‘Features’ Category

Get To Know: Bobo

Get To Know: Bobo

 

                           Photo courtesy of Mmaphuthi Morule

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

A champagne breakfast on the balcony of our hotel room at the Vista Palace Hotel when visiting Monaco back in 2009.

Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, from the Principality of Monaco to the Italian Riviera, the Vista Palace Hotel offers one of the most spectacular views of the French Riviera. That experience had me feeling like i was in paradise.

Vista Palace Hotel , 1551 Route de la Turbie – 06190 Roquebrune Cap-Martin – France

Tel. : +33 (0) 4 92 10 40 00

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

Well, I suppose missing a flight from New York to Johannesburg could be considered a crisis of sorts, but it worked out in the end. And besides, an extra night in New York  never hurt anyone! We were also lucky enough not to have to pay extra for our flight the next day. Thank God for that because we were super broke come the end of that holiday! Crisis averted.

3. What is your travel style?

I do a lot of research on the destination I am traveling to.  I will trawl the internet to find out about the best restaurants, best places to shop, must see attractions, where to party etc. I feel like when visiting a new place, I really don’t want to miss out on “the best of” that city. A well informed traveler is a happy traveler!

I also prefer to experience new destinations through the locals as opposed to doing the tourist thing. The best way to fall in love with a city is to experience it the way the people who love it most do.

4. Which songs best describes your travel experiences?

“Paris Nights & New York Mornings”- by Corinne Bailey Rae. I can testify to those beautiful, mind blowing Paris nights, as well as those early morning walks of shame back home after a big night out in New York…heels in hand, hailing a cab down…

Rihanna has also provided many soundtracks to many a crazy night out in my recent trips to New York and Accra.

5. Most profound lesson learned through travel?

That to travel, and see the world, is to truly live and learn. Travel feeds my soul in a way that touches me deeply. Every single time.

6. Favorite Town/ Village?  Why?

Ada, Ghana. A small coastal town about an hour outside of Accra. It is beautiful. So simple, yet so exquisite. Definitely one of the places I have to go back to.

7. Favorite City? Why?

New York remains a big love. So much to see, so much to do. The energy of the city, the spirit of the people is what I resonate the most with. There’s just something about millions of people from everywhere around the world, coming together in this one city, with the common goal of making their dreams come true.

Paris comes a close second. The beautiful architecture, the romance, the ridiculously beautiful and stylish people, the classic sidewalk bistros, the art, and the champagne of course!

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

The people of Accra that I have met on my visits there. They are some of the most kind-hearted, caring, and accommodating people I have ever come across. Their spirit is amazing. They always give so much of themselves to others. Always eager to help and forever hospitable. We are always so spolit every time we visit Accra.

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

The admin involved in getting visas. Looooong flights in economy class. Bleh. That’s about it!

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

1. Home cooked traditional Ghanian food. Shout out to Rita and Aunty Fafa!

2. A seafood braai on the beach at Inhaca Island, Mozambique.

3. Dinner at the Ciel de Paris restaurant in Paris.The restaurant is situated on the on the 56th floor of the Tour Montparnasse, and has the most beautiful panoramic views of the city. A great dining experience!

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

The usual stuff. We cant walk the streets because there is crime everywhere. We have lions and elephants in our back yards. We all have AIDS.

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

I would spend it on an island with the loves of my life on a secluded island.

13. Best Cities to fall in love?

New York, Amsterdam, Paris, and I would love to fall in love all over again in Barcelona. Never been to Barcelona, but I imagine that Barcelona would be the perfect background to a beautiful love story. With that Spanish guitar providing a dreamy soundtrack to it all! lol.

14. Cities you want to see with a lover?

Barcelona, Venice, Paris (of course).

15. Places you want to see with the girls?

A girls trip to Mykonos, and maybe Hvar Island in Croatia would be awesome :-) Long lazy days spent on the beach, bottomless cocktails, good food, and long Summer nights.

16. Best Cities to travel on your own?

New York.  Amsterdam.

17. What city best suits your personality?

New York. A city with many layers. A city of dreamers.

18. About Yourself?

I am a lover of life, family, friends, food, wine, travel, fashion, film and music. I’m learning and growing every day.

 

Get To Know: Lindi

Get To Know: Lindi

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

Waking up to a hot, busy Tel – Aviv. Sea to my left, Metropolis to my right, and feeling right at home

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

Losing my luggage for 4 Days  on my way to Harare

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

Nope. Unless drinking Tequila that looks, and smells like petrol counts.

