Lisbon was one of the most magical, enchanting places I’ve been to. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s definitely one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, predating other modern European capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by hundreds of years. They love their sardines… and I was explicitly told by a local that I wouldn’t truly experience Lisbon if I didn’t experience their char-grilled sardines (with lemon and sea salt).
Mercado De San Miguel is one of the most exciting things to do in madrid … a day and night food market… fresh food, plenty of cocktails and- my favourite – oysters! 🙂 in cape town we have something similar called ‘the biscuit mill’
1. The night-time flea market The Mercado de San Miguel. This sounds like heaven to me! I love flea markets… we have many similar markets like this here in Cape Town. This one sounds pretty fantastic. I like that it’s festive and full of local flavours and foods. It offers high quality products, pastries, tapas, a wine bar, and a variety of foods with 33 vendors. There are steel tables for picnics within the venue in which it is housed called Plaza de San Miguel, closest to the east side of the Plaza Mayor. It operates Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays between 10am and midnight. And on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 10am and 2am.
2. The Palacio Real de Madrid which is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family at the city of Madrid. This sounds amazing and a tour of this would definitely be on my list! Apparently it opened in 1755 and is open now daily from 10am to 6pm. I absolutely love history and I think seeing this would be a treat!
3. Gran Vía is next. An ornate and upscale shopping street located in central Madrid, it’s also known as the “Spanish Broadway”. Known as one of the streets with the most nightlife in Europe, and the “street that never sleeps”, it’s definitely on my list!
4. The Temple of Dood. This is an ancient Egyptian temple that was rebuilt in Madrid! The temple was built originally 15 kilometres south of Aswan in southern Egypt very close to the first cataract of the Nile and to the great religious center dedicated to the goddess Isis, in Philae. In 1960, due to the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan and the consequent threat posed to several monuments and archeological sites, UNESCO made an international call to save this rich historical legacy. As a sign of gratitude for the help provided by Spain in saving the temples of Abu Simbel, the Egyptian state donated the temple of Debod to Spain in 1968. The temple was rebuilt in one of Madrid’s parks, the Parque del Oeste, near the Royal Palace of Madrid, and opened to the public in 1972.
5. The Plaza de Cibeles sounds amazing! Wow, this is a square with lots to offer. The fountain of Cibeles in the centre of the square is named after Cybele (or Ceres), the Roman goddess of fertility. It’s seen as one of Madrid’s most important symbols. Built between 1777 and 1782, the fountain depicts the goddess sitting on a chariot pulled by two lions. The fountain of Cibeles has been adopted by the football club Real Madrid, whose fans use the area to celebrate its triumphs in competitions. (I hope they win something while I’m there!) Also in the square is the Cibeles Palace (formerly named Communications Palace). The cathedral-like landmark was built in 1909 as the headquarters of the postal service. There is also the Bank of Spain and the General Staff Headquarters of the Spanish Army. Finally, opposite the Bank of Spain is the Palacio de Linares. The baroque palace was built in 1873 by a rich banker, José de Murga. It houses the Casa de América, a cultural center and art gallery focused mostly on Latin American arts. And guess what? The building is said to be haunted by the spirits of its first owner, who made his fortune in the New World!
Christmas / New Year’s is that delicious little period in life when all the worries of the world seem to fade away into some fantastically naughty little indulgence. It can actually be any indulgence in the world – allow me to show you some of my little indulgences over the past 2 weeks 🙂
I flew up to Johannesburg with my family & stayed at Southern Sun, Montecasino. I absolutely LOVED my hotel! We had a gorgeous view from our room overlooking the “Sun Square” as well as a superbly-designed lake, fully equipped with a family of ducks and my favourite – two black swans 🙂 The hotel is a brand-new addition to the hotel family at Montecasino from my understanding… opened in May 2010. I’ve always stayed at their legendary Palazzo hotel when I’ve travelled to Montecasino. I still absolutely love it! But compared to this new addition, it’s a tad old-fashioned. Apparently it’s due for refurbishment this year, which will hopefully give it the freshness & contemporary ambiance of its sister hotel the Southern Sun!
Opened in May 2010 the Southern Sun Montecasino located at The Pivot is an exciting addition to the Montecasino Precinct. The hotel has 194 bedrooms and offers all the modern facilities for both business and leisure travellers including a high spec gymnasium.
The hotel reflects a fusion of period and modern Venetian furnishings with a fresh electric style. Punchinello’s restaurant offers Mediterranean cuisine in an exciting open plan kitchen which allows guests to share in the activities of the bustling kitchen.
A contemporary bar and lounge leads out to a large wooden deck overlooking the pool which is the ideal setting for sundowners.
Walking out of our hotel, there was easy access to the main Montecasino entertainment complex. We spotted these fabulous Venetian-inspired statues along the way! I loved them – there was a statue for every season. My favourite was summer…
There was also just generally some beautiful Venetian-inspired scenery which was so inspiring.
There is an exciting hub just a 5 min walk from our hotel called “Sun Square” which is just brilliant! Complete with restaurants – including the winner of Masterchef South Africa’s very own restaurant called Aarya – a musical fountain, a big screen TV, a clock tower and a giant Teatro (Italian for “Theatre”) hosting top notch productions all year round. Everything in the complex is styled to look like Venice, which I loved. This is where we celebrated New Year’s Eve.
The fireworks at the stroke of midnight were marvelous. I absolutely loved them. I think fireworks at midnight on New Year’s is an absolute MUST. Fireworks & champagne, that’s a true celebration for a new year. All these pics are by my brother, Dane Doubell. Prior to the countdown on New Year’s Eve we enjoyed the award-winning, much-acclaimed musical production “Dirty Dancing”. It blew me away.
I was really excited to wear my new dress from “Forever New”, white always looks great against a bit of a tan 😉
On New Year’s Eve we started a special new tradition which I hope will last for a very long time… We lit 2 beeswax candles which were part of a delicate little ornament I received as a gift from a friend who went to the German Christmas Market last year.
I lit the candle on the left for the old year and blew out all of the past. Then I lit the candle on the right for the future, and breathed in the light of the new year.
I recently created a quote for myself which is where the premise of this tradition began 🙂
Breathe out the past and breathe in the future
I also saw one great quote at “Skoobs” – my new favourite book store – which held lovely significance for me.
To top it all off, I threw a lucky penny into this fountain on New Year’s Eve and made a wish.
What I totally enjoyed about Montecasino was walking around the complex popping into this shop and that, grabbing an iced coffee and watching the live entertainment. There’s always some entertainment in the centre, from saxophone players to magicians to singers to circus folk. I loved the bookstore in the complex and also the 3D cinema where we watched some great films.
Something we loved to do was take a golf cart during the days from our hotel to the “Palazzo Hotel” and swim in their beautiful pool! We alternated between swimming at our hotel and the Palazzo hotel, which were both so gorgeous…
A few more indulgences were definitely at the breakfast buffet.
There were so many people at this hotel and in the complex generally.. I knew we’d picked the perfect place to spend New Year as a family 🙂
On the last day we visited the Montecasino Bird Gardens ……… and I loved it. My impressions of the park were that it is very clean and spacious. Also that they have such a diverse collection of birds. The birds are well looked after and I was thoroughly delighting in all the various exotic birds they have there…
They hold wonderful bird shows every day at different times of the day. I really enjoyed it much more than I first thought I would – I felt like a kid again!
There was one creature I particularly liked, and that was the chameleon!
I also liked the snake, seeing as 2013 is the year of the snake!
I calmed my nerves at a nearby waterfall – gorgeous!
On one evening we went and got a Thai Massage. We did a foot massage and then went into a full body “deep tissue” thai massage. Absolutely incredible! They actually manipulate your entire body as part of the massage. It’s quite something – had me stretching in positions I never knew I could. The parlour where the Thai spa was lay inside the Montecasino complex, making it very convenient for us. I just remember walking in and smelling the sweet scent of vanilla incense…. it was stunning.
I loved everything about this place and it certainly made me add “get a thai massage at least once a month” to my resolutions list.Here is some more info on Thai massages (I found it quite interesting!)
Traditional Thai massage is based on the belief that all life force spirals around special pathways, or prana pathways, in the body. There are 72 000 invisible energy lines, which make up the energy body. Any blockage along these lines can cause disease (dis-ease) on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Thai massage focuses on 10 important lines, called sen sip. By releasing any blocked energy along the sen lines, prana can flow freely, thereby restoring balance, health and harmony in the body.
Traditional Thai massage is a combination of acupressure, reflexology and yogic exercises, or gentle stretching, which manipulates the energy lines and so diminