for us and we get somewhere in the realm of 8-10 clues each year and we have to figure out where we are going. Some years we’ve figured it out, others we’re totally surprised. One thing is always certain…. I’m always wrong. My sister sometimes figures it out, my husband has been known to do the same… but I’m always, without fail, 100% wrong. I think it’s because I have this burning desire to go on safari in Africa and no matter what clues my parents send over I somehow make them fit into an African safari. Clearly, I’m a mess but that’s going to be resolved next year because I’m going for my 30th birthday!!!

ANYWAYS… since we were kids, we’ve been getting everyone involved. My tennis coach, friends of friends, parents, professors, you guys!! I mean, it’s basically a puzzle for anyone I know. So I’ll be sharing the clues here as they roll in (roughly once a week) and I’ll just continue to update this post so you don’t have to search high and low for the latest clues. Ready… Clue’s are officially rolling in:

Clue #1 – Part of: With all its trees, Montana is a forever desirable place to live; though not on an overcast-like day, when it is best to just put up your feet and/or lay down and rest.

Clue #2 – Sister Bertrille – she must be scared!!

Clue #3 –  Its “Made in China” so it does not cost much, but you will flip for it even if it is a bit off.

Clue #4 – Part of what my students always ask: Why are we never allowed to volunteer at the cancer center office?

Clue #5 – Everyone in the country loves to leave their car at the heart of this green fruit.

Clue #6 – Like Monika, yet longer, but can only keep half of your automobile.

Clue #7 – To start, the old ranch trail’s under going unusual extensive renovations, oy! So, let’s go watch some ball in the capitol.

Clue #8 – In old Western films, what happens when Lloyd and his clan are found guilty of murder.

Clue #9 – They wear orange robes with ease / Traveling as they please / Not quiet nor dark / Always in a search for fun / In space so bathed by the sun

Clue #10 – 
For over 50 years, tons of cheese to try
Lots of natural butter of course as well, and sadly with it, flies
Then later be amazed by the twenty story fall
Better bring a suit to enjoy it all
So many sights we will see
And what fun it will be!

A few things to keep in mind for this year – we’re going in December. I’m about 95% sure passports are involved. It’s roughly 9 days. LET’S DO THIS!!

UPDATE: Mama D sent me a list of things I need to buy for the trip this year:

  • Hiking boots
  • Good socks – several pairs
  • Bathing suit
  • Sun/rain hat
  • Rain jacket
  • Fleece jacket
  • Those lightweight quick drying pants like I have that can usually also roll up into shorts but don’t necessarily have to roll up
  • Long sleeve light weight shirts of the quick dry fabric also
  • Hiking sandals/ teva or keen like

And these are past vacation destinations so we can rule those out:

  1. Orcas Island + Vancouver  (click on over to see clues and my parents clues and commentary on this trip!)
  2. Nat Geo Cruise through Alaska (click on over to see clues and my parents clues and commentary on this trip!)
  3. Road Trip through France (click on over to see clues and my parents clues and commentary on this trip!)
  4. Bahamas
  5. Banff, Canada
  6. Italy
  7. Turkey
  8. Greece
  9. England + Scotland
  10. Cancun, Mexico
  11. Somewhere else in Mexico
  12. Michigan (I can’t remember where exactly)
  13. Hawaii
  14. Napa
  15. New York
  16. Washington DC
  17. Las Vegas
  18. Texas
  19. Disney World
  20. 2015 HERE WE COME!!!!



    1. or how about Vietnam or Laos? don’t they hang people in westerns for murder [Hung is a language in Laos]. Vietnam has a hung king festival…and don’t buddhist priests wear orange robes?

    2. Hi, Gaby! I follow you on Snapchat. I agree with Jenny. I’m thinking Southeast Asia. Thailand, Laos, Cambodia or Tibet.

  1. You could get Mont Blanc in the first clue. It would be awesome if it was, we were there two years ago. We stayed in Courmayeur but went through the tunnel to Chamonix one day, We were there in the summer, but it’s famous for skiing.

  2. You are going to San Juan, Puerto Rico!!

    clue #1 is laying on the beach

    Clue #2 sister Bertrille is “The Flying NUN” based in San Juan, Puerto Rico (one of my dad´s favorite shows when I was little)

    Clue #3 I am guessing is because of all the chinese people in San Juan and “flip” flop reference

    and Clue #4 is about the cancer center in San Juan

    I am not 100% sure but almost positive, I live in the Dominican Republic so I have a small idea of my neighbors.

    By the way:I think I am stealing this idea for my family!!! LOVE IT!!! we already have a trip planned to disney world for january but next trip I will not let them know where we are going. This makes the trip even better!!!

    1. I was just thinking that…but then i thought it was just a “bit off” so thought maybe Vieques Island…but 9 days in PR seems a little long…

  3. I’m going with Chamonix. Clue 3: You “flip” for it- you flip the letters in “Made in China” which almost spell Chamonix- ie the anagram is a “a bit off.”

  4. Ok I’m probably wrong but I’m going to try my hand at this – you’re going to Japan.
    Clue one: There is a sister state relationship between the University of Montanta and Kumamoto.
    Clue two: I’m still thinking on this one.
    Clue three: Japan is just a bit off from China.
    Clue four: I’m still thinking on this one.
    Clue five: This is probably a bit of a stretch BUT a lot of the car manufactures headquarters are in Tokyo. So I looked at the word Tokyo and “ok” kept sticking out and okra is a fruit so I thought maybe he would connect those two?
    Clue six: I took the word Monika and then looked at the middle the word automobile and took out “mo” and found there is a city in Japan called Minokamo. It looks like the original word but longer.
    Clue seven: Baseball is huge in Japan.
    Clue eight: Carli Lloyd and her team “clan” beat “murdered” Japan in the Womens World Cup championship.

    Ok there are my guesses. I’m probably off but I feel like this was a good use of my time. You know, instead of actually doing work.

  5. You are going to Manila, Philippines!

    Clue #1 – Somewhere where there isn’t trees/forest. Somewhere that is sunny and possible sandy?

    Clue #2 – Flying Nun who flies when the wind is just right. She’s flying over water… I’d be scared too! haha

    Clue #3 – Felipines = Flip, a bit off, or literally, A place flipped of China, but a bit off (Philippines is southwest of China)

    Clue #4 – You must be 18 years old.
    The Philippines hold big celebrations for women who turn 18 years old. They call it the Philippine Debut. It’s very similar to a sweet sixteen or Quincanera. & you are going to celebrate your birthday!

    Clue #5 – Sugar Apple/Custard Apple aka Atis, a heart shaped green fruit found in the country. Part of the Rollinia deliciosa fruit family

    Clue #6 – Mon, like Man, and half of the automobile (car in the previous clue) Rolli-nia… MAN-ILA

    Clue #7 – You can go watch soccer, or football as they call it, in Milan (the capital city) at Rizal Memorial Stadium (the national stadium in the Philippines).

    Clue #8 – I honestly do not know this. haha

    I thought I’d give this a shot! I seriously had everyone in the office try to figure this out. Well played, parents… well played!!! Either way, ENJOY YOUR VACAY!!!!! 🙂

  6. Just gonna throw this out there: you’re going to Thailand to celebrate your birthday with the monks in the mountains. lol

  7. Hey Gaby! I think you’re coming to my country Dominican Republic. And you guys will enjoy the cold and also the super hot weather 🙂 (Im just being hopeful :D).

