From Paris with Love

There is something magical about Paris, maybe because its the city of love or maybe its the gigantic Eiffel Tower with is lace like trimmings. Whatever it is , its the most absorbing city on earth, with all its grandeur and the best tasting croissants in the world this city is infectious, the energy it gives off is addictive and it slowly creeps inside of you. There is something wonderful to notice at every turn.

There are so anythings to do and not enough time. If you are doing a Paris crash course these are my recommendations to make your trip memorable and fun in 36 hours.

Take a selfie at the Eiffel tower
Marking the centenary of the Revolution in spectacular fashion, engineer Gustave Eiffel’s iron tower began being built in 1887. Take the ride up to the 3 rd level to get breath taking views of the city up to 70kms away on a clear day. There are 1652 steps to climb but the lift is a much better option. For best views of the tower go to Trocadero Station, day or night its beautiful. The little models of the tower sold as souvenirs at the base are the single most popular souvenir of the city.

 

Moulin Rouge
The most famous cabaret in the city. It opened in 1889 by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller and is still going strong.The original house burnt down in 1915. Side streets are brimming with clubs and ladies of the night. There is something here for everyone. Dont expect to be able to film or take photos inside the Moulin Rouge, its even forbidden in the foyer. The ticket office next to the main entrance is open all day long, it is said that around 600,000 people visit the Moulin Rouge every year.

Ride a tuktuk
For a cool, quick, breezy trip around the city every tourist should ride one at least once. Found in the touristy parts they can fit up to 4 people comfortably. Not the cheapest , but if its the experience you want and some good music, its recommended. By the end of the day when your feet are killing you the price is irrelevant. Definitely one of the most enjoyable and unforgettable ways to see the city.

Watch the sunset
One of the most romantic activities in the city is to watch the sunset over the River Seine. There is nothing more beautiful than the view of the last sun rays touching upon the roof tops of Paris and the pink skies illuminating the Eiffel Tower. There are many ways to enjoy a Parisian sunset , like going on river cruise, from one of the many bridges, the Eiffel Tower itself and for the perfect shot head to the Trocadero Gardens , up the hill you will find the Palais de Chaillot, its free to visit and you will get perfect shots of the Eiffel Tower as well as the roof tops basking in the last rays of sun. Buskers are performing around the Gardens and I even enjoyed the dance classes that were taking place, just imagine learning learning to waltz and tango while the sun sets over one of the beautiful cities in the world.

Eat a nutella crepe
Carousels or merry-go-rounds are in several tourist places in Paris, but the most beautiful must be the one at the Eiffel Tower. Not because the lights twinkle more , or it plays a better tune but because its back drop is the Eiffel Tower. Another very important point to note is the delicious street food store that sells the best crepes ever filled with nutella, and banana and ice cream and basically what ever your heart desires. Bon appetit 🙂

Admire the Arc de Triomphe
Commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 , Chalgrin designed the Roman – Style structure. A must see even at midnight, as the city never sleeps. In the heart of Paris lies this beautiful monument built as a symbol of Frances battles, victories and freedom. Beneath it lies the tomb of the unknown soldier, the arch is inscribed with the names of 660 generals and 128 battles of the Empire. It is located where 8 of the main streets merge. Luckily the island in the middle help tourists dodge cars to get the perfect shot.

Tour Palais de Justice
Today they Gothic style building is one of the oldest and most prestigious official buildings in Paris.Built on the site of the former royal residence , there is also the Sainte-Chapelle, King Louis IX’s private chapel in the courtyard. The medieval prison overlooks the river on the Northern Side ,tragically Queen Marie-Antoinette and many other unfortunate prisoners were sentenced to death here during the French Revolution.

Absorb the beauty of the Notre Dame
One of the grandest churches in the world, the magnificent cathedral was closed to the public because of the fire that took place on the 15 April 2019. The Gothic masterpiece is the culmination of numerous temples to pagan Cernunnos, guardian of the underworld, Roman Jupiter and several Christian churches. Built between 1163 and 1330, one can climb the 387 steps to the North Tower to see the bells , roofs , gargoyles and superb views of Paris. There are three rose windows, sadly I couldn’t go inside because of renovations but I did enjoy the beautiful pink roses in the garden outside. One of the largest organs in the world is found inside with 7800 pipes, one can only imagine what it sounds like when playing during mass.

Visit the Louve
Not only one of the greatest art galleries, but also the largest royal palace in the world. Give yourself plenty of time with comfy shoes when you attempt this sightseeing marathon. The Mona Lisa is found here. Leonardo da Vinci brought it to the city himself. The modern glass pyramid built in 1991 is the new main entrance to the museum. Attempting to get the perfect photo is quite a skill and its recommend that you arrive early in the morning before the crowds.

Ride the metro
As a lover of trains this is always something I want to do when I enter a new city. The Paris Metro is known for its uniform architecture and unique entrances influenced by Art Nouveau. It runs mostly underground and is 211 kilometres long.There is a total of 380 Paris Metro stations on 14 lines. The Metro began operation in June 1900, and now has around 700 trains. It is the second largest subway system in Europe. The fastest way to get around a Paris I couldn’t resist riding the trains a couple of times at times thankful for the seats and vending machines selling a section of drinks after a busy day of walking.

Get lost in the bustle of Gare Du Nord
Officially known as Paris Nord it is the busiest station in Europe and indeed the busiest in the world outside Japan. First opened in 1846 the original station building proved too small and was moved to Lille where you can see it as the Gare de Lille Flandres. The current Gare Du Noord was built between 1861 and 1864. Tourist information proved very helpful inside and so did the Starbucks when needing a quick coffee fix. Tourists and locals alike mingle outside the building. There is an electric energy inside as passengers wait on platforms to board and others scurry around buying tickets.

Look for the love locks
Dotted around the city you will come across clusters of the shiny or bright coloured locks engraved with messages to lovers, friends or family, one of the main locations was Pont Des Arts where tourists would attach a lock then throw the key into the River Seine below. However in June 2015, the city started removing the locks that were used to display symbolic signs of affection due to parts of the bridge’s railing collapsing under the weight.The city cut off around one million locks weighing 45 tons and auctioned them off to raise money for refugee charities. It is illegal to place locks on the historic bridges, but sadly people have little respect for these century old structures.

Sit at the St Michel fountains
Holding a commanding position this lavish fountain is one of the major landmarks in the Latin Quarter. Constructed in 1858 – 1860 during the French Second Empire it has been listed since 1926 as a monument historic by the French Ministry of Culture. It depicts and ArchAngel Michael vanquishing the Devil, evoking thoughts of the battle between good and evil. There was no water in the fountain when I was there but that does little to deter from the beauty of this elaborate fountain.

Eat macaron’s
Dont leave Paris without eating a macaron or two. For a true scent of Paris do some research before embarking on this taste trip. The pastry is very complex to cook and this is what makes them rather expensive. It is said the best are the little ones , if there are many on display they should all be the same size. The top of the macaron should not have bubbles or be broken. This star of French pastries has become a type of luxurious dessert that everyone wants. The most famous brand is the Laduree.I couldn’t resist trying one their exotic chocolate coated ones, it melted in my mouth as I paired it with a cup of Starbucks coffee. If you don’t want to eat them immediately, keep them in the fridge and take them out an hour or so before eating them. They shouldn’t be stored for longer than a week.

Drive in a Ferrari
Dreams do come true. If your pocket allows for it, you can rent a Ferrari or Lamborghini in the magical city. All you need to do is show your drivers license flash some bills (from around 89Euros ) and you get to live your dream for 20 minutes. #driveme89 will have one of their drivers accompany you while you rev the engine of a dream machine and lap up the sunshine. Its expensive, but who cares ? you get to drive a supercar in Paris and feel like a billionaire.

Stay at the Ibis
There is no such thing as cheap accommodation in Paris, but then again what did yu expect when you decided on Paris as a destination ? I stayed at the Hotel Ibis Paris Grands Boulevard. A great location withy good sized rooms, fresh and modern decor and staff who spoke english perfectly. This 3 star hotel with free wi-fi is perfect for those wanting to see a city and not lay around their room all day.

Uber around town
Now I know there are other options to get from the airport but as an avid Uber supporter I decided it was the easiest option after long hours of travelling. With free wifi in the airport it was easy to order the Uber that has a designated collection point at exit 12. I also used Uber in the city centre, one instant I was really glad I did was when I order one to the Eiffel Tower, he dropped us off at the perfect location for photos 🙂 so yes, very expensive from the airport but when you don’t want to think and stress its worth the price in my opinion.

Eat local and enjoy people watching
Now if there is one thing Parisian’s enjoy its people watching. I noticed it from our first breakfast cafe ( which of course included a croissant ) all street cafes have the chairs in lines, like you are in a theatre i presume this is to watch the people. Yes they do start off being around tables but quite rapidly become soldiers on the pavement. There are no subtleties or pretences here, its normal to stare straight at the bra less women walking with their noses up in the air. They have every right to, after all French women are known for being the epitome of elegance, they age gracefully and they always look effortlessly gorgeous. Think of style icon Mademoiselle Coco Chanel who redefined the modern women. We owe it to her, so if you find yourself sitting at a sidewalk cafe drinking coffee and chatting enjoy how the ordinary suddenly look extraordinary.

Scoot around Paris
Discover the city in a fun way. Renting an electric scooter is the new craze to take over, launched in 2018 by Lime Scooters, the easy to spot bright green motors are nippy with a maximum speed of 24km an hour. You locate the nearest one with the use of an app on your phone and turn it on by scanning the QR code on the handlebars. At this point you are charged 1Euro then 15cents for every minute of ride time. These light weight scooters are fun and easy to use. However they are adding to the clutter on pavements and government is now looking at ways to regulate the use of them.

Enjoy the chain spots like Hard Rock Cafe and Starbucks
For those comfort travellers you can hunt out the local Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe Paris , Burger King and so forth. You probably want the comfort of knowing what you order but for the price you pay I believe in always supporting local when I travel. So buy local goods and eat local food. Its the easiest and quickest way to get a taste of a local culture. However let me add that the Hard Rock Cafe was fabulous, two floors of fun and entertainment so don’t just walk by, pop in and have a look at the wall hanging and local memorabilia.

Everyone should celebrate lasting love in Paris, be it with a partner or falling in love with the city itself. I have visited Paris many times in my imagination and even once sat at the airport for a few hours, on my way to Italy, but now when I finally got to experience it in reality I was totally overwhelmed. The French add style to everything, everywhere I went in Paris I found myself smiling. The sun set over Paris as I made my way to the airport, giving a best friend a hug good bye I knew I would be returning to this romantic country to get more of its chaotic passions that we find irresistible and the beautiful cityscape.


Top travel souvenir’s

Gazing around my home I realised its one big story book, from the art on the wall, to the coffee cups, photo books, cushions, beautiful lights, and even plants that are growing from seeds. Each one is a memory from a trip to an exotic location. Yes, every location is exotic to me because if it involves a passport and an airplane there is bound to be adventure and fun.

Embarking on a trip, we all want something to take home to remind us of the wonderful experience. However I have found that one purchase becomes a second purchase and before you know it a travel addiction of souvenirs has started. Looking back over the years I have discarded some simply because I lost interest but others have stuck.

The visual reminders keep those priceless travel experiences alive in our minds as we sit back with a cup of coffee and reminisce.

For some people collections help to keep them motivated as they plan their next trip. Mapping out their travel route around their important collection points. I remember a stage when I collected Hard Rock Cafe T- Shirts, to do this I would need to find the cafe in a new city then work it into my daily plan, sometimes easier said than done.

I have put together 10 of the most popular traveller collectables after I asked women travellers on Facebook.560 comments later I think its safe to say these are the winners.

Top 10 ideas

Starbucks Mugs – My current addiction. Every country I go to I try and buy at least one. The bigger the county, the bigger the problem because then it becomes cities. What I love about my Starbucks cups is each morning I wake up and drink a cup of coffee out of a city that I would like to be in and each night I drink out of a cup with a destination that I would like to fall asleep in. They also make great gifts, I take Starbucks cups from my country to give as gifts when I travel.

Postcards – I buy one each time I travel and write a letter and send it home. That way I get a letter probably 3 months later because our postal system is so slow and I get a local stamp. When they arrive use the magnets on the fridge to create a collage or for a more organised look clip them on strings in your room or home office. For those who keep a journal they are perfect reminders of a place you passed through.

Magnets – These are great especially fro back packers because they are small and light and in expensive. They are brightly coloured and every time you open the fridge your holidays are screaming out at you.

Shot glasses – some would say the days have passed where the bar shelf has rows of glasses but people still seem to buy them. They are small and easy to pack. Once home you can use them for candle holders or put small nick nacks into them. Or actually drink out of them on a Friday night.

Snow globes – This was a tough collection for me. I loved the musical ones, and of course the Christmas snow globes were always the best. But to transport them was a night mare. Then when they do arrive home safely they are the worst dust collectors and strangely some of them seem to loose the water over the years. They are magical though, but to many can border on being kitch.

Keyrings – Perfect in my opinion. They are small, inexpensive and the handmade ones by the locals support the communities. They make perfect gifts and can continue to be used in your daily life for car keys , house keys etc so the chance of lying around and collecting dust is slim.

Shells – Whenever I go to a seaside spot I collect a couple of the shells and put them in my back pack. When I get home they land up in a separate little bowl that has also come from a far off destination. Strolling along the beach and listening to the seagulls and the water we cant help but collect a couple of shells. Some people take it a step further and put some sand in a bottle with the shells.

Art – local art is a fabulous way of remembering a trip and it doesn’t take up place in your bag. Street artists sell in all sizes and again you are supporting local communities and often you get to meet the artists. Once home you can create your own gallery in the lounge, each trip will add one more piece and the stories will grow as you sit back and admire the beautiful images of the talented people.

T-Shirts – Hard Rock Cafe and Harley Davidson shirts were my addiction at one stage and they don’t come cheap. Then someone pointed out to me I was a walking billboard so I thought twice about that. I did enjoy the hunt for them though and it was a good excuse to eat a good filling meal whenever I travelled. All these years later I still have them, so it probably was a good investment.

Patches – Vintage jean jackets are ideal for these, collecting them from monuments, national parks, countries, cities etc you sew them on. Another option is to put them onto a back pack. Running out of space becomes a problem so a board at home could also be useful.

Not to be forgotten:

Pins
Maps
Beads
Letter openers
Menus
Airplanes

The idea I really liked:

Created your own photo gallery at home , print a photo of yourself each time you travel in a fun pose. Maybe you include a sentimental object ( I have a travelling bear from a friend ) or take it at a consistent focal point ( mine would be a coffee shop or mode of transport ).

In my pocket

When I travel I always carry a good quantity of souvenirs from my own country to hand out. I have found that so often I come across kind people who go out of their way to help me and its so nice to give them a little something to say “ thank you “. South Africa has an abundance of bead work so the best gift is the flag made out of beads, that way people learn about the flag and the craft of bead work by African women.

So next time you travel think about the souvenirs you buy, are you adding to clutter in your home, are you buying something that you can use ?are you supporting a local community or maybe you don’t need to buy anything and the memories are just enough for you.

Which ever its is, happy travelling and collecting xxxxx


Şile - the picturesque fishing village

Many visitors to Istanbul never want to leave Sultanahmet, now I fully understand why but its also a real shame. There is an abundance of historical and fun sites to see in and around the region. Şile is one of those, it has been on my “ to do List “ forever but somehow on each trip I take to Turkey it seems to slip through my fingers. The small resort town on the Black Sea is famous for its fish and Şile fabric.

Well this time it was not getting away. Addicted to beautiful and unusual spots to photograph, all it takes is one inspirational photo and I am sold. Stubbornness sets in and no obstacle is to big for me to reach that goal. Difficulties become stepping stones, some times I can hop, skip and jump over them, other times it is a slow methodical walk but which ever one it is you can be sure I am going to get it done.

Arriving at the new Istanbul Airport, flying on my favourite airline Turkish Airlines I realised this could be one of those methodical walks, simply because the airport was so mesmerising and of a standard that is out of this world. No traveller should need to rush out of this airport, the shopping alone is enough to keep any women there. But I had a goal, so I hopped onto one of the efficient buses and headed to Sultanahmet. A good nights sleep and I was up early to head out and grab my daily coffee fix at Starbucks.

Taking the tram to Esenler Bus terminal i purchased a ticket then had a borek to eat and Ayran to wash it down at one of the many restaurants at the terminal. There was no direct bus to Şile even though its summer and tourist season so I was happily on a Metro bus but with no allocated seat I landed up playing musical chairs each time we made a stop and collected new passengers. Its part of the journey for me and kept me on my toes. We reached the Otogar and I took a taxi to Şile town. Listening to a mixture of Turkish and English pop music blaring out of the speakers with far too much bass, my limited Turkish and the drivers non existent English made it a ride full of laughs.

I was dropped of right next to the picture I had seen, the very picture that had been stuck in my mind for months. It was worth it. The location is perfect for a lazy Sunday outing at the sea.

Starting at the tip of the harbour I strolled along, stopping at the various restaurants to have a peek at the menu and see what sea food was available. The harbour is small , with fisherman cleaning out the nets and small boats bopping up and down on the calm water.

Opposite the harbour is the castle perched on top of the rocks, the turquoise waters below gave way to sounds of laughter and children squeaking with delight as they splashed in the water. Parents lay under brightly coloured umbrellas on beach loungers soaking up the hot Black sea sun.

Moving on I reached Iyot Cafe and Beach, the picture I had been chasing. With woven umbrellas painted blue, lining the beach and the Turkish flag flying proudly in the wind I now understood why this was the perfect location. The restaurant nestled into the rocks had a good menu ranging from breakfast , hot appetisers , main courses to desserts and of course some delicious drinks like the yummy chocolate milkshake . Absorbed in this moment of sheer bliss I had found the ideal spot to get away from the crowds and enjoy the Turkish coastal fever that tourists yearn for each year.

It was starting to get a bit chilly so I head off for a stroll down the main road in town, stopping to play with the local cats who had made their home in an old Hamam. Following the cats I landed up on a back road where I stumbled across some of the old, original houses of the area. Now derelict and abandoned, with curtains blowing in the wind through broken windows I wondered about the people who once lived here and what stories these old buildings must have.

Walking up a rather steep hill I spotted a bus stop across from the Micros, where a local man told me I could catch a Dolmus to the bus station. So for 2Tl I did just that thinking I was going to the same station I had arrived at. To my surprise not even 1km up the hill I was told this was the spot to disembark, yes it was a bus station just not the one I had used. I then bought a bus ticket on Uskudar – Sile – Agva bus that would take me right back to Uskudar. So the return trip was a lot cheaper , but the trip going there was a lot more fun.

I loved this sea side town, with its beautiful vistas – it has not seen the last of me. Next time I will spend a day or two. It only takes an hour if you drive from Istanbul by car or maximum 3 hours depending on the bus route. So if you are looking for some quite solitude away from the cosmopolitan Istanbul head out to this sleepy fishing village.

My recommendations when visiting are :

  • Eat at Iyot Cafe
  • Swim at Life Beach in Aglayan Kaya where there are lovely stretches of sandy beaches.
  • Buy a scarf or some fabric item in town as the area is famous for its cotton production
  • Walk up or down the main road and wonder off the beaten path, best spot is to climb the stairs next to the old Hamam
  • Go and see Şile Feneri, the historical lighthouse is the second largest in Europe, standing 19 metres tall. It was built in 1859 during the Ottoman Era.
  • Photograph Şile Kalesi, that dates back to Byzantine times and was rebuilt under the Ottomans
  • Visit the tomb of Kum Baba, a revered Muslim Saint

Little black book

www.turkishairlines.com

www.metroturizm.com.tr

Bus 139 from Harem


The Swish new Houghton Hotel

There are certain bragging rights that come with being the first of your friends to stay at the luxurious 5 star Houghton Hotel. Be it the location, the room, the food or even the magnificent sunsets you will encounter you are sure to make your friends green with envy.

Walking into the lobby of The Houghton is like walking into a 6/ 7 star European hotel . There are elaborate chain curtains and electric sofas , the staircase that spirals demanding your attention, people buzzing around , it exudes a soothing , residential air despite its cavernous size.

What is the story ?

The R870 million hotel designed by Boogertman and Partners was finished in 2018, with final construction contracted to Stefanutti Stocks. Built in a park – like setting in Johannesburg’s greenbelt, with close proximity to top retail outlets and major business districts it has contributed to the hotel gaining entry into the exclusive club of Leading Hotels of the World .
The effect is at once exciting and reassuring , this is a brand new and modern hotel thats in love with its right to supply luxury and a unique living experience.
One of the factors that boosts the property into accommodation orbit is the handiwork of interior designers DSGN, who cast their brand of South African luxury stardust far and wide.

What is in your room ?

The rooms are radiant, with a sense of easy – going opulence. From the moment you open your door you feel the warmth and welcoming of the room as you are beckoned inside.
All rooms come with a view of either the Signature Jack Nicklaus Golf course or the large swimming pools and lush gardens
Its tempting to stay under the covers of the comfy bed and stare at the changing colours of the African skyline all day long or enjoy a good film on the large TV adorning the wall, ordering room service when you feel peckish.
A freestanding bathtub fashioned for frolicking, an imaginative minibar , a Nespresso coffee machine and here’s the best thing, no paintings are stuck on the wall. Instead , there’s art in the form of free falling canvas piece that gently sways in the breeze when the sliding door is open.

Food and drink

The H restaurant offers a stylish a la carte menu for lunch and dinner with an extensive wine list. The open kitchen is deliciously theatrical , with Executive Chef George Georgiou. scooting around with his bold creations, be it the salmon that I found mouth watering or succulent steak

Nova deli is the sort of place you want to spend all afternoon – sipping on lattes, especially when staff are on hand to deliver you fresh slices of cake. This international deli is the perfect location for business meetings and friendly catch-ups. The comfy chairs make it difficult leave and the strong wifi connection makes it ideal to sit and browse the internet.

The sky bar bubbles with a cool set of people from all walks of life, and attracts locals as well as people from out of town. Overlooking the golf course , this unique and vibrant setting is the ideal spot to watch the sunset. As the evenings get chilly the outdoor tables come alive with dancing flames to keep one warm as you snuggle up and sip on cocktails.

Nova Deli Breakfast

The Spa

How do you drag yourself away from the poolside lounges and head off to the spa when you are dizzy with relaxation? its a question thats easy to answer once you have experienced a full body massage from Amani Spa. Featuring a couples suite with a heated plunge pool, 8 multi functional treatment rooms, a grand Rasul, hair and beauty salon and nail bar, an indoor relaxation area and a unique hot and cold spa vitality pool. Amani is a prestigious spa that adds to the hotels overall lifestyle ethos.

Choosing from the massage menu, is no easy task. This state of the art facility is the collections flagship branch in Johannesburg. Founded by Ronleigh Gaddin in 2006, she has operated spas in exotic locations like luxury bush retreats as well as urban hubs. Armani Spas have received several awards in recognition of their excellence , of which I can fully attest to . Omi was professional and made my pamper experience a memorable one, with a smile on her face it was probably the best massage I have had in a long time.

Its easy to kid yourself that you are feel happy to leave, but the reality is after having spent a blissful weekend in a hotel that hums with activity and has phenomenal views and delicious meals who wants to go back to a gruelling week of work ? This peaceful pocket of living is surreal ,embracing the style and comfort you have come to expect.

Flowers at reception

www.thehoughtonhotel.com

www.amanispas.co.za


Day Tripping in Soweto

On a warm winter Sunday 3 South African women from very different walks of life got together and decided on a day trip to Soweto to see what the vibrant township had to offer. With a spring in our step and armed with our cell phones for photos we set off.

In a day these are 5 main areas that one should make a point of getting to, and off course anything that pops up along the way because after all when in Africa nothing is planned

Noordgesig

Located on the edge of Soweto, it is the first township seen when entering Soweto. It is a predominately Coloured Township and was established on the farm Diepkloof and Klipspruit purchased by the Johannesburg City Council during the 1930’s. Which would only in 1963 become collectively known as Soweto. Entering the township, your eye is immediately drawn to the brightly painted buildings that dot the horizon. This is a project that began in 2018 with art my Jozi. The Good Luck Shop is the first one to catch your attention , then turning left you head down to the swimming pool and community centre. This is where I met Stanley and Mzi with their team. Explaining to me about their current project of painting professional fly, bantam and featherweight boxer Jake Thuli on the Community Centre wall. Already sketched it would take 3 weeks to complete painting the large canvas. Just around the corner the supermarket and church are covered in vibrant colours, most murals are stories of local people who lived in the area.
Charging up and down the streets are tuk tuks, for just R10 you can get a lift anywhere around town with one of the fleet of 14 vehicles.
Driving up and down the roads there are churches of all denominations, being a Sunday I took the opportunity to pop into the Catholic Church that was about to start its service. The Sister was standing outside welcoming the congregants to Mass. A large statue of Mary stood in the garden watching over the community.
The highlight of my day in this area was stumbling across the initiation ceremony of Sangoma’s who were receiving their certification to practise traditional healing. It was taking place on the pavement and all the signing and dancing in traditional clothing was a spectacular sight that sent goose bumps down my spine.

Artists Mzi and Stanley ( in blue )

Inside the Catholic Church

Kliptown

One of the oldest districts in Soweto, it is an area steeped in history. It is here that the Freedom Charter was signed in 1955. Parking our car near the vendors that sell the best looking fruit and veggies, we walked amongst them admiring the enormous potatoes. At the top of the Open Air Museum on Walter Sisulu Square are the 10 giant pillars which represent the 10 pillars of the Freedom Charter. At the centre of the square is the large brick conical monument , inside you will see the many principles of the charter carved on bronze tablets and looking up at what looks like a giant cross in the ceiling that allows the sun light in.
On the other end of the square is the 4 star Soweto Hotel, definitely worth stopping inside for a coffee and a bite to eat. With its classy interiors and tasteful African decorations it pays tribute to the surrounding area. Stepping out the main entrance , one can spot the blue plaque on the museum, housed in an old hardware store the compact museum brings to life the story of the freedom Charter. The wire sculptures of leading activists and ordinary people are the main feature, walking amongst them and reading their stories lets a person see life in the 50’s through their eyes. I was struck by the amount of the knowledge the guard had, he was eager to share it and was a wealth of information.
Heading back to the car past some vendors we stopped at Sylvia Gogo – Vele’s Muthi shop. She took the time to explain why women became addicted to the clay rocks that they buy in bucket fills for R25 . Usually having an iron deficiency leads them to chew on the rocks. Another favourite is the Impepho plant, a sacred herb that is burned like incense and is used to bring about the presence of the spirits.

