Welgelegen Hotel describes itself as an urban sanctuary and I wholeheartedly agree, but I would also add the term home away from home.
Driving up to the hotel, the inhabitants of our car were all instantly charmed by the pale, old Victorian home set against the backdrop of Table Mountain, which was glowing a rose gold in the light of the setting sun.
Today I’m trying something a little different. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing a novel…but they say writing is like a muscle. You need to use it in order to improve. And so, to ensure I am working out regularly, I’m experimenting with a few short stories, which I’ll be posting here once a month. Some will be travel inspired, others not so travel themed, but hopefully they’ll all inspire you or make you smile. Here’s my first one. I hope you enjoy it…
She had always wanted just one thing in life: independence.
When she was two, she announced to her parents that she was moving out of home. She made it no further than the end of their curved driveway before running, crying fearfully, back to her laughing mother’s arms.
Her mum never let her live it down, although she couldn’t remember the incident at all.
“The family reunion is happening in the Drakensberg,” my dad announced, much to my confusion.
After checking what ‘the Drakensberg’ meant, I was horrified to discover that it was a mountain range in the middle of the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, far from any major city and nowhere near the country’s infamous game reserves. Hiking seemed to be the main attraction of the region, an activity that I quite frankly struggle to get too excited about.
However, the lure of 71 fellow relatives (no kidding. And that wasn’t all of us!) getting together outweighed my trepidation regarding the location, and so on a sunny afternoon in late September I found myself arriving at The Cavern, a resort and (to my pleasant surprise) spa in the middle of South Africa’s Drakensberg mountain range.
Before I made the decision to go freelance, I had a million questions.
Now that I actually am a freelancer, I have a million more.
And it seems that everyone I talk to about what I do is curious about how I spend my days, what I really do and what a freelancer’s life actually looks like. Do I just sit around in my pyjamas all day on Facebook, or is there more to it?
So I decided to try something new.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been documenting my freelance life through a series of YouTube videos, each one designed to answer one of the questions people most frequently ask me, or to address one of those issues I was so curious about before I started.
Here’s the vlog I created on my very first day as a full-time freelancer:
It’s been a while since I went on that wonderful cruise around Croatia, Greece and Turkey but I was looking through some photos recently and found these behind the scenes snaps from the cruise ship I was on: Celebrity Equinox.
While I was on board I was lucky enough to get a tour of one of the galleys (kitchens) on board, as well as the bridge, which is the room from which the ship is controlled. I was also able to attend some of the Sail Aways and arrivals into port on the ship’s helipad. More on all of those things in a moment, but first, here’s a little video of some of the highlights behind the scenes:
“This is my song!” exclaimed the man sitting at the table next to mine, shocking me out of my reverie. His group of friends clapped, and the man explained to the waiter that the Christmas tune being played in the Gold Lounge was, in fact, written and sung by him.
How fitting that here in Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono famously staged their 1969 Bed-In For Peace and recorded Give Peace a Chance, musicians still base themselves for a stay in Montréal.
It can be tempting to think of travel as a purely summery pursuit. Beaches, sand, sun and outdoor activities await those who patiently count down the months till June, but have you considered a winter weekend break? There are so many cities within just a few hours of London, many of them perfect for exploring during the cooler months. Aside from the fact that you won’t end up boiling hot or sunburned, you’ll also benefit from fewer crowds and cheaper prices in the winter season. To help inspire you, I’ve picked the top 5 winter breaks from London to keep your wanderlust sated until summer.
I’m going to just say it: Oxford Street is not on this list.
Don’t get me wrong; Oxford Street does have some fantastic stores, like world-famous department store Selfridges, American teen favourite Forever 21 and plenty of flagship stores for brands such as Nike, Topshop and Zara. But despite the prolific shopping…in fact, for the very reason that there is such great shopping (and because it’s on the Monopoly board) Oxford Street is a magnet for tourists whose laid back strolling can be infuriating at best and day-ruining for most. Don’t worry though, this city has plenty of other destinations that shopaholics from around the world will love. If you’re looking for somewhere to indulge in a little bit of retail therapy, these are some of the best places for shopping in London:
There are so many options for a weekend away when you live in Europe; we’re definitely spoiled for choice here. Some of my favourite cities can easily be seen in just a weekend, but many of the most popular destinations, like Paris or Prague, need more than just 48 hours to see all that there is on offer. After a recent trip to Krakow, I’m convinced that it’s the perfect destination for a weekend break. Here’s why:
Think about Canada for a second. What comes to mind?
Is it the unbelievably blue water of Lake Louise? The majestic Rocky Mountains rising up on all sides of the quaint town of Banff? Maybe it’s Vancouver’s spectacular waterfront, or Toronto’s CN Tower. Perhaps your first thought jumps to the French city of Quebec and its iconic castle that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.