30 December 2012

Notes from the Road v.1

Hello all!!!

Just popping in quickly to share some photos from the first leg of our trip through Botswana as well as from our time on Jurgen's family farm in Namibia.  

Trusty driver // Road to nowhere - northern South Africa // Typical roadside scenery // Another rundown African town // Middle of nowhere Botswana // Hello Namibia! // Farm Homestead // Christmas table settings // farm view // Akila the leopard // Beeno + Milo ready for a game drive // Typical farm scene

{Psst... follow along on instagram here!}

We were so incredibly blessed with nice sunny skies and greenery along the way due to an unusual amount of rain this year.  Normally, the area we drove through in Botswana looks like a brown, shrubby desert - clearly that was not the case this time though!  There was livestock grazing everywhere along the road and we were often caught in cow, donkey, and goat traffic jams as they unexpectedly decided to cross the highway.  Quite different from the traffic jams I'm used to!

The past couple of days we've been enjoying time with family on the farm in Namibia, taking lots of game drives, going swimming, and playing with all of the animals {there are three lions, a leopard, and seven cheetahs on the farm, basically making it my heaven on earth!}.  Sometimes it's hard to believe this is where Jurgen grew up, it feels like a whole other world, but so so beautiful.

Tomorrow morning we wave goodbye to the farm and head down to Sossusvlei in the south of the country!  Time is seriously flying by... please slow down!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a lovely New Years.  I'll be back on Tuesday with a quick recap of 2012!

27 December 2012

{Magnificent Mozambique} by Gillian

I'm so excited to have Gillian {from Close Enough} here today kicking off my little guest post series while Jurg and I are off adventuring somewhere in the middle of the desert.  Gillian's actually a real life friend, turned blogger and I can tell you from first hand experience that she's pretty darn awesome.  Truth be told, my life in Jo'burg wouldn't be half as much fun if our paths hadn't crossed.  Today she's here posting about beautiful Mozambique, a country just north of South Africa that's renowned for its pristine beaches, delicious seafood, and world class snorkelling and scuba diving {you can even swim with whale sharks!}. 

Mozambique; raw, fragile, ravaged, vicious, rustic, sweltering, uncivilized.
These are some of the words one could use to describe Mozambique, with it's rugged terrain, impoverished inhabitants and lack of Western comforts. However, if you have ever holidayed in Mozambique, I bet the words you would use would be along the lines of beautiful, magnificent, peaceful, adventurous, friendly, tropical and paradise. 

I truly love Mozambique.
It has a fascinating story of victory, it is right on my doorstep (being South African), it's really affordable and so full of potential. Mozambique has something for everyone, from the crazy 4X4 enthusiast to the delicate city girl who prefers to view the beauty of the ocean from the edge of her swimming pool. Mozambique is definitely worth putting on your bucket list and an ideal honeymoon destination that won't break bank.

I have visited Mozambique twice in my 28 years (shameful, I know). The first was Barra Lodge which was awesome. This little spot of paradise is perfect for those who like a little bit of commercialized civilization and it's fabulous for New Year's eve parties. What's great about it is you can fly in from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg as well. 

The second time I visited Mozambique was Christmas 2009. This time we decided to go extremely rustic, camping in the middle of nowhere, no electricity and no drinking water...place of choice, Paradise Magoo.

We spent approximately 10 days there and I can honestly say it was probably the most relaxing holiday I have ever been on. There isn't much to do besides relax, lie on the beach, swim, snorkel, enjoy a couple of drinks, chill with your friends, take drives and try out the pubs and restaurants. Most of the camping spots have locals that work there and help you get your dishes washed and maintain your campsite so it truly is super relaxing. And the beaches, in their loneliness, are exquisite. 

If you are heading to Mozambique, some of the info below may prove helpful:

 Pack a hat, lots of sunscreen, mosquito repellent and something for shade!
Mozambique is a malaria area so you will need to look into taking malaria pills.
Bribery is rife in Mozambique, be prepared for it.
The poverty and war damage is ever present, it pulls on your heart strings.
Some roads are full of potholes and some areas require you to travel through beach sand; you may need a 4X4 or at least a truck with difflock - do your homework when it comes to your route.
It's best to do the journey in convoy for safety's sake.
Waits at the border posts can be long, be patient, most of the time the crossover is uneventful and unproblematic.
Take your own drinking water if needed and OVERESTIMATE how much you will drink, it is super hot in Mozambique.
A first aid kit is a must, and look after yourself, you don't want to end up in a local hospital.
Most of all, plan to RELAX and ENJOY!

For futher information and assistance in planning your journey, check out Mozambique Tourism

* Some of these photos were taken my yours truly, others were borrowed from friends

The place we called home for 10 days Paradise Magoo

Contrasting landscapes

Just look at that sea!
A little bit of shopping
One of the regular sunsets

A great time was had by all!

Thanks so much for posting today Gillian - visit her blog here.

23 December 2012

And... We're Off!!!

Well friends, today is finally the day that we leave on our Namibia road trip!

To say I'm excited would be the understatement of the century - so many new adventures to come :)

It's crazy to think that by this afternoon we'll be somewhere in the middle of Botswana.

While I'm gone I have some lovely ladies guest posting for me and I'll also be popping in periodically when internet allows.  I'll be checking in from time to time on twitter and instagram as well if you'd like to follow along!

Hope you all have a wonderful and blessed holiday season - see you in 2013!

20 December 2012

{Girls Weekend in Parys}

Last weekend, my partner in crime and coworker {Gillian} and I set off for a much needed girls weekend in the quaint little countryside town of Parys.  Nestled between rolling farm hills and just an hour's drive from Jo'burg, we were both surprised that we had never made time to visit the town before and decided that it was about time we changed that!  We had been planning the trip for months, so were so excited when the day finally arrived to heave our suitcases into my little blue ford fiesta and hit the road.  

Parys is known for its artsy cafes, cute antique shops, and generally laid back atmosphere.  Here's a summary of sorts regarding our stay as well as some recommendations for future visits.


During our time in Parys we stayed at Kapstok Guesthouse, located just a couple blocks away from the town centre.  The accommodation is unique in the sense that guests sleep in a 120 year-old residential home containing beautiful stained glass doors, long hallways, and nice spacious rooms.  We felt very comfortable throughout our entire stay and all basic amenities were included.  Guests are allowed full use of a self-catering kitchen and secure parking is included in the rate.  The care-taker, Aldray, is also one of the sweetest women you'll ever meet and is always available to answer any questions or provide recommendations.  Rates are currently R275 per person per night {about $35}, making it quite an affordable option as well.  For more information and online bookings, see their site here.  For alternative accommodation options in Parys, see here.


Parys has a no shortage of quaint little cafes and gourmet bistros, making it a foodie heaven!  I think I must have put on about five pounds in the course of our two and a half day stay.  My very favorite meal of the trip had to be the breakfast captured in the above photo, Eggs Florentine from Hoi Polloi, a more gourmet, fusion type of option.  We also enjoyed two meals at O's Restaurant which is well known for its delicious pizzas and is ideally located on the banks of the Vaal River.  O's also has an awesome River Deck Bar for after-dinner drinks!  In terms of night life, Parys is quite limited {as one might expect}.  But, Gillian and I did enjoy a couple of drinks and some good old fashion sokkie {an Afrikaans long-arm style dance} at Moments Sports Pub located on the main road.  We actually had quite a blast testing out our Afrikaans skills and taking a twirl or two around the dance floor :)  


As I said before, Parys is quite well known for its little antique shops and numerous art galleries.  We spent Monday morning exploring the bulk of the shops in the area and enjoyed browsing through all of the little treasures and beautiful paintings.  A morning or afternoon will be enough to see everything in this regard.  Parys is also home to several health spas, although we didn't find time to book ourselves in for a treatment and for the adrenaline junky river rafting looks like a lot of fun!


Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Parys and I'll definitely be taking Jurgen back for at least a day trip.  The one thing I will say is that a day or a night will probably suffice in terms of exploring everything in the area.  Two nights was a bit long {unless you've booked yourselves in for spa days, etc}.  Also, being the small country town that it is, we were surprised when we headed out for dinner at 7:00pm on Sunday to find the streets completely dark and all of the restaurants closed.  We ended up finding one franchise open, but that was it.  Upon enquiry, it seems that this is the case every week - so plan to eat take aways or cook your own meals on Sunday evenings.