  8. I was leaning towards Thailand at first then with the cancer center and all was headed to San Juan but now I guess Amsterdam? Why? House of orange and the almost anagram clue, but really I can see why you never get them right, you’re parents are clever and FUN! Can’t wait to hear where you are going

  9. Wangamata, NewZeland

    In this town you park your car at Kiwi Bach
    (clue #5)

    Also Sister Bertrille (clue #2) played Gidget(she is a surfer) who was a surfer and Wangamata is a surf town

    I suggest the Cheese Barn at Matatoki (clue #10)

  10. Wangamata, NewZeland

    In this town you park your car at Kiwi Bach
    (clue #5)

    Also Sister Bertrille (clue #2) played Gidget(she is a surfer) who was a surfer and Wangamata is a surf town

    I suggest the Cheese Barn at Matatoki (clue #10)

  11. So if all the other guesses that people made are wrong… I’m going to say Sri Lanka or Singapore! (I hope I’m right. I really want you to send me some of your goodies.)

    There is a popular green fruit in Sri Lanka that helps remove rust on metal, so maybe there is a connection with the automobile clue,

    Sister Bertille was scared of the dentist and the actor who played the dentist also played a role in “monk”.

    Monks have to play a role in this since they were orange robes, which was another clue. Monks live in both Sri Lanka and Singapore.

    I’ve been looking on a map and trying to make some guesses on the most desirable vacation destinations near the Asian area that hasn’t been already named. I’m also taking into account your packing list.

    I’ll do some more thinking, but in the meantime I’m hoping I’m right with these guesses! Fingers crossed.

    Ps. Regardless if I’m right or wrong, I’m so excited for you and I wish I had an awesome vacation planned, too.

  12. New Guinea because there are monks in orange robes, waterfalls, it’s warm in December plus lots of places to swim and hike.

  13. Id say Cuba!

    Baseball, and they have a capitol building downtown Havana
    Mountains/ hiking trails/ lots of trees but also tropical weather (so sometimes it gets crazy and you are better off staying in)
    Windy on mountain tops (Sister Bertrille is affraid of high winds because she is under 90 pounds)
    Small cars
    SUNNY weather/ nice beaches/ waterfalls
    Americans were not supposed to go there (clue about not being able to volunteer at the cancer center office) Also, it is known for its very good doctors/ cancer research studies.
    It is also dirt cheap (and pretty far fromm China but you will still be excited to be there)

    Anyway, kinda makes sense. it will be fun wherever you end!
    Have fun!

  14. Hey Gaby! I think you’re either going to Brazil or Argentina (leaning a little more towards Brazil)! I definitely can’t figure out all of the clues but:

    Clue #2: Flying Nun is afraid of dentists and Brazil has highest no. of dentists per capita.

    Clue #3: cheap, made in china flip flips are pretty much the national shoe in both places

    Clue #5 largest stadium in Brasilia has been turned into a parking lot

    Clue #7: Argentina and Brazil have huge ranching cultures and both capitols are obsessed with futbol

    Clue #9: Brazil has a large Japanese bhuddhist population (monks wear orange robes) OR they are also the world’s largest exporter of orange juice

    Clue # 10: Again cheese and butter could be by-products of cattle industry and the 20 story fall could be Iguazu which is in Brazil but shares the border with Argentina.

    Looking forward to the big reveal! Hope you have a great time! 🙂

  15. I think Costa Rica because my mom just went through and hiked through forests which was mentioned, went to lots of beaches which is referenced when laying back and relaxing possibly and they have so many waterfalls which was mentioned. They also went on many zip lines and flying is mentioned.

  16. #1 Monteverde Costa Rica is your Spanish play on Montaña not Montana. Cloud forests. Santa Elena may tie in with #2 but I think it’s a Gondola ride there so your “Flying None”.

    #10 is waterfalls and butterfly forests near volcano arenal hot springs.

    #7 is getting me frustrated because of the “ol” spelling of capital.

    .#5 has an Avocado Pit feel, but I’m stuck.

  17. Yep. On #2 im going with a Monteverde Sky Tram tour. SkyTram Monteverde “Flying across the misty cloud forest of Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s signature experiences.” Afraid of flying – sky tram instead.

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