Tag Archives: Travel

What makes a city? Do people really matter?

I was pleasantly charmed by a movie I watched recently.  “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen, is set in Paris and Owen Wilson plays the character of Gil Pender, a screenwriter trying to write his first novel.  While exploring the city by night, he mysteriously transports to the 1920’s and meets all his favourite writers, musicians and artists.  He falls head over heels in love with the city.  However his fiancé does not share the same sentiment and ironically he falls out of love with her.


Now, I have never really had a deep desire to visit Paris.  Maybe because I thought it was overrated or people fussed about it too much.  In any case, hubby and I had an opportunity to backpack through Europe a few years back.  We were set to spend 2 nights in romantic Paris.  We tried finding our hotel but really struggled to get around because no-one would respond to us in English.

We ended up leaving “romantic Paris”…we couldn’t find any romanticism.  We ended up walking around for hours.  I build up this grudge against the Parisians and immediately decided they were arrogant and snobby.  There was no way we would spent our hard-earned money there.

Quite disappointed we left Paris

Quite disappointed, we left Paris

We left and spent an extra two nights in Barcelona!  Wow, what a city!  Ironically we had a total different experience!  We had a lovely, warm reception, and people made an effort to help us.  It quickly became our favourite place, and I would go there on the drop of a dime.

Now 8 years later, I’m rethinking everything…especially after watching this movie.  Also, a friend of mine and fellow Blogger, Wade Manning, moved to Paris recently, and I really enjoy reading about his experiences.

In hindsight, I realise I was a bit ignorant.  I could have made an effort to learn the basic: Bonjour Monsieur, parlez-vous anglais?”  But I also ask myself why they could not make an effort to be more friendly?  Why must they be so snobbish?  Maybe our decision to leave prematurely robbed us of some brilliant experiences.  And that is what travelling is about…learning about new places, people and cultures.  And we chose to abort “living the French way”.  We never got to eat any French food or visit the Eiffel Tower… none of that!

So I pose the question:  “What makes a city? Do people really matter?”  My conclusion is…yes, people matter.  People can either make or break your trip.  Coming from sunny South Africa, I am proud to say that our people are said to be some of the friendliest in the world.  I have met countless tourists and visitors and they would always commend us.  “Ubuntu” is what and who we are.

Desmond Tutu explains what Ubuntu is:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

Children of South Africa

Friendly children of South Africa

I love that…and I try to live that.  Our general culture in South Africa is one of Ubuntu, and yes you do get rude and angry people who choose not to live by this concept.  And this is true for every country in the world.  Maybe we just ran into the wrong people on that disastrous day we arrived in Paris.

Time is a healer.  I think I’m ready to embrace and give Paris another chance.  As Owen Wilson’s character sums it up in this quote from the movie:

Adriana: I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night.
Gil: No, you can’t, you couldn’t pick one. I mean I can give you a checkmate argument for each side. You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights, I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafés, people drinking and singing. For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe.”

I think I’m ready to experience this now.  Paris is now once again on my list of places to visit, and this time I will go ready and armed!

Paris, nous voici!!

So again I pose the question:  “What makes a city? Do people really matter?”  What is your feeling?

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DIY: Around the world on a whim

Travelling broadens one’s mind.  It has been said that “Travel is the only thing you buy, that makes you richer.”

A few years ago I went travelling around our beautiful country.  To remind me of my trip, I decided to make a lampshade using a map of South Africa.  Here is how I did it!






This is a quick and easy way to update any room…go ahead and try it!

Also featured in December/January edition of 4changemagazine.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

Dreaming ~ {A series of mental images and emotions occurring during sleep} ; {Imaginative thoughts indulged in while awake}

I immediately thought of these pics when I saw this week’s challenge.  One of my favourite places I have visited thus far is Churchhaven in the West Coast park, Langebaan.  Leaves me dreaming about it all over again…

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Walking through history…another hike

Our monthly hikes are unintentionally becoming information sessions.  Sittings where we learn history, (and not necessarily what we learned at school)…real and relevant history.

The last hike was no exception.

Map of the reserve

Gathering around the “gifbol” (poison ball)

The valley

The morning sun

Crossing the river

Remains of an early Tswana village

Typical rock formation for mining purposes

Marais farm

Gathering in front of Marais farm

History of farm

Walking towards the end of the trail

This hike was exceptional.  I wish I could write about the totality of it…it is just too much information.  I don’t even know where to begin.  We literally walked through history.  Thanks to Noel Thornton for being such an inspirational guide.  You really invigorated my hunger for history!

If you want more information on the history of the reserve visit their website:


PS: Our next hike is this coming Saturday, 23 June.  Really revved up about this one as were doing another city hike.  If you’re interested let me know.

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Shopping with little (or no) money!

I have been thinking about this lately! Winter is here and a girl needs to up her wardrobe!

Challenge is…there is never enough money to buy whatever I like. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t lack anything…in fact my wardrobe is running over.  Just with outdated apparels!

So the other day I run off to the store…just needed some retail therapy.  Shopping is so therapeutic sometimes…even if I buy for someone else…it still does wonders! 🙂

Got me thinking…how do you shop with little or no money?  Trust me…it is possible!  First of all, buy clever.  Buy classic items that will never date.

1. Wear comfortable shoes and easy on/off clothes the morning of your designated shopping trip(as you will be trying on things), and also do your hair and makeup like you would normally do when going out (so when you try on things you’ll look your best in them) and don’t bring your life savings.

 2. Bring the minimal money (just enough for food or gas is good) and MAYBE enough for that perfect dress. If you have no money whatsoever, eat at home, bring snacks and water, or stay home. And pack your self-control.

 3. Make a mental or physical list of stores you want to go to and things you want to buy.

 4. Go directly to the stores you want to when you get to the mall/shopping center. Pick up whatever you like and try it on. Pick up things you weren’t sure would look good on you, or things you normally think are too expensive. Choose whatever! and try it on!

 5. Try to make outfits in the fitting room or as you shop.

 6. Tell the lady in the fitting room that you didn’t like anything (or if you have a lot and are too embarrassed, leave some with her and take some with you, then as you continue to “look around” the store casually hang up the rest).

 7. Repeat those steps for the rest of the stores you want to go to.

 8. Stop for food/water at some point since you may want to rest a bit.


(tips courtesy of: http://www.wikihow.com/Shop-With-Little-or-No-Money)

According to my experience…you don’t have to have loads of money to look good.  All it takes is some clever planning and a little cheating!

  • Patience is a virtue!  Wait for sales…you will be surprised at how much you save!
  • Buy seasonal clothes and boots after the season is passed.  Usually they are marked down quite a bit.
  • Buy from charity shops.  You are bound to find a bargain here and there.  Read the article below on buying at charity shops.  When we visited the UK a while back, I unintentionally visited a charity shop and found a designer shirt for 12 pounds (sadly, after two babes it doesn’t fit me any longer!)
  • Window shop on the High Street for ideas and go tho cheaper shops to actually buy a similar item.  Above picture shows me window shopping on the High Street in Milan.

Also check out this article:

Charity Shop Secrets | HerUni.com.

This article was just a frivolous conversation starter.  Do you have any tips on how to shop clever?

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

Blue ~ {Of the colour intermediate between green and violet; having a colour similar to that of a clear unclouded sky}

One of my absolute favourites things to photograph is the sky, specifically clouds:

Blue sky – Paarl, Western Cape

Kleinmond, Overberg, Western Cape

Rockhaven Farm, Grootwinterhoek, Porterville, Western Cape

Melkbosstrand, Western Cape

Driving home, Jozi

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

Although difficult to shoot, one of my favourite subjects to capture on camera.  It changes dramatically during the day in terms of light and luminescence.

A few shots from the archive of my travels:

Sedgefield, Garden Route

Montjuïc Communications Tower, Barcelona

Read about the tower here.

Pantheon, Rome

 Read about the Pantheon here.

Florida Lake, Johannesburg

Fiano Romano, Italy

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Two Subjects

One of my favourite holiday spots is the West Coast National Park in the Western Cape.  Whenever we can we try to visit.  It is filled with all kinds of fauna and flora and small wild animals.

