Sunday Special – Chefchaouen, Morocco


A – B – SEE! Our alphabet tour continues to Chefchaouen in northern Morocco. My sister, some friends, and I have chatted about going Morocco, perhaps next year, and Chefchaouen is on the list!!

Nicknamed “The Blue City” as many of the buildings are painted in various hues of blue, it is set against the backdrop of the Rif Mountains and is located not far from Tangiers. This popular tourist locale seems to be perfect for wandering. Visit the Medina to take in the streets, shop for local handicrafts and goods in the souk, and stop at a nearby cafe to people watch. Continue to feel the pulse of the town in its main square Plaza Uta el-Hamman and fill your belly with a visit to one of its many restaurants. Need a break and want to be pampered? Then a visit to a hammam (steam house) to unwind. To get your heart pumping there are some beautiful hikes and the landscape looks amazing. Rif Mountain hiking trails that are both beginner and advanced are available. Make sure you are properly prepared.  It looks like a charming town and I can’t wait until I wander there!

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A street in Chefchaouen – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned By Yaleyla (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Shops in Chefchaouen, Morocco – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned By YoTuT from United States (Chefchaouen, Morocco) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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 – Zanzibar, Tanzania


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Zanzibar beach – Photo credit: Public Domain

I am a member of several online travel groups. I like to use them for travel tips and inspiration. It was in one of these groups where I learned about Zanzibar, Tanzania. This archipelago lies in the Indian Ocean, a mere 25 – 50km/15 – 30mi off the Tanzanian coast. Historically the island grew spices which continues on today and retains its moniker of the ‘Spice Islands’. It was also a location ideal for traders to make contact for commerce with those living on the Swahili coast. Centuries later the islands fell under Portuguese, Arab, and then British rule. It was in the mid-20th century that Zanzibar sought independence and merged a union with Tanzania, today remaining an semi-autonomous region.

The islands consist of many small ones and two larger ones, Unguja (a.k.a. Zanzibar) and Pemba Islands with its capital of Zanzibar City located on the former. Zanzibar City is considered the heart of Zanzibar and has much to offer. It is divided into two – the modern Ng’ambo and the historic Stone Town.  An interesting tidbit about Stone town is that musician, singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury was born there.

Want to check out Zanzibar? Well this is what I found about its activities and sights:

  • Historic Stone Town is good for wandering its storied streets, seeing quaint shops and visiting cafes. Time spent at Forodhani Market is a must.
  • There are amazing beaches with stunning sunsets
  • Snorkeling and diving at Mnemba Atoll for a fun adventure
  • Visit Prison Island for a somber trip to the Slave Museum and to see giant turtles at the turtle sanctuary
  • Visit Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park to get back to nature and see some monkeys
  • Take a spice tour to learn more about this important trade

These are just a handful of sights and activities that await you in Zanzibar. I can say these islands have moved high up on my bucket list, that is for certain! 

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Market in Zanzibar’s Stone Town – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Taken and owned by Alex Petrenko [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Red Colobus monkeys in Zanzibar’s Jozani Forest – Photo via Wikimedia Commons: Taken and owned By Olivier Lejade from France (P8200036.JPG) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

SUNDAY’S SPECIAL SPOT – VICTORIA FALLS


Found along the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls provides a stunning border for Zambia and Zimbabwe. The stunning wall of water that plummets from its ledge spans over 1,700 m/5600 ft. There are six gorges that feed water into the Zambezi. Nearby towns of Livingstone, Zambia and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe offer excursions to see the incredible falls.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Photo credit – Wikimedia Commons: Public Domain