12 June 2018

10 years since my first time in Europe



On 12 June 2008, feeling excited and very nervous, I got on a bus in Mossel Bay with my friend Lelanie for my first trip outside of South-Africa.  I cannot believe that 10 years have passed since that day.

The trip started with a lot of travelling…first the bus ride to Cape Town and then two flights…Cape Town to Dubai and Dubai to London. It was my first time on an airplane and by the end of the second flight I was so tired…of sitting and not being able to sleep and of all the excitement and nerves.  By the time we arrived at the hotel I was so relieved that everything worked out and that we were at the right place.  After exploring a little bit we went to bed early, very early to rest before the real adventures began.

The first part of our trip was a Contiki Tour to explore the highlights of Europe. The Contiki Tour began and ended in Londen and we decided to stay in London a few more days to explore before returning to South Africa.
  

The next 12 days were packed with new experiences, seeing places I have only read and dreamed about. I still cannot pick my favourite part of the Contiki tour. Every city or town was different and had its own unique sights and experience.

Some of the highlights of the trip were
·         First time…outside SA, on a airplane, on the tube, in a taxi, in a hotel
·         Ferry from Dover to Calais
·         Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
·         Walking next to the Rhine river in St Goar
·         Bike tour and drinking beer in Munich
·         Slowing down and relaxing in Hopfgarten
·         Just walking without a plan in Venice
·         All the historical sites in Rome…Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum, Pantheon and so many more
·         The Sistine Chapel
·         Disco in Florence
·         Mount Stanserhorn, Luzerne
·         Eiffel Tour
·         Nouvelle Eve and show, Paris
·         Meeting people from all over the world

Contiki tour was the perfect way for me to explore a lot of Europe in a short time without any worries about travel or sleeping arrangements.  Everything was organised and our guide and bus driver was great.  Yes, there were times that wish we had more free time or could do something else but I would also have missed out on a lot of experiences if I travel on my own.

I loved Europe and exploring it with Contiki.











03 June 2018

Diaz Express Shuttle trip

I cannot believe it is June already.  What happened to April and May? It is almost time for the July school holiday and I want to write about the Dias Express trip I took with my son JW on during the previous holiday in April 2018.


The Dias Express is a railway experience between Mossel Bay an George.  There are different excursions available.  The regular excursions depart Mossel Bay in the morning 9:30 and returns at 15:30 in the afternoon. I went on the Maalgate Lunch Excursion with my work in 2015 and loved it.  But a lunch trip would be too long for my son (who still takes a nap in the afternoon).  During school holidays the Dias Express has a Shuttle trip between Mossel Bay and Hartenbos.  The trip takes about 30 minutes one way and was the perfect way to treat my son with a ride on a “train”.  

It was easy to book our tickets on the website and I pay with an EFT.  The cost for the shuttle trip is R 40 per person for a one way ticket and kids under 5, sitting on laps, gets a free ride.  We departed on the earliest trip of the day from Mossel Bay at 9:35 and booked a return ticket to depart at 12:00 from Hartenbos.



The Dias express departs near the Kaai 4 Braai Restaurant near the Mossel Bay harbour.  It is easy to find and there is lots of parking.  With a backpack with snacks we got on the shuttle and waited to depart.  We passed Santos beach with beautiful views, then threw the buildings of Dias beach, Voorbaai and Langeberg Mall.   We waved for the cars as we passed and enjoyed the relaxed trip to Hartenbos.



In Hartenbos we the Dias Express stopped at Dolf se Stasie.  It is an easy walk from the stop to the Hartenbos Waterfront with shops, restaurants and the Water Park.  We decided to walk to the Spur for an ice cream before returning to Dolf se Stasie at 11:50 for our return trip to Mossel Bay.




My son loved this trip and now regularly asks when we can go on the “blue train” again.  And maybe we will do it again this school holiday.  I am sure we will go again during the December holiday when traffic between Mossel Bay and Hartenbos is terrible we will sit in the Dias Express and wave at all the people struggling to get to their destinations in their cars. 


USEFUL INFORMATION:
Address:                      Hartenbos Station, Port Natal Avenue, Hartenbos
Tel no:                         082  450 7778
Website:                      www.diazexpress.co.za
Fee:                             R40 One way for Shuttle trip
                                    See website for other options
                       
(Not a sponsored post)

29 March 2018

Our favourite kids things to do at the Point


We live in Mossel Bay, a small town next to the ocean.  The town is still mainly a summer holiday destination when thousands of people come here to spend time in the ocean.

The point area is about 2 kilometres from our house and one of our favourite places to go for a quick outing after work or during weekends.  Almost daily, when I get home from work, my son JW asks if we can drive around the Point.

Here are some of our favourite things we do around the Point area:

Swimming in the Paddling Pool
This is one of my son’s favourite activities…in summer, spring and autumn…and even on a warm winter’s day.  The Paddling Pool is a tidal pool. In the summer we usually go to the Point early in the morning (between 8 and 9 am) to swim and return home by 10am.  We do this to avoid the harsh sun later in the day but mainly because there are less people.  The water is cold and refreshing and there is more parking.  The paddling pool is not very deep and the shallow water is very nice for kids to play. 
The Point, Mossel Bay

The Point, Mossel Bay

Sand and shells
If the sun is shining it is always a good time for a walk at the Point. Take a spade and a bucket and build a sand castle or pick up some shells.  Or walk on the rocks and look for fishes in the rock pools.

Jungle gym
Close to the Paddling Pool there is a small jungle gym with a few swings.  JW loves to swing while looking at the ocean and searching for boats.  There is also a nice grass area to run on or kick a ball. 

Ice cream
We love to buy ice cream at the orange and green caravan.  The Oom and Tannie are always friendly and there is always an interesting new flavour to try like watermelon or kaluha.  I think the ice cream is the reason why JW want to drive to the Point each day.  There ia also other ice cream sellers and a coffee shop.  During summer holidays there is also stalls selling food and other items.

Walk /ride on the 3 km-long walkway
 It’s been a while since I walked the whole length of the walkway but when our son was a baby we enjoyed putting him in his stroller and walking along this path.  It is a more difficult with a 3-year old who would rather play in the water and sand.
  

The Shark Lab
There is a very, very small aquarium at the Shark lab. The entrance fee is R20 for an adult, R10 for children over 4 years and free for children under three.  Depending on how much of the information you read, you need between 2 minutes and maximum 15 minutes for you visit.    I personally think it is overpriced for what you can see and we have only visited once but JW loved it. For R150 you can swim in a tank with 2 sharks.
  
The Point, Mossel Bay

St Blaize cave 
The cave is situated beneath the St Blaize Lighthouse. JW is not interested in the information or historical importance of the cave.  He just wants to climb the stairs and run on the wood walkway.  The view of the ocean from the cave is amazing and older kids will probably understand more of the history. 
The Point, Mossel Bay

Playing on the rocks in the Poort at low tide
Climbing from rock t rock and looking for rock pools to jump in is another f JW’s favourite things.  At low tide there is lots of rocks and pools all around the Point. 

Playing at  Fanta Sea / Play@Point
I am not sure what the current name of the play area at the Point is. There is a jungle gym with swings, trampolines and jumping castles.  They also have a put-put course.  On our last visit it was R10 to play and R20 for put-put but this could have changed.
The Point, Mossel Bay

24 March 2018

Dias Museum


It is wonderful what kids can remember.  I only took my son for one visit to the DiasMuseum in January 2017 and every time we drive is the direction of the museum he asks if he can go to the boat.  After another request from him in December 2017 I decided it was time for a second visit to the museum.

The entrance fee to visit the museum complex was R 20 for an adult or for R 40 per adult you can enter the museum and go on the replica of the carvel. For children under 18 the fee is R 5 or R 10.  I think children under 6 years can enter for free. My son, JW was 3 year old and I did not pay for him.

The main attractions of the museum for my son, JW is climbing on the boat. But if we start our visit by climbing on the boat he will never understand why he can’t go back to climb on the boat again. So we start by taking a walk through the garden towards the Shell museum and saved the carvel for almost last.
Aquariums in the Shell Museum

The Shell Museum is in the “Shirley building” that was built in 1902.  JW loves the aquariums with fish in this museum.  There were lots of other families and soon JW was running between tanks with some other kids looking at the fish. While looking at the tank with lobsters, the antennae of one lobster brushed against JW’s hand.  He got such a fright.
Climbing in the Post Tree

Next we walked to the Post Tree.  This Milkwood tree is older than 500 years.  In 1501 The Portuguese navigator Da Nova found a message under a tree near the watering place and this may be the same tree.
The replica of the Dias Caravel

And then it was time to visit the Maritime Museum and see the replica of the Dias Caravel.  In 1988, so celebrate 500 years since the landing of Dias, a replica of the Dias Caravel was built in Portugal and sailed to Mossel Bay.  The building was adapted for the caravel to fit inside and to serve as Maritime Museum.  JW was not interested in any off the displays...he went running to the entrance to go onto the caravel.  We explored the whole caravel…climbing every ladder and pulling the ropes.
The spring

Malay Graves

We bought some cool drinks and then walked to the water spring to see the ducks.  We also walked to the Malay Graves.  There is a path to the graves but it is not marked very well and it felt deserted with no other people around.  I took a few photos and walked back.

By now JW was tired and I had to carry him back to the car and he had a wonderful nap after his adventure as a Portuguese explorer.


USEFUL INFORMATION:
Dias Museum Complex
Address:                       1 Market Street, Mossel Bay, South Africa
Website:                       www.diasmuseum.co.za
Phone no:                     +27 44 691 1067
Fax no:                         +27 44 691 1915
Visiting Hours:              Monday – Friday:             09:00 – 16:45
                                     Weekends:                       09:00 – 15:45

(Not a sponsored post)


02 March 2018

Botlierskop



The type of places I write about on this blog has really changed.  If I look back the posts of 4 years ago they were about my trips to Europe and Switzerland and our honeymoon through the Eastern Cape.  Now most of the posts are about the places I visit with my 3-year old son.

But today I am writing about a grown-up outing to Botlierskop Private Game Reserve.  My husband and I were treated to a night at Botlierskop in January for a friend’s 40th birthday. 

Botlierskop Private Game Reserve is a Little Brak River, about 22 kilometres from our home.  Just outside of Little Brak we turned off of the tar road onto a gravel road.  This road was not in a good condition but we soon arrived at the entrance.



Once inside we met our guide or host for the 2 days.  He gave us a quick tour of the Main Lodge and we completed all the paper work.  Then another guide took us to our tent with a golf cart.

We stayed in one of the Luxury tents close to the Moordkuil River. This was definitely not the kind of accommodation we were used too. When they say “Luxury” they mean it. The tent had a 4 poster bed with mosquito nets, air-con, electric blanket, telephone, safe, coffee and tea making facilities and minibar.  The en-suite bathroom has a deep oval bath and a outdoor shower with lots of amenities.  The tents are built on wooden deck and ours had a nice view of the river and bush.






After settling in and relaxing for a while we walked on the wooden walk-way to the Main Lodge where we were meeting our friends for dinner at the Fireplace Restaurant.  Our friends were not there yet (due to fog the plane could not land and they were redirected to Cape Town and had to drive from there) and we bought some drinks and relaxed in one of the lounge areas.



Then it was time for dinner.  It was lovely.  We started with amazing butternut soup followed by a choice of two starters.  I had the bacon and cheese tart.  The main course is served as a buffet.  The salads and vegetables were placed on the counters and you help yourself.  Then order your meat at the grill.  There were a lot of options for meat…from beef, different game fillets, pork neck and even crocodile tail.  I played it safe and got some beef and pork neck.  All the food was lovely.  Then to end the meal there was a choice between about 4 desserts.  I choose the chocolate malva pudding with ice cream and it was amazing.

It was a great meal and afterwards we continued our get-together in one of the lounge areas before getting a golf cart to take us back to our tent.  It was windy outside but our tent was nice and cosy.  It took a while to get use to the sound of the wind but soon we were asleep.

Some of the guests in our group decided on an early start to ride the horses.  We don’t get many chances to get up late (Our son is usually awake before 6am) and decided against this excursion.  Arriving at the main lodge to early we, settled on the deck with coffee while waiting for the rest of our group.




Breakfast was once again great.  There were lots to choose from…from fruit salad and yogurt, different breads with cold meats and spread and the warm breakfast.  For the warm breakfast we went to the grill and could order the type of eggs you want and what you want with it.  I had a very nice omelette with bacon and cheese and some other sides.  There were lots of different juices and wonderful coffee to drink.  And my favourite thing was the croissants…delicious.


By the time we finished our breakfast it was time to check out.  And of course after all the paperwork was done and we reached the car I realised my purse was missing.  So all the way back I went to get go get my purse in the tent.

It was a wonderful break.  Even though we were only 20 kilometres from home it felt like we were far away.

USEFUL INFORMATION:
BOTLIERSKOP PRIVATE GAME RESERVE

Address:                      Gonnakraal Road, Little Brak River, 6503
Tel no:                         +27(0) 44 696 6055
Website:                      http://www.botlierskop.co.za/  
                       
(Not a sponsored post)

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