This is new! I am definitely printing out this photo to keep…
The Voortrekker Monument doesn’t need a frame, but it does get my kids to stand in one place for more than 2 seconds.
Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion.
It was a rainy day and the wind was howling through the arches – and yet, I still stood there raindrops clinging to my hair while the wind wipped them around, because this is my favourite place on the #VoortrekkerMonument #VTM
I had the top terrace all to myself while walking through the arches. It was a first. It was a perfect moment.
This time I didn’t walk the last set of stairs to see the cenotaph from the top. I will keep that moment for another time.
These 2 half pints of terror had a fun time running around like hooligans in the #VoortrekkerMonument #VTM – I was mortified at their piercing screams echoing through the 40mx40mx40m structure.
299 steps, a small price to pay to walk around in this beautiful monument with its 92mx2.3m marble frieze, 3.3 million stitch tapestry that took 9 women 8 years to complete, and a cenotaph that is touched by the sun on only the 16th of December every year.
For me, this is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. It is a place of quiet reflection to study the story of my people and to always remember the vow they made. Which South African monument is your favourite?
Wine improves with age. The older I get, the better I like it.
Jan-tuisbly-se-karretjie is a reality for a lot of us this year, not because we don’t want to see family, but rather because we love them enough that we would stay away. It hurts, I won’t lie.
I’m trying to maintain a work-life-lockdown balance by doing things that takes us out of the house for an hour or 2 every few days. One of these little gems visited on an outing is the Gerakaris Family Wine property out in Craighall.
You can just order a wine tasting or add a platter with cheese or olives. It’s a nice little garden setting – but you can also ask to sit indoors.
PS. Right now I would recommend booking for your Johannesburg wine tasting.
I like to use “Paris is always a good idea” by Audrey Hepburn for this occasion – but is it still a good idea if it is Little Paris in North West province?
When you have kids you start seeing things differently. Your camera angles up from a much lower perspective – and that’s when the magic happens on roadtrips.
After our stop at the amazing Upside Down House we wanted to get at least the (faux) Eiffel ticked off our list for the day.
We stopped at little Paris with Littles already telling us that it was nearing her nap time, so we ordered a takeaway of French Toast (because how can you stop at a place called French Toast Café and not order that?) and made a beeline for the Eiffel behind the fountain.
We had our pink engraved locks ready and let the kids run wild to search the perfect spot to attach them to. They eventually pointed at the bench and as hubby was finalizing where and how he was going to attach the locks, the kids admired almost every lock they could reach.
We snapped a few photos while we had the Eiffel all to ourselves.
On our way out we picked up our takeaway and wolfed down the most delicious French Toast we’ve ever had. It was a bit much for me, but I didn’t let any go to waste.
On the Little Paris premises there are a few small shops, an aquarium and even a wall with a real Paris photo where you can snap a few photos.
If you are looking for fun things to do in or near Gauteng, look no further than this list:
The one thing I learnt during lockdown is that in my house there is a real possibility of going insane with 2 toddlers. Right when the lockdown was downgraded to level 3 in South Africa, we were out exploring. We packed snack bags and blankets, changes of clothes plus toys for the kids – and off we went… We didn’t get out of the car or speak to anyone. We had 5 masks per person, liters of sanitiser.
There will never be a perfect time to travel with your children, so do it now, before the opportunity passes you by. You can’t turn back time.
AJ and Natasha, The 2 Idiots Travel Blog
We have seen so many rhinos, lions and bucks that’ve we lost track. The kids are even starting to know what they are too and Lexa is so happy when she sees Zebras! The kids have learnt to keep a little more quiet when we stop to look at animals and Lexa has even taken to snapping them with her tablet.
Having kids is reason to travel, never a reason to stop.
So here I am at 41 with 2 kids under 4 and I’m putting mileage on my Kia Sportage – and I really don’t even mind. I do however mind when my husband wants to drive my car… He never stops when I spot something to look at and never gets the perfect angle for photos (I just don’t know how that is even possible.)
