I invited my social club members, Sunrise Society, to join me for a 10am wine and chocolate tasting experience for R70 per person (4 wines, 3 chocolates). It’s quite an experience as it is actually backed by Spier – and it is almost the same as being in the Cape (except that it’s a lot closer to home).
Tip*: You can buy the chocolate and wine you loved most during a wine and chocolate wine pairing experience
It’s that time of year where some of you (not me) will have a little more time on your hands to do fun things. This post is all about the markets in Johannesburg that you can visit – I may have left a few markets off, feel free to comment their names below. If you know of any market that has started up again after (temporarily) closing… I want to know about it too!
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.
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.
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.