Let’s give Airbnb a try

I’ve always been a fan of hotels and sometimes the occasional guest house, but recently I decided to give Airbnb a try. If you don’t know what Airbnb is then here goes:

Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.

So now that the introductions are out of the way, let me tell you about my experience. I booked my weekend getaway to Hermanus using the mobile app on my smartphone. It was a quick and easy process with a very simple booking. Viewing the images of the house as well as reading the reviews made the decision such a pleasure. I must admit, I always assumed that Airbnb was about booking a room in someones home (which is what put me off for so long). But I was surprised to find out that you could book entire homes as well.

I stayed at this amazing holiday home along the Bot River. It was perfect for a weekend break from Cape Town and oozed luxury. Here’s some pics! Join Airbnb and get travel credit towards your next holiday.

 

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Road tripping with a newborn – disaster or adventure?

My love for travel and exploring new destinations was not going to be put on hold when we decided to start a family. However, I did know that certain destinations would be off limits for a while and that sacrifices were to be made. My road trip in the USA from New York to San Francisco is a perfect example of an adventure that could have been a disaster if a newborn baby was my +1. Now that my little girl is 3 months old, what better time to introduce her to the wonderful places and sights our country has to offer….will she remember it? Probably not but I certainly will.


Our garden route adventure begins in October and we’ll be covering a few places in our two week road trip. Starting in Cape Town, our first stop will be Knysna. I have always loved Knysna but haven’t stayed there as yet. I am certainly looking forward to it and cannot wait to review a hotel or guest house that’s perfect for the young traveling couple with a baby in tow.

Weekend getaway to The Villas at Le Franschhoek

A weekend getaway to celebrate a birthday and a baby on the way? Yes please!


The Villas at Le Franschhoek offer magnificent views of the surrounding Franschhoek Mountains and are ideally situated for day touring the famed Wine routes of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Wellington. Nestled on the outskirts of the quaint village centre, this luxury choice of accommodation offer the choice of being an active participant in village life, yet having the flexibility and privacy of your own Villa.

Our villa consisted of a one bedroom beautifully decorated unit with an open plan kitchenette, entertainment lounge and patio. With a fully functional kitchenette, the villas lends itself to a self catering option and is perfect for families and long stay guests.

This was the perfect choice for a nearby yet city escape weekend away from Cape Town and comes highly recommended. Make your booking here: http://www.franschhoek.co.za/thevillas/

Stonehill River Lodge in Swellendam

Exploring the Western Cape is always one of my favourite things to do. This amazing province has tons of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. One of my absolute favorite places is Stonehill River Lodge in Swellendam, just a 2 hour drive from Cape Town.

Stonehill is located just outside Swellendam on a private reserve alongside the Breede River. The environment is designed in such a way that it lets you be one with nature. The river is literally a stones throw away from your door and even though you get a “camping outdoors kind of vibe”, you are still in a luxurious setting. Just my kind of weekend!

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The houses accommodates 8 people, which makes it perfect for a family getaway. It’s also kitted out with a fully equipped kitchen, so bring everything besides your kitchen sink because I can guarantee that you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

If relaxing and soaking up some Mother Nature isn’t your thing then there are tons on offer. You have to try the croc paddling. It’s a few hours of fun and an experience that never leaves you. If you’re into hiking then there are some stunning trails that lets you get up close with the numerous wildlife on the reserve that were introduced to Stonehill.

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If you’re ever looking for a getaway that’s out of the city but still close to home, I highly recommend this hidden gem.

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A day of luxury pampering at Bakwena Spa

We recently spent the day at Bakwena Day Spa which is located at Sante Hotel in Paarl. Set in magnificent surroundings, Bakwena is the perfect place to escape to when you need a break. Bakwena Spa was developed by offering an innovative and creative approach to spa and spa therapy in South Africa. We were treated to a full day package which exquisitely spoils and indulges you the whole day long.

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We began at 8am with a light breakfast and that gave us the time to absorb the beautiful views of the mountains and vineyards. Shortly afterwards, the much awaited treatments began. Each treatment was an hour long… it was pure bliss!

The package included:

1. Full body hot stone massage
Ancient stones carrying the energy of the earth invigorate and stimulated our body as warm oils are drizzled all over. The stones helped release the tension trapped deep within our muscles and improved circulation for sure!

2. Foot massage, ankle & calf massage
A one hour foot massage on sore feet can feel like heaven, let alone the wonderful relief one gets from a massage on your ankles and calves! We started of with this massage and it definitely set the tone for the day. I am pretty certain Jacques fell asleep during this treatment.

3. Scalp, neck and shoulder massage
Calming for the mind surprisingly deeply relaxing, ideal for the workaholic or those who endure mental as well as physical stress. I loved the shoulder massage, just the right amount of pressure was applied and I am certain I said goodbye to many knots.

4. Hand and forearm massage
Because we use our hands and arms in almost everything we do, it makes good sense to be kind to them to ensure loving hands can keep on giving.

5. Invigorating spa body treatment
Prepare your skin for the African summer with a full body exfoliation. We both chose the apricot exfoliation which definitely left our skin radiantly beautiful and soft, not to mention smelling delicious.

6. Hydrating African facial
The facial was amazing and was a 5 step process. The mask was made from clay and I noticed a huge difference afterwards; my skin was clearer and tighter.

7. Food
There was always enough to eat starting from a light breakfast, a full lunch and a snack platter in the afternoon. Drinks were flowing around the pool as well as sweet treats for those feeling for something to nibble.

8. Facilities
In the midst of our treatments, we were given an hour to just rejuvenate with a splash in the pool and jacuzzi.

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I am already planning our next visit to Bakwena, it is the best value for money you will receive. We felt the stresses and tensions melt away as each treatment focused on our harmony and well-being. At the end of the day we felt radiant and in a state of deep relaxation in mind, body and soul.

Packing for Mauritius – what’s in my bag

In approximately 7 weeks I will be basking in the sun on the warm tropical beaches of Mauritius. Over the next few weeks, I will be putting together some posts about what I’ll be packing in my bags. Summer ranges have hit our stores and I have already begun gathering my favourite items to take with me. I am huge fan of one piece costumes, kaftans and kimono’s. A must have item for every curvy girl!

1. Neon and White Embroidered Kaftan from River Island. R600

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2. Floral print Kimono from MR PRICE. R120

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3. One Piece Swimsuits from WOOLWORTHS. R350 – R399

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4. KIMono’s FROM Cotton on. R299

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5. Shorts from PNP CLOTHING. R130

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The unique attractiveness of Riebeek-Kasteel

Riebeek-Kasteel is one of the oldest towns in South Africa, situated at 80 km north-east of Cape Town in The Riebeek Valley together with its sister town Riebeek West. I had no cooking clue that this magnificent town existed and when I heard about it’s charm and splendor, I knew I had to visit it. Surprisingly enough it was only 45 min away from my home in Durbanville, so it was a quick but extremely beautiful drive. After wandering through the town and poking our noses into all the little nooks and crannies, we discovered a few gems:

Mama Cucina

We had lunch at Mama Cucina, an authentic Italian restaurant nestled in the middle of the town. Their food is always fresh, innovative and firmly grounded in the Italian Mediterranean tradition! Both Jacques and I tried their pasta and needles to say, it was gustoso.

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Crystal and Twine

I am the biggest fan of home decor and can get sucked in for hours just browsing through antique and vintage shops. When I walked into the Crystal and Twine shop, my mouth dropped to floor and I stood there a little speechless. It had everything I had ever added to my “mental must buy list” – I probably walked around for hours just choosing things I could not live without (much to my husbands dismay). The Crystal and Twine shop offers quality, affordable French inspired décor, gifts, kitchenware, small furniture pieces and all things beautiful for your home.

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Still Pure

You cannot walk past Still Pure and not get pulled in by their magical smells of oils and bath products. It’s a heavenly feeling to say the least. All their products are naturally hand made and ranges from bath salts to healing balms and soaps. I purchased some of the rose geranium bath salts and it turned my bath into a tub of magic!

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Aitsa

Aista was started by two friends in 2005 with the aim of providing a wide variety of locally-sourced goods and services under one roof. Focusing on the concept Local is Lekker, Aitsa brings you a variety of home-baked cakes, pies, fresh farm bread, rusks, brownies, fudge and milktarts.  Here we bought some home made fudge and bread, it didn’t even last past the exit of the town before we scuffed it down.

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It is not difficult at all to fall in love with this alluring little country town. It has so much to offer and is totally worth a visit. If you’re into olives then make sure you save the date for their annual olive festival which usually occurs in May.

Have you been to Riebeek-Kasteel and think we missed out on something? Let me know before my next visit.

Don’t let anxiety stop you from travelling

Did you know one of the biggest impediments keeping people from travelling is not actually finances but anxiety? For many people, the thought of leaving their comfort zones and exploring the unknown is enough to cause a panic attack. Having these fears make it harder for people to travel for work and for pleasure. It is true, that travel anxiety if often due to life anxiety. The more anxious people feel in their daily lives the more likely they will experience travel anxiety. However, travelling is anything but frightening, it can open up a whole new world for you and allow you to actually control that anxiety.

During my early teens I traveled from Port Shepstone to Cape Town multiple times alone. I remember my first solo flight, I was more nervous to check in my luggage and go through security than writing my final exams. It was daunting to say the least but eventually it became second nature. Those solo missions definitely helped my travel anxiety and now the thought of visiting any place excites me way more than it scares me.

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      1. Don’t make up scenarios – The narratives you make up in your head about something going wrong is all fiction. So, don’t waste your time worrying about what could happen.
      2. Planes are safe – You have more chances being knocked down by a car than dying in a plane crash. #EnoughSaid
      3. Take preventative measures – If you are worried about losing your passport or being hassled by strangers then take measures. Make copies of all your documents and store it in the cloud and purchase some pepper spray.
      4. Research – Do some research about the places you are visiting so you know what to expect when you get there. Something that I like to do is use Google Street view to check out the surroundings near my hotel, so when I get there, it feels like I have been there before.
      5. Get your body ready – Ensuring your body is ready for travel is one of the most important things you could do. Exercise and balanced blood sugar levels can be your best friend but most importantly getting enough sleep is key!

Remember, it’s all about baby steps. If your anxiety levels are higher than the norm, then begin with local holidays and extend yourself to global ones. Travelling definitely offers the soul so much more and it is not something you should ever miss out on.