4. What is your travel style?

I am a very, ummm, nervous traveler. I have been offloaded and left behind by FAR too many airlines. I like to arrive early, and by early I mean 2-4hrs early

5. Which songs best describes your travel experiences?

Queen Pen “A Party Aint a Party”

Da Brat “Funkdafied”

Drake “Underground Kings”

6. Most profound lesson learned through travel?

Its ok to get to the airport an hour before you should. It REALLY is ok :)

7. Favorite Town/ Village?  Why?

Village? Don’t have one

8. Favorite City? Why?

I fell in love with Jerusalem, cheesey I know. But the feeling of this city is amazing. Culturally and Spiritually rich.  The energy is palpable.

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

……

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

Lost luggage

11. I had my best night’s sleep at:

One of my close friends’ houses in Accra. It may have been the tequila, but the bed was soft too

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

I am terrible at trying out new foods, so none yet

 13. Best place to get tipsy:

Where ever my friends are

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

We live in a country where the crime and violence rivals that of a small civil war. That South African girls are ummm, generous

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

My City

16. Best Cities to fall in love?

Not sure, its never happened

 17.Cities you want to see with a lover?

None in particular

18. Cities you want to see with the girls?

The World

19. Best Cities to travel on your own

None, why would I do that when I have so many great people to travel with

 20. What city best suits/ embodies your personality?

I am yet to find one …

21. About Yourself:

This is the worst thing people can ask. I love to talk, but I don’t particularly like talking about my self.

I am a loving, emotional an d opinionated person. I protect what I care about, I’m LOUD and  sometimes tactless. Most importantly though, I am the funniest person I know

Lindi Ghana

 

TBT: The Dead Sea

TBT: The Dead Sea

Throw Back Thursday: A Bus Ride to the Dead Sea

In 2012 the girls and I took a 2 week holiday to Israel. Primarily, this break was to accompany one of our closest friends down the Isle as she married the man of her dreams, and Secondly to party, sit on the beach, drink insanely delicious cocktails and of cos to sight see.
Getting around in Israel is fairly easy. In a country as big as the Kruger National Park, all other main cities and sights are a bus ride away. From our lovely apartment in Tel-Aviv we took a 2 day trip to see Jerusalem and to do a day trip to the Dead sea.
Our trip to the dead started early in the morning with a walk to the Central Bust station in Jerusalem from our Hotel, to catch our ride.
After a 2 hour bus ride we arrive at a bus stop with a sign in Hebrew that says The Dead Sea. After making sure we are right – by asking the most fluent person amongst us, we get off at what looks like a deserted stop in a Texan Cow-Boy Movie. In 40 Degree heat, and a hat that got squashed on the ride, we nervously looked around for a sign of the famous Dead Sea

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After 30 minutes of walking around what I could only describe as a desert with salt deposits around VERY large rocks, it dawned on us – 4 very grumpy girls and an understanding man, that we were VERY far from where we should be.

After another 45 minutes, we caught another bus to what we hoped was the right destination. As we got off and saw a BEACH with SAND we realised we had finally arrived.

After tucking my braids under my hat, I joined the girls in the water. I must say that balancing in this water is a lot harder than it seems, and I almost toppled over more than a few times.

the water was so warm and heavy

the water was so warm and heavy

And obviously one cannot go to the Dead Sea and not do a Dead Sea Mud Mask … Applying this cool mud on my entire body proved to be tricky as I was forced to watch it dry INSTANTLY because of the heat. This resulted in a 5 minute Mud mask as opposed to the recommended 45 minutes.

Mud Mask

Mud Mask

4 Ladies and a Gentleman

The bus ride back to Jerusalem was one of the most silent rides any of us have taken in a while. I think this could be attributed to the slight case of heat stroke we were all suffering from.
All in all a great trip and an amazing experience!

Get To Know: Katiso

Get To Know: Katiso

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

My answer would be soo scandalous, I just cant. All I can say is sitting on the beach, drinking beer  at 6am watching the sun rise on a beautiful Island – that has got to have been the best way to say “Hello morning”

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

When I travelled Cambodia in 2012 I lost my passport in Siem Reap. I realized on the day I was checking out to go to Phnom Pen. The bus was arriving to pick me up in 3 hours. I just felt that this wasn’t how I was going down. After going to the embassy, I bought a beer, drank it and decided my trip needs to continue with or without my passport. It did, and my passport was found and delivered to me in Phnom Penn.

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

In Vietnam I ran out of money. Twice! Need I say more. This was after I received a cash injection from my mom and sister.

I didn’t have money to book a flight from Vietnam  back to Bangkok and then another flight  to get back home because I spent it all. I asked for more money and realized when I arrived at the airport my bags were overweight and had a fee to pay. I clearly didn’t have that money either, and I couldn’t give up my last $20 which I was planning to have one last meal and beer with. So I played the victim and smiled and negotiated until they had no choice but let me and my bags on the flight. Imagine having to off load all my shopping, that would have been heart wrenching.

4.  What is your travel style?

Do whatever, take risks, live a little and no regrets. I like to take things as they come, not always knowing what lies ahead of me. I hate knowing what I’m doing each day, I like to explore and discover things and just go with the moment. It doesn’t always have to be done by the book. If a foreign boy wants to kiss you, its really rude to say no. Oh and I always come back disgustingly broke

5. Which songs best describes your travel experiences?

Katy Perry: Last Friday night,(I have experiences that have been so epic that I want to repeat them again) David Guetta: Memories, (The memories I create while traveling are for life. Its all about memories) Norah Jones: I’ve got to see you again (After my travels I always want to go back. I come back planning how I am going to raise up the money again.)

6. Most profound lesson learned through travel?

Only you can make it what you want it to be .Keep traveling- because it changes you. Travel makes you discover more about yourself. I’m continuously mesmerized by people.  Being able to love being by yourself and loving your own company, is the greatest feeling ever.

7. Favorite Town/ Village?

Hoi An, Vietnam. I am not one of those “follow the crowd- kind of person”, so falling in love with a place that hasn’t been commercialized makes it special. The city is a beautiful treasure.  It’s a picturesque village “lost in time” as it were. It emanates charm. There is something about Hoi An that brought calm to me. I rented a bicycle for three days to get around. One minute you are walking along the river banks, then you are weaving through the old buildings that make up this historic city and then you hop onto a bicycle to get to the beach. The city is not over populated-  which makes it so blissful. There is just something about a place that has so much intrigue and allows you to be peaceful just for the time you are there.

8. Favorite City? Why?

Berlin! Ah man oh man. I fell in love with this city the moment I arrived. I believe that in life everyone has a history, its what you do with your future that matters, and that is exactly what Berlin stands for. A city –  with not such a glamorous history, but the beauty it has developed into is what drew me to fall in love with it. The city literally broke down the walls of separation between the East and West. There is a buzz of excitement when you walk the streets, creativity surrounds the city, and ofcourse the party scene is beyond sick!!

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

The Irish guy I met in Vietnam, I will leave it at that. However a lifelong appreciation of getting the pleasure to have met one individual, would be the monk I met in Chiang Mai. I have my younger brother to thank for that. I was asked questions about myself I couldn’t answer. I was forced to confront a few things I didn’t realize could be stunting my spiritual growth. “If you take care of your soul, everything else will fall into place naturally” My outlook on life and the way I saw myself changed after that day. Every city I went to after that I made sure my soul got fed. I fell in love with myself, a feeling that not even God himself could take away from me.

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

That the specific trip you are on, comes to an end at some point. That has to be the only and worst part of travelling. But long stop over times and a flight being delayed is just annoying.

11. I had my best night’s sleep at:

Tyrol, Austria. We stayed at a guest house called Pension Marliesenhof. Its nestled at the bottom of the Alpine mountains. I got more than 5 hours sleep. It was peaceful and you were just surrounded by mountains. The bedding felt like you were at home, and it being a guest house had a personal touch to it.

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

Eating is always an experience for me, so that puts me in a squishy corner really. Italy, the food is amazing. The eating experience was just bliss and you have 4 courses, 4!  How freaking awesome is that?  And then of course the wine !

Ghana: The food is spicy but oh so delicious, but I need to go back and do right by the food.

Chiang Mai, the food is delicious and there is so much variety and so affordable. Every meal was a pleasurable experience.

13. Best place to get tipsy:

In Chiang Mai I had 50c Mojitos, In Hoi An and Hanoi I had 25c beer, so its safe to say Asia is your best bet to get tipsy, proper, no mucking around tipsy. I need to say that its coupled with the most lethal hangovers ever as they are not shy with the booze.

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

Not the craziest but the standard stereotype that we live with animals. We need to shut it down and keep it moving already.

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

A place where I can dance like mad, drink like crazy and fall in love for just those 24hours all with a scenic view. Sooo drum roll….. an Island, any Island.

16.  Best Cities to fall in love

Florence, Venice (I can’t even describe how romantic Florence and Venice are, they have those small alley ways for those random “um hello a quick steal of a kiss”) Hoi An, Paris is cliché but I really get why, Prague (there is something about Prague that made me want to walk the streets holding a man’s hand)

17.  Places  you want to see with a lover?

Greece, Cuba and Spain.

18.  Cities you want to see with the girls?

New York (did that in summer of 2012, epic trip), Sao Paulo, Rio, Barcelona, Nigeria and Kenya.

 19. Best Cities to travel on your own

Rome, Prague, Amsterdam, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Hanoi. Actually anywhere is best to travel on your own.

 20. What city best suits/ embodies your personality?

Berlin. I can see me and Berlin being best buddies. Its vibrant, edgy always looking to better itself, a city for all. It has its own identity. Its changing in a freakingly awesome way. It’s a city that has been through a lot, yet it thrives on being spectacular. It’s a crazy crazy place. 

21. About Yourself:

Oh goodness, I could write an entire novel or make a comedy about myself. I’m crazy and I’m cheeky. I’m a free spirit. I seriously think that people don’t take me seriously half the time because half the time I talk pure and utter nonsense.  I’m spontaneous and I’m my own person. I’m obsessed with people as they are my adrenaline rush. I’m energized by the light that people can bring into my life and hence I surround myself with people from all walks of life.  It’s the small things that get me pumped.  Strength is something no one can deny I have. Travelling and eating are definitely one thing I do extremely well.

I want to be remembered for how I loved,  how  I treated people, for being me at all times and making sure that I lived life amazingly.

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TBT: Nice, France 2011

TBT: Nice, France 2011

After being in Paris, I was quite excited to go to the South of France where so many people have raved about it and the pictures just told a beautiful story.

I was just looking forward to soaking up the sun on the beach and swimming in proper bikini gear and not my underwear like I did in Switzerland.

I spent the first day doing some shopping as well as looking for an outfit for Monaco as we were going there the next day for dinner and to party, so I needed to make sure I fit in with the money dripping folk of Monaco.

What was lovely about where our hotel was situated is that it was close to all amenities, well the important places such shopping district, bars and the beach. Everything was a walk away.

We had dinner at a place called Le Ligure where the food was just delicious. We then all went our separate ways to enjoy the rest of the evening. Going clubbing was our first option, but after we were denied entry into one club we quickly shutdown that idea and opted to go bar hoping instead.

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Romain and I

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Topdeck troop

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Gorgeous girls of Topdeck

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The Cathedral

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Crazy and awesome couple, Joan and Romain

Crazy and awesome couple, Joan and Romain

After a hectic night of partying, we woke up had a delicious breakfast and decided to go to the beach and roam the streets of Nice.

We were lucky that our place is situated approximately 10 minutes walking distance from the beach and famous Promenade des Anglais. Its full of runners, people just taking a stroll, people on roller blades and cyclists. The atmosphere is just amazing. After enough walking, we then decided to find a spot on the beach and have a swim. The only eeky thing about the beach is that the beach is pebbles, so it makes your bum sore. Yip I spotted the odd three women walking around topless, aint no thang. They had nice boobs so for me it was ok, however I did not think it was smart for me to do the same. I just kept my African titties covered.

Promenade des Anglais

Promenade des Anglais

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Beach of Nice

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View of Nice at top of Le Chatea

After the beach we headed off to Le Chateu where its quite a climb to get to the top, ok i’m being dramatic, I was just unfit. I was taking breaks just to get back into the idea of going up more steps. But trust me that once you get to the top, you are grateful you didn’t turn around. The top gives you a panoramic view of Nice. Its truly breath taking. I remember thinking when I was up there “This is where people take all these beautiful pictures of Nice”. We came across a guy playing his cordian. I tried to speak to him, but with a combination of my lack of French and his limited English vocab, it wasn’t much of a conversation because all he said was “You are beautiful” and I was like “Music is beautiful”.

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View of Nice

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Myself, Romain and Joan at top of Le Chatea

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French man playing his cordian

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After the Le Chatea we took a walk to the famous  Cours Selaya Market which is not far from the beach. It was perfect timing beacuse we were in need of a mid day snack just before lunch. You need to contain yourself, other wise you might want to buy everything you come across. We ended buying some berries and croissants as our snack. We were in France, of course we had to have croissants even though we had them for breakfast, but these were sold at a market, very different. The market is surrounded with souvenir shops and cafes everywhere, so if you want to stop for a meal its not too far.

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Croissants sold at the Cours Selaya Market
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Delicious berries found at the market

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Cheese, glorious cheese sold at the Cours Selaya market.

Wandering around a town and finding gems and hidden places is just one needs to do and Old Town seemed like the perfect place. There are so many small shops and cafes everywhere. While wondering the streets we came across a Durex machine. Yip, slap bam in the middle of the streets. Everyone does the deed, so why not make sure you doing have a disappointing evening because you don’t have the goods. So I just had to take a pic of it. Romain and Joan dared me to go and buy a pack and they will take a pic of me, I wasn’t going down like that. Taking the pic of it was enough.

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With these on the streets, you cant say “I have run out”. Sorry for you, no holiday babies should bepopping up.

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This shop was just so inviting and just so Frenchy.

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Streets of Old Town

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Streets of Old Town

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I had an amazing time. Nice is nice, nice is beautiful and the views breathtaking. The French riviera definitely gets a high five from me. Whether I am back to find that French man, or just back because its a place to go back to, I’m excited to experience it from another angle.

Welcome to SA: William Jones

Welcome to SA: William Jones

William 2            William 3

1. Flight and airline?

Delta flight 200. Atlanta to Johannesburg direct (http://www.delta.com)

2  Johannesburg, South Africa. First thoughts?

So excited to be in SA and to see my friend! The airport is easy to navigate and the Gautrain is a clean, quick way to get into the city.

3. How many days did you spend in Johannesburg?

 9

 4. Where did you stay and why?

 We stayed at Southern Sun Hyde Park. My friend suggested it and I had been to the rooftop lounge with her on my first trip, so I knew it would be a nice place to stay.  The room was lovely and the views are amazing. We had breakfast in the hotel most mornings and went a few times to the pool lounge. The food and drinks were good, as was the service. The people at the front desk were very helpful when we hired a car. Also, being connected to Hyde Park Corner gave us lots of convenient options for food and shopping.

5. Stereotypes you had before?

This was my second trip to Johannesburg so I was sort of familiar. I remember on my first trip I was surprised at how much the landscape looks like California to me.

6. Best part of your trip?

The point of the trip was to see my friend (Adjoa Amuah) . The best part was just hanging out and talking to her.

7. Worst part of your trip?

Leaving. Isn’t that always the worst part?

8. South Africans are the most ___ people?

South Africans are the most open people. All of the people I’ve met there are very open in their conversations. No subject is off-limits and nothing is shied away from in any conversation. Race, religion, politics, sexuality and anything else are up for discussion anytime, anywhere.  And it’s not a salacious or voyeuristic thing; it’s an open, frank, inclusive exchange that no one is afraid to have. It’s refreshing to me. I’m lucky enough to know someone who lives there and I may be exposed to conversations that most tourists are not, but openness has been my experience with South Africans.

9. What do you think of the new currency?

I love the new currency! Mandela definitely deserves the honor and the vibrant colors and the animals are stunning to me. I’m American and am used to looking at boring currency, so any colorful departure from that is exciting.

10. Best restaurant?

The Foundry. (21 3rd Ave, Parktown North, 2193 Johannesburg, Gauteng) The mushroom ravioli there is particularly good.

11. Distinctly South African things that you did

The first night we were there we went to the Sanlam FoodWineDesign Fair (http://foodwinedesign.co.za/home/). It is an outdoor market featuring the best local furniture crafters, artisan products, top wine labels, micro breweries and speciality foods. I tried Kudu and Wildebeest stews. I had never had African game before and they were both delicious. If you can find it, I highly recommend.

12. How do you say hello in Xhosa?

Molo! (I didn’t learn that on my trip, I googled it just now)

13. What does travel mean to you?

I believe that experiencing another place enhances my perspective. I think that I’m a more understanding person because of travel. Even though people live in different geographic locations and are products of different cultures, I’ve seen that everyone wants the same basic things. I do recognize that travel is a luxury and an indulgence, but it is an important part of my life.

14. A must see for future travelists?

Neighbourgoods Market. I bought a peacoat there that I am obsessed with. It’s by Adriaan Kuiters and I wish I had bought more of those clothes.

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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.

 

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