Let me clarify that I am not a non-drinker. I’m no party animal, but I do enjoy a glass of wine. So I was ecstatic to be invited to participate in #Stellenblog, a blogging campaign in Stellenbosch. There were some non-drinkers in our group, and at the start of the trip I wondered how much fun they would have hanging out for a week in the wine-drinking capital of South Africa. At the end of the week, when I looked through all my Stellenbosch photos, I found they told an unexpected story. There was lots of wine-drinking, to be sure. But the most memorable activities of the week had nothing to do with wine, or any alcohol for that matter. Alcohol-free Stellenbosch So I decided to put together a little guide for non-drinkers. If you don’t like wine, or don’t drink at all, here’s a list of activities to keep you busy on a multi-day visit to Stellenbosch. 1) Take a Segway Tour Back when I lived in Washington D.C., I used to watch group Segway tours glide past and silently make fun of them. I should have known that someday my own Segway time would come. Laugh silently if […]
I recently received an invitation to participate in a blogging campaign called #Stellenblog. #Stellenblog is an annual weeklong event in which bloggers/social media influencers from around South Africa and the world go to Stellenbosch — a university town outside Cape Town that is the center of South Africa’s wine industry — and hang around eating/drinking/having fun. The #Stellenblog crew, clockwise from top left: Fhatuwani, Trudy, Samuel (doing his best to hide), Lauren, Becki, Vuyo, me, and Audrey. Not shown: Ongama, Dawid, and Mark. Sounds like a tough job, right? Okay, I lie. Drinking/eating/having fun is not tough at all, especially not in Stellenbosch. If you go to Stellenbosch, on someone else’s dime, and don’t drink/eat/fun yourself to within an inch of your life, then there is probably something seriously wrong with you. Like maybe you don’t have taste buds. Or your heart is made of stone. So last week wasn’t hard. But the hard part of this job comes now, as I wade through more than 3000 photos and try to figure out how to tell the story of #Stellenblog. I will start with the view. Stellenbosch is drop-dead gorgeous, especially in the fall when the grape vines and grass and leaves […]
Last week I went to Cape Town for an Instagram campaign, to attend a single two-hour event on a Wednesday evening. My friend Kate was invited too. Cape Town being one the most beautiful cities in the world and all, Kate and I decided it was silly to fly down for just one evening. We extended our stay to two nights and three days. This decision resulted in two Jozi blogger chicks Ubering madly around Cape Town, meeting up with blogger friends, stuffing our faces, drinking lots of beer and wine, walking our asses off, doing yoga poses on mountaintops, and laughing at big fat seals. It was so random and so fun. Here are some highlights. Random Cape Town Activity #1: Climbing Lion’s Head Lion’s Head is the second-most famous mountain in Cape Town — dwarfed in size and fame by its neighbor, Table Mountain. View of Lion’s Head from Daylight Studio, where I hung out on Wednesday evening. Kate and I had never climbed Lion’s Head and this was our chance. We convinced a few other bloggers to join us: our old friend Di and our new friends Cassandra and Jane. Di picked us up at our hotel at 6:30 a.m. and we reached the base of Lion’s Head […]
Visiting an aquarium is one of those touristy activities that I don’t normally seek out. I grew up in Baltimore, home of the National Aquarium, and I think I subconsciously believed that my home aquarium is the best in the world and there is no point in visiting any others. This was wrong, of course. Ray suggested visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium during our Hello Weekend trip to Cape Town back in June and it was one of the best activities of the weekend. I had forgotten how much fun aquariums are. I also realized that the Two Oceans Aquarium is a really fun place to take fish pictures. The aquarium’s entrance hall. Instagramming the fish. We arrived at the aquarium about an hour before it closed so we didn’t get to spend a ton of time looking at the exhibits. But we did have nearly the entire aquarium to ourselves, which was great. And I was there long enough to learn that Two Oceans Aquarium, besides being a lovely tourist attraction, is a world-class institution doing great things to conserve South Africa’s underwater ecosystems. (Read about the aquarium’s conservation work and sustainable practices.) Fish. (Update: Two Oceans Aquarium tweeted me to […]
My #HelloWeekend trip to Cape Town was nearly a month ago and I’m woefully behind in writing about it. But I can’t let any more time pass before telling you about my Cape Malay cooking class in the Bo-Kaap. Before I moved to Joburg five years ago, I googled South African food. I knew nothing about South African cuisine (in fact I knew nothing about South Africa) and was curious to learn about the regional specialties in the country I was moving to. “Cape Malay” was the first thing that popped up. At the time, the descriptions I found of Cape Malay cuisine — a spicy mixture of Asian, Indian, Dutch, and African flavors — made little sense to me. It’s hard to understand Cape Malay cuisine without understanding the entire complicated history of South Africa, and especially Cape Malay culture. It didn’t help that I had little exposure to Cape Malay food in Joburg, as the cuisine is more specific to Cape Town and surrounds. Last year I went on a tour through Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap neighborhood and ate at Bismillah, the most popular Cape Malay restaurant in the area. Cape Malay food, along with Cape Malay culture more generally, started to reveal itself to me […]
As most South Africans know, there is an ongoing competition between between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Capetonians believe their city is the best place to live and would never live anywhere else. Joburgers believe the same. This my-city-is-better-than-your-city debate (i.e. trash-talking) gets heated at times. Joburg is my adopted home and I’m firmly in the Joburg corner. But like everyone else in Joburg, I can’t ignore the obvious: Cape Town is a fantastic place for a holiday. Cape Town is beautiful. This photo was shot from the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. So when I was invited to spend a weekend in the Mother City as part of Cape Town Tourism’s #HelloWeekend campaign, I said yes. The purpose of the campaign is to showcase Cape Town as a year-round weekend tourist destination for people in other South African cities. In my case, the campaign totally worked. Ray and I spent 48 hours in Cape Town and had the time of our lives. There’s something about the pace of the city that allows you to pack a ton of fun activities into a short period of time without getting tired. We did so much, in fact, that I can’t recount it all in […]
Now that I’ve presented the basic chronology of my #MeetSouthAfrica trip, I’m going to skip around a bit. I can’t wait another day to talk about my 24-hour visit Cape Town, which was sandwiched between longer stints in the Northern Cape and Durban. Anyone who has been to Cape Town knows that 24 hours there is nowhere near enough. But we managed to squeeze in a few interesting activities, most of which weren’t the “normal” things tourists do when they go to Cape Town. We arrived by bus late on a Wednesday afternoon. After a quick snack on Bloubergstrand Beach, we headed into town and checked into our rooms at the Backpack. I didn’t get good photos of the Backpack, mainly because we were there so briefly. I highly recommend it though. It’s the oldest backpackers in South Africa and right in the centre of town, with an up-close view of Table Mountain. My room was great (there are dorm-style backpacker rooms but I had an en-suite double) and so was the service. Wifi is free in the vibey breakfast/bar area. After 30 minutes of settling into the Backpack it was time for dinner. We were booked for a meal with acclaimed chef Matt Manning, creator of a […]
One of the most colorful photos I have, taken at the Joburg Pride parade last year. I don’t often write “blog award” posts. The bloggers among you know what I’m talking about; the rest of you can read here to find out what a blog award post is. But every now and then, I get nominated for a blog award/contest that is worth participating in. This week, Mark from Migrationology.com invited me to participate in “Capture the Colour”, a blogging contest sponsored by TravelSupermarket. Not only is this contest more interesting than the normal ones, but I also have the opportunity to win a prize. So, I’m in.
Part 1 of a 3-part series. Read Part 2 here and Part 3 here. It’s time to tell you what I was doing in the Western Cape last week, besides bumming around Bo-Kaap. The real purpose of my trip was to visit the Cederberg Wilderness, 240 kilometers northwest of Cape Town, and participate in a hiking adventure called the Cederberg Heritage Route. The Cederberg Wilderness.
I’ve just returned from a glorious week of traveling around the Western Cape. I was completely off the grid for much of the trip, with no cell phone coverage or email access. I must say, it was rather enjoyable. But I’m happy to be back in sunny Jozi, just in time for peak jacaranda season. I haven’t even unpacked or sorted through the dozens of unread messages in my inbox. So I’m not ready to delve into the real meat of my journey just yet. Before I do that, here are some shots of Cape Town’s beautiful Bo-Kaap neighborhood, where I stayed for a couple of days before venturing out into the wilderness. A colorful street scene in Bo-Kaap.
First, a few words of thanks: Thanks to WordPress for “Freshly Pressing” me for the second time in three months. Wow. It was great to get a second chance because this time I actually understood and appreciated what was happening when my inbox started to overflow. Thanks to everyone who read, commented on, liked, and subscribed to my blog. I’ve tried to respond to as many of you as possible but if I haven’t, rest assured that I’ve read and appreciated every comment. Thanks to my mom for coming to visit and giving me an excuse to do fun things that create fantastic blog material. Thanks to Joe, the man behind the blog, for improving my photography, making my photos look amazing, and teaching me so many interesting things about South Africa. Now, back to Cape Town. Mom and I did several fun things during our trip that I wasn’t able to cover in the first two posts, so I’ve compiled a few of my favorite photos to illustrate them: Riding the Hop On Hop Off Cape Town Sightseeing Bus. For someone who thought she disliked group tours, I certainly did a lot of them last weekend. We wanted to visit Kirstenbosch National […]
Mom and I were in Cape Town for three days — we had lots to see and no car. I’m usually not a fan of group bus tours, but when Mom suggested a tour of the Cape Peninsula with a company called Daytrippers, it seemed like a good plan under the circumstances. Alexi, our charming Daytrippers guide, fetched us from the guest house at 8:45 a.m. To my relief, our touring vehicle was not a bus, but a cute van towing a bike trailer. (For some reason I did not take any photos of the cute van or the cute tour guide. Apologies.) We headed south out of Cape Town and marveled at the crystal blue sea and lovely beachfront suburbs. Clifton, a spectacular Cape Town suburb along the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula.