Road tripping during a pandemic

In December I had an opportunity to go to Port Elizabeth, also known as the Windy City, for the first time ever. This was at a time when the Nelson Mandela Bay was the epicentre of Covid-19 in South Africa.

Any sensible person would have chosen to stay at home, but we are talking about someone whose obsessed with travel. After spending the most part of 2020 indoors due to the nationwide lockdown, I squealed with delight at the thought of an eight-hour road trip.

We left at 4am because we wanted to arrive by midday.

Sunrise on the N2.

We made a great playlist which is a must for a road trip. We also have a tradition of Choc Stix. We never buy them just nje but for road trips they are our thing. So we had to hunt them down a few days before the trip. For some reason, not many stores stock them. Anyway, I digress.

Are we there yet?

The journey was a breeze. We arrived in PE just after 1pm. My first impression was that PE was actually bigger than I had imagined it.

We made our way to Summerstrand. We had booked The Gate House via Airbnb. Nick’s place looked like it did in the pictures – which was a relief! Because we know some people use pictures that were taken 20 years ago and you can imagine the disappointment.

One of the two bedrooms.

On arrival, we were screened. The place was neat and cozy. It’s a two-bedroom flat with a super fast internet in a very quiet neighbourhood. It’s about a 10 minute walk to the beach. You can also walk to restaurants and shops.

The cozy kitchen.
The lounge.

As a host, Nick was fantastic. He was really helpful. He had great suggestions for outdoor activities but, we had to turn him down because we were on a working/holiday so work had to come first.

On our first night, we stayed indoors. It was pizza and Netflix. On the second day after work, we explored a bit. We walked to the Boardwalk.

Entering the Sun Boardwalk.

It was almost deserted. Many shops had shut down due to the epidemic which means an even higher unemployment rate. Covid has really wreaked havoc especially on small businesses.

A very empty boardwalk.

It was great that everything was within walking distance from our accommodation.

I think this was closed due to lockdown regulations.

On the third day we went to Stanley Street – thanks to Zodwa, who acted as our tour guide during the trip. The street had a hip vibe. People were out and about socialising while looking fly.
We went to The Boardroom. It’s a place that’s owned by lawyers. I loved the concept.

The Boardroom in Stanley Street.

There was just us, a group of four, and another group of five. So we felt a little safe. I know you can never be sure but hey it feels a bit better when the place is not crowded.

The place feels like a study.

The place looked really expensive but it was quite affordable. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

You can brush up on your understanding of the law while sipping on wine.
How cool is this rustic table?

For dinner we moved up the road to Salt. The weather was lovely so we chose to sit outside. The service was good. I really enjoyed my vegetarian curry. From our table, I had the perfect vantage point for people coming in and out. Let me just say, PE has beautiful people!

On our last night, a local took us to a beautiful restaurant on the beachfront. I completely forgot it’s name. The place was stunning and big. People were enjoying themselves despite the howling wind outside. So I definitely had a glimpse of the Windy City.

Going home.

Our stay in PE was only four days and we had to be cautious due to Covid-19 so we didn’t get to explore as much. I’m definitely looking forward to a longer stay to do so much more. My heart ached a little when we drove past Tsitsikamma. It’s one of the places I’d love visit in the Eastern Cape.

Anyway, we made it back home safely. We didn’t show any signs of Covid on our return. I’m thankful our spontaneous (read: reckless) decision did not backfire.

A day in St Helena Bay

Recently, we spent a day in St Helena Bay in the West Coast, Western Cape, South Africa. The plan was to go to Tietiesbaai, but one wrong turn from Paternoster and we found ourselves on the road to St Helena Bay. It wasn’t a train smash as we’d never been to the town before.

We went on a Monday because we wanted to avoid weekend crowds. We arrived mid-morning. On a beautiful sunny day. Social distancing wasn’t an issue as there were few people/tourists in sight. We started off at a housing development. Dreaming is free, right?

Construction workers were hard at work. Few new houses have already gone up.
The view for the new houses.

We then decided to have lunch. A local suggested a Portuguese place down the road. We went there. The sign said it was open, but when we got to the gate it was closed.

Alegria Restaurant serves Portuguese cuisine with a Mediterranean flair. But don’t quote me on that!

We then drove back into the town. We saw a sign about specials at Die See Ster Kombuis. We decided to give it a try. It turned out to be a quaint restaurant/cafe. They didn’t serve any alcohol which was quite interesting.

