Between packing for my husband’s frequent work trips (shh don’t tell the TSA agents!) and the trips I have been very lucky to go on, I’ve gained enough mileage to consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to choosing the hand luggage essentials. Now obviously a lot of what you choose to take with you depends on where you are going and how long your flight is, but I usually start with this list and add or subtract what is necessary.
On a shorter flight, say like the four hours to Mauritius, I only took my handbag and made sure to double check I had a lip balm and hair-tie. On other trips, especially ones where there isn’t a swanky airport pick-up arranged or a long layover is included, I choose a more sturdy backpack. My back already takes a beating on those crappy airplane seats, the last thing I want to do it hurt it even more! Plus backpacks tend to have plenty of storage space for the essentials. It goes without saying that I try to keep things to the minimum so that said back problems don’t worsen unnecessary. Find my full list below.
Its been over a month since our return and I’ve only just been able to put all my thoughts in order as this trip was absolutely packed with amazing memories. Not only did I get to experience the beautiful Portugal, but I also managed to tick Paris off my bucket list (although I’d love to go back!). To be honest, this trip kind off caught me off guard.
Portugal wasn’t ever really on my travel bucket list, but when the opportunity arose to join my husband on a business trip I jumped. Once you start looking into Portugal, you can’t help but fall in love. And now I can give you reasons to visit too!
Planning a holiday is one of my favourite pass times, but if you don’t know where to start it can all feel very overwhelming- after all the world is our oyster! As I work in the travel industry and love travelling (lets forget for a moment that I don’t get to travel nearly as much as I would like too!) I thought I’d help you map out the holiday planning process. Obviously depending on which destination you end up choosing, you might cut this planning part short as there isn’t much to plan and do besides unwind in a beach destination like Mauritius. But if you find yourself overwhelmed with options, here is how I usually narrow it down and get shiz done.
I want to preface this post by saying that I am incredibly devastated at the damage that Knysna and the greater Garden Route has experienced. I can’t personally imagine what it must be like to loose all your personal belongings, everything that has sentimental value to you. On top of that residents had to do a dangerous and uncomfortable evacuation not just of their home, but the general area.
What I do know is that Knysna needs our help to rebuild. Whilst donations help, ultimately a large part of the area relies on tourism for an income. And they need that income now more than ever. Please don’t let the destruction keep you away as the incredibly beautiful area still has so much to offer. There are so many amazing properties available to book in areas largely untouched by the flames. There is no excuse for not visiting. If you need further motivation, please scroll down.
It is kind-off hard to believe that we have been back home for almost a month already and I am still sorting through photos from our trip. We’ve also got a myriad of videos still lying ahead and I’m going away for work next week so I think it might take up until the end of the year to get through it all. Which isn’t a bad thing! We had such an amazing time and I really want the feeling to last for as long as we can.
We spent a glorious three days in Florence which in my opinion wasn’t nearly enough! Between seeing all the amazing art works and eating copious amounts of gelato we didn’t manage to get to everything on our list. We kicked off day one, which was technically a half-day with a visit to the Galeria del Academia for Michelangelo’s David. Trust me when I say that none of the copies come close the real thing. You can even see the veins on his arms and hands and it is about three times the size of a real man! The Galeria also has a few other impressive works like the Rape of the Sabine Woman, which you really have to appreciate from all angles and a few other famous Michelangelo works.
We stayed close to the San Lorenzo market so we visited it a few times during our journey. I ended up buying a leather handbag for about 40 euros, but we did have to bargain slightly. Don’t buy at the first stall you see as they all have similar if not the same bags and everyone makes their own price. The market is also great for picking up a few cool souvenirs.
On day two we hit the Uffizi Galery where I fell slightly in love with Botticelli’s Spring. The gallery also offers some great views of the Ponte Vecchio and of course a secret passage across the river if you’ve got a special ticket.
By this time of our trip our feet were really getting the better of us, as I’d wake up feeling just like I did the night before. So we decided to skip the climb up the Dome tower and rather enjoyed a slice of pizza overlooking the dome. That evening we grabbed some take away and a large bottle of wine and dined underneath the stars on the stairs of the Piazza Michelangelo overlooking the city. There was a live musician and we even met another South African who recognised our Afrikaans. We enjoyed the evening so much that we decided to do the same the following evening.
The next day we really tried to cram it all in and paid a final visit to the San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale, an amazing food market where you can do some grocery shopping on the ground level and get your meal on on the first floor. The pizzas there are totally worth it! I also really wanted to see the Santa Maria Novella and visit its pharmacy. The pharmacy is unlike any fragrance store I’ve ever visited as it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Sadly I left empty handed as I just couldn’t decide what I wanted.
A visit to the Boboli Gardens was one of the things at the top of my list and it did not disappoint- even though a large part of the gardens were off limits due to (what we understood between the broken English) trees falling. We also went in to see the Costume Exhibition and finished with the Bardini Gardens which were even prettier! Both gardens offer amazing views of Florence. From the Boboli Gardens we saw some typical Tuscan scenes and from the Bardini Gardens we got a great view of the city.
We finished off our final evening in Florence with a gelato watching the sun set over the beautiful city. I hope we get to return soon!
Photos taken either by me or my talented fiancée. You can check out more of his amazing shots on his Instagram account here.
Captivated by the detail…
Sculpture room in the Galeria
The San Lorenzo Market
I regret not buying one of these souvenirs
The long hall in the Uffizi
View from the Uffizi
View from the Piazza Michelangelo, the place we loved so much we went there twice!
Yes, I did ride the Carousel at the Piazza Reppublica
Browsing inside the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
Sweet treats at the Mercato Centrale
Ponte Vecchio Love Locks
From the inside
View from the gardens
The Costume Exhibition
The Porcelain Museum
Typical Tuscan views
It was clearly mid-autumn (even though it never felt like it)
I promise I didn’t eat both!
Hello, as some of you might know (because I’ve been rambling on it about it for months!) I’m heading to Italy next month. Whoohoo! Sorry, I just had to get it out there as I am so excited. Italy has been on my list forever! We’ll be visiting Rome, Florence and Siena. So if any of you guys have got some tips, must-visits or just simply amazing places we have to see please leave me a comment. It is our first time in Italy and we’d really love to see more than just what you’d find in a travel guide. I’m already preparing for all the amazing pizza and gelato, so if you’ve got a favourite place you can recommend please do so. I am also looking to narrow down the best food markets and shopping districts. I hope to bring back many beautiful photographs to share with you guys. 🙂