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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.

Leigh Hunt

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?

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.

Just look at those locks! There are thousands upon thousands.

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:

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
  • 4,000 hectares or 40 km² in size
  • 14 Game Reserve Ave, Rietvallei 377-Jr, Pretoria
  • Website

What to do in Gauteng with kids – Roadtrips and Nature Reserves

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.

Johannesburg CBD

I thought I’d share 20 cool facts about my city:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. The Johannesburg Zoo was founded in 1904 and is sprawled over 55 hectares. Just imagine the exercise you’ll get by visiting!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.)
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
Soweto
Johannesburg CBD

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:

It has been 106 days since lockdown started in South Africa. For the kids and I, it has been 118 days. Since the country entered Lockdown Level 3 we have been out and about most weekends to little nature reserves in Gauteng. It felt great to be out and feel the sunshine, see a lion and hear the wind in the trees.

Modderfontein Reserve in Edenvale, close to the airport, was our destination for our last weekend outing. It was a 20-minute drive from Fourways. Entry fees are quite affordable (R30 for adults and R15 for kids with Cyclists paying R50).

We were surprised to see so many people out, there were cars upon cars. People were out picnicking on the banks of the dam, walking along the trails and even enjoying a sit down at the Farmers’ Market.

The website promised a number of herbivores, but we didn’t see any. We did see a lot of birds during our walk.

I probably wouldn’t go back hoping to see animals, but I would definitely go back to have a picnic next to the water! I really enjoyed the walk in nature too.

Find out more here: www.modderfonteinreserve.co.za

What to do in Gauteng with Kids

  1. Cape Town is also known as the Mother City. Some Vaalies (people living in the northern parts of South Africa) also call it Slaapstad thanks to Capetonians’ slow way of doing things.
  2. The Castle used to have a view of the sea but land reclamation put an end to that. The Castle of Good Hope is also the oldest building in South Africa.
  3. The world’s first heart transplant occurred at Groote Schuur in Cape Town.
  4. Cape Town is geographically divided by Table Mountain.
  5. Bo-Kaap is home to one of South Africa’s oldest mosques.
  6. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway took its first visitors up the mountain on 4 October 1929. Don’t worry, they have upgrade everything now.
  7. An old cannon at the top of Signal Hill is fired off every single day at midday – since 1806.
  8. They have shitty weater most of the time. Their summers run from November through to March, and their winters span May to September. Thank goodness I live in Gauteng!
  9. Robben Island was once used as a training station for WW2. It was also used to house leprosy patients. It also hosted South Africa’s first democratically elected president as a prisoner.
  10. You can kick out a “lekker Afrikaanse mense” just about anywhere. It is the most spoken language in the Western Cape.

What to do while in Cape Town

When my BFF said she wanted to go to Charly’s Bakery I recalled all the many episodes I watched on some DSTv channel many years ago about all the amazing cakes, cupcakes and cookies they make. It was like a heavenly little store… on the other side of the world. I had forgotten about them.

Mucking Afazing

Charly’s Bakery

The Charly’s Bakery is an old Jewish bookstore with a yellow Cape Town frame next to it with Table Mountain as its backdrop. It’s a pretty old building with pink accents and a delicious secret inside.

Inside you can observe the cakes, cookies and cupcakes being decorated or feast your eyes on the ready-to-buy baked goodies. Spend a little time, order a coffee and cake and sit outside at a table.

Charly's Bakery
Charly’s Bakery Cape Town

Charly’s Bakery truly is a special place where best friends can meet before setting off on an adventure.

Best things to do in Cape Town - find Cape Town's yellow frames
Cape Town has many yellow frames but this one is at Charly’s Bakery

What to do in Cape Town

Walk through almost 100 statues of icons from South Africa’s past at Maropeng. The Long March to Freedom public art exhibition is a must-see with its life-sized bronze statues. This exhibition was previously housed at the Fountains Valley Resort in Pretoria but thanks to an agreement with the National Heritage Project Company it found a temporary home at Maropeng.

It is rumoured to be the largest outdoor exhibition anywhere in the world – and with an estimated value of around R100-million! The statues will eventually grow into a procession of over 400 bronze statues over time.

You can walk through the loosely spaced statues and snap selfies with chiefs, missionaries and freedom fighters like Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. The statues depict figures dating back as far as the 1700s. The details on the statues are spectacular – so pay attention.

How much does it cost to visit The Long March to Freedom exhibition:

The Long March to Freedom exhibition is absolutely free to visit currently. You can opt to visit the Maropeng exhibition while you are here – this however does have a price tag.

The truth is I’m feeling lost. I miss my mom. I need to clear my head and the only way I know how to do that is to travel. We have one trip coming up this December, but I need one of those chaotic (not chaotic, but rather action-packed) trips that I’m known for.

December is all about my family this year. Taking Lily on her very first real holiday with a big sister that is water mad; adding in my dad, sister with her hubby and the 2 teenage cousins. It’s a family holiday we used to have regularly as kids with my parents – and we are just recreating our childhood with our own kids.

I can’t wait to create family holiday memories with my kids! Going from “you’ll never have your own” to having 2 of my own is kind of a big deal.

…but back to that trip that I so desperately need, for myself.

I planned a trip to Morocco last year, had the invoice in my hands – and then my mom was diagnosed with cancer. It was a knee jerk reaction to cancel all plans that could take me away from her. Now I need that trip more than anything.

I need to clear my head and be a nomad for just a little bit again.

This heart of mine was made to travel this world

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I want to walk through the bustling streets of Marrakech, drink in the blue of Chefchaouen, admire places like Fes and Rabat, chase seagulls in Essaouira, sleep in the desert and maybe even see the Morocco meteor shower in December. I want to stuff my face in Morocco with every flavour and drape myself in a cultural experience. Ag, how I dream of this place!

Why this obsession to travel and explore Morocco?

Morocco has always been this magical place at the top of Africa where the colours are brighter and the people are different.

Morocco Tours that I’m looking at right now: