You know, I’ve never actually ever dealt with a real life travel agent before. In fact, come to think of it, I’ve never even stepped into a travel agency’s offices before. With software development being my daily bread and butter, I’ve always been quite content dealing with online systems as opposed to people, and as such when it comes to travel arrangements I’ve always been more than happy to use an OTA (a.k.a online travel agency, an abbreviation I have literally just learned a handful of minutes ago) for my needs.
Anyway, when it comes to South Africa, one of the biggest and most prominent players in this space is undoubtedly Travelstart (who now seem be on a massive marketing push to get their name out even further than what it already is – as evidenced by this here partner post of mine too I guess).
Interesting fact, Travelstart is headquartered right here in Cape Town, and so is technically a South African company, despite having first been breathed into life by Swedish founder Stephan Ekbergh back in 1999 – who then sold it off to investors, before finally buying it back again following his emigration to South Africa in 2006. And quite frankly, the company hasn’t looked back since. A leading OTA in Africa and the Middle East, Travelstart now finds itself operating in some 15 markets across the region, including the likes of Botswana, Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Primarily making money through Pay per Click advertising and an extensive affiliate network of travel partners, TravelStart brings tons of value to the everyday traveller (i.e. you and me) by offering some of the best travel deals across all its comparison functions – those being the full trifecta of flights, hotels, and car rentals.
So literally a one-stop compare and book shop (and that’s not even noting the toes now dipped into the Business Travel and Package Holiday markets either).
Plus, it is hard for me not to like how they do what they do. Extremely technologically focused (i.e. they seem to be rather fond of us programmers in general), the Travelstart website is clean, responsive, well written, and frankly a pleasure to use. (And with local customer support for when needed, it feels like a bit of a no-brainer if you are looking for the easiest way to book your next holiday.)
Right, so basically Travelstart IS a good way to start your travels then.
Related Link: Travelstart
If you enjoyed the Lego Movie or any of the licensed property Lego games from the last couple of years then you will definitely enjoy this one.
For starters, the show is set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, meaning that you know straight away that you are in at a minimum for Lego Darth Vader and his Lego Stormtroopers to make an appearance.
Then there are the titular Freemakers, consisting of the young Rowan who first starts all the ruckus by discovering the hilt of the shattered Kyber Saber and then insisting on hunting for the rest of the crystal fragments, the older sister Kordi who is forever looking out for the family, and finally the eldest brother Zander, the mechanic who is good at building ships and probably the most important when it comes to keeping the Freemakers’ salvage operation afloat!
(Plus, there is the reprogrammed battledroid R0-GR, who as you may have guessed – in the tradition of the Star Wars universe – is funny as all heck.)
Anyway, essentially the setup is that you have these two forces, the Freemakers and the Galactic Empire who are both racing to find the Kyber crystal fragments in order to restore the powerful, legendary Kyber Saber lightsaber. There is the usual good versus evil, a clever twist and a lot of guest appearances – all generously mixed into this very fun action/comedy story.
It’s thirteen episodes long. The boys/girls will love it, you will grin at it, and essentially, the fanboys will adore it.
Pretty much a winner all around then! ;)
For some reason my mom opted to store most of the toys that Ryan, Claire and myself played with as children. As it turns out, both my kids and Claire’s kids love this very decision of hers – because it means that when the grandchildren arrive at Granny and Grandpa’s house for a visit then there are loads of toys already there, just waiting to be played with!
One of the favourites for the girls to pull out of the toybox is this old wind-up, red and white toy music box/record player.
Despite coming from the ’80s, this brightly coloured music box still winds up and plays tunes via its rainbow coloured selection of plastic ‘records’, basically pretending that it hasn’t just spent the last 30 years of its life in the back of a dusty cupboard!
But that’s the thing though – my mom held Fisher-Price toys in high regard, believing them to be the best in terms of quality and longevity, and this record player from them then kind of proves that very point.
The plastic hasn’t perished, the wind-up mechanism still works, and the colours haven’t really faded all that much either.
More importantly, the girls get an absolute kick out of playing with it.
For some or other reason, Fisher-Price kind of disappeared off the radar in South Africa in recent years though – with the result that both Emily and Jessica missed out on the excellence of their toys through, which really is a pity.
The truth of the matter is that most of the toys that they had as toddlers have long since been donated already, with most of those toys being already near the end of their lifespan anyway.
Pleasingly though, Fisher-Price have now themselves recognized the fact that they have managed to miss out on a whole generation of kids playing with their toys – and are now putting a whole lot of focus on rekindling their relationship with us the South African parents.
Which is kind of neat when you think about just how good their toys really are.
So, the question then is – do you have any memories of your favourite Fisher-Price toys from when you were a kid?
