Posts Tagged With: Holiday

Life Measured in Moments

As the Traveling Tribe prepares for our immense adventure exploring Asia & the Far East, we’re inviting some of our friends to keep on doing travel in the Eastern Cape, South Africa & Africa, making contributions as honorary Tribe-members, so that you can now get information on South African travel, as well as our explore of unseen Asia, right here in one place.

In this article Xandre van der Berg & her husband Danie joins our Tribe, as they take a trip on the MSC Opera, cruising our stunning Oceans.

Website for more Informationwww.MSCcruises.co.za 

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“Life should be measured in moments, not minutes”

This statement not only captures the introduction to the MSC Opera’s brochure, but lingered in my mind – capturing my thoughts,  forcing me to slow down, re-measuring my  two days spent, as a guest on the luxury vessel.

It was in these moments, that somewhere between embarking in Cape Town, and disembarking in Port Elizabeth,  I was transformed from stepping on as a guest, to leaving as a friend.

Luxurious she is, by all measures and opinions.

But beneath all the glamour and glitz, I found a village on the MSC Opera.  A village which invites everyone to become one with their fantasy world.  Embracing’s differences, opening opportunities to explore and enjoy their finest moments.

Moments to reflect on life are ample, as you cruise along –creating the space I needed to reconnect and focus.

When you are surrounded by miles and miles of gentle waves, you can only focus on the eminent.

The now.

The being of your soul.

I will not be able to describe the swell of the ocean, the gentle rocking when you lie down, the ever moving horizon and the realization that this is it.

You are captured in another world.

A world beyond time.

An escape.

And it is only then, realizing that you have escaped from reality, that you start looking around, taking the surroundings in, and start to blend with this new world.

MSC has explored the seas for over 300 years.  With 450 vessels under their wing, they have mastered her – the ocean.

Their expertise, passion and professionalism are evident in everything they do.

Tina joined the family from the Philippines, seeing to all my needs in my room, Miguel came from Peru, serving our coffee with dedication, Annia from Cuba waiting at the spa and Rinthing from India, eager to be of assistance.

The South African cruises developed at such a rapid pace, that they had to include South Africans crew members.  With 98% or the passengers on South African cruises being from South Africa, this is truly a home from home.

The MSC Opera, a masterpiece on the seas, lives up to her name – a classy, grand lady, a world class resort.  Five star cuisines, 9 bars, shows, lounges, a theater, shops, casino, disco, pools, spa baths and fitness equipment.

Don’t imagine for a moment that a cruise on the MSC Opera is only for adults.

This is an amazing adventure for children as well.  Some cruises end up with 40% of passengers below the age of 18.

Pools, Play areas, Discos, movies, Virtual game rooms, outside deck games & indoor activities, are all utilized, under the watchful eyes of a very capable crew component.  Children are issued with security bracelets the moment they become part of the cruises – assuring that they can be traced at all times.

Do not be fooled by the luxury and splendor of this adventure – this is truly a South African Holiday – affordable for everyone.

While fares published would want you to reach for your saving account number – actual fares are mind blowing.

The MSC family, want everyone to be able to enjoy and share what they have captured.  Specials and promotions available allow us all to be part of their dream world.

Keeping in mind that all meals and most of the entertainment is part of the package, you will be able to freely enjoy the theater and all shows brought to you, from side splitting comedy to Italian Opera.

For the more serious ‘gastronomix’ amongst us, you will have opulent opportunities to experience different menus, steaming hot pizza from the oven – Italian pasta, homemade ice cream and the finest pastries.

Their promotion packages covers everything you could imagine.  For newlyweds, family, single travelers, anniversaries and special celebrations – they have it all covered.

And although I joined the cruise along the South African Coast – this is not where it stops.

Take you imagination on a wild cruise, and join them to explore the coral reefs, exotic landscape and cultures of the Southern African coast and islands.

Always wanted to explore the Portuguese Islands?

Madagascar?

The Island of True contrasts – Reunion?

Mauritius and Namibia?

This is the opportunity – join the MSC family and explore alongside them. They will spoil you with beach braais while you discover the hidden secrets of a Portuguese Island, snorkeling.

