Back to the caves #Oudtshoornย 

I believe that every place has a character much like people, and if I apply that to Oudtshoorn I would say it is rustic and brazen. Why?? ย because it is so in your face. I could call it the Texas of South Africa ..if that makes sense.ย 

The pygmy ponies in the old mill estate

The very story of Oudtshoorn is based on the premise of a catastrophe, much to my dismay the major factor contributing to this is the sad incidence of fires across the garden route in South Africa while we were travelling.ย 

Even though we were safe and did not witness any incident in particular, we could feel the frenzy as the whole country was fighting this phenomena that lead to the loss of many lives and property. It was great to see the unparalleled unity and grace that the citizens showcased during this catastrophe.ย 

This incident in my mind reinforces the idea that Travel is much more than sightseeing, it is a journey of discovery, of not only places but of human abilities and being touched by them in the most profound manner. ย 

As tourists we were encouraged by the locals to continue our journey of their beautiful country and carrying the stories of its beauty and poise back home. So this one is their story.

I start from the very start as we took to the road after Hermanus towards Oudtshoorn. It was the longest road trip we undertook in South Africa, we were on road for about 5 hours all through a very windy day and to tell you the truth it was a bit scary with huge open stretches without any habitation what so ever.ย 

But everything was worth it once we reached The Old Mill estate, about 18 kms ahead of Oudtshoorn. It is a little slice of heaven. With a lovely farm, an outstanding restaurant, ostriches, ponies, rabbits, a little lake and even a hike trail on the backdrop of a huge and lush mountain. It was so great that we extended our stay there from just one night to two.ย 

The old mill estate is a retreat in itself, the stunning view

For the two days that we were in oudtshoorn we explored various ostrich farms, the lovely city and the cango caves.ย 

Cango caves are majestic and Gothic and so well preserved, so if you are not overly claustrophobic, and are fairly adventurous like me you must visit there. ย The prehistoric caves are one of a kind in the whole world.ย 

The nature’s art inside cango caves

I must also confess that oudtshoorn is the place I tried the ostrich burger for the first time ( and I don’t like it) also it was here that I understood the fascination the regency fashionistas had with the ostrich feathers.ย 

Me regency style.. another feather in my cap ๐Ÿ˜€

So finally my takeaway from Oudtshoorn #1 the ostrich burger is bad ( totally my opinion). ย #2 I am mildly claustrophobic. #3 rustic is charming and finally the most important one #4 a bucket load of memories of a wonderful place and it’s wonderful people.ย 

Soon it was time to pack our bags again and hit the road for the next destination, the lovely sea side town of Mossel Bay.

So… As I wrap up this story, another one is just beginning to form.ย 

Farm life agrees with me ..๐Ÿ˜Š

And on that note.. ย will be back soon.

Au revoir.

-The Gypsy Gurlย 

The Northern Right #Hermanusย 

Hermanus is not a place you can take lightly,  it’s exciting, exquisite and undeniably, unabashedly adventurous. What with it being, one of the best places on earth known for land based whale watching.

Whale watching.. yes !.. Right off the coast and a beautiful one at that. So in continuum with my last destination du jour  #Stellenbosch, as my fingers fly on my keypad trying to summon my memory just about a month back when I was on the road to Hermanus from Stellenbosch, I recount my sheer delight and anticipation of the dream destination.

Hermanus had captured the best part of my attention even while I was carefully, dreamily planning this vacation, it’s claim to fame being so great after all.

So without much dilly dallying let me dive right into the story. We drove all the way to Hermanus from Stellenbosch through the wonderful South African highway system.

By the time we checked into the beautiful Windsor Hotel the sun was already setting behind the horizon, a sea view room was waiting for our arrival, it was all good till we opened the balcony door and behold.. The most breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean was right before our eyes,  so my recommendation # 1 stay at the Windsor Hotel when you plan a visit and definitely book a sea facing room it’s totally worth every penny you pay.

So moving on,  we just about dumped our baggage in the room and left the hotel for a quick round of the scenic village even though it was getting darker by the minute. It’s a small place but extremely beautiful, we took a little walk along the ocean, the walking track cut across cliffs and rocks of the generally rocky bay.

So my recommendation #2 if you are planning a trip to Hermanus keep your sturdy and comfortable walking shoes handy, so that you can enjoy the rather lovely nature walks in the area.

All this was followed by a spectacular dinner at one of the restaurants in the village square, (the most popular and happening place).

The next day was devoted completely to sightseeing the local area,  we saw the whale museum , the old harbour which had quite a rustic feel and  also spent a lot of time just sitting on the coast looking for the elusive whales, even though it was a bit early in the season for their arrival. We were rewarded by a splendid view of the very lively marine life of the area,  seals snorkeling and fishing, some huge fish ( not whale though ) but all in all it was totally worth it.

My take away from Hermanus is the salty, fragrant Atlantic breeze and countless stories of the elusive Northern Right whale but most importantly the sheer beauty and biodiversity of the little village.

So soon we were in our car on our way to the next destination Oudtshoorn ..home to rustic farms and the famous Kango caves. I’ll be back soon with my story of Oudtshoorn.

Leaving you with some pictures we took on our way.

Till later.

The Gypsy Gurl.

The magnificent view of the bay of Hermanus

A cute guy posing for my click against the blue ocean

The old harbour of Hermanus 

Wine Tripping #Stellenbosch

The wine guide of Stellenbosch

South Africa is quite well known for producing one of the best new world wines but, what surprises me most, is the lack of knowledge about one of the best wine tourism destination, there is.. Yes Stellenbosch is totally a breath of fresh air and comes as a wonderful surprise. I must share that I was excited to begin with ( that’s why it was part of the itinerary .. ), but to be truthful I never expected it to be this outstanding.

I don’t even know,  if the beauty and charm of stellenbosch is possible to be described without experiencing it first hand,  however, I will try. So here goes..

Navigating the South African roads from Capetown, we reached stellenbosch in no time, 45 minutes to be precise. What struck me most was the amazing transformation of the landscape as we neared the lovely town.

The stunning vineyards of Stellenbosch

Soft hills took place of gentle slopes and amazingly enough, soon we found ourselves surrounded by vinyards and estates. Capetown crowds just melted away into the solitude of the beautiful countryside with myraid colours.

As we headed for the Delvera estate, where we were booked for 2 nights, I was wondering if that’s going to be enough to soak all this beauty,  but as we had to travel to so many places within South Africa, time was definitely limited. That ended my wayward thought.

The picturesque Delvera wine estate, is a great place to stay

Stellenbosch is a unhurried and laid-back destination, complete with amazing food and awesome wines. While you are there, do try The Basic Bistro for some lip-smacking delicacies and don’t forget to head towards the drakenberg mountains for some wonderful wine tasting, my favorite was the Delaire Graft Estate their amazing collection of wines, cheeses and the wonderful organic fig preserve is to die for.

Delaire Graff Estate the ultimate vine tasting experience

Other than that, just lie back and enjoy nature at its best, and yes a glass of wine.. doesn’t hurt.

Next up is the pretty village of Hermanus, on the western Cape of South Africa, travelling on the scenic garden route.

Stay connected.

– The Gypsy Gurl.

Hiking in the vineyards Delvera Estate

Do you also have an amazing experience of stellenbosch? Did you like my discription of the destination? I would love to hear all about it in the comments section. 

Oh Capetown… Singing in my head

LA LA LA LA… Singing in my head. When I am happy.. well, I sing,  my musical sense awakens ( much to the dismay of everyone around me ..la la..)

If it’s possible, it’s just enough to describe Cape Town as the magnum opus of South Africa.

Me at the lighthouse, Cape of good hope

I don’t know where to start, the 7 days I spent in Capetown were just perfect,  a perfect blend of high life,  good food,  thrill, adventure and shopping,  but wait that’s not all, the great thing about Capetown is that with the big city life there is nature too,  this is one of the rare places you see both coexist and… happily.

From st George’s mall to the waterfront… And from robben island to the cape of good hope, it’s a panorama for all senses. Multiracial,  multicultural and truly cosmopolitan, cape Town is the paradise for a seasoned traveller as well as a bohemian wanderer.

The table mountain is the crowning glory but the cape of good hope lends it character, to be at the very tip of a continent, where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic meet is truly a humbling experience and so is coming face to face with an African penguin on the boulders beach and the wild ostriches at the cape of good hope.

I can sum it all up by sharing a few magnificent pictures I clicked on my way..

The magnificent cape of good hope
The mama and baby penguin at the boulders beach

All I can say is Capetown is a place to be if you want to experience the delectable and the modest….

The majestic ostriches along the cape coast

with that I am off to stellenbauch… Wine country, South Africa, just about an hour’s drive from Capetown.

Will be back soon.

– The Gypsy Gurl.

Have you ever been to Cape Town? If yes, how was your experience ? If no, would you like to go there sometime? Do share with me in the comments. I would love to hear all about it. 

Lost in transit ย #Johannesburgย 

The colourful Johannesburg

Every one told me that one day in Johannesburg is not enough at all. All reviews and suggestions suggested at least 3 days there. But, let me tell you it’s all about whether your adventure finds you or not and mine embraced me the moment we landed.

High adrenaline, high intensity and positively gripping, let’s just say I lived at least 10 folds in one day ! It’s a feat, I tell you, by any standard.

To give you a gist, I lived through getting my documents held at the airport for the most insane reason, going through the toughest security checks… Twice!  ( within 30 mins ) getting lost  ( well,  that’s my staple,  I somehow manage that everywhere and this time it was in record time…oops! ) and finally going through an episode of lost passports while trying to catch a flight to Capetown..and all this within a span of a day !

…and to top it all I still managed to be everywhere on time,  catch all flights, got found ( had Mexican dinner afterward… He he) and even enjoy.

While all this drama was unfolding I managed to catch a glimpse of a magnificent city. My takeaway from Johannesburg is.. colour, it’s so colourful, the streets, the shops, the houses and even people.

As I board kalula airlines for a flight to Capetown another story is itching to be told,  but hang on let me experience it first.

Take Care

– The Gypsy Gurl.

What is your most cherished travel adventure? Do share in the comments, I would love to hear all about it. 

Finding Africaย 

Inspiration is a funny thing, it can find you through almost anything, the most exquisite or the most mundane.

My inspiration the mundane (understatement) view from my seat.

My inspiration came from the sheer length of my flight (9 hours and it’s just the first leg of the journey…aaargh! ).

It’s really interesting how craziness hits people, out of boredom and a combination of sleep deprivation, travelling over time zones etc etc. So just to save my sanity I decided to escape into an alternate world populated by words and phrases and ruled by imagination, feelings and experiences.

So then, here I am at 40,000 feet in the sky somewhere over the African continent escaping into my own world, bringing to life the wonder of my first footsteps on the African soil.

Let me share the feelings of my first contact with the majestic African breeze laden with the perfect and intoxicating aroma of spices, musk, freshness and something totally indescribable,the zing that reverberates through everything here.

As I stepped outside the aircraft in Kigali, Rwanda  after a long long ( I really mean it) flight. The pleasant African breeze lifted my spirits and the unmistakable scent of the continent just took over. The beautiful hill country had already announced  its presence through my aircraft window.

Having travelled all the way from India, I think I am bound to get awestruck, it’s a whole new world out here, raw, untainted and somehow extremely thrilling.  The Kigali airport is right on top of a hill and the view it presented was superb. The early morning haze that greeted me at the runway was well worth the long flight. The 4 hour halt at Kigali was a welcome step because that led me to witness my first African sunrise over the African hills, the first in the long list of firsts. It was totally spectacular.

After such a wonderful little break I am back on the road or rather in the sky for the second leg of my journey to Johannesburg, North America of Africa (I read something about it somewhere, at some point of time and it generally stuck with me).

As the seatbelts are being fastened and the aircraft is getting ready to land at the Johannesburg airport, I am ready with the huge bucket of expectations from my bucket list, to soak in the beautiful multicultural, dynamic city of Africa, or so I have heard. It’s about time to find out.

I will be back with the story of Johannesburg and thereafter. As for now, I need to get in a queue to get out of this aircraft and that …couldn’t be sooner.

Till later.

– The Gypsy gurl

Have you ever been to Africa?  How was your experience?  If not, does it feature in your bucket list?  Do share your thoughts on Africa in the comments, I would love to hear all about it. 

Flashback to December 2016 Episode # 3.. and so the story goes

7th December 2016

Mount titles Switzerland

…and so finally I got drifted into the jungle of sights and aromas lost touch with the virtual me, what with all the excitement keeping me on tenterhooks.

But now that I am finally back home and life has usually begun, I am ready to come to terms with my inner gypsy gurl once again, so well… here I am  typing away into the unknown, gathering all my memories and weaving them into the little story called life.

So, without much ado I will dive straight into the blue or rather yellow of the bright sunshine of Switzerland, the day we arrived there.

..Armed with lots of excitement that the beautiful road journey through the French countryside had generated.

As the journey became longer our excitement turned to.. well, for the lack of a more suitable word, dread.. as we learned much to our horror that the time difference between our next transport aka.swiss rail and this one was probably not sufficient. Bing…..!

Just what in the lords name were we thinking, booking a one way non refundable ticket of swiss rail.

So tip number #1 when travelling through Europe steer clear of non refundable tickets … they are a lucrative trap, meant to swindle the unsuspecting, good looking (okay that’s a lie… mmmm … not really) innocent (that’s not) travellers, but when luck is on your side no swindler can swindle you.

Well who would have thought that, our knight in shining armour was sitting pretty close to us, and revealed himself through the mist of our misery by asking if we needed any help, in highly accented and broken English.

From there to the train station it was a cakewalk.

…well, not really ..it was a very fast walk with all the luggage and a feisty five year old through the secret shortcuts of the swiss passage ways that lead us straight to our platform in flat 2 minutes!!!

…with one whole minute till the arrival of our train from Zurich to Lucerne. The good Samaritan did not stop there he made sure we boarded the train and got settled and also told us the tricks of the trade like if you are travelling with young children look for the family coach on swiss trains as they are equipped with play areas and child friendly interiors.phew … beat that?

So tip number #2 … when travelling with little ones in Switzerland, look out for family coaches on swiss trains, believe me it’s totally worth it and oh Yes …while in Switzerland hold on to those window seats, believe me (for the lack of a better phrase ) its totally worth it.

So coming back to the story…we finally reached Lucerne, a little lost but mostly overwhelmed. My first thought was how are we going to find our host in this incredible city, little did I know that he, would find us.

And that too with an extra umbrella for light drizzle that was waiting for us. So tip number  #3 always carry an umbrella or raincape when travelling in Switzerland.

So well… from there, our really charming host took us to his beautiful apartment, which was to be our home for the next few days.

Our host in Switzerland he was like a magecian with maps

The chapel bridge Lucerne
The Water Tower

That was how we reached the beginning of our tryst with Switzerland.

And that is a whole new story.

Till later.

-The gypsy gurl