Sylvia the Sangoma

Soweto Hotel

Jabulani

An absolute “ must see “ is the vibrant Soweto Theatre.The eye – catching, curved, box- like structure opened in 2012. The brightly coloured exterior is only a taste of what the interior looks like. Covered in bright ceramic tiles and eye catching art work you can just imagine the energy that must flow from performances on the three different stages inside.
The three different coloured boxes are in actual fact the theatres, with the Red being the biggest, it has a seating capacity of 436 people , the blue box is a 120 seater and the baby of the three is the yellow box that seats 80 people.

Soweto Theatre

Orlando

The last activity on our list for the day was the Orlando Towers. Orlando Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station that was commissioned at the end of the Second World War and served Johannesburg for over 50 years. It was shut down in 1998 and transformed into an entertainment and business centre in 2008. For the brave people they can do the bungee jump from the top of the 33 storey towers that are covered in brightly coloured murals. If you are not an adrenaline junkee , enjoy some tasty flame grilled meat and pap at the popular shisa nyama restaurant , Chaf Pozi and watch the fearless as they swing from their rope.
On your way out take a moment to stop at the curio shop and sit on the chair made out of car tyres, it is surprisingly very comfortable.

The Orlando Tower

Curio shop where the chair is made of tyres

Must do’s

When touring the streets of Soweto besides looking out for the tourist attractions there are some local tips also. If you spot the women braiding hair stop and watch them, its amazing how fast their fingers work.
The men often have some interesting outfits on, with bright colours and shiny shoes that they are very proud of, don’t be shy to ask them for a photo. They are very proud of their look.
Lastly when you see a women making fresh magwinya ,a township version of the vetkoek, but a little bit sweeter, you must try one. A common street food that is seen in the mornings as people rush to work, stopping at vendors and buying three in packet for R10.

Street Fashion

Making of magwinya

One day is not enough to see Soweto, but its a good start. You will leave wanting more. It oozes with life and there are stories around every corner waiting to be told. Whether you choose a guided tour or to do a group tour with some friends a visit to Gautneg is not complete without visiting this township.


Sun, Sand and Mountains for Easter

A family vacation has the potential to become a disaster for anyone alternatively it can turn out to be a load of fun with hilarious moments and memories that last forever. For us its always tricky, I love the mountains and the boys love the beach. So we need to comprise some how.

Wimpy Road Trip Moments

Then being the free spirited mom who really isn’t into planning all I need is a small bag of clothes, with an extra pair of jeans , something for cold days and a hair brush. The cell phone charger and power bank is of utmost importance for all the “ photo moments “

The boys throw in a few basics also and we are set to go. However this Easter holiday had an unexpected turn and at the last minute my sister joined us. At 3am in the morning I marched through the house telling everyone to wake up, groggy and barely focused I managed to shuffle 4 boys and their aunt into the car.

We turned onto the N3 headed for Durban only to discover that just about everyone else had the same idea and was leaving at this ridiculous hour. There are some perks to travelling at this time, the pace is faster, and the kids sleep. We arrived in Harrismith surrounded by heavy mist, the festive feeling of Good Friday in Wimpy was great. One thing about South African’s, we know how to enjoy our holiday’s and make the most of any situation.

Misty Harrismith

Back on the road we decided on the scenic route via Rosetta, Nottingham Road, Lions River and finally back onto the free way. Now this was not fast as one would expect. This section of the journey is photo heaven for me, so as the driver I have the power to stop the car whenever I want to take the pics. The moans and groans from the front and back seats are priceless, they go something like “ Oh no not again “ and “ didn’t we see this on our last holiday “ and “ really mom is it necessary “ . Of course chasing the cargo train to Lions River so that I could video it going through the station got them all excited as this meant I couldn’t stop the car.

Scarecrow Antiques in Rosetta

We finally reached the destination after travelling for 9 hours. It should have been a 5 hour trip, but then I am a firm believer in the Journey is just as important as the destination. Strange how my children are hesitant to get into the car with me when I want to go sight seeing.

The following day was spent lounging next to pool on the 5 Star Boutique Hotel, the Oyster Box in Umhlanga. Now this is where compromise came in. The boys were sent to swim in the sea on condition I could be left to lap up the sun’s rays sipping my drink and every so often lifting my eyes to look at the majestic light house in front of me with gigantic waves rolling onto the pristine rocks and beach.They happily agreed, dashing off to wade in the waters, not wanting to behave and to do the socially acceptable behaviour that parents expect of their little darlings and deep down we know full well that they cant do it. The reality is that they are actually just bursting to terrorise some unsuspecting bo-toxed lady prancing around the pool in her stilettos, champagne glass in hand.

Lounging at the pool of the Oyster Box Hotel

So they returned late afternoon, itchy and sticky from the beach sand but smiling from ear to ear and I was a relaxed as a cucumber ready for round two of “ mom can we….. “

Just as well we did that as Easter Sunday was the start of the soft soaking rain. So as a special treat for my sister I left her to care for her beloved nephews who were bouncing with sugar after an Easter Egg hunt that left them well stocked for the day, and I set of with my dad to explore the rolling hills of the Natal Midlands. Driving into the little town of Bryne that really is a glamourous retirement home filled with English style homes and rambling gardens and people who peer out from behind their curtains as you drive past one is immediately drawn to the beauty of the place. The manicured pavements and benches at the end of the roads give testament to the hard work of the locals in the up keep. We stopped at the beautiful old Anglican Church and spent time reading the tomb stones and wondering about the settlers who came to be here after their ship capsized in Durban and they lost all of their belongings around 1850.

Anglican Church of Bryne

Leaving the town we entered the beautiful Sappi property with its avenue of trees to admire the autumn colours. The rustle of the leaves in the wind and the silence around us gave a true country feeling to the lane as we rambled along.

Sappi’s Avenue of trees

Time had come for family good byes, my sister decided that she couldn’t endure another 9 hour photo session trip so stayed behind. My lucky children got to travel through the rolling green hills of the Drakensburg for the return journey where one must navigate the potholes in the road. At the same time being on the look out for the cows and goats that randomly appear and cross the road at a leisurely pace. The selling point for this choice was that we got to be above the clouds at one point and they could get out of the car and freeze for a family photo at Sterkfontein Dam. I do suspect they are seeing through my selling points, as there is zero excitement in them when I tell them these wonderful pieces of information

Sterkfontein Dam

Arriving home in the dark we can say that once again we had a fabulous, unplanned , spur of the moment family holiday and even if there were moans and groans the boys still loved it. Easter 2019 definitely had an extra hop in it.

 


Edirne the town with a big heart

Nestled in the Northwest corner of Turkey, also known as the happiness city and renowned for its annual oil wresting contest in summer, famed for its many mosques, this town could almost be over looked. It Is located just 7km from the Greek border and close to the Bulgarian border. It oozes with history and is fast becoming a rich culinary and heritage spot.

Stepping out of my hotel I was surprised at how close everything was to me, I was surrounded by history and beauty. For a moment I was over whelmed and didn’t know where to begin. But of course it was just common sense to begin at the most remarkable monument in the city and work my way from there, so I set of to Selimiye Mosque and the bazaar that surrounds it. These are my recommendations for a visit to Edirne.

Selimiye Mosque built in the 16th century by Mimar Sinan
This Ottoman Imperial Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Selim 11 and was built by the imperial architect Mimar Sinan between 1568 and 1575. It is considered to be his finest piece of work, and is the most important and most famous historical monument in Edirne. The Mosque has 999 windows in total, according to the architect Sinan, this number symbolises the perfectness of God.The upside down tulips, which are a symbol of Edirne have their origin in a tulip illustration engraved on a marble in the fountain right under the central dome of Selimiye. They are believed to symbolise the landlord of the tulip garden on which the mosque was built. The views from the garden at sunset are beautiful. I found the panoramic view of the city dotted with minarets breath taking

Magnificent arched bridges on the Tunca and Meric Rivers
The Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling and cultural festival takes place on the banks of these rivers between the last days of June and first days of July. It is one of Turkeys most important sporting events and one of the oldest annual sport contests in the world, UNESCO recognised it back in 1346 when the Ottomans were raiding forts. Summer is best to visit and enjoy the parties and festivities.

Saraclar Caddesi
Its vibrant both day and night. There is always soft music playing and the road is filled with sculptures, fountains, bright lights and lots of people. Its electric, definitely the place to be early evening when you want to sit down and recollect the days events.

Alipasa Carsisi 1565 – Grand Bazaar
Conveniently found along the main pedestrian Saraclar Street, this is one of the three covered bazaars found in Edirne. It was erected by Mimar Sinan and is named after the Grand Vizier Hersekzade Semiz Ali Pasha, unfortunately he died four years before it was erected. The building is 270 metres long and sells all sorts of things including souvenirs from Edirne such as fruit—shaped soap, Edirne soap is not used to wash with but rather for decoration and to add sweet aroma to interiors. Other souvenirs include small brooms with a mirror which are known to bring good luck, the broom represents purity and the mirror beauty.

Cultural houses
There are many old houses to been seen in Edirne. The oldest quarter is Kaleici because it stood within the city walls, it has the character of a typical Ottoman city. Wondering the streets even close to Selimiye Mosque you will find some old wooden houses known as Edirnekari ( ottoman Victorian )

Stay at Tashan Hotel
It is a 500 year old historical building which was designed by Mimar Sinan, and lovingly restored in line with its cultural heritage. The rooms are authentic but come with modern amenities. Decorated in Ottoman style my room had the perfect view looking out onto the Uc Serenely Mosque next to the Sokullu Hammam. There was a quaint garden that offered a buffet breakfast.

Drink coffee at Shot stop
I am a coffee addict so I am always looking for a coffee on the go spot , In Edirne, this was it. On the corner of the main shopping district is was perfectly located, quirky and it tasted great. Such a small space were every inch was utilised, they also had my favourite , salep a Turkish must have.

Makedonya Kulesi
This tower from the Roman Empire remains from the 4th century in the middle of town. It is now home to the pigeons. There are some remains of the city walls , some Byzantine pottery ovens , and the remains of an old Byzantine church

Edirne is the perfect day trip from Istanbul, approximately 2h 30 minutes by bus. It is a real gem , there is so much to do here that don’t be fooled into thinking that you will just pop in for a day. Wondering the streets you will quickly realise that time passes by faster than you expected. Edirne is known for liver, calf’s liver to be precise, which is thinly sliced and deep fried and served with fried red chillies and washed with ayran. Locally the dish is known as ciger tava, the best place to find it is around the old town. I loved the feel of this city, its relaxed and filled with impressive sights and architectural masterpieces.


What to do in Alexandroupoli - Greece

The capital of Evros, it was only a fishing village until the late 19th century. Now a major centre for transit shipping because of it being the crossroads of Asia, Europe, Mediterranean Sea and the Balkan peninsula. You can’t help but spend a day or two in this seaside town, with its main attraction being the light house and a multitude of cosy coffee shops that line the streets, Alexandroupoli is going to tickle your fancy in some way.

I crossed the border very easily from Turkey after spending some time exploring Edirne. The taxi driver dropped me off and I had my passport stamped and then walked over to the Greek side. Its quiet a walk but if you have on a good pair of shoes there is nothing like some fresh air and the sound of nature as you realise you are crossing the land between two major countries.

It was Sunday when I arrived in Greece, so being an Orthodox country everything and when I say everything that is exactly what I mean was closed. So the border town appeared to be a ghost town. That of course just makes the journey all the more fun for me as I wonder along and day dream. After a taxi drive and a bus journey I reached Alexandroupli and these are my recommendations that any traveller should do before moving on to their next stop.

Eat Gelato ice cream at Italos Gelateria with their rainbow of flavours. It is considered the best gelateria in town. Judging by the queues of local people you know you are making a good choice. It is so difficult to choose a flavour so best advice is have more than one. Its a delicious stop!

* Tasting the rich, sweet dessert pastry called baklava is an absolute must. It is made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened , held together with syrup or honey. In Greece baklava is supposed to be made with 33 dough layers referring to the years of Christ’s life. Just across the border in Turkey you can eat this delicious treat also but it varies slightly. The Turks use pistachios or heavy cream layered in it whereas the Greeks use walnuts. The Greeks portions tend to be bigger and have cinnamon and are softer.The Turkish one is crisper with no cinnamon. Both are delicious so my advice is to try both and decide for yourself.

Sleep at Dias Hotel. Built in an attractive building that was constructed in the 1970’s it initially served as lodge house. It is well located and in walking distance from the light house, supermarket, bus terminal and city park. It has 20 rooms. The rooms are clean and comfortable and I found them to be spacious. The blue and white tiled floor in the bathroom in particular reminder me that I was in Greece.

Eat dinner at Xarama beach Cafe and enjoy the sea breeze. It came highly recommended and when I sat down and looked at the menu I could see why. It was very difficult to choose. The menu was on a tablet and was extensive. While you wait for your food take a stroll on the pebbled beach, its magnificent at sunset, with the water gently lapping and you can see islands in the distance.

Coffee at Elemento 41 Bistro. Designed to look like home, this elegant bistro has a great selection of teas. I asked for baklava and was told they don’t sell any and it was best to buy it from a speciality store. Its a smoke free zone with good music and friendly staff. I just loved the decor, a real feast for the eyes.

Party at Noa Cafe Yatch Club at the harbour. The city’s hot spot. Located right on the waters edge this is where all the action is. A constant buzz of scooters is heard as they scoot up and down the harbour , a local means of transport for the young crowd. The view is great, cocktails and coffee awesome and atmosphere electric. If you are hungry try a waffle.

Shop at Georgiadis for souvenirs. Best place to find trinkets and memorabilia to take home. There is a great selection of items varying in price from 1or 2 Euros to expensive items. The owner speaks fluent english and even helped me to arrange a taxi to my next location. He gave me a map of the area and suggested places I visit. So not only a shop but in my opinion also tourist info booth .

Must see: The french architecture light house which is 6 storeys of stone steps and its lights can be seen 37km away. It was built in 1880 and the area is surrounded with park benches and lovely walk ways.

Flower clock is at the entrance of the harbour. Worth stopping to taking a photo. At night it is lit up so actually better then.

The Harbour. One of the most important ports in Greece, this commercial harbour consists of the outer port and smaller inner harbour. It is the only large port of Thrace, it receives passenger,merchant, fishing and tourist ships. The construction of the port began in the 19th century by French manufacturers

Quaint church just outside the harbour. Take a leisurely walk to the small white washed Orthodox church nestled quietly on the outskirts of the harbour. As you enter you are immediately drawn to its calmness. Being alone gave me time to to appreciate the beautiful images and take time to reflect on the peace and tranquility. When you leave you can walk down to the waters edge where I was very surprised to find a large amount jelly fish floating around.

Monument to Domna and Hadji Antonis Vizvizi, heros of the Greek War Of Independence. This bronze sculpture was made by George Megfkoulas in 1987. Hadji died in 1822 and was a Greek shipowner, in 1808 he married Domna who was from a local landowning family. They had 5 children one of whom went to study in Paris and on returning to Greece in 1832 gained appointment at the Minstry of Foreign Affairs and was the Governor of Naxos 1845 – 1876.

How to get there from Turkey

From Turkey if you are in Edirne you can take a taxi to the border about 7km away and walk over. Once in Greece, you catch a taxi for 20 Euro to Orestiada ( about half an hour away ) then buy a bus ticket for 11,50 Euro to Alexandroupoli. The ride is about 2 hours.

I chose to leave through a different border so bought a bus ticket on the Metro Greece bus straight to Istanbul Otogar for 13 Euro. This time it was 40km to the border but a lot easier as I was on the bus all the way

This low key Greek town is not a top holiday destination in Greece but its worth stopping in to get a taste of the country and its culture . Its the last major town before the Turkish border and has a comfortable pace of life. Definitely worth a day or two.


48 Hours in Bodrum

You can find everything you are looking for in Bodrum. With its enigmatic elegance and white washed houses with bright – blue trims this seaside getaway is a favourite holiday spot for both local and foreign tourists.
The grand castle, glittering marina and delightful cafes with brightly coloured mix match chairs, give this once fishing village an air of opulence that makes it a desirable destination.
Walking along the waterfront on a spring day with the sun peeking between random puffs of cloud i noticed the local dogs where even lazy, as they lay in the sun dozing off, enjoying the sound of water lapping onto the pebbled beach

With 48 hours in this delightful town I had a lot to see. Some of my recommendations for a first timer wanting to get the most out of this paradise are shared here. There is of course so much more to do

Sleep at : Ena Boutique Hotel

This impressive 4 star hotel is perfectly located. It has luxurious rooms that have beautiful sea views and an outdoor pool. The terrace restaurant was the ideal way to start a day, after a scrumptious breakfast, take time to sit outside and drink a coffee and soak up the magnificent views and morning sun. I can assure you that its hard to get yourself motivated in this ideal setting.

For a budget sleep at ; Duru Butik Hotel

Less than a 20 minute walk from the castle, this whimsical lodging is a cloud of colour with all the bright umbrellas that sway gently in the breeze both in the courtyard and on the upstairs terrace. The freshly painted white walls and blue decor make it a fun place to stay. Its simple but caters for all a travellers needs.

Eat at : Leman Kultur Restaurant

Cartoon characters all over, this animated restaurant has 14 franchises around Turkey with the first opening in 2013. It started out initially as a work environment for Leman journal staff , the idea flourished and became a place for gathering and performances. A favourite place for university students, it has a varied menu providing for all budgets and tastes. Attention to detail is great with animated serviettes and comical table tops. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed. Upon leaving the restaurant located on the waterfront, I am convinced that happiness is in the genres of the people that live here as I look at the smiles on their faces and spring in their step. Another reason could be their full bellies from all the yummy food.

Shop at : Socrates

I came across this boutique shop in a peaceful ally way on my first visit to Bodrum. I enjoyed tea with the owners and fell in love with their 100% hand printed cotton dresses and brightly coloured accessories like cushions and jewellery. The clothing is tasteful and everything is original. You actually feel like you are in Mykonos when you step into the store. With perfect english the staff are happy to assist. They have second store near the marina in the covered strip mall.

Buy fresh Fish: At the Marina

Strolling along the marina there are a number of fisherman who sell their catch. The variety ranges from crab, salmon, prawns to the common fish and a favourite for me, anchovy “ hamsi” lying on beds of ice under large umbrellas, the fisherman periodically throw cold water over the fish to keep it fresh. Nothing beats fresh fish, however you need somewhere to cook this tasty meal. The actual fish market has restaurants that will cook your fish when you buy it.

For the best Sunset : Gumusluk

Normally inhabited by locals and Turkish tourists , this laid back town is the perfect sunset location. Taking a leisurely walk along the pier and then walking along the crunchy beach looking out at Rabbit Island I remembered why this is one of my favourites in Bodrum. Wine and dine at one of the many restaurants along the water front, making sure you get a table that faces the water and enjoy fresh fish and raki the way regulars do. Its a truly memorable experience.

Buy a piece of art

As an avid art fan, I was admiring Funda’s paintings when I realised that I bought a painting from her the previous year. Bodrum is filled with artists , the variety of paintings here are beautiful and brightly coloured, with art work produced on canvas. rocks, paper , basically anything that the artist can paint on. I can easily loose myself as I wonder the back streets looking at all the art and chatting to the artists. The scenes painted are usually of flowers , window scenes and the bay with some ships.

Stroll along the Marina

The breezy waterfront of the marina is where locals and tourists alike enjoy strolling and chatting. Beautiful containers wrapped around the base of the trees, each with unique mosaic art on them add to the the colour of the walk way. Benches lined with people gazing out at the boats bopping in the waters, lazy dogs stretched out in the shade and children licking dripping ice creams. This is the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Buy a local handcrafted item

A firm believer in supporting local arts and crafts I always hunt out something hand made by a local. Near the water front there are a couple of stalls where women sell their crocheted necklaces, bracelets and earnings. There is something for everyone and to meet the lady that sits patiently making them always add to the value of the purchase.

Photograph brightly coloured window scenes

All over the town , restaurants , hotels and shops go out of their way to create fake window scenes that include curtains and flowers. Quaint but beautiful I soon found myself popping into coffee shops and pensions just to photograph them. It became an addiction.

Smell the wisteria

This purple beauty can be seen dangling over walls and hanging out of trees. It exudes a sweet scent that floods the pleasure centre in ones brain. Once I had spotted one in a small ally way I made sure I walked down there at least twice a day so that I could get intoxicated by the smell. Photographing them is another moment I love

How to get there

I flew Turkish Airlines that has daily flights from Istanbul. The flights arrive at Milas/ Bodrum airport and then you can take a taxi for around 100 TL to Bodrum. Another option is the bus station which is a couple 100 metres from the main area in the town. All major bus companies arrive daily from Istanbul and other cities of Turkey.Having used both, the scenery from the sky was breath taking at the plane came in, probably one of the best photos i have ever taken from a flight. The ground looked like one big patchwork carpet.

Most holiday makers spend the lion’s share of their time lounging on the beach or strolling the back ally ways. Its laid back and beautiful.
Its hard to say goodbye to Bodrum ! but the plus side is that once you have gone once you will continue to return each summer.


48 Hours in Nelspruit

The capital of Mpumalanga province, and now known as Mbombela it is the gateway to the Kruger National Park. The beautiful sub tropical climate leads to an abundance of sunshine and lush hills and valleys that go for as far as the eye can see. My memories from a child were always of the delicious fruit we would buy in this region and still the mango’s,avos and bananas were waiting for us as we passed through on a whirlwind weekend road trip.

This clean town has a lot to offer, we of course couldn’t see everything in 2 days but did as much as possible and encountered delays ( which were much appreciated of course ) such as having to go past Chippo’s no less than 3 times for our hot chips fix. Then the women who were selling fruit and nuts along the road side where another much appreciated delay so much so that we landed up with a car full of fruit and that meant on returning home the meals were going to be a variety of fruit smoothies for the next couple of days.

All said and done these are some of the recommend places that we enjoyed and would definitely return to.

Puzzle coffee shop at Sonheuwel Central is a riot of colour with tin cups dangling from the brookie lace and bright pink walls. Every nook and cranny has a creature peering out at you. Smokers sit out side but I was happy to join them as it looked out onto a big tree house built around three trees in the car park, the breeze was an added benefit. They are known for their breakfast and the open omelette I had was delicious. The prices are good and the food is fresh. Dont expect wifi, you either read the newspaper or chat to people around you, the good old way of communicating.


Sunset Manor situated on a rocky ridge above the city with magnificent views of the city and escarpment. The tranquility of the neighbourhood was ideal especially in the morning when waking up to the sounds of the birds signing in the trees. With a swimming pool for the hot summer days it was ideal. I was thrilled to find a shongololo in the garden and hastily picked him up to feel the 100’s of legs crawling along my arm. The garden outside our room was home to all sorts of creatures reminding us that we really were in Africa.


For a giggle stop past the The naked sheep shop. In the Sonheuwel centre it is the local wool shop. The owners have been very creative with the shop front and made a patch work wall of crochet pieces and then created a frame for passers by to stand in and take their photo.


Chippo’s is an institution , known as the champions food, I can vouch for that title. I would never have thought of going inside this shop to buy a takeaway if my travel companion had not recommended it. After all how often does one get out at the petrol station to get slap chips ? if these chips fell into a category for voting they would over take any of our well known brands. They are slightly crunchy with some peri peri and sliced chilis on top but strangely not hot. When you reach the oil at the bottom licking your fingers in public is deemed more than acceptable.


Nelspruit airport, is the best way to describe the route but we didn’t actually reach the airport. It was the turn off from the main road and then we stopped on the bridge to admire the beautiful river below flowing over large round boulders. When we tried to trace to the route of the river all we could see was the magnificent African bush and blue skies going on forever


Stop and smell the lilies along the road side. During the month of February the mountain side is covered in white lilies. Some areas are have larger clusters, take the time to appreciate their beauty.Every so often there are purple flowers scattered amongst them also.


Kaapsche Hoop was probably my favourite spot on this epic weekend trip. Set higher up in the mountain range the mist often rolls in. Besides the waterfall and old grave yard and historic town that one can amble through were the wild horses. They excited me the most, there are approximately 180 horses in the area broken up into various herds as the stallions break away. When we found a herd along the road side and then in the forest next to us I was ecstatic to see what good condition they were in , there were some foals in the herd and one mare was pregnant. The horses ad to the ambience of the area, as they mysteriously appear out of the mist. The locals love the horses and there are many signs up warning motorists to watch out.


Sunset from the soccer ball. It was just a plain water reservoir but then with the soccer world cup in 2010 it was painted to look like a soccer ball. There is no access to the top of the actual ball but you can go out onto the deck next to it and the rocks below to watch the sun set over the beautiful city.


The Halls Farm Stall is the final stop when leaving Nelspruit. It started out as a small farm stall then over the years has grown into a modern shop selling anything from bottled preserves, ground coffee, mampoer to teddy bears and knick- nacks. There is a coffee shop and an up market nursery. The covered parking is perfect on a hot summers day and they even offer to wash your car while you are inside eating. The hot crocodile sauce is a special recommendation from this store for anyone who likes to set their mouth on fire when they eat.

We left this amazing town as we headed out on the Panorama Route , the home to more waterfalls than any other part of South Africa. Also the land of potholes, many locals will will tell you that the letter “ P” on the Mpumalanga number plate stands for potholes so best not to drive at night and keep your eyes peeled on the road during the day.

A magnificent part of the county, the lowveld offers something for everyone