Things to See in USA: Harlem Hospital Center in New York City Travel Attractions 06 DEC 2016

Hospitals don’t often make the list of buildings worth seeing when you are out in the world travelling, but the 286-bed Harlem Hospital Center in the United States of America’s iconic New York City certainly now belongs there – thanks to its striking 2012 addition, The Harlem Hospital Center Mural Pavilion.

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What sets the $325 million healthcare facility expansion apart from the rest is the very clever, block-long glass facade which is adorned with massive (60-foot tall) historically significant Works Progress Administration murals.

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The six-story, 195,000-square foot Pavilion connects two major hospital buildings, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Pavilion and the Ronald H. Brown Ambulatory Care Pavilion, creating one large, integrated campus for the 286-bed Harlem Hospital Center. The Mural Pavilion houses a number of suites to serve the hospital’s 232,353 annual outpatient visits, including the Bariatric Center of Excellence, surgical clinics, women’s imaging department, and pre-admission testing suites.

The Harlem Hospital already has a history with art, and as such the Mural Pavilion is no different, featuring a special public art gallery space to showcase the hospital’s historic Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (WPA) murals.

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Originally created in the 1930s, these powerful artworks were the first major commissions awarded to African-American artists by the U.S. government. These works, by artists such as Vertis Hayes, Alfred Crimi, Georgette Seabrooke, Elba Lightfoot, and Charles Alston, have all now been fully restored and are on permanent display in the hospital’s Mural Gallery.

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The glass facade is of course the most striking feature of this new building, and the panels making this possible are themselves quite a feat of engineering ingenuity – after all, each panel essentially needs to solve six problems in one solution: a long-term UV stability of the image; the option to replace individual components if damaged; the ability to produce image in single glass panels up to 12’-0” long; transparency allowing daylight in, views out, and a glowing image at night; energy conserving assembly; and impact resistance.

The end result?

Something rather special.

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(Note, hospitals are intended for people who are actually sick. If you are just looking to lose weight, don’t bother them and rather just eat less. Something any health guide reviews site should be pointing out.) 

Related Link: Harlem Hospital Center | Wikipedia

Things to See in Monaco: The Monte Carlo Casino Travel Attractions 05 DEC 2016

You can’t really say opulent indulgence without almost immediately thinking of Monaco, that tiny sovereign city-state situated on the French Riviera, surrounded by France and which is only 2.02 km2 large – home to 37,800 people, 30% of which are millionaires!

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Thanks to its rather dubiously lax tax laws, Monaco is known as a playground for the rich and famous, and in recent times  has also become a major banking center, activily seeking to diversify its economy into services and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries.

And then of course there is the matter of Monte Carlo, a ward situated on a prominent escarpment at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera, and which is home to the world-famous Place du Casino, the gambling center which has made Monte Carlo “an international byword for the extravagant display and reckless dispersal of wealth”.

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The Monte Carlo Casino is of course an icon. If you have money, or have won a lot of money, then this is without a doubt THE place to see and be seen in Monaco.

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Opened in 1863, the Monte Carlo Casino gambling and entertainment complex has been operating for 153 years. It includes a casino, the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and the office of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.

The world famous casino (whose worldwide recognition owes a lot to Ian Fleming’s 007 spy, James Bond of course) is as you would expect a thing of exquisite opulence and beauty. Art, architecture, sculptures, class – it really can’t put a single foot wrong.

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So, as you might suspect then, the Monte Carlo Casino is home to all the major high end gambling games, including the likes of Roulette, Stud poker, Blackjack, Trente et Quarante, Craps, and Baccarat.

(And yes, for the less sophisticated there is of course Video poker and Slot machines available).

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To sum up, if you have the money and the inclination to chance losing some of it, you almost certainly should try and visit this European gambling mecca at least one time in your life!

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Related Link: Monte Carlo Casino | Wikipedia | Monaco

Bored? Enter Vibescout
[Partner Content] 02 DEC 2016

With the weekend looming large, are you still scratching your head trying to come up with some ideas on what to do with your precious free time this coming Saturday and Sunday? Sure, Netflix or DSTV is always a fallback, but come on, Summer is here!

Which is exactly the point at which Vibescout saunters into the conversation!

Vibescout Cape Town Events

Vibescout is a cool local startup that brings to life the local events guide concept, packaging it in a clever, slick, mobile optimized website containing well… loads of categorized and geographically tagged events.

With a wide selection of events listed, the obvious cool trick is the ability to narrow down the list of events to either a specified place or your current surrounds – I mean, just check this perfect events list for my current location (with each event’s distance from me noted) when I ran a check from home!

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The site is clear and well laid out, simple to use, well formatted and super pleasingly, not in an app form. (Seriously this is a plus – not everything needs to be a standalone app on your phone!)

As I mentioned, this is a completely homegrown South African project, meaning that there is plenty of friendly, local help if needed, all of which then basically means that you should definitely be checking out and adding Vibescout to your brower’s bookmarks as soon as possible! ;)

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After all, what’s on in Cape Town? Well Vibescout should know…

Related Link: Vibescout | Twitter | Facebook

Catching Sight of Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand (2016-11-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 DEC 2016

Following a lovely morning spent at the Century City Natural Goods Market, followed by a trip to Canal Walk for some Lindt chocolate from their newly opened boutique shop, we decided to cool down with a trip through to Bloubergstrand, in the hopes of securing a lunch spot at perennial favourite, The Blue Peter Hotel – and of course to give the girls a chance to play in the sand by the sea for a bit.

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Of course, at this point any local would have already rolled their eyeballs at this plan, because anyone from the area would immediately point out that on such a gorgeous, wind free summer’s day, there is literally a snowball in Hell’s chance of actually finding a table at the iconic Blue Peter!

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They would of course be 100% right.

So no Blue Peter Sunday lunch for the Lotters then, but that’s okay, because there was plenty of space for us on the nearby (but popular) Little Bay beach, where we were rewarded with the most beautiful view of the iconic Table Mountain.

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Nice right?

This classic view of Cape Town’s beloved mountain is of course absolutely stunning, and something rather special to see if you don’t normally come out this way – i.e. like us.

(Plus, as a massive bonus, we even got to enjoy the famous Silver Falcons do two formation fly-bys over the beach while we were there!)

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We are working hard at getting the girls more comfortable with the sea (in preparation for our December trip to Gouritz), and amazingly, despite the icy cold Atlantic water which feels like ice blocks on your skin (thanks Benguela Current!), the girls allowed themselves to get wet and in the end had an actual ball – both going so far as to strip right down to their undies!

(We really should plan our beach visits better – you know, bring with costumes etc. At least we had the presence of mind to apply sunscreen to the girls in the morning!)

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The kids had a blast, we were left with a quaint collection of mud painted rocks and shells to bring home, and of course, mommy and daddy managed to soak up some sun as well.

Not a horrible way to spend a Sunday afternoon out and about then!

A handy map to where we were:

Related Link: Bloubergstrand | Blue Peter Hotel

Century City Natural Goods Market… and Lindt! (2016-11-27) Markets | Photo Gallery 30 NOV 2016

I spotted on Facebook that the Century City Natural Goods Market was at last kicking off for the 2016 Summer Season, and seeing as we had in the past spent quite a few Sundays selling cupcakes there as part of the Chantelle’s Cupcakery food markets phase a couple of years back, I was eager to head out that way and catch some of that good old nostalgia vibe.

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Getting the girls on board was remarkably easy of course – just one mention of the Temperance Flyer mini train being at the market was more than enough to have them jumping up and down with excitement!

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As always, the market was being held on the big green circular Central Park in the heart of Century City, right next to Railroad Square and of course Intaka Island.

The main trading action was all taking place under a large central Bedouin tent, with the other food trucks/trailers being accommodated along the wings of the market space. There was plenty of shaded seating and tables available (all very popular due to the great Summer’s weather on the day), with live music coming courtesy from the talented Capetonian singer Ryan Kidwell (former front man of the reggae outfit The Little Kings).

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For the kids, there was a magic show courtesy of family magician Magic Nick (which sadly we missed due to arriving too late), a jumping castle, a zorb orb, and of course the Temperance Flyer train!

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Interestingly enough though, and I’m not sure if it is just because it was the first market of the Summer Season or perhaps an indication of something else, the market certainly seemed a LOT smaller than what it used to be in terms of the number of traders on the day.

Sadly, this then meant that there wasn’t a heck of a lot of cool/interesting food choices on offer (like say what you might find at the bigger market cousins like the massive Root 44 or Lourensford), but nevertheless, we all managed to find something that we liked and in the end had a good morning soaking up the great sun, music and vibe that one can only get from coming to an outdoor market like this!

(So, maybe worth jotting down, but come the evening of the 7th December from 4 to 9pm, they will be having their first ever Summer Night Market which could be pretty cool to attend as well!)

Having enjoyed our time spent at the Century City Natural Goods Market then, we next headed down the road to the gigantic Canal Walk shopping mall, literally the first time in years since I’ve last been there. (We don’t come through to this side of Cape Town much in case you were wondering!)

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It is as always, an easy on the eye shopping centre, one of the nicest in terms of both architecture and design, though we didn’t have all that much time to admire our surroundings because Chantelle was pretty much focussed entirely on one very important mission – locating the newly opened Lindt boutique chocolate store ASAP!

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Seventh heaven for any lover of Lindt let me tell you, especially because you can buy flavours there that you can’t normally find on the retailer shelves. (Amazingly enough, Chantelle actually shared her Lindt haul with both the girls and myself. Talk about true love! :P)

(Oh, she wanted to check out Dunkin’ Donuts as well, but they were far too busy for us to be bothered with trying their stuff out. Plus, I was rather pleased to see that Baskin Robbins is hitting South Africa in the near future as well. I LOVED checking out all their ice cream flavours during my Japan 2014 trip!).

Anyway, here’s a handy map to Central Park if you want to catch the next Century City Natural Goods Market!

Related Link: Century City Natural Goods Market | Facebook | Canal Walk

Have you heard about Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures yet?
[Partner Content] 29 NOV 2016

Games developer Tt Games has been producing its silly/fun franchise-tied Lego games for more than just a few years now, and if you are a gamer, then no doubt you’ve bumped into at least one of their titles during your gaming career – particularly if you are a middle-aged gamer with children like me!

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Whilst all the licensed property Lego have always been brilliantly funny in their storytelling, one of the earliest franchises easily stands out as one of my all time Lego game favourites – the Lego Star Wars series.

Obviously, with parent company Disney now finally getting around to doing what Lucasfilm should have done a long, long time ago, i.e. capitalize fully on the amazing Star Wars universe with a seemingly endless slew of films, television shows, toys and of course video games, it makes complete sense for the guys over at Lego to also want to jump back in on this super hot bandwagon at the moment – translation, hello Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures.

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Essentially, the Freemaker Adventures chronicles the search for Kyber Saber crystals in order to restore a powerful lightsaber. The hunt is undertaken by a small salvage team made up of the Freemaker siblings, Rowan, Kordi and Zander (plus one friendly, reprogrammed battle droid called R0-GR), and naturally, the Empire kind of wants this thing too.

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So a lot of interesting action adventures to be had, a clever twist, and of course a story featuring a host of familiar characters from both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi timeline.

And yes, because it is a Lego story, it is a whole bundle of silly fun.

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As for where to catch it, it kind of makes sense for Disney XD to pick up this new Lego Star Wars show – after all, Star Wars: Rebels worked out pretty well for them, didn’t it? So, if you are one of the lucky DSTV subscribers with Disney XD available back home (channel 304), then consider yourself now informed – you have something rather fun to sit down and watch with the kids again!

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Related Link: The Freemaker Adventures | Lego Star Wars | Disney XD

USA 2016 – 01 Checking in to Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area (2016-07-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 NOV 2016

So the 11th of July saw me very excitedly hop on to Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER airliner at Cape Town International Airport and tackle the start of the VERY long journey to LAX in Los Angeles.

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As per usual when you fly with Emirates, the trip gets split into two segments, the first being the 9 hour long flight from Cape Town to their massive home base hub at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.

Apart from the length of the flight, the first leg went well for me. Loads of in-flight entertainment to pick and choose from on Emirates’ ICE system, food as always was decent enough, and thanks to my strategy of picking aisle seats in order to give me the most leg space with my still not 100% leg, I sat pretty comfortably for the most part.

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Happily, I wasn’t completely out of my element once in Dubai International Airport, having learnt a lesson or two from the last time that Ryan and I had found ourselves there.

For starters, I didn’t get lost and successfully navigated my way around the massive complex (Ryan would be amazed), secondly, I didn’t have anything in my luggage that would set off flags during the security check (again, Ryan would be amazed), and most important of all, I was in my designated boarding area with plenty of time to spare!

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Of course though, the real test of the journey was now here. That 16 hour long flight from Dubai to Los Angeles.

Yes, the Airbus A380-800 is certainly a comfortable plane to be flying in, but 16 hours? Now there’s a long time to be stuck in a confined space! (Incidentally, this route is currently the longest distance commercial A380 route in operation).

Nevertheless, similar to the first leg, this second half of the trip went pretty smoothly for me as well, and as an added bonus, the fact that we flew over the North Pole region to get there was a pretty cool thing too!

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Touchdown. I was in the United States of America.

Naturally, it didn’t take long for the first Stars and Stripes flag to make its appearance, and a relatively quick and painless trip through security and customs had me collecting my bag and stepping out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX and into Los Angeles.

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Well not really, no.

My SuperShuttle bus arrived right outside the terminal, meaning that I didn’t technically step out into Los Angeles. Still, I got to see the dreary grey concrete that makes up most of Los Angeles from the shuttle’s front seat (I lucked out in getting that), so that counts, right?

(Hint, Los Angeles is not particularly pretty. Large swathes of it is in essence a slab of concrete, which you’ll see as you head out down the highways.)

Nevertheless, I was in full on tourist mode, my mouth wide open as I took in all the sights of the area as our bus whizzed on down towards Anaheim, the real destination for the actual business part of my being here in the first place.

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Eventually we turned into South Manchester Avenue in Anaheim (early evening if I remember correctly) where I hopped out the bus, thanked the driver for his wealth of local information, and headed into the Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area , my home base for this first leg of my trip.

(In case you are wondering about the unwieldy name, it’s because we’re in Anaheim which houses both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. In other words, prime hotel estate, and thus multiple Holiday Inn establishments in the area!)

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Greeted by a entrance wall decked out in original Disney artwork, I checked in, unpacked my bag, took a quick peek around the hotel and its amenities (nice pool, small gym, cool adjacent sports bar/restaurant called Burger Theory) and then hit the road, eager to properly stretch my legs and take in some American sights before the darkness descended!

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So I took a leisurely stroll down Katella Avenue, one of the main roads leading up to Disneyland and also the Anaheim Convention Centre (where the expo was to be held), enjoying the beautifully maintained sidewalks and taking in all the interesting… Americanisms around me.

I turned around at the giant Moreton Bay Fig outside the convention centre, and because at this stage I was still walking around blindly (i.e. I hadn’t yet checked out any maps), headed straight back down the same way that I had come.

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For some reason I decided that my first meal in America should be a fast food item, and as things turned out (i.e the restaurant was slap bang at the end of my route), this then would be a burrito from Del Taco – for which I was mercilessly teased for the rest of the trip by Johann and Carl.

Following that, and now eager to sample a selection of commercial beers and snacks in the comfort of my room before turning in for the night, I then hopped into this dodgy little Chinese-run shop (called Satellite Market), which ended up being a place that I would visit more than once whenever my snack supply started running low!

