Lockdown in Black & White

The evening of the 15 March I was relaxing in luxury, in my 5 star hotel room at the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town. There was much anticipation around the speech that President Cyril Ramaphosa would deliver that evening. Cape Town had been quiet with only a few locals out walking their dogs and soaking up the suns rays, social distancing was already taking place and a sense of uneasiness was hanging in the air. Little did we know that evening would be the start of major change in South Africa. The 16 March saw me boarding a plane back to Johannesburg, the flight was full to capacity , if I knew then what I know now, I would have savoured every moment in the sky. This was going to be my last flight for a long time.

HOW QUICKLY IT ALL HAPPENED

1 March First case confirmed in SA, from a group returning from Italy
5 March Minister of health Zweli Mkhize confirmed the spread to South Africa
15 March President Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster
17 March Government established the National Coronavirus Command Centre
18 March Schools closed, immediate travel restrictions
23 March National lockdown announced
26 March At midnight lockdown came into effect , it would be for 21 days to contain the spread
21 April 500 billion Rand stimulus announced
1 May Gradual and phased easing of lockdown announced
28 May Confirmed cases 24 264, Recovered 12 741 and deaths in SA 524
1 June Moving into Level 3 of lockdown

JOURNEY THROUGH LOCKDOWN

Driving the streets of Johannesburg ( with a permit ) and taking photos allowed me to experience surreal moments. Moments that I will probably never again see in my life. To think that over night a city with over 8000 000 people can suddenly became desolate. It was plain and simply eery.

My first photo was on the 27 March at 6h30am on Louise Botha Avenue, a normally bustling road connecting Hillbrow to Alexandra. Suddenly there wasn’t a car or human in sight.

30 March we made cloud coffee, the craze that took social media by storm. One hadn’t survived quarantine if they hadn’t made this coffee. Recipes were consuming social media. Suddenly recipe swopping became the norm again, Nigella Lawson’s were emerging in households across South Africa. Families became so excited with the new found talents emerging from women. Two weeks in, the weight gain was taking its toll and exercising was now getting discussed.

7 April my twins turned 11 years old. They would celebrate their birthday in quarantine, no party, no family meal at a restaurant, not even hugs and kisses from close friends and family. This was also the first time we encountered the Military , they were at a local mall.

Birthday cake and shoes

9 April was a drive through Joburg CBD. Never could I imagine what an empty city felt like. The streets were spotless, there was ample parking outside the High Court, Ghandi Square didn’t have a single bus. I wished I could have spent hours driving the streets admiring the beautiful buildings. Reality hit me when a homeless man wandered across the road, looking so forlorn. He didn’t come to beg, he just looked like the wind had blown out of his sails. The vibe and energy of the city that was his home had vanished and I wondered how much he understood of it.

Ghandi Square

25 April while walking through Sandton City, I was attracted to the Diamond Walk. The designer stores were empty. Expensive shop fittings had plastic draped half heartily over them reminding one that at some point not even money can prevent some of the inevitable’s in the world. Sadly Italian designer Prada has closed their doors permanently , the first and only store in South Africa, after 5 years in operation it was no longer viable for them to continue.

Prada – Sandton City

12 April , Easter Sunday. No family gathering but we could still enjoy an Easter Egg hunt in the garden. There was also no church service, it was up to each individual to celebrate Easter and its true meaning in the silence and privacy of their home

Easter Egg hunt

1 May saw the start of alert level 4. Shopping for winter clothes and ordering fast food was allowed. Wearing of masks became obligatory outside of ones home. Every street corner saw people selling masks ranging from R20 upwards. Curfew was set at between 20h00 and 05h00 , Exercising was now allowed between 06h00 and 09h00 daily within a 5km radius from home.

2 May with restrictions dropping a little, suddenly queues emerged everywhere. Sending money home was not easy for many as they stood patiently waiting. Every store had red markings outside reminding customers to practise social distancing while numbers were controlled of the amount of people allowed inside at any one time.

13 May just one of the many fantastic days I have had with my children,creating what they named “ mom moments “. I was never meant to be a teacher & I fully appreciate everything that they do. We have laughed, been silly , quarrelled but mostly importantly spent time together . Playing soccer, running, baking cakes, dressing up , swinging together and blowing dandelions has brought us closer together as we also had to learn to be more tolerant of one another in our own space.

16 May was one of the best. I collected a friend who had been placed in Quarantine after being repatriated to South Africa under very trying and difficult circumstances. Walking through the Radisson Blue Gautrain Hotel, I realised how the people make a hotel. If there are no people it’s just an empty shell with luxury furnishings waiting for the energy to enter.

Radisson Blu Gautrain

23 May was another memorable moment. Spending time at the stables with my sister and her horses. We couldn’t ride the horses because of restrictions but being able to feed the horses and walk them was just as enjoyable. The horses miss human interaction as much as we miss them.

We started a photo album entitled 21 days in Lockdown but when 21 days ended and lockdown didn’t we renamed it a second and a third time. Eventually it just became the lockdown album. Documenting photos and events for 60 days has had its ups and downs. A moment in history that we don’t want to forget, something for the children to look back .The animals and plants have been thriving, the air is cleaner, we have had more time for our families and we have learnt to practise patience and rely on our faith.
Not to be forgotten are the heartbreaking stories, people who were starving, who lost their homes and sadly those who lost friends and family to the COVID-19 virus.

Lets hope this is the beginning of a great new future for the planet and its occupants.


Gifting your girlfriends during Coronavirus season

Giving gifts during social isolation can assist in alleviating the boredom and loneliness that many people may be feeling. It could also be a birthday or some special occasion and you don’t want your loved ones to feel like they are forgotten.

Some great gift ideas that will show the love but maintain our social distancing.

Netflix subscription

Kicking ones feet up with a bowl of popcorn and binge watching will help with much needed stress relief. This anti – social tool is now considered fashionably social. Gift cards can be bought at many retail outlets they range from R150 up to R1000 and don’t expire.Existing Netflix members can use the gift card to top up their Netflix account credit, while those who don’t have an account can redeem their credit by visiting netflix.com/redeem. Purchase the card while out shopping and send a photo to your friend to #stayhome

https://www.netflix.com

Books

Now is the time to become a book worm again, with more time to read Kindle unlimited offers the biggest selection of eBooks and Audiobooks, this online e-book e-commerce store that is operated by Amazon can be accessed from any Amazon Kindle, Fire tablet or Kindle mobile app. Gift cards are available in the Amazon store.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.kindle&hl=en_ZA

Things to look forward to

Unwinding at a nail bar while getting some winter colours splashed onto your nails.With dehydrated hands from all the hand washing and sanitising, a luxurious hand treatment that will rejuvenate your dry and lethargic hands is something every women looks forward to. Silky smooth hands and styled hair are what dreams are made of. Online vouchers from various salons are available to be used after lockdown. Tours of Jozi are a great way to get to know the Jozi, book a tour with Honest Travel experiences and receive a 30% discount, walk the city after lockdown with your friend.Dream big, plan a holiday with your friend locally or internationally with Mathakgong Travel. An annual holiday with my girlfriends is one of the highlights on my calendar.

https://honest-travel-experience.business.site/?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=referral

https://www.facebook.com/Mathakgong-Travels-331767534222898/

Learn a new skill

Acquire a new skill so that when lockdown has ended you can have bragging rights to your new achievement. Learn a language with the free app Duolingo it has over 30 languages that offer bite- size lessons. Always wanted to try podcasting but you didn’t know where to start, try podcastconsultant.com . Browsing through your phone you will realise you have hundreds of photos , to learn the in’s and out’s of Adobe Photoshop online for free try design.tutsplus.com , they offer paid content as well, but the freebies offered will get you well on your way to being Photoshop proficient. Even cooking and trying out new recipes, swop a recipe each day. Cloud coffee became quite the craze.

https://www.duolingo.com

Video message

Written messages often fall short of being sincere and hardly ever portray the full meaning of what we want to say. Take a minute or two to record a short video and send it to your friend. Who know’s maybe today they are felling down and seeing your face will cheer them up plus they can watch it over and over. This unexpected gesture is sure to make them feel warm and fuzzy inside. Try Vidday.

https://www.vidday.com

Zoom calls for a good chin wag

The leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing , chats and webinars. Who would have guessed a few weeks back that we would be holding virtual coffee dates with our girlfriends around the world while in the comfort of our lounge drinking a steaming cup of our home brewed coffee. As face to face gatherings have been discouraged and even banned in this age of social distancing, putting on our make up and taking out the curlers has become the highlight of our day. After all who wants to look like they have just crawled out of bed.

https://zoom.us

Photobook

Seeing your photos in reality and to hold them in your hand gives so much more meaning to those snaps on the phone. For the best quality photo books and weekly specials that come out on Thursdays I use Rapid Studios. Creating a photo book of your memories during lock down is not only a relaxing hobby but will create a unique and historic coffee table book. Gift your friend a photo book of your adventures and fun times together. These books will only be delivered after lockdown but they are a fabulous project to keep one busy.

https://za.rapid.studio

Restaurant voucher

Aurum restaurant is one of the many that are offering gift vouchers where one earns 20% extra in value added spend, during this lockdown period. Assist the staff to earn an income while they are unable to trade and tide over during this difficult time. Mouth watering meals will be waiting when doors open again and there is no better way to celebrate a get together than at your favourite restaurant. Go to the Eatout website where you can assist staff with https://www.backabuddy.co.za this simple platform allows you to help staff stay afloat as so many normally rely on tips.

Send fresh flowers

With rainbow inspired gifts being really popular at the moment bunches of flowers in different colours make the perfect gift. Brighten up a friends home with a beautiful bouquet that comes straight to the door step. Netflorist is offering deliveries form the 5 May. Another option is to give a gift card from a store like Woolworths where garden seeds can be found. Start planting a vegetable garden, being outside in the sunshine gives a cheerful, happy vibe.

https://www.netflorist.co.za

Nespresso

For all the coffee lovers Nespresso offers a free delivery of 5 or more sleeves , their supply chain is functional and the courier will deliver under strict hygiene protocols . Place orders online, and delivery takes 2-5 working days. Their website also has some great recipe ideas for those who see themselves as future barista.

https://za.buynespresso.com/coffee.html

eVouchers

Browse the internet and you will discover evouchers for almost every industry out there. From photographers, Tupperware , gifted.sa and so much more. We are spoilt for choice and convenience especially for those last minute gifting ideas. Buy now and use it later, choosing an online store is just as much fun as spending it.

While life feels upside down and maybe even inside out there is still a lot of fun to be had. Thinking out the box has become a new way of living and putting a smile on our friends faces has become a whole lot easier and more personalised.


Cape Town Staycation

South Africa’s tourist capital , fondly called the Mother City is not only exhilarating it’s addictive.
If you can’t abscond for a trip overseas, take the staycation route and pay a visit to some of Cape Towns most plush hideaways – whether you’re lounging at a pool with a cocktail or dipping your toes into the icy water at a tidal pool, these are some of the best ideas while escaping in Cape Town.

The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa

The epitome of South African luxury, with opulent but cosy rooms , this award winning family run hotel makes for the most picturesque retreat. Nestled between the Twelve Apostles mountain range, and dazzling Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by a tranquil national park , yet a stone’s throw away from some of the best beaches the city has to offer. The setting is idyllic, the hotel and facilities oozing in splendour and the service second to none. The hotel boasts 2 outdoor pools, a cinema ,The Spa has 7 treatment rooms, Rasul Chamber, 2 mountain gazebos with ocean views, salt water flotation pool and a health bar. All rooms have private balconies or patios , my superior sea facing room with its sunken lounge and breath taking views as far as Lions Head made it difficult for me to tear myself away and make use of the complimentary shuttle into town. High Tea at the Leopard bar is a full-on indulgence of cakes, finger sandwiches, pastries and …. of course scones that can’t fail to wow you.

https://www.12apostleshotel.com

The Crystal Tower Residences

Meet the chicest new apartment on the block, with fully – furnished executive apartments that provide luxurious self – catering accommodation for both business and leisure. The elegant, fully serviced rooms with modern bath rooms and under floor heating make this home away from home. Taking advantage of the glorious Century City settings after a scrumptious breakfast, I took a stroll across to the conveniently located premier shopping centre of Canal Walk. Walking over the bridge, I stopped to admire the canals and waterways that offer canoeing. Intaka Island , a 16 hectare wetlands reserve has over 120 bird species. The precinct has over 40 restaurants and a flagship Virgin Active Health Club. My jaw dropping moment was looking out my window in the evening at the spectacular view of the moon shining silver against the view of city lights.

http://www.theresidencescapetown.com

Turkspirit Cafe

The perfect introduction to a deep and meaningful conversation with friends is Turkish coffee paired with locally hand – made Turkish delight in historic Stellenbosch. The owner, Dilek originally from Istanbul demonstrated how to prepare the coffee using a cezve that is traditionally made of copper. Sugar is added before the coffee is cooked, never after, as the coffee comes to the boil , the foam must be allowed to rise, Turkish coffee without foam is incorrect . It is served with a glass of water and some authentic Turkish delight made with honey. This hidden gem has been in existence since 2007, complete with traditional fabrics adorning the seating and Turkish melodies enveloping the atmosphere.The rose flavoured Turkish delight is a personal favourite.

http://turkspirit.com

Saunders Rock Beach

Named after the mammoth granite rocks that are the main feature of this mostly wind – free secluded beach, it’s an ideal spot for people staying in the surrounding areas from Sea Point to Camps Bay. I chose to walk along the promenade, just when you think you won’t find it there it is. The last beach in Sea Point with some steps leading down to the white sand. The small tidal pool is set in a magical position nestled between imposing boulders , it provides a perfect opportunity to discover marine life and watch the magical sunset after an intense day, as the waves break gently into white foam and the orange yellow blob slides down from the sky into the ocean.


Gold Restaurant

Offering an authentic African experience, with a 14 – dish taste – safari paired with traditional Mali puppets and entertainment. Enjoying the rhythmic beat of the marimba and djembe drums, captivated at the same time by the taller than life graceful Mali puppets you are whisked off to different corners of the African continent. Located inside a revamped warehouse, open 7 days a week be prepared for a fun and mouth watering evening.The Queen is the star attraction, she sprinkles the guests with gold dust as dancers surround her and drums beat.This is the beat of the African food scene.

https://goldrestaurant.co.za

Camps Bay

Soak up the sun on this blue flag beach, voted as one of the top 25 beaches in the world, while dreamily staring out at the clear azure ocean with its buoyant waves. Feeling peckish ? then wander over to the Camps Bay beachfront strip and try out one of the trendy eateries. With its Mediterranean vibe this glitzy strip is the place to be seen. Beautiful people, sunsets that dip below the horizon and clinking cocktail glasses, one can’t help but smile as the salty spray caresses your face.

Long Street

Famous as a bohemian hang out, the street is lined with various ethnic restaurants , bars, bookshops, antique stores and anything in between. The Victorian era buildings guide your eyes upwards as you absorb the detail of the wrought- iron balconies and pretty broekielace . This iconic road is one of the oldest in the city , after a day of hanging out on the pavements, the night life is nothing short of awesome. With roof top bars, and out of the ordinary clubs you are spoilt for choice. Sadly this road comes with a word of caution for ones safety.

V&A Waterfront

A walking tour that lasts approximately 1.5 hours is the best way to experience this historic location that dates back to 1654. With breathtaking views of Table Mountain, tantalising food that will beckon you from every corner and buskers with performances scattered all around this working harbour it is a tourist showpiece. Nobel Square is a lively public space in the heart of the waterfront, while listening to some of the talented performers in front of the four bronze statues of South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates don’t forget to peer over the railings into the water. On a sunny day the seals will frolic for hours in the water while seagulls swoop through the air and cry out.

https://www.waterfront.co.za

Bo Kaap

The best way to experience one of the most photographed areas of the Mother City is to simply wander around the plethora of brightly painted exteriors. The earliest development in the area was in 1760 by Jan de Waal , he built what is now the Bo Kaap Museum, and is also the oldest house in the area still in its original form. The Aural Mosque in Dorp street is the country’s oldest mosque, construction on it began in 1794. For a perfect roof top view of Waal street with the colourful houses and Table mountain as a backdrop take the stairs inside the Atlas Trading spice company, bypass the coffee shop and head straight to the roof.

Fynbos flowers

The Cape’s floral kingdom is one of the richest areas in the world for plant biodiversity. It is said that the Western Cape is more botanically diverse than the richest tropical rainforest in South America, including the Amazon.This plant paradise has over 9000 plant species and is found nowhere else in the world. The national flower of South Africa, the king protea , is probably the most famous species of fynbos. When driving around the Cape Peninsula make sure you windows are open to get a whiff of the pungent, peppery smell that is synonymous with summer. Foxglove Studio at Canal Walk sells dried out sugar bush flowers and many others that you can take home as reminder of your holiday in the Cape

The Company Gardens

The sprawling gardens were first built in 1652 as a refreshment station for the trade route that rounded the tip of Africa. Ships sent by the Dutch East India Company would dock here after having been at sea and stock up on fresh produce grown in the garden. Up until 1679 the gardens were used exclusively to supply the ships, however with the arrival of Simon van der Stel, he converted it into a botanical and ornamental garden. Strolling along Adderley Street which is 1020 metres long and is a continuation of Government Avenue will get one from one side to the other. Don’t be in a rush though, there is the Saffron Pear tree believed to be the oldest tree in the garden and presumably planted by Jan Van Riebeeck, there are statues, the slave bell and the friendly squirrels that will eat from visitors hands.

Getting around

The obvious way to travel is to Uber , but the best way to explore the promenade is by bike then wander around by foot. I am a firm believer in walking a city , its the best way to get to know whats local

Holidaying in Cape Town remains an enduring favourite in the country for both locals and foreign visitors. The influence of Cape Town goes way beyond a host of memories , chatting to a lady I met from Belgium on the beach in Camps Bay, her story was one that had literally changed her life forever.

Also Read

http://girlinbluejeans.com/2020/04/06/sierra-hotel-room-with-a-view-2-3/  

http://girlinbluejeans.com/2018/11/20/cape-town-on-a-budget/

http://girlinbluejeans.com/2017/10/13/the-colosseum-finest-urban-luxury-in-cape-town/

http://girlinbluejeans.com/2017/10/04/top-10-things-to-do-with-your-kids-in-cape-town/


Mountain Manor - Cape Town

The quiet, stylish guest house in the heart of Oranjezicht combines old with new, offering superior executive apartment suites. The guest house has a total of 12 rooms, 5 standard rooms and 7 superior rooms all with bathrooms en-suite.

This historical Cape Colonial building dating back to 1852 is oozing with history. Built on the original farm of the lower slopes of Table Mountain called “De Hoop”.
The original De Hoop farm house was where the Gardens Shopping centre is now and the current homes were part of the farmlands.
Olaf Bergh one of the founding forefathers of well-known South African families at De Hoop, was the first owner of the farm De Hoop and an original Burgher of Table Valley.

Before current owner Michelle Whitehead bought it, the building was used as an old age home from 1974 until 1996. The quiet leafy suburb, making it an ideal location for the elderly to soak up the sounds and smells of nature. In November 1996 two elderly women went to visit Michelle who had turned it into a guest house called Georosme Mansions in early 1996. They wanted to see what she had done with the building because this was where they had met their husbands when it was a boarding house during the war. It had housed airfield men and the adjoining house,was home to their wives and families.

Just a 10 minute walk from the Company Gardens I was super excited to set out on my first day and have some fun while feeding the resident squirrels. The Company’s Gardens cultivation began around the end of 1652, the master gardner was Hendrik Boom ( Tree ). It gradually grew and took shape by 1670 expanding in the direction of Table Mountain. Up until 1679 the garden was used exclusively to supply needs to visiting ships for fruits and vegetables, but with the arrival of Simon van der Stel change occurred. So much food was being produced by the free Burghers that Simon van der Stel converted it into a botanical garden.

Entering the park, a slight breeze rustled the leaves as they crunched underfoot. The air was warm, rays of sun sneaking through the narrow openings of heavy branches. Path ways lined with deciduous trees and garden beds thick with foliage. I sauntered lazily along, listening to the birds chirping and children playing. Surrounded by such beauty I stopped and took a deep breath in and I could taste the autumn in the air. Satisfied that I had spent time with the scurrilous squirrels I headed back to the guest house looking forward to my comfy room.

The King Protea Room with its extra length king size bed sprinkled liberally with fluffy cushions and an en-suite bathroom with a shower and bath. Each day I enjoyed sinking into the chair at the window indulging in a good novel which I had found in the library out in the passage way. The carefully preserved antique pieces in the room gave homage to the historical Cape charm found in this tranquil, inviting atmosphere. This isn’t just any room, its a home.

As summer stretches lazily into autumn, lounging at the swimming pool in a peaceful garden setting with the iconic Table Mountain as a back drop is the ultimate in relaxation. The surface of the pool that is glassy in the morning has gentle lapping sounds in the afternoon. My eyes drawn to water I want to be immersed, gliding dolphin-like through it. But one touch and I know the season for swimming with the sun on my face is over.

The highlight of my stay was the wine evening hosted by Rickety Bridge Wines established in 1797. Twiddling my hair in an absent minded manner with the girlish giggles one could be mistaken for thinking I was drunk. Wine is emotive, and sipping a glass of wine encourages us to let our “ hair loose “ and enjoy it through language. Swirling the wine in my glass, breathing in the fragrance this was a moment to savour. Allowing the fluid to sit in my mouth for a while before swallowing, I sat listening to the joyous sounds of the guests around me. I realised that a guest house is not only for tourists but also a place for the local community to gather and support each other and chit chat.

The following morning I woke up late, it could have attributed to the fine wine evening the night before. Feeling hungry I slid into my chair in the dining room. I was immediately served a scrumptious platter of food. Enjoying the aroma of fresh coffee I read the morning paper in-between bites.

It wasn’t just the house steeped in history that was so exciting for me. Michelle is the personality of the manor, the day I walked into reception I had a good feeling , and I was right. The cozy atmosphere was welcoming, I could imagine the fire place filled with wooden logs , flickering with flames in winter. Michelle’s warm smile and years in the industry shines through. Eager but not over whelming she is available at all times to assist the guests.

I cant wait to return

(021) 461 – 7200

info@mountainmanor.co.za

http://mountainmanor.co.za

Also read

http://girlinbluejeans.com/2017/10/04/top-10-things-to-

do-with-your-kids-in-cape-town/

http://girlinbluejeans.com/2020/04/17/sierra-hotel-room-with-a-view-2-4/

http://girlinbluejeans.com/2018/11/20/cape-town-on-a-budget/

http://girlinbluejeans.com/2017/10/13/the-colosseum-finest-urban-luxury-in-cape-town/


Boudoir Photography - Curvy You

Sharon Le Roux of Curvaceous Photography specialises in women with curves. In my opinion boudoir photography must be the best confidence booster . It empowers women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Every women could learn to love herself more and be less critical.

Sharon and her superb team help eliminate all of those insecurities and fear as they bring out your inner goddess. This in turn becomes an immediate confidence booster . The make – up team literally transforms you into a beauty queen, bringing out the hidden inner beauty and hiding any imperfections. Sharon talks to her clients throughout the photoshoot, boudoir shoots are as much about stories as they are about photography.

Sharon has always been a visually stimulated person, so photography was a natural progression for her from a young age. She only started calling herself a professional photographer four years ago though because she felt she had to earn that title by completing her International Diploma in Photography. Besides her diploma, Sharon has also completed various courses and had the privilege of working with great names and ambassadors in the industry which has been priceless education.Specialising in curvaceous women , she not only makes a voluptuous women feel uber sexy , she also allows them to explore their femininity in five star settings.

Curvaceous Photography has become synonymous with sophistication and tasteful glamour. Sharon aims at empowering women, not only do her photos flatter they create the “ wow “ effect , and strengthen the women through their awareness of self worth and self – discovery.

What makes Curvaceous Photography so special?

Sharon is the only photographer in South Africa who can say “ I specialise in curvy or fuller figures.” There are very specific techniques when it comes to lighting and posing which are quite different. Unfortunately there aren’t many places in SA to study these techniques and she had to do a lot of her studying for this through overseas institutes. She also has an absolute heart for making a fuller figure women feel as beautiful as she deserves to feel and helping her see it too.

Who are boudoir shoots best for :

Curvaceous women
Moms who need a confidence booster
Women giving that “ special someone “ a gift
Women who want to explore their self worth
Women of any age or size

What to wear :

Something lacy
High heels
Sexy underwear
Body suite and bustier
Corset and suspenders
Fish net stockings
A mans over sized shirt
Favourite outfit
Dress

Where did boudoir begin :

It began in the 1920’s when boudoir art and photography really began to be a style of its own. During this decade, it was generally illegal to have nudity in photographs, but regardless, photographers like Albert Arthur Allen, a French artist, continued to create masterpieces. The french word boudoir, historically stands for the private suites of rooms of a “ lady “ or upper-class women, for bathing, dressing, adjacent to her bedchamber.

What is boudoir photography

A personal experience that a women takes about love and rediscovering her own beauty, they have sensual photos of themselves, which are not intended to be seen by a wide audience, but rather for private viewing by a select few. Pictures taken in boudoir style are more suggestive , rather than explicit and typically feature women who don’t regularly model.

What to do with the photos:

Drink a glass of champagne and celebrate your beauty
Love yourself more each time you look at them
Create a photo book
Print one on a canvas and hang it above your bed
Share one or two on social media
Use a head shot as a teaser for profile images on various social media platforms
Have your girlfriends over and share your path of self discovery with them

Looking through her lens, Sharon observes the happiness in the world. She loves the way she makes women feel, one could say she is a “ photo therapist “ . She becomes a presence in their lives and shares in their stories and what they aim to get out of a photoshoot both mentally and emotionally. Climbing on chairs, walls and ladders, crouching on the floor, peering through door handles, Sharon is photographing the strengths of each women.

What I loved is that Sharon does not have a checklist of poses, she poses each women and flaunts what makes her look best. With some guidance Sharon manipulates the results through the clever use of lightening, posing ( chin up 🙂 ), wardrobe and lens choice. However its not so intense that you won’t recognise yourself.

The pictures are a souvenir of this transforming experience. Taking them out of the cupboard a year later will remind you of that special day. Sharon wants to reveal women as they are, not what others want them to be or think they should be.

Fantastic news for Sharon she was recently accepted as a member of the global boudoir photography association. Established in 2009, AIBP is an association with members spanning six continents.  As a distinguished AIBP Member, Sharon falls under professionals who guide the standards in the bona fide boudoir industry.  AIBP isn’t an association for hobbyists, enthusiasts and lookiloos – it is a generous and knowledgable collective of some of the best boudoir talent from all around the world.

Power of the moment caught in a photo.
Remember “ courage is not a requirement .. just your curves “ by Sharon Le Roux

Facebook: curvaceous photography
www.curvaceous.photography
call 072 748 7685
email sharon@curvaceous.photography

Make – up Artist: Louise from LS Metamorphic Makeup
0813256749
Zanel from Meraki Makeup


Hot air ballooning with the best

A bucket list experience, the magic begins at sunrise. Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari, offers a once – in -a – lifetime experience.

The hot air balloon safari lifts off at dawn after some tea, coffee and light snacks. Once inside the woven cane basket, guests receive a flight briefing before take off. Flames from the burners light the morning sky as the pilot does some final safety checks. The one hour flight will give you a bird’s eye view of the magnificent Magalies River Valley and Magaliesburg Mountain range and the Hartebeesport dam in the distance.

The balloon floats silently above farm lands, giving one a birds eye view of what happens below. Suspended beneath the rainbow-coloured canopy , you will be amazed at the stillness of the morning. Drifting wherever the current takes you and providing enough time for photography and filming.

Our pilot Marc, has been flying for over 20 years, both locally and internationally. As with other aircraft it is necessary for the pilot to gain a license and maintain his hours. All pilots employed by Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris are, of course, legal and compliant. As an airline Bill Harrop’s falls under the auspices of SA Civil Aviation and is therefore well monitored. The pilot will do pre- checks and keep a close eye on the weather conditions. While floating in the sky Marc also shared his knowledge on the surrounding landscape and explained what he did while flying the balloon, putting everyone at ease.

Wherever the balloon lands guests and crew will in the time honoured tradition of balloon flights , toast their return to earth with a glass of champagne or orange juice while the pilot recites the Balloonist Pray. Once complete everyone climbs into the bus and is driven back to the Bill Harrop’s Clubhouse Pavilion and Restaurant where you can indulge in a delectable and scrumptious breakfast at the Pavilion while Bill Harrop hands out certificates to all the brave passengers who “ had the courage and fortitude to ascend “ .

Fast Facts

Children must be over 7 years to fly
Children under the age of 12 year receive 50% off the published rate
Bill Harrop’s has a fleet of 6 balloons
Land crew is between 3 to 4 dependent on the size of the balloon.
Balloons carry between 2 – 18 passengers dependent on weight and other factors
Balloons are manufactured in the UK
The envelope (colourful section )is made of a variety of fabrics including nomex which is closest to the burner and the gores ( colourful panels ) are made of a nylon called Galvinor.
Bill Harrop is the Chief Pilot and still flies. He is still as passionate today about flying as he was when he first stepped into a balloon.
Bill began his business in 1981, a few years earlier he saw a balloon, dashed off and met the pilot & decided this was what he wanted to do. He never looked back.
Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari became a fully licensed domestic non scheduled airline in June 1981

The legendary Bill Harrop

With 5 aviation safety awards, perfectly maintained equipment , professional pilots and friendly crew you couldn’t make a better decision when deciding to fly with Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari.


Contact:
Head office ( 011) 705 – 3201
Mobile: 083 443 2661
Email: website@balloon.co.za


Moledi Lodge

Remote and intimate, Moledi which means “ to narrate “ in the local language of seTswana must be one of South Africa’s best kept luxury lodge secrets. This exclusive lodge provides comfort with exceptional service. Built high on a cliff,it was bought 10 years ago and revamped. This privately owned game farm in the North West Province, covers 1800 hectares of wilderness

With a classic old world feel the rooms exude a seemingly effortless elegance. Jewel – tones oriental rugs lie casually on the floor , a high peeked thatch roof and my personal favourite, the outdoor shower on the deck with breathtaking views over the sweeping bush below. Floor – to – ceiling glass windows encase each of the 8 luxury rooms, providing uninterrupted views, opening up and bringing the smell and sounds of the outdoors in.

The 7 luxury rooms and 1 presidential suite are uniquely dressed in soothing textures and tones of cream and white with a splash of colour. With light streaming in through the wall of glass you can be forgiven for finding your king size bed to be the most comfortable spot in the lodge. The claw – foot bath tub was not only a great focal point but also blissful, lying in the steaming hot bath after having listened to an African thunderstorm the night before ,the wet smells of the bush crept inside the room, enhancing the overall sense of tranquility. Amenities in the room included a Nespresso coffee machine, mini bar, air con , work station, hair dryer , safe and bug spray. The presidential suite has its own garden complete with a pool and a jacuzzi. In actual fact its the perfect honeymoon suite.

When you are not lazying by the infinity edge swimming pool, flanked by days beds on the expansive deck you can enjoy a pampering treatment at the luxurious spa and steam room . Alternatively participate in any of the other activities such as nature walks, picnics with hammocks swaying gently in the trees or a game drive where you can expect to see zebra, giraffes, wildebeest , kudu and more.

The day ends with dinner under the tapestry of stars sitting around a raging fire in a boma. This is where you can enjoy the heart of Africa. The boma “ which originates from Swahili , is used to describe an enclosure – usually where sheep and cattle were kept. Nowadays a boma signifies a place where people come together to eat, chat, tell stories , sing and dance. Boma dinners at Moledi are truly unique and enjoyed by all , the potjie pots bubbling with juicy meat which is served on a hot bed samp was one of the tasty dishes served. With full stomachs and lots of giggles we made our way up the path way lit with lanterns back to our turned down beds.

Extraordinarily beautiful in its simplicity and textures, the lodges timeless design incorporates wood, thatch , glass , water and sand enhancing and blending effortlessly with the surrounding landscape. The open plan lounge and bar are spacious but cosy, this would be the informal meeting hub of the lodge.

This 5 star, malaria free lodge set in a richly diverse habitat , that teems with birds and an abundance of wildlife beneath endless African Skies, exudes calmness. With dramatic landscapes where the Gorge forms the backdrop the personal attention from the friendly and professional staff adds to the exclusivity you can expect.

When I leave the bustling city I want to be somewhere where I can hear myself think. I don’t need a television,after all wifi is enough to keep us connected these days on our electrical devices. Moledi Lodge is exactly this, where time stands still and where everything not only meets your expectations but goes a step further by exceeding them.

www.moledi.co.za


Kars - The last Ottoman outpost

Ani is area often over looked by tourists, probably because of its distance from other major tourist attractions this magical wonderland is one of Turkeys best kept secrets. With its snow capped mountains, ancient ruins, steel – grey sky in winter and rich history it has been spared from the over – development that plagues other areas of the country.

The region is also home to some of the best honey and cheese in Turkey. Just about every street in the town boasts a cheese and honey shop.Tending bees, herding live stock and cooking traditional food is very much away of life here. Organic honey is farmed on the vast plains of Kars, it is also said that due to the lightly sweet honey of the region, Kars honey – soaked baklava is famous all over Turkey. The region is widely believed to be the birthplace of the Caucasian bee, the bee sub – species with the longest tongue, which allows it to drink nectar from even the deepest of the region’s 500 endemic wildflower species.

Cheese making was introduced during the Russian era 1875 – 1925. The cheeses are large wheels of a tasty cheddar style made from unpasteurised sheep milk and are displayed beautifully in shop windows. Kasar ( a gruyere – like cheese unique to the Kars province ) can be young, aged or with crunchy ‘ crystals ‘ reminiscent of those found in good parmesan reggiano. Cheese is an essential part of the local breakfast, there are many varieties ranging from the string cheese called cecil peynir , kasseri cheese ,cakmak cheese and many others.

Orhan Pamuk mentions Kars in his novel – Snow. His Kars is a desolate , unfriendly city thick with intrigue and foreboding. His novel was set during a particularly harsh winter ( Kar translates to snow in English ) Kars was the last Ottoman outpost before Russia, its time as part of the Empire is evident in what Pamuk calls “ Russian houses “ many of which are broken , empty and built of large grey stone blocks.

With so much to see these are some of my recommendations

Kars Castle

Dating back to around 1153, the castle with its dark brown stone walls crowns the ridge that dominates the cities northern edge. Destroyed and rebuilt many times , the structure saw the most damage during the 40 year Russian occupation after the Ottoman Turkish War. Below runs the winding Kars river flanked by historic mosques and bridges. Best time of the day is just before sunset , where from various vantage points one can appreciate the panoramic views. Kale Cafe is perfect for a hot cup of cay especially on those cold winter nights when the castle becomes veiled in a heavy mist that swallows up everything below. The castle lights barely manage to penetrate the haze that is eerily mysterious yet curiously sublime.

Kars Castle

Kumbet Camii

Below the castle stands the Kumbet Mosque also known as the Cathedral of Kars, that was built as a church between 932 and 937 when Kars was the capital of the Bagratuni kingdom of Armenia. Later it was converted to a mosque, in 1064 when the Seljuks conquered Kars. It was used again as a church in the 19th century by the Russians, who added the porches. The 12 apostles still adorn the upper drum tower beneath the dome. The mosque also served as the ‘ Kars Museum ‘ between 1964 and 1978 but the museum then moved back to its current location.

Kumbet Mosque – Church of 12 Apostles

Tas Bridge

The eye catching 3 arch ashlar basalt bridge that crosses over the Kars River, was built in 1579 as part of a program of works in Kars by Lala Mustafa Pasha, who became Sultan Murad III’s grand vizier the following year. It was rebuilt in 1719 replacing the 16th century original after it was destroyed by a flood.

Stone Bridge over Kars River

Mazlum Aga Hamam

It is said that Pushkin bathed in this rectangular 18th century basalt hamam in 1892. It stands on the banks of the Kars River below the castle. During the restoration process of the historical bath, which began in 2016, bat wings and star figures from the Ottoman period where uncovered from under the plaster work. During the Ottoman period such places where used as saunas , the hamam was built from cut stone and covered with a central dome. The bath was destroyed by the Armenians in 1918 and later repaired.

Mazlumaga Hamam

Ani

No trip to Kars is complete without visiting to breath taking ruins of Ani. Called the “ City of 1001 Churches “ Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings , palaces and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world. Once the thriving capital of the Armenian Bagratid Kingdom, with approximately 100 000 people living there,the site now days is a vast expanse of well preserved monumental buildings. In the valley below runs a rivers that separates the Turkish and Armenian border. It was recognised as a sovereign state in 884, over the centuries it faced many wars and attacks then in 1920, Ani was captured by Turkish forces under the authority of Kazim Karabekir. In July 2016 Ani was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a relic historic city of the medieval period on one branch of the Silk Roads.

Ani

Hotel Katerina Sarayi

A former palace, this stately grand stone built hotel with the Castle as its back drop and the Kars River flowing in front is an ideal location. The Palace of Catherine was built by Tsar 11 Nikolay during the Russian invasion of 1879. Later it was used as a hospital then a military unit building. During the 1980 revolution the building was completely evacuated and abandoned and left to its fate. In 2015 the once magnificent building was restored to its former glory by businessmen Kemal Erdogdu of Kars and introduced as a boutique hotel with its 34 rooms.

Katerina Sarayi Hotel

Sutlu Cardak

A delightful, bright and bustling restaurant, walls painted with quirky images ranging from cats to the “ photo wings “ I found myself a favourite seat next to a window but more importantly it was the comfort of being able to sit snuggly next an electric heater and defrost on occasion. Perfectly located within walking distance of the Castle its ideal to stop at for a delectable breakfast or after your day out exploring. I rapidly became a regular and found every meal to be fresh and served with perfection. One of my favourite dishes had to be the Manti ( Turkish ravioli ) the little white parcels were wonderfully fresh , filled with meat and drenched in yoghurt. There is no english spoken here but the menu has ample images, so a simple finger pointing at the most mouth watering picture will do . No meal is complete without a Turkish coffee before wrapping up and heading out to explore some more.

Sutlu Cardak

Ahsap Sanat Dunyasi – curio shop

Not only a curio shop but also a hobby shop. Having been in Kars for about 3 years the shop owner Yavuz Guney offers a variety of options to make a special gift. Working with wooden products he will laser write anything you want, products range from wooden notebooks, wall clocks, photo frames, family trees to little wooden houses complete with tables and chairs. Nothing is to big or to small a project. The shop also has postcards depicting scenes of the area, beautifully framed images of the Kars region and Ertugrul style hats – medieval handmade fur hats ideal for the cold Anatolian winter.

Ahsap Sanat Dunyasi souvenir shop

Busts of leaders

Busts of historical figures lined up outside the Kars municipality giving recognition to past leaders

Busts of leaders near Kars Castle

If its a gurgling river weaving through the city of Kars, windswept plateaus , or the eerie ghost city of Ani with its wrecks of stone buildings that stand ominously adrift a sea of undulating grass that makes you ponder about this once stately Armenian capital. Dont hesitate , take yourself off like many travellers before us and explore the poignant ruins and imagine how merchants and nobleman alike did business along this stretch of the Silk road.

 


The iconic Four Seasons hotel - Bosphorus

This chic hotel set in a 19th century Ottoman palace, perfectly located on the European bank of the Bosphorus, offers guests an unparalleled experience, combining the magic of a palatial hotel with some exceptional things to see and do.
The hotel showcases the best of Turkish hospitality with attention paid to the finest details. Each of the 145 guest rooms and 25 elegant suites have contemporary mahogany furnishings . The palaces crown jewels are surely the Palace Roof suite with its private rooftop terrace and total privacy which are simply without equal on the banks of the Bosphorus.
There is no better place to recharge amidst a bustling city. The luxurious hotel is only a 5 minute walk from lively Besiktas Square where the vibrant night life and world class shopping will entice you. The concierge will swiftly arrange a taxi , alternatively I enjoyed the shuttle bus that offers complimentary trips between this hotel and the Four Seasons in Sultanahmet.
Be sure to experience exquisite dining with tranquility and elegance at Aqua Restaurant , the talented chefs use the freshest ingredients to create traditional and innovative dishes. For a more intimidate experience on a crisp winter evening, I opted to curl up snugly in an igloo while savouring my meal and soaking up the most breathtaking view of the waterfront skyline – I felt like a real life princesses.
Traversing the top floors , rooms overlooking the splendid Bosphorus in all its sun – drenched brilliance, fill the entire room with a warm sensation that made me smile.There is no better way to feel the caress of the sea breeze as it dances gently over your body through an open window, while relaxing with a good book
Indulge in the spa with its authentic hammam, the spa includes three separate hammams ( a first in the city ) nine treatment rooms and one VIP spa. The pool features underwater music , whirlpool and poolside relaxation areas. Decorated in light marble with coloured mosaic tiles adds to the Ottoman elegance that emanates through out the hotel.
The glamour of The Four Seasons exudes an ambience of opulence, defining what really matters to guests , warmth and an enrichment in experience. For fun loving travellers, business men and women and families alike , its a winning combination An early morning stroll along the waters edge gives way to the first rays of the day, the gentle breeze and slow waves on the river, flowing upward to the white puffed clouds in the brilliant sky above. Seagulls , flapping, whirling and dive bombing in and out of the water, waken the dawn with their symphony of song as they fill their beaks with breakfast
Enjoy a taste of the good life, whether its rubbing shoulders with golden-heeled guests, drinking Turkish coffee, sipping on a signature cocktail, watching the seagulls swoop into the cool waters or taking a dip in the heated pool there are all sorts of unique experiences to be had at the ultra – luxurious Four Seasons.
www.fourseasons.com


Travel India

The quintessential Indian-ness cannot be described in words.

Visiting this dizzying , creative burst of culture allows one to appreciate the raw beauty of this country. It is said this is a land of happiness, love, freedom that all go hand in hand – a paradox. A country filled with vibrant colours, abundant with various religions that all flourish here from temples, Mosques, churches, palaces , forts and many more architectural varieties that marks the epitome of India’s heritage, this was an experience like no other.

The country has about 60 languages, 29 states and a movie industry that is ranked as having the largest ticket sales and number or releases in a year. To explore the land of India from one end to the other with its biodiversity and geo diversity could easily take a life time.

So we decided to embark on our own tour that would cover most of the Golden Triangle. Our first city was Delhi, the unprecedented migraine inducing sounds of cars that never stop hooting crept into our heads and never left. Overcrowded streets, bursting at the seems with homeless people flanked by luxury hotels, cows that lay in the middle of the road causing traffic jams, extreme heat , people who can squat when they want to rest instead of sitting, where just some of the memorable moments that made Delhi – Delhi.

Gardens of Select Citywalk mall

Delirious Delhi

Stay at The Claridges Hotel. One of the best luxury 5 star hotels in New Delhi, this mid 20th century retreat offers old world service , sophisticated dining and a location that makes it favourable.
Madame Tussaud’s where a person gets to rub shoulders with the stars. The world renowned wax museum is located in Regal Theatre. One can see American celebrities as well as Indian
Have Henna done at the market outside Hanuman Mandir temple. This temple is dedicated to the monkey god. The henna designer didn’t speak english but she was skilled at her job.
There are approximately 10 shops outside Hanuman Mandir that showcase a plethora of colourful bangles. Made of 3 base materials, glass , metal & lac they are styled in many ways. Avoid Tuesdays, this is the busiest day at the temple, carry cash & remember to bargain.
Street food , this really captures the essence of Delhi. The tempting fragrances and sheer variety will make your mouth water and eyes pop out as you try and decide which delicacy to try.
Pop into Starbucks located in the posh Connaught Place constructed in the 1930’s for some comfort coffee in a cozy setup. Bustling with people the neighbour cafe brand first opened its doors in 2013
Stay at The Metropolitan and Spa Hotel located in the heart of the business and commercial hub. This 5 star deluxe hotel offered one of the best breakfast spreads i had while travelling around.
Eat at Taco Bell if you enjoy global chain food. Bright coloured graffiti walls adds to the atmosphere of a daring , urban vibe that dishes up tasty Mexican inspired foods.
Take a night visit at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib that is open 24 hours. It is one of the most prominent Sikh houses of worship in Delhi and is known for the pool inside the complex. First built in1664 as a bungalow, rebuilt in 1783 then the current structure was mostly built post 1947.
Catch the Gatiman Express, India’s first semi-high speed train that runs between Delhi and Jhansi. Currently the fastest train in India it departs Delhi around 08:10am and arrives in Agra at 9:50am. First class includes breakfast and air con.

Henna hands

Agra- City of the emperors

Take an Uber from the Train station. Its the easiest and least stressful way. As one exits the station there is a barricade of sorts where policeman armed with sticks keep taxi drivers under control. If a person walks through this imaginary line of separation be prepared for the influx of taxi drivers who will harass you. A little further out is where all the tuk – tuks line up.
Stay at The Taj Hotel and Convention Centre. The 5 star hotels lies a short walk away from the Eastern Gate of the Taj Mahal. The rooftop infinity pool with breathtaking views will rejuvenate a guest after a hot day out exploring the town.
Shopping at the bazaar outside the Taj Mahal offers everything from hand crafted leather shoes, bright parasols which come in handy when taking photos at the Taj Mahal to hand carved elephants and more. Remember to bargain, if you want a price that suites your pocket.
Go for a ride on a scooter with a local. Its a hair raising experience as the driver navigates between all sorts of vehicles on dusty roads. The air and noise population is indescribable, with the wind blowing through your hair and local people staring with jaws gapping you cant help but have a silent giggle.
Eat at Sheroes Hangout this is a cafe managed by brave acid attack survivors. The women working here are happy to share their stories after having received a debilitating blow to their appearance. Food is served with a flavour of love so the menu has no pricing, patrons pay what they feel is suitable.
Wander around Agra Fort, this historical building was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638. It became a UNESCO World heritage site in 1983. Better described as a walled city, its recommend to visit here first before the Taj Mahal.
Feed the Indian palm squirrels at the fort. Handlers will sell you some food to encourage the squirrels to sit on your hand and hastily nibble away . They have become very tame & enjoy the limelight.
Be at the Taj Mahal at 5am for the beautiful sunrise. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 out of marble for his beloved queen almost 4 centuries ago, bestowing ever lasting fame on the town of Agra. Look out for the bench that Princess Diana sat on when she visited in February 1992.
Take the train from Agra. Probably not one of our best moments as we waited for our train that was delayed for over 3 hours, surround by people lying all over the floors swatting at the constant nuisance of flies buzzing around their heads and watching a pick pocketer operate in broad daylight. However when 4 “ queens “ gracefully glided past us with broad smiles in their bright saris they added immediate warmth to crazy environment.

Taj Mahal

Ranthambhore ( Sawai Madhopur )

Arrive at Sawai Madhopur station , the gateway to the national park. Here the walls have murals painted in black and white of tigers by a team of artists from Ranthambore School of Arts in 2015, reminding you that you have arrived in the land of tigers
Stay at Raj Palace resort with lush gardens and a big pool . As we enjoyed our evening swim the sound of croaking frogs filled the air. We even managed to hold one or two of them. Palace style accommodation appears to be the norm of this town, however service doesn’t always match the structure.
Stay at the 5 star Anuraga Palace hotel ,one of the most exquisite Palace resorts in the area, definitely a winner for us. With the calming music that plays throughout the building, it feels like time stands still. Decorated in the pristine white architectural style of a traditional Rajasthani haveli, the sprawling hotel over looks verdant green gardens .
Take a taxi to Ranthambhore fort, its cheap and the easiest way to get to see the evocative ruins of a 1000 year old hill fort that lies within the popular tiger reserve. This colossal citadel was founded in 944. Early morning we enjoyed a climb of about 200 steps up to the temples with the religious pilgrims.The majestic fort is set dramatically on a sheer cliff and surrounded by a verdant forest dotted with decaying pavilions, palaces, lakes and ponds.
Look out for the one humped camels on the road they are plentiful here. They are native to Rajasthan and Gujarat where they are best suited to a dry desert climate. India’s camel culture is globally unique, its taboo to slaughter or use camels for meat, sell their milk, sell their wool, or sell any female camels. Tradition only allowed male camels to be sold once a year at a fair, however male working camels have dwindled so camel numbers are decreasing rapidly in the country.
Tiger spotting at Ranthambhore Tiger reserve.It is a former royal hunting ground and home to tigers, leopards and marsh crocodiles. Visitors can only enter this beautiful landscape by participating in a guided drive, which is informative. There is no guarantee you will see tigers but spotting an indistinctive paw print pressed into the dirt is just as exciting.
Photograph the vibrant colours and local people they give new meaning to the word “ colourful “

Ranthambore National Park

Jaipur ( The Pink City )

Share a car trip with new found friends, this is the best road trip you can do. We realised that the British couple we met at a hotel in Ranthambhore we had also seen at our hotel in Agra . So after chatting on the tiger tour we drove with them to Jaipur. Its amazing how small the world really is.
Stay at the 4 star Nirbana Heritage Hotel and Spa. Situated in the heart of the pink city. Retaining its elaborate splendour , extravagantly decorated with hand-carved stones and painting. Aesthetically pleasing in public areas, rooms were bland & smaller than other hotels we stayed in.
Drive through the pink city, one of India’s architectural wonders. Largely built in the 1700s a romantic dusty pink hue defined the city since 1876 after it was painted pink to welcome Queen Victoria’d husband , Prince Albert. The Hawa Mahal palace made with red and pink sandstone is an extraordinary, delicately honeycombed hive that rises a dizzying 5 storeys. The 365 windows allowed royal women to observe street life without appearing in public.
Walk around Amer Fort . This nostalgic fort is one of the most well-known and most – visited forts in India. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013.The Diwan-e-Khas ( Hall of private audiences ) is the most exquisite part, walls are covered in intricate mirror work using glass imported from Belgium.
Souvenir shopping as you exist the fort, many people says its expensive but we found we were not pressurised as much as the other places, could bargain and received great service. We were also able to send some postcards from the shop that sold stamps.
Eat at the stylish 1135 AD restaurant for an opulent regal ambiance. Serving authentic, tasty Indian cuisine on candles tables. We toured the private dinning room upstairs with its silver backed chairs under chandeliers and a ceiling embellished with mirror fragments
Get some ice cream at Baskin Robbins because in the persistent heat you can never have enough. However the local frozen treat of milk, crushed almonds and cashews, sugar and cinnamon that are frozen in metal cylinders and look like little rockets are addictive.
Take a train back to Delhi when all the fun is over or you have run out of time to explore this beautiful city

Amer Fort – Jaipur

Delirious Delhi

Birds nests of wires around the city is something I would stop and look at continuously. Walking in narrow streets with large tangled nests above me, I wondered how electricians even knew where to begin
Ride in a tuk – tuk ( auto rickshaw ), they are a common means of transport. Make sure you confirm the price before getting inside. The name tuk – tuk comes from its engine sound which is designed in a scooter style, the maximum speed is 50km to 60km. A fun and cost effective way to get around
Visit Sacred Heart Cathedral, one of the oldest church buildings in New Delhi. It opened in 1930 and has been visited by Pope John Paul II twice, once on 1 February 1986 and a second time on 6 November 1999
Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib near Parliament House was built in 1783 and took 12 years to complete. Its located at the exact spot where Dhan Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur’s headless body was cremated after the Mughal executioner beheaded the 9th Guru of the Sikhs on 11 November 1675.
Take an Uber to the Saket District to shop at Select Citywalk mall. The vibrant , upscale shopping centre has eye catching decor, beautiful gardens with fountains, international brand – name stores and a food court. Further down the road in another complex we discovered the Hard Rock Cafe, a bit of a disappointment we were glad we had experienced the mall.
Visit ISKCON temple, a well known Lord Krishna Temple.
Shri Lakshmi Narain Temple built in 1938 , it took 6 years to complete and was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, but Mahatama Gandhi inaugurated with the condition that the Delhi Laxmi Narain Temple should allow people from all castes, especially untouchables.
Great street shopping in Pahar Ganj, the budget tourist district. Main Bazaar is an enclave full of budget guest houses, small hotels, tiny shops selling everything from clothes to jewellery to beautiful saris. There is a mix of bakeries, rooftop restaurants and classic street food.
Stay at the Treebo Yes Please hotel close to the station. A modern 2 star hotel that promises quality and comfort, its only 14km away from the International airport. We found it clean and refreshing.
Eat at Cafe Festa, a vegetarian restaurant. They have a diverse menu catering for types of clientele. Well priced , they offer a comfortable seating area with air con. All their meals are prepared freshly.
Last night in Delhi stay at the Radisson Blu hotel new Delhi Dwarka . The outdoor pool was the best place to experience a magnificent sunset in the city that never sleeps. This tranquil location takes one away from the bustling city.

Gita Mandir Mathura in New Delhi

There is so much to see in India that one holiday cannot possibly cover it all. Little things that stuck out for us were the beautiful flower displays in the hotels, so much effort was put into these daily arrangements.
We also learnt quickly don’t check out until you are finished using the WIFI, as soon as your key card is handed in, you are removed from the system and the Wifi cuts out. This can be tricky if you are still arranging transport.
Uber everywhere !!! it is incredibly cheap and they have air con in the cars, something you quickly realise is a necessity.
Cash payments are the easiest method, hotels will even tell you that their card machines are not working, so to avoid the hassle carry enough cash at all times.
Always book a hotel with a swimming pool, its the perfect way to end a busy day and cool down of course.
Delhi Belly is real, you can try your best to avoid it but you just cant hide from it.

This crowded and chaotic county is a land of every form of contrast – a clash of colour and a cacophony of sounds . Once you have traveled here once you will want to return time and time again.