My very 1st dining experience at Zuma was in 2103, I had travelled to London with one of my besties to celebrate a milestone birthday. My travelling squad (they know who they are) happened to be in town at the same time and invited us to join them for lunch. We had one of the best dining experience.
Having had the opportunity to eat at the Zuma in New York and Hong Kong, what resonates with me the most about Zuma Restaurants is the consistency in the food prep, service and overall dining experience.
Zuma offers a chic twist on the traditional Japanese Izakaya style – dishes are brought to the table continuously throughout the meal. The menu is comprehensive and appealing even to vegetarians, I was spoilt for choice.
Fast-forward to 2019, Zuma Abu Dhabi, was really a continuation of an amazing culinary experience – “the story continues…”
Located at The Galleria, on al Maryah island, representing the core of Abu Dhabi’s central business district; the Manhattan of Abu Dhabi, Zuma still captures the style and elegant ambience of the Zuma restaurants we have dined at.
Again, I cannot fault the food, sumptuous flavours and beautifully presented.
Zuma is truly a unique dining experience, great atmosphere, lovely food and top-notch service.
When I look back at this year and reminisce on some of my travel adventures, I’m reminded of how incredible it is to travel – the world is full of magical things to do, see and experience.
Early this year, I was afforded an opportunity to travel to the Cannes Film Festival. Honestly, attending the Festival was never high on my bucket list of travel adventures. However, when the opportunity presented itself, I welcomed it with open arms. (Who would refuse a working trip to the French Riviera.)
I landed at the Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport, the airport was swarming with paparazzi, waiting to catch a glimpse of celebrities. Took a transfer from the airport to Cannes – a 30m ride. I checked in at our hotel and went to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès to collect our access for the film festival.
Walking along the La Croisette, there was definitely a buzz in the air – people basking in the sun enjoying the French Riviera, others patiently waiting at hotels to catch a glimpse of the A-listers and boats out at sea.
The Film Festival attracts film makers, producers, directors, actors and celebrities from all over the world. The festival is overwhelming but filled with tremendous opportunity.
By day, the festival is all business, meetings, networking and an opportunity to catch a film, attend a masterclass.
An overview on how the film festival is structured and works, its divided into 5 Section:
These are films that are up for the films Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) – the most prestigious award, awarded by the competition jury to the best picture of the festival.
Out of Competition
These are films not competing for the top prize, but there for the publicity.
Un Certain Regard
Focusses on films from newer directors with creative storytelling techniques. Films that are usually challenging art films that aren’t quite up to competing in the mainstream.
Film by students at film schools around the world.
The meeting place for buyers, distributors, producers and industry professionals.
This area is very impressive, I was blown away by the sheer volumes of films being made and produced all over the world.
Over and above these sections, there are Special Screenings, Midnight Screenings and Masterclasses – given in public by world-renowned filmmakers. A must attend for anyone in film and tv.
By night this resort town become a party haven, it’s all about attending the ‘right’ events and parties. Thank goodness the people I was travelling with were not FOMO type people. Our evenings were spent having dinners and great conversations.
We did however have one amazing dinner experience at La Palme d’Or at Hotel Martinez. Where we were taken on a culinary journey, the chef creates a wonderful cuisine focusing on local Mediterranean foods. From the entrée to the dessert, everything was quite good.
The Film Festival is truly a unique but daunting experience, it requires proper planning and preparation. There’s a lot I took away from the festival, from just getting a sense of what it entails to put together an event of that magnitude. Every element has its own unique experience, there’s definitely something for everyone.
It truly was an extraordinary opportunity and a privilege to travel to the Cannes Film Festival and experience a bit of the French Riviera.
We discovered Sprout Cafe by chance, we happened to be in the area for Karting and were looking for a place to grab lunch and found this gem.
What I like about Sprout Cafe is the fact that the menu caters more for vegans, one is really spoilt for choice.
We ordered the Sprockets (Tofu) and the Vegan Buddah Bowl. My husband is not a fan of tofu but he was ranting and raving about the Sprockets. The buddah bowl was tasty but definitely not memorable. Overall the food looked clean, tasted good and well prepared.
We also decided to indulge in some dessert and ordered the Vegan Pancake Stack and the Vegan DoughnutHoles.
The vegan pancake stack were delectable, very large portion but i really enjoyed eating what I could. Tried my husbands donught holes, I was not blown away. These tasted slightly overcooked.
Overall, our vegan lunching experience was superb. Another place to add to my splendid dining experiences.
Address: Sprout Cafe and Salad Bar, Stoneridge Centre, Greenstone, 1609 Edenvale, Gauteng, South Africa
Last night we were treated to a Vegetarian Culinary Experience at the Luke Dale Roberts x The Saxon, celebrating 10 years of families uniting (Traditionally) with my husband bae, my ride or die, homie, lover & friend:-)
We received a warm welcome from the hostess who took us to our seats. Our waiters then explained the tasting menu options. There are 6 menu offering, a standard 5-course tasting menu with Pescatarian or Vegetarian options and an 8-course menu with Pescatarian or Vegetarian options.
After long debates on what would be a great dining experience, we went with the 8-course vegetarian option.
The meal started with a cleanser, amuse-bouche course and bread for the table. We were then transcended on an extraordinary fine dining journey completed with tea pairing from Yswara.
The food portion sizes were perfect, neatly presented and cooked to perfection. Unconventional combination of flavours and textures to tantalize the taste buds. Every meal that was served had some unique taste to it and made it difficult to select a favourite. The tea pairing worked well, we drank some really gorgeous teas.
The restaurant is well run, great ambience and not too noisy. The service was impeccable with eloquent waiters attending to us at all time, from explaining the dishes presented to the teas paired with our meals.
Overall the dining experience was lovely, we did feel that the 8-course meal was beyond substantial. By the time we got to the dessert we were tired of eating. We both concluded that the 5-course would have been enough of an experience.
An amazing way to start our year of milestone celebrations. Thanks to ‘our people’ (you know who you are) for this incredible celebratory dinner experience. It was a splendid Saturday out.
I’m on a quest to explore and blog more on splendid vegetarian dining experiences. It was great treat to finally eat at Leafy Greens Cafe, a lovely place tucked away on an farm just outside Johannesburg in the Muldersdrift area.
I have listed my Top 5 reasons why its a lovely restaurant:-
Its location – Lovely setting in the garden on a farm away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
2. The menu is TOTALLY vegetarian/vegan with an array of fresh options.
3. The food is all freshly prepared and sourced from their own organic garden.
4. The buffet selection which is available Friday – Sunday looked extensive and very fulfilling. We opted to order from the menu, I had the Beetroot Burger – Homemade beetroot and bean patty, with vegan BBQ sauce, greens, sprouts, avocado, salsa and artisan mustard. One of the best burgers I have tasted in while.
My husband had the Baked Pizza – Gluten-free base with toppings of your choice. spinach, olives, garlic, fresh tomato, rocket, avocado, eggplant, onion, artichokes, peppers.
5. There’s a shop that sells organic vegetables, a selection of vegetarian food items and skin care products.
The cafe has a relaxed natural feel in beautiful surrounding. Our timing was perfect as the restaurant was not that busy, which apparently gets, especially on weekends.
Singapore is one of the most visited tourist destinations of South East Asia and I totally see why. This island city-state is architectural marvel with a diverse range of exciting activities and attractions to suit different visitors interest.
There are many reasons why one should visit Singapore, I have taken the liberty of listing my top reasons.
Visa free travel
Coming from South Africa this is awesome, there’s nothing that I dread more than applying for a VISA. The process can sometimes be lengthy and cumbersome. It’s great to know that one can visit Singapore at anytime (should the travel budget allow for it).
The city landscape, architectural marvel and cleansines
Singapore’s gorgeous skyline will take your breath away. As you wander around Singapore, you’ll notice a mixture of modern skyscrapers with heritage buildings all around.
Another thing that you will notice is how clean the city is, it’s simply refreshing.
A great starting point to marvel at the architectural icons and attraction that Singapore has to offer. From the Marina Bay Sands to the Merlion Park to the Art Science Museum, the helix bridge the list is endless.
In the mornings, we ran at the bay, we walked around the bay to get to places of interest and the kids managed to ride bikes. It’s the simple things that make this place a splendid experience by day or by night.
Gardens by the Bay
The gardens by the bay is Singapores top attraction, a truly unique experience – it blends nature and cutting-edge architecture and features the following: –
The Flower Dome, the world’s largest glass greenhouse – an impressive 1.28 hectares of flowers under glass.
The Supertrees which can be found around the garden, they are man-made trees of up to 16 storeys tall, with 12 at the Supertree Grove.