A few years ago we were steadily cruising through the park in search of interesting sights.  Imagine our surprise when we came across this…

Still snake and figurine

Now firstly the snake on its own would have been interesting, but to find a plastic figurine in a nature reserve was a bit freaky.  Take in mind that getting out of the car is not allowed so someone took a chance and carefully placed the figure there.  I took some pictures and we went on our way.

We came back and was again surprised at this:

Someone moved the figurine!

Obviously the snake is dead…cause it stayed in the same position for hours. And a brave visitor decided to play around with the figure.  Too much for me to take.  I dislike snakes ~ (as read here and maybe because of ignorance), and the irony is I live in wild Africa and love wild parks!

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Another day in Parys…

…and yes I have the spelling right.  It is not Paris, France but Parys, Freestate, South Africa. Hubby and I visited this quaint little town in 2010 for our 8th wedding Anniversary, and I guess we fell in love all over again. 🙂

A mere hour’s drive out of the city…it is a great getaway!  This time round we invited a few friends along and made a day-trip of it.  Here follows a photo essay of the day: (some pics taken while in transit)

An appropriate greeting...Welcome Cafe

The Eiffel Tower

The local butchery. We stocked up on some good organic meat.

The butchery interior

The streets are lined with quaint little shops...

Cute shop

The Vaal River

The mighty Vaal river

The Vaal River  is the largest tributary of the Orange River in South Africa. The river has its source in the Drakensberg mountains in Mpumalanga, east of Johannesburg and about 30 km north of Ermelo and only about 240 km from the Indian Ocean. It then flows westwards to its conjunction with the Orange River southwest of Kimberley in the Northern Cape. It is 1,120 km in length, and forms the border between MpumalangaGauteng and North West Province on its north bank, and the Free State on its south. (source: Wikipedia) We ended off our day with ice cream at the local gourmet bistro, Hoi Poloi.  It has a very quirky style with a lot of French influence.

Very steep stairs

Bistro interior

Lounging at the back of the bistro

Below the bistro is what looks like an upholstery boutique and a collection of vintage cars.  Check out the antique doors!

Antique doors

Another stunning door!

Bistro view from the bottom up

A vertical garden...how interesting!

Hands down one of my favourite small towns in South Africa now (amongst Franschhoek, Dullstroom, etc).  It has so much to offer in terms of shopping, eating and sight-seeing.

“Parys, ne peut pas attendre de vous voir à nouveau!”

(Cannot wait to see you again, Parys!)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Arranged

Arranged ~ {Disposed or placed in a particular kind of order}

Nature has an unexpected level of order and organisation.  We see it in the “V” when birds migrate over the skies, and when ants march in a row.

This picture was taken in Addo National Elephant park.

Elephants in a row

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Contrast like day and night…

Contrast ~ {Put in opposition to show or emphasize differences}

I took this picture when on holiday in January while a passenger in the car. (Excuse the quality).

It is a timber shack located on the N2 in a township called Noetzie. It is placed adjacent to Pezula, the most luxurious residential resort on the continent.  This very skew building caught my eye and I couldn’t help but wonder how it can still stand and who lives in it?

We kept on driving into Knysna town and just a few kilometres down the road another timber building caught my eye (another pic while driving):

I am not sure if it is a retail shop…but it looked very interesting. It had a vertical garden on the upside. Although very close in proximity the two buildings are literally & figuratively world’s apart.  Makes you think doesn’t it?

PS: This is my 140th post!! Yeah!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Indulge

Indulge ~ {Yield (to); give satisfaction to}

One of my indulgences is refurbishing .  This abandoned, dilapidated house is in my neighbourhood. I drive by it frequently and it makes me itch.  It makes me itch to make it over.  This house needs a serious overhaul and I would love to get my hands on it.

Doesn’t it remind your of the Dynasty TV series?  If the walls could talk it might tell us a story of a rich and powerful family that might have lived there once.

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WordPresser Documents Her Mission to Overcome Agoraphobia

WordPresser Documents Her Mission to Overcome Agoraphobia.

Another lesson for me to actually stop saying I want to do things and actually start doing them! Very inspiring!

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