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And of course, as expected following that 5 km walkabout after all those hours upon hours of travelling… I slept like a log. #USA2016

(This is where the hotel is in case you’re interested)

Related Link: Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort Area

Jessica gets a Jungle Gym My Life 23 NOV 2016

So we had already gone and got the garden on the side of the house sorted out by removing the flower beds, stripping out the weed-infested old lawn and replacing it with some fresh green stuff – ill-timed given the level 3 water restrictions announced shortly after for sure – but it least it was done.

The reason for it? Well, we needed the lawn space to install our very first ever jungle gym for the girls!

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Jessica’s occupational therapist Nicola highly recommend that we think about putting one in to try and encourage Jessica in the strengthening her body, and both Chantelle and I had wanted one for the longest of time anyway.

So Chantelle did some phoning about, and eventually contracted in a company by the name of Speelgoedland Klimrame, based out in Durbanville (but who were more than happy to take up a job in Gordon’s Bay).

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We obviously don’t have a particularly big garden space, so we had to opt for one of the smaller jungle gyms, with our main requirement being that it must have a set of monkey bars.

After some very helpful consultations with the guys, we settled on the compact Pinnochio design, with the end configuration consisting of one platform, a climbing net, a climbing ladder, monkey bars, fireman pole, rope swing, gymnastic rings, and a trapeze pole.

The price for all this (including installation) came to R6,000.

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Installation day rolled in, but with both Chantelle and myself out at work on the day, my mom and dad kindly drove through to come and oversee the project.

Naturally, our neighbour isn’t quite happy with the new addition to our garden (in her defence, it is quite high and is perhaps a bit close to the wall), but more important than that, the girls LOVE it, which then in other words means that it is absolutely perfect!

(Also, we finally got around to emptying the sandpit and filling it with the proper sand this time around. All in preparation for Jessica’s big sixth birthday party which was bearing down on us at a rapid clip!)

Related Link: Speelgoedland Jungle Gyms

USA 2016: An Expo under the Hot Californian Sun My Life 22 NOV 2016

I lucked out a bit this year. Touchwork does a lot of its business in the United States in the University realm, and as such, tends to be quite visible on the relevant expo circuits. Occasionally the boss sends a team member up to join our American team for at least one of these expo appearances a year – basically whenever we get the funding from the DTI to do so.

Now normally this perk falls to our COO and customer liaison Rory Florence, but this year  (much to his chagrin) he couldn’t go – which then meant that as the next longest standing member of current Touchwork SA team, I got asked if I wanted to go.

Hell yes, USA here I come! :)

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So this all happened in July this year. I left for the USA on the 11th and arrived back in South Africa on the 22nd of July, making for a whirlwind trip of around 10 days.

Of course, technically this was a business trip, but in essence it was only business for about 2 of the days (and even those two days were peppered with touristy things) – the rest were all proper sightseeing days, made all the more enjoyable thanks to my brilliant Touchwork USA hosts Johann Leitner and Carl Mostert, who literally went out of their way to show off their part of the magnificent piece of paradise that is California to this USA (and travel for that matter) newbie!

The expo that we were exhibiting at was NACUFS Idea ’16, the 2016 national conference for NACUFS (National Association of College & University Food Services), held at the the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.

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Anaheim, other than being the base of the Mighty Ducks, is of course most famous for being the home of Disneyland, Disney’s landmark first ever theme park that opened way back in 1955! Following that, I would then travel with Johann to his home base of San Diego (home of Comic Con and of the world famous San Diego Zoo!), for a couple of tourist days there, before heading back out the same way I came in – i.e. via Emirates through the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, Los Angeles!

So, not a bad destination for only my second ever trip overseas eh? (The first being of course that amazing trip to Japan that my brother Ryan and I embarked on in 2014. At this rate, Chantelle is just about ready to murder me with jealousy! :P)

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Right. I’ve got an amazing 23 or so photo galleries to sort through, post and write about, so plenty of USA 2016 content coming up in the pages of An Exploring South African over the next little while then!