When you travel with children, you are giving away something that can never be taken away. Experience, exposure, and way of life.
Pamela T. Chandler
I was probably raised a little more nomadic than most people, so the lockdown was exceptionally hard. Who knows what will happen next year. All I know is that if we don’t keep on roadtripping now, I might swim to China and Hulk out.
Here are some of the places you can visit in Gauteng with kids:
Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.
One thing I have learnt during a pandemic and having toddlers is that no matter how big your house, it is not big enough for a threenager diva and one that has her mother’s temper plus just entered the terrible twos.
Life is an adventure; we get out of it what we put into it.
Richard Daly, God’s Little Book of Hope
We have visited many little nature reserves here in Gauteng and it was lovely. We saw the usual and got a little too close to rhinos – you know, the normal stuff. (Just kidding, it was spectacularly unforgettable!) We were however also limited to Gauteng…
I’ve had my eye on visiting the Upside Down House near Harties (Broederstroom) for a while. It didn’t take much to convince hubby to get in my car with the 2 hooligans with snacks…
It was fun! Lexa was in awe of the Upside Down House and Lily slapped her hands over her mouth. Hubby was impressed with my activity pick of the day.
Once inside the Upside Down House all the furniture is hanging from the floor above you. The “ceiling” you walk on is slanted… so we felt a little woozy after a few minutes. Don’t even get me started about walking upstairs – or is it downstairs up???
Entrance at the Upside Down House in South Africa is a bit steep for adults, but once you’ve seen it you probably won’t go back unless you have kids that nag you to go back. That said, I had fun and the kids had fun – it was worth it for the almost 30 minutes we were there on our very own.
Rietvlei was one of my favourite nature reserves discovered during lockdown level 3. It has an abundance of wildlife, lots of roads to drive and of course… very affordable.
Our first road trip in Rietvlei was so amazing that we returned for a second visit the very next weekend…
We thought we had left early enough on the day and arrived at the gate just to end up in a queue just after 8am. We didn’t know at the time, but during level 3 only 100 cars were allowed to enter at a time – and we were number 100 in the queue.
We drove through the gates and down a hill with a view of a dam glistening in the sun. The kids excitedly yelled ‘water’ and ‘swim’ in the back. The water was a dark blue-is/grey-ish tint with flashes of silver bursts. We drove along the water’s edge while I snapped a few pictures of the beautiful view.
We took the first right onto a dirt road and not 20m later we spotted our first animals of the day, a few zebra and ostriches. The kids started getting excited and hungry and we pulled over for a picnic in the car (as the picnic spots were closed under level 3).
A short while after we resumed our self-drive safari in Rietvlei we drove downhill to be greeted by 3 rhinos munching on short grass – very close to the road. We were so excited!
We drove through a herd of buffalo and zebra, spotted more ostriches and even a ‘hartbees’ or 5.
The kids started falling asleep after hour 3 of driving on the dirt roads of Rietvlei and we made our way back to Johannesburg.
Rietvlei Nature Reserve at a glance:
Adults R59, Pensioners R32, Kids up to 17 R32, 2-6 year olds R11 and 0-2 year olds free
It was probably not my best decision to take the kids hiking in Johannesburg at Rietfontein and insisting to hike to the top with them. Rietfontein’s hike is about 2,2km with a moderate first 1km but then over some treacherous terrain up a koppie – and I had to carry the little one the last 1km up the koppie…
“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”
The hiking trail is clearly marked at Rietfontein and if you are lucky you will spot a small buck or 2 during your hike. The view towards Woodmead and Sunninghill on the first half will be worth the hike. The 360 degree view from the koppie over Kyalalami, Fourways, Woodmead, Sunninghill and Petervale is definitely worth the effort.
You have 3 options to get to and from the top on this hiking trail in Johannesburg:
The trail to the left on the far side from the entrance that is more even but over quite a bit of loose gravel. It is still good exercise, but doesn’t have panoramic views.
The trail on the right of the entrance gate which is more scenic, but also has 2 sections where you will have to clamber a little more carefully over rocks that crumble under your shoes.
The secret from the lawn that passes to the left of the house passed a living quarter area which is very short but with only a short hill.
Where is Rietfontein?
Hiking in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg is amazing – and who would’ve guessed that there is such a little jewel in the middle of a residential area? Rietfontein is on Estelle road in Paulshof. You can’t miss it, it is right at the T-junction before driving to the German club to the left.
There is something about cats that I love. It may be that they have always bonded to me or that they can sit on your lap for hours without a care in the world. It might even be that they will pick the person that dislikes cats… All I know is that I love cats, I’ve always had a cat and cats love me.
I would like to introduce you to 5 cats in South Africa who entertain guests at a hotel, retreat and even restaurant. If you know of any other cats in hospitality, pop them in the comments below.
Skabenga at Oyster Box
Skabenga (which means hooligan or vagabond in Zulu) is a Tabby cat who permanently calls The Oyster Box, KwaZulu-Natal, home. He wandered onto the hotel property and was persuaded to take up the hotel-life by guests feeding him taste titbits.
This feline is a guest-favourite and he continues to receive piles of fan mail. There is even a book about him, he has his own Facebook page and Instagram account! His favourite day of the year is his birthday = and of course they make a big thing about it with cake and guests showering him with extra attention.
Skabenga thoroughly enjoys the spoils that come with being the ‘Main Cat’ on the block! He loves regular treats of Catnip, has a favourite couch and chair and chosen spots around the hotel, which he retreats to, when not taking ‘inspection’ strolls around the property.
Skabenga has gone on a few adventures but has always managed to make his way back home.
At Graceland Eco Retreat in Limpopo you will find 3 ginger cats. These very pampered farm cats are called Hermes, Dolce and Gabana. This little fashion trio is friendly with the resident giraffes and dogs.
Hermes is a very small cat with white legs and chest. He is very cuddly and often goes and knock on the guests’ doors as he loves to snuggle up. He is known to follow guests on hikes.
Dolce aka butternut, is the fat cat and the nickname comes from that he looks like a butternut. He loves to sleep, and eat and is a lazy Garfield type of cat.
Gabana is the old female ginger cat who loves to sleep in the office. Her favourite office bed is of course a keyboard. She is extremely social and will never turn down a cuddle.
Wallis is a Miniature Norwegian Forest Cat and lives at Mrs Simpson’s Restaurant, Dullstroom. This feline has her own Zebra Crossing in front of the restaurant called “Wallis’ Crossing”. She has 17 official godmothers and many unofficial ones too!
This is quite a famous cat! Wallis has been featured on the Travel Channel, Pasella, Top Billing and many more. She has also appeared on the pages of Sunday Times, Country Life Mag and air travel magazines.
Wallis loves attention and knows the regular visitors. She senses when you have allergies or dislike cats and will most likely stare at you until you invite her onto your lap.
You’ll be most likely to find Wallis sleeping in a hidey hole upstairs in a box under the bar, on a pillow in front of the fireplace, or on a heated sleeping pad.
Johannesburg is everything you think it is but also so much more. It is a city of riches and struggles, people on the run and knowing who your neighbours are. It is filled with South Africans, Africans from so far as the Ivory Coast and Ghana and of course people from ‘overseas’ that fell in love with the city’s energy.
I thought I’d share 20 cool facts about my city:
Eish, this Joburg!This is a phrase I have heard a million times. It could be thrown in to express that you share in the misery of being stuck in traffic or that you were a victim of crime. It can be applied to just about anything that can go wrong in the city.
Johannesburg is known as the City of Gold, eGoli, Jozi or Joburg. If you see references of 011 or 010 it is the landline area code for the city.
It is not the only Johannesburg in the world. When some of the gold miners that worked the gold fields here made their way to California in the US they named their new town Johannesburg too. Our US counterpart is of course not nearly as big as my beloved Joburg.
The Hillbrow Tower has been the tallest structure and tower in Africa for 45 years. It stretches 269m into the sky. Before I was born you could visit a floor 197m up… my mom told me about it.
The Carlton Centre is the tallest office building in Africa. You can take a ride up to the viewing floor for a great view of the city. Back in the eighties this was also a destination for school groups from towns far-far-away. I was scared breathless my first time that high in the sky.
Johannesburg is one of the youngest big cities in the world. The first tent-town iteration sprung up in 1886 during the gold rush. The official date is 4 October 1886!
Johannesburg is also Africa’s second biggest city. Egypt’s Cairo is the biggest… but then again, they have a couple of centuries on us!
An estimated 4.5 million people call the city home. I’ve been here since 1999. You will be able to find a person from almost every African country in the city.
Don’t fret if you feel a little dizzy while visiting, the city lies 1753m above sea level. It takes a little longer to boil an egg here than in Durbs or Cape Town.
On the upside, Johannesburg has a fairly mild climate with lots of sunshine. Summer months stretch from September-ish to late March. Our seasons are better than Cape Town’s but Durbs always takes the cake with warmer weather.
Vilakazi street in Soweto is where two of South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize Winners used to live. Locals will proudly point out former South African president Nelson Mandela and former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s houses.
The city also boasts one of the largest man-made forests in the world. There are between 5 to 10 million trees depending on who tells the story.
The Johannesburg Zoo was founded in 1904 and is sprawled over 55 hectares. Just imagine the exercise you’ll get by visiting!
OR Tambo International Airport, the busiest airport in Africa, was opened in 1952. It was first known as Jan Smuts Airport, then as Johannesburg International Airport in 1994 and since 2006 as OR Tambo. It’s a good thing we have such a big airport as we’ve hosted the finals for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, 2003 Cricket World Cup and 1995 IRB Rugby World Cup.
First National Bank Stadium or simply FNB Stadium is the largest sports stadium in Africa with a capacity of almost 100,000 spectators. It has hosted everything from sporting events to international musical acts. It is an must-snap spot.
Sandton is known as the richest square mile in Africa . The richest gold field in the world was discovered right here many moons ago. Now it is the most important business and financial district in South Africa – with the worst possible traffic. (I worked here for 6 years, just ask me.)
The bronze statue of Mandela in Sandton’s Nelson Mandela Square weighs 2.5 tonnes! The statue stands 6 metres high and measures 2.3 metres from elbow to elbow. The statue depicts Mandela wearing his Madiba shirt while dancing in what was referred to at the unveiling as the “Madiba jive”. This statue was unveiled on 31 March 2004. It was the first-ever public statue of Mandela.
Mponeng Gold Mine is the deepest mine in the world (currently). It takes an hour to get down the 4km deep shaft. It is located towards Westonaria – the western area of Johannesburg.
Johannesburg is the world’s largest city that isn’t located near a coastline or navigable river. However, it has the world’s largest dry port that was developed in 1977 already.
Johannesburg’s traffic is hectic, but not as bad as Cape Town’s. Joburgers are generally more aggressive in their driving style but only because they have places to go and people to see.
Next time you think that there is nothing to see in or near Joburg, think again.
We have Orlando Towers and of course Vilakazi Street, Maropeng, Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum, Liliesleaf, Gold Reef City, Museum Africa, South African Museum of Military History, Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, the Nelson Mandela Bridge, James Hall Museum of Transport, Wits Origins Centre Museum, Lindfield Victorian House Museum, Wits Johannesburg Planetarium, more than 1 Mandela statue and even one of Gandhi…
If you want to kick it old style you can still catch a steam train. You can get to any part of the country via train from Johannesburg – just not by steam train.
This one is the kicker, we also have our own winery! Gerakaris Family wines ferment and bottle grapes from the Cape Winelands in the heart of Jozi.
Eish, this Jozi is a strangely wonderful place to live.
Here are some cool things you can do while in Johannesburg: