Blog : travel tips

5 things you didn’t think to pack

5 things you didn’t think to pack

Every time we go camping I learn a little more. For instance, pro tip – shower in the evenings when there is still warm water in the ablution blocks.

This year we went on our annual family camping trip to Beaverlac. (Read about our last disastrous trip here) Part of me hopes we will always suck at camping, better stories and all. No one ever says “hey remember that trip we took where nothing went wrong?”

This year I learnt that those sif boere plakkies with the velcro are perfect for camping.  I also learnt that there are snakes in mountain pools. Swimming snakes, no really. Snakes. Read all about this years’ shenanigans here.

Here are my 5 things that I am SUPER glad I packed this time around.

  1. Nail clippers – Listen this baby is GOLD when you are in and out of water, hiking and climbing things for a few days. There are few things as kak as having a hooked nail and no way to chop it off.
  2. Matches – Lighters fail, a box of matches go a long way
  3. Air Mattress Patching Kit – BECAUSE IT SUCKS TO SLEEP ON THE FLOOR.
  4. Umbrella – We aren’t the kind of people who own a gazebo for shade. We are way to basic for that. If you are too, take an umbrella. You will look a little crazy but the shade will be OH SO GOOD and others will envy your spot of shade.
  5. Body lotion – Camping in the bush means swimming in mountain pools and rivers, hiking dusty trails and wearing enough sunscreen to squeeze through burglar bars. at the end of the day your skin is so dry it actually itches. My tub of body lotion was handed around the camp fire each night like it was meant to be followed with a box of tissues.

What is your magic item you pack? Tell me in the comment section below.

Top 5 Podcasts

Top 5 Podcasts

My obsession with Podcasts has reached a new high. I now download a bunch of them to listen to while I do all sorts of things. I listen in the bath, I listen while I work, on flights, I listen in the car and my newest hobby is forcing all my friends to listen too. I need someone to talk to about all these cool things I am learning don’t I?

There are so many great podcasts available to listen to, every few weeks I find a new one to add to my playlist. I think It’s a combination of learning new and interesting things (Like why Birkin Bags cost so much, or why universities own so many patents) and oddly enough it makes me more productive. Some podcasts make you laugh hysterically in public some make you cry and some you listen to till 3 in the morning because you can’t get enough.

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Tandem Travel

Tandem Travel

As much as I like traveling alone I must admit, I enjoy company far more.

I like sharing travel memories with friends. Take photos together and have memories of adventures shared. We still joke about an accidental queer art exhibition we went to. (Accidental as in we were not meant to be there, but it was damn interesting)

But with a travel partner comes travel stress. Even your favourite person in the world can get on your nerves when you have to drive together for 13 hours. Or share a secluded cabin for 5 nights. My husband always said he married me because I am that one person he wants to annoy for the rest of his life, so I guess I should have known. If you have a short fuse like me but still want travel company, here is my survival guide to not killing each other and actually having the best time.

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Little bits of London

Hello honies.

I haven’t published anything a while because typing and train hopping doesn’t work well together. 

I have so many stories to share. From tales about the Zulu king to a surreal moment with boy named Luca from Italy, an attorney from Pretoria and lady named Charmain from Los Angeles. 

Click the Instagram link to the left and follow some of my quick little trips pictures.

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Cheese Heaven.

Cheese Heaven.

Not too far from Bath in Summer Set England, is a strange little place called Wookey Hole. The hole is cave. Quite an intricate cave system actually. Dating back to Celts. They used it as a burial chamber. The rumour has it that a witch from the little town of Wookey used to lore young men up there, once one tried to attack her and she lost the around in the dark caves and turned to stone.

It’s a strange little place, if you are a family travelling the kids will dig it. It has an old school “fun fair” with a mirror maze and really old creepy fair arcade games. (Circa 1910)

Wookey was owned by one wealthy family. As most little English towns. This family had a paper mil. (the mill still operates) and used to (and still does) make some of the best quality paper in the UK. They make paper of such quality it carries the royal watermark and is used for official royal documents. This paper last up to 20 times longer than normal paper.

The caves themselves are spectacular. It is about a 30min tour and you go through 5 chambers.  The last chamber has an amazing light and music display. It is worth the ducking and cramped little entryways.

On your way out you will notice cheese being kept in locked corridors. Yes. Cheese. Giant cheese wheels moulding away. If you hop in your car and drive a further 20minutes down the country lanes you will find out why.

Cheddar. The little-lost-in-time town of Cheddar. And you guessed it.  Real cheddar, comes from Cheddar. They sadly cannot claim the rights to the name anyone as it has become very easy to produce the cheese all over the world. But the real stuff has been moulding, maturing in the damp, cold caves of Cheddar Gorge.

You can sample the most amazing cheeses from the artisan cheese shops in the town. The town is building a cable way up the gorge and I can imagine it will be breathtaking when done.

While you are sampling some real cheddar, be sure to taste some warm apple cider. It you close your nose and swallow the feet smell won’t put you off. The county is famous for its ciders so be sure some.

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Always carry your passport with you in Mozambique, also, always go there with someone who speaks Portuguese.

My eternal itchy feet are already looking for the next destination to go get lost. I don’t even have my passport back from the Brits yet but hey, a girl can Google.

Some of the places recently Googled, Poffadder (See previous post), Rochester Kent UK, Yosomite National Park US, Bali, Sabie Mpumalanga, Morocco, Endless Summer (movie). A bit all over the place but all places on my I MUST SEE THIS list. But since I am currently in limbo I have been sorting some of my holiday photos.

I like to print photos of our adventures. I like to hold it and be able to show it to guests. LOL who am I kidding. I show them to my cats.

One of my favourite photos of Oscar and I is this one.

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It was taken in a strange little park in the middle of Maputo. A few years ago Oscar was on secondment in Mozambique. For 3 months he worked there, flying out on a Monday morning and flying home on a Friday evening. It is a 45min flight to Maputo. One weekend his work paid for me to go visit him, instead of him coming home. (Corporate perks baby) So one Friday I left the office early (back then I worked in an office) and hopped on the Gautrain to the airport. I don’t remember much about the flight. It was only 45min long, do you blame me?

When I got to Maputo International Airport the fun started. You don’t need any visa/paperwork to enter Mozambique with a South African passport. They plak a sticker in it upon arrival. Then write the dates of entry and exit on it. SO my very helpful official wrote one digit wrong, scribbled over it and off I went not thinking anything of it. Little did I know that stupid scribble would cause me so much kak in a few days.

A driver from Oscar’s hotel came to fetch me. Fancy fancy. We stayed in the Afrique hotel in Maputo. Very modern unlike Maputo itself. It reminded me a lot of Nairobi. It was colourful and dirty. It smelt of seafood and smoke. It was rural yet an actual city. Petty crime must be huge, cars had EVERYTHING poprivited. From mirrors to headlights.

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We explored the markets. Ebony things everywhere. Helps that Oscar is Portuguese. It made bartering so much easier and we brought back awesome goodies for a steal. In typical Oscar and Lydia style we took our little camera (Back then a mik en druk Kodak) and headed off. No planning, no Googling, just us and a map. We stumbled upon a Military Battery. Cannons and ammo lying around like litter everywhere. Of course there was no one watching so we played with everything. Don’t act all “how can you touch history”. You can go be boring and read about it, I will go touch history inappropriately.

PicMonkey Collage

Oscar posed with all the guns and I found a Frangipani tree. Gorgeous little flowers. I wore one in my hair every day.

I remember the sea food was super cheap and fresh. The beer was good too.

In the middle of Maputo is a Blue Steel House. Yes steel. Can you imagine what it must have been like to live in? One sweaty box. Ek grill sommer.

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Just as we walked away from the Steel House we saw an older British Couple get stopped by police/military with maroon barrets and AK47’s. Oscar overheard them ask for the couples passports. We decided not to take a chance and dashed back to the hotel to pick ours up. You know, just in case.

We hadn’t even walked half a block and true as bob they came for us. Military men, dressed in maroon, with guns in our faces.

It played out a little like this.

Men: “Where are your papers” (This was of course spoken in Portuguese)

Oscar: “Good Afternoon, no problem. Here are our passports”

Men: “These are original documents”

Oscar: “??????”

Men: “You need to have copies with you”

Oscar: “??????”

Men: “If it gets lost we are responsible for getting you new ones. There is a large fine for this”

Oscar argued it. All in Portuguese. The sun was setting and we were pretty much fighting a losing battle. They offered to take us down to the station to dispute the fine. Oscar gave in and paid the “fine”. If they had taken us to station we would have had to walk back to the hotel.

TRAVEL TIP.

Always carry cash with you in Mozambique.

If possible, always have a Portuguese speaking person with you. (kidding, but it helps)

The following day we found the Mozambique Natural History Museum. It was such a blast. Strangest museum ever. There were no barriers and guest could touch/play with everything. I am guessing this is totally not allowed but we did it again. We touched history inappropriately. Oscar posed with all the animals and I played with all the weapons.

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Disclaimer – We treated everything we touched and played with respect. Even though the photos suggest otherwise.

On the Monday morning when I flew back Oscar had to go straight to work and could not see me off at the airport. I went to SAA’s little ticket counter and the took my passport and then the shit hiteth the fan. Remember that lady that scribbled over a number in my passport? Well that number was my date of exit. Now it looked like I had extended my date by writing over the correct one. They got angry at me really quickly when I tried to explain the official had made a mistake. It then escalated to them switching over to Portuguese completely. And fast Portuguese at that.

The customs official then demanded I unpack my entire bag. Dirty undies and all. They painstakingly searched every item. (Still not sure of what they suspected I was smuggling out) My Portuguese is broken on its best day so this expedition had me VERY close to tears. Finally 2 men came over to see if they could help me. They were American but spoke perfect Portuguese. (Any Portuguese was perfect to me at that moment) They soon straightened out the matter. I Don’t know what they said but I was allowed to pack my bag and board the plane within minutes. Forever thankful kind Americans, where ever you are.

 

Look, Mozambique has its quirks.But don’t all destinations? Even after all of that I want to go back and see more. Do it again. And tell you all about it.

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I got lost in Germany…repeatedly

I got lost in Germany…repeatedly

So I drew the lucky straw to attend Prowein this year. (HUGE wine-trade show in Düsseldorf, Germany held March of every year) WHOOOHOOOOOO another stamp in my passport and a tick on my map.

Germany

 

Look at my travel map here.

Sadly the show fell exactly over Oscar’s 30th Birthday and I had to leave the day before I could give him a happy happy kiss. (But I had an UBER special birthday surprise. But more on this later)

I flew with Lufthansa. They were fine, the food was fine, your average long haul flight really. I had a shitty seat though. In the middle row, in the middle seat. POOP. To my left sat a German man who slept from the second they said tray tables up to the moment they said it again. He snored. Loudly. To my right was an Austrian man who does construction work in Mozambique and he had a tiny issue with his little reading light. He did not know how to put it off. No matter how many times I showed him to just press the little button he simply kept saying its the other dudes light. That thing was so bright if pointed up it could have been the Bat Signal.

Got to Frankfort and got on to a connecting flight to Düsseldorf. Just over an hour’s flight away. Düsseldorf was different that Google lead me to believe. It was greener and older. More story book like. Daffodils  grow like weeds everywhere.  Everything is really green (This is their REALLY cold Spring time.)

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Strange semi raw bacon with mustard.

 

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Daffodils EVERYWHERE. 

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Old Town.

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Tiny Nutella served with breakfast.

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Yes. Its an odd bush. 

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Frankfort, looking for my gate.

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It was cold ok. 

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And the all go marching on. 

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The strangest most fascinating building.

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Translates to “kak en betaal” 

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WEISS

 

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Ran into these lovely people again. 

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It has a restaurant at the top. Cool ne. 

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It reflected the sunset. 

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View from hotel room.

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Bier Haus

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I’m fat. Shut up. (cream filled OMG)

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On my walk with my toothpaste. 

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Some more of Old Town. 

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Beautiful little park in the middle of the city. 

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More drunk architecture. 

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Liggies.

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It was crispy.

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Market.

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Hey look who it is again.

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Argentinian Steak. SO GOOD. 

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Aren’t you guys tired yet?

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Sunset on the Rhine.

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Nap time view. 

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Shiny airports.

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Old Town once more. 

 

After a few wrong trains I found my way back to the airport and did the woos thing and took a taxi to the Hotel. Mercure Hotel Hafen. Great little place, easy to get to via public transport…once you know how.

After the 14 hour commute I freshened up and went for a walk to buy tooth paste and shampoo.

Funny thing about little cafe’s. They don’t give bags. I found a tiny store, of course I bought a whole bunch of foreign foods for the fun of it. As well as the toothpaste and shampoo I had come for.  I went to till, asked for a bag and got a loud “NEIN” so I walked home. With my toothpaste in one hand and yogurt in the other.

That evening beer was drunk and strange raw bacon on really hard bread was eaten.

There was an interesting march happening in the city the next morning. A nation (who does not have a country, I forgot their name) was protesting to free a political prisoner. There was loud middle-eastern chanting and speeches and people with flags.

It was interesting. And strange.

Altstadt is a suburb in Düsseldorf that literally means “old Town” . It’s the little party/shopping hub of the city. Cobble stone walkways and quirky places to drink beer.

Seeing I went for work I only had a day and half to do the sightseeing thing. But here are some of my Germany travel tips

  • Dress warm (in March anyway)
  • Public transport makes NO sense, then it makes PERFECT sense. Just get lost a few times. Don’t be scared to go figure out how it works.
  • Travel light. You never know when you need to run to a gate.
  • Germany isn’t that “old”. The buildings look old, but Germany was pretty much flattened in the War and the rebuilds were simply built to look old. Most buildings are only 50/60 years old. (like the churches)
  • It’s safe there.  Don’t be all SA and clutch your bags on the trains. I’m not saying leave things lying around. Just relax a bit.
  • Locals MUST speak English to you FIRST. Otherwise your screwed and they simply don’t give a shit.
  • Don’t expect to see or hear English. EVERYTHING is in German. From street signs to sitcoms.
  • Drink coffee without milk. The way they serve it.
  • Have a big warm coat that goes over your outfit. Inside it’s a comfy 20’C. Big coats are easy to slip off inside and just hang up.
  • Drink beer. Even if you don’t like it. You are in Germany, just drink beer already.
  • Eat the food. Try new things you can’t pronounce.
  • Take photos but don’t live your trip through a lens.

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My quick round up of a very quick little trip. Where are you travelling to next?

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