Monthly Archive for: ‘February, 2013’

TBT: Monaco ‘09

TBT: Monaco ‘09

Looking back at a brief but lovely trip I took to Monaco back in September 2009. I had just spent a few glorious days in beautiful Paris and then made my way to Monaco to visit my friend Adjoa who was studying at the International University of Monaco at the time.

The six hour ride from Paris to Monaco on the Euro Star offered a glimpse of the scenic French countryside. Vast green fields that went on forever, beautiful farm houses, and grazing cattle were some of the sights we saw along the way. Eventually, we arrived in the spectacular principality of Monaco, situated along the breathtakingly beautiful French Riviera.

My impressions of Monaco? Beautiful, extravagant, and a glimpse into what REAL (and old) money affords those who have it. High-end restaurants, designer shopping, a stunning harbour, the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo, and opulent nightlife are some of the things you can expect from Monaco.

Overall, I found that Monaco was somewhat over the top, but who can ever be mad at spending a few days of luxury living at its best?

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Stunning French countryside as seen from the train.

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Sheep enjoying their lunch :-)

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As we drove into Monte Carlo

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Place du Casino

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View from our hotel room. The MOST phenomenal view I have ever woken up to.

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The sheer beauty of the French Riviera.

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Walking the streets.

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The harbour

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I want one!

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Dinner and drinks with the girls!

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Caribbean Living…

Caribbean Living…

So someone I know decided to live out a dream and go and spend a month – a whole month –  chilling in the Caribbean! That is life! Her name is Barbara Makumbi, she’s a doctor, and she’s my new hero.  Read this feature for her beautiful Caribbean experience!

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I’m a junior doctor and after working hard (at the bottom of the hospital food chain) as an intern for 2 years, I decided its time for a break, a celebratory break, a time out to see the world.

So I put the next chapter of my career on hold and took a month off.

But when the world is your oyster where do you go?  Well, that was easy. My old childhood friend Fiona is living on the Caribbean Island of Anguilla. We’d been talking about my visiting her for ages. Perfect!

So, the time finally came to leave. I bid farewell to my old job, my old town, friends & family and headed off for my one-month adventure.

After a 20 hour flight to the USA, I landed in Las Vegas. This is where I met up with Fiona. Vegas was everything you would imagine it would be and now I know why they say, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. So, moving on swiftly ;)



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3 days later, we were off to the Caribbean. We flew from Vegas to Miami, and then from Miami to the Caribbean Island of St Maarten, or as I like to call it… Paradise!!

St Maarten is situated in the north-west of the Caribbean.  It is divided into a French territory (the French side) and a territory of the Netherlands (the Dutch Side).

The St Maarten airport is located a few meters from Maho Beach.

Upon landing, one can look out of the airplane and see people soaking up the sun and enjoying the beach. The ocean is turquoise & crystal clear with white sands. This was a sight to behold from the air. I instantly became excited.  Regardless of how many hours we’d been travelling or how jetlagged we were, Fiona and I were going to hit that beach, immediately.

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A rush to our hotel, the Caravanserai Beach-Resort ensued. We dropped off our luggage and got ready for the beach. This hotel is located in the same vicinity as the airport and the beach. Everything we needed was in the same area. We had chosen our hotel very strategically. It was beyond convenient.

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Ready to go, Fiona and I were off to explore. We headed to Sunset Beach Bar, an iconic hot spot in St Maarten.  At this bar, you will get the best view of planes landing overhead at the airport.

The planes fly at such a close proximity that is feels as though they may land on the beach.  While viewing the magnificent sights, Fiona and I indulged in the island’s trademark cocktails.

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In the evening, we were keen to try some local cuisine however this wasn’t easy to find so we settled for a restaurant/lounge, called YOLO- You Only Live Once. This soon became the catch phrase for our trip together.

Dinner was fantastic, and with our bellies full and happy, it was time to paint the island red. We headed to a local & popular nightspot and danced the night away.

The next morning it was time to leave for Anguilla, the place I’d call home for the next 3 weeks.

Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory & located just north of St Maarten. It is a small island with a population of approximately 13 500 people.

We caught a Ferry from St Maarten to Anguilla, via the Anguilla channel, which separates the islands. Fiona had warned that me that Anguilla is the definition of island living. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what she had meant. She tried to explain that, it would be like nothing I’ve ever experienced, as the city girl that I am.

When we arrived at the dock in Anguilla, friendly faces greeted us, so far so good. We disembarked and made our way to Fiona’s beach house. It was lovely. The sites and sounds were definitely the definition of island living. And I loved it!

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Fiona’s accommodation is literally 10 footsteps from the beach. I spent most of my days in her beach-backyard, lazing in the sun and reading. As well as meeting the friendly locals and tourists. It was heavenly.

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Getting my hair done

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The people of Anguilla are a beautiful people, inside and out. They were always willing to go the extra mile to make me feel welcome.  I felt right at home.

Anguilla has a wide array of places to eat out. From the restaurants, to the beach bars, to the local resorts, to barbeques and grills.  We did it all.

Below are my top 4 places to visit in Anguilla:

The Dune Preserve Beach Bar

The Dune Preserve Beach Bar is located on Rendezvous Beach. It has been ranked as the Best Beach Bar in the World by CNN. This charismatic bar is owned by internationally known recording artist Bankie Banks. It’s composed of tree house structure, made primarily of drift wood.

It’s an open-air bar, which boasts beautiful ocean views. There is a restaurant that serves delicious cuisine. And a well stocked bar which houses a Caribbean favorite- rum punch (a very potent cocktail). We spent many afternoons and evenings hanging out at the Dune.

They boast live performances regularly, adding even more to the amazing atmosphere.

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Viceroy Beach Resort

Viceroy is a luxury beach resort located on Meads Beach. This breathtaking resort is Fiona’s neighbour. A short , 5-minute walk down the beach and we were there.Viceroy has a host of restaurants, bars and lounges. We were regular visitors.Many a celebrity has visited this resort on holiday or business. And most recently Rick Ross, Wale and Drake filmed the music video for “Diced Pineapples” there. At Viceroy we enjoyed fine dining, DJ nights, buffet breakfast and spa facilities. This was the ultimate neighbour.

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Sand Bar

Sandbar is a beach bar located in the Sandy ground area of Anguilla. This beach bar is very upmarket with a sophisticated feel. They are renowned for their Tapas and Cocktails which are both very delicious. So you simply order a large number variety of finger foods and sip on cocktails. So fantastic. The best part about Sandbar is the tables and chair that are located in the sand, on the actual beach. (normal seating is available) The beach is majestic & catching a sunset at Sandbar is simply in one word… magical.

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Blanchard’s Beach Shack

Blanchard Beach Shack which is also located very close to us, is a very laid-back restaurant/ take out on the beach. We spent a lot of time here too. We would meet friends, grab a quick dinner and just hang out. Great food, quite an American orientated menu. Tables are located in the beach sand, surrounded by palm trees that are decorated with fairy lights. And just a stone’s throw from the water.

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I’m sure the waiters and waitresses knew exactly who we were by the time I was leaving.

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We went to a few clubs in Anguilla. The nightlife was exciting with a great atmosphere. Many beach bars and clubs host live music events regularly. Safety was never an issue in Anguilla. I was told that crime is a rare occurrence on the island. This was evident to me by the lack of fencing, houses with open doors, unlocked cars, & people walking around fearlessly at all hours of the day and night. If a pedestrian is walking in the same direction you are driving, you pick that person up. It’s the norm. It was so refreshing.

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During our adventures we met singer/recording artist- Omari Banks  & song of Bankie Banks (also a recording artist and owner of Dune Preserve Beach Bar). He is a former West Indies test cricketer. He broke off from his sporting career to pursue his passion in music. Omari Banks is the lead singer of his band called Eleven. The music they play can be described as- a combination of lovers’ rock & reggae infused with a mixture of jazz & R&B. He releases his debut album and music video later this week. Watch this space!

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Photographer- Bob Magee

Check the first single out on itunes:
Omari Banks – Unafraid
& his official website: www.omaribanks.com

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The day I had to leave Anguilla, I left with a heavy heart.  I had connected with this island on another level. The beautiful scenery, the wonderful people, the music, food and culture, I had soaked it all in.  Saying goodbye to paradise was so difficult.  Anguilla has definitely not seen the last of me!

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References:

http://www.bankiebanx.net/Restaurant.html
http://www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/anguilla/overview
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anguilla

TBT: Venice, Italy 2011

TBT: Venice, Italy 2011

Part of my Europe tour in 2011 was going to Venice.  So off we went to Venice.

You have a choice of navigating yourself on a gondola or just getting yourself lost in the streets.It is separated by bridges and canals. You have to take a ferry to get to the city. It is absolutely perfect and amazing.

I had heard so much about it I was beyond excited. The architecture is just amazing. Its also famous for its glass, I decided to purchase plates for my mom, my only purchase. I have to say that they are not lying when they say its expensive. But regardless you still are able to have a lovely meal, coupled with a good glass of wine and do some shopping without it denting your pocket money too heavily.

Standing in the middle of the magnificent piazza San Marco is an experience in itself. We started off visiting the world famous St Marks Basilica .The architecture is just exquisite, I can’t describe it anyway else. We spent the day wandering the streets and visiting historic sites. Our Gondola ride was nothing less than perfect. It was the right way to relax but still get to see the city. You forget how much walking you have done because every street is just so unique and interesting. There are small cafes and restaurants, tucked away.You can also enjoy a meal over looking the canals.

We ended off our evening with a Toga party. We were given sheets and the rest was up to us. The men were dressed by us (ladies), so they literally were standing there exposed in just their undies waiting for one of us to come wrap them up in their sheets.

Lots of drinking, eating and dancing. The best bunch of people who know how to have a good time and let loose. To seal off Venice being a city of romance and love at its best, one of us, no names mentioned was able to have a short summer fling in Venice. The bliss of it all.

I definitely want to come back to this breath taking city with a boo thang. Venice is another reason why Italy is such a beautiful and romantic country.

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Welcome To SA: Justin Shore

Welcome To SA: Justin Shore

Gira js

1.  Flight Number & Airline?

Delta Flight # 200 (ATL-JNB)
Delta Flight #201 (JNB-ATL)

2. Johannesburg, South Africa. First Thoughts?

Bright, clean, and welcoming. From the arrival at OR Tambo, through the Gautrain, and into the city of Johannesburg, the rain didn’t damper our excitement to be in South Africa and go take part in a wine festival at the Hyde Park Mall.

3. How many days did you spend in Johannesburg?

9 days

4. Where did you stay and why?

We stayed at the Southern Sun at Hyde Park – (http://www.hydeparkshopping.co.za/hotel +27 11 341 8080) because it was in a great location near our friends and it was easy to get around to different parts of the city by car/taxi.

5. Stereotypes you had before?

Being with William, who had been to Johannesburg before, I got a preview from him of what to expect. I anticipated a diverse culture of very nice people and great places to eat. Even with the preconceived idea of how nice everyone would be, I was still blown away by the kindness and generosity of everyone that I came to meet during the trip.

6. Best Part of your trip?

The best part of the trip was hanging out with great friends over dinner and wine every night. I loved being able to try new restaurants everyday and meeting new people along the way. I also enjoyed going to the Neighbor Market near the downtown area. It was nice to see locals hanging out and enjoying their weekend afternoon with their friends and it didn’t really have a touristy feeling to it, which was also a plus.
One of my absolute favorite parts was feeding a giraffe at the Lion Park. It wasn’t very busy that day and we were able to take our time feeding the giraffe and take many pictures with her.

7. Worst part of your trip?

The worst part of the trip was the final day – knowing I would be leaving this beautiful country was a tough feeling. The hangover from the night out before didn’t help the feeling on the final stretch to OR Tambo, but it was definitely sad to have to leave.

8. South African’s are the most _________ people?

FRIENDLY & HOSPITABLE
Everyone had a genuine sense of hospitality to welcome us into their country by sharing wine, food, and stories with us.

9. What do you think of the new currency?

I think the new currency is very nice by having brighter colors that stand out. And depicting a face on the currency that represents someone special to South Africa who has taken the country to new heights. It is also nice to have the animals on the reverse that everyone has come to associate with each bill.