Shopping at the Dassiesfontein Farm Stall (2016-09-23) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 NOV 2016

Having thoroughly enjoyed a midweek getaway to Stonehill River Lodge in Buffeljagsrivier (near Swellendam), we were making our way back home on a warm Friday afternoon via the N2 when for the first time ever (note: I’m 36 and we’ve travelled the N2 since I was a baby),  curiousity got the better of me and I decided to pull off at the Dassiesfontein farm stall – which stands literally alone in the middle of nowhere between Caledon and Botrivier.

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Chantelle and the girls were a bit grumpy at having been woken up by me leaving the highway, but they soon cheered up when a) the girls spotted the lovely donkey encampment next to Dassiesfontein’s parking area and b) Chantelle discovered the incredible treasure trove of antiques, art, fashion and food that this rather incredible place actually houses!

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Back to point a) though. Amazingly the girls were far more enamored with the donkeys than I thought they would be. It might be their smaller stature, or perhaps because of the fluffier youngling in the pack, but Jessica and Emily (although the latter from an always safe distance) seemed to both genuinely enjoy interacting with these furry four legged beasts.

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Anyway, I digress. Back to the brilliant farm stall itself. Originally the Dassiesfontein farm stall was little more than a couple of homemade goods being sold from two wagons alongside the N2, before the farm stall was eventually built in 1995. The restaurant was added a year later, and believe it or not, Dassiesfontein has been a super success from then onwards.

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These days though, the quaint thatched roof that characterised the farm stall is nowhere in sight, having been completely covered with end to end solar panels, a big 60.13 kwp generating project brought to life by the team over at RenEnergy.

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Inside however is where the real magic lies. The first thing to note is that Dassiesfontein is much larger inside than what it looks from the outside. Each room kind of spills into the next, and the smorgasboard of items on sale is simply put, jaw dropping.

Antiques, art, clothing, shoes, kids, decor, furniture, food – you name it and they sell it.

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Without a doubt, if Chantelle was here by herself (i.e. with her wallet and without her disapproving of clutter husband), I guarantee she would quite easily be lost for a couple of hours, only to then return with a boot full of stuff!

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Incredibly enough (despite that fact I suppose that I already mentioned this fact in passing), Dassiesfontein even houses a restaurant in the middle of all the muddle, a restaurant which is known for its proper ‘boerekos’ served in portions that well, ‘skrik vir niks’. (Plus, Chantelle was gushing like a fangirl when she spotted their ‘Dover’ cast iron stoves in action!)

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Oh, and then there is the cheese and dairy on sale. So, so much cheese, not to mention the butter which was being sold at such a good price that Chantelle immediately grabbed my wallet and bought a box for her baking.

Right, looks like we’ll be stopping here a little more often now that we’ve finally ‘discovered’ the place!

Also, I have no idea where all these photos come from by the way – because there are very definitely signs up all over the place explicitly reminding you that the taking of photos inside the shopping area is strictly not welcome:

It’s difficult to miss because it is literally the only thing standing in the middle of nowhere, but just in case you need a map…

Related Link: Dassiesfontein Farm Stall | Facebook

Grand Canal Boat Ride aboard the Intaka Island Ferry at Century City (2016-09-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 NOV 2016

In September I took Chantelle and the girls for a bit of a bird watching stroll in the beautiful, 16 ha large wetland and bird sanctuary, Intaka Island – which is situated literally right in the heart of the architecturally beautiful Century City development.

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The weather was of course beautiful, the birdlife plentiful – and of course, the girls didn’t really like the long, hot walk at all.

However, what they did enjoy was climbing and playing on the two beautifully restored, plinth-mounted old steam trains outside the entrance to Intaka Island (right across from the Clubhouse and Century City’s Central Park), and even more so, the prospect of going on a boat ride along the Grand Canal on the Intaka Island Ferry.

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Tickets for the ferry were bought as part of the entrance package into Intaka Island, and so we made doubly sure that we were back at the boat for the prescribed launch time – not that the girls would have let us miss it anyway!

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The short boat ride is actually pretty cool – essentially you get taken out into the waterways surrounding Intaka Island, circle the island and then head onto the Grand Canal, passing through under the massive Knightsbridge towers and then heading all the way down to the beautiful African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel, where you turn around and head back towards the island again.

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The  architecture of Century City is of course amazing (seriously, Canal Walk and Ratanga Junction is not Century City. Do yourself a favour and walk out back if you have never done so before – explore the beautiful pathways and art installations that makes Century City such a serene jewel in the first place!), and thanks the the plexiglass and shaded roof, the trip is quite a comfortable one.

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Jessica of course walked up and down the boat for pretty much the entire trip, spending most of it hanging over the side to get a better look. (That was of course until the two of them spotted the cute little puppy that was also onboard for the ride!)

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All in all, well worth tacking on a boat ride the next time your find yourself buying a ticket into Intaka Island!

Also, Intaka Island is worth checking out if you’d quite enjoy a spot of birdwatching:

Related Link: Intaka Island | Century City | Canal Walk

Kitesurfers at Melkbaai Beach in Strand (2016-11-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 19 NOV 2016

Having enjoyed a good day out that started off with some yacht watching in Gordon’s Bay harbour, followed by a couple of hours’ worth of driving around the Elgin Valley and taking in some of the sights of the Open Gardens Weekend, the girls and I decided to cap off the Saturday with some KFC sprinkle pops for supper whilst watching the kitesurfers at Strand’s main Melkbaai beach.

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After chillling in the car, eating our KFC pops and marvelling at the kitesurfers doing their thing in the water from afar, I succeeded in convincing the girls that what we now needed to do was step out of the car and head in for closer look.

We were a little lucky in that although the wind was blowing rather strongly, it wasn’t whipping the sand around too much, meaning that we were able to walk a fair stretch of the beautiful pristine beach without being completely sandblasted to bits.

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Of course, with both girls being so mysteriously petrified of the sea at the moment, they pretty much clung to me like limpets, making the stroll a bit of a lesson in patience and deep breathing exercises, but we did get to see some pretty cool kitesurfing up close, not to mention the odd washed up jellyfish or two!

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Eventually the two of them found themselves rather enjoying the outing, loving the thrill of watching the kitesurfers doing flips and all manner of tricks in the waves, as well as the playful lifeguards milling and playing around in front of the Strand Surf Lifesaving Club HQ.

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Right, so now it’s just getting the two of them a little less petrified of the sea – we are after all going away to Gouritsmond for this upcoming December holiday period!

As always, a handy map to the beach if you too want to go kitesurfer watching:

Related Link: Strand

Yacht watching in the Gordon’s Bay Harbour (2016-11-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 NOV 2016

The so-called Old Harbour in Gordon’s Bay (where the South African Naval Training College is situated) is always a nice sightseeing spot, thanks to the large number of yachts moored there.

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Tucked safely within the harbour’s stout, dolos-lined walls, the yacht marina is also home to the Gordon’s Bay Yacht Club, whilst dotted around on the outside of the harbour you’ll find restaurants in the form of Harbour Lights and The Thirsty Oyster, as well as a small NSRI sea rescue base, and a few other odds and ends come to think of it.

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I was keen for a bit of a morning stretch of the legs, and so coaxed the two girls into joining me for a short walk about the harbour. Naturally, the two were completely terrified of the water, opting to either hold back to the safely of dry land when possible, or alternatively sticking to me like barnacles on a hull.

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Surprisingly, there weren’t too many people on the harbour wall trying their hand at catching fish like is normally the case (though I did spot a couple having a go from the adjacent Bikini Beach).

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The photos that I did end up taking when I managed to pry my hand loose from the tight grip of my two girls every now and then are a little misleading in that the sea appears rather calm – when in fact the reality was that there was a fair bit of swell breaking against the harbour walls! (Which seemed to both delight and terrify Jess and Emily mind you!)

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Anyway, once they finally calmed down enough to enjoy the sights, the girls did eventually agree that they rather liked the short sightseeing outing, and after a bit of time spent yacht watching and keeping an eye out for seals (no luck on that front), we turned back and left the beautiful sanctuary that is the Gordon’s Bay old harbour.

These are the few pictures I managed to grab, a feat considering just how stuck to me both the girls were for the most part!

Also, a map in case you want to check out the boats for yourself the next time you find yourself in my neighbourhood:

Related Link: Gordon’s Bay Yacht Club | Gordon’s Bay | A Little History

The Coffee Petrol Start
[Partner Content] 16 NOV 2016

I dislike traffic. In fairness though, I’m pretty sure that everyone dislikes traffic. Unless you are some sort of weird sadist who somehow derives pleasure from sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, which I guess then is fine too.

Anyway, I dislike traffic so much that I telecommute, meaning that I only need to fire my car up once a work week, heading out to the relatively lovely Westlake area of Cape Town for my weekly Monday morning meeting.

This of course then means that I get to endure the fun that is Monday morning traffic.

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So given all that, Monday mornings are therefore understandably a shock to the system – meaning of course that an early cup of coffee is then obviously in order.

However, it can’t be a leisurely stop to some place where a bearded guy with a twirly moustache in a plaid shirt with rolled up sleeves lovingly pours a coffee made from beans which he first gently fished out from a large Hessian sack.

No, it needs to be good coffee which is quickly retrieved, probably best if done during the other Monday routine that is the weekly petrol stop.

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So just as well then that while my car takes in its share of some damn fine petrol, I get to savour some of that particularly tasty brew that the esteemed Seattle Coffee Company whips up on a daily basis inside the FreshStop at my local Caltex in Strand (Greenways).

Convenience, good coffee and smart fuel. Seems a good way to start a day that you know is about to become a tad more frustrating the minute you turn on to that ‘beloved’ N2 highway of ours…

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Tip: Here’s a handy map to my local Caltex. It’s probably a good idea to find your own!

Related Link: Seattle Coffee CompanyCaltex

Things to See in USA: The AT&T Stadium in Arlington Travel Attractions 12 NOV 2016

Modern sports stadiums are often architectural masterpieces, and are almost all now without fail seen as much tourist attractions as actual sporting event venues! The city of Arlington, a principle city in the U.S. state of Texas is certainly home to one of these modern sporting marvels – the stunningly beautiful AT&T Stadium!

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Owned by the city of Arlington, the massive 80,000 seat stadium was first opened in 2009, following a construction period of 4 years, as the Cowboys Stadium, and carried that name until 2013 when the giant that is AT&T bought out the naming rights.

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Home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys (whose cheerleaders are probably just as famous a franchise as the American football team!), the AT&T Stadium was built to replace the partially covered Texas Stadium, and these days acts as a multi-discipline venue, hosting events such as concerts, basketball games, college and high school football contests, soccer matches, motocross and Spartan races, as well as the odd WWE wrestling spectacle or two!

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The stadium’s current construction cost is estimated to have been around 1.15 billion US dollars, making it one of the most expensive sporting arenas ever built. It’s main party trick is of course its fully retractable roof, which therefore allows play no matter what weather condition Arlington currently finds itself experiencing!

It is also home to one of the worlds largest high definition video screen, which hangs from 20-yard line to 20-yard line.

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As you might imagine, and whether your enjoy American football or not, this beautiful example of modern engineering is quite the sight to behold and is definitely worth making a stop at should you ever find yourself anywhere remotely near the area!

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(That said, you may as well fly business cheap and get there in style if you aren’t nearby!)

Oh, and an added bonus. There is a brilliant Stadium Art Programme attached to the venue as well – meaning that you don’t have to be a sport nut to get something out of a trip to this massive Texan landmark!

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Related Link: AT&T StadiumWikipedia | Arlington