USA 2016 – 16 Disney California Adventure Park (2016-07-16) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 16 FEB 2018

The NACUFS events always close off with a big social, and the 2016 Anaheim edition was no different, with the final get together hosted at Stage 17 of the Disney California Adventure Park.

However, seeing as Johann, Carl and I had already been in full on tourist mode for most of the day already, we decided to skip the social and rather enjoy the offerings of Disney’s slightly more adult orientated theme park instead.

Best decision ever.

Themed after the history and culture of California, Disney California Adventure is situated literally across the gates of the original Disneyland Park, and while a later (massive and expensive) overhaul wove in more kid friendly entertainment options focused on Disney’s Pixar and Marvel properties, the park comes away as much more suited for older visitors as opposed to the youngsters.

There are lots of vintage props and real world themed backdrops to enjoy, and while the rides aren’t quite as numerous or iconic as what you get in the original park across the road, the rides that are there are certainly a lot of fun.

Given our time constraints (i.e., we only arrived there in the early evening), Johann, Carl and I only manage to dip our toes into two of the rides on offer – the heart stopping Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (which is an accelerated drop tower dark ride that essentially catapults you up and out at the top of a very high building) and the gorgeous Soarin’ Around the World experience (a flight motion simulator that ‘flies’ you through the world on a mechanical lift system).

Obviously had the lines been shorter we would have got to do more, but this is Disneyland – the lines are NEVER short!

Other than that, we spent our time strolling around the grounds, taking in the sights, chewing on churros, tackling turkey legs, and capping it all off with a viewing of the incredible water fountain projection finale, the World of Color nighttime show.

Spectacular.

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Despite their proximity to one another, Disney California Adventure Park is a very different animal to Disneyland Park, meaning that if you have the time (and money, because boy, entrance to these places are expensive!), it is well worth spending at least two full days in order to explore both!

Related Link: Disney California Adventure Park | Wikipedia | World of Color | #USA2016

Banoffee Waffles at the Belgian Waffle House in Strand (2017-12-15) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 14 FEB 2018

Just a friendly reminder, but if you are at the beach in Strand and are looking perhaps to either escape the wind or treat your kids to something nice, then it is worth knowing that the excellent Belgian waffles from The Belgian Waffle House are still going strong.

The waffles are light and fluffy, come in either a sweet or savoury form, and make for a fun little outing to a place that seems to always have people visiting in it. (Fun fact, the picture above is their attempt at a banoffee waffle. Simple yet deliciously sweet.)

Oh, and don’t forget to take a stroll along the beautiful new concrete promenade walkway – the planning and construction guys have done a great job with this one!

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Bonus: Yes, my girls pretty much stopped listening to us reading the menu out to them once they heard the word ‘Smarties’.

Related Link: The Belgian Waffle House | Strand

Sand Dunes Sunset at Sardinia Bay in Port Elizabeth (2017-07-07) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 FEB 2018

Having now arrived in Port Elizabeth following our short stay in the Addo Elephant Park (all part  of last year’s June Holidays road trip), one of the very first experiences that Evan and Natasha guided us to was enjoying a spectacular sunset from atop the sand dunes of Sardinia Bay.

Lying between Schoenmakerskop and Seaview, and complete with public picnic facilities, Sardinia Bay is a popular beach strip that due to its miles of unspoiled coastline, has a reputation as being one of the best walking beaches in the area.

Thanks to its status of Marine Reserve, fishing is off limits in Sardinia Bay, though the waters are popular for both snorkeling and scuba diving. Incidentally, the beach also marks the starting point of the very popular eight kilometer long Sacramento hiking trail.

Anyway, the legendary sand dunes of Sardinia Bay are themselves quite the beast. Ever shifting, ever encroaching across the access roads, it takes quite the effort to make one’s way to the top – or at least it does when you are as big as what I am and struggle with a wonky knee!

(Not that this bothers the light as a feather kids of course, and besides, the views from the top really are worth making the effort! Also, the sunset from there really is magnificent.)

