Thursday, July 31, 2014

#gotoReunion: Adventure on Reunion Island

You couldn't miss an adventure on Reunion Island if you tried. As if driving on the wrong side of the road, combined with the French's love for traffic circles isn't adventurous enough, you're likely to end up on the edge of an active volcano, on a boat watching a pod of dolphins,  jumping from an 12 metre high cliff, inside a tunnel of cold lava or hanging from a parachute with just wind to keep you flying.

A little boy in the village of Cayenne, where he lives with 29 other people 

You could try to hide from adventure in your hotel room, but there's something about the island that makes you feel like spending all your given hours sipping cocktails on the beach would be a wasted opportunity. When there are crystal clear waters to swim in, and remote villages to hike to, you're likely to find yourself up at sunrise and in collapsing into bed, exhausted by 10pm.

If you're imagining an island with a few reed huts and a couple of palm trees, think again. Reunion Island is French in every way possible - including being a department of France. Think small European city with an island flair. From the language to the croissants, Reunion Island is French. (Imagine something similar to Cape Town in the sense that it's a city, that functions within a seaside paradise)

In the Air

I never thought I wanted to be a bird until I went paragliding. When asked what kind of animal I would be given the chance, I've always said seal. It's the closest you can get to mermaid and I love their cat-like faces. But gliding over the beautiful waters at Kelonia brought tears to my eyes. It was an experience I wouldn't give up for the world. This is one activity that I think I'm addicted to. Read more about my experience here. Book your flight with the incredibly capable Parapente Reunion.

In the Water

SUP, snorkelling and kayaking are big within the island's lagoon. Don't even ask about surfing because right now it's forbidden due to sharks. To be honest, I spent most of my water time in the lagoon just swimming, relishing the colour and the temperature of the Indian Ocean.

I was very into is canyoning. You get dressed up like a navy seal in a wetsuit and helmet and proceed to hike through pretty dense jungle up to the top of a ravine. Then you drift down the water, jumping off cliffs, hurtling over waterfalls and basically "body kayaking" rapids. It's so much fun and the views along the way are just amazing. Check out RUN Adventures for details.

If you have sea-legs and aren't prone to seasickness like me, then a dolphin and whale viewing trip is something you should definitely do. We went out with some scientists who don't harass the sea creatures, chasing after them in speed boats like rabid animals, but rather sail in a 100 year old boat, waiting to see if any of these majestic creatures are interested in interacting. If you're lucky and there are good vibes coming from the dolphins or whales on the day, you might even get to go free diving with them. Check out Ocean Dream for details.

On Land

Ok, so you're on an island with one of the most active volcanoes in the world - that's pretty adventurous for a start. But there are a whole lot of awesome land activities that will keep you very busy. First of all, you can't go to the island and not drive up to the "mouth of the furnace" Le Piton de la Fournaise. It's like Mars out there. Totally surreal and beautiful.

The French are massively into hiking and the natural beauty of Reunion Island is something amazing to behold. We hiked into a remote village that can only be reached by foot and I have to say, it was one of the highlights of my trip. Read more about our hike here.

A unique activity is the chance to explore inside the lava tunnels that are created when molten lava hits cold sea water. Climbing into a small hole in the hard lava to explore the chambers is something that you can really only do in very few places in the world. More info at

Find out more about Reunion Island at

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Feel Like Talking About Depression?

My worst thing about depression is that I don't realise I'm depressed until I'm sobbing my heart out in a bathtub in a luxury hotel room on the night of my birthday, you know? It's the times when I'm like "my life is so great right now and I have people who love me so why am I so sad?" that make me realise that I am indeed back in that black hole filled with fear and boredom and unbearable empty sadness.

I wrote about depression in 2013 for the first time. It was really the first time that I had ever been comfortable with talking about it in public and I found the whole experience really liberating and therapeutic. I also realised that there are so many many people out there who feel the same way that I do and who find as much comfort in reading about my experience with depression as I do in hearing from them. You can read the post about what it feels like to have depression here.

Like most people who deal with depression do at some point, I recently went off my medication. You might be rolling your eyes right now thinking, "ugh, what an idiot!" and you're totally right. In my defence though, I just want to say that going off my Wellbutrin wasn't exactly a conscious decision. It just kind of happened. I ran out of medication and then I was away and then I came back and I wasn't feeling too bad and then I was like "ah well, I'll get another prescription if I start feeling down again."

But it wan't until my head felt like it was in a black cloud and I was hunched over sobbing into my bundled up fists that I was like, "wow, this is not good." And then I felt that old friend of depression crawling up through my heart and drilling down deep into my brain and my core and I thought, "ugh, hello Guilt". And then I was apologising.

"I'm so sorry, I am the worst. You must hate being around me." I was lying on my back, sobbing with sadness and guilt and my eyes were swollen from the hot tears burning my cheeks. Because someone that I love was having to deal with my sadness and of course, he was even more confused than I was. I mean, it was my birthday! We were happy!  We were in love! My poor boyfriend just kissed my face all over (except where my hands were covering my eyes because I couldn't even bear to look into his loving face) and told me over and over again that I'm not the worst at all, and that he loves me and that I'm not nearly as horrible to be around as I think I am.

When I'm depressed, I want to be alone and around people at the same time. Because the only thing worse than having no one to talk to, is having to talk to someone - when everything I think of saying seems like it will bore the brains right out of anyone in conversation with me. I imagine saying something so mundane and stupid that their brain turns to jungle oats right there and then and just trickles right out the side of their head.

So I feel guilty that I'm not the normal me. And I feel guilty that people have to spend time around me. So I try to be alone. Then I feel guilty for shutting people out and I'm like, "no one is going to want to be friends with me when I'm better."

Anyway, what I want to say, is that I suppose it's ok to fall down sometimes. It is, isn't it? I hope it is. Because I know it's my own fault I'm feeling this way again. And that I should never have been too lazy to stick with my medication. But I'm going to the doctor on Wednesday and I will be back to normal soon... I think.

Anyone else know what I'm talking about? Hello?

5 Things Tribe Coffee Roasting Is Doing Right

Following my post about 5 things El Burro is doing right, I wanted to share another one of my favourite spots and what I love about them. Because the very next time I visited El Burro, I ran into an old friend from Joburg who was down for business. "I read your post about El Burro so I thought I had to try it", she said.

Like I said in my previous 5 Things post, this is in no way sponsored content. I just genuinely believe that between the hundreds of coffee shops and restaurants in Cape Town, there are a few that stand out, that deserve to have their name shouted from the keyboards of those who love them.

Tribe Coffee at the Woodstock Foundry is my go-to spot to work from and I'll tell you why.

1. Great Coffee

You might think that good coffee at a coffee shop goes without saying, but a great cup of coffee is more than just foam art. The coffee is Tribe is roasted with passion on the premises, prepared with a smile by friendly baristas and tastes great every time.

2. Free Parking

Unless you've paid R12,50 per hour for street parking, you can't fully appreciate exactly how beneficial this actually is. On average, I spend about 6 hours working from a coffee shop. At R12,50 per hour, average three days a week, that comes to R900 per month.

3. Owner Management

Much like El Burro, a lot of the success of Tribe can be attributed to the owners spending time there. You'll see Jake, the tall American with the cool moustache and Kate, the beautiful blonde with the friendly smile there on a daily basis and you'll probably be confused as to why they are being so friendly to you the first time you meet them, like in a "Have I met you before and forgotten?" kind of way.

4. Phenomenal Playlists

Every time I've worked from Tribe, the playlist has been one that I've wanted to download. Whoever runs the music department is doing a great job and as I type this, Miley Cyrus is singing Wrecking Ball and I am super into it.

5. Twitter

This might not be relevant to everyone, but if you're reading this blog, I presume you spend at least some time on Social Media. I discovered Tribe through Social Media, when I Tweeted looking for a coffee shop with free wifi. They immediately replied and I've been working from here ever since. And that brings me to bonus point number 6: Free wifi.

Follow Tribe Coffee Roasting on Twitter and find them at The Foundry, 160 Albert Road, Woodstock,
Cape Town.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Instagramming My Life

I came across this blog post this morning and I just absolutely loved it:

One, because the writing is funny and two, because I can totally relate! I think we all know that people's lives are not as fun and cool and awesome as they seem on Instagram and although I do try to be honest online, I am also guilty of sometimes cropping out the less attractive bits of my life and filtering out the blemishes.

Here are a few examples of my own "Insta-lies"

What the caption was: Wintry still life.

What the caption should have been: My friend Emma just posted a really epic picture on Instagram and I'm jealous so I want to post something cool too. The train track is already taken so I'll just post these lemons instead. (Incidentally, follow Emma on Instagram! Her account is one of my favourites)
Wintry still l
What the caption was: Came home to find BABYCAT asleep on the job.

What the caption should have been: Came home to find BABYCAT asleep on the job so tried to take a picture but she woke up and gave me a series of dirty looks. So I sat down on the floor in front of her and pretended to be busy with other things until she finally went back to sleep and I managed to take this one picture. Time wasted on picture: Approx. 8 minutes.

What the caption was: If ever you thought working from home was even slightly glamorous. 
Not even black and white filters can fix my look today.

What the caption should have been: I wish I was cleaner and looked better. I actually can't even post this in colour because it is just too unattractive. Maybe black and white will make me look better. Nope. Oh well, I've committed to this so I might as well just post it. Time wasted on taking several hundred pictures until I looked OK-ish: Approx. 10 minutes.

What the caption was: It's "stay in pajamas and eat maltabella pap" weather.

What the caption should have been: Euw I don't think this pap is actually cooked I can't even eat it gross. Ate a banana instead.

What the caption was: Never ever too cold for ice cream. This goodness is from Ice Pallazo at the@knysnaoysterfestival Design & Food Night Market #kof2014 #best10days

What the caption should have been: Too freezing to eat this ice cream. 

What the caption was: Representing South African fashion in #reunionisland with a dress from@margot_molyneux, neck piece from @katherinepichulik and a bag from Chapel #gotoreunion #lovezabuyza

What the caption should have been: I wanted to post a picture of what I'm wearing but even after taking almost 100 pictures, I couldn't find one that I liked. I absolutely hate the way I look in this picture, but since I made my colleague waste time taking so many I kind of have to post it. Time wasted on taking this picture that I don't even like: Approx. 15 minutes.
What the caption was: Good morning from Carolina in Mpumalanga #meetsouthafrica

What the caption should have been: Currently behaving passive aggressively towards my dad for booking this place. The house we are staying in is a hovel and all there is to do is fish or walk. Despite the hours I spent online finding a great place for us to spend the weekend, my dad booked this place without input from me or my mom. This sunrise is the only good thing about it.

What the caption was: This is really cool! @spierwinefarm Hotel has lanyards with 5km and 10 running maps in the lobby. Nice way to start the morning #stellenblog

What the caption should have been: LOL I got lost on the route (I can't read a map) so probably only ran about 2,5km's before giving up and having breakfast.
What the caption was: I'm obsessed with all the different textures and colours in nature. So beautiful. Wild Spirit Lodge, Plett #wildspirit #travelmermaidtails

What the caption should have been: I'm obsessed with all the different textures and colours in nature. So beautiful. Unfortunately I slipped on the wet rocks coming down here and fell and cut my butt open. I am currently in a massive amount of pain. Also, this water is so freezing that I can hardly fathom swimming in it. 

What the caption was: As @keenanmulvaney says: "Breakfast of underdogs" #wimpy #roadtrip

What the caption should have been: Euw. Nope.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

#ComeSitStellenbosch: Winter in Wine Country

I was very fortunate yesterday and got to spend my birthday in one of my favourite parts of the country: Stellenbosch. The occasion was the media launch of the amazing Come Sit, Stay&Savour Stellenbosch winter packages - but I just pretended it was my birthday party and that I just happened to have invited some of the Cape's top food and wine media to my party.

Look at Brandslut Instagramming

We enjoyed an afternoon of strolling through the leafy streets of this beautiful town, stopping to take pictures of the Come Sit outdoor sculpture exhibition and to tuck into delicious wine and treats at M-Patisserie, SMAC Art Gallery, The Showroom and Schoon de Companje.

This all was followed by dinner at the delicious Terroir (seriously though, have you eaten here? The food is incredible) and a night in a luxurious room at Devon Valley Hotel (which has fire places and deep baths in the room plus free wifi!).

Me and Misha taking a little time-out. Pic by News24Travel

How's that for a birthday?

You can follow the same route we walked yesterday - it's a really fun way to spend a wintry afternoon. Here's the map that we followed.

While you're there, make sure that you upload a few pictures of the benches to Instagram and tag them with #ComeSitStellenbosch to enter to win a luxury weekend in Stellenbosch worth R5800!

Find out more about the competition here

The good people at Stellenbosch Wine Routes and Stellenbosch Tourism have put together a range of winter packages that are probably the best value for money you could find. I urge you to try to enjoy a weekend away in the winelands, including two nights accommodation, lunch, dinner, wine and two experiences for just R1400 per person. You wouldn't be able to, I assure you. But if you book through them, you can do just that.

Look at these amazing packages.

Bargain stay & play package
From R1 200 per person sharing midweek/R1 400 per person sharing weekends

The package includes:

Two nights' accommodation at either Middelvlei or the Oak Leaf Lodge at Delvera
A two-course lunch, including a glass of wine, at a local restaurant
A two-course dinner, including a glass of wine, at a local restaurant
Any 2 activities from the list below:
Middelvlei Barrel tasting & Cellar Tour
Delheim Wine and Cupcake pairing
Eagle Encounter at Spier
Fleur du Cap at Bergkelder: Tasting at Cellar Tour plus a box of salted fudge
Premier Wine Tasting at Dornier
Warwick Wine Tasting and Cellar Tour

Lifestyle package
From R2 200 per person sharing midweek/R2 420 per person sharing weekends

The package includes:

Two nights' accommodation at either 22 Die Laan, Allegria or Devon Valley Hotel
A two-course lunch, including a glass of wine, at a local restaurant
A two-course dinner, including a glass of wine, at a local restaurant
Any 2 activities from the list below:
Middelvlei Barrel tasting & Cellar Tour
JC le Roux pairing with Marshmallows & Meringues
Fleur du Cap at Bergkelder: Wine and Salt Pairing
Van Ryn’s Brandy, Coffee and Chocolate Tasting
Lanzerac Chocolate and Wine Pairing

Luxury package
From R2 777 per person sharing midweek/R2 888 per person sharing weekends

The package includes:

Two nights' luxury accommodation at either Majeka House, Lanzerac, Kleine Zalze Lodge or Wedgeview Country House & Spa
A two-course lunch, including a glass of wine, at a local restaurant
A three-course dinner, including wine
Any one of the following activities:
Spier Segway Tour
Vine Hopper 1 day tour
Middelvlei Wine Blending
Bites & Sites Foodie Tour
Lanzerac Mini Spa Package
Any one of the following activities:
Adventure Centre 2 hour Bike Rental
Peter Falke Wine Tasting and Snack Platter
Van Ryn’s Florentine and Brandy Tasting

Find out more about the packages or book them right here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Knysna Oyster Festival 2014 - Bloukrans Bungy Jump

I was shaking and could barely speak (which for me, is truly a sign of something being very wrong). I was concentrating hard on just breathing and not fainting. It would have been highly embarrassing fainting before I'd even jumped. I focused all my attention on the back of the head of the person in front of me, as 300m below me the earth's gravitational pull seemed to be trying to drag me down like a magnetic force. 

It has to be said that the bridge walk out to the Face Adrenalin bungy jump at Bloukrans bridge on the Garden Route is the scariest part of the whole experience. Once you've managed to make your way across the steel mesh cage that hangs underneath the bridge, the actual jump from the center of the bridge seems somehow slightly less frightening. 

From there it's just a case of waiting your turn while the high energy music pumps movement into your petrified hips and the awesome, happy and friendly Face Adrenalin team does their countdown of "3, 2, 1, BUNGY!" for every person ahead of you in the queue. 

By the time my turn came I was basically begging to jump. I was shaking with adrenalin as the harnesses and feet protectors were being strapped on. Then it was just a few bunny jumps right to the edge of the bridge and there was nothing holding me back from six seconds of free-falling through the crisp winter air. 

"I'm so scared" I said to the two guys holding me up, my feet now strapped together. "It's normal!" they shouted. "Ready? Three, two, one" Bungy...

If you're going to bungy jump, you might as well jump off the highest bridge in the world. When you're planning your trip to the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival next year, include this in your itinerary. It really is worth the experience. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Things El Burro Is Doing Right

Ask me to recommend a restaurant in Cape Town and I'll point you in the direction of El Burro every time. Not only because the food is truly delicious, but because they have got a few key things so right, that you can't go wrong dining there.

1. Twitter

First of all, their address and phone number are both in their Twitter bio, saving me the time and data of clicking through to their website. Secondly, and most importantly, they take bookings on Twitter. Something that many restaurants could learn from.

2. Owner Managed

This is an important one. In an industry of franchises and often barely-literate managers, it's easy to see why owner-managed bars and restaurants like El Burro are always fully booked. Even in the middle of the week in the middle of winter.

3. Keeping It Simple

Their menu doesn't have 340 items listed and they don't cater to people who "like to have options" just for the sake of it. You go there for good quality, authentic Mexican food and that's what you get.

4. You Get What You Pay For

People who want to complain about the price of a frozen margarita that contains real lime juice must go to a Tex-Mex place and have faux margaritas that contain real  manufactured flavourants. It's not bad, it's just not the same. El Burro uses quality ingredients and the result is a quality product. I've heard people say "it's expensive for Mexican" but I'm sure they're comparing Doritos covered in cheddar cheese. They obviously don't know that rib eye steak with thick cut chips and chepotle butter is Mexican too, and authentic at that.

5. The Vibe

Thanks to all of the above, you are guaranteed to enjoy a great vibe any time you go there. Festive evenings fuelled with tequila and waitresses that smile. You won't hear the manager shouting at his staff or have a waitress giving you a dirty look for ordering a glass of water. And that's what makes this one of my favourite places in Cape Town.

*This isn't a sponsored post or anything, I just genuinely think they are doing an amazing job.