Posts Tagged ‘travel’

The great rumble and lurch as I hurtle along the concrete path, a sudden lift in the pitch black. The lights become smaller, we bump through the blanket and poooof!

Out we pop above the beautiful marshmallow mattress of cloud-cover. Rolling out into the distance like a soft winter blanket. The purest while, rippled and dappled with the blue of the dawn.

A bright orange speck on the horizon splits through distant cover and streaks a sunbeam across my vision. The colour, the deepest brightest blood orange. A tint only possible made by something Greater.

The sweetest, rawest sunrise over T5, en route to Copenhagen, 7am in October.

The infinite bobble blanket so beautiful, my heart swells. Another small adjustment, a gentle tug forward, and we rise another few thousand feet, the blanket drops away.



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The drive from the airport

Greener than I thought, although the green here is different, it’s a dry dark green. The leaves look like they can stand some serious heat. Mum told me of a friend who visited Beijing and didn’t see any birds. I saw two flocks on the way from the airport to the CBD. They were on the outskirts though. As my eyes scan the strange letters and the unfamiliar sights (motorcyclists with umbrellas for shade and oven gloves on to protect them from hot handles), I start to feel lucky, to have this opportunity to visit such far flung corners.

Fairly quickly we joined a tangle of highways, gridlocked into the centre. A good hour buffeted between the lines on the road, cutting across cars and weaving through the lines of vehicles. I could taste the fumes from within my air conditioned car.

The hotel, 05.24am GMT, 12.24PM local time

Safe inside my shimmering, glittery palace. Air cooled and conditioned to trap out those fumes. Pristine white sheets, spa-style bathroom products. A deep bath, a cup of jasmine tea, and some yoga to shake off the stiffness and lethargy of my 10 hour flight.

Tried to phone-home, or at least fire up Facebook or Gmail to post or email. Internet times out. I think the sites are blocked. It lets me into my work email, so I can send my signal home

The first afternoon.

Walked miles in my flipflops. Intense heat searing down, slowing my western steps to fall in line with the eastern meander. Lines of metallic umbrellas in every shade of pastel, beating back the sun. People crowded into shady spots. Queues to get into Tiananmen Square and the surrounds. Inadvertently found myself standing in the queue, the one I was told to avoid. Oh well, go with the flow, it’s too hot to go against it.
Beautiful ornate roofs, lined with fearsome animals protecting the temples from fire. The scale of the Forbidden City is huge. I walked for miles. It just kept going, Lots of pictures, stops in the shade. The orange tiles glimmering and shimmering in the heat.

At the far northern side of the city is the Imperial Garden. Some welcome nooks and crannies to find escape from the sun. Rocks, gnarly trees, fountains and pagodas.

Wound my way back through some hutongs, peering into old and crumbly courtyards. Stopped to buy a strange pastry snack and an even stranger cold sour yoghurt drink. Trying to fit in with the locals. Somehow, what felt like hours later, popped up in the shiny Oriental Plaza, home to my hotel.

Grabbed an ice coffee from Starbucks on the Plaza. Lay briefly on my pristine white sheets. Dozed off for a second before jumping up – NO STAY AWAKE. Another bath, called my contact in Beijing, a friend of a friend – he’s taking me out to eat tonight. I need a beer and some food that isn’t scary looking.

Oh, and there are birds everywhere!

Day 2: The office

There is nothing like having heavy eyelids first thing in the morning. Set up in an office on the 15th floor of Tower E2. Strong sugary coffee at my side. It’s nice working at this time. My laptop clock tells me it’s 3.50am in the UK. My American colleagues are just about to say goodnight. The world falls silent around me. Beijing, however, remains noisy. The gentle thrum of the air con in the corner and the musical bib-bib of the horns of Beijing traffic outside my window. Yes, Beijing, I know you are there, you cannot be ignored.

The rain storm

Mid-afternoon, the air is thickening in the office despite the air-conditioning. The ring of the car horns continues outside. A low rumble joins in. The view from the 15th floor has turned grey, diagonal lines of rain streak across the view. The pavements far below are slick. The storm sets in.

The evening

Battling heavy eyelids all afternoon, leave work just before 6 back to my hotel room, to lie down and drift off into a hazy sleep for a couple of hours. A delicious night in the hotel with unadventurous room service and HBO. And sleep.

Day 3: The Great Wall

Up early and into a cab to get to Nan Luo Gu Xiang. A funky street ploughing through the middle of a labyrinth of hutongs. It’s early so everything is shut, a few locals busying about their days. Window shopping on the way down. Peering into hidden alleys. Find the hostel, wait with the backpackers, get in the van, drive for 3 hours.

Walk the wall at Jingshanling. It’s majestic, built up in places, crumbly in others, snaking over the green mountains, the dramatic countryside with its rolling hills and valleys stretching out as far as the eye can see. And as far as the eye can see there’s more wall and more turrets.

With my new backpacker buddies we trek up the many steps, in the blazing heat, learning each other’s stories and stopping for shelter from the sun at each turret. Sweat clings our tshirts to our bodies, the temptation of ice cold coke or ice cold beer by the farmer’s wives at each turret. We push on. Taking photos on each and every corner and new views of the sweeping wonder reveal themselves. 6km and about 2.5 hours later we’ve made it. Hearts hammering and all now good friends, I finally give in to a persistent farmer’s wife. A fresh T-Shirt “I climbed the Great Wall” and an ice cold coke, for the heavily bargained down price of 20 Yuan (about £2.40). We climb down from turret 22 to the car park below and get back on our blue bus for the 3 hour trip home.

Back in Beijing and at the Backpackers place the road that was so quiet this morning is now pumping. It’s packed with local cool kids, promenading and posing up and down the alley. Bars and cafes blast music, neon lights flicker, karaoke is underway. Bright coloured drinks bubble, meat is served on skewers. People stop every 5 seconds for another selfie…

I wait to meet Dave and Bridget but they’re late. A lot of people watching later I give up and head to the subway, then I get a text – they’re here! Stuck in the throng. I walk back to meet them and find them with “the beast” their motor tricycle. It’s amazing but slow moving in the people crowd. I hop on the back and Bridget carefully guides us through the crowd. We pop out at the end of the lane and navigate crossing the exceptionally busy road. It’s exhilarating waiting in the middle of this huge intersection with cars whizzing past me, blowing up my hair from being so close, and bibbing very loudly.

We head down a quite dark road, passing a park with a bunch of older women doing a choreographed dance to tinny music, and find a cute little restaurant, lit up with red lanterns. Dave orders plates of food and beers and we settle in for a much needed dinner.

After we get back on the beast and head towards my hotel – we’re nearly there anyway, weaving in and out of the maze of streets we suddenly pop out on Wanfujing Street, the main shopping street, Bridget hops off and heads for home whilst Dave drives me at top speed through the late night shoppers and back to drop me off at my hotel. A final swim before heading for bed.

Day 5: Sunday in Beijing

Lie in. Breakfast. Work.

Subway to Jishuitan. Walk along main drag, shops of every kind. Duck into a street cutting through more hutongs. Weird and wonderful alleys. Coffee shop with strange animal in cage.

Walk around the hutong tour area. Then onto the lake. Duck palace. Come back and over the Silver ingot Bridge. Watch karaoke singer with everyone else. Then back onto depths of hutongs, some quiet, some crazy. Shady temples, pop into bar for iced tea and to escape the heat. Regroup.

Head to the park to watch the locals with their pride and joy only children, all dressed up and parading. The lake is beautiful with the view of the White Pagoda, the lake is full of boats, duck shaped, lotus flower shaped.

Visit the 9 dragon mural and get a call from Dave and Bridget – go and join them back in the hutongs for a massage.

Massage is insane, breaks me and puts me back together. Howling in pain from the Great Wall yesterday. Come out feeling like I’m floating on a cloud.

Get on “the Beast” and heat north past the Drum Tower to another hot spot and have a dinner of delicious dumplings before I say my final farewells to Dave and Bridget and jump in a taxi back to the Wangfujing street. Final stop is the Night Market and then Snack Street to see skewers of scorpions (live) and Seahorses, and the pained expression of someone singing Chinese opera, before I hot foot it back to the hotel room to Face Time with Chris, have a bath, pack, check in for my very early flight tomorrow, and bed.


The journey from the airport

I take the maglev bullet train from the airport to Longyang Station. An 8 minute journey. On this one you really feel the acceleration as I watched the on-board speedometer rapidly tick up to 431km per hour. Being the only tourist (so it seems) on the airport train, I sneak a photo. The whole carriage tips as we round a corner. My heart quickens. I love fast trains.