As darkness fell, we left the popular sunset watching spot behind (seriously, I was amazed at the number of people perched atop the sand dunes to watch the sun go down), making our way back into Port Elizabeth, where we stopped off at the wonderfully lit Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World complex in order to catch their very entertaining music and lights water fountain show for the girls.

Needless to say, the little ones were well impressed.

Finally, we capped our first evening in Port Elizabeth off with a visit to the vibey Something Good Roadhouse, somehow miraculously securing a table big enough for the whole group, allowing us to take in the live music, tuck into some delicious food, and more importantly, get down to the business of catching up with old friends.

(Also, you’ll notice that none of these photos appear to have come from my phone camera. This would be because I forgot my phone back at the car, meaning that I have had to borrow these snaps from Evan. Hence the selfies.)

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Sunset from the sand dunes of Sardinia Bay is a definite must if you ever find yourself in the area.

Related Link: Sardinia Bay Beach | Port Elizabeth | The Boardwalk

Concrete Curves of the Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl (2017-04-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 FEB 2018

It is impossible not to take notice of the strange, alien-like fingers jutting out from the side of a mountain as you drive towards Paarl, those concrete curves belonging of course to non other than the famous Afrikaans Taalmonument, or to us English-speaking folks, the Afrikaans Language Monument.

While I have mentioned the monument in these pages before, I hadn’t actually ever stopped to visit it as an adult, something that I finally got around to rectifying on a sunny Saturday morning back in April last year.

Seeing as it is a rather long drive from Gordon’s Bay to Paarl, the girls and I decided to first stop halfway in order to pick up on some snacks for the road – opting to drop in for a bit at the always super popular Stellenbosch Slow Market (held at the Oude Libertas amphitheatre).

As expected, it was bustling, but snacks on hand were aplenty.

Truthfully though, we didn’t hang around the busy market for all that long – I’m not overly fond of having to navigate two little girls through such a throng of people at the best of times!

Anyway, navigating our way to the Afrikaans Language Monument on the outskirts of Paarl didn’t prove to be a particularly tricky or perilous task, and after paying the small entrance fee, we drove into the grounds, found a shady parking space, and headed up the stairs towards the mouth of this very unusual structure.

Opened on 10 October 1975, Jan van Wijk’s monument commemorates the semi-centenary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of South Africa separate from Dutch, in the process also acknowledging the influence of a variety of languages such as Dutch, Malay, Malay-Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, English, and the indigenous Khoi and African languages, on the development of Afrikaans.

Symbolism is built into everything that stands before you, and knowing a little bit about the structure before you actually view it does come in quite handy in this particular case.

The monument itself is visually interesting, but of course doesn’t take particularly long to stroll through (perplexing the girls to no end), which is where the grounds and build location then neatly comes into play.

Apart from the interesting Visitor’s Centre (there is of course the actual Language Museum further down in town), and its restaurant with a view, the Volksmond, to enjoy, The Afrikaans Language Monument also features lovely patches of lawn to enjoy a picnic on, fantastic 360 degree views across the town of Paarl and its stunning surrounds, and a one or two perfect for ambling walkways that snake through its interesting garden.

The girls of course enjoyed clambering over everything and anything that blocked their path, but by far their favourite bit of our visit was of course the ice cream that they made me get them in order to beat the Paarl heat at the end of our walkabout.

Truthfully, I wasn’t really complaining. Ice cream was exactly what was needed for the day!

Also, plenty of photos were of course the order of the morning, much to the annoyance of my girls as per usual:

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The Afrikaans Language Monument is an unexpectedly beautiful stop, well worth visiting even if you don’t speak the language at all.

(As for the rest of our afternoon out and about, that was spent visiting a goat tower, petting some alpacas, and eating scones and cream!)

Related Link: Afrikaans Language Monument | Paarl

Winter Wonderland Fun Rides in Gordon’s Bay (2017-07-23) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 08 FEB 2018

The Gordon’s Bay Winter Wonderland Festival of Lights has been on the go for a couple of years now, with each year definitely getting bigger and better. Featuring a parade, dance, fun run, arts and crafts, loads of food stalls, music performances, kids entertainment, and of course a whole lot of fairy lights.

However the star of the show as far as what my girls are concerned is without a doubt the fun park, which is filled with all manner of fun rides (mostly things that spin really fast while lifting up and down) for both young and the not particularly so old crowd.

For the really little ones there are trains, bugs, clowns, puppies and octopuses, all of which Emily made very sure to have a go at.

Jessica on the other hand wanted things a little higher and a little faster, and I suspect in a year or two when she’s a bit bigger, she’ll be twisting my arm for the REALLY expensive rides!

(Sure, the tickets are only R10 a piece, but for the bigger, newer machines you are looking at five or six tickets, i.e. R50-R60, per ride! Emily on the other hand should still be a nice cheap date though…)

We don’t have access to fun rides very often here in Gordon’s Bay, so what was nice last year was the fun park hanging around for a fair bit after the Winter Wonderland festival had passed, giving the girls more than a few opportunities to get some kicks in! (Which is why if you look at the photos, you’ll see the girls wearing different clothes and in different light conditions.)

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Right, so I imagine then that we’ll find ourselves back in the queue come July again! :)

Related Link: Winter Wonderland Festival | Gordon’s Bay

Milk Tart Jaffles at Signature Divine in Oudtshoorn (2017-07-05) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 06 FEB 2018

Having spent the day being guided around the magnificent Cango Caves, watching people zip-line down to Cango Caves Estate, and letting Jessica ride about on a camel at Wilgewandel, we were now happily making our way back towards the guest house, when the rather inviting scene over at Signature Divine caught our eye and immediately prompted a rather impromptu milkshake and coffee stop.

Originally setup to host events at their lovely small Klein Karoo venue with a view, Signature Divine has since evolved into a wonderful little eatery that offers a great menu packed with all manner of thoughtful gourmet treats.

In particular, the team is known for their menu of interesting gourmet milkshake combinations, basically a great way to try and escape that all oppressing Karoo heat!

To complement the magnificent view on display, Chantelle selected a milkshake, the girls opted for ice cream, and I got stuck into some good coffee – after which, on suggestion of our bubbly waiter for day, I discovered the world of milk tart jaffles.

Seriously, how in the world did I NOT know that this simple but delicious South African dessert morsel existed!

Anyway, adjacent to the eatery and its two beautiful stone barns is also an art gallery (Annie’s Art), showcasing the interesting acrylic work of Annamarie Janse van Rensburg.

(Surprisingly, the art gallery was open to the public but completely devoid of life. Definitely not something that would fly in the city – all her paintings would be off the wall in a matter of minutes! Definitely one of the nicer aspects of small town living though.)

In summary, Signature Divine is a surprisingly lovely stop in what feels like the middle of nowhere. Definitely worth pulling over if you ever find yourself in the area!

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Oh, and much to the delight of both Jessica and Emily, the restaurant does have a small trampoline for the kids on the grass patch. Small, but much appreciated touch.

Related Link: Signature Divine | Facebook | Annie’s Art Gallery | Oudtshoorn

Bikes and Burgers at The Cafe Racer in Somerset West (2017-10-20) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 04 FEB 2018

The Beehive building in Somerset West is old, pretty rundown and has been home to a little family run shop for years. It now also happens to be home to a particularly interesting newcomer to the Somerset West restaurant/bar scene – The Cafe Racer.

As you might guess from either the name, the logo, or the shiny hunk of polished chrome standing on two wheels outside the front door, The Cafe Racer is a restaurant that marries biking culture with beer and gourmet burgers – and rather successfully at that mind you.

The staff (and chef) are all relaxed and super friendly, the atmosphere super chill, the balcony space surprisingly nice, and most important of all, the menu mind boggling interesting.

Apart from a seriously good selection of craft beers on offer, The Cafe Racer specializes in some rather unique (and well made) gourmet burgers.

For example, my Mikachu burger (named after one of the waitresses) consists of a beef brisket patty topped with grilled pineapple, bacon, sliced banana – and then drenched in condensed milk of all things!

Chantelle on the other hand had a burger which forgoes standard hamburger buns in favour of chocolate doughnuts. Chocolate doughnuts!?! Who even thought of that!

The place is quirky, the younger crowd seems to like it, and as you might imagine, guys into bikes get a kick out of it.

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So certainly a very unusual, but pleasantly enjoyable, addition to the Somerset West food scene.

Related Link: The Cafe Racer | Somerset West

Staying at The Gull in Sedgefield (2017-07-10) Accommodation | Photo Gallery 03 FEB 2018

The last leg of our brilliant June/July holiday breakaway saw us spending two nights based in Sedgefield, a personal favourite stomping ground of mine, thanks to having grown up with grandparents living in this gorgeous sleepy little town.

In terms of accommodation, the Internet had come up with a suggestion of The Gull as a suitable sleepover spot for the four of us, and pleasingly, on arrival it was great to learn that for a change the Internet had most certainly not lied to us.

Built right on the edge of the sand dunes of Myoli Beach, The Gull offers fantastic self catering apartments, all nicely furnished, rounded off with a beautiful garden setting and access to a tiny little gym – in case you are not so keen on giving up all your hard earned gains just because you find yourself on holiday for a change!

In addition to the beautiful surroundings, an unexpected bonus was finding ourselves right next to the quirky PiliPili Xtreme Sports Centre and Bar, whose restaurant area spills out onto the beach sand and is lit up by a great big bonfire seemingly each and every night.

Useful if you crave some pizza and beer and don’t particularly feel like heading out for the evening!

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It was a comfortable stay, we were well impressed with the great (and super friendly!) service, good furnishings and fantastic location – easy to recommend in other words! :)

Related Link: The Gull | PiliPili Xtreme Sports Centre and Bar | Sedgefield

Alpaca Wool and Petting at The Alpaca Loom in Paarl (2017-05-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 02 FEB 2018

Having told Chantelle all about our visit with the Alpacas at Dietmar Keil and Kerstin Heisterkamp’s The Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop and Weaving Studio, she was pretty eager that the girls and I take her for a visit too – which is why just over a month after that first visit, we found ourselves once again petting and feeding the adorably fluffy alpacas of Paarl!

Jessica was of course super thrilled to be back (feed bucket firmly in hand), and now with her mommy at her side, Emily too was feeling a whole lot braver than what she did on our solo visit!

Naturally feeding and petting the alpacas down in the kids play area was attraction number one for the day, but the roaming llamas, dromedary camels, and alpaca herd were more than just a little eager in trying to grab our attention whenever they were given a chance.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much in terms of cakes and pies leftover in the little “log cabin coffee shop with a view”, so just juice for the girls and coffee for the adults it was.

As it was last time, watching the ladies weaving the alpaca wool was super interesting, the alpaca wool products intriguing, and the view itself over the Southern Paarl landscape spectacular.

Apart from the coffee shop, kids petting area, jungle gym, and weaving studio, the Alpaca Loom also offers short Alpaca Barn Tours, which take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 15:00.

(Also, the unexpected bonus of having little newborn alpacas running around the fields with their moms was pretty special too!)

Naturally, I grabbed far more pictures than what was necessary of Chantelle and the girls feeding Alpacas:

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In summary, it is really hard not to come and visit this place with kids and NOT leave with a broad smile on your face! :)

Bonus: Obviously the coffee shop and weaving studio is just a small part of The Alpaca Loom’s business. Basically, if you are in the market for it, you can purchase pet alpacas, alpaca wool, breeding stock and even guard alpacas from these guys!

Related Link: The Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop and Weaving Studio | Paarl