How cute is this set up?

We ordered drinks and enjoyed the view. The food was really good and affordable.

Cheers and check out the view.

I loved the decor. And the staff were friendly.

We didn’t get to try their cakes but they looked delicious.

After lunch, we decided to explore the harbour. There was no soul in sight. You could hear workers inside some of the buildings, but outside it was just us. We enjoyed the breezy afternoon without a care in the world.

The deserted harbour.
A fishing boat.

The town is quite small so you can explore it in a day. There are few restaurants, arts and craft places and the beach.

These suitcases took me back to my childhood. I had one in my first year of school!

The locals were quite friendly while keeping their distance in order to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

If you enjoy small fishing towns, St Helena Bay is worth a visit.

Celebrating my birthday in Paternoster

For the first time since the arrival of Covid-19 in our country, I got to do the 2pm check in and 10am check out. I chose Paternoster which is one of the oldest fishing villages in the Western Cape.

I booked at the Dreamcatcher self catering. We were allocated the Lavender unit which was just perfect for us.

The common area at DreamCatcher.
Our outside space. We ate our breakfast here.
This is what it looked like at sunset.

I really loved the bedroom. It was huge and had a white beam ceiling. The whole place was white with a touch of blue on doors and colourful art pieces.

The bedroom. The bed was super comfortable!

The kitchen was basic and functional.

I loved the natural light coming into the kitchen.
The view from the kitchen.

We made sure we were hydrated and then put on comfortable shoes and went out to explore the town.

Our first stop was the seafront. It was rather windy so the whole place was deserted. Which was great considering the importance of social distancing as the pandemic which has claimed over 1,54 million lives globally is still with us.

The seafront of this tranquil fishing town.
We walked on the deserted beach.

Our next stop was the Paternoster Crayfish Wharf. There was a number of people but it wasn’t crowded. There were few people wearing masks though.

Taking a stroll and the view was just enticing.
I loved how colourful these were.
The other side.

We also checked out the Art Shed at the Wharf. There were amazing paintings at reasonable prices and we met a woman, forgot her name, who made beautiful leather bags and earrings.

Artwork at the Art Shed.

We booked a table at the Hungry Monk for the next evening – which was my birthday. On the actual evening, I had the best vegan currie ever! The presentation was amazing and the actual food blew me away. Pity, I completely forgot to take a picture!

On our last day, we went to the lighthouse. I was really looking forward to exploring the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, but when we got to the gate, we were told it was closed! I was very disappointed but other than that, we thoroughly enjoyed Paternoster.

A day in Noordhoek

For the longest time, I’ve been meaning to visit Noordhoek. But for some reason, I’d never go past Kalk Bay. Blame it on Kalky’s (this was before the change in my diet) and all the quirky stores on the Main Road.

Anyway, finally it happened. The weather was fantastic so we got in the car and made our way to Noordhoek.

Our first stop was the Noordhoek Farm Village.

Noordhoek Farm Village

We really loved the tranquil farm atmosphere. We walked around a bit and then it was time to eat before exploring the town. We decided to eat at The Foodbarn because we liked how it looked. The food was really good. My mouth is watering just thinking about their tapas!

Yummy food!

We then made our way to Noordhoek Beach. There were few people so physical distancing was not an issue.

Arriving at Noordhoek Beach.

The water was quite warm.

We dipped our toes.

We set up on the grass and just enjoyed the beautiful weather. I day-dreamed about winning the Lotto (even though I don’t play it) so I could buy a house and live in this picturesque neighbourhood.

Can I get a house or even a cottage up there on the mountain?

We thoroughly enjoyed being tourists in our own city. It was another reminder of how much there is to see in this beautiful country of ours. It was time to head back home and I thoroughly enjoyed the drive back.

Beautiful view from Ou Kaapse Weg.

Woodstock Cave hike

I have been enjoying seeing pictures of people, who are exploring our country, under Level 1 lockdown. It’s a reminder of how beautiful this country is. I also realise how much I still need to explore my own backyard.

I’m looking forward to my own little getaway but until then, I’ll live vicarious through travel bloggers.
Anyway, yesterday we went hiking which is something I really enjoy. We went to the Woodstock Cave in Cape Town which is an easy hike.

The weather was perfect for hiking.

A cool morning. The tip of Table Mountain covered by fog.

The hike takes about an hour.

The majestic mountain.

I love the colours along the way.

The trail with the view of the city.

We made it to the cave. It was very empty which is great for socially distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The view of the city from the left side of the Woodstock Cave

We took it all in. The view never gets old.

Checking the city view.

What is your favourite hiking trail in your city? Please share a picture or two.

Bloom time for Cape’s wildflowers

After five months of being indoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa is now under level 2 of the national lockdown. Meaning all restrictions on inter-provincial travel have been lifted. Restaurants, parks and most recreational facilities are now open. However, international travel is still not allowed so my passport will continue to gather dust:(

We are encouraged to travel locally in order to revive the tourism industry and help boost the economy. As much as I love travelling, I’m not ready to take a shot’left yet. I’m still cautious even though Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the country has started to plateau.

However, the decision to relax some Covid-19 restrictions coincided with the flower season in the Western Cape. As someone, who loves flowers, I just had to swap my track-pants for a dress and a bit of make-up and venture outside.

On Saturday, the sun was shining and the plan was to go to the West Coast National Park as they have a variety of flowers on display. Unfortunately, when we got there, there was a convoy of about 40 cars waiting to get inside. It seemed we all had the same idea:( I was gutted because the park is one of my favourite places on the West Coast. We decided to turn back because it looked like we’d have to wait in line for at least an hour before getting in and there was also the issue of social distancing once inside.

I was not prepared to go home. Remember, after months of living in track-pants, I’d actually made an effort and I was looking cute! So I had to come up with a plan B. A quick Google search said that there are some flowers at Ganzekraal Resort. So we made our way there. My mood started improving after seeing a pop of colour as we got closer to the venue.

Erigeron linearis lining the gravel road.

There was only one car at the parking lot so we’d hit a jackpot in terms of social distancing. I loved how secluded we were. We set up for a picnic. I forgot to take a picture. Remember, I was indoors for months so I’m a bit rusty.

I really loved these. It must be the colour. I love how rustic they look.

More beautiful wildflowers.

Behind us was a bed of Erigeron linearis.

Erigeron linearis along side Corn chamomile.

Anyway, after a quick nibble, I went in search of the flowers. It’s nothing like Postberg but it was a consolation price.

In the end, I was happy because I was surrounded by nature and a bit of wildflowers! 

I was happily within the wildflowers!

My love for beautiful doors

It’s day 54 of the national lockdown. Like many people, I have had to shelve travel plans due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a conciliation, I have been going through my travel pictures. They tell a story of what I love, from sunsets to architecture.

I also love beautiful doors.

There’s something about strong carved wood. I always take a few minutes to admire it and to take pictures in front of it.

So I’ve decided to share few door snaps from three countries. I was mesmerized by brightly-coloured doors in Portugal while I yearned to learn about the history behind aged doors in Tanzania.

How stunning is this green door with the white frame in Lisbon, Portugal?

A stunning green double door in Lisbon.

I loved everything about these doors in Belém, Portugal. The craftsmanship!

Red is my favourite colour so these doors in Porto, Portugal spoke to me!

This door at the Hohensalzburg Fortress in Austria lifted my spirits after a long day.

I snapped this door at the Christmas market in Austria.

Snapped in front of a strong and beautiful door in Austria.

Stone Town, Zanzibar also showed up for the door challenge.

Can someone say character? I really hope the initiative to restore Stone Town picks up speed.

Do you have someone who looks at you the way I’m looking at this beautiful brown door in Zanzibar?

Lastly, we will travel again, but until then, we must abide by the lockdown regulations. For now, we’ll just reminisce about travel experiences while researching future travel destinations.

Zanzibar: Meet the locals

When travelling, most of the time, we stay at the posh side of town. The touristy side where the locals only come in to work and then go back to wherever they live afterwards. Normally, there’s a huge difference between the two places.

Being an observer, I’m always curious about the other side. I don’t mean going to the village and treating the locals like animals in a zoo. That’s just wrong. I am genuinely interested in how different is the local life to the instagrammable travel accommodation? How’s the local cuisine?

So during our trip to Zanzibar, I made sure to visit the local village to see how they live. The village in Jambiani was about a 30 minute walk from where we stayed. We walked in the scorching sun. My travel partner was annoyed with me. They would’ve preferred chilled vibes by the poolside. But I managed to twist their arm.

Anyway, we got to the local village early afternoon.

A dusty street in Jambiani Village.

Most of the houses were really in need of renovations.

A house in Jambiani Village, Zanzibar.

You could see that the people didn’t have much.

An old house in the village.

As I’ve said before, the country is predominantly Muslim so women and girls were covered up.

A child walking back from school.

There were cyclists of all ages. Which reminds me, I still need to learn to ride a bike. Don’t judge. I tried once as a child. I fell and decided never again!

An old man cycling down the street.

We passed a local daycare centre. The children were close to the gate, so I had to move to the side to make sure that I didn’t photograph them.

A learning centre.

We then saw the local soccer field which was empty because most children were still at school. We decided to take a break and just chill under the trees.

A soccer field in Jambiani.

We stopped by a local shop to buy water.

An almost empty spaza shop.

We continued on our walk. We came across this house with shoes that were stuck on the wall. I had so many questions about this. Alas, there was no one insight to direct those questions to.

What could be the story here?

We decided to try local food. We went to Mama Naa’s restaurant for lunch.

Mama Naa’s restaurant.

The menu.

Luckily for us, there was one customer who translated the menu for us. We opted for beans, banana and spinach. It was our first time eating this type of banana. It had a very interesting taste.

We shared the food because the plate was huge!

We cleaned our plate which was TSh 3000.

Our job here is done!

We strolled back to the touristy side, properly fed, having seen how the locals live.

Leaving the village. We disturbed the goat that was chilling in the shade. That view!

Affordable Zanzibar getaway

Zanzibar is world renowned for its white sand beaches. Five of their beaches, have made it into Africa’s Top 50 Beaches, according to FlightNetwork.

So it’s no wonder that Zanzibar has always been at the back of my mind. I’d see pictures of beautiful blue waters and I always wondered if it was the real representation of Zanzibar or it was the wonders of Photoshop!

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the island. I felt the need to go and see for myself. As as admirer of beautiful things, who was on a mission to report back, I was armed with my camera.

Anyway, we arrived in Zanzibar on a hot summer day. As our cab pulled up at our destination, I was a bit unsure because the back was really unassuming. A little voice started to question it. What if it’s not as picturesque as the internet had promised? What would happen to my reputation of being a good organiser?

The sign outside Mbuyuni Beach Village.

We got off and saw this very promising sign. I thought ‘Woah, that’s a bold statement to make. Could this place really be all that?’

Moi about to enter the resort.

We followed the sign to reception.

Pathway to reception.

All my fears were put to rest. I liked what I saw. My companion was impressed. Wheeew, I’d managed to hold onto my reputation.

Catching a glimpse of paradise.

I then knew exactly what they meant with the stress free sign at the entrance. Mbuyuni Beach Village was everything the internet had promised and more.

We were allocated the beautiful Banda 1.
A hammock on the veranda.

I felt lighter. The place felt secluded. I was ready to explore this piece of paradise.

When we arrived it was just after midday – meaning it was low tide.

IMG_20200220_113501 (1)
The beach during low tide.

So the pool comes in handy.

The pool at Mbuyuni.

Late afternoon, it’s high tide and the water is really warm.

High tide at Jambiani.

The place is perfect for quiet getaways. There’s no WiFi in the rooms. It’s only in the restaurant which really allows you to focus on being present.

The restaurant at Mbuyuni Beach Village.

If you’re obsessed with the internet, this could be a challenge. But one you should take on. We all need a break from social media and work emails.

A sign at the restaurant.

Their menu changes daily. They serve good food at an affordable price.

Lunch is served. A prawn cocktail and pizza. Water to stay hydrated.

Jambiani is understated but has a lot to offer including snorkeling.

On our way to snorkeling in Jambiani.

Next up, was walking to Paje which is 5km north of Jambiani. Yup, the internet didn’t lie. I saw the most beautiful blue waters I’d ever seen.

Crystal blue water at Paje.

Paje was more vibrant than Jambiani. There are lots of party places and restaurants. While walking on the beach, we were offered hashish, twice. When we declined, the sellers would be on their way. Without any fuss. Paje is also popular with backpackers and kite surfers.

Trees lining up Paje.

Our last supper was at the neighouring, The Rock Restaurant. They have a great vibe and good food.

Food at The Rock, Zanzibar.
Entrance at The Rock.

So we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Zanzibar. My only regret is that I did not get a henna tattoo:(