After the joy of the bullet train, I decide to take a taxi the rest of the way. Some guy at the station leads me round a corner to a taxi. It didn’t feel quite right. 30 minutes and 400 RMB lighter I know I’ve been ripped off. Frustrating, but that’s China sometimes.

The afternoon in the French Concession

Monday is a public holiday in China. I’m now at the start of our conference week and I am starting to see some familiar faces checking into our Shanghai hotel. I do some work, settle into my hotel room, and then decide to go for a walk. Being inside the hotel is dark and oppressive. I head out into the French Concession.

I decide to loosely follow a “90 minute walk around the French Concession” from my guide book. Heading out of the hotel and find the main road and start my journey. The air is thick and heavy with humidity. Trees hang over the road to make a tunnel of dripping leaves. It feels more tropical here. South East Asia, or New Orleans spring to mind. I pass boutiques and small local shops filled with fruits and plastic toys. Men and women sitting on low chairs in their doorways. The atmosphere is very relaxed. Bicycles ride up and down the long streets. Birds sing in cages, hung from balconies overhead. Occasionally there’ll be a break in the shops and my view will open up to a construction site, with huge skyscraping buildings towering up into the overcast sky. Progress.

I stop enroute at one of many funky looking coffee shops. Relieved by the air conditioning and the comforting feel of takeout cup in hand, and the welcoming taste of milky coffee. I walk for about 40 minutes, turning left, then right, enjoying the feeling of a new strange city, so completely different to the one I was in a few hours ago. Enjoying the feeling of moisture on my skin, the fragrances here, the gentle new sounds, the more mellow atmosphere.

I find a park and wander in. Elderly Chinese people sitting on benches, on the exercise machines, enjoying their afternoons by doing, well, not much really.

Quite by accident I stumble across a labyrinth of shops and bars and restaurants. Crammed into packed little lanes. Weird and wonderful boutiques and eateries. It’s much busier here. Young people bustling around. I let myself be taken along with the sweep of humans. Bright colours, loud noises, close contact. A lot to take in. I pop out on a the main street and buy a pink plastic umbrella. It’s about to rain, I can feel it.

I feel the ping of my blackberry and my colleague has arrived at the hotel. We agree a meeting point , a subway ride away. The subway is surprisingly easy and clean. I even tell a tourist how to buy a ticket, and it’s my first time too!

30 minutes later I pop out on Nanjing Road. The main drag, Nanjng Road. Shanghai High Street. Big, wide, busy. The Apple Store looms. Another side of China. Another side of everywhere. I dodge the people trying to sell me selfie-sticks and wheels to put on my feet and take a pew to people watch and wait for Clare. We meet and walk down the drag to get to the Bund.

A beautiful man-made skyline. A line up of concrete souls rising up out of the river. Space craft.
We catch a ferry to get on the water and find ourselves enjoying another view from the foot of those stunning skyscrapers, whilst drinking German beer and eating Goulash.

We walk along the river promenade. It’s dark now and the Bund is alit with neon. The skyline takes on another personality. The people of Shanghai are out in force, promenading along the banks. Small children throw glow in the dark missiles into the sky.

My guidebook tells me about a kitsch tunnel that you can take back under the river. We finally find it and climb into the ski-lift carriage which takes us back under the river. This bizarre experience reminds me of the scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original) when they go into the factory for the first time. I expect to see an oompa lumpa.

The week at work

I’m here on a work conference with our Asian sales teams. It’s an intense week of workshops, presentations, and brainstorms. We’re in a conference room in the hotel which is feels far away from Shanghai. Most of our meals are served in the restaurant, which serves an abundance of food, but I’m not entirely sure what most of it is and I don’t feel that adventurous after hearing they served turtle on the first day.

It’s amazing to spend time with my colleagues from all over the world. We get to steel back into steamy Shanghai in the evenings, with foamy beers in nearby bars, watching the locals perform their evening dance routines in the park, we take a trip to a big shiny Chinese restaurant in Wu Gardens, and another jaunt to see the Bund again. One night I take the marketing ladies back to my discovered labyrinth. We find a cosy Thai restaurant and have cocktails and green curry, a welcome break from the Chinese food!

Our final night we say our goodbyes to our colleagues as they head back out to their corners of the world. There are a few people left (mostly from the Middle East team!) and we head out for Lebanese food. We’re all tired, and after a beer at the Boxing Cat Brewery, we head back to the hotel. A second wind then catches us all and we end up in a Bowling Alley after midnight, followed up by a massive night club with booming base and vodka flowing. Another city that never sleeps.

