Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Italy oh Italy

I've recently returned from the most amazing tour of Italy with Trafalgar tours. For a first time traveler to a country I believe the best way of seeing it all is to go with a reputable tour company. I honestly think that I will not be able to see, let alone find, all the wonderful sights that Italy has to offer on my own. Not to mention the fact that I am seriously directionally challenged!

Anyway, what can I say about Italy but that I have fallen in love with this wonderful country. Each city visited is so unique in its own way that you feel as though you are in a different country each time.

Firstly there's the 'Eternal City' of Rome. It has the buzz of a big city yet it has a history dating back thousands of years which is evident everywhere.

St. Peter's Basilica from the Vatican Museum, Rome
The mighty Colosseum

Inside St Peter's Basilica

Trevi Fountain


The Pantheon
The Piazza Navona

The Piazza Navona surrounded by restaurants and filled with artists.

Italy is an amazing country, but if you cannot go to Rome then rather leave it. It is not called the eternal city for nothing. Take mints and lots of water as your mouth will constantly drop open at the simple awe of it. The construction of Rome city is something to behold and something every living soul should see at least once in their life time. It is a fast paced city where you will have to compete with thousands of tourists, scooters, busses and mini cars but this all intermingles with the utter polite nature of the Italians. Learn a few Italian words and phrases and they will be the friendliest, most helpful people you will ever encounter.

I adore Rome and will most definitely make at least a few more trips to this fascinating city, to really experience the Italian way of life.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Joburg CitySightseeing

So I recently had the opportunity to take a Red City Tour with Joburg CitySightseeing.

Got the bus at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg and then you travel around and within the Johannesburg CBD to 12 different stops featuring places of interest. Places such as museums and historical sites in the city of Johannesburg. It is a tremendous amount of fun and everyone visiting the city or even if you live in Johannesburg should do this at least once.

Nelson Mandela Bridge

One of the stops is the James Hall Museum of Transport - a must for boys, young and old and the girls will love it too.

This museum is worth checking out simply for it's huge selection of trasport items from animal drawn carriages to fire engines of old and motor cycles and cars from years ago. Well worth the stop.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Visa Misery

As you know from previous posts that I am travelling to Italy in a few months or at least should I say I'm trying to travel to Italy in a few months.

Being a South African is wonderful, I love my country and every diverse thing about it but damn, it sure is hard to travel when you have that green passport!

The process to get a Schengen Visa is an absolute nightmare. Firstly you now have to go via a company called Capago (My Europe Visa) and let me tell you if you are trying to get hold of someone to get information or advice and need it in writing, well honestly think again because that simply won't happen. They do not even respond to emails, even though they advise you to email them on their website for assistance.

There are so many things that are unclear, such as everywhere it states that documents need to be original, original air tickets, original itineraries, original proof of residence but clearly these consulates and their representatives have not arrived in this century where everything and I mean everything is done via the internet and emails.

So now I have electronic versions of air tickets, travel insurance, proof of residence, bank statements and my tour itinerary but according to all websites that I have checked including the consulate these have to be original. So now the panic sets is because they clearly mention that if your documents are not 100% in order, your application will be rejected and you will need to make another appointment and all this AFTER you have already paid the exorbitant fee for the Visa, meaning that if even one document is out of order you will need to pay again and again until it is 100% correct.

Then you get the delightful British government who really want to make it near impossible for anyone to travel to their country, well mostly for Africans and some other 'notorious' countries. The latest is to charge a huge bond, which frankly added to the already high expense of travel will definitely cut out most people except the idle rich. I believe that their Visa applications are even more tedious and time consuming. So I guess I never will see Big Ben or the London Eye or the river Thames because our poor South African Rand is so worthless that paying a bond on top of a sky high exchange rate will just make it impossible to ever see this particular country. Our legs are being chopped off by red tape!

So to all my European, British and American readers, have a little sympathy for us South Africans who want to travel to all these destinations more than anything in the world but boy is it made difficult for us. That is why there will never be a South African version of the 'Amazing Race' because the Visa applications are just a nightmare and extremely stressful. We can never just freely travel from one country to the next by simply hopping on a plane.

I should be looking forward to this trip but at the moment I'm so stressed I sincerely hope I don't have a heart attack before I even get to go!

So to all of you out there, here's my advice. Come to beautiful South Africa, where your currency will take you far, what an average citizen can afford in your country will probably get you luxury in mine. 1 Euro gets you 13 South African Rand (ZAR), 1 British pound will get you 15 ZAR and one US Dollar will get you 10 ZAR. This country has so much to offer from Safari Game farms (think Elephants, Lions, Giraffe, Rhino), great beaches, mountains, excellent wine and delicious food, legendary train journeys, we truly have so much to offer, so COME TO SOUTH AFRICA!! You will love every second in our great country and don't believe everything you read in your papers, we are much safer than you think, just be careful and wary of your surroundings.

Hope to see you all soon. I'm already thinking that my next trip will be to Turkey, no Visa required for South Africans or perhaps South America! Any readers from these areas can let me know what you have to offer.

Ok, venting over. Want to know more about South Africa? Let me know and I'll try assist as much as possible.

Have a good one.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Travel Thanks

It is almost 5 months to go until my tour of Italy begins but it feels like I have been waiting a lifetime for this to actually happen.

So with 5 months to go, this blog is dedicated, with thanks, to those who have helped me realise this dream with selfless acts of constant assistance to this travel virgin.

I have always dreamt of visiting Italy since I read the book by master storyteller Pat Conroy called 'Beach Music'. This man could describe a scene in Italy, where the book takes place, in such vivid detail I could almost feel the cobble stones of the Piazza in Rome under my feet. It has inspired me for years and made me dream of visiting Italy and for that I will be eternally grateful. While I was unable to make the trip previously, just by re-reading the book I felt like I was there already, thanks Mr Conroy, you are an inspiration.

Then I have to thank Sure Travel for their advice, patience in dealing with by barrage of emails and for always being professional, understanding and willing to assist with a smile. Thanks especially goes to Anthea Kaufmann, travel agent extraordinaire, who must be the sweetest most patience woman in the world, and I haven't even met her! What an absolute treasure she is, you've got a client for life!

Contact them for all your travel needs:, follow them on twitter @SureTravel - you wont regret it or contact them via email at They are complete stars!

Then I have to pay special homage to another travel company that was instrumental with advice just off the bat without batting an eyelid. Travelstart gives good advice, period. I have been so bothersome with obtaining advice and information from them and not once have they not responded in seconds. They are a wealth of information and are always, always willing to assist and help and offer advice. All I can say is thanks guys for your absolute dedication, great easy to understand explanations and your Social media platform is absolutely one of the best in the business! 

Check out their website at , follow them on twitter @Travelstart

Without these two companies I would never have made this dream a reality. Since this will be my first overseas trip I was perhaps a tad of a nuisance (understatement hey guys!) and maybe a bit nervous, but these two companies are true professionals and will help you with anything and everything. I'm sure you will both still be hearing a lot from me in the next 5 months!

Please follow them on Twitter as they really have invaluable information, specials and everything travel, you wont regret it!

Then I've also got to thank Trafalgar tours for making it affordable for the average person to see the world. They have so many tours to choose from and are accessible from any country in the world on tours ranging from Europe, Asia, South America all in a professional manner. Queries are handled quickly and so far I am thrilled to be using their services. I look forward to the tour in September and I'm sure after a fantastic experience I will continue to use them afterwards.

Their website is , follow them on twitter @Trafalgarsa and @TrafalgarTalk for all your group tours.

Thanks to everyone. I couldn't have done this without any of you. I'm happy to say that the tour is booked, flights are booked, its now just the little things like Visa's, insurance and of course lots and lots of spending money!

So everyone that reads this blog, I hope that you will give these guys a try because they are the best of the best in the South African travel industry. And to all my foreign readers, Come to South Africa! Contact these companies and they will surely give you the best deals with the best service ever! Oh an your Dollars, Pounds and Euros are worth a  fortune here, just saying! Come see our beautiful country, I'm on my way to see yours!

Take care every one and one last time I bow down to Sure Travel, Travelstart and Trafalgar Tours, hope we are now life long friends.

Oh by the way I will add links to this website/blog for easy access to these brilliant travel companies.

Take care all,



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breath in, Breath out!

So I've just returned from a 2 week holiday where I spent some quality time with my family including my two old fox terriers, who really had the time of their lives.

First we spent a week in my beloved Clarens (see previous Blog post), in the Eastern Free State of South Africa. This little town has just captured my heart and I seriously long to live there. I wish for an opportunity to come up every day. It is without a doubt the most picturesque place in South Africa with the quaintness on a little town thrown in for good measure. It's an artist haven and I believe the colours are unbelievable in Autumn.

This time round as I had my family and dogs along I had to choose a pet friendly place which we found in a place called "The View", a four bedroom (although one room is a self contained flatlet) house with the most remarkable garden I have seen just two blocks from the village of Clarens.

What an amazing view from the garden/veranda

Our dogs loved all the places to explore and we ate our full on the huge platter of ripe figs that was handed to us by the cleaning lady, picked from trees right in this beautiful, wild garden. This was definitely the perfect place for relaxing and for taking our dogs.

Sadly on our last night we found the best restaurant in South Africa, yes in the entire country. We ate at an establishment called Clementines and the food and wine was truly out of this world. If you are ever in this part of our beautiful country, you absolutely have to check it out. We especially loved the fact that the chef himself (well travelled) comes out to greet guests and discuss the food which was absolutely sublime. Check them out at:

It is absolutely advisable to book as they are so good that they are often fully booked. We enjoyed it so much that next time we'll eat there every night because they have a surprisingly large selection for a small town restaurant.

I was, as always very sad to be leaving.

We then went off in the other direction of the country and headed up to Dullstroom, in Limpopo province. There we stayed in what could only be called a real farm house. Unlike Clarens where you go to shops and restaurants every day, here we just sat and relaxed in the country side. Spent lazy days reading and simply just "chilling".

Pretty country

Our dogs met some new friends - a couple of scary moments there as they had never seen cows before and just wanted to play! The little rascals actually climbed through the fence to take on these cows, feisty!

It was a good break, although try as you might you simply cannot hold onto this feeling for long and work creeps up on you again!

Anyway, my family and especially my dogs had an awesome time!

Till next time, All the best


Friday, February 8, 2013

Metabolism Sucks!

Ok, today I gripe!

Why oh why weren't we all blessed with metabolisms that just work. Why cant we all just eat a 2litre ice cream or a box of creamy doughnuts and just remain gorgeous and good looking with a flat tummy and a tight bum?

Yes today I am hating the constant watching what I eat and the constant exercises that I never seem to be getting better at.

This is what I eat every day - looks yummy doesn't it? To a farm animal it must be so delicious, but I am quickly getting sick to death of vegetables and chick pea's (good source of lean protein I'm told).

Yummy raw carrots, cucumber, tomatoes and dozens of chick pea's

Then every evening I run, not unlike 'Forest Gump' on my trusty home treadmill. I run and run and run and yes I have noticed the odd tightening of the calve muscles and perhaps a slight firming of the bum (someone told me so, I DO NOT make it a habit to look at my ass in the mirror) but every night I feel like I'm about to die! On the plus side I do sleep like the proverbial log yet the bags under my eyes have got bags of their own now! Oh and in case your wondering, yes I am a tad fixated by my ass, it is after all my best feature, its the one I hardly ever get to see but its not bad as far as these things go!

I also use weights a couple of times a week yet have seen no really significant change. Anyway this is not a blog about my exercise or diet regime but rather a cry, neigh a scream as to why all men were not created equal. I had a friend who could eat an entire chocolate cake, wash it down with a case of beer and then still snack on a dozen chicken wings without so much as picking up 1 gram and he could outrun, outplay and outlast everyone else I knew. Needless to say, after years of self loathing I got rid of him!

Ok so that's my cry at the universe, I can work out, eat like a rabbit and yes I will lose a kilo here or there but I usually pick it up again the next week (in case any of you were just dying to know that). So my question is:

WHY IS IT SO DARN HARD to look good and be healthy????? Its a constant fight for survival. But I wont give up (queue Rocky music) I will live to fight another day! When someone comes up with a scientific way to transfer metabolism from one individual to the next I will gladly give my bit to make him the richest person alive!

Yours in portly bliss


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Discover Johannesburg

Tourists are hearing about South Africa more and more these days but mostly they hear how beautiful Cape Town is or how hot Durban is or how wild our bush camps are but I think very little people think about Johannesburg as a tourist destination.

Better known to locals as the shorter version of Jo'burg or as the slang word of Jozi, Johannesburg has a lot to offer and I am making it my mission this year to discover the city that I have worked in for almost 20 years and that I truly call home.

Recently I came across, quite by accident I may mention, some really great websites about Johannesburg and was horrified to know that I didn't know about some of these places even though I work a few blocks aways from them!

One such great website is:

There you can discover such interesting things such as information on Exhibitions in the city centre, Art works that give the old buildings a bit of glamour as well as where to go what to do and where to eat. There are such interesting articles to read and a way to "Discover Gold in the city of Johannesburg" ( 

The next website is

This website is unique in that it offers walking tours of the Johannesburg area. Their tag line is after all "Unique Johannesburg Inner City and Soweto Tours and Events and Archaeological Tours" (courtesy of their website). Check them out for what can only be a fun day out.

A very wise women once said to me " we seem to take our vibrant Jozi for granted....go for it, babe, be a tourist in your own city!" and that's just what I plan to do this year. So thanks for that gem Mrs U.C.

So, for any of you who live in this great city that never sleeps, go out there and discover why Johannesburg can be right up there with the best cities in the world and why we should encourage tourists not to just land at OR Tambo airport as a doorway to another South African destination but to linger a little in Jozi and have some real fun!

Till next time,