Mexico

To celebrate surviving my first semester in graduate school in Florida I decide to go on a solo trip. Well, it was not supposed to be a solo trip but became one due to clashing schedules etc. I had never been on a solo trip and had read mixed reviews about Mexico but decided to be brave and give it a try anyway. I have been on holidays abroad with friends but have never researched a trip more than I did for this one!! I wanted to know everything before I got there!. I even googled how solo travelers take their own pictures. I bought a selfie stick *cringe*.

Mexico

The choice on Mexico was largely based on the prices for flights, accommodation and food as well as the BEACH!! I booked return flights for $221 using a search engine called skyscanner where you can literally search for cheapest flights and can put “anywhere” on the destination tab and find the cheapest month to go anywhere in the world. This was a trip of firsts, I also decided to stay at an airbnb to save on costs, support locals and have company because I didn’t want to be alone in a hotel room. The airbnb hosts were amazing and gave me lots of advice and recommendation for places to see, where to go eat and how to get around on a budget. For 5 nights @ $15 each night I was going to pay $77 but found a $40 discount coupon on the internet so only paid $47!

Tip: Search for airbnb discount coupons, people post these for anyone to use because when you use their link for the discount they get airbnb credit (win-win).

I flew jetblue and only packed carry-on (you pay more for checking in luggage but for a week long holiday I wanted to master my packing skills and packed one of those bags that fold into themselves when you are done with them. It packed a lot though, I even had 2 extra outfits I didnt get to wear after the trip :). I flew out on Tuesday (cheapest day to fly) and landed in Cancun International Airport around 16:30, took a shuttle bus to downtown Cancun for $72 Mexican pesos which is about $4 USD. The bus has aircondition (which you need, Cancun is sooo hot!) and usb ports (we need this in SA public transport!). My airbnb hosts had told me how to get to their house from downtown I walked a bit to see the place but it was too hot so I took a cab. The apartment was nice and clean, homely and the hosts were lovely. The lady prepared amazing breakfasts every morning.

Mexico

There’s lot archaelogical sites where you find the history of the Mayan people. I didnt know enough about this to appreciate the history but the ruins were beautiful. You pay about $50 Mxn pesos (about $3 usd) to get into these sites. The beaches in Cancun are found in a strip called the Hotel Zone where all the fancy all-inclusive hotels are located. Some parts of the beach in front of these hotels can only be accessed by the hotel guests but there are access points to the beach for the public. It is easy to get around Downtown Cancun because there are R-2/R1 (refers to route) buses every few minutes either going towards the hotel zone or away from the hotel zone and they only costs $10.5 Mxn pesos. The airbnb was about 15-20 minutes away from the hotel zone. The first morning there I tried to be a better person and go for a morning run to see the area but it was already about 30 degrees celcius at 7:30 AM so it fast became a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.

Mexico

The second full day I was there I went to an island called Isla Mujeres (Island of the women). It’s a 20 min ferry ride from downtown Cancun on a nice ferry called the Ultramar and the return trip was $300 Mxn pesos. Prior to my departure from Florida I had made friends with another solo lady traveler on a ladies travel group on FB. We found out we were both going to be in Cancun at the same time so decided to go to Isla Mujeres together. That was so cool, meeting new people; even though we were both travelling alone we were able to meet up and spend the day together. We also split the cost of hiring a golf cart (700 Mxn pesos) for the whole day to explore the island from one end to another.

Mexico

The island has cute little churches perfect for a destination wedding 🙂 🙂 and for lunch we went to a beach lounge and club where you can use the beach sunbeds and umbrellas for free just because you are dining or drinking there. Otherwise you have to rent these at $300 Mxn pesos. The beach is gentle and shallow, you can wade in a long way in and the water will still be at you waist to chest area. Good for those of us who are not the best swimmers.

Mexico

On the Friday I got on an ADO bus (same company that operates the airport shuttle) to go 2.5 hours from Cancun to a city/town called Tulum. Tip: the cost of any bus trip is half price if you book a day or 2 before departure date. In Tulum I visited another archaeological site which has the most amazing beach!

Tulum Mexico

It was so HOT and the beach has no shade whatsoever. Entrance to the Tulum archaeological site is $70 Mxn pesos. The beach was amazing though!

Mexico

On my return to Cancun that evening I went to a tacos place downtown and discovered a night market! I spent a few hours there, they had live music, kiddie’s arena and lots of food stalls. I ate sooooo much on this trip and it was both cheap and good!

Mexico

I made friends with two local girls while listening to a guy who was doing cover songs for a well-known Mexican band. I found it so easy to strike up conversation with randoms, something I never do generally.

On my last full day in Cancun I wanted to take things easy and went to a local beach in the Hotel Zone called Playa Tortugas (Tortoise Beach), found a beach-side restaurant with sunbeds and spent the whole day people watching, eating and swimming….the life I was promised 🙂

Mexico

I finally was able to take it all in; traveling alone and being okay! I had not only survived but greatly enjoyed my first solo trip. What an amazing feeling! After the day at the beach I went back to the night market for a final visit, they had performances by school kids. I flew back to the US on Sunday afternoon.

Mexico

I never felt I was in any danger while in Cancun, I was as cautious as I am at home and anywhere else really. I believe every place has dangerous areas and being out at night anywhere can be dangerous. You just have to be extra careful. When I was out at night I was at the night market will many other people around and I called an uber to get me home so I wouldn’t have to try get a cab and give directions because my Spanish was bad and not all taxi drivers knew English.

Tip: do learn some Spanish, at least how to greet and say thanks. Locals in most places love it when you at least try.

Mexico

The food was amazing and this was a real budget trip but I never felt like I was cutting corners. Before leaving the US I had converted $210 USD worth of money into Mxn pesos and that is all I used on this trip, I even had change when I came back!

By Zoe

When in Dubai

A few weeks ago, I was afforded the incredible opportunity to partake in a work training programme that necessitated me to spend five days in Dubai. Despite it being a work trip, my innate adventurous spirit was adamant to make the very best of being in the land of the Arabs, which I believe I did. Because not everyone is enticed by the idea of planning a trip from scratch, if you’re heading to the UAE anytime soon, I have detailed my experience in the hope that it will serve as a starting point to someone’s itinerary.

When in Dubai

First off, the things you should know:

  • The flight to the UAE is 08:10 long from SA.
  • Dubai is 2 hours ahead of SA time
  • The currency used is United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED): 1 AED is R 3.49.
  • Cabs & the metro are the preferred mode of transport. I used an Uber on my first night and soon learnt that Cabs are cheaper. The cost difference in one trip was 43.5 UAE via an Uber vs. 30.5 via Cab.
  • Needless to mention, Dubai is hot and humid. The city boasts temperatures of 32 degrees in the evenings and 41 degrees in the afternoon. I was literally sweating just waiting for my Uber at midnight but my body seemed to adapt the next day. I suffered at the hands of the temperature extremes: it is extremely cold inside each building due to the air cons and completely scorching outside.
  • 90% of the population is made up of expats. It is very rare to see Emirate people expect at the airport which seemed to have many locals.
  • There are three parts of Dubai: Old Dubai, New Dubai and the desert. All the fantastic new architecture and the working hub is in new Dubai. I stayed at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, a very popular main road in new Dubai.
  • It is very safe.

Met with a shocking humidity, a Duty Free with average discounts and a cold reception from immigration, I made it safe and sound into Dubai at 00:00 on Monday.

Day 1: Shopping and Desert.

Needless to say Dubai is one of, if not the, shopping capitals of the world. With its earned reputation of the lavish lifestyle, it boasts multiple shopping experiences, most of which come with a hefty price tag. Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are the two biggest malls with markets such as Gold Souk, Karama and the Dragon City (a Chinese market) offering a more affordable shopping experience. I spent my morning at Gold Souk (the gold market) which is a huge arcade housing many shops that offer bags, clothes, weaves, souvenirs and like the name suggests, gold for dayyyys.

When IN Dubai

 

Did I mention that this is Real gold. It is one of the biggest gold trading markets in ASIA and I was flabbergasted at the magnificent displays of gold being sold in every other shop. I found myself questioning why on earth anyone in their right mind would buy a gold dress or a neckpiece that extravagant. Where would one wear such an ostentatious piece of jewellery? I also saw the biggest gold ring in the world. It holds the Guinness World Record and weighs 58.68KGs. Like, why?

When in dubai

When in dubai

I then realized that it wasn’t for people in my tax bracket and for that reason, I could never understand.

I had the luxury of a ‘shop guide’ in the form of a man from India who stuck to me like a magnet. Eager to help me navigate the market, he led me to all the shops that sold all the things I had requested to see. Naturally, at every shop we were met with persistent salesmen with which I had to fight and over-explain the reasons I was not  able to buy what was being offered; bargaining was a real tool that is necessary here. My plan to get a fewer things than I ended up buying attests to the true power of the Asian Salesman. I managed to get a couple souvenirs, handbags and random hippie pants.

When in dubai

 

Earlier that morning, I made reservations for a Desert Safari tour http://www.desertsafaridubai.com/ which includes a myriad of experiences.  The booking process was quite simple and the lead times so amazing that after some back and forth via email, my booking was confirmed. Five hours later, a tour guide came to pick me up at the hotel. It’s 135 UAE if you choose to share your experience with randoms and 1, 000 AED for a private experiences. Because I chose the first option, we had to rush off to another hotel from which an Indian family emerged and, off we went. The desert is about 45 minutes out of the city. It was incredible to see. Once we got there, we went into a supermarket where we were urged to stock up on some water and use the toilet. I took the liberty of stocking up on snacks (which I still haven’t eaten).

When in Dubai

We then went off to what is called the Red Desert. As the name suggests the sand is a brownish red/ burgundy with no live animals. The first activity comprised of 20-30 minutes of Dune bashing which is basically a 4 x 4, whose wheels have been relieved of some air, being spun around and driven along the dunes on the desert. It was fun but scary at first. The driver provided us with some plastics in which to throw up. Heh? People actually throw up? Luckily there were no reported pukers in our ride.

This was followed by a photo opp and a drive to the white desert which housed some camels, quad biking facilities and a camp. The demarcated camp space housed dinner tables for the buffet, a shisha (hubbly bubbly) space, a bar, a stage for belly dancing, a henna hut and a ‘sand art exhibit’.  I didn’t get a chance to quad bike as I was so exhausted but I did brave a camel ride. Yes, the 135 UAE was for this entire all-inclusive experience which lasted for 6 hours.

When in dubai

Day 2: Work, Burj Khalifa and Nike Run Club Dubai

My training started on Tuesday which meant I spent about nine hours in the confines of an office- so couldn’t explore much. Since our offices are in Burj downtown, an office district, we had the amazing Burj Khalifa as a background. A rare and beautiful site, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. To my knowledge, it is 148 floors high which one can buy a ticket to explore (I didn’t). Because everyone comes to Dubai to work, the work ethic is very high. It is evident in the service that you receive across the board. Everything works and, well.

When in dubai

Later I joined the Nike Run Club team in Zabeel Park for a speed run. Since I am a part of the NRC in Joburg, this was a must-do for me. There are two NRCs in the UAE, one in Dubai and the other in Abu Dhabi. I was met with a lot of hospitality and again, met people from all over the world who shared the same interests. Really fun team.

When in dubai

Day 3: Work and Aprons and Hammers

After work, the ladies on the programme and I headed to Aprons and Hammers.

It is a seafood restaurant on a boat on the Dubai Marina. I have never seen prawns so large in my life. As per the name, you are handed over an apron to wear and a hammer to use with the crabs. Such an incredible experience. Since Dubai doesn’t have alcohol, I had a taste of the local beer from Singapore

The Dubai skyline offers a beautiful view on this side of town. The architecture is incredible.

Day 4: Work and the Dhow Cruise

The Dhow cruise was another easy-to-book experience. Although a little bit more expensive, this luxury dining experience on board Bateux Dubai was another incredible way to explore Dubai. The experiences offers 5 course meal to be enjoyed as the boat sails past many am attraction on the creek.

Day 5: Karama Souk, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach

Day 5 was a short one considering my flight was in the afternoon. I was lucky enough to have my cab driver change into my tour guide for the morning; he was more than happy to lead me to my last minute must-sees. Karama is a market on the other side of town which holds many shops with handbags, clothes, sunglasses and souvenirs. Naturally, many great quality counterfeits are made available here.

When in Dubai

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab is famous for being the world’s only seven star hotel and also resembling a boat. There is a water park at the front of the hotel which I didn’t get the chance to experience. The view of Al Arab was on Jumeirah beach which, like the Creek and Marina, offers a still-water experience (vs. the waves in SA).

When in dubaiJumeirah Beach

Dubai was truly an amazing experience. I always love to immerse myself in different cultures so it is a bit disappointing in its lack of true culture. Not a lot of natural elements as almost everything is man-made. The government is working hard to compensate for everything that the city doesn’t offer naturally through big development plans. And, after the five days, I realized that perhaps the culture of Dubai lies in how it offers a taste of the entire world and maybe , that is ok.

