Zanzibar and the question of our duty as travellers…

I didn’t go to Zanzibar because I wanted to go to Zanzibar. I went to Zanzibar because the plane tickets were cheap. That’s the truth of it. I’ve never felt any need to go there. In my head it was just another island with tropical fruit and possibly a good snorkeling scene. Lovely, yes. But essential? Not really.

My Travel Bucketlist (in no particular order) is as follows:

  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Prague
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam
  • Japan
  • Morocco
  • The Philippines
  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • Alaska
  • A Roadtrip from SA to Kenya

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Those are my must sees. So why did I go to Zanzibar? (more…)

On Zanzibar and the Joys of Being Home

zanzibari-sunriseI’ve been home from Zanzibar for two weeks and I’m only just now starting to feel “normal” again. I’ve spent my days processing, and watching too much television (which you’ll probably hear about at a later stage) and just contemplating the madness of this year. Being home with no immediate plans – or even plans to make plans – feels exceptionally good.

Does loving being home make me a bad traveller?

I don’t actually consider myself a traveler  so much as I consider myself just a regular person who likes to travel and who has recently made a commitment to taking this love more seriously.

Every now and then you might see that meme on Facebook. It says:

Make a list of the things that you love.

Make a list of the things that you do every day.

Adjust accordingly.

I’m trying to do that. Although I admit I haven’t actually written a list. Maybe I should.

In the meantime I’m contemplating Zanzibar and what I need to say about it. It was a rather educational trip, I must admit. I suppose international travel often is. Or perhaps any travel has things to teach if you’re open to learning. But as beautiful and exotic as Zanzibar is, I left there feeling a bit…well…heartsore…

I know I’m supposed to share all the wonderful things about travelling. That’s what travel blogger do. And yet I feel like I want to talk about the Zanzibari people, and their less shaky political situation. I want to talk about how teachers in Zanzibar can expect to earn as little as $77 per month as a salary. And how the people of Zanzibar are without adequate medical care or family planning services.

It’s so hard to talk about “oooh snorkelling” when these are the things that stick in my mind the most. So forgive me, for a little while. So many folks have been saying to me I can’t wait until you tell us all about Zanzibar. I’m afraid it might not be the pretty picture you expect. At least not all of it.

There are lovely fun wonderful things out there. But there are humans, too. And I cannot help but feel the need to tell their stories first.

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My Favourite Things to Do in the Friendly City

Cheapflights Nelson Mandela Bay BlogathonThrilled to be part of the Cheapflights Blogathon that seeks to explore a bit of the friendly city of Port Elizabeth (with the ever fabulous folk at Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, of course) I’ve been thinking about all the reasons I love my home over the last couple of days. I can’t seem to stop thinking of the review that Madonna gave of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. 

“The Alchemist is a book about magic, dreams and the treasures we seek elsewhere and then find on our own doorstep.”

When I first read the book (about 10 years ago) I thought that this review of Madonna’s was an inaccurate assessment and it kind of irritated me quite a bit. In a way, I still sort of do disagree with it, but at the same time I’m coming around to her thinking. You see, to me the book was saying that even though everything you need can be found at home, you should still brave the unknown and seek your fortunes (not necessarily monetary fortune) elsewhere. Of course this plays right into the psyche of those of us who love to travel. But I’m kind of liking the idea that maybe both of our assessments were right. Maybe the story teaches us that adventure out there is important, but also that what your soul needs can be found at home too. In the last year I have certainly come to understand that the most wonderful of adventures in faraway places have this magical way of making you love home even more.

And so I have decided to share my favourite things to do here in this friendly city of ours. Port Elizabeth has so much to offer, from temperate weather to blue flag beaches to adventure and tons of touristy fun stuff, but I have to admit that my favourites are more of the understated kind. These are the things that I try to indulge in regularly, or wish that I could indulge in more regularly. Please do feel free to share some of yours!

dscn1841-version-21.) SAMREC Penguin Releases

Hands down this is one of the most awww bless things to do in Port Elizabeth. If you follow SAMREC’s Facebook Page you should be able to figure out when the next one is. Or just contact them. Penguin releases happen pretty regularly and if watching those little critters run down the beach and jump into the sea doesn’t melt your heart, nothing will.

2.) A Coffee Milkshake from Something Good

Can I confess something weird? I’ve never been inside Something Good. This is one of the most popular places to eat in our city, but I gotta tell you, there’s very little chance I’ll ever go inside. Why? Not because they aren’t great. I’m sure they are. It’s because grabbing something from their take-away menu (roadhouse style) and then sitting in my car to consume it while watching the sea is one of my absolute I’m-not-even-nearly-kidding favourite things to do. So if I’m ever in that area this will be my entertainment choice. I speak purely for myself of course, but this is like the perfect date! Grab a milkshake. Park with your car facing the beach. And just sit there. It’s heaven. There are of course other great spots from which to sit and watch the waves (I did already mention that PE is awesome) but this particular piece of our shoreline just does it for me.

Noah at ArtEC

3.) Check out an Exhibition at ArtEC

If you love initiatives that are all about giving back to the community, then do pop in to ArtEC when you’re in town. I love most of our art galleries by default, but this is hands down the best one we have as far as I’m concerned. These guys are constantly putting on the most exciting of events and bringing the most diverse collection of artists to our attention. And they do this so humbly. It is a beautiful thing to behold. (pics: #nayesexploresartec)

4.) The Cape Recife Lighthouse

I’m not sure how we regular folk are supposed to manage to get up there without going on an actual tour that includes a bunch of other stuff, but I imagine if you contact SAMREC someone might be able to help you. In July(ish) this year, my husband and I used our Nelson Mandela Bay Pass and went on a tour with Alan Tours. This tour included a trip up the Cape Recife Lighthouse. Wow. The photo opportunities. The views. The everything. Go there. (pics: #nayesexploresthecaperecifelighthouse)

5.) The Redhouse Flamingoes

If you leave the city and drive towards Redhouse you will eventually come across a whole bunch of salt pans on your left. These salt pans are filled with gorgeous pink flamingoes. I love taking a drive out that way with my camera and taking a hundred terrible photographs of those birds. One day I’ll have a lens that can handle them at a distance that doesn’t make them fly away, but for now I don’t mind failing in my attempts to capture their gorgeousness. Just watching them is enough.

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I really would love to hear what quirky things you love to do around our city. Feel free to share them with me and I might even be inclined to give them a try!

*disclaimer* While this post was sponsored by the good folks at Cheapflights in association with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, the content and opinions found here are entirely my own.

 

 

Thinking about things to do in the friendly city of Port Elizabeth

Cheapflights Nelson Mandela Bay BlogathonConsidering I’ve just come back from Zanzibar, it seems a little weird that I’m now writing a post about things to do in Port Elizabeth. Because I have Zanzibar to write about first, surely. The problem is: I don’t want to! And I feel a little brattish about it but the truth is that I was so relieved to arrive home in Nelson Mandela Bay after our latest little adventure that I find myself needing a little bit of breathing space between myself and the last three weeks.

Besides, being glad to be home is truly quite an exquisite feeling. Isn’t it? We should take advantage of all those good vibes!

You see, I’ve been finding that the the more I explore outside of my city, the more I find myself wanting to properly explore inside of my city. Port Elizabeth has just as many wonderful nooks and crannies to discover as anywhere else. And why shouldn’t I approach my home town with the same curiosity that I employ when exploring places that I need a plane to take me to? In fact, for a while now I have settled on the idea that perhaps my goals for 2017 should be to become the absolute very best hometown tourist that I can be.

So, in the wake of making such a resolution, it seemed quite fortuitous to be asked by Cheapflights to be part of their Port Elizabeth Blogathon with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism. And forgive me for gushing, but when the makers of your #1 favourite app on your phone ask you to do a campaign with them you say YES as loudly as you possibly can. And then you make a fool of yourself by admitting that their app legitimately changed your life for the better. Because you’re too old to be coy about these things.

I do hope you enjoy the upcoming things to do ideas for our little corner of the world. Give me a shout if you think you’ve got some alternative ideas. We like playing with the slightly odder things around here!

Home for Hibernation

Processed with Snapseed.

Yesterday the husband and I, along with our three cretins, got home after a long family trip to the Free State followed by a quick pop-over to Zanzibar. And all I can think is please Lord can I just sleep for three days! Holidays are supposed to be rejuvenating, aren’t they? Relaxing, refreshing. All that.

But no.

I’m exhausted! I’m happy!! But I’m exhausted. And glory there is so much un-packing to do. All I want to do is hibernate. Like a real bear. For 6 months.

I can’t brain. I can’t focus. I can’t anything. I just need sleep. Please.

Tomorrow I will be better.

No. Make that Monday. On Monday I’ll be better. But maybe only next  Monday. Not this one around the corner. You can’t only hibernate for one day. It needs to be more.

So I have to have the quiets for a little while before real life comes back again. After that I’ll be back to tell you about Zanzibar and our own friggen awesome country. Because our country is awesome. And every time I go away I realise it just a little bit more.

Hakuna matata, my friends. I’ll be back. With pictures. And details.

I finally got to see a happy lion thanks to SANParks Open Week

img_2194Every year SANParks have an open week in September where it is free for all South Africans to visit any of our national game reserves. I have to admit that as homeschoolers we kind of love Open Week. If nothing else it always serves as a reminder that hey we have game reserves around here and we should visit them! This year, we are sadly going to have to give Addo a skip as a family…but on a happier note the reason we have to skip it is because next week we are road-tripping to Clarens!

I was, however, lucky enough to be invited to tag along with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism on their trip to Addo Elephant Park yesterday – along with some crazy people, I might add – and I’m so glad that instead of being reasonable and declining the offer due to this month being chaos from (nice*) hell, I accepted the invitation and tagged along.

Sarah Dirsuwei from Chasing the Rainbow told me yesterday that if she is feeling particularly stressed due to work pressures she and her family will come out to Addo and just spend the day marvelling at the elephants. I have to admit I think she has a point. Spending the day out there in nature, allowing yourself to be taken in by the existence of such fascinating creatures, is cathartic to say the least. And if nothing else, it certainly makes you ponder the world, instead of yourself.

img_2221As we started our journey through the park, I found myself wondering – not for the first time – about why we even bother having zoos. This right here is how we learn, I thought. It is so hard to get on board with the “reasoning” that zoos need to exist because they are how our children learn about animals. Nonsense! Conservation is how our children learn about animals. And sanctuaries. And nature. And the circle of life. There I was, at 34, listening intently and learning so much as our game ranger tour guide shared all his wisdom with us. Explaining why there are no giraffes in the park (no tall trees – guys we should have concluded this with our own logic) and telling us about all sorts of wonderful and interesting things. I felt cleverer just listening to him. Don’t take my kids to the damn zoo. Take them on a game drive!

And then, almost as if nature herself was thanking me for that very observation, our vehicle turned left and right there napping on the grass were two beautiful male lions. I’ve never seen them out there in the wild. I’ve seen them in cages, looking bedraggled and weary. I’ve been on so many game drives, but not once have I ever been fortunate enough to spot the lions. One time there was one very far away and I could only see him by using the telescopic zoom on my camera, but that didn’t count. There they were though, napping in the shade, content as kittens. It’s such a pity that attempting to cuddle them would lead to certain death…

All I have left on my game viewing bucketlist is a hippo. I’m pretty sure that means that I had a damn successful weekend! I wish I could take even more advantage of SANParks Open Week this week. I wonder if I can convince the husband to take a day off work?

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*nice hell is when you’re super overwhelmed but the reason you’re overwhelmed is because you’re working towards something awesome. In this particular case: Road trip to Clarens with the kidlets followed by 6 days of bliss in Zanzibar with the husband. The impending breakdown will be worth it. I’m sure.

Ok fine I’ll go camping…

IMG_1746My husband made me go camping last weekend, even though he knows I hate it. Why do I hate it? Well because I’m a 34 year old woman who has three kids (I’m tired!) and a penchant for living out of her own league. That’s ok, right?

Ok fine it isn’t…

Don’t tell my husband but I kind of didn’t hate camping too much. He’ll get all enthusiastic and go oh my gosh remember how much you moaned about this to everyone and he’ll totally not understand that I moaned about it so much because I couldn’t think of another topic of conversation at the time.

Anyway, we took a trip to the Baaviaanskloof last weekend with some friends(#nayesexploresbaviaanskloof) and then camped out at Bruintjieskraal. Don’t get me wrong, roadtripping and then arriving at a destination where you still have to build your own house will never be my favourite way to do things, but I do have to admit that the affordability of it has this addicted-to-adventure queen kind of reconsidering.

As long as it doesn’t rain.

Or it isn’t cold.

Or the wind doesn’t blow too hard.

Or there isn’t a bathroom.

And I still have to be allowed to moan about it all a little…

Don’t let hypothetical future plans ruin your current actual plans!

IMG_0994I have this thing where I tend to be either all in or all out when it comes to pretty much all the things. I have no middle ground. No balance. No chill. And I suffer quite a bit (okay like 100%) from a phenomenon called state dependency which adds to all that no chill and no balance stuff. Seriously. How do balancy people do this life thing anyway? Because I am failing so hard!

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve become a little travel and photography befok. This is sort of a midlife crisis I suppose. A nice one, though. It’s just that I suddenly woke up and realised that I don’t want to wait to do the things that I love anymore. And I actually for once and for real set about fixing that. During this process I came to acknowledge that while I will be busy being a mom for the next ten years at least, after that I’m going to pretty much be on my own with no career or idea of what to do to keep me busy.

And so I came to decide that while I educate my children, I should begin educating myself in a field that interests me: travel. Which will inevitably lead to taking more pictures and writing more stories. Three of my favourite things. Right there. Oh my god I am SO excited about my future for the first time ever!

So what’s the first thing I do after making this decision? I decide that I must go to a travel conference in Jerusalem in March. This I somehow need to finance on an unpredictable salary while still making sure my family doesn’t starve.

Nadine: chill. (more…)

A Sanity Saving Staycation at the Plantation

13934945_10157366918415094_3507844175433383530_nI’m sitting on my bed right now watching TV and feeling grateful that I’m in a should I nap or read? mood rather than a if I don’t nap for seven hours right now I might as well set myself on fire mood. Last weekend had a weird suck factor to it that I don’t really want to get into right at this moment but it did and it left me feeling out of sorts and perhaps a little irrationally wounded. Anyway, sometimes I have to wonder if The Universe somehow conspires to apologise for these things by injecting a little goodness just when you need it.

13906895_10157366918850094_535266262889412620_nOn Tuesday night Ty and I got to stay in the bridal suite of The Plantation which is situated just outside of town and it was more glorious than I even imagined it would be. Ty won the night for us in a little competition that he entered back in April, I think,  and we decided to use it on Monday night because Tuesday (Women’s Day) marked our 7 years together anniversary. Now of course, such places are usually way out of our league. We humble folk don’t usually indulge in such fancy things, but my goodness it was a welcome treat! We were fed the most incredible picnic right in our room. I think I squeaked and oohed and aahed through that entire meal! Cheese and crackers-type food is kind of my favourite thing to eat. But this was over the top! Homemade pate and a cranberry salad with salad dressing that I all but ended up drinking from the bottle! The luncheon meats were obviously bought from places I would never consider stepping foot in. All of it: so beautiful! And we got to wash it down with the most delicious bottle of champagne! And then blissful sleep with no real life to bother us until morning. (more…)

On Depression, SAMREC, Cape Recife Lighthouse, and why are all the snails dead?

13686700_10157312362800094_8714966834069855283_nCan I confess something just quickly? I’m feeling absolutely depressed today. Like cry-about-the-undone-laundry depressed. Worry-that-I’m-not-enough-for-the-kids depressed. Holy-crap-I-need-to-work-more depressed. And it’s damn hard to get anywhere when I’m feeling like this. It’s hard to not want to do anything but sleep. I get that it’s not real. I get that it’s in my head. But it’s here today.

So I need to try and think of something that brings me actual joy. And I need to damn well remember that even though 2016 has been a shithole of a year for the world, in many ways it has actually been a kind of awesome year for me.

Remember that, Nadine! Dammit! Remember that this is the year that you started to take your love of travel seriously. You made it work. You ARE making it work. For the first time you have moved from that’s not possible  to  how can I make this possible? And that’s a big deal. And even though the state of the world pains you to no end, it has also served as a very grave reminder that life is to be lived now because later might not exist. And you’re getting better at it. Which is something. (more…)

Congrats to the Ticket Winners!!

13782274_168105583595180_1259028898326339199_nHappy Tuesday, folks!!

This is just a short CONGRATULATIONS post to the folks who actually commented on the Wine Show Ticket Giveaway last week.

I decided to split tickets as follows:

1 ticket to Jocelyn Fryer

1 ticket to Anonymous (heehee I know who you are!)

2 tickets to Nkosana (we can’t leave out the Mrs now can we?)

This means that everyone is a winner and I get to feel like Oprah for three point five seconds which is kind of cool.

 

Would you like tickets to the Tops Wine Show?

imageI was hoping to put a post or two between all the alcohol posts so that folks don’t end up thinking that all I do is drink wine and beer, but yesterday was a hard mom day and the glorious plans that I had to gush about the wonders of one of our local institutions kind of fell by the wayside in favour of me hiding under my duvet and playing on Instagram for most of the afternoon (and evening). Did you even notice? Of course not!

Now, back on topic…

I mentioned before that there’s a Wine Show happening at The Boardwalk from the 4th to the 6th of August and I’m lucky enough to be able to give away two double tickets to the event. Technically I’m supposed to ask you a simple question like “when is the wine show?” but you all know that simple isn’t always my go-to style…

Because I adore Carnival Themes with An Extreme Passion and because I am a lover as well as a teller of stories, I thought instead that I would ask you this:

What is your absolute favourite Carnival Story?

Did it come in the form of a book? A movie? A tv show? Was your favourite carnival story a personal experience? Tell me what you love. Why you love it. How it makes you feel. Tell me. Show me! My favourite answers get tickets to the show, and if I struggle to decide I will hand it over to Facebookland to help me.

Sound good?

Of course it does!

(If you’re too stuck for an answer, go off and read Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern,  and then go and watch the series Carnivale and then come back and tell me how awesome they are.)

Otherwise, you can check out my Instajourney with wine here: #nayesexploreswine and leave me some Instalove while you think about your answer.

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