Cape Town, South Africa: A City Surrounded By Unbelievable Beauty ( Part III)

Cape Town, South Africa

My favorite cities have the same things in common:

  • Unique cultural experiences
  • Spectacular food
  • Efficient transportation
  • Beautiful sites
  • Excitement

Cape Town knocks each category out of the park.!  The City’s beauty alone is enough to fill an entire post.

Home to the majestic Table Mountain, there aren’t many places that I would rather spend my time.  It is too hard to adequately describe Table Mountain’s beauty, just know this, if you question the existence of GOD you won’t after visiting.  The site is spectacular.
Table Mountian, Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountian, Cape Town

 

After leaving Table Mountain, stop by Boulders Beach for lunch and to hang out with some animals that you would never guess could weather the South African heat !

Boulders Beach, South Africa


Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Beyond its beauty, Cape Town is home to hundreds of great restaurants.  With so much to try, this great City is where I really stepped out of my culinary box.  At Mama Africa ,in Cape Town’s party district, I ate the most delicious appetizer: crocodile!  It was grilled and seasoned to perfection!

Crocidile, Mama Africa, Cape Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had the game kabobs consisting of (warthog, ostrich, and springbok).

Game, Mama Africa, Cape Town , South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food was amazing and the drinks were flowing all night.

 

In addition to the amazing food, the house band kept the party going and several of my companions jumped at the chance to join in the fun.

Mama Africa , Cape Town, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t spend time in Cape Town without taking the 60 minute ferry ride to Robben Island to visit the site of the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners were held.

Robben Island Ferry Ride , South Africa

 

Robben Island, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprisingly, the island is now home to a few hundred people, including former prison wardens and former prisoners a like with a school, church and grocery store.   The actual prison is now a museum, visited by millions of people each year.  Being on the island is a humbling experience.  What really adds to the overall experience is that the tours are guided by former political prisoners.

 

Our guide was imprisoned at Robben Island for six years for his participation with the African National Congress (ANC).  He shared his experiences and even showed us the actual cell that he was held in.   We also viewed the cell that Mr. Mandela was held in during his 18 years on the Island.  (pictured)

Nelson Mandela's Prison Cell, Robben Island , South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Robben Island was a sobering experience  and as we left, we felt hopeful about South Africa’s bright future despite its troubled past.  Having a wine tour booked following our visit to Robben Island worked out to be a wise idea!

 

In 45 short minutes we were in Paarl sampling sumptuous wines and unbelievable chocolates.  South Africa’s vast wine country is beyond gorgeous.  The rolling hills lined with grapevines as far as the eyes can see, with jagged mountains framing the horizon, create a picturesque setting.

 

Wine country, Paarl, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wine was fantastic but the absolute star of the day was the meal that we enjoyed at an onsite pizzeria.  The cow feta and spinach pizza, chicken livers, brie and tomato sandwich and the lamb baguettes were unbelievable.

Chicken Livers and Lamb, South Africa

 

I truly recommend spending no less that half a day in wine country.  With hundreds of independent producers you are sure to discover something great.

When the sun rose the following day we were greeted with great coffee and the sour realization that we would be heading back to the states in a few short hours.  But leave it up to my crew to make the very best of it by going shopping!

Cape Town’s Green Market located in the City ‘s downtown district is massive.  Despite the fact that many of the vendors are selling the same trinkets, you can find some really good deals and some unique items if you take your time and explore.

Cape Town Green Market, South Africa

Feel free to haggle but make sure you shop with Rand, the local currency ( it just makes it easier ).

 

A few short hours later we loaded our luggage, headed to the airport, and made the 17 hour journey back to the states.

 

South Africa is an unbelievable country.  I cannot wait to return in a few years.

Have you traveled to South Africa?  Tell me your story here.

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Fun and “Game”: Exploring Kruger National Park and the South African Countryside (Part II)

Visiting Johannesburg was awesome and a great way to start our South African adventure!

After spending three exciting days there, we traveled by bus from Johannesburg to Hazeyview in preparation for a game drive in Kruger National Park.  During the four-hour journey we stopped at Blyde River Canyon and had the honor of viewing the immense South African Countryside.

Blyde  River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world!  It was truly breathtaking.

Blyde Canyon

Blyde Canyon


After visiting Blyde Canyon it was on to Kruger National Park.  Kruger National ParkWe arrived at the park before the sun came up.  Lions and leopards are nocturnal hunters and rest during the day, so getting there before dawn is ideal.  As our open air vehicle cut through the cold morning air we were warmed with the excitement of seeing animals in their natural habitat.  Almost immediately after entering the park, we spotted a heard of antelope grazing and zebras in the distance. However, DSC_0413we traveled for nearly and hour without seeing anything more than antelope and as the sun came up, we feared we had missed our opportunity to see any  “big cats”.

Well, after making an abrupt left turn on a dusty trail, we spotted a pride of lions resting under a tree…..we were excited, nervous, and totally humbled in their presence.

Pride of Lions : Kruger National Park

 

Kruger National Park

Our anxiety calmed when our guide explained that lions have no “depth of sight” which means that as long as we were not wearing bright colors and we didn’t exit the vehicle, the lions saw our vehicle and everything in it as one large object too large to attack.  Now if anyone decided to stick a hand out or exit the vehicle ( which is illegal) well they may have become lunch!

We enjoyed the lions without incident and after we admired them for a while and took a few hundred pictures, we caught our breath a drove deeper into the park.

From that point on, we saw water buffalo, majestic elephants, a lone hyena who appeared to be injured in battle, mischievous baboons, gorgeous birds, rhinoceros, turtles and much more.DSC02985Leopard Turtle :Kruger National ParkHyena: Kruger National Park

DSC_0523Elephant: Kruger National Park
Being in Kruger National Park during the day was exciting, but venturing into the park at night is totally exhilarating.

 

Kruger National ParkKruger National ParkGuided only by two manual search lights and the vehicle’s headlights, in the pitch black darkness, we combed every tree top with our eyes for a glimpse of the allusive leopard.  Despite being told that seeing a leopard is rare, we searched for two hours anyway.   A few people in our group spotted a leopard that morning but it was much too quick for all of us to get a good look.

That night we never had the pleasure of encountering one.

Despite only seeing four of the famed “Big 5” ( lion, leopard, elephant, water buffalo, rhino)   it was quite an adventure visiting Kruger National Park and experiencing its compelling beauty.

Stay tuned for (Part III) The Perfect City :Cape Town, South Africa !

Check out the following post for great tips to help you plan your South African safari :

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/themes/wildlife/south-african-safaris-for-first-timers-eight-tips/

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Spending Christmas In St. Lucea, Jamaica: A Fabulous Way To Celebrtate The Season !

Gran Palladium Resort and Spa St. Lucea, JamaicaGran Palladium Resort and Spa St. Lucea, JamaicaMargartaville, Negril JamaicaMargaritavile, Negril JamaicaA year ago today the Suggs Family was basking in the warm sun enjoying Christmas in Jamaica.  We ventured off the traditional “home for the holidays” route and found ourselves 20 minutes outside of Montego Bay, Jamaica in the fishing village of St. Lucea, at the Grand Pallidum Resort and Spa.  When we arrived, we were greeted with umbrella adorned drinks and shuttled off to our room.  As our golf cart raced across the resort, we admired the perfectly manicured grounds, impressive swimming pools, and a variety of interesting restaurants.  Lush tropical plants cradled the campus at every turn and the beautiful white washed buildings were perfectly complimented by the illustrious blue sea, just steps from our door.

The Gran Palladuim is located along a rocky coastline. The majestic cliffs are breathtaking.  On our first full day, we laid under the protection of a comfortable cabana draped with white linen and were hypnotized as we watched the waves crash into the cliffs that trailed off into the horizon.

Although the resort had everything we needed, nothing says Jamaica, like the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters of Negril. So on day two, we spent a full day in Negril eating jerk chicken and racing around on jet skis. And what’s a trip to Negril without a visit to Rick’s Cafe for cliff diving?  While Xeric took the plunge, the rest of us admired the beautiful sunset.

The next day we were off to Ocho Rios to conquer Dunn’s River Falls, which is always an exhilarating experience.

For the rest of our vacation, we lounged on the beach and ate our way around the resort.  It was an amazing way to spend the holidays.

This year, we will in Atlanta, GA enjoying a quite Christmas at home making cookies and slowly sipping from mugs filled with piping hot chocolate around the tree as we sing our favorite holiday songs.

Regardless of where you spend the holiday season, enjoy every precious moment!

Have you taken a fabulous trip to celebrate the holidays?  Share your experiences here.

Fiji: Everything You Think It Is And Much More!

What a treat it is to visit the South Pacific. People always ask what Fiji is like and I always say the same thing. Fiji is simply breathtaking. The beauty is unmatched and the locals are extremely friendly. Fiji

We spent our days basking in the vibrant sun–fanned by the relentless ocean breeze. At night, we were lulled by a moonlight that seemed much closer to the earth than normal. If that wasn’t enough, we sang soft rock from the early 90s while trying feverishly to follow the words attached to a television monitor…Karaoke anyone? We laughed and drank Kava- Fiji’s traditional drink of choice, comprised of a ground root soaked in water. Always open to new experiences, I took the cup offered to me by a charming man with grey hair and leathery brown skin.  I held the cup, which was more like a small bowl between my hands, and I drank. Matamanoa Island, FijiKava is beloved by native Fijians. The drink had an earthy flavor. Once down, my tongue went numb in some places. On the bright side, I felt more relaxed–one of the benefits of drinking Kava.

We stayed at an all-inclusive resort run by native Fijians on the private Matamoanoa Island. The island is located about 2 hours from the airport by ferry. The ferry ride over was an amazing journey. The views were astounding and the weather was perfect. We zipped along dropping off passengers at islands scattered in the sea.  As we approached Matamoanoa, we were greeted by nearly a dozen people standing on the beach singing a lovely welcome serenade. “Bula” the Fijian word for welcome was stated then and we felt that way during our entire stay.Fiji

After we were shown to our private quarters, a 580 square foot bure with all of the amenities one would need, we settled in for seven days of bliss. The island caters to couples and is comprised of 24 private bures.  Our door opened onto the beach and was just steps away from the water.  On the first day, we were pampered with an hour long massage on the beach at sunrise. We kayaked, made baskets, played volleyball, hiked, scuba dived and snorkeled until we were faced with the reality that our trip was coming to an end.FijiMatamanoa Island, Fiji

Matamanoa is for the traveler who seeks seclusion.  Many guests that we met traveled to other islands before ending in Matamaona.  If you want a bustling city with nightlife and a variety of restaurants, consider accommodations on one of the larger islands.  But if you want to relax, be pampered, and enjoy nature, you can’t go wrong with Matamanoa.

Fijian communities consist of close-knit villages governed through a tribal hierarchy. On the neighboring island sat a modest Methodist church–a testament to the island’s many cultural and religious influences. There are people from all over the world living in Fiji’s major cities.  However, on the smaller islands you will find people who have hair and features similar to other groups closely linked to the African Diaspora.Matamanoa Island, Fiji

Matamanoa is owned and operated by native Fijians.  The profits from the property remain in the local community.

From the crystal clear waters to the unforgettable sunsets, Fiji is a destination that should not be missed.

 

Matamanoa Island, Fiji

 

If you are considering visiting Fiji or if you want more information, send us a message here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.  We love to talk travel!

Happy Travels,

Jen

Website: www.eatbreathetravel

Twitter:@Suggstravel

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eatbreathetravel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madrid,Spain: Culture, Fashion, Fantasy and Fun

 

 

 

 

A few years ago I elected to live in Spain for four weeks.  I had always wanted to participate in a Spanish immersion program and I finally got my chance.  I took a leave of absence from my job and headed to the home of Prada and the Prado …Madrid.  Having visited Barcelona a few years prior, I already had positive feelings toward the fashionable country and living in Madrid further solidified those feelings.   I blogged while there using travelblog.org.  Check out my photos http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Atllady81/

Like Barcelona, Madrid is beautiful with lush green spaces and centuries old architecture.  The culture is lively with equal parts sophistication and pretense.

Living in the heart of Madrid, I found the city to be clean and safe.  The public transportation system is easy to master and very economical.

The food didn’t do it for me and it took a while to get used to dining after 7pm (usually 9pm).  But once I got accustomed, the tapas and countless glasses of authentic Sangria held me over until dinner.

The city abounds with impressive sights, from Retiro Park’s well manicured grounds to countless museums and historic attractions, not to mention the 3-4 story H & M and the many other fashion outlets along Gran Via  (Madrid’s  main artery).  Europe fashion is unmatched.  The cut the quality …need I go on?

Aside from the fashion, there were several highlights to my trip.  I went to see a Flamenco performance.  It was quite possibly the most entertaining dance performance I have ever witnessed.  A definite must for any visitor.  I also made my rounds to several night clubs.  The most memorable was Kapital.

Kapital is a seven story party that starts after 1am and goes well beyond 5am .  End the night with churros and chocolate at a local café..you’ll feel like a local in no time.

The Prado museum, the second largest museum in the world with collections that can only be matched by the Louvre it’s larger counterpart located in Paris, France.   Make multiple visits to see the collections.  You cannot and should not try to see the entire museum in one visit …your head will explode and you won’t enjoy the experience.

The Running of the Bulls, although not located in Madrid is one of my fondest memories of Spain.  Do try to attend if you happen to be in Pamplona, Spain during that time of year (beginning of July).  It was exciting, crowded, and quite an exhilarating experience.   The festival starts with several days of all night parting and culminates with the running of the bulls.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that during my stay EuroPride held its annual parade in Madrid.  It was really fun.  The whole city came alive and my classmates and I had a ball.

 

Madrid is a must see.  There is something for everyone.  Exciting night life, exquisite shopping, beautiful architecture and art and endless sites for the history buff.

http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Atllady81/