Travel Europe


Ooh la la! It is a well-known fact that Paris is embraced as the world’s city of love. One imagines the city filled with couples walking down the street holding hands or enjoying a scrumptious meal while being serenaded with the romantic sounds of the accordion. With its picturesque views, vibrant arts and culture scene, famous landmarks and delicious food, Paris continues to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. As Valentine’s Day creeps up, here are five reasons why you should surprise your significant other with a trip to Paris during the month of love.

We love because it’s the only true adventure

Nikki Giovanni

Valentine’s Day is a big deal in Paris

Much like the Christmas markets bring a festive feel to winter around Europe, Valentine’s Day is an experience in itself in Paris. Restaurants, hotels and other hotspots go all out ensuring you celebrate love in the most romantic way possible. Book a dinner cruise on the Seine, enjoy an unforgettable evening at one of Paris’ most popular cabaret shows or even pop the question under the Eiffel Tower and make this Valentine’s Day one to remember.

It’s easily accessible

Paris is one of the easiest European destinations to reach from South Africa. Air France offers direct flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Paris. This means that the city of love can be reached by a daily flight from Johannesburg and four times per week from Cape Town. Connections from other cities within South Africa are also available.

We are outside again, walking, when he takes a bite and stops dead. “Wow,” he says after a minute. Then, “Wow,” again.
I smile. Everyone remembers their first taste of Paris. This will be his.

Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale

It’s a foodie’s paradise

Food plays a big part in Paris’ romantic setting and if you’re a foodie, a trip to Paris is bound to awaken your senses. From fresh baguettes to French onion soup, perfectly cooked snails and indulging in decadent macarons or flaky croissants, Paris is a destination any culinary fanatic needs to tick off their list. What makes the city even more special is its café culture which promotes romance as diners pair their meals with a fine wine, a beautiful soundtrack and romantic setting.

You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.

Albert Einstein

We’ll always have Paris.

Howard Koch

Romantic activities are a plenty

Paris seems almost tailormade to create magical moments between you and your loved one with a string of unforgettable activities to raise the romance in your relationship. A trip up the Eiffel Tower gives you the best views of the city while a visit to Disneyland opens up the possibility of exploring your more adventurous side. You can visit the famous Louvre museum and see sculptures and paintings that were inspired by some of the world’s greatest love stories or simplify things by enjoying a pastry while listening to musicians play the accordion on the street or get lost in the city’s Tuileries Garden.

A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Lif

Thomas Jefferson

Shop up a storm

Coincidentally, Paris is also the fashion capital of the world and many high-end fashion brands have made the city their headquarters. The famous Golden Triangle of Paris, made up of the Champs Elysées, Avenue Georges V and Avenue Montaigne, has an array of stores which harbour the perfect gift options to spoil your loved one. Sabbia Rosa, a boutique full of sensuous and very special lingerie, has become a famous stop for couples looking to celebrate their love and with an array of designer brands, diamond stores and everything in between, this area of the city has your shopping needs sorted.

The shopping, the food, the views! Paris is a city that entrances us all—and I’m no exception.

Michael Kors

Get wanderlusting about Paris:

We survived… a family holiday with my parents and Lexa – and 2 x 4 hour flights! Loved it, but also really glad that the trip is over. I missed home, my cats, lekker chips, pap & sauce, hearing South Africans talk and driving on the left of the road in a right hand drive vehicle.

Return to the Republic… goodbye Reunion

It was tough, but I would do it all again.

In the next few weeks I will tell you all about the museums, vanilla farms, waterfalls, towns and beaches we visited as well as what I thought about creole food. There will be tips on what to take and where to go as well as what to expect when you do a road trip.

I took along some products to test… because when you do a road trip your skin gets punished. One product in particular lived up to its promise – but you will have to wait and see…

I can’t even tell you yet what I loved most about the trip, I am just so tired right now… I just know that I took over 3000 photos and still need to sort through mine, my mom’s and still need to submit a travel insurance claim for my dad’s lost video camera.

It’s weird, it’s one of those destinations where not even the tourism site has a lot of info. Travel agencies still look at you… weirdly and all you can do is trawl a lot of accounts of previous visitors to this little island in the Indian Ocean.

So this is what I know, we are going and soon. We have a car and accommodation. I’m not sure if there is a festival on or not, because dates on it is sparse. I kind of have an idea what we will do and see – but I don’t have a 100% plan.

We are definitely seeing volcanoes


St Denis, the capital city, offers a number of cultural sites that I am keen to explore.

  • Musee Leon Dierx which boast an impressive collection that include works by Picasso, Gauguin and Cézanne.
  • Cascade du Chaudron – apparently the pool at this waterfall is bluer than blue.
  • Grand Marche – a market or 2 is definitely on the list.
  • Kali Kampal Temple (Hindu Temple)
  • Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de La Réunion
  • Saint-Denis Cathedral
  • Vanilla plantation

2 volcanoes

  • Piton des Neiges – which has been inactive for a very long time. Maybe we will hike a bit here. There is also a biological reserve here.
  • Piton de la Fournaise – one of the world’s most active volcanoes (fingers crossed to see some lava from a VERY safe distance). Hiking to Furnace Peak…

Hellbourg on the edge of Cirque de Salazie

Rumour has it that it is being lauded as the “most beautiful French village”. The Creole architecture is apparently amazing here and I’m a sucker for architecture. We are also going to eat our way through the local cuisine in this little town.

What I’m really looking forward to is a cultural and gastronomic experience. So my research is taking me to all sorts of weird and wonderful pages.

Be on the lookout for my next posts about planning for our Reunion Island trip – everything from packing lists to places to see.

When you walk through the gates at the Vatican City (from Rome) it is a totally different vibe. The tourists are crammed in, but it is still quiet. You expect to see many priests walking around – but maybe they are so inconspicuous that you don’t see them or they are somewhere inside.

The Vatican isn’t small. It is HU-GE! The courtyard is crazy large and I can see how so many people come here for religious services.

You will also notice these guards with their very colourful uniforms… Remember the lion monument in Lucerne? Well, these guys are Swiss Guards. They are highly revered in Europe – and are tasked to protect the pope. You can read more about their history here.

Once you are inside the buildings (museum, St Peter’s Basilica) you will notice the sheer opulence. There are so many pieces of art on the walls and roof and it just doesn’t end. It is just so beautiful and you want to see everything, but your neck just can’t…

They have art from all the great masters and from many civilizations – and it is all just so beautiful!

When I said it is opulent I really meant it… Have you ever seen a church like this?

If you want to travel the world from your couch… keep on reading my blog 🙂

I once was brave enough to go on a Contiki tour… it really wasn’t for me. Sights that I would’ve wanted to explore was only part of their “drive-thru” approach. At least we had an hour in Lucerne to see the beautiful Dying Lion Monument and Chapel Bridge.

I love history. I read books about history as a hobby – and it isn’t limited to wars…it includes buildings, architects, artists and more.

European history is one of my favourite subjects – so when I eventually got to Europe there was so much I wanted to see… and one of these was the Dying Lion in Lucerne. This monument commemorates the Swiss Guards massacred during the French Revolution.

It is just such a powerful image carved into the cliff face – a mortally wounded lion impaled by a spear, covering a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy; beside him another shield bearing the coat of arms of Switzerland.

… and then the old Chapel Bridge (or Kapellbrucke). It is the oldest covered bridge in Europe as well as the world’s oldest truss bridge. This beautiful bridge also boasts a number of paintings dating from the 17th century.

I don’t want to spoil the magic, but it had to be partially restored after a fire in 1993. Still, it is one of the most beautiful bridges I have ever see.

Isn’t Lucerne just picture-perfect?

Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life.

In life you can choose many different paths. You can choose to live a real life or pretend to be someone else (for the rest of your life). You can choose to sit in one spot or explore the world with a big smile and camera in hand.

There are things and places I will never forget from our many family holidays – when your parents were as adventurous with a map and tent as mine was, you would probably have gone mad.

We were campers that could set up and break down a camp in less than 30 minutes. We were the family in the old light blue VW kombi and then the light blue Landrover that would always drive slower than the rest.

We have seen Victoria Falls from both Zimbabwe and Zambia. We slept in the Hwange National Park while hyenas pawed our tents and a lion chased a buck through the camp.

We have walked on the Makgadigadi salt pans in Botswana and marvelled at the flamingos in their thousands.

We drove to Cape Town and almost ran out of fuel in some mountain range. We “freed” down the hills and we got there. Unfortunately we were also that family that went to every museum in the Western Cape.

To my parents’ dismay I was the kid that made the menu difficult with my refusal to eat red meats (I come from a long line of carnivores). I was also the kid that refused to take of my shoes to go into (yet another) mosque.

Then I left home and moved to Jozi…

In 2008 I made my first trip to Europe and I was hooked on those beautiful passport stamps. I couldn’t get enough of the food, the culture and the people. It was like a big playground – and I could play around in it for 6 weeks only. It was a whirlwind tour to 8 countries and a week on my own in Ireland.

Ireland stole my heart and I’ve only been back once – and still trying to get back with every possible lame excuse.

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Then the whole marriage thing happened and we dragged our guests off to Mozambique for 5 days and an 18 day Europe, Ireland and Egypt honeymoon.

…and then the Kgalagadi called us

Nothing I’ve ever seen could’ve prepared us for the beauty of the Kgalagadi. The sun beating down on the savannahs, the lions casually strolling over the road or the fresh baked bread from the locals.

For some reason all our friends started going to Thailand and raving about it… and we decided to go see what the fuss was about.

All of Thailand’s beauty and splendour could not save it from landing on our list of places never to go back to. It is a tourist trap – and we want true experiences.

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The highlight of all highlights…

No holiday could ever compare to the one in the Maldives. This little island paradise stole my heart. My soul still yearns for the white beaches and turquoise waters.

Where would I still like to go to?

  1. I really want to see the country as it is now, before it becomes too westernized
  2. The Scandinavian countries
  3. Eastern Europe
  4. All the Greek & Italian islands
  5. Bora Bora
  6. Seychelles
  7. Comores
  8. Anyplace that isn’t yet on my passport

I probably will never stop collecting passport stamps and memories, but for now all I can do is plan, plan and plan.

It is true what they say about Paris, it is the city of love.

I have visited Paris twice and have explored this city extensively. The last time I was lucky enough to have my husband with me.

I have seen the Eiffel Tower in the day. I have seen the Eiffel Tower at night. I have photographed the Eiffel from many angles – top and bottom. I have made it up the Eiffel – barely, but I did it. I have ate french cafes and looked at the passersby. I have walked through the Louvre and posed with the Mona Lisa – twice. I have taken the buses all over Paris.

Paris in September

I loved everything in Paris – just not the french.

Landing at the airport and thinking that the Tourism Officers might be helpful was mistake #1. I think she swore at me – but after many unsuccessful attempts of asking for info I gave her a tirade in Afrikaans and suddenly I got a brochure.

On all my travels, this was also one of the few cities where we had issues. The last day in Paris we left the hotel at 3am to catch a train to Amsterdam and on our way to the closest station some youngsters hassled us, but of course I unleashed the most unholy tirade and they backed off.

Would I go back to Paris? Absolutely! I will never say no to another picnic in the shadow of the Eiffel.

Paris is always a good idea:

I make no secret of how much I love Ireland. It feels like home, but cooler than a packet of Rascals. I am lucky enough to be married to a real Irishman who drinks Guinness and have family over the water.

The first time I visited Ireland was back in 2008 – all on my own. I chose a self-drive holiday and to find accommodation on the day. It was one of the best holidays I have ever had.

Ireland is magical. The landscapes are picture perfect. The people warm and inquisitive.

Ferry to the Aran Islands - Ireland

My first day in Ireland I would’ve caught a ferry from Doolin to the Aran Islands, but weather had other ideas. I found alternative accommodation at a little farm B&B. That night as I wondered where to go for dinner an American asked me if I wanted to go to the matchmaking festival not too far from there. Of course I could not say no – where in the world else would I see something like this? So off we went to find this festival in Lisdoonvarna.

At the festival we were let in without paying entrance fees, because the “wee lass might find herself a husband”. The locals danced, swopped partners and was merry all night and roped us in quite eagerly.

The next day I caught the ferry to the Aran Islands. Check back to read my series on Ireland and other places. 🙂

Never, ever again – that is my feeling about Thailand.

It is beautiful, I will give Thailand that. It was the most horrific holiday destination ever – and I still have nightmares about it almost 4 months later.

Asia was never on any of my places to see list. It was only because my sister raved about their trip that my husband decided that we should go. We booked our flights, booked a few nights’ accommodation and off we went to Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Phi Phi.

Bangkok was bigger than I ever imagined. It was like Joburg on steroids gone wrong. Traffic congestion was horrific – I have never seen so many cars/tuk-tuks/motorcycles in my life. The sights were beautiful – reclining Buddha, palace and everything else. I found it quite hard to cope with having to cover my shoulders and legs in the heat, but at least I have awesome photos.

Phuket was a whole different horse from Bangkok. More relaxed, but a tourist trap of note. I think Phuket really spoilt the whole trip for me. I felt battered the moment my feet hit the pavement – I was asked every 2m if I wanted a taxi/tuk-tuk/want to buy clothes/food/bags or have a suit made. The best place on Phuket for me was Big Buddha.

Koh Phi Phi I was really hesitant to book due to the tsunami a few years ago, but I was really glad I went. It really is an island to relax and get down to some serious water activities and parties. Be warned, it doesn’t look like much when you arrive, but then you get to the main beach and everything is just perfect. Coconut cocktails, music and food right on the beach. I would recommend Phi Phi as a must-see.

Not that I am saying that you shouldn’t go to Thailand. Maybe Thailand is your scene, it just wasn’t mine…at all.