A Garden Route Sho’tleft

Knysna Featherbed dock

I want to preface this post by saying that I am, along with the rest of the country, incredibly devastated at the disaster that Knysna and the greater Garden Route has experienced due to the fire. I can’t personally imagine what it must be like to loose all your personal belongings, everything that has sentimental value to you, and to have to do a dangerous and uncomfortable evacuation not just of your home, but the general area. What I do know is that Knysna needs our help to rebuild and that whilst donations do help, ultimately a large part of the area relies on tourism for an income, which they now sorely need to rebuild and recover. Please don’t let the destruction keep you away, the incredibly beautiful area still has so much to offer. There are still so many amazing properties available to book in area largely unspoilt, so there is literally no excuse. In case you need further motivation, scroll down.

Knysna Heads

I was incredibly lucky to be invited to join SA Tourism earlier this year on a journey through South Africa’s Garden Route. This is an area of our country that I was largely unfamiliar with as I’ve only driven through the region when we attended a wedding in Port Elizabeth. On that trip we spent one evening in Knysna on a very tight budget, so I was keen to return and see what the area really has to offer.

First stop was Port Elizabeth, where we took a quick historical tour. When I drove through on the highway the first time, it didn’t look like much. But Port Elizabeth is steeped in history and has quite a few historical buildings of architectural note.

Port Elizabeth Public Library

We did a walking tour of PE’s central district, called the Donkin Heritage Trail. The highlight on the hour-long walking trail was definitely the beautiful Victorian buildings and statues, but I was surprised by how little I knew of the city’s rich history. Our guide was passionate and definitely made the experience so much more special than it would have been if I’d just read about everything before hand. So I’d highly recommend you get someone to show you around and take you into the Opera House and the beautiful Cathedral Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.

This was followed by a quick stop in the surfer’s paradise that is Jeffrey’s Bay, where we had a lovely lunch overlooking the ocean at the Kitchen Windows Beach restaurant before moving on the millionaire’s playground that is Cape St Francis. I had my first taste of calamari at Port St Francis. Everyone else raved about it, but at the ripe age of 28 I figured out that I am not big on seafood.

We ended off the first of three days with a sunset canal cruise in Cape St Francis (thanks to BriSan on the Canals) before retreating for dinner and bed in one of the self-catering homes in the Cape St Francis Resort. I must give a shout-out to the Joe Fish Restaurant as I had a very memorable chicken and spinach dish that I still sometimes crave and have tried to recreate multiple times.

The next morning we set out for the Tsitsikamma, an adventurer’s dream. We started the day off with ziplining at Tsitsikamma Falls Adventures, something I was very happy to observe from the sidelines. So I enthusiastically observed from the deck and wiped my sweaty palms on my pants any time someone went over the edge. I did however participate in the segway tour and was surprised to find how easy it was with the proper training provided before hand.

Although we definitely didn’t have enough time to do everything the region has to offer, I feel like these activities gave a glimpse of its natural beauty. I’d love to return and complete a few hiking trails. If you’re planning a trip, I can highly recommend the quant Tsitsikamma Village Inn where we stayed as it is perfectly located for a night out with beer tasting and a 60’s diner right next-door. The inn consists of various smaller buildings, all recently converted into comfortable bedrooms with on-suites and each beautiful with a unique architectural style.

Knysna view from the top of the Featherbed Reserve

For our final full day, we went to Knysna, where I mentioned earlier I’d been before. As students we were on a strict budget back then and no boat cruises made the cut, so this time I made up for the missed opportunity and went on no less than two! The first cruise for the day took us over to the Featherbed Nature Reserve (the eco-experience) where I completed an hour long hike in jeans and sandals (we weren’t prepped), but the breathtaking views kept me distracted from my blisters. Sadly large parts of the reserve, including the restaurant, has apparantly been damaged in the fire. Luckily the Cape’s fauna and flora can take quite a beating, and often excell because of this.  The morning’s trip over was folllowed by a short break at the Harbour before we embarked on a sunset cruise (a Paddle Cruiser Experience). This is where I’d like to add that their piña coladas were amazing and I’d encourage everyone to at least try one. In keeping with my seafood aversion, I skipped the raw shell fish known as oysters.  We spent the night at the Premier Resort The Moorings, which offers all that you need in a place of such beauty and incredibly is also rather budget friendly.

Garden Route coast

Our final day in Knysna was spent in George, before our afternoon departure from the small airport. On the afforementioned trip we did a short hike in the Wilderness and on this occasion I got to paddle up the river in the beautiful area thanks to Eden Adventures. We didn’t even mind the fact that it meant we’d have to board the plane wet!

If I were travelling on my own dime, I’d definitely consider driving back from George to Cape Town as it is such a beautiful route and with boarding times and everything taken into consideration, it is probably not even that much shorter. I honestly can’t wait to return to this beautiful region and neither should you!

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Life Update

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I feel slightly guilty writing this post, as I have been absent for longer than I intended to be. To be honest, I have completely failed in the blogging department. I haven’t even uploaded some of the beautiful pictures I have to share on Instagram!

I have been busier than usual at work, having taken on extra responsibilities including creating and launching a new website. It has been rewarding, but has also meant that when I finally step into my home I don’t want to see a computer screen! 

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Back in Black in Babylonstoren

DSC_3638 This past weekend was a long one for some and for the rest of us, well we had to work on Friday. That does not mean that we didn’t make the best of Thursday’s public holiday! Ryno and I decided to head out to Stellenbosch for lunch as I hadn’t been there in quite a while. After finding a few of our favourite spots were closed for the holiday, we headed to an old favourite, Java for their chai lattes (a.k.a. liquid pancakes) and pizza.

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Weekend Traditions

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One of our favourite weekend haunts is Ou Meul coffee shop which also happens to be just around the corner from us. As it is always busy, we decided to head over early one morning and grabbed something fresh from the bakery and a delicious coffee. Although the coffee is what keeps us coming back, I was initially drawn in by their decor. The on-trend gold lights really make a statement against white walls with the occasional ceiling rose used in a unique way. My photos don’t do it justice as sadly it was a little dark inside, but it is great for catching up with friends on a rainy day and the croissants and sticky cinnamon buns are our favourite for good reason.

I planned on doing a full outfit post, but as the photos weren’t the best I decided not to share them. I was feeling a little daring and wore denim-on-denim, but to avoid it looking circa Britney-Justin-VMA’s I wore this mid-blue denim shirt with an almost black-blue jean. I kept the rest of the outfit slick with black suede pumps and delicate gold jewellery. For a more dressed up look, I think a red lip would compliment this perfectly!

Make sure to head over early and you might also get fresh-from-the-oven croissant, a must-have for every carb-lover! I think I know what I’ll be doing post-parkrun tomorrow!

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Italy 2014: Travel Journal

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This film documents our visit to Rome, Florence and Siena in Italy during October 2014. This includes some popular tourist sites, features some shoddy camera work from yours truly and a cameo by some of the best travel companions. Italy you were the best!

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Yzerfontein Break

Yzerfontein house 15As you might have gathered from my previous post, Ryno and I took a short beach break just before Christmas. It was the perfect start to my to the holidays and really set the tone for a relaxing week spent with family and friends.

Yzerfontein is a small town along the West Coast, although in recent years it has really picked up and now even sports a local grocery store! My family owns a beach house in the area, so I’m no stranger to the icy sea, but this time around we decided to take along a few friends along and stayed in a cute rental overlooking the ocean (more information here). I think ‘cute’ pretty much sums it up! It is white and wood panelled from the outside and bright and airy from the inside. We scored the top bedroom with a magnificent view of the waves thundering outside. It is the perfect little beach house, with an oceanview braai outside and cast iron fireplace

inside for those cooler evenings. The owner has really done a great job of setting up the place with everything you could possibly need from wood for late-night marshmallow toasting sessions to matching beach towels and everything inbetween. I also appreciated all the festive touches, with at least one in every room!

The West Coast is famously windy, but on the rare occasion that it does quiet down Yzerfontein reveals its real charm. Less tourists means more time to rest and relax with the possibility of having whole stretches of the beach to yourself. If you’re a waterbaby and can brave the cold, then you can’t miss the main beach.Yzerfontein house 4

When you do tire of endless walks along beach, the West Coast National Park (a mere 30 minutes away) is also a must visit. You need to book in advance during flower season, but a small entrance fee will allow you to explore the vast park during the rest of the year. We made a day trip to Preekstoel for a swim in the warm, turquoise waters and now I can’t wait to return with something to float on. It is the closest thing to a tropical islandYzerfontein beach 1

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Merry Christmas

DSC_2325Better late than never, I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas with all their loved ones! In South Africa Christmas means beach breaks and braais (Google it!), so I’ll leave you with this peaceful image from our West Coast break. South Africa is amazing…

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Franschhoek Huguenot Monument

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On a rare sunny day a few weeks ago, Ryno and I decided to head to the beautiful town of Franschhoek. This was before summer arrived and we were both keen to spend some time relaxing outdoors. So picnic basket packed (ready to be filled there) and books in hand we undertook the 40 minute drive to wine country.

 

Franschhoek is famous for their wine, but being the sweettooth that I am I can’t visit without a stop at Huguenot Fine Chocolates. Their store is located on the main streat and they give tours showing how they make chocolate on most days. I always find some exciting new flavours to try, but when in doubt their Strawberry Cream and Cherry Kirsch never disappoints. Along with some chocolates we also picked up some buttery croissants and parma ham for lunch before we headed to the Huguenot Monument gardens for some lounging. 

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Rhodes Memorial Outing

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I consider myself incredibly lucky to be living in Cape Town, as it is one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in the world. Cape Town also happens to be incredibly rich in history.

Rhodes Memorial has become somewhat of a controversial monument and unfortunately part of it has been damaged by vandals. Perched on the side of the mountain, the views are spectacular and Sir Herbert Baker designs never disappoint.

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Mauritius in a Nutshell

Mauritius jetty Le MeridienThis post has been hovering in my drafts literally for months! I got the opportunity to visit Mauritius with Starwood Hotels and Air Mauritius late last year, during the Mauritian summer, and loved absolutely every minute of it!

I had never had an island holiday before and being used to the cold, windy beaches in Cape Town I really looked forward to the prospect of a warm, calm beach. And Mauritius did not disappoint!

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