At night one feels like they are in Pandora with the way the trees light up. It’s a just simply majestic.
The Dragonfly Lake and Kingfisher Lake are a rich source of aquatic life and also act as an eco-filter to cleanse water pumped in from the Marina reservoir.
The family-friendly attractions
Singapore offers a number of family-friendly activities, making it ideal for travellers looking for an exotic vacation spot with options for children.
Sentosa Island – is Singapore’s premier island resort getaway, a man made island that was built for fun and recreation. It includes Resorts World, Universal Studios Singapore, Tiger Sky Tower, Singapore Butterfly & Insect Kingdom, and one of the largest collections of aquatic animals in the world, SEA Aquarium.
The night safari is another great experience for the little people, coming from South Africa, we were impressed by the animals in the park. Its home to over 2,500 animals across 130 species –– of which 38% are threatened.
The food culture is big in Singapore with an array of different culinary experience, from your local to international cuisine. I might just have to arrange a separate trip to this city-state just to explore the different culinary experiences. On our visit, food was something that we did when we remembered we were hungry, we did manage to eat at some lovely child friendly places.
A modern industrial restaurant and bar, located at the Marina Bay Sands, was a perfect late lunch/early dinner place for the family. Its family friendly and I really liked the kiddie’s menu, very creating.
The food all round was a hit, I enjoyed my Quinoa salad with cucumber, avocado, baby spinach, dried cranberries, toasted almond. The dessert was lovely, I also had the Chocolate Fondant with salted caramel, mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Attention to detail, friendly staff and great food is what makes the Bread Street Kitchen a must eat place.
This was the little people’s choice, at 1st glance you have your doubts about this place but surprisingly enough, it was a magnificent experience.
This café-retail experience is home to the DC comic universe and the one we ate at is located at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
The menu has everything from your salads, to burgers, to sandwiches, a patisserie and ice-cream station. They cater to vegetarian which is great. The meat eaters enjoyed their meal, I found my Quesadilla (Hals source of green energy) a bit blend.
I’m not a big shopper but I appreciate seeing the local clothing brands whenever I travel. Singapore is paradise for shoppers, from high-end to affordable fashion brands there’s something for everyone. There’s the Shoppes at the Marina. the famous Orchard Road, theres’ Vivo City, Suntech City, Marina Square…the list is endless.
Places to Stay
It seems that the place to stay is the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (should the budget allow) the resort boasts luxury accommodations, upscale shopping and an infinity pool with unparalleled views of the city.
In my personal opinion, we found the hotel overwhelming and we were not even staying there. Its very busy with guests checking in and out, people walking around from Tower to Tower and going to eat, people going to the casino and the SkyPark. If you like big hotels and a hectic vibe, then this place can work for you.
There’s ample accommodation for every type of traveller.
Where we stayed?
We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental – a great business and leisure hotel on Raffle Street, opposite the Marina Bay. The hotel is linked to the Marina Square Mall and near Suntech City.
The hotel features: –
The hotel has rooms and suites – Our room was comfortable and had great views of the Marina Bay.
6 restaurants and bars – The hotel offers a range of food choices from Japanese to Cantonese to Italian. The melt café has by far the best international buffet selection. A great way to sample local cuisine and explore an array of food choices.
Gym – A decent size gym with great equipment. I had every intention of working out at the gym but it’s not everyday that one has the opportunity to run in such perfect environment.
Spa – A tranquil sanctuary with talented therapist.
Pool is surrounded by lush green gardens with spectacular views in all directions.
The service at the hotel was great and staff were friendly and extremely helpful. It was a lovely, comfortable stay.
Singapore is a true gem, it does cater for everyone. It can be a perfect girlfriend / boys getaway, a couples retreat, family holiday and shopping paradise.
LAVO Singapore is an Italian Restaurant and Rooftop Bar that was officially opened to the public on the 8th January and we were lucky enough to be part of the 1st dinner sitting at the restaurant. Located on the 57th floor of Tower 1 of Sands SkyPark at the Marina Bay Sands, this Italian American Bistro offers a ‘vibe dining’ experience with breathtaking views of Singapore.
We were impressed by the restaurant design, its contemporary with an eclectic feel to it. As you enter the restaurant there’s elegant lounge pockets setup, the main dining area has wooden tables and round leather seating booths. We liked the use of old subway tiles for the wall finishes and the exposed wooden bricks look.
The outdoor terrace has lounge pocket seats, an outdoor bar and a gelato cart.
The food was cooked to perfection, the garlic bread served to the table was made to perfection – slightly hard on the outside but warm and soft on the inside. For a vegetarian dining experience, the menu has some option.
For the starter I had the eggplant parmigiano, which was delicious and well cooked. The meat eaters at the table had the famous LAVO one-pound meatball. Thank goodness our waiter recommended it to share, it’s a lot of meatball.
For the main, we had the Rigatoni Melanzana to share – the pasta was al dente and exquisite. The meat eaters had Roasted Black Cod, Chicken Parmigiano, Spaghetti and Meatballs. The food went down well.
I was the only person keen to try the dessert, I ordered the 20 Layer Chocolate Cake (which is literally 20 layers). I love chocolate cake but this was a bit of an overkill. We ended up sharing the cake. The cake was moist, I’m not a big peanut butter eater but the Peanut Butter Mascarpone was light and worked well with the cake.
From a food presentation, it was well presented however we did feel that some of the portion sizes were a bit much. I could have eaten the eggplant parmigiano starter as a main. As for the 20 layer cake, a table of 8 people can easily share that cake.
By night the restaurants transforms to a nightclub, I like the design of the DJ booth and the positioning is perfect. When next in Singapore, it will be a must do activity at night.
Our overall dining experience was lovely, we were looked after by an overzealous team – from the waiter to the bar staff to the floor managers. The service was great and we enjoyed our dinner.
We finally made it to Pont De Val River Escape which is located inside the Cote de Val River Lifestyle Estate, set on the banks of the Vaal River – 91.8km (1h7m) from Johannesburg via the N1. This riverside escape is a perfect getaway from the city life.
We had booked lunch at the restaurant and an overnight stay at the newly built hotel on the estate.
This bistro specializes in French cuisine and serves lunch and dinner. They have lounge style dining area outside and proper tables and chairs to accommodate different type of diners.
We had booked lunch and it was great to see a selection of vegetarian option. I had the Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Baguette. The baguette was eatable but there was an overpowering taste in the spinach. My +1 had the Halloumi burger which he raved about and said it tasted really good. (It was so good he actually refused to share it)
The dessert was the best part of the food, we had the Petit Fours Platter – an assortment of mini dessert that serves 2 people. As full as I was, I just had to try everything and glad I did. It was devilishly good.
The food was beautifully presented, a tad on the duur (expensive) side. For the wine connoisseur, they offer wine tasting on Saturday & Sundays at R40pp and have a 30m River Cruise at R275pp.
The overall experience at the riverside bistro was astounding, its a place we will visit again.
The Boutique hotel is a new addition to the Pont de Val accommodation offerings, they also have Self-Catering holiday homes. The French countryside-style with a unique, timeless, modern feel is carried through the hotel.
We were booked in the Luxe Room which has its own balcony with views over the vineyard towards the river.
The rooms have uncapped WI-FI, DSTV, air-conditioning, safe, Illy coffee machine, tea station, bath, shower, king size bed (or two singles), work desk with USB charging point as well as inside and outside sitting spaces.
The hotel accommodation rates start from R2590 – R2790 per room and that comes with breakfast. For guest that love a big breakfast, you will not be disappointed. The breakfast is substantial.
The muesli and fruit were delicious however when it came to our egg order, there were a few minor glitches.Even though our breakfast was presented well and you could see that they made a real effort, we were left underwhelmed mainly because of the egg order. Its one thing to get one order wrong but both orders not very good.
Pont de Val has a spa that is located in the hotel building, they also have venues where they host weddings, functions and conferences.
There’s something about a beach holiday that nourishes the soul – the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air and the sand between your toes. I love Throwbacks, I get to distract myself, reminisce and write about my travel adventures.
As they say, to travel is to live. I really do love travelling and undoubtedly I live, work hard and smart so I can travel and explore different amazing and extraordinary places. Travelling to the Bahamas was yet another one of those amazing experiences and grateful that I got to do with family. We travelled to Nassau (Bahamas) and we were based at Atlantis, Paradise Island – an ocean themed resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
Arriving at the hotel, felt like we were on a set of a family vacation movie scene (besides the fact that we were in a green stretch limo which they refer to as a ‘family car’.) As you step out the car into the open air lobby, there’s a cool breeze blowing, soft background sounds of the ocean and a friendly welcome by the staff.
‘Atlantis, Bahamas features the world’s largest open-air marine habitat; Aquaventure, a 141-acre water park, including the iconic Mayan Temple’s Leap of Faith slide; 11 incredible pools; four miles of magnificent beaches; a Tom Weiskopf-designed 18-hole, oceanfront golf course; and the Atlantis Casino.’
Atlantis features a variety of accommodation, we stayed the Cove, a stunning place, an oasis of style that provides a private escape that’s removed from, yet still part of, the amazing world of Atlantis. (The Cove pool area has been renovated and it was relaunched early in November)
We had 2 interleading family rooms, both very spacious with a separate lounge area that leads to the balcony with breathtaking views of the ocean.
Both rooms had a full bathroom (bath and separate shower) and provided basic hotel amenities.
Other Accommodation at Atlantis
The Royal Tower – The Royal Towers is the icon of Atlantis featuring the awe-inspiring mythology of the Lost City of Atlantis risen from the sea.
The Beach Tower – the Beach Tower offers casual, come-as-you-are beachfront and garden facing rooms.
The Reef – The Reef offers luxury, residential-style studios and suites offering vacationers all the comforts of home, with the service and experience of a magnificent resort.
Harbour Site Resort – Harborside Resort features spacious residential-style villas, offering guests kitchens or kitchenettes, creating a casual, home-away-from-home feeling.
From fine dining to quick and easy meal, there’s endless options for every palette. Atlantis features 20 restaurants and 19 bars and lounges. What I liked about Atlantis is the fact that the restaurants are child friendly.
Nobu is Japanese cuisine at its best, a true culinary experience courtesy of executive chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
Great atmosphere and the sushi was lovely. I had a few vegetarian dishes and they were well prepared, vegetables were al dente and cooked to perfection. Service was exceptional and overall great night out for the family. Nobu is on the list of the top restaurants, we loved this place.
77° West (I think this place has a new name now)
Spacious, open restaurant with perfect lighting that creates a lovely atmosphere. 77°West offers South American-inspired cuisine with a Bahamian touch. Not much of a selection from a vegetarian perspective, I had the Oven Baked Wheat Tostada and Casa Quinoai salad. Service was good, but I must say the food experience was not at all memorable for me.
This restaurant came highly recommended by the hotel staff, I think they saw brown people and figured we would love a BBQ experience. Let’s just say we were left underwhelmed here.
The vegetarian options, the grilled veges and cornbread to be exact were blend and tasteless so I ended up eating a plate of chip. Apparently the ribs and chicken wings were great. Overall experience here was underwhelming.
An ice cream, gelato and sorbet experience created by Bahamian Chef Wayne Moncur.
The décor look and feel is fresh, modern with soft touches of torques.
Sun & Ice’s ice cream, gelato and sorbet flavors are made fresh, in-house daily and offer unique flavours and names given. Each scoop has a story, and flavors are infused with local Bahamian ingredients like sea grapes and sapodilla.
Ben & Jerry’s
Yes Im obsessed with Ben and Jerry’s and if I see one I have to have one. Such a treat to have a stand-alone store at Atlantis.
Activities & Experiences
Atlantis has everything for everyone, the abundance of activities and experiences are overwhelming but great as they cater to different types of travellers.
You can explore the world’s largest open-air marine habitat with over 50,000 marine animals in 15 exhibit lagoons
Spend a day at the 141-acre water park filled with water slides and river rides or just soak up the sun at one of the 11 amazing pools or beaches.
Snorkel, scuba, snuba, and dive or walk with sharks.
For the fitness fanatic, there’s a fully equipped fitness centre, you can enjoy yoga, pilates or simply unwind in their world class Mandara Spa.
For the golfers, play a round of golf at the 18-hole Ocean Club Golf Course with spectacular views of the ocean.
Indulge in their island tours or nightlife or if you prone to taking risk with money, visit the casino.
For parents travelling with little people and wanting some adult time, the resort has a kids club.
Every trip has at least one highlight, and on this leg of the trip I had so many but the one that came very high was the Dolphin encounter. We had such an incredible time smimming with the dolphins.
Another epic family trip to add to my travel adventures. Atlantis, Paradise Island (Bahamas) is truly an experience like no other, we continue to create memories that will last a lifetime.
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.