Rovos Rail

Step on board of Rovos Rail and be pampered in 5-star luxury while you slowly move through the beautiful landscape. There is everything from shorter journeys between Pretoria and Cape Town to longer trips that depart once a year. Why not take the train from Cape Town to Dar Es Salaam?

deluxe

Since 1989, Rovos Rail has become known as the world’s most luxurious train. The adventure often begins at Capital Park just north of Pretoria, where Rovos Rail’s private station is built in colonial style. This is the point of most of the departures and arrivals.

Rovos Rail has the most spacious compartments in the world, with all the luxury and comfort you can imagine. With beautiful wood panelling and furniture in Edwardian style, the compartments accommodate two people and you can choose between two single beds or a spacious double bed. There is a safe, room service around the clock and a mini bar stocked with the beverages you want, all included in the price.

Rovos Rail offers three types of accommodation:

pullmandaycutawayThe Pullman Suite has a size of 7 square metres with private bathroom with a shower. You can choose between an upper and a lower bed or a double bed which during the day is converted into a sofa. This is the smallest compartment on offer.

deluxecutawayThe Deluxe Suite is a slightly larger option at 11 square meters. You get a small lounge and a private bathroom with a shower and you can choose if you want two single beds or one double bed.

royalcutawayThe Royal Suite is a full 16 square metres big and is very spacious and elegant. The compartment personifies opulence. It takes up half a carriage, with its own lounge and bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower.

All meals are served in one sitting in the charming Victorian design restaurant carriages. Every morning a breakfast buffet with a wide selection of croissants, cold meats, jams, pastries, yoghurt, cereal and fresh fruit is served.

shangani

Lunch and dinner begins with a starter and then your choice of fish, meat or a vegetarian dish, followed by a tempting dessert. And of course you will have excellent South African wines to choose from.

During the day the dress code is casual, while more formal attire is worn in the evening. A jacket and tie is a minimum requirement.

Doesn’t this sound lovely…?

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10 drinks to try out when you visit South Africa

A large part of travelling certainly revolves around eating and drinking, and travelling to South Africa is no exception. And rightly so – South Africa has so many tasty things to offer, so try them out!

Here we’re taking a closer look at some of the drinks…

Wine
This one is a given. You can drink wine every day without getting to excperience a small part of all the wonderful wines available in South Africa.

Two local specialties that you should definitely try is Jerepigo or Cape Ruby, sweet wines that go well with dessert, and Pinotage, which is a blend of the grape varieties Cinsaut and Pinot Noir.

Du-Toitskloof-Hanepoot-Jerepigo

Beer
Everyone drinks beer, regardless of social status and it’s somewhat of South Africa’s unofficial national drink – especially during summer and sports season. The most popular beer, Castle Lager, is produced by South African Breweries, but they also produce brands such as Carling Black Label and Grolsch. Windhoek Lager from Namibia is also popular.

Cider
These are much less sweet and less fruity than the ciders sold in Sweden (I’m not sure about the rest of the world). They have a more adult taste and with hints of wine.

Try Hunter’s, Redds or Savannah – with or without lemon.

Amarula
I’m sure many of you have already tried this sweet and creamy liqueur. Add it to your coffee or ice cream – yummy! –  or as is with ice. Amarula is made from the fruit of the Marula tree, a fruit that’s also a favourite among monkeys and elephants.

Van Der Hum liqueur
This citrus liqueur from The Cape combine spices, herbs, sugar, tangerines, brandy and diluted wine. It’s named after its original creator, and is a favourite among South Africans.

Witblits
Witblits is Afrikaans for “white lightning”, and is a home-made brandy that packs a punch. It’s mostly produced and consumed in the Western Cape, so keep an eye out for it at the farmstalls dotted along the roads there. Witblits is also the name of my car. Vroom vroom! 🙂

Mampoer
Mampoer is a fruitier alternative to witblits, made from peach, apricot, litchi and other fruits. Also, a drink that packs a punch… Mampoer is most common in the northern parts of South Africa.

Springbok (Springbokkies)
A springbok is a popular shooter named after the antelope and it also has the same name as the South African rugby team, wearing gold and green. The drink reflects these colours (or of a springbok and green grass) by layering creamy Amarula with green peppermint liqueur. It’s served in bars around the country and is very popular and insanely nice!

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky
South Africa is widely known as a country that produces a lot of wonderful wines. Most people know that. But there’s also an award-winning whisky produced here.