10. Best restaurant?

One of my favorite restaurants was Espresso Caffe  ( Espresso 011 447 8700  23A 4th Avenue, Parkhurst) and Bistro Vine ( 011 327 4558  -4th Avenue Parkhurst, Johannesburg) They both had friendly wait staff and a nice atmosphere with the open dining area facing the street. The food was amazing…

11. Distinctly South African Things that you did

I was able to try, what I thought of as authentic South African cuisine at the wine festival on the first day: wildebeast with tamarind and a macho kudu pot. Although I enjoyed it very much, some of the locals would have disagreed its authenticity and wouldn’t admit to wanting to try it.
We also went to visit the Lion Park to see lions and their cubs. We were able to pet the baby lions and feed a giraffe. Two things I had never done before, so I was very excited to do that!
We visited the Apartheid Museum which was very interesting and allowed me to learn more about the history of what has gone on in South Africa and how they have triumphed over so much in such recent history.

12. How do you say hello in Xhosa?

Bonjour?…

13. What does travel mean to you?

To me, travel is learning. Traveling to new places and meeting new people broadens the mind in a way that can’t be done in a classroom. It’s about experiencing other cultures, learning new languages, and trying new types of food. Traveling causes the world to shrink and brings Pretoria to the backyard of Paris, which is across the street from Washington, D.C.

Anywhere and anything is possible.

14. A must see for future travelists?


I can’t say it enough – feeding a giraffe is a must do! I sound crazy, but that stands out to me as it was something I had never done before. The animals in South Africa are incredible and I think some kind of a safari or trip to the Lion Park is a must see.
Also, EVERYONE told us to visit Cape Town – so I will say that because that will be what we do on our next trip to South Africa very soon as future travelers ourselves.

 

Justin ShoreIMG_1072

 

Get to know: Sphume Sibeko

Get to know: Sphume Sibeko

What is the best early morning experience you’ve had while traveling?

It was a very early morning… we had heavy breakfast after a beautiful night out, cracking up with my girls as the sun came up. We then sat looking at the view of New York from the fire escape, and I remember thinking “ya ne, this is what this life thing is all about”

Have you experienced any disasters/crisis while traveling?

Well… except missing a critical flight from NYC to Jozi when we were literally dead broke? No

Have you ever “mysteriously” survived a critical situation?

Missed this flight and again, we were super broke so we weren’t even sure how we were going to figure this one out. When we ran into the airport and looked for where our airline’s section is, we asked the guy wrapping luggage and he immediately laughed so hard at us! Luckily, when we went to go find out if anything could be done to get us on this flight, we were given a flight the next day, an extra day to spend in NYC, and were charged absolutely nothing, not even an admin fee!

What is your travel style?

Down for whatever, relax and enjoy the ride!

Which songs best describe your travel experiences?

Slum Village – ‘Disco’

A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Like it like that’

Common – ‘Its your world’

Nas feat Lauryn Hill – ‘If I ruled the world’

Most profound lesson learned through travel?

Open your mind

Favorite Town/ Village?  Why?

Went to this awesome small town about an hour outside of Rio de Janeiro called Itacuruca. Beautiful quaint town embellished with the gorgeous ocean. From there we got on a boat and got to experience the surrounding islands, jump into the middle of the ocean, and then rest and eat up on Sepetiba Bay. One of the best experiences ever!

Favorite City? Why?

New York. Coolest place on earth. Ask me the same question in a few years though, still have a lot of world touring to do ;)

Who is the most unforgettable person you’ve met or interacted with while traveling?

Gorgeous little girl named Camilla in Brazil who was totally fascinated by black skin. Also met some amazing souls who’ve become like family

What are some of the things you don’t like about traveling?

Long layovers!

I had my best night’s sleep at:

Iguassu Falls, Brazil

What are the 3 top eating experiences you’ve had while traveling lately?

Waffles from Petite Abeille & cheesecake from Magnolia Bakery in New York; Seafood in Mozambique from Sagres Shellfish Restaurant; and the cheapest tastiest cheeseburgers from a corner store at Copacabana Beach, Rio.

Best place to get tipsy:

Standard Hotel, New York. I simply cannot get over that place.

What’s the craziest stereotype you’ve heard about South Africans while traveling?

That we wear animal skins so we bought clothes at the airport coming into America. Learnt English at the airport too.

If I had only 24 hours to live, I would spend it in:

New York! That way I could play hard, eat hard, listen to the best hip hop while checking out some super fly types

Best Cities to fall in love

Haven’t been to Paris or Hvar but those seem like the spots to catch a feeling.

Cities you want to see with a lover?

Barcelona, Paris, Prague, Hvar

Cities you want to see with the girls?

Montego Bay, Accra, London, Istanbul

Best Cities to travel on your own

Haven’t been to any of these either – but wouldn’t mind doing Milan, Mumbai, and Beijing as a lone ranger

What city best suits/ embodies your personality?

New York! Encapsulates the diversity and beauty of the world, even the flaws are cool.

About Yourself:

Excited; all in with this life thing; completely love my people, travelling, eating, basketball, music, and I have the biggest sweet tooth on earth.

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Republic Bar & Grill, Accra

Republic Bar & Grill, Accra

When traveling to a new city, its always good to find out where the locals love to let loose and enjoy a drink or two. Its usually in these environments that the real personality of a city shows itself, and also where you really get a sense of what makes each city unique.

Word of mouth led us to a charming bar & grill in Osu, called Republic Bar & Grill. Osu is a district in central Accra, known for its busy commercial, restaurant and nightlife activity. It is locally known as the “West End” of Accra. When walking and driving through Osu, I felt was a strong sense of the authentic energy and soul of the people of Accra.

The selling point of Republic Bar & Grill is the fact that all the drinks are laced with Akpeteshie (Disclaimer: Not for the faint hearted). Akpeteshie is a home-made alcoholic spirit produced in Ghana and other West African nations by distilling palm wine or sugar cane. But beyond that, this charming bar & grill provides an eccentric and quirky experience in the city of Accra. From the sounds of Fela Kuti filling the air, to the vintage inspired decor, the colourful and interesting  clientele, and the yummy Akpeteshie laced cocktails (AGAIN, Be warned), a night out at Republic Bar & Grill is a sure stop before heading out for a night of partying in Accra (if you’re still standing of course).

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TBT: Amsterdam ‘10

TBT: Amsterdam ‘10

 

June 2012. On a whim, Katiso and I decided that we wanted to see Amsterdam. Within 2 weeks, we made this trip happen. What an incredible city. So beautiful, so interesting, and so colourful! We spent just over a week in Amsterdam. We enjoyed our time trying different food and beer, shopping, exploring, partying, and learning more about the city’s rich history. I’m not done with you Amsterdam, my heart yearns to know you better….

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This house is so beautiful, straight from a fairytale!

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Shopping in Dam Square

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Music for cash monies!

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Houseboats…so lovely!

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Katiso walking them streets.

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The infamous Red Light District!

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We even managed to catch a N.E.R.D show :-)

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Hello there Pharrell!

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:-)

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Katiso getting down!

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People Watching.

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The canals are so beautiful!

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Public toilets in the Red Light District. True story.

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More houseboats. I could so live like that!

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Our reward after a long day of walking!

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Bicycles seemed to almost be the primary mode of transport.

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Love it.

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Canal cruising.

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And another houseboat.

 

 

 

Get To Know: Lerato Makume

Get To Know: Lerato Makume

Lerato Makume GTK

1.What is the best early morning experience you’ve had while traveling?

Waking up to a cold one in the morning…. Don’t have the pleasure of doing that on my daily routine at home.

2. Have you experienced any disasters/crisis while traveling?

Flew 18 hours on an airline (EgyptAIR to be exact) with NO BOOZE and one in-flight movie ….Needless to say, I will NEVER travel with that airline EVER AGAIN!

3. Have you ever “mysteriously” survived a critical situation?

Forgot the pin to my bankcard after taking a beautiful tour around Cairo, Egypt. I couldn’t pay the taxi driver. I was so scared. Seriously thought he would leave me in the middle of nowhere. Rough times. But in the end, he was accommodating and let me go without paying.