Thanks for an incredibly fun weekend Gillian, can't wait for the next one! ;)

18 December 2012

{Taking the Scenic Route}: A Drive Along Chapman's Peak

On our final morning in Cape Town, Jurg and I decided to set a few hours aside to cruise along the coast and explore the renowned Chapman's Peak Drive.  I had been meaning to drive the route for some time {as I've heard so many amazing things about it} and Jurg hadn't driven this pass in several years, so it was an easy decision... especially when we woke up to the most pristine blue skies and sunny weather!  {Just as a side note, Chapman's Peak is known to be one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world and attracts photographers from across the globe... pretty incredible!}

Although, I was expecting beautiful scenery, nothing could have prepared me for the picturesque views that we were about to witness.  As Jurg drove our little rental car through twists and turns and we climbed higher and higher up the pass, my jaw literally dropped... how had I never done this before!?  

The scenes in front of us looked like a painting... and they just kept getting better and better the further we went.  I think we pulled over about ten times in the course of ten kilometres.  It was absolutely breathtaking - quite possibly one of the most magnificent things I have ever laid eyes on with the exception of the Grand Canyon.  Sigh... the Cape never ceases to surprise me with its beauty... every time I think I've just about seen it all then I'm immediately proved wrong.  Chapman's Peak is simply something that everyone must see within their lifetime :)  

Chapman's Peak is open daily, weather conditions permitting.  The route is approximately 10km long, but plan to spend at least one to two hours as the road is windy and you will want to stop on several occasions to take in the views.  The toll fee for a normal light motor vehicle is R33 {approx. $5}.  For more information visit their site here.

What's the most breathtaking drive you've ever been on?

oh, and p.s. I'm on instagram {finally!}... follow me here!!!

16 December 2012

{Midday Mojitos and Bubbly at The Grand Beach Cafe}

On our first morning in Cape Town, we planned to meet up with Jurg's mom in the city.  In an effort to branch out and try something new {we tend to stick to our tried and tested favorites in CT}, we decided to head over to The Grand Beach Cafe for cocktails and a light lunch.  Unfortunately, all of their tables were fully booked, but wow {!!!}, am I glad that we decided to lounge at their bar for a bit and take in the beyond gorgeous setting and live band, while sipping on bubbly and mojitos!  The experience was breathtaking and next time we will definitely be booking in advance so that we can enjoy their lovely menu as well.

The Grand Beach Cafe is located off Beach Rd, near the Waterfront and is open daily from 9am till late.  They specialise in thin-crusted pizzas and seafood and menu items are reasonably priced at between R70 - R120 per dish {about $9 - $15}.  For more information and reservations, visit their site here.

12 December 2012

{Cape Town}: A Boutique Hotel + The Company Gardens

We're back in Jo'burg after one of the most beautiful long weekends in Cape Town!  We really lucked out in the weather department and enjoyed mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures.  Highlights included a morning jog along the ocean, dinner at Buena Vista Social Cafe, drinks at the V&A Waterfront, lunch at Sevruga with Jurgen's mom, a drive along the scenic Chapman's Peak Route, and midday mojitos at The Grand Beach Cafe.  More to come on the last two later!  Overall, it was such a wonderfully busy weekend and Jurg and I found ourselves dragging our feet when it came time to finally head back to the airport.  I think it's safe to say that Cape Town tends to have that effect on most of its visitors :)

Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel - best location at an affordable price.

During our time in the city we had the opportunity to partner with Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel and enjoyed such a lovely stay with them {as always}.  Since discovering the hotel last year, they have become our go-to Cape Town accommodation as they are competitively priced, offer some of the best views of the city, and are centrally located just across from the renowned Company Gardens.  We especially love the personal, friendly, 'boutique' feel of the hotel and are continuously impressed by the attention to detail and professionalism of the staff. 

Overall, we recommend staying with them one hundred times over! 
{Just look at that view!} 

Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel is centrally located at 88 Queen Victoria St just across from the Planetarium and is within walking distance of the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, and the ever trendy Long Street.  Rates start at R800 per standard city-facing room per night {about $92} and R1,125 per mountain-facing room per night {about $130}.  This rate is based on double occupancy and includes breakfast daily at their restaurant.  For an additional R75 per night {approx. $9} the hotel will valet your car for you and ensure safe and secure parking {we always opt for this option}.  For more information and online bookings visit their website here.

Below are some photos I snapped during a morning walk Jurg and I took through the Company Gardens just across the road from the hotel.  These gardens have existed since the 1650's and were planted by the Cape's first settlers arriving from The Netherlands - it's amazing that they've been maintained so well, let alone that they're still in existence today!  Several historical buildings line the walkways within the gardens and there's even a little cafe hidden away amongst the trees.  I have to agree with Jay when she says that there's something so magical and idyllic about beautiful parks in the middle of big cities.

Company Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa

Sigh.... already dreaming of our next visit...