Monday Sessions – The Garden Route, South Africa


Hello! Today is the final Monday Session. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the adventures that my friends have had around the globe. I hope they have inspired you to perhaps consider some of the destinations and to have learned a bit more about various aspects of travel. The final session is with my long time friend and sometime travel partner Cat (yes even a solo traveller will partner up for fun adventures). Cat spent much of her youth in Cape Town, South Africa. In April 2016 Cat returned for a class reunion and to spend time with good friends.


SA - De Grendel Winery

View of Table Mountain from De Grendel Winery

WTW:  You spent much of your youth in South Africa and returned for a class reunion. How long had it been since you were there?
Cat:  30 years!!

WTW:  That is a long time. It’s wonderful that you were able to get back there. What had changed? 
Cat:  It had developed a fair bit, especially the downtown Waterfront area.  I didn’t see much else in Cape Town as I was outside Cape Town for most of my time.

WTW:  What feeling did you have when you returned?  
Cat:  I  felt like I was home again.  I got to see places that I’ve never seen before when I lived there previously.  I was enjoying the culture, the people, and the scenery. It felt like being home and it felt comfortable.

WTW:   It’s your happy place. Which areas Did you visit on this trip?
Cat:  Predominantly Hermanus which is a beach community 3 hours outside of Cape Town.  Then from Hermanus we did the Garden Route which goes up the east coast through Plattenberg Bay, Knysna, and onto Stormsriver where we ended.

WTW:  How did you get around? What type of accommodations did you stay in?
Cat:  My friend’s husband drove us so we did a road trip. We stayed at a golf resort for one of the nights, my friend has a timeshare in the golf resort.  Then for the other two nights we stayed at my friend’s brother-in-law’s vacation home right on the beach.

WTW:  You covered plenty of ground.  Which places did you see or visit that really stood out for you?
Cat:  I went ziplining in Tsitsikamma Park and to Cango Wildlife Park & Conservation Centre where I got to pet a baby cheetah. We did the Cango Caves and saw Knysna Heads which has some beautiful scenery along its the coast.

WTW:  What was your favourite part or favourite memory?
Cat:  Spending time with my best friend of 30 some years.

WTW:  Friends are always the best part.  South Africa has a very large wine industry. Did you take part in any wine tasting and if so can you tell me a bit about your favourites? 
Cat:  We did a couple of wine tours. My favorite was Creation Wines. We did a wine tasting lunch there in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, which is just near Hermanus. That was probably one of my favourites. And also a Graham Beck bubbly which we had sitting on the veranda watching the sunset with the beach and the waves crashing in front of us.

WTW:  Wine is yummy. Your 30-year class reunion was held at a winery. Which one was it & how was it?
Cat: It was as the De Grendel Wine Farm. It was beautiful. Gorgeous views of Table Mountain and from the area called Panorama.

WTW:  Any tips, recommendations for suggestions for anyone wanting to go to Cape Town and area?
Cat: Definitely to get out of Cape Town. Cape Town is beautiful but you also need to see the rest of South Africa. The scenery up both the west coast and the east coast of the Cape is absolutely amazing. You can go from beach to desert within the matter of an hour and it’s absolutely beautiful.

WTW:  Thank you so much Cat. It does sound like a stunning place and I can’t wait to see it – we need to plan a trip soon.  All photos owned & taken by Cat and used with permission.

SA - Victoria and Albert Waterfront

Victoria & Albert Waterfront, Cape Town

SA - Cango Wildlife Ranch

Cango Wildlife Ranch & Conservation Centre

SA - Graham Beck bubbly

Graham Beck bubbly with the South African sunset

Sunday Special – Brisbane, Australia


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Brisbane at night – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned  By wirepic (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Brisbane is the capital city of the Australian state of Queensland and the third largest city by population in the country. A contemporary city that lies along the Brisbane River in southeast Queensland, it is a vibrant urban locale with plenty of activities to take part in. What can you expect in this sunny urban destination? It appears to me that there is so much to partake in that you’d have to schedule a rest day! 

Fancy a climb? How about heading up Story Bridge? Take a 2-hour climb to the top of this landmark bridge to take in amazing views of the city. After climbing and seeing the river you can go and play on it. Activities such as kayaking or standup paddle boarding are popular. You can also cross the river in a City Cat Ferry.  Should you need a break from the hot sun then head to one of the numerous museums found around town. Notable ones include Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) which happen to be located beside each other.  Another option is the Museum of Brisbane that showcases the history of Brisbane and a variety of exhibits. Meandering through South Bank will show you parks, restaurants, cafes, beaches, the Wheel of Brisbane, family-oriented fun, and cultural sights.  A day away from the city can be accomplished with a visit to Moreton Island, a large sand island that is accessible via ferry.  Rent a 4WD vehicle to traverse the sands across the island or sand toboggan down some dunes. You can take a dip in the Champagne Pools’ crystal clear waters or snorkel with marine life and see shipwrecks. Explore and see aboriginal cultural sites and World War I and II relics. Hiking, surfing,  beaches, and flora and fauna are part of the experience as well. 

I don’t doubt that Brisbane is a fun city with much to see and do. The above is only a short list of what I have found. I imagine that Brisbane is a great place to visit.

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South Bank and Brisbane Wheel – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Brisbane City Council (28 – South Bank Parklands) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Story Bridge Panorama

Story Bridge, Brisbane – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Cyron Ray Macey from Brisbane (-27.470963,153.026505), Australia (Story Bridge Panorama) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Sessions – Baby Travel in Germany


This Monday Session focuses on family travel, specifically travelling with a baby. My very good friends Richard, Jean, and baby Nate (5 months at the time) spent several weeks in Europe, mostly in Germany as well as some time in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.  Here is a bit about their preparation. 


WTW:  You were taking a long flight and then travelling around Germany, Czech Republic and Netherlands. How did you prepare for this trip with a baby?

Jean:  We didn’t really prepare as the time change was so significant, however we made sure we were on a night flight. We paid little more for bulkhead seats and reserved a bassinet from the airline.  We put him to bed at his normal time so when we arrived he had a pretty good sleep. We as parents did not have a great sleep. It took about 3 days for baby to get used to the time change. Us, it took about a week.

WTW:  The little extras can make a difference. How did Nate travel? How was he during the flight?

Jean:  Nate travels really well. As long as we don’t interfere with his nap time and especially bed time. If he’s on the plane during nap time then no problem. Picking up baggage or waiting to board could lead to some crankiness. He loves looking at people and flirting with flight attendants.

WTW:  Sounds like he’ll be a world traveller like his parents. You and Richard travel a fair bit. With the birth of your son, have you ever considered travelling less?

Jean:  No. We live a life of exploration. It would be crazy to not include our son in other cultures and learning opportunities that traveling gives.  We are a family and together we will experience new things.

WTW:  That is fantastic! What was the most enjoyable part of the trip and travelling with Nate?

Jean:  The small things that as adults we don’t appreciate, he sees. Trees, planes, and people of all ages.

WTW:  The world in his eyes. Any future travels planned?

Jean:  We would love to go back to France and the U.K.  We want to go to Cuba and do a ton more sailing.

WTW:  That life of exploration really is grand. Do you have any tips or suggestions for parents travelling with a baby?

Jean:  

  • Buy and bring a Jolly Jumper. It takes up little luggage space and it provides exercise and fun for baby.  
  • Depending on age, if your stroller has a bassinet feature, bring it and have baby sleep in it. You can bring your stroller right up to the gate then goes on the plane for free.  
  • If co-sleeping buy a Dockatot. A little pricey but best money spent. 
  • Have enough diapers for the flight and for a few days. You can buy diapers all around the world. 
  • Have a few different baby carriers so when a baby gets sick of the stroller you can shake it up. When going to museums and historic places it’s advisable to check if it’s stroller friendly and whether they have a baby change tables. However you will have to change diapers on the ground, on church steps, on park benches. Baby doesn’t mind. 
  • Lastly be sure to bring extra sets of clothes for you and baby. For the blow out that WILL happen while going through security at the airport and it gets all over your shirt. Or the large vomit on the plane.

To conclude, we are a family with love, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, as long as you’re together.

WTW:  Thank you so much Jean. These tips are very helpful and I’m sure many will appreciate having this info. Also thanks for the photos of your family (all owned by her and used with permission)

baby 1

‘Royal’ family travel at Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

 

baby 2

Dad and baby all ready to go sightseeing. Looks like Nate will be taking a few photos along the way.

baby 3

“This food is fantastic…to play with! I love Europe!” – Baby Nate

Sunday Special – Andorra


The Sunday Special will be trying out a new spin so let’s see how it goes. In the past I have done series on natural landscapes (deserts, mountains, etc). My own travels have been highlighted. And of course, bucket list worthy destinations have made it here too.  This time ’round I am going to alphabetize. Yep, I will go through the alphabet to select a place, sight, or event (and possibly even food) to showcase to you.  Let’s see the world one letter at a a time.


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Ski hills of Andorra – Photo credit:  Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned by Michael Karavanov [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Snuggled high in the Pyrenees mountains of Europe lies the landlocked micro-nation of Andorra. The sixth smallest European nation is found between France and Spain, which means entry into it is via one of them. There are no airports or train stations so bus and car is the way to enter (or by helicopter is you have the funds). So how can one spend their days here? Here is what I found:

  • Hiking and walking for various skill levels. Being a mountainous country there are plenty of places to explore on foot in the summer months
  • Skiing. It’s the mountains so there is a bounty of ski resorts to choose from. Heli-skiing is also available. It’s a winter sports wonderland
  • Cycling – both mountain biking terrain and asphalt-lined paths
  • Activities such as zip-lining, mountain slide, horseback riding, archery, rope circuits high in the trees, camping and more
  • Shopping and good food
  • Museums

It seems to me that Andorra may be a micro-sized country yet has large-size itineraries. 

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View of Andorra la Vella, capital city of Andorra – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Tiia Monto [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By Ferran Llorens (Flickr: Vall del Madriu-Perafita-Claror 63) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons