I arrived just in time for the Harvest Table Lunch which is served from 12pm – 3pm. There was a great variety of food and decided to sample the vegetarian option that were available.
I had the Spinach and feta quiche, chickpea and coriander flatbread, grated carrot salad and the mushroom thyme phyllo cigars. Loved the flavours and texture of the chickpea, coriander flatbread. I found the ginger on the grated carrot salad a bit overwhelming. The spinach and feta quiche tasted like a quiche, nothing special there and the mushroom thyme phyllo cigars tasted really good. Overall lunch was splendid.
Looking at the menu, Delish Sisters caters to a wide range of eaters and even have a vegan option.
Overall, lunch was great and could not have asked for a better setting, another Splendid Experience.
Looking forward to another visit at Litchi Orchard to try a meal at The Shed, or buying some crafted baked goods from Yoli’s Bakery or sampling some coffee from Beanstruk Coffee Roastery or indulging in some homemade ice-cream from Scoop or just enjoying the farmers markets and events hosted there.
‘We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.’
Orlando (Florida) is known as the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’ what i like is the fact that the theme parks cater to both kids and adults. The overall experience can be overwhelming but with proper planning the experience is incredible. If you are a 1st time traveller and love theme parks, I recommend a minimum of 5 days especially if you want to fully immerse yourself in the Orlando Magic. Walt Disney World alone has 4 theme parks and 2 water parks.
The theme parks that we went when we were in Orlando were:-
The rides here are endless and there’s a ride for everyone. If you can invest in a FastPass I highly recommend it. Lines can have a waiting period of up to 60min(1hour). Having a FastPass makes the experience even more worthwhile, lines are shorter and you get to go on more rides. I have listed below the rides we enjoyed.
Space Mountain – is an indoor dark outer space-themed steel roller coaster. It’s one of the popular rides, a pure adrenaline rush. Lines are long but they have a FastPass Line.
Splash Mountain – is a hollowed-out log that drifts in water past rocky caves, vine-strewn swamps and sun-drenched meadows. It’s a fun ride for the entire family, you will get wet. The lines are long but there’s a FastPass line.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – a rollicking runaway mine train roller coaster that races through a haunted gold-mining town. A family fun ride with a FastPass line.
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – An indoor ride with lazer guns shooting Zurgs for points. This ride got VERY competitive with my family. The little people seem to have this ride figured out, they scored a lot of points.
Tomorrowland Speedway – A raceway with gasoline-powered cars that travel up to 7 mph(11.2654km per hour). This ride is popular kids get to drive a car around the raceway.
a. Avatar Flight of Passage – The ride itself is an experience that words simply cannot describe. It’s a 3D ride and you get to Fly on the back of a mountain banshee deep in the heart of the Valley of Mo’ara. The ride is so popular that it has a waiting time of 90m (yes 1HR and 30M). A FastPass is a must here, the wait time is a lot shorter. b. Na’vi River Journey – The ride takes guests through the Kasvapan River of Pandora from the 2009 film Avatar, showcasing native animals and bioluminescent flora, with inclusion of Audio-animatronics.
The other ride that we enjoyed was, Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain – Steam engine roller coaster train ride train that takes you through rolling hills, mountain. Along the way you will encounter a broken track that leads to nowhere…the train then moves backwards. A thrill ride which reaches speeds up to 50 mph.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – This roller coaster is just pure adrenaline, it accelerates from 0 to 57 miles per hour (91,7326km per hour) in 2.8 seconds (making this the second-fastest attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort, behind only Test Track). We got to this ride late in the afternoon just after it rained, the lines were a lot shorter.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ – is a simulated freefall drop tower thrill ride. The ride starts in the library with a short video of story of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. You then board the elevator and the madness begins. Awesome, the drop is what really get to you.
Toy Story Mania – is an interactive 4-D theme park attraction, in which guests twist through a series of virtual carnival games while wearing 3D glasses. It’s a fun ride and very popular.
Walt Disney World is truly a magica experience, its no surprise that it remains one of the most sought-after destinations for families from all over the world. I like the fact they continue to innovate and re-invent with new rides and experiences.
i. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™ – What Goes (Way) Up Must Come Down
This roller coaster ride is on steroids, you strapon, pick a song & experience pure adrenaline. The ride starts going up at a calm 90° and then a ferocious drop, going through the track at 65mph.
ii. Transformers the ride-3D – You board a 12-seat passenger car, you have to protect the AllSpark against Megatron in a battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. The ride spins, bucks and dives through the streets and skyscrapers of Chicago.
iii. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™ – I never really got into the Harry Potter hype so I was very happy to give this ride a miss. My family loved the ride, its another indoor 3D experience roller coaster ride.
b. Islands of Adventure – forms part of an expansion that converted Universal Studios Florida into the Universal Orlando Resort. The slogan for this theme park, along with Universal Studios Florida, is Vacation Like You Mean It. The park’s overall theme is that of a journey of exploration, where guests depart from a main port to visit themed islands, all emphasizing adventure.
Our rides were the Incredidle Hulk Roller Coaster Ride and Dr Doom’s Fear Fall.
i. The Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster Ride – It’s Loopy, with 7 inversions, the ride goes from 0-40 mph in 2 seconds with a top speed of 67 mph (108km/h) and launches upwards of 150 feet. It’s another crazy ride and not for the faint hearted.
ii. Dr Doom’s Fear Fall – You get strapped you into a seat, the ride then blast 185 feet into the sky. Great views and then—without a second to catch your breath—hurl you back down
c. Universal’s Volcano Bay™ – is the latest water theme park that replaces Wet and Wild, it opened in May. We unfortunately did not have time for this water park but it’s the park is themed around a 200-foot-tall (61 m) volcano named “Krakatau,”. There are many elements to this park, it has slides, a water village, a rainforest village and a river village. Definetely keen on giving this theme park a go.
Our annual family holiday have become something that I truly cherish, there’s really no better moments that time spent with family.
Orlando (Florida) is a delightful family holiday destination, it’s such a pity that they have such severe hurricanes. We were lucky to arrive back to South Africa just before hurricane Irma. Some areas were badly affected, its great read about their recovery process and plans.
Having visited Orlando before, the hotel we stayed at was conveniently located within proximity to Walt Disney World’s theme parks and all of Orlando’s area attractions in a tranquil setting.
The Four Seasons Resort Orlando ticks all the boxes that make a hotel a perfect holiday choice – service, comfort, food, and hotel facilities.
The resort offers a perfect blend of experiencing Walt Disney World (which is the core reason why families travel to Orlando) and offers the Four Seasons experiences of exceptional quality, wonderful hospitality, and excellent service.
Located inside a residential estate, there’s a calm, relaxed atmosphere in this estate. The Four Season Resort Orlando is surrounded by natural beauty and offers comfortable amenities—from exceptional accommodation to fine dining to golf to a world-class spa and the complimentary Kids For All Seasons kids camp. (A hotel with kids club is extremely convenient when you travel with kids. )
Contemporary style rooms, the hotel has 443 rooms including 68 suites. The rooms boast iPads and offer free WiFi, 24-hour room service, LED TVs with cable, stunning marbled bathrooms (with TV inset in the mirror) and an Nespresso coffee machine.
We had 2 interleading rooms and both rooms were very spacious and comfortable – Full bathroom, small work area and balcony with views of the property. The lounge area with a sleeping couch was a decent size.
There are 5 restaurants and a Bar on the property. I like the fact that you can have dinner at a different restaurant and they have taken kids into consideration at all the restaurants.
A rooftop Spanish-style steakhouse and lounge specializing in expert cuts, tapas and seafood.
The southern-inspired poolside restaurant including fresh Florida seafood, fish tacos, healthy salads, rotisserie chicken and more. It has beautiful setting overlooking the lake.
The golf clubhouse restaurant serving Cuban-American cuisine with signature dishes such as the Cubana sandwich, guacamole and the chorizo burger.
The main hotel restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was by far my best meal, so much to choose from – juice & smoothie bar, breakfast omelette station, assortment of traditional breakfast offerings, charcuterie and so much more.
On Thursday and Saturday they have what they the call the Character breakfast with Goofy & His Pals. My nephew was elated, having Mickey, Goofy and Minnie at breakfast was the highlight for him. Seeing his face light up with pure joy to meet the character was priceless.
This was my highlight, a coffee shop on site with easy go items like snack packs and sandwiches. They also have light breakfast, lunch, supper and ice cream.
Other Resort Features: –
The resort has 3 outdoor pools – one for Adults ONLY.
This is a perfect place for couples and adults wanting some quiet time. Its extremely peaceful in this area.
Outdoor volleyball, tennis and basketball courts.
A fitness centre
Decent size hotel gym with the latest gym equipment.
They have fitness classes for guests that run 7 days a week.
Water park which boasts a 242-foot-long waterslide.
An 11,008-square-foot lazy river.
Free theme park shuttle and a Disney Planning Centre.
Found having the Disney Planning Centre inhouse makes it easier to access any other information on the Disney Theme Parks.
There’s something for everyone at the resort, great way to enjoy the outdoors and also stay healthy while on holiday.
The resort is an oasis removed from the hustle and bustle associated with a theme park resort.
Our morning runs were another highlight of our trip, the environment lent itself well.
The Jozi food scene is slowly becoming an experience, I love finding and trying out these delightful eateries! Ono Eatery is my latest discovery.
ONO meaning delicious in Hawaiian is an eatery in Illovo (Johannesburg), its Jozi’s 1st Poke Eatery. A Poke Eatery for those who need to be cultured like me, originates from Hawaiian cuisine. Poke means ‘to slice and dice, this dish is a traditional Hawaiian starter – Fishermen would take their fresh daily catches of Tuna and other meaty fish and chop it into cubes, and eat it right then and there – no compromise on freshness or flavor.’
The menu is simple and clean, the entire concept is based on food being served fresh, on the go. There’s a variety of smoothies and protein bowls, protein shakes and house shakes. I tried the Matcha + Mint Smoothie Bowl – frozen bananas, pineapples, matcha, avo, almond milk, topped with strawberries, coconut flakes, and black sesame seeds.
With Poke being the main attraction of the eatery, they offer house poke or custom pokes. I took home a custom poke – black rice, raw slaw, tofu, avo,edamame beans with black sesame seeds.
Love the interior of ONO – the glass window allows the space to be well lit with well-designed shop signage. Contemporary, organic furniture pieces, I particularly liked the leaf canopy made out of white metal and the swings by the glass windows – it’s pretty quirky.
Looking forward too many more visits, highly recommend it!
They are open 07h30 – 19h30 during the week , 07h30 – 17h00 on Saturdays and 07h30 – 15h00 on Sundays.
After a long 16hour flight from South Africa(SA) to the United States (US) and spending another 7hours in transit to catch a 3hour30m connecting flight from New York (NY) to New Orleans (NO), I finally arrived in the Big Easy to meet up with my family to start our two week family holiday in the US.
I was welcomed by the most friendly driver, Michael. En route to the hotel, we spoke American politics (He says they are still in shock that Trump is president), we spoke about the importance of travelling (He works hard so he can travel the world, visiting SA is on his bucket list) and he gave me some insights of New Orleans and the must-see things.
The 1st thing that I did see that you cannot miss was the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – a domed sports and exhibition venue. The venue has hosted numerous historical events. According to wikipedia, it has listed football seating capacity of 76,468 (expanded) or 73,208 (not expanded) and a maximum basketball seating capacity of 73,432.
The superdome gained international attention in 2005 when it housed thousands of people seeking shelter from Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans is one of those cities that offer so much that if you don’t have an idea or plan on what you want to see, you will get confused.
One thing that I can tell you is that New Orleans does have round-the-clock nightlife and vibrant live-music scene. The city is also famous for its cuisine and is often referred to as the “most unique” in the United States.
With less that 48hours in the City, we were lucky to get a tour guide that was knowledgeable and knew the city well. We spent the day with John, he took via the tourist route but he added a local feel to it so we got to see and experience New Orleans from a different perspective.
Our tour highlights – Bourbon Street (which was under construction) but known for its bars and strip clubs, the history of the street provides a rich insight into New Orleans’ past.
Aquarium of the Americas — St Louise Cathedral —– Jacksons Square —- Café du Monte — French Market —- Lake Pontchartrain — La Fayette Cemetery — Magazine Street
We drove around the French Quarter and went past the Cornstalk hotel (the most photographed hotel) on Royal Street and other places of interest.
We then took a drive down Esplanade Street – a scenic and historic street. We went past the Pitot House, the only Creole colonial country house that the public can access. Sadly we missed out on the tour.
We took a detour past some residential neighbourhoods – Lakeview, Lakeshore, Garden District and Audibon Palace. John gave us a local insights on Katrina and the devastation it caused. He took us to his neighbourhood and showed us empty lots where houses used to be.
One of the tours that I found strange in was the cemetery tours (I know, it’s a very strange and morbid) but these tours are popular. The reason why this is a major thing to do is because the city is built on a swamp -the only city built below sea level. The deceased have to be buried above ground in elaborate stone crypts and mausoleums. These above ground cemeteries are often referred to as ‘City of the Dead’.
Saint Louis No. 1 is the oldest and most famous, we visited the Metairaie Cemetery which has the largest collection of elaborate marble tombs and funeral statuary. The construction of these elaborate final resting places can start from $90 000 and reach $500 000 and they have a ‘Millionaire’s Row’ for all the rich and famous people. I thought we (African people) spent money on funerals.
Places I would have loved to spend some time at had we had a full day 2 were:-
We stayed at the Ritz Carlton which is located on Canal Street a major thoroughfare, forming the upriver boundary of the city’s oldest neighbourhood, the French Quarter which served historically as the dividing line between the colonial-era (18th-century) city and the newer American Sector, today’s Central Business District. Great hotel that has everything you need when travelling.
Decent size rooms which include a fully-stocked minibar and an iPod docking station. Cable TV and a spacious work desk. A private bathroom with bathrobes, slippers and toiletries. My only criticism is that shower/bath situation with a curtain, I’m not a fan. I prefer a stand-alone shower.
The hotel has 24-hour room service, a complimentary overnight shoeshine service, and overnight laundry service.
Hotel Amenities & Services
Meeting and Events venues
Fitness center with cardiovascular and strength-training equipment
A spa with 22 treatment rooms A gym and SPA
ATM Machine on site
M bistro serves authentic New Orleans cuisine. Is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Davenport Lounge offers afternoon tea and evening cocktails. Serves lunch and dinner. Live jazz is played in the Lounge on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.
The hotel also has a kids club, I find this service extremely beneficial to parents travelling with their little ones.
Staff were friendly and service was great, we did have a minor issue, one of the rooms was not cleaned. They made the bed but did not clear dirty cutlery and serviettes from our previous dinner in the room.
I did like the welcome towel area at reception that was setup every morning. Its always the little that guests appreciate and remember with hotels.
The experience and being in New Orleans was incredible. I was lucky to capture one of the thee most beautiful sunsets. #GoldenHour
With all the problems that they have, the people that we met were happy and truly grateful for having survived and lived through Katrina.
As I’m writing this blog post, today (29 August) marks the 12 year anniversary of Katrina. Today New Orleans is bracing themselves for heavy rains from Hurricane Harvey. I do hope they survive the weather.
During our courting years, one of the things that my +1 and I loved doing was taking spontaneous trips and discovering South Africa. We would select a location, take a drive and explore. It was effortless, this was our quality time.
We particularly loved long weekend, it was a great excuse to take a short getaway or ShotLeft, as its now referred.
With another long weekend approaching, we found ourselves planning a getaway but then our reality sunk in, we both have hectic work deadlines and unfortunately for us the timing is off. We spent a few minutes reminiscing about our last trip to the Vaal. It being #TravelTuesday I decided to write a blog post about our recent visit.
We chose the Vaal primarily because we were looking for a local destination that did not require a long drive or flights. We were both familiar with the area, most of my visit were business related. It was great to visit the area on leisure. A refreshing thing about the Vaal is that the drive is ± an hour away from Johannesburg and offers a tranquil escape from the grind of the city life.
Due to our last minute travel arrangements, the hotel we wanted to stay at was fully booked. We did however managed to find a room at the Three Rivers Lodge & Villa Anna Sophia. We were both very reluctant about this place, granted it looked decent online. We have been to places where they look great online but when you arrive the hotel is old and has not been maintained.
We arrived at the lodge and were pleasantly surprised, the lodge is well looked after. The garden is impeccable and it’s surrounded by large trees which create a peaceful/calming environment.
The lodge is in the heart of the upmarket suburb of Three Rivers in Vereeniging, a few minutes from the business district and within close proximity of golf courses and River Square Shopping Centre. It caters to the business and leisure travellers.
Three Rivers Lodge has 25 rooms and Villa Anna Sophia offer an additional 16 rooms. We were booked at the Tuscan style villas. The room was as descent size en-suite room with full bathroom, flat screen TV with selected DSTV channels and very good WiFi.
A full range of services available include conference venues seating from 10 to 200 delegates, the Bethel Chapel seating 90 guests which is used for weddings.
Their fine dining restaurant – Anna’s Kitchen is favourite amongst the locals. We had brunch there and I had the most delicious Egg Benedict – the caramelized onions used added a lovely flavour and the hollandaise sauce was perfect.
Our short stay was enjoyable, a real home away from home.
Enjoy French countryside cuisine overlooking a tranquil stretch of the Vaal River. Relax for the afternoon at one of their handcrafted dining tables or drinks lounges, either inside the restaurant building, outside on the deck, at a terrace or Privé Booth.
Take a 30m river cruise.
Book a stay-over or get pampered at the BELLE FOI SPA
Tel: 016 004 0019
Address: 212 Boundary Rd, Vanderbijlpark, 9585
I’m not much of a golfer but have hosted some golf day events at the Vaal. Below is a list of some of the places
If you are more of an adventure traveller, you can contact Vaal Adventures. They have many activities to choose from such as white water river rafting, paintball, quadbiking, kayaking, snorkelling, raft fishing safaris and lots more.
Its Travel Tuesday and this post is to encourage us to take more road trip.
When I was growing up, I recall how my parents loved taking road trips. Their philosophy was, if you have a good working car, money for petrol and can afford a decent hotel, there’s really no excuse to take a road trip.
Fast-forward to my adult life, I’m fortunate that my +1 had a similar childhood and his family went on road trips.
When I think about it, the foundation of our relationship and getting to know each other came from the road trips we took. We are that couple that chose to drive 18h24 min (1773,5 km) – Johannesburg to Namibia for one of our travel adventures. That’s one of the the many remarkable, breath-taking adventures we took.
So when he suggested a road trip to Mpumalanga, I loved the idea. Road trips are not about the destination, they are about the company and most importantly the things you do and get to see along the way.
Our check list for road trip:-
Good working Car, Tyres in good condition, iPod, Camera, Snacks, Books and Sunnies.
The day we left, the weather was perfect – cloudy with spots of rain in certain areas.
What we did?
When we arrived in Mbobela (Nelspruit) the weather was not great, it was raining. Fortunately for us, it was not our 1st visit to Mpumalanga, we had previously visited most of the scenic landmarks.
We did still manage to do a self-drive past Sabie – Pilgrims Rest – Graskop – The Pinnacle – Gods Window – Wonder view. When the rain eased in some areas, we managed to stop at Mac Mac Falls, visited Pilgrim Rest and had pancakes in Graskop.
Anyone travelling to Mpumalanga for the 1st time, I highly recommend you spend at least 1 full day exploring the Panorama route, and do visit God’s Window, Wonder view, the Three Rondavels and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
Where we at?
When I travel with my +1, we really do keep it simple from a food perspective, he is not a big fan of dining, he does it for me.
We had lunch at Kuzuri, a gorgeous restaurant surrounded by the natural beauty of the Lowveld bush in a tranquil setting at the Botanical Gardens. The inside dining area is quite formal and the outside is perfect for a relaxed breakfast, lunch, supper or sundowner.
The staff were warm, welcoming and friendly. The service was good but not very attentive, I ordered a vegetarian spring rolls and was given chicken spring rolls, my +1 ordered a cola tonic and lemonade and he was given a passion fruit and lemonade.
The menu has something for everyone and great to see a selection for vegetarians. I created a vegetarian tapas which was great except the halloumi was extra salty. My +1 enjoyed his vegetarian wrap.
While in Graskop, we decided to have dessert at Harrie’s Pancakes Pannekoek. As the name suggest, this place is all about pancakes – savoury and sweet but they do have other food items on the menu.
The place is pumping with tourist coming in and out. Timing at this place is everything, we arrived just after a big group of tourist had left and managed to get a table.
The pancakes are fresh and taste really good. The service was ok, and the pricing of the food is decent. This is one of those places that you have to stop at when in Graskop.
Where we stayed?
We were based in a lovely Tuscan style hotel in Nelspruit, La Villa Vita.
Nestled in a in a quiet residential area in picturesque setting, the hotel is ideal for guests travelling for leisure and business. The hotel has meeting facilities, wedding venues and comfortable accommodation.
La Villa Vita has 21 rooms all offer a flat-screen TV with selected DSTV channels, air-conditioning, minibar, tea-and-coffee facilities and private bathrooms.
Free Wi-Fi, a gorgeous pool, gym, spa, restaurant, Bar/Lounge, private Jacuzzi.
The hotel is surrounded by nature reserve and it’s extremely peaceful. We enjoyed our walks in the garden and just lounging by the pool with a pool. A perfect place for some R&R.
Love it when I take a wrong turn and stumble across hidden gems. In this instance, I stumbled across a place called Milk Bar an African-retro styled café located on Keyes Avenue in Rosebank. I decided to grab a bite to eat and catch up on my emails.
I’m an adventurous eater but having adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, I’m constantly disappointed at the limited selection one finds at restaurants. When I saw the menu at Milk Bar I was impressed to see that they have a nice selection of vegetarian options and a wide range of food that caters to a wide range of taste buds.
I opted for the vegetarian bunny chow, so I asked the waiter how big it was, he told me that it was a Rosebank size bunny chow and not Durban size or the type you find in the hood:-) He was not kidding!!
To drink, I opted for the Iced lemonade and mint drink which was extremely refreshing. Milk Bar is lovely place to unwind, I like the fact that it’s different in a very awesome way.
Milk Bar also has other locations:-
Pritchard Street in downtown Joburg,
Kramerville design district in Sandton – 6 Desmond St, Kramerville
I stumbled upon Tree Natural Concept this morning in between meetings in Umhlanga. ‘Tree Natural Concept is a wellness concept store combining tree yoga, a beautiful holistic yoga studio, and tree café, a café serving coffees, smoothies, juices and light meals.’
Decided to grab some brekkie and do some work while waiting for my next meeting. I had the Foundation (Mashed avo, poached eggs on toast) the food is clean, healthy and tastes really good. They have a great menu selection.
Love the look, its clean, fresh and earthy. I will definitely be back here, it’s my type of meeting/working environment. I do hope I can fit it a bit of Yoga when back in Umhlanga.
The shop location – Ground floor of the Protea Building, Corner of Lighthouse Road & Ridge Road, Umhlanga Village.
The staff are friendly, helpful and serve you with a smile.
I’m truly falling in love with Durban again and its great to see that they are adopting a healthy lifestyle and opening these amazing places.
After spending 3 days in San Jose for my clients workshop, stopping in San Francisco before we went back home was what we needed. When one thinks of the iconic symbols of San Francisco, the following come to mind -The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Cable cars and the houses from Full House (yes I grew in that era) known as the Painted Ladies.
San Francisco is the fourth-most populous city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, and the 13th-most populous city in the United States. – source wikipedia
Where we stayed?
Our accommodation was booked at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, we wanted a hotel that was centrally located and could give us access easy to the city’s attractions. The hotel lobby is a constant buzz, when entering for the 1st time, one would think they were entering a busy mall.
The staff were welcoming and after our awful experience at the Hilton Hotel in San Jose, it was truly refreshing to arrive at a hotel and have no issues with our booking. Things worked out so well, I even scored a room upgrade and stayed in the Deluxe Suite. The room was overkill for me, I felt lost but enjoyed the space and the magnificent views of the city.
The room has living/sitting area, equipped with flat-screen TVs, high-speed Internet a mini kitchen with minibar and tea and coffee making facilities. The bathroom was ok, for the size of the room they could have used the space better and has a bathroom that has a stand-alone shower not inside a bath. I’m not a fan of bath shower with shower curtains.
Hotel facilities and amenities
Spa, fitness centre, business centre, barber shop, hair salon, free Wi-Fi in the lobby, drug store, concierge and valet.
The hotel has a choice of three places to eat:-
Bin 55 restaurant, located in the hotel lobby – offers breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Mission Street Pantry also located in the hotel lobby – deli type concept perfect for guests on the go.
The View Lounge, located on the 39th Floor with spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline – offers small bites and signature cocktails.
Overall great location, well run, friendly staff and comfortable stay (thanks to my upgrade)
What we did?
There’s so much to do in San Francisco, so it’s imperative to have an idea of what one wants to see and do. My suggestion is plan in advance, it does make it easier to navigate through all the things that can be done.
We opted to go on the Big Bus tours, but before we got on the tour we had an idea of the key things we wanted to see. What I like about the Big Bus Tour is the flexibility of being able to get on and off at your own pace, while on the bus you also get to learn about the city through their narrated guide and It also allows you to see a lot more sights in a day.
Sadly thou, due to popular demand we missed out on going to Alcatraz Island.
Another highlight of our trip was visiting Sausalito, a small town situated across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. (Another town that reminds me of Knysna in the Western Cape, South Africa) Views from there across the bay toward San Francisco are just amazing.
The town is equipped with restaurant, art galleries, souvenir shops and hotels. A place where I could see myself living. I just like the simpleness of this town. We noticed that there were a lot of tourist cycling. I found out that cycling was popular with tourist, they usually hire a bike, cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge, and then down into Sausalito.
Where we ate
Unless I’m travelling with foodies, I tend not to make food a priority and really prefer the simple meal options. The people I was travelling with were also not fussy as to where we ate.
A deli/café in the lobby of San Francisco Marriott Marquis. They have a wide selection from sandwiches to pizzas to salads to pastries and deli items. They are limited from a vegetarian perspective. I had the Chef’s grilled cheese and ham and requested they remove the ham. The grilled cheese sandwich was really good.
The coffee is also good, a great break from Starbucks. Always good to try something new.
Lobby Level – San Francisco Marriott Marquis, 780 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
We came to realise that timing is everything with this place. Just as we were ordering our food the line got really long and were told that’s normal. They are known to have the best burgers and worth the wait. It’s a simple no bells and frills shop with very tight space.
Unfortunately they don’t have a vegetarian’s burger option so I opted for a vegetarian burrito. The burrito was good and my travel companions loved their burgers.
737 bridgeway hamburgers, Sausalito, San Francisco, CA
I love #FlashBackFridays I get to reminisce on my travel adventures.
When I learned that we were going to run an event at my clients head office in Palo Alto Silicon Valley -the home to the world’s largest technology companies. I was beyond ecstatic. Such a privilege to be awarded this opportunity.
The planning was tricky, we had very tight deadlines but we somehow managed to make it work. We would spend 3 days in San Jose for the workshop and 2 days in San Francisco.
As much as this trip was a long life dream, I write this post with a heavy heart. Emotionally it was the hardest trip of my life, a complete emotional roller coaster. I landed in the US on Sunday and early hours on Monday, the dreaded call came in. I learned of the passing of a dear friend and brother. We were so torn but made a decision based on the on information we had received back home. We stayed, and somehow managed to survive the emotional roller coaster. The day time was way better than the night time.
Where we stayed
Our base was San Jose, the third-largest city by population in California, the tenth-largest by population in the United States and a major technology hub in the California bay area.
Our accommodation was booked at the Hilton Hotel, I usually like to write a basic review of the hotels I stay at but our experience at the Hilton was not great.
On arrival we had issues with our booking, the staff working the afternoon shift were clueless and credit cards were billed incorrectly. The hotel rooms and bathrooms are old, the carpet in the room is questionable. The hotel is in need of a refurbishment.
This is the 3rd Hilton Hotel that just seem to have lost the edge slightly, the is no longer what it used to be. The only thing that I did like was the fact that their Affinity Restaurant & Bar had a Starbucks, I could have my morning coffee fix before going to work.
What we did
The purpose of the trip was a 3 day client workshop at HP Headquarters, 1501 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, California.
We were well received by the HP local team, all our requirements were met with a smile and were made to feel at home. The HP Customer Centre is high tech, love the fact that they use their products for everything. Its great advertising mechanism.
We got a tour of the facilities and products in the centre and got to see the original offices of the Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. The entire experience was incredible.
Touring Silicon Valley
Our last day was spent touring Silicon Valley, our 1st stop was the HP Garage – the birthplace of Silicon Valley. Knowing the history of Silicon Valley, HP and seeing images of the garage, being at 367 Addison Avenue was an unbelievable moment.
We also got to see the headquarters of LinkedIn, Facebook, Apple, Adobe, Intel and Google. We were fortunate to go inside Intel and we visited the museum.
Google was another amazing experience, we got access inside one of the buildings thanks to one of the HP managers who had a meeting and invited us all to join him. Having watched the Intern, it was lovely seeing areas where he movie was shot.
The leafy campus in the heart of Silicon Valley has produced some of the most influential tech entrepreneurs since the beginning of Silicon Valley, starting with Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in the mid-30s to the likes of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the founders of Google, Marissa Meyer (Yahoo), Intel, Netflix, LinkedIn, YouTube…etc
‘Founded in 1885 by California Senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, in memory of their only child, Leland Jr., who died of typhoid fever at 15, the Stanfords determined that they would use their wealth to do something for “other people’s” children.
They decided to create a university, one that, from the outset, was untraditional: coeducational in a time when most private universities were all-male; nondenominational when most were associated with a religious organization; and avowedly practical, producing “cultured and useful citizens” when most were concerned only with the former.’
Stanford has a warm feel to it and get why at times its referred to as the farm. Its a beautiful campus, full of trees, fountains, manicured gardens, great student facilities and lovely frat houses. They seem to have everything there: post office, Starbucks, eateries, libraries and some form of entertainment. It truly was an amazing experience.
Where we ate?
I was tasked with finding dinner restaurants while we were in San Jose. 1st night we had dinner at our hotel restaurant, the Affinity Restaurant & Bar – the only good thing about the Hilton. Their menu selection was substantial and catered to most people, the food was appetizing and the service was great.
Our 2nd night we had dinner at The Grill on the Alley, a well renowned Steak house. The food here was exceptional, they serve large portions of steaks, chops, fresh seafood and pasta. The vegetable were cooked well…overall amazing dining experience. Highly recommend it, its a tad pricey but we left feeling extremely satisfied.
On the last night we ventured out to Santana Row – an outdoor shopping mall in San Jose at times referred to at the Rodeo Drive of San Jose. We had dinner at El Jardin Tequila Bar & Restaurant, we could not come to San Jose and not have Mexican food. For me the atmosphere, service and vibe were great but I was not blown away by the food. We shared Nachos as a starter and I had a burrito which tasted ok. Apparently the Tacos were not bad, should have ordered those.
Even though we were in San Jose for business, the trip was great. My highlight was being in Silicon Valley, definitely a place that I would visit again.
Look out for my post next Friday, I will be blogging about our adventures in San Francisco.
‘The best things in Life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen, and the memories you have made along the way’
My #TravelTuesday post is on a trip we took Hong Kong (China) with family. Truly grateful for these trips and grateful to my family for the memories we are creating.
Hong Kong is made up of four parts: Hong Kong Island (HKI), Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands. We were based in HKI, the centre of their economy.
Hong Kong (HK) is renowned for its deep natural harbour, skyline with a very high skyscrapers which is impressive during the day and at night it will blow your mind when all the skyscrapers are lit. Adding to this beauty is the Symphony of Lights, a multimedia orchestrated light show involving more than 40 buildings on both sides of the harbour. It’s truly spectacular.
What we did?
Having travelled to Hong Kong (HK)before, we skipped all the top things to do, our focus was purely a half year recharge. When you travel with little people, you find yourself at all child friendly places, for adults its a great excuse to unleash your inner child.
Our 1st stop was Ocean Park Hong Kong, located on the southern side of Hong Kong Island is a marine mammal park, oceanarium, animal theme park and amusement park.
The park is separated by a large mountain into two areas, The Summit (Headland) and The Waterfront (Lowland). These areas can be reached by a 1.5 kilometers (0.93 mi) cable car system, or the Ocean Express funicular railway.
There’s so many experiences at the park, so it’s imperative to plan your day well. We went on a few rides, watched a dolphin show, visited the panda, went to the Adventures of Australia and visited Old Hong Kong.
My highlight rides were:-
The Abyss – this ride is not for the faint hearted, the rides takes you up to the top of its tower (20 stories) and then it plunges straight to the ground, its beyond INSANE.
Hair Raiser – is a roller coaster ride on steroids, its fast, its wild, its Hong Kong’s first and only floorless roller coaster. A must do for the thrill seeker.
The Dragon – The largest roller coaster featuring two giant loops on a 842-metre-long track.
Ocean Park really has the best rides and views, really was an amazing experience.
Our next stop was Hong Kong Disney Land, whats there not to like about Disney Land. Awesome experience, awesome rides and attractions. It truly is a place where families and friends of all ages can have fun together.
Where we ate?
What I like about HK is that it has become the ‘culinary capital of Asia’ and offers thousands of restaurants from your local Cantonese to your International Cuisine, one is really spoilt for choice.
Having experienced the food culture before, we really were not particular as to where ate.
A French burger workshop, with a selection of burgers you can order off their regular menu or DIY your burger by choosing your cheese, toppings, sauce and meat or vegetables for a personalised taste.
I had the Le Lucien (portobello mushroom burger). The veggie burger was ok, I have definitely had better. The meat eaters tried the Le Philibert, Le Big Ferdinand and the Le Bartholome. The Le Bartholome burger was NOT a hit, she ended up making a chip roll, The rolls were FRESH.
IFC Mall, 1 Harbour view Street, Central, Hong Kong,
Zuma features modern Japanese cuisine, it’s one of those places that’s on my Top 5 memorable culinary experience. I really was looking forward to having brunch and I must say, from a food perspective, I was not let down.
The brunch menu allows one to eat from the buffet, order a main and dessert. The buffet food was beyond substantial. The sushi was fresh, the vegetables were cooked to perfection and the dessert was just the cherrie on top.
Our overall dining experience was great, the service for drinks was not so great. At some stage we waited over 20m to get served Iced Tea.
Landmark, Level 5 & 6, 15 Queen’s Road, Central Hong Kong
‘Life is a journey, full of pictures, places, stories and good tasting recipe’
The concept of Greyhound is Thai food with a creative and modern twist in a trendy and casual dining experience. The menu has a wide selection, I opted for the Phad Thai with Mushroom. It was well cooked.
Whether you are travelling to Hong Kong (HK) on business or pleasure, HK has accommodation for everyone, from your youth hostels, to hotels, to chic boutique hotel.
We stayed in the heart of the Central District, on Hong Kong Island at the Four Seasons Hotel located next to Victoria Harbor and connected to the IFC shopping mall. The hotel is a constant buzz with business people, tourists visiting and locals with weddings and private events.
Service & Amenities
Two outdoor pool, a whirlpool, outdoor plunge pool, Vitality lounge & Spa, 24hour fitness centre, Executive Club, Children’s welcome programme & babysitting service, 24hour business centre, 24hour in room dining,
Our room had stunning views of the Victoria Harbour, Kowloon and the Peak.
All guestrooms are decorated with a fusion of Western and Chinese elements and are equipped with a 42-inch flat-screen TV, a DVD player, an iPod dock, WiFi and some rooms include a Nespresso machine.
The bathrooms have walk-in showers, bath and equipped with all bathroom essentials – dental kit, shaving kit, nail care, comb and the standard body cream, shampoos & conditioners one finds at a hotel.
The hotel has 4 restaurant, with two restaurants that have received Michelin stars and 2 bars.
We had breakfast in the Blue Bar, lunch at the Pool Terrace and dinner in the Lounge. We are simple travellers and prefer the more simple restaurants to eat it at.
What I like about travelling to Hong Kong is the visa-free access for passport holders. It really does make it as an attractive destination to visit. The best time to visit HK is from October to January which from an South African school holiday perspective is ideal.
The last time I visited the Eastern Cape on holiday was in primary school, on a family vacay with my parents. From what I remember, it was an amazing holiday. In a way its trips like those that ignited my LOVE for travelling.
Our mini vacay to the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape was long overdue. We were battling to find the right time to travel and the place we had set our heart staying at was either booked or we could not find a gap in our diaries. 2 years later we FINALLY found the time and the hotel had availability.
The Wild Coast is truly ‘wild, untamed and beautiful.’ There are incredible views of the coastline and rolling hills. Words simply cannot describe the never-ending beauty. For hikers, the Wild Coast is paradise, there’s an abundance of hiking trails that lead to the most picturesque places. For the not so keen on hiking, you can drive however a 4×4 is a must.
We were in the area for 4 days – 2 days exploring, driving to reach some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country and 2 days at our hotel, lounging and experiencing the hotel activities. This worked out perfectly for us.
Was dedicated to exploring Port St Johns – a town of about 6,500 people, situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River, a river flowing through an impressive gorge known as the “Gates of St John” into an estuary located on the Indian Ocean.
We visited the Silaka Game Reserve – a small reserve which we learned has Zebras, Wildebeest and Blesbok. We did not see any game but the drive into the reserve to access Third beach was beyond picturesque. We then venture out to Second beach, which is geared more for swimming however Shark Attacks have occurred here.
That afternoon we made our way to a place called The view – previously an airstrip at the end of airport road that lead to the of a cliff. Here you will experience the best views of the town, river, ocean and landscapes. A perfect way to end the day.
We spent the morning at Magwa Falls – ‘which lie in the middle of the 1800 hectare Magwa tea plantation, South Africa’s last remaining tea estate just outside Lusikisiki. The curtain of water falls 144 metres and drops into a narrow canyon formed by seismic movement.’ The falls are remarkable…a must see if in the area.
We met Senzo, a kid from the community who became our guide and gave us some insights on the falls and the people that visited the area. His highlight was witnessing tourist that created a rope swing bungeee jump that plunges 600ft straight down into the Magwa Falls gorge. One of those crazy activities for the adrenaline junkie. (Rope Swing Bungeee Jump Video link)
We then ventured out to The Hole in the Wall – ‘a rocky archway set just off the Wild Coast, south of Coffee Bay.’ The drive was long but so worth it.
Where we stayed
Umngazi River Bungalows and Spa came highly recommended, I had read some great reviews and it was on my bucket list of places to stay. This piece of paradise offers absolute tranquility, a wonderful family resort that also caters to Couples looking for a peaceful getaway.
The hotel offers spacious thatch-roofed single or double bungalows which provide the perfect setting for a totally relaxed holiday. The bungalows are comfortable and are categorized into six different categories:
Garden, River, Sea, Emlonyeni, Honeymoon and Ntabeni.
The Sea, River & Garden bungalows are child friendly.
The Honeymoon, Emlonyeni and Ntabeni bungalows are exclusively for adults.
Each bungalow is equipped with en suite bathroom and private open-air shower and NO TV:-)
Facilities and Activities
The hotel has a Gym, Library, Games Room, Tennis, Swimming Pool, TV Lounge for adults, Kiddies area, Kayak and Motorboats which are available on hire.
The spa is secluded from the main hotel area and offer breathtaking views of the coastline. A visit to the SPA is a must.
The hotel also offer some interesting walks, hikes, fishing and an afternoon sunset cruise up the Umngazi River.
The hotel offers 3 meals per day – Breakfast was by far the best meal for us, for lunch we were not around and the dinner vegetarian main option on the was a little disappointing.
They have a well-stocked bar positioned over the river front, the service at the bar was great.
Our overall experience in Umngazi was great, the staff were great and the service was good. Visiting the Eastern Cape was a refreshing break from the usual Durban and Cape Town.