My last day in Shanghai

I’d always planned a final day in Shanghai before flying home but wasn’t sure what would happen. One of my newly acquainted colleagues from India invited me along to spend the day with a friend of her friend, a French lady living in Shanghai. Why not?

So, we have a whirlwind day buzzing around Shanghai, taxi hopping between old and new all day. From a delicious dimsum place to the Wu Gardens (this time in the day) for temples, shops, the tourist bridge and some turtle spotting. From the local bird and flower market, spotting crickets in plastic balls and baby chicks and baskets of terrapins, to the multi-floored “fake market” with handbags and sunglasses from every “designer” under the sun. We walked through an antique market that was in the process of being pulled down, small kiosks crammed with “antiques” surrounded by piles of rubble. Back to the Bund and this time up to the 32nd floor of the Hyatt for a Peachocolada cocktail with one of the best views of my trip. That neon river scene, and the classic Shanghai aerial shot that you see in all the movies. We ended up in a really funky contemporary restaurant, Japanese and China fusion. Beer in round bottomed glasses and mouth-watering fusion food before being whisked off in our last taxi for our final goodbyes and to pack, as my China trip had come to a close and an early morning taxi to the airport beckoned.

Beijing and Shanghai, two very different siblings, the older is more formal, traditional, unlike any city I’ve ever visited, the other young, vibrant, full of life but trying to be like others around it. It was a privilege and a joy to experience both side by side. I’ve only seen a scratch of China and now I crave to get out into the country-side and see a whole other side. The cities are loud, proud and attention seeking, and next time I’ll head farther afield.

































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Two days staring at the sea. Trying to read a book. Feet in the sand, wind in my hair.

With the morning come the dolphin pods, one, two, three. Arcing out of the water with their shiny grey fins.

As the sun makes it’s own arc from left to right of our ocean view, the water glitters in the bright sunshine, the wind bends the grass.

Today is filled with shell collecting, then painting on our wooden deck, then eating, then sandcastle building.

More staring at the sea. It’s addictive, it’s hypnotic. I see other humans doing it too.

With the evening come the pelicans, on their journey home from a busy day fishing. They pull back their wings and point their beaks at the ocean, a final plummet for a fishy snack.

The sky turns dusky blue, then orange, like it’s on fire, then pink and finally mauve.

Another day is done.

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I’ve spent the past week waking up to the clearest blue skies. Skies sweeping overhead and taller than any I’ve seen. Onto my balcony for a sweeping panorama of a flat wide blue sea, interrupted only slightly by a few craggy rocks close to shore, the occasional fisherman perched ontop, casting his rod into the blue. As the sea meets the coast the deep blue moves to royal, then shimmers the most exotic and mesmerising turquoise before lapping against the pale grey pebbles of shore.
As I glance southwards down that shore my eyes follow the snaking curve of the coast. Villages perch on mountain edges that tumble down to meet the sea. This could be a mini Rio.
Wild flowers grow here like weeds, pinks, purples, reds and whites all spilling over the banks, lining the motorways, tumbling over old buildings and bridges, the hues unreal, eye-popping vibrancy against those blue skies.
And the heat is intense. It envelopes you like a heavy blanket during the day, when by the coast the breeze provides relief. Local sit in the shade and suck on oranges the size of small footballs, grown in the fertile soil of Etna.
We’re living on that beautiful snakey coast, facing out onto the Ionian Sea. Up the coast lies the mainland, a 35 mile swim to the boot of Italy. Down the coast is the dominating presence of Mount Etna, watching over us all.
We drove up Etna during the week, climbing the giddy heights. Peeking into the giant pock marks – craters blown into existence in recent years. She still grumbles. She still smokes from her top. We scaled her sides on a ski lift then moon buggy and climbed another crater, felt warm earth where lava was 15 days ago. We gazed in awe at the top most peak, not allowed to trek there unless you have special permission.
On the way down, winding past the frozen lava fields, with lush grasses and flowers sprouting from the mineral rich soil, it’s easy to understand the mutant citrus fruits we see at breakfast. Passing through towns scorched and cindered black from “the dust” we wonder if they are scared when they hear the frequent grumble.
Getting accustomed to the balmy climate, the no-rules traffic, the abundance of oranges and lemons, the fresh seafood, the glittering bright and pricey boutiques, the medieval charming town of Taormina, our Sicilian home for seven days…









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– A collection of my “micro-blog” posts from Facebook as I reminisce about my recent 3 weeks “Down Under” –

Day 1 Down Under. Lifetime dream of spotting the harbour bridge and opera house. Wandering round the beautiful botanic gardens spotting flocks of crazy squawking birds. Picnic on the grass watching the harbour ferry race, Australia Day complete!

Day 2 Down Under. Morning raisin bread and coffee followed by stroll along the coastal path from Bronte to Bondi. Dodging pups on leads and mean, lean joggers on the path. Watching surf dudes do their thing and having a quick splash in the Bondi foam. Tried to find the chaps from Bondi Rescue, but the ones on the beach look quite different (one had a full on beard and beer belly…). Afternoon spent doing the inevitable – work!
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Day 3 – Day 6 Down UnderFirecrackers, beach huts, graffiti; My week in Melbourne

Day 7 Down Under. Saturday morning in Melbourne, everyone else is still in their Fridays. Trying to connect to three different people in two different time zones. Feeling very ‘jet set’ but I may need to escape to a place without wifi after this…

Day 9 Down Under. Work. In the morning in my apartment, all afternoon at the conference centre, at dinner and a budget meeting before bed. We ate Greek tonight. The food wasn’t too interesting but the ceiling was…

Day 12 Down Under. Along the Great Ocean Road, backpacking in The Grampians. Saw a koala or two today and we’re now off for dinner. I’m having kangeroo slouvaki.
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Day 13 Down Under. Great Ocean Road and the Grampians. Saw koalas, kangaroos and the lighthouse from Round The Twist.

Day 14 Down Under. Giant Koala, white kangaroos, and many, many flies… crossing over into South Australia.

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Day 15 Down Under. Kangaroo Island. Koalas, goannas (big lizards!), and apparently 500,000 kangaroos, who were mostly hiding in the shade. A magical place.

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Day 16 Down Under. Sweet Jesus, Trip Advisor weren’t wrong when they said my hostel was over a nightclub, in fact I am the lucky one whose room is over the nightclub. Thumping tunes coming up through the floor and my table is rocking to the bass. Can’t even get my TV to work to drown out the party mix, hey ho… Maybe I’ll jump around my room and join in until the kiddies get tired and go home…. — at Base Backpackers, Sydney.

Day 16 & 17 Down Under. Adelaide; City of Parks and Churches, and giant bronze cockroaches with Hula Hoopers on TV. Back to Sydney, escaping the monster backpackers to the hip leafy world of Justine Rogers (Thanka JRo,.you are a life saver :D). AND the Harbour Bridge walk at twilight – awesome!

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Day 18 & 19 Down Under. Slowing down to beach-speed. — at Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay

Day 20 Down Under. A couple fabulous days on and around Hyams beach with Marika Whitfield, white sand, dolphins, a man-of-war, a wallaby and a kookaburra (oh, and some interesting headgear…)
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Day 21 Down Under. Ok, enough of the sunshine and good times, I miss Blighty… Time to come home. Just got 24 hours of air time to deal with first… Final stop before leaving Oz, some impulse shopping at Duty Free — at Sydney International Airport

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On another balcony, watching another beautiful sunrise. This time the giant orange sun makes her leap from the horizon to cloud cover leaving behind a bright slash of yellow across my Melbourne morning.

It’s 6.30am at the bottom of the world. It’s the start of another beautiful day in Australia and pretty much everyone on the planet I know and love are still in my yesterday.

It’s taken me my whole life to make it, but finally I am here. Australia. Now just starting my fifth day Down Under and I need to reflect on my first impressions, as they’ll disappear into the wind if I leave it any longer.

The descent on the plane is the starting point. The first impression. From afar it was much like any other. It was overcast, so looked all too familiar. But as we got closer the strangeness started subtly. Roofs were a different shape, trees a little more gnarly.

The taxi ride into Sydney was more telling. Early morning so no folk about, but birds on street corners, bouncing after insects. Language on billboards ever so slightly different. And the houses as I reached Annandale a pot pouree of exotic cabins, different colours, brocade balconies, definitely something different here.

My first few days in Sydney, getting down to the water, finally getting my shot of Australya with e Harbour Bridge and Opera House hitting me square between the eyes. BAM here I am, pinned tightly to the surface of the planet. Right here. Right now. People eve where, jovial spirits, Australia Day. The harbour is way more compact that I imagined. My whole life the bridge and the opera house jump out of TV screens like towering divas, demanding you attention. Here they sit quietly, no shouting, but still I can’t stop taking pictures.