 

By Lerato

Lesotho

The #SAfricansTravelToo crew recently got an opportunity to travel to the Basotho Kingdom, Lesotho and all I could think of leading up to the trip were beautiful mountains, horse riding and the Maletsunyane Falls, which I’ve always wanted to see.

Lesotho

 

Getting to Lesotho was fairly easy, if you don’t mind a whole lot of potholes on the way there, if you’re driving from Johannesburg. I wonder if there will ever be a time when Free State municipalities give a damn about fixing roads. I experience it when I go home to Welkom, and we kept having to dodge potholes all the way to Lesotho, driving through Free State towns.

Lesotho

… but thanks to our transport partner, ISUZU, we were able to navigate and comfortably drive through all those hurdles to reach Maseru safely.

I must say, the Maseru border was a breeze compared to the chaos we experienced getting into Maputo. Within a few minutes we were in the Kingdom and almost immediately regretted having picked such a cold weekend to visit. Temperatures were as low as 7 degrees when we arrived.

Lesotho
Pic supplied

A short drive from the border gate and we were right outside our hotel, the 4 Star AVANI Lesotho Hotel and Casino, which is part of the Minor Hotel Group. If you are visiting Maseru, I would recommend that you explore this particular as one of your options. There is also Avani Maseru, which is a few meters away from this one, but it is currently going through an upgrade so maybe in a year, it will also be at this level.

Lesotho
pic supplied

The one thing that stood out for me at this hotel, besides comfort and class, was the hospitality from the staff. Having grew up in the Free State, I know that humility and respect are the two traits Basotho can absolutely be credited for but it was really amazing to be back there and be reminded of it.

The hotel boasts 150 rooms, a gym, swimming pool and of course the Casino and a few restaurants options.

My favorite was the Ying Tao restaurant where we enjoyed the most amazing Chinese meal I’d ever had! The only thing I order when I say I feel like having Chinese, is chow mein or Sushi and I got schooled and found out that Sushi isn’t even Chinese, it’s Japanese. Hehehe Am I the only one who did not know this??

 

Enough about the logistics, let me tell you what we got up to!

Excited as I was about going to the Maletsunyane Falls, we unfortunately couldn’t go as snow had fallen and the mountain was a no go. Our next best option was to visit the Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village.

Lesotho

The cultural village is situated right opposite Thaba Bosiu mountain, which is an important historical site for Basotho as it was where King Moshoeshoe 1 and his people settled after migrating from Butha Buthe in the 1824. There is also a museum in the village where you can learn about Basotho and where they come from, it’s an inspiring story and you will fall in love with King Moshoeshoe when you realize what a peace loving man he was. His grave is also on this mountain.

 

Lesotho

For those who aren’t familiar with a typical village, you’ll also get see the huts Basotho chiefs and villagers lived in, as well as Lekhotla, the court.

It was also interesting to learn about the different Basotho clans and how they came about – I mean I know of  Bakgatla, Bafokeng, Bakwena and so on, but all very interesting to trace their origins.

Lesotho

To be honest, I didn’t expect to learn anything going here as I thought it was more for “foreign” tourists but I am amazed at just how little we know of one another as Africans and South Africans. We have a rich and interesting history and we should try read up on it.

And is anyone going to King Moshoeshoe’s story? Make a film about it? I think it was especially interesting how he ended up with SO many wives, just because he wanted to keep peace!

Lesotho
With our host Maba

And of course, the highlight of our trip for me was this one here!!

Lesotho

We may not have been able to go to the Falls but I got to ride a horse in the land of Majapere heheh.

Lesotho

Judging from this pic, I wasn’t the only one whose dream was coming true heheh.

All in all, I loved Lesotho and I will definitely go back again but that will be in Summer because I would love to experience the Maletsunyane Falls and the Kome Caves (Ha Kome). I am not bold enough to go Skiing but for those of you who are, there is Afriski Mountain Resort where you can ski, snowboard and do a whole range of other winter activities. Friends, you don’t need to travel overseas to see snow and ski!

Have you been Lesotho?

By LeloB

Travel Goals

What is it about travel posts that makes you curious, happy and yet so unbelievably jealous? Or is it just me ? Hahah.

Jealous because I am not there with them, having as much fun as they are having!

These 3 ladies have been out and about lately and I just couldn’t ignore their travels! The fun, the class, and pure joy one could taste just from their pics.

Thando Thabethe In Brazil 

IG: Thando_Thabethe

Travel aside, I am falling more and more in love with Thando Thabethe these days man. Love sure looks good on her and her love for travel just elevates her to the top of my favorite people list. I love the way she does travel, especially because she does it with the Bae! I feel like she’s living my travel dreams.

Travel Goals

And has she always been this sexy? Yum!

So Thando went to Rio de Jainero in Brazil and here are a few facts to know if you’d like to visit:

Brazil: 

  • There is no Visa requirement for South Africans travelling to Brazil
  • Yellow fever certificate is required
  • You could pay as little as R6,500 for a flight depending on how quick you want to get there.
  • The time difference is 5 hours in winter (October – February) and 4 hours in Summer (March – September)
  • The currency used is Real (R$) and 1 Brazilian Real is = around R4
  • The main language spoken by locals is Portuguese

If you’ve been wanting to visit Brazil, I’d  guess that the best time to go would be around Rio Carnival? The 2018 dates are February 9 – February 13. Details HERE

Kelly Khumalo In Bali 

IG: KellyKhumaloZA

Travel Goals

I won’t even talk about what a gorgeous baby Kelly has, I will skip right through to her #BestieCation with Thami Kotlolo. Their beach holidays are everything. I think they went to Thailand last year and had as epic a time as they seemed to have on this trip.

I’ve been to Bali bathing but everyone who’s been going there lately has made me feel like I need a do-over! Like I didn’t explore and experience it as best as I could have, I mean my trip was good but I didn’t have the crazy fun Thami and Kelly had and I want that. So anyone wanna sponsor my trip to Bali? hehehe

Travel Goals

Bali

  • There is no visa requirement, provided you stay only up to 30 days.
  • You could pay between R6,300 – R8,500 for a flight to Bali. I don’t think we have direct flights so you’ll have to make a stop in say Singapore or Hong Kong. When I went a few years ago, we had about 2 days in Hong Kong. I didn’t enjoy that place much.
  • Bali is 6 hours ahead of South Africa
  • Currency is Indonesian Rupiah and for R1 you get 1,013.96 Rp
  • Main languages spoken Balinese and Indonesian, with English as the third most spoken language.

Rethabile in Jamaica

IG: Retini

Travel Goals

I am obsessed with Rethabile! I look at her instagram page and wish we were friends, she seems to ALWAYS be having fun, even when she’s talking about having to work, it sounds fun!

You know there are people who pretend they are having fun so they can take a picture (I know, I’ve done it) and then there are people who have fun and take pictures of those moments, she has a jol!

You only need to read through this interview I did with her to see how much I obsess over her travels – Chica Travel With Rethabile Ramaphakela  in that interview she says she’d like to go to Jamaica and less than a year later she has made it happen! My Travel HERO!

Travel Goals

Rethabile has just been on a trip to Jamaica with 3 of her friends and as always, her pictures gave me the most FOMO!

The list of places I want to travel to includes whatever places she’s been to so I’ve just conveniently remembered that I’ve always wanted to go to Jamaica, Morocco, Mexico and where ever else she’s going to next!

Travel Goals

Jamaica

  • There is no visa requirement for up to 90 days.
  • Expect a super long journey, anything from 21 to 29 hours (if not more) and to flight prices start around R16,000 upwards. So it’s not a place you can just go to for a weekend.
  • South Africa is 7 hours ahead of Jamaica.
  • There are some required vaccinations e.g. hepatitis A, so please check before you travel.
  • The currency used is Jamaican Dollar and for R1 you get 9.79 JMD
  • English is the official language but locals also speak Jamaican Creole or Patois.

Any Insta travelers you love following on the gram? Where are you traveling to next?

By LeloB

Nan Hua Temple

And no, that picture that led you here wasn’t taken in China or some other Asian country, it’s from right here in Gauteng! Bronkhorstpruit to be exact, but let’s start from the beginning 🙂

Nan Hua Bucket List

What can you do with R500,00 these days? Not much, right?

Wrong!

A challenge was set for me to explore my city and tick off something on my bucket list, all on a R500 budget and you might think it’s impossible given the value of our rand but hey I took up the challenge and did something really incredible. I partnered with Budget Rent A Car, hopped into one of their vehicles and drove to Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstpruit for a 2 day Meditation Retreat.

Nan Hua

I had never heard of the temple before a conversation I had with a friend about some of the stresses and anxieties we are both experiencing, so when the retreat idea came up, it sounded like the perfect thing to do.

Nan Hua Bucket List

And just as I’m sure you are, I was shocked to find out that I could experience all that we did for R400. See, I still had a bit of change from my original R500 🙂

Nan Hua Bucket List

The beautiful Nan Hua Buddhist Temple is a non-profit organisation and also the African headquarters of the Fo Guang Shan Order, whose mission is to spread humanistic Buddhism all over the world. Their offerings include different type of retreats and I will tell you about the one I attended.

Nan Hua Bucket List

My reason for wanting to go on the Retreat was more because I struggle with mindfulness, anxiety and just being able to relax in general and meditation has been recommended as an alternative way to overcome anxiety without medication. It was really the best thing I could have done for myself.

I attended the Beginners Meditation Retreat which in essence is a beginner’s course in Meditation that takes place from a Saturday morning to Sunday lunch time. Participants are taught zen meditation and relaxation exercises, Tai Chi is included as well as Yoga. There are different kinds of meditation taught including sitting, tea drinking, music meditation and it was interesting being exposed to this whole world that is completely new to me.
There is an introduction talk at the beginning of the retreat to sort of explain how things are done and why and there’s a Q&A at the end for us to ask the Monk questions related to our experience and Buddhism in general.

Nan Hua Bucket List

The retreat is not at all religious, as you know Buddhism is presented more as a practice and way of life than it is religion. I was intrigued to learn about the story of the Buddha and how it all began for him. You can read it HERE.

Included in the R400 I’ve been throwing around are:

  • Shared overnight Accommodation
  • Meals – Vegetarian because no meat is allowed at the temple
  • The 2 Day Meditation Course

I shared a room with my friend but if you are looking for a private chalet, you pay a bit extra and get your own place or room, depending on your preference and there’s even a “Silent” sticker should you want complete silence throughout the retreat.

Nan Hua Bucket List

The rooms were nice and comfortable and came with a lounge, kitchen, shower and en suite bathroom in one of the bedrooms. Not too bad neh?

Nan Hua Bucket List

What’s also included is a tour of the Temple at the end of the retreat and I laughed at how even my friends thought I’d gone overseas when they saw my pics hehe.

Nan Hua Bucket List

Unfortunately no pictures are allowed inside the Shrine but we had the pleasure of attending and witnessing the Monks’ early morning Chanting procedure. An enlightening experience.

Nan Hua Bucket List

There is also a museum inside the property so you can get a bit more information, I was more intrigued about how Buddha was Indian yet the practice was adopted more by the Chinese.

Chinese Bells

The tour of temple is free of charge to the public, and if you’re keen on joining the monks for lunch on a Sunday, it’s only R30 for the meal and I recommend you try it so as to observe their mealtimes, and don’t worry, if you can’t use chopsticks they have folks heheh.

We were actually advised in the guidelines that mealtimes are not meant for idle talk or socializing but they were times for contemplation and practice. And though it was hard to sit next to a friend during lunch and not be able to chat, I found that it gave us the opportunity to really enjoy the food and become aware of every bit of their texture and taste.

The point of this post is simple ; You do not have to leave your city to find interesting places and things to do on a budget. Adventure is often right at your doorstep. Or Bronkhorstpruit. Who would’ve thought hehehe.

Nan Hua Bucket List

Check out #BudgetBucketList on Twitter & Facebook to see what other folk are doing in their cities for less moola and please do let me know in the comments:

What awesome things have you ticked off your bucket list on a budget?

LeloB

zanzibar

I’ve beeeeeeeeeeen wanting to go to Zanzibar and finally this dream materialized in December 2016. It was one of those trips that were planned well ahead because we booked flights as early as August. I think once you book the flights, even if that’s all the money you have at the time, you will hustle for the rest of the holiday money, somehow. So go ahead and book that flight 🙂

The one mistake I made though, with booking our flights was to not book a direct flight but go via Nairobi, Kenya.

zanzibar

This made the trip 7 hours long, when it could have been a quick 4 hour flight with Mango. I know now for next time but also because Mango only flies between SA & Zanzibar, 2 times a week, it would have meant my holiday needed to be 4 or 7 nights long instead of the 6 nights we had booked.

The Mango flight (+- R7,500) is also around R1,500 more expensive than the Kenya Airways flight (R5,900), and if you consider that plus the fact that I would have had to also pay accommodation for an extra night, the extra 3 hours added to my flight were worth it.

So whether you take a direct flight or one with a layover depends on what you value most : time or money!

Once the flights were booked, it was now time for us to pick a hotel.

A friend of mine once stayed at Diamonds La Gemma and having seen its pictures, it’s where I wanted to stay too but one look at their prices and I knew there was no way I was gonna afford it so off to Booking.com I went.

Having heard that Nungwi, which is in the North of Zanzibar, is the most lively place to be, I looked around for hotels in that area and finally settled on Smiles Beach Hotel, which looked like a really nice small hotel with gorgeous views. Part of my accommodation research involves reading Booking.com & TripAdvisor reviews and I’m so grateful for all the people who take the time to leave feedback, I’ve also joined them and after a trip I go to either of the sites to leave a review as well. These help!

When I booked there was only a Triple room available and for the 6 nights, the total cost was R17,100, meaning R5,700 per person for the total 6 nights & breakfast. I reckon a R11k holiday is not bad for peak season.

zanzibar smiles beach

Fast forward to 28 December, we arrived at Smiles and it was beautiful! 100% the way it was in the pictures, if not better! They only have 16 rooms in total so these 4 blocks on this picture are the hotel, then you have the restaurant in front of the beach as well as a spa on the left.

.
zanzibar

Doesn’t this look like heaven??

Zanzibar

The gorgeous white sand beaches… The best part about being here was how the hotels, bars and restaurants are all lined up along the beach… so you just take a walk to the different places and the best part is you can do it all in your bikini 🙂

Zanzibar

I was obviously not bold enough…

Zanzibar

The people we met were super friendly… and so cool. Oh guys and things are cheap in Zanzibar, I bought 2 of these Masaai cloths (shuka) for R300 and there was a particular night where we spent just under R500 for a dinner for 3 with drinks. I actually commented that this is one trip where I came back with some cash.

Zanzibar stonetown

We also went to walk through the narrow streets of the famous Stone Town and it turned out to be a disappointment. Because we didn’t know much about it and its history, we got a Tour Guide to take us around and besides that we couldn’t hear half of what the guy was saying, and after he walked us to death, we realized that he was taking us around the same block over and over again… I was so annoyed. I wanted to hear about the town’s history from a local.

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Our fong kong tour guide at least took us to this nice hotel called Maru Maru where we stopped for a drink and enjoyed breathtaking views of Stone Town.

Well, I meant great views of the beach really coz there wasn’t much else that was beautiful for me in Stone Town except these huge gorgeous doors.

Zanzibar Stone Town

The brass-studded doors were the highlight of my Stone Town visit.

A bit about them:

“These massive teak or mahogany structures grace the front of almost every building of note, and their style has been copied all over the world. The original Zanzibar doors owe their distinctive brass studs to India – the studs originated as a defence against war elephants, used to batter down fortified doors in the tribal wars of Punjabi history. Needless to say, this distinctive feature of Stone Town’s doors has always been purely decorative.”  – EastAfrica.co.za

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Back at Nungwi – we also visited the Nungwi Aquarium

I could not get over how beautiful it all was!

Oh and if you’ve never seen how they pick a coconut from a tree, here you go:

 

This coconut business is an extreme sport mos… 🌴

A video posted by LeloB (@mslelob) on

Crazy!!!

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For those who don’t find joy staring at the sea like I do, there are watersports – snorkeling/diving and fishing for adventure lovers. We took a sunset island cruise that took us to see other parts of the island. We even rode past this amazing hotel and when I asked our captain what it was, he said ” Diamonds La Gemma” sigh… my poor heart!  One day!!!

The dinners on the beach were just so amazing! The ambience nje with the soft music in the background, marvellous.

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On our last day we took a boat trip from Stone Town to Prison Island and I wished we had more time there to enjoy that beautiful beach.

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Prison Island was meant to be used as a prison for rebellious slaves in the 1860’s but it’s now home to giant tortoises and has been converted into a tourist resort.

All in all, I enjoyed the trip and I think you should go experience Zanzibar at least once.

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Would I go back to Zanzibar? Absolutely and it will be very soon!

Lelo

Thoko's Travels

Nothing like getting to know a world outside your own; the little bubble that you exist in every day. Travelling allows for one to get to know and fall in love with the unknown. However, in a country such as South Africa, a country with high inequality, high poverty rates and a society that largely prioritises having a roof over their head and a meal at the end of each day, debt, responsibilities as opposed to buying an airline ticket to a faraway destination, it’s no wonder many do not have the pleasure of seeing the world.

Every time I log into my Instagram account, I always see a young lady by the name of Thoko, who always seems to be somewhere other than home. I always love going through her profile, sometimes to get a weekend getaway referral or idea. She always seems to pick the most beautiful parts of SA to travel and explore. Something I so admire.

I am not for social media activity FOMO. But when it comes to travel, bring it ON!

I decided to chat to Thoko and get to know how she does it. She is goals. This is what she had to say:

Thoko's Travels

Let’s start with the classic one. Who is Thoko?

Thoko is a 25-year-old passionate traveller, with an unconditional love of thee undiscovered.  I live in Soweto with my lovely mother and grandparents, when I’m not traveling I’m working as a Junior financial planning specialist and when I’m not working, I’m either hanging with my friends, family or boyfriend. But I spend 80% of my life traveling.

When did your love for travel start and what exactly inspired it?

I was 7 years old when I first got my taste of what would change my view on where I wanted to see myself as an adult. That “taste” was my grandparents’ traveling stories of their adventures around Africa. My Grandfather especially has been to many countries in Africa and would always tell me these adventurous stories before bedtime with a cup of Nestle Chocolate Milk. Because of these stories I would have these dreams of me going on adventures around the world.  I’ve always been encouraged to see the world, to marvel in its beauty and never live a life of habit, for that kind of life almost seems like one is stuck in reverse. And being a person that absolutely loathes habit, wanderlust kinda came naturally.

Many people say travel is expensive. How are you funding your travels? What is your advice for people who want to travel but feel as if they cannot afford it?

Traveling can be expensive depending on where and when you’re deciding to travel. Many factors affect one’s traveling costs, such as peak season, between June school holidays all the way through to December holidays and eventually ending in February the next year. I fund my traveling trips through my traveling bank account. Before I even started traveling, I was already saving up for my first trip. I didn’t want to save money into my daily accounts or any of my other investments, so I ended up opening a “traveling account” with an active debit order each month. If I still hard more than enough, I’d add on to the debit order by depositing money into my “traveling account”. So if you’re just as crazy as I am about traveling but find it a bit too much on your budget and financial responsibilities then I would advise you to open a savings account just for traveling.

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Of your travel expeditions, which has been your all-time favourite and why?

That’s a very difficult question actually, I love every place I’ve travelled to but I’d have to say my recent trip to the Eastern Cape was spectacular. I was at a bungalow resort called Umngazi River Bungalow Resort and everything about that place was breath taking at each turn. It’s my favourite due to that fact that it had all my favourite features in one space, e.g. green large mountains, a huge river, palm trees and an astonishing ocean view, all these features where in and out of the resort.

Your greatest travel lessons?

I often hear a lot of people who want to travel only when they’re rich, when they get “there” financially but how long will it take you to get there, people’s paths are different, what might take someone 3 minutes, will probably take you 10 years and that’s time wasted living so much in the future and not in the present moment. I believe in goals, dreams, working hard, and sacrificing but some things in life gather over time and during that time enjoy your life.

Work towards it, but stop deferring your happiness.

How do you decide which location you will be going to next?

I think about a province I’ve never travelled to and then do a bit of research on what makes the province so special and try to find accommodation.  An example I can think of is when I travelled to the Drakensberg’s. One of the points of interests in KZN are the Drakensberg mountains, I then booked accommodation right on the mountains, were the first thing you see when you wake up and open your bedroom curtains is the famous and absolutely amazing view of Cathedral’s Peak in the Drakensberg mountains.

Thoko's travels

You Do you travel with a partner? What is your opinion on travelling on your own?

I love sharing my traveling adventures with people I love and people who are willing to travel too, so yes I always have a partner with me when I’m traveling.  However, I honestly think traveling alone is something that should be on the bucket list for everyone.

You don’t need to go away for a week, just a day or two is enough to book yourself in a hotel or game drive, order some room service or go to spa and just unwind and take it easy, while also reassuring your loved ones that you’re safe and will be back home.  I also do intend on traveling solo next year, I just need to find the perfect destination.

You are probably planning your next trip now…where to next?

Lol…yeah I am planning a trip for my birthday but I can’t disclose any information just yet. All I can say is that it’s in the Western Cape and the place will absolutely blow your mind away.

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JUST DO IT

Like Thoko says, enjoy today. My friends and I have started planning trips for 2017. International and local.

Where in SA would you suggest we go? Why not have travel stokvel? I am pretty sure we could do it ladies?

By Keagi

Joe Crann

 

Welcome to another exciting edition of #CHICATravel! This time we travel to the United States of America with one of my favourite football journalists, Joe Crann, better known through his social media handle, YesWeCrann.

Having left England to travel in 2010 after completing his National Council for the Training of Journalists qualification, Joe teamed up with Africa’s biggest football publication, Soccer Laduma, for an unpaid internship during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Joe Crann

After 11 months of travelling the world, Joe took up Soccer Laduma’s offer of a full time contract and since joining SL, he has gone on to become one of the most well-known football journalists in the country, making regular television and radio appearances as well as making a name for himself as a reliable source for breaking news.

Joe and his girlfriend, 5FM’s Stephanie B just came back from what I thought to be one of the dopest US trips I’ve seen on my social media timelines, lol. After getting over my jealousy, I decided to reach out to him and ask him to share all about his trip and here’s how our conversation went:

Joe Crann

Traveling To The US With @YesWeCrann

LeloB: Joe, thanks for agreeing to do this. Tell us about your first trip & what about it got you to enjoy traveling?

Joe Crann: I don’t actually remember my very first trip, but I remember going to Spain and France as a youngster. What made me fall in love with travel was my mum and dad bringing in foreign students to stay at our place when I was growing up. I was constantly around foreigners from all over the world, and speaking to them all made me want to explore it.

Must have been an interesting household. So now that you’re into it, how do you decide where to travel next?

Joe: It’s usually a joint decision with my girlfriend and I. Our trip to America was the latest, and to be honest we have no idea where we want to go next. We have a list of place and I suppose it’s just a case of crossing them off one step at a time. We really enjoy taking cool pictures and seeing beautiful things – both natural and man-made – so we often travel to see ‘things’ as much as places.

Joe Crann

You mentioned your trip to America, man your pictures were amazing. What made you pick America?

Joe: Steph and I have always spoken about going to the US ever since we started dating. She’s a radio DJ and I’m big into my music, so visiting Nashville for the country and New Orleans for the jazz has been something that we’ve wanted to do. We decided that America was too far to go to just do a couple of things, so we opted to make a massive trip of it.

Looking at your pictures, it was almost as if you went off the beaten track and explored the not so “touristy” places. How did you pick the places visited during the trip?

Joe: In terms of placement, yeah, it’s off the beaten track a little bit, but the places we went to are still super touristy. It’s just a different type of tourist to those you see in London etc. We’re both – especially Steph though – interested in natural wonders, so wherever we go we try and hunt out things like that. TripAdvisor is also great, TripAdvisor and Google! Haha.

Joe Crann

What was your favourite of the places you visited?

Joe: I’m not actually sure to be honest. Everywhere we went had things that I liked. New Orleans was incredible for the food (I ate EVERYTHING), while Antelope Canyon was genuinely one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever seen. New York isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I like it’s hustle and bustle, but I think the whole trip around page with Antelope, Bryce Canyon and Horseshoe Bend was probably the most rewarding.

Joe Crann

You have to tell us about Antelope Canyon & Bryce Canyon and is it the same place as Grand Canyon? It was unbelievable.

Joe: Yeah, it’s all pretty photogenic there, hey? Honestly though, my pictures didn’t even come close to doing it justice. The three of them – Antelope, Bryce and the Grand Canyon – are all pretty close to each other, and you can do them (and Horseshoe Bend) in a few days if you get the weather right. We drove from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, then from there to Page where we set up camp to see the others.
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What is the one place you are dying to visit?

Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. I studied Nazi Germany at college and WWII is something that has always fascinated me (I went to the amazing WWII museum in New Orleans just now). I’ve always felt that I could never really grasp the pure scale of the Holocaust until I’ve been to Auschwitz, and for me it’s vital to visit in order to understand the real evil that took place during that time. Germany in general is somewhere that I want to go, but Auschwitz would be my main reason for heading into that area.

Why haven’t you been yet?

Circumstance mainly. Because I live in South Africa my trips often include a trip home to the UK to see my parents, and obviously it’s not cheap to get to Europe. I’ve done Ireland, Holland, France and Belgium in the last few years, and I think Germany could well be my next European trip. I also felt like Auschwitz is something I can do when I’m older too, whereas some of the other stuff I’ve done is much more accessible as a youngster.

Joe Crann

If you could pick anyone in the world to go on that trip with you, who would it be & why?

Joe: You’re not going to make me choose between my dad and my girlfriend are you? Haha. My dad and I have always shared an interest in WWII since I was younger and we’ve been to so many museums and watched so many films, documentaries etc. on it that it’s something that I’d really like to do with him. Steph and I have often spoken about going there too, though, and I know it’s something that she’s also really interested in.

How important is photography while traveling?  

I think it’s important to different people for different reasons. It’s important for me because I enjoy taking nice pictures. I’ll take time to try and get the right angles and edit them nicely, but it also works two-fold because it’s part of my personal social media strategy too. On a more human note, though, we all want to document the places we’ve been, don’t we? We have pictures up in our house on our fridge and stuff, and they’re all reminders of beautiful places we’ve been and memories we’ve created.

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So does one need to own an expensive camera to take pics as gorgeous as yours?

Joe: 99% of the pictures I posted of my trip to America were taken and edited from my iPhone, for the most part you don’t need an expensive camera. A few were taken on my girlfriend’s camera, but that’s just a point and shoot type of camera and isn’t crazy expensive.

That’s excellent then. If you were to come up with a quote about Travel, what would it be?

Joe: Travelling properly – when you travel to explore and to learn – will not only open your eyes, but your heart too.
Joe Crann
Thank you Joe, we will be keeping an eye on your social media pages for more of your travels!
Fore more on Joe’s US trip, check out his IG & Twitter – @YesweCrann and his blog yeswecrann.co.za
#SATravelsToo Maputo

The first time I went to Mozambique was in April 2009 and I’d gone with a group of friends traveling to Xai-Xai. I think there were 6 or 7 of us and that drive felt like the longest drive of my life. Even though we were smart enough to hire a driver for the trip, after that 10 hour drive to Xai-Xai I swore I would never ever drive to Moz again but arriving at our destination and seeing that the picture on the internet that had led me to this place was 100% accurate and made that LONG drive WORTH every km travelled!

Maputo mozambique xai xai
Paradise View, Xai Xai

At the bottom of those stairs is a private beach!!!!

I will never ever forget how beautiful coming here was. The self catering house was as depicted in the pictures, it was clean, we had a butler and listen… this place was just amazing & so my love affair with travel started here! But today is not about Xai Xai, it’s about Maputo!

Having gone to Xai Xai back then, I did not get to experience Maputo except for a glimpse of it on our way past so I’ve always had that thing yokuthi “I must go visit Maputo”.

Maputo

So when & I and fellow Content Creators George Matsheke (Marvin.co.za) & Papi Mabele (savibeza.co.za) decided to collaborate on #SAfricansTravelToo, I thought well, we only have a weekend so Maputo would be the perfect destination to explore. I was wrong!

Not about Maputo but when driving from Johannesburg, a weekend in Maputo is way too short!

About #SAfricansTravelToo

#SAfricansTravelToo is an idea about inspiring our fellow South Africans to travel. Whether it is exploring SA, the continent or the world at large, we want you to travel. By bus, car, train, flight, whatever it takes… the point is that we really do believe in how enlightening and empowering travel experiences are so through our travels, we hope to inspire and give a glimpse of what is available out there. So if you travel, we invite you to also use it on social media to share with us, what’s possible.

About our TRIP!

Maputo

Our journey started off at TOTAL Atlas road where we met the hospitable team from TOTAL who fueled us for the long drive to Maputo.

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Not only did we get fuelled at this particular filling station, but every TOTAL filling station on the way to Maputo was expecting us so they could give us fuel, snacks and whatever else we needed to make the drive comfortable.

We also collaborated with BMW who were kind enough to provide us with a top of the range BMW X1 and yes the drive was amazing but I really fell in love with this message from the vehicle!

MAPUTO

I know it’s silly but maybe my car is old and cheap coz it doesn’t ask me this question when I drive for long hours? So I was chuffed and taken aback when I saw this pop up. I guess I shouldn’t be given that there are self driving cars these days but the intelligence of the car is tops!

Maputo

We also got to stay at the exquisite Radisson Blu Maputo where we were yet again, treated like royalty. My hotel room was perfect, the Guest Relations gentleman was patient and took his time to tell us about all the places we could go see in Maputo.

Maputo

Our original plan was to go to Inhaca Island on the Saturday so we could bum out on the beach all day but besides the fact that we got up late and missed the early ferry to the island, the weather was also not playing along as it was raining when we arrived and the day after.

Maputo

A view of the gloomy weather from our hotel.

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The weather did clear though, so we decided on exploring interesting sights around Maputo and first stop was this Central Train Station which is said to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel who also designed the Eiffel tower, amongst many other gorgeous things.

Maputo

It really is a beautiful pieace of architecture, this picture doesn’t do it justice but…

Maputo

I had fun imitating Solange poses over there…

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Across the station is this World War 1 memorial which commemorates Mozambicans and the Portuguese that died in the war.

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In exploring the history, we also went past this bronze sculpture of Moz’ first president Samora Machel and this stands right in front of the city hall. There’s a better pic of it here. 

 

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And of course there had to be a picture in front of The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, but we did not go inside, I believe it is beautiful.

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We also visited FEIMA, the arts and crafts market but it was really nothing to write home about. It seemed like they were all selling the same things with little variety. These bags however, were beautiful, though impractical.

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One of the places I absolutely had to see was Casa do Ferro, the Iron House. This house, was built t was built in the 19th century for the governor to live in but what they didn’t take into consideration during the building was if you build a house entirely made of iron in that hot mozambican weather, literally no one can live in it! So the governor then could not live in this house

 

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It’s so pretty to look at though..

Maputo

Another pic of the Cathedral…
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This picture just reminded me of how clean Maputo is…

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Exploring with our car…

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What is a trip to Mozambique without their super yummy seafood!! We made sure to visit the Fish Market and I remember the first time we drove past it, one of my friends pointed it out and my response was “Can’t be the fish market, it’s too clean.” but our GPS led us right to the same place when it was time to visit it and I realised that I was comparing this to my fish place in Abuja, Abacha Barracks. Worlds apart.

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The fish and prawns were fresh and yummy, we really ate to our hearts’ content and I will go back to Moz for the seafood, it’s all we ate during the trip but I also learned something.

As much as I enjoyed this fish at this clean Fish Market, it was not as nice as the fish I had in Abuja, (though fresher) but the fish we had at a fancy restaurant in Maputo was also not as nice as the one we had at this fish market so my conclusion is:

The less glamorous the joint, the nicer the food!  

Oh, and this happened during the trip…

Needless to say, my travel buddies were shocked then died of laughter. Now I know that next time I travel, after packing, next stop is the salon to tighten my wig. But embarrassing as that moment was, I’m glad to have provided some funny memories for our trip 🙂

A big thank you to my travel buddies Papi and George, BMW, Radisson Blu Maputo and TOTAL. I look forward to the next ones!

P.S. 

The most annoying thing about driving to Maputo is getting past the border and thinking you’ve now arrived in the city… lol.. kanti brace yourself, there’s still driving, toll gates…

Speaking of toll gates, there are so many of them on the way so please be prepared.  The other nice thing about visiting Maputo is that South African rands are widely accepted in Maputo so even with tolls, you can use your rands.

Oh, and if you have heard rumours about Mozambican traffic police, not just rumours! We got stopped in 2009, we got stopped in 2016 so if you visit and don’t get stopped, slaughter for your loving ancestors.

Would I go back to Maputo? Absolutely and there’d be a little more of mixing with the locals next time. I hear you young people would enjoy the night scene 🙂

 

#SAfricansTravelToo

By Lelo

Alone travel London

Continued from What I Learned From Travelling Alone

Upon applying for my UK Visa, I had a conversation with a friend who was planning a trip to the States, alone. He had just received his U.S visa too and well, planning was on the table. Although for other reasons known to himself as to why he would travel to the U.S alone, he taught me one thing: “If you wait for people to travel with, you will never go anywhere” – Kabelo Ngwane

It was from that conversation that I was reassured that it really is possible to do this travelling thing, one man.

London

A diaspora unimagined

A diaspora is a scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale, but a diaspora can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland.

This is a part about the people of London that surprised me the most. This may seem ignorant, and it probably is but I honestly had the worst idea of English people. I always had the idea that they are mean and rude and wouldn’t care to be nice. You know the kind of stereotypes people have about others of a different nation? Just like how everyone expects to have a gun waved in their face every time they walk out of a JHB hotel because well, “this is South Africa”. Little did I know!

Alone travel London

Firstly, it is important to remember that London, is not a country and is not necessarily a true reflection of the entire United Kingdom. The city itself is buzzing. A pot of different people from different nations, seeking opportunities and a better life for themselves. Kind of like… Jo’burg. I live in Africa, a child of African soil but I can guarantee you that I met more people from different African countries on a 14 day London trip than I have being home. All in the UK for different reasons; work, school, love and all that jazz.

Being part of the European Union, it was evident that more people who are not born in the UK would descend upon the ever so popular city. This is what I loved most about this beautiful city. The different cultures. Having conversations with a Ghanian, while being served dinner by a German native, exchanging numbers with an American and the list goes on. I love the people who live in this city. I really do. I am a stan!

London

Food is life!

I was staying in my own apartment so I figured I would be a good girl and buy groceries in the two weeks I was there. No! It did not work out. I mean, who goes to a different country to slave away in front of the stove with all the amazing food spots? And look, despite the tough currency then, I was balling so why not do the most and experience dining like a good Lonoder does?

There is a social culture I love in London. One I envy so much. Lunch time, people hit the pubs and hot spots; after work, again, you hit the pub or find a great restaurant to post yourself at. 1 beer never killed anyone anyway right (Not that I drink that awful beverage – ha ha). Some cool spots I discovered:

Big Moe’s – An old style diner in Aldgate East (This is where I met my Moroccan crush, who gave me free desserts with every visit). I popped in for a burger and shake, and on my gloomy days, a waffle to cheer me up. This explains the extra kilos.

Dishoom – Indian food that just melts my heart. We left with a bill of almost R5000 for 4 people at Dishoom. So you can imagine what an amazing experience it was. It really is worth the hype. Do not be surprised at the amount of time it takes to get a table. Just order a drink at the bar.

Oxo Restaurant (OxoTowers) – 3 course dinner alone, overlooking the river Thames, with the sun shining on my beautiful skin at 8pm. Fine dining with a touch of casual fun that has a bar on the other end for a more relaxed set up. Perfect for dates but also perfect for self reflection.

Duck & Waffle – Who wouldn’t want to overlook the entire city of London while drinking the finest beverage, and sharing a deliciously prepared meal that has an invigorating taste. I had never in my life had duck, waffle, egg and syrup in one meal. A taste to remember. (This is also an alternative to viewing the city from the Shard, which charges an arm and a leg to shoot up the building and back down in an elevator – Thank me later).

China Town – On your sightseeing tours, you might just land up around Piccadilly square. Take a walk and find China Town. A totally different atmosphere to that of everything else around it but a great place for that Chinese experience you want. I call it my “Dimsum Heaven” .

Paul – Great pastry and cake shop. Coming soon to South Africa. The best croissant’s I have ever had in my entire existence. Crispy and fluffy AND FRESH in all the right places. Awesome place to stop on your way to work.

Sticky Wings – Brick Lane heaven. The sticky wings and fries I always see on the Food Channel. So yum!

London

Shopping is a girl’s best friend

I walked around with a calculator in my hand. I swear I cringed with every purchase. I was overwhelmed at the number of people that were on Oxford Street. Everyone is just shopping. It didn’t help that the word “Sale” was all over the place either. Amazing handbag copped from Paul’s Boutique and some cool items at H&M. Pull & Bear is also a good casual spot to shop. I actually shopped for my friends and family more than I did for myself. Maybe I should stop here then.

London

BREXIT! BREXIT! Oh just EXIT!

I knew I would be around during the vote so I took the opportunity to have casual and formal conversations with locals and foreign nationals. For the most part, the people I chatted to wanted to remain. Some had no intention of voting, assuming things would be a certain way and the big day came along. I left the apartment for work and I had not seen the city so quiet on a weekday morning. The mood in the office was sombre, people were not in the greatest of moods. This was interesting to see and it was heart breaking to see someone cry at the outcome of their single vote. Certainly an interesting “insider” view of the day.

Just do it!

I challenge you to travel to a different city on your own! You have conversations with locals because you don’t have a companion to chat to. Share drinks with cool strangers (I had a few pay for my drinks and expensive dinners too – Ha Ha). Learn of the different cultures and inspire others to visit Africa with your beautiful narrative of home.

I am ready for my next excursion…

By Keagile