They will show you the best places to shop in the Cosmopolitan Maputo and invite you to Inhambane, one of the oldest settlements in Southern Africa.

Join them and explore the active volcano and black sandy beaches of Reunion.  Extend the adventure to the home of legendary figures like Captain Kidd or stop at the beautiful turquoise waters of Mauritius.

Traveling with the MSC Cruises, give wings to your wildest dreams.

For us anyway.

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Categories: information, Ocean Liners, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The silent howl of Heterogeneity (mini vs maxi Day 1)

(In South Africa September is ‘Tourism Month’.  As part of the launch, Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency invited me to join them on a four day promotion, as their guest, discovering some more of this adventure province.)

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The holler of contrast – this is what we experienced on our first day of exploring this adventure province with Eastern Cape Tourism.

We woke up at Meander Inn to the bustling sounds an smells of early morning at an old fashioned Inn, where travelers become friends as they trade and buy and promote and ply.

Unbeknownst to us, the day held excitement & solitude.

I’m without my Tribe on this trip.  They’ve graciously allowed me to head out & explore this little bit of Eastern Cape.  Perhaps we’ll be fortunate enough to come & explore together, the gems I might find along the way.

Uzi & Esti are my travel companions.

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Uzi works as internal auditor for the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency.

Esti, represents St Francis Bay Tourism.

After fueling the VW Amarok, we head out of East London, towards Durban.

We’re not heading to Durban.

We’re just traveling in that directions to Areena River Resort & later to Prana Lodge in Cintsa East.

At Areena we’re met by Jarod who takes us Quad Biking on the resort’s reserve.

This is a family resort with chalets, camping & loads of activities on the river’s edge.  Other than quad biking, they also offer zip-lining, canoeing,  boating, walks, paintball – a lot of stuff my little Tribe would love.

Jarod takes us through the motions of how to operate the Quad Bikes.

We’re joined by a family from Johannesburg.

Their kids scream & laugh as we swoop up the hills & down the valleys.

They’re mesmerised as we meet Abby, the resort’s only male Giraffe.

What an experience.

Abby is an 8 year old fully grown Giraffe.

He was rescued & hand-reared.

He comes to us, as if we are old friends, smelling us, reaching down with his long neck to solicit a little bit of affection.

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This is an African Experience.

Not the fake kind, so often orchestrated for international tourists.

An authentic one.

The Africa we live & have come to expect.

The Africa we love.

We spend two hours exploring Areena River Resorts Hills & Valleys.

From our open Quad Bikes we see Zebra, Blesbuck, Wildebeest & an assortment of smaller game.  We even get a glimpse of their 7 other Giraffe,  gracefully picking the softest leaves from tree tops.

Then we do lunch at the resort’s restaurant, before heading to Prana Lodge.

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It is a quick drive to Prana Lodge, in the VW Amarok.

Here we are met by this 5-star Lodge’s very friendly reception staff.

Three beautiful ladies.

One Dutch.

One Zulu.

One Xhosa.

This is Africa too.

She is exciting & diverse.

Sophisticated & adventurous.

Prana brings us silence.

Calm.

Rest.

The rooms are luxurious & oppulent.

After refreshing & spending an hour reading, I head to the Lodge’s Treatment centre where I am met by Nom from Thailand.

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Prana Lodge offers a comprehensive Thai Treatment Centre.

People coming from far & wide, to rejuvinate, reconnect,  relax & listen.

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While Nom treats me to a massage,  my body relaxes & my mind empties of concern.

I think of Zuko, who should be here with me.

Of the beautiful life we share.

Of the stunning adventure which is our life.

Of new chapters, persistent hope, intimacy, relationship & affection.

Supper is a slow affair.

We’re joined by Gail, the owner of the Lodge.

We hear of her family.

Of a lifetime of holidays spent on the property.

Of children raised & finally getting away from Johannesburg to create the sanctuary they’ve always dreamed of.

The food is exquisite.

Tasty.

Beautifuly presented.

Prana Lodge receives day visitors, overnight guests,  small executive conferencing groups.

Their 43 staff always ready to cater to the needs of a handful of guests.

I would imagine, a couple could spend a weekend here & go home reconnected.

A stressed out businesses-person could come here & go home rejuvinated.

With new focus.

New hope.

New ideas.

We have to little opportunity to think, consider, read, in a very fast-paced, high-demand world.

Prana Lodge certainly offers the perfect environment for someone who is hoping to refresh & reach again.

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Decor & furnishings are understated, yet oppulent.

Service is calming, yet perfect.

Food is couture,  yet scrumptious.

The beach a minute’s walk away.

The silence & solitude stunning.

After supper I find my room turned down, my bed welcoming.

And rest engulfs me.

My soul tasting rejuvenation,  after but a moment.

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Categories: information, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Swellendam Explore Day 5

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It was pretty early, for people on holiday anyway, as we bundled into the Chrysker Grand Voyager, on this very cold Swellendam morning.

We were making our way to the Swellendam Backpackers, from where we would proceed to ‘Two Feathers’ for some horse riding.

Riding is something we love.

Horses.

Nature.

The opportunity to ride new horses & acquaint ourselves with the mountain forest adjacent to Swellendam, enough of an incentive to get up early & face the cold.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager’s heated seats & climate control a friendly reminder this morning that we are traveling, not on our own, but supported by friends & along with you.

We’re not accustomed to the opulence of this kind of vehicle – our somewhat ageing Defender offering nothing more than the very basics which could be expected from a hardy vehicle.

Windows to roll down for ventilation.

Wheels.

An engine.

A characteristically rattling sliding back window to create the ambiance of off-roading, even on smooth city streets.

As we turn off into Swellendam, the Voyager senses the first spatterings of rain, automatically switching on its window wipers to ensure maximum visibility.

Our Defender has window wipers as well.

They keep the rain off the windscreen whenever the left indicator is not engaged.

As we park the Voyager in front of the backpackers, as if persistent, the rain comes down in abbundant sheets.

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Inside we’re greeted by Stephanie.

This morning the bearer of disappointment.

The precipitation will persist, but tomorrow is another day & perhaps it would fulfill the promise of flying on horse-back, the smell of forest leaves a trail behind us.

Stephanie has been building the Swellendam Backpackers for seventeen years.

She knows what can & cannot.

What will be pleasant & what will not.

And so we headback to Stonehill River Lodge, the sponsored Chrysler Grand Voyager’s comfort a small comfort on this cold winters day.

We light a fire in the fireplace.

We make brekafast together.

We watch a little bit of Hawaii 5-0.

We play some cards.

We make lunch together.

Read some.

Talk.

Enjoy the warmth of comfortable accomodation.

Sleep a bit.

That luxurious afternoon nap for which we never have time.

More cards are played.

More Hawaii 5-0 watched.

More wood placed on the fire.

And we are reminded that not everything is always about activity.

That sometimes our circumstances expect us to wait.

To rest.

To anticipate.

And tomorrow we try again.

Perhaps with success.

Perhaps not.

But this is life & nothing will be gained by resisting her flow.

Not even when urgency overwhelms us.

Supper is a slow affair.

Conversation connecting us.

How hurried we are to do instead of be.

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How poor we are.

For not allowing the moment to be.

Categories: 10 Day Trips, information, Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nelson Mandela Bay – weekend 1

CONGRATULATIONS to Sicelo & Rose who each won a set of five-day passes (valued at R1000), complements of Kingfisher FM & Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.

The day pass gives you access to a whole range of activities & discounts.  It is a fun & affordable way to travel Nelson Mandela Bay.

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LOCATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  It is 763 km east of Cape Town.

DATE VISITED: 1 & 2 September 2012 (Spring)

WHAT WE DROVE: A Jeep Compass complements of Maritime Motors

WHAT WE DID: We had lunch at Pine Lodge & The Boma.  We enjoyed a donkey-cart ride, visited a marine rescue centre, a reptile centre, a farmyard and a predator park.  We also climbed one of the highest dunes in our bit of world, discovered the Sacramento Trail & Grysbok Nature Reserve.

WHO GUIDED US: Craig Duffield from Mosaic Tourism

RECOMENDATION: Nelson Mandela Bay is the ultimate family destination.  If you’re traveling with children, you’ll want to travel this part of South Africa.  It’s not only accessable, it is perfectly geared for families, from accommodation to restaurants & activities.  It is as crime-free as it comes & the beauty of this bit of world is immense.

WEBSITE: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

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How easy it is to become blinded to the beauty of something you’re free to enjoy every day.

An exquisite painting in the foyer.

An ocean view from the deck.

The breathtaking soul embracing yours from moment to moment, as you share life.

We grew up in Nelson Mandela Bay.

We did our walk-about.

Living in the Freestate & Kalahari.

We returned to Nelson Mandela Bay to be a family.

I don’t think you can raise a family.

Be.

That’s as much as we can do.

Be.

Together.

Connected.

Experiencing & becoming along the way through moments shared.

The sharing of moments seem to be the key.

It is almost a decade since we’ve come to be in Nelson Mandela Bay again.

We love this city.

Its rhythm.

Its people.

Its warmth.

Somehow, however, a feeling crept into our being.

A feeling that we weren’t experiencing it all.

And so we resolved, along with Spring’s arrival, that we would explore our city.

In all her beauty.

Seeking the places & people who might’ve eluded us.

Revisiting those which made a deep impression on who we are.

Perhaps encouraging others to do the same.

See the exquisiteness of this bit of world.

Friday was filled with all the rush & tumble of a week too short to complete the work needing attention.

It is something I struggle to come to terms with.

The pace of our lives.

The expectation.

To churn out more and more.

Relentlessly.

At well after going home time I stumbled home.

Just to get ready for one more engagement, before the weekend’s travels could begin.

An announcement.

At King’s Court Mall.

The soon-to-be new home of Kingfisher FM.

That was the announcement made to an excited crowd of tenants & residents.

Kingfisher FM would be relocating to this niche-market filled with artisan stalls of designers & growers & creatives.

Before 2012 gives way to a new year.

It is almost eleven when we find our beds at our little wooden house on the not so little hill.

A birthday not celebrated.

Two days’ work crammed into less than 24 hours.

‘Saturday will come’, my only comfort as sleep overwhelms my racing mind.

And it does.

Which is never guaranteed.

Which has become an alarming whip.

As I make my way from day-to-day, wondering about meaning & purpose.

Wondering even more about the way we live & how we should then live.

We grab a bit of breakfast, before piling into the comfort of the Jeep Compass.

Heading to Pine Lodge where Craig from Mosaic Tourism will meet us.

The weather is less than sunny.

Our disposition in contrast.

The children of our little tribe excited.

Pine Lodge is on the edge of our city.

Almost a gateway to the wild side of our coast.

A stunning log-construction establishment set amongst Pine Trees, right on the ocean.

It is perfectly kept.

Three star rated with 4-star delivery.

The children play in Pine Lodge’s Pirates Cove while the Donkey Cart is being readied.

Then we take the Donkey Cart ride to SAMREC in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve.

The reserve offers beautiful unspoilt beaches, natural dune vegetation, rocky outcrops, a lighthouse built-in 1851, an old military observation post, as well as a bird hide, Craig explains.

At SAMREC Eddie takes us on a tour.

It is a Marine Rescue & Education Centre.

For African Penguins who breed on nearby St Croix Island, which is part of the Addo Elephant National Park.

Their population is dwindling.

At the biggest breeding colony in the world.

Oil spills.

Decreasing fish population.

Climate change.

Some of the contributors competing to rid the earth of one more species.

Eddie is an environmental veteran.

He grew up on a nature reserve.

Left the world of conservation to become a civil engineer.

Couldn’t resist the pull of the world which stole his childhood heart.

Working tirelessly to save a population taken for granted.

Eddie has purpose.

He speaks of how he finds enjoyment in the work with which he fills his days.

Craig spoke of it as well.

Somewhere between SAMREC and Grysbok Nature Reserve & Sacramento Trail.

Enjoyment.

How do we end up filling our days with work we do not enjoy?

Work that does not excite us?

Is it fear?

Or desperation?

Or fate?

Grysbok Nature Reserve is hidden amongst the drifting sands on the campus of this city’s University.  It protects one of the most endangered habitats on the continent.

A habitat made up of a mosaic of Coastal fynbos and the Eastern Cape’s Sub-tropical thickets.

I’m impressed by the intentional conservation efforts of so many.

This is my city.

Craig explains that the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is the only University in South Africa which is set right in the middle of a Nature Reserve.

It speaks to the uniqueness of this institution.

Often hidden.

Mostly missed.

Perhaps because we do not know.

I did not know.

I’ve lived here a lifetime.

Before Saturday gives way to night we head to the Sacramento Trail.

Where a Portuguese ship wrecked on rocky shores.

From where a crew made their way to Mozambique.

On foot.

Too obstinate to seek assistance from Dutch.

Dying along the way.

Only a handful making it.

That night more than a handful congregate at our home for a celebration of life.

A fire is lit.

Zuko & the girls peel & slice organic vegetables supplied by Organic Footprints.

Theunsie helps to knead and create artisan bread from fresh stone ground flour.

We talk, laugh, remember.

It is in relationship that we live.

Long after the clock strikes twelve the last guests say goodnight.

We rest.

Life a little lighter.

Sunday morning we meet Craig at Maitlands.

Where we climb to the top of one of the highest dunes in our little bit of world.

Craig explains that this area was once known for its mines.

If you walk along the well-marked path you’ll come upon the old mines.

Ruins of old miners’ homes.

Today Craig’s family joins us.

We like it when other families travel alongside us.

It enriches the experience.

At Homeleigh Farmyard Danielle welcomes us with a scrumptious breakfast in their tea garden.

The children play with their new friends in the large play-area.

Then Danielle takes us to meet all the farm animals.

She is another person who loves what she does.

She’s been with Homeleigh Farm for decades.

She came here as a little girl.

Insistent.

This is where she should be.

And when the owners needed to retire, her family was ready to continue a legacy.

Steadily growing & improving this wonderful family affair.

Many children remember celebrating a birthday here.

Or touching a cow for the first time.

Or riding a pony.

A tractor ride concludes our visit.

We could’ve stayed the entire day.

But there is still The Boma & Reptile World, as well as Seaview Predator Park.

So we say our goodbyes.

At The Boma we’re just in time for feeding time.

The exceptional guide talking about each snake as he feeds them.

The children astounded by every word.

Theunsie’s resolve to own a snake renewed.

A daring presentation with a Cape Cobra wraps it up before we sit down to lunch under a canopy of Milkwood Trees.

Desert.

Coffee.

Everywhere we go, well trained staff.

Knowledgeable guides.

Tasty food.

Exceptional service.

At Seaview Predator Park we’re greeted by a family of Giraffe.

It is right in our city.

Antelope graze nearby.

Tamz welcome us when we arrive at the restaurant & reception area.

She is from Australia.

There are others.

From other countries.

Never fewer than twenty-four volunteers from everywhere in the world.

Embracing the opportunity to experience predators up close and personal.

That is what you do at Seaview Predator Park.

You meet Lions & Tigers & Leopards from no more than a meter away.

We’ve traveled thousands of kilometres into Africa.

Nowhere did we experience this.

Tamz came here as a volunteer.

Traveled a bit more.

Came back.

Traveled a bit more.

Now she runs the Park’s Volunteer Programme.

Constantly drawn back to the excitement of this place.

Penguins, Farm Animals, Reptiles, Giraffe & Predators.

Mixed with scrumptious food, a donkey cart ride and exceptional people who love what they do.

All in one weekend.

In one city.

We drive past Lakeside on our way home.

The Jeep Compass our comfortable & reliable transport.

Ideal for a family seeking something somewhat out of the ordinary.

Something beyond more normal.

The lake is filled to the brim, after extraordinary winter rain.

We see with the eyes of a visitor.

Beauty.

Fresh.

Aware that you can fall in love again.

And again.

Not only with a city.

With people.

Who enjoy.

Perhaps if we find the enjoyment, shedding burden & responsibility, for us too it will be different?

Categories: Weekend Destinations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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