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is distilled and matured at The James Sedgwick Distillery in the beautiful Bainskloof Pass in the Western Cape. Bain’s was named “The World’s Best Grain Whisky” at the annual World Whisky Awards in London in 2013.

Rooibos
I’m sure most of you have tried rooibos tea. Right? Rooibos is unique because it’s only grown in two specific valleys in South Africa, in the Western and Northern Cape. This slightly reddish tea is full of antioxidants and is often added to other teas to improve the taste, such as Honeybush, Hoodia and Buchu.

New regulations for travelling with children

It’s been about a year since South Africa changed its immigration regulations and the rules became stricter in terms of staying for longer periods in South Africa. The idea was that new rules for travelling with children would be imposed at the same time, but due to strong protests this was postponed.

But now it’s time, as from 1st of June 2015, these new stricter rules for travelling with children to and from South Africa will be introduced and these rules apply to all children under 18 years.

The following documentation must be produced when entering and leaving South Africa:

Parents travelling with a child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.

Single parent travelling with a child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
  • consent in the form of a Parental Consent Affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from the Republic with the child he or she is travelling with.
  • a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child.
  • where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate.

Person travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child:

  • an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
  • a Parental Consent Affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child.
  • copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
  • the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

Here you can download the Parental_Consent_Affidavit.

All documentation must be in English and in the original or certified copies.

We hope this information is helpful, but please double-check with the South African Embassy in your country to make sure that you have the latest information and that it is completely correct 

Zaneliza: How The Water Moves.

Today we want to strike a blow for new, exciting, South African music and at the same time ask you to take a little time and a little money to help this very promising artist to realise her dream. Her name is Asanda Msaki Mvana, she comes from East London in the Eastern Cape and this is her story:

“In 2013 I launched my EP “Nalithemba“. It has been two years since that project, and since I took the leap and fully immersed myself in music as a full time singer/songwriter. The journey has been incredible, and so much growth has come since and from that EP, that I feel the time is right to share with you a full-length studio offering. I invite you to be a part of Zaneliza: How The Water Moves.

Msaki @ Red Hot Jazz

The making of this album is almost complete and the music exists! Musicians, who are also dear friends of mine, joined me in my home town from different parts of the country to record the bulk of the album at the Miriam Makeba Performing Arts Centre (ECAVC), a place which has shown me much support and is very close to my heart. In December 2014, I began the recording process with a session at Peter Aurets studio. Three months later, we now have one more Joburg session left in order to add the last layer of flute, harp and cello. This campaign is mainly to bring to fruition what has been created, and to ensure great post- production takes place to honour the creativity that has already been shown.

I have had the pleasure of working with a wonderful production team consting of Nduduzo Makhathini (Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for Music 2015) and Cobus Van Dyk, who co-produced my EP “Nal’ithemba with me. The amazing Gavan Eckhart of Soulfire studios will be mixing and mastering this album. He has worked with artists like Ray Phiri, Miriam Makeba, Lady Smith Black Mambazo, Marcus Wyatt, Freshly Ground and Bongeziwe Mabandla, to name a few, and has had projects that he has worked on be nominated for SAMAS and Grammies. This project is in good hands.”

msaki_groupThis is a BIG vision,  and big visions require big funding. Recording an album is expensive. In order to raise funds there’s now a campain on Indiegogo, where you can buy anything from a digital album download, to beautiful artworks and piano lessons. The album is planned to launch on  25 September 2015. Help Msaki realise her dream. $10 is not a lot of money to be able to say that you were there, before she made it big 😉

Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2013

Groot_Constantia_ChardonnayJust a few weeks after the devastating fire around Cape Town, Groot Constantia won the prestigious Chardonnay du Monde 2015. Their Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2013 beat no less than 825 other wines and took first prize.

This wine has won 16 gold medals during the past 10 years, so it was maybe a little expected.

Congratulation!

Tempel Wines

Between Paarl and Wellington in the South African winelands, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, lies the small vineyard Temple Wines. The farm is run by Swedish Alf & Marie Ljungqvist, a couple that is impossible not to like. A visit here was a ‘must during our time in Cape Town, we hadn’t been there for several years and it’s always so nice.

Temple Wines specialises in the grape Pinotage, which is a South African specialty created in 1924, when Professor Abraham Izak Perold crossed the two varieties Pinot Noir and Cinsault. The latter was at the time called Hermitage in South Africa, which explains the name Pinotage.

We had the pleasure to try five lovely wines when we were there. Difference and Evidence, of which Evidence was our favorite as it’s a wonderful full bodied Pinotage, 3D, which is a South African version of a Bordeaux wine and Opus 5, Temple Wine’s fifth Pinotage which will certainly be really really good within a few years old (we have a bottle in our wine rack, waiting for the year 2020!).

The coolest wine Temple Wines produces though must be Innocence, which is something as rare as a white Pinotage. Temple Wines is one of only four producers in South Africa that do this. And it’s a very good wine that messes up the communication between eyes and taste buds…

Temple Wines is not only a winery but they also have five lovely rooms where you can stay while exploring the winelands. Affordable and personal, here you will definitely have a lovely time! You have the opportunity to have a braai (bbq) and they also offer a delightful delicacy platter with wine if you don’t want to go into town for the restaurants.

Last, but not least, a stay here also includes wine tasting and a cellar tour with Alf, which is a real experience.

Temple Wines is a wonderful place run by wonderful people!

 

Cricket World Cup 2015

Today, we have moved the office to the loft so that we can sit in front of the TV and work. It’s the quarterfinals of the Cricket World Cup 2015! 🙂 Today, we have to beat Sri Lanka and we got a good start, but there are many hours to go.

Do we understand all the rules? Haha, no not at all! And there are an aweful lot of terms to keep track of overs, wickets, square leg, yorkers the list is very long. But it’s fun to watch and it’s one of South Africa’s national sports.

The team is called The Proteas and let’s hope that captain AB de Villiers leads Amla, Steyn, Miller and all the others to win today.

Fish on the Rocks

When you visit Cape Town please go to Hout Bay and the restaurant Fish on the Rocks. The restaurant is located at the very far end of the harbour, in a rather unassuming venue. It’s not something you just happen to drive past, one must know that it’s there. It’s no fine dining, but they sure know how to cook.
This is probably the best fast food I’ve ever eaten. Large portions and wonderfully cooked fresh seafood. All three of us chose Fish & Chips and Calamari and that’s a hearty lunch. So increadibly good! 🙂 If there are any leftovers there are plenty of seagulls that literally hang in the air and that are happy to receive some food. For bird photographers (amateurs!) such as Lina and I, this was an incredibly fun experience.

Right next to the restaurant is Bay Harbour Market, a really lovely market open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They offer something different than the usual tourist markets, I saw a lot of things I wouldn’t mind buying. There are also lots of yummy food, if you haven’t still feel hungry after your visit at Fish on the Rocks that is…

Adjacent to the market are also a few shops and art galleries. Freddy and I left with a large candle holder made of a piece of an old wine barrel.

End  your visit in Hout Bay with a walk on the beach and stroll around the marina with all the colourful boats and children that plunge into the water, without an ounce of fear.

Sunset Beach

We’ll continue on the theme of sunsets, it’s hard to get enough of them… 🙂 We had one of our evenings at Sunset Beach in Milnerton north of Cape Town. We made it very easy for us, bought pizza and drinks of your choice and sat down and waited for the sun to go down.

Simple pleasure with wonderful memories!

Signal Hill

During one of our first days in Cape Town we went to Signal Hill in the late afternoon. We had packed a simple picnic and we parked ourselves at one of the tables. You can also take a blanket and sit down on the slope and look out over Green Point/Sea Point and Robben Island out there in the ocean. You’re also surrounded by Table Mountain, which in honour of the day had the table cloth on, and Lion’s Head.

If you want, you can take a photo of you in the giant yellow frame which has been there since 2014 to celebrate that Table Mountain was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. These frames are dotted around Cape Town, including the V&A Waterfront and in Bloubergstrand. Unfortunately, the queue was way too long with photo crazy Asian tourists, so we gave up on that idea … But, we had the pleasure to see a lot of whales down in the bay and also what must have been lots of dolphins – all you could see was a white foam that was moving over the surface of the ocean. Awesome!

When we were there it was very windy and a bit chilly, but it was nice nevertheless. The sunset here is very beautiful, so we really recommend this! Have a designated driver and take a good bottle of South African (of course!) wine along…

When the sun dropped below the horizon everyone ran to their cars all at the same time, to escape the wind. This, along with a couple of tourist buses which very effectively blocked the way going down, resulted in a queue down the mountain. So it’s probably a good idea to not go here on a weekend if possible. Or to not be in a hurry to leave!

On the way down, you can stop at several lookout point (just make sure you pull over properly so you’re not blocking the way!) and here you’ll have a very beautiful view of Cape Town. In the evening the city lights up and becomes, if possible, even more beautiful, which brings out the inner photographer (who also wishes for a better camera or a tripod, or just less wind :))

This was really a wonderful evening and we’ll definitely return!