Related Link: Fisher-Price Facebook
If you won an insanely large amount of money, what would you do with it?
You could of course buy everything that you’ve ever wanted, the usual staples like the super big house and all those fancy cars you’ve ever drooled over. Maybe you would rather try to improve your social standing by throwing massively extravagant parties and in the process basically buy a whole lot of new, well-heeled/networked friends. Or perhaps becoming an angel investor to make even more money is your thing, or maybe you prefer the idea of a more philanthropic approach to spending your money in service of others.
And then of course there are those that would use their winnings to travel.
Matt Myles (who certainly has been involved in more than a few interesting stories since winning the £1 million prize on Euromillons in 2014) used quite a bit of his winnings on a whirlwind worldwide bender, partying and seeing the sights in Italy, Bali, USA, Thailand, Brazil and Dubai.
John and Pauline Alford who cashed in £1.4 million from the UK National Lotter at the age of 76, celebrated their big win by taking family along with them on a trip to Florida, USA.
2015’s French Lotto winner who won €11 million on Mother’s Day (and chose to stay anonymous) took her family on a number of trips, with the first being to fulfill a lifelong dream of spending Easter in Jerusalem.
John and Susan Brands from Missouri, USA won a ridiculous $96.5 million Powerball jackpot, and almost immediately embarked on a Lord of the Rings tour of New Zealand!
While it certainly is true that you don’t need to win the lottery in order to travel the world, it is pretty difficult to argue that it doesn’t help!
On that note, TheLotter is a leading online lottery service, combining all the advantages and comfort of the internet with the exciting worldwide lottery opportunities. They offer the only online service that enables you to actively and immediately participate in the biggest lottery games from around the world – providing you with the opportunity to win millions in the process!
So, trip to Monaco anyone?
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 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!
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! ;)
After all, what’s on in Cape Town? Well Vibescout should know…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
Tip: Here’s a handy map to my local Caltex. It’s probably a good idea to find your own!
If you are a long distance traveller, you need a car that will be powerful, durable, and reliable. After all, the last thing that you’d ever want to deal with is a breakdown in the middle of your journey, as that would leave you stranded and cause you to waste time and money. So, if you are planning on looking through the many used cars for sale to find the perfect car for your travels, consider the following car brands.
Toyota is a hugely popular carmaker because it produces vehicles that will go the distance and last for many years to come. These cars hold onto their value as well because they are built so strong. But if you want to have a car that isn’t just capable, but also fuel efficient, opt for models like the Prius or the Camry Hybrid. In this way, you can spend more time driving to your destination than fuelling up at the pump. Plus, you will be doing something great for the environment by getting into a car that uses so little fuel, especially if you are going to be driving for a long time. But if you are in search of something larger that will comfortably fit your entire family, you can go for the Sienna, which is a hugely popular minivan model.
Subaru is yet another carmaker that is known for producing high quality cars that are meant to last for many years. These cars also come with all-wheel drive capabilities, so you can take them over a variety of terrain and into a variety of weather conditions and still be confident you will not get stuck. Popular models include the brand’s SUVs, which are the Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek.
Kia is a brand that has come a long way. You can find affordable models from this carmaker, but you will be surprised by the quality of these vehicles and their ability to really get you places. SUVs like the Sorento and the Sportage are great choices for travellers who pack a lot and want to have some extra headroom and legroom for themselves and their passengers. Known for being safe and reliable, these vehicles are also surprisingly luxurious, so give them a test drive and see how you like them.
If you have the budget for an Audi, you can take your road trip in a luxurious vehicle that will keep you comfortable throughout your journey. Drivers who prefer SUVs can opt for the Audi Q7, which provides a quiet and comfortable ride. The handling is also highly responsive, and the vehicle is large enough to fit three adults comfortably in the second row, so you will have room for your family and your luggage.
Avid travellers who are planning on going on long distance road trips should stick with these top car brands that are designed to help you get to your destination safely and efficiently, no matter how far you are planning on going.
Oh dear. Those hit squishy toys from Pick ‘n Pay that so enthralled the kids so last year are back… and this time they’re rising up from the depths!
Right. Same story as last year, if you head out and do your shopping at Pick ‘n Pay then for every R150 spent, you will receive one free Stikeez figurine.
This time around there are 24 sea-themed monsters/Stikeez to collect, and just as before, they come in sealed pods, so you never know who will pop up next.
In addition to the toys which no doubt your kids will now beg you incessantly for, there is also a free app available on both the iPhone and Android platforms.
And yes, just like last year, we are already sitting on a mountain of these things. One of the perks when you work at a guest house and pretty much have to shop every day!
Also: Available at Pick ‘n Pay from 24 October for eight weeks, or while stocks last.