4. What is your travel style?

No specific style. I think my style would be classified as really chilled. I go with the flow, I love partying in different countries, and location based lunches and champagne

5.Which songs best describe your travel experiences?

Let me get back to you on this. It changes every single time. The last trip to New York was M.I.A “Bad Girls”. It embodies the whole essence of traveling with a group of girls. The ups, downs, and all the random in-between moments

6. Most profound lesson learned through travel?

I just have a good time when I travel…..Will think about the lessons later! Questions like these bore me…..

7. Favorite City? Why?

Johannesburg. Its my foundation. My core. No where else can compare.

8. What are some of the things you don’t like about traveling?

a) No alcohol on planes
b) Going to the toilet during a flight
c) Missioning from one place to another with too much luggage

I know it seems trivial but, all the above can ruin an experience.

9. I had my best night’s sleep at:

On the sleeper couch in our apartment in New York…

10. What are the 3 top eating experiences you’ve had while traveling lately?

1. Loved Sant Ambroues in the West Village ( NY) New York, (259 West, 4th Street, New York, NY 10014. Tel. 212-604-9254)

2. Rafiki’s (meaning ‘friend’ in Swahili) Cape Town. 13 Kloof Nek Road | Tamboerskloof | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 426 4731

11. Best place to get tipsy:

I would imagine Amsterdam, but I have never been…. It’s on the list

12. What’s the craziest stereotype you’ve heard about South Africans while traveling?

Not all South Africans have AIDS.

13. Cities you want to see with a lover?

Not just cities….The World!

14. Cities you want to see with the girls?

Where I can get shattered  (Mom, if you are reading this- “Shattered” is slang for reading) and my lover won’t find me….or even hear of me. So I think Scotland.

15. Best Cities to travel on your own

Durban, there is nothing much to do but lay on the beach!

16. What city best embodies your personality?

Johannesburg. And New York is up there too. The contrast and extremes. The hard vs soft. I am all these things

17. About Yourself:

Another question I hate…this is not an interview! But hopefully we can hang sometime so you can get to know more about me

JAMBO!!!

JAMBO!!!

When my dear friend Mathapelo told me she was headed to Kenya for a few days this past December, I had to hold back on my envy, take a deep breath, and be happy for her. I’ve heard so much about the beauty of Kenya, its people, and its culture, and I’m dying to see it for myself.  I made it a point to catch up with her upon her return to hear all about the trip.

This is Mathapelo’s account of what she says was a life-changing trip.

On arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi at 5:00am Kenyan time, the plane’s exterior windows were immediately beaded with humidity. Inside the airport, there was no air conditioning, which further heightening the oppressive humidity. After going through passport control we proceeded to claim our luggage and then we were off to boarding gate 1 where we boarded a flight to Mombasa.

When we arrived in Mombasa, we were met at the airport by Roger our tour guide, Roger generously handed out bottled water and mint scented face cloths for us to wipe our faces and took us on a two-hour bus ride from Moi International Airport in Mombasa over a long and narrow road. It was during this trip that I noticed how hard life was for most people, from my comfortable seat in an air conditioned bus, digital camera, iPod in hand and oversized shades, we drove past mud huts and houses on the busy road, hawkers begging to have their goods sold and children running after the bus waving at us.

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Drive from Moi International Airport to Malindi

After 120 kilometres northeast of Mombasa we had reached our destination, I remember thinking to myself “this must be Kenya’s or should I say Italy’s best kept secret – Malindi”. It is the ‘little Italy’ of Africa. Billboards advertise in Italian, Kenyans speak Italian including Kenyan kids, grocery stores stock shelves of olive oil, salami and prosciutto, and tanned Italian men wander the beaches in skimpy bikini trunks with tall, skinny dark model like Kenyan girls young enough to be their granddaughters. Did I mention pizza, pasta joints and fine wine?

In typical Maasai Manyatta village-style, with chalet-like rooms made out of indigenous wood and the roofs covered with palm branches (Makuti roof) was our home away from home – Sandies Tropical Village. Crystal clear, tranquil waters, white beach sand, the coconut palm trees, free flowing booze 24/7 all add to this paradise. Here we were warmly greeted with the phrase “Jambo” Swahili for “hello”, this became our way of greeting for the duration of our stay in Kenya. We were welcomed with drinks, drums, dancing, singing and I immediately felt my heart smiling as this reassured me that I was home. The staff were friendly and offered to take our bags up to our rooms while we were whisked away to have lunch.

 

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Sandies Tropical Village, Malindi Kenya

 The days that followed my arrival in Malindi were filled with nothing but adventure from weaving through traffic jams while holding onto a metal rod for dear life and zipping by Malindi’s distinct architecture on a tuk-tuk on the narrow back streets with beautifully carved doors, shops stacked with metres and metres of colourful kikoy cloth, coconuts being sold by market women,  a trip to Mombasa to have lunch with friends with the ocean and charming boats as a backdrop, sundowners as we watched the sunset, feeding bananas to over enthusiastic monkeys in a forest  by the Gedi Ruins, dancing the adumu “jumping dance” with the maasai around the fire, long walks on the  white sandy beach of Malindi, lunch at old man and the sea, celebrating a friend’s birthday party at Pata Pata, one of the finest upmarket  clubs in Malindi , discovering Soweto Bar in the middle of a remote village in Muyeye on Christmas and visiting a marketplace full of local handicraft, paintings and beautiful maasai cloth.

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Christmas in Muyeye spent with villagers/Soweto Bar – Malindi Kenya

However, one of the most rewarding experiences of my trip was experiencing a completely different culture than my own, becoming the minority, being reminded of how privileged I am, making friends and getting to know my fellow travelers out of their comfort zone.

Ofcourse I will always remember the more tourist excursions that I took while in Kenya like the famous Vasco da Gama Pillar which is believed to be one of the oldest European monuments in Africa and having been built in 1498, Francis Xavier Church which is the first Portuguese church in East and Central Africa and the  Gedi ruins, what was once a rich trading hub from the 13th to 17th century and was mysteriously abandoned and taken over by the forest until the 1900´s when it was excavated amongst other things. The ornaments that were found inside the ruins are on display in the museum next door which we visited.

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Feeding monkeys at the Gedi Ruins

However, I think what stays with me more and what impacted me more was the spirit and kindness of the Kenyan people, the smiling faces of the children and enthusiastic waves as we drove/walked past and more importantly Hashim, an unassuming kind man whom we met outside our hotel as we were looking for a tuk-tuk to take us to the Vasco da Gama Pillar, Hashim became more than just our driver, we became friends, he made our stay in Kenya a rich, vibrant experience. This man shaped our memories of Kenya more than the place its self.  Hashim shone light on our ignorance and taught us about Malindi and ourselves in ways that he himself will never know and for this I will be forever grateful.

 

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Hashim – This man really took care of us

 It was also at the Vasco da Gama Pillar were we met Festo aka Captain Vasco who was to show us around. Festo is a care free soul who seems to enjoy the simple things in life. We exchanged numbers with Festo and asked him to take us to a spot where locals chilled for a good time. After a long day of touring Malindi, we finally went back to the hotel to have dinner and freshen up. We then hit the town with Festo and Hashim. They took us to Club Kienyeji which is situated along Tsavo road in Malindi, here, we entered a small, well-outfitted room and we were greeted warmly, we discovered a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of people dancing to the greatest Kenyan new generation music, bands we’ve never heard of before. Some playing pool while the boys were sipping on cold Tuskers. It was at this club where we left with that authentic Kenyan clubbing experience and it felt amazing. This is a real downtown gem!

 

Untitled7-1Me and the boys at the Vasco da Gama Pillar, Malindi – Kenya

My experience in Kenya did not leave me empty, I take home with me the spirit of the Kenyan children, the humility, courage and kindness of the Kenyan people and  the strength of the Kenyan women who carry wood on their arched backs and walk long distances  to make fire and feed their families .

 

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 My love for Africa and my desire to contribute to the development of this beautiful continent strengthens more with every trip I make within the continent. This experience opened me up to the idea that, even in a blink of an eye, you can make lifelong friends. I can only try to paint a picture with words or capture these moments through my lens but some experiences can only be understood and felt through the naked eye. Africa is definitely the place to be, best believe it! “

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