We go to the botanical gardens for a cheese and cracker picnic. I fall in love with the birds everywhere, exotic huddles of weird looking creatures and screeching flocks of bright coloured parrots.

Boats race through the harbour. We walk through the streets.

The next few days I work from a home office, but get respite from morning walks along coastal paths linking beautiful beaches, Bronte to Bondi, a lifetime dream, in search of the lifesavers, but disappointed to find they have beards and beer bellies, not like on TV.

The sun is fierce and welcomes me to Australia.

We catch a ferry through the harbour to Manly beach for delicious fish and chips, fighting off the Aussie gulls. School kids making the most of their last few days before school starts, driving the lifeguards crazy as whistles blow and loud speakers try to herd them between the flags.

Yesterday I left Sydney behind, soaring out in the morning getting an amazing aerial view of my last few days – the harbour, the bays clinging to the coast line, the ferry route to Manly, all perfectly framed through my airplane porthole.

We landed in Melbourne, my home now for a week. I was surprised at how big it is, skyscrapers and wide avenues with tramlines. A real city. I went to work and slipped into commuter life, disguised as a local. And now I sit on my balcony, on the 13th floor, overlooking my urban sunrise, getting ready for my day.

Coffee here is good. I wake up early in the morning. The light and sunshine gives me energy. People here are friendly but laid back. Straight-talking, no BS. Life is straight-forward, no drama.

I feel the distance from home but it’s more the distance in time. Here I’m a time traveller, a girl from the future, always ahead, an explorer in space time. I like it here, I’m meeting the world first and it’s bright and big and ever so slightly different. I know there’s a whole continent out there just waiting to impress me some more, but this time I am focusing on this small corner in the south east of e island. A hop and a skip from the South Pole.

But I know I’ll return at some point in the future. And I won’t wait so long next time.
















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I’ve just spent the last two weeks driving along the bottom of Africa. The very bottom – from Cape Town, along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth. This is my second time, the first was 9 years ago and I was backpacking, living in cabins and tree houses, drinking beer in jacuzzis full of other backpackers. This time, way more civilised, on my honeymoon in amazing shiny hotels. A different world. Although I was excited to show my husband Africa, perhaps this wasn’t entirely the Africa he was expecting, but it was a fabulous one! My top five highlights…

1. The food. I can honestly say in just over two weeks I did not have a bad meal. I didn’t even have an average meal. Everything was delicious, from the gourmet delicacies in the French restaurants of Franshhoek to the cheap and cheerful late night curry on Long Street, Cape Town.

SA and Italy tie for first place in my food Olympics.

2. The friendly people/service. In SA when you are served food or provided a service, they respond with “pleasure” and they sound like they mean it! Often lacking in other places, there is always a friendly face and people care (or seem to!).

3. The views/scenery. I truly believe that Cape Town is the most beautiful city I have ever visited. Table Mountain and the bay and the rolling green down to the town is stunning. Who could argue with that backdrop? The 12 Apostles and then the Garden Route, for a photophile like me, I was addicted to snapping away on my camera as gorgeous scenes rolled past my window.

4. The weather. At this time of year the heat is on and as I know back home it’s super grizzly at the moment it makes me appreciate it all the more. The heat permeates my skin and seeps into my soul and s-l-o-w-s me down and I love that. All worries just melt away and there’s nothing to concern myself with but where the next cafe or bar is to sit, gulp down an ice cold castle and people watch…

5. The adventure. We packed in a lot (considering we’d slowed down to Africa time), from hanging with 2000 penguins on Boulders Beach on Christmas Day, to bobbing in a cage surrounded by 7 great white sharks, to a wine tour on horseback, to taking two cheetahs on a sunrise walk on leads (!), to our final hurrah of a three day safari in Shamwari. The safari was INCREDIBLE, possibly the best 3 days I’ve ever had on holiday. Up each day at 5am, out on a four hour game drive, home for breakfast. Relaxing in the day, then off at 345 for the second, searching for the Big 5. We found them all, the leopard took a lot of stalking and we nearly gave up hope, but when she finally came out of the bushes, it was the biggest rush. That and getting charged by a frisky male elephant!

It was with a heavy heart we left SA, but with our next stop being Mauritius it wasn’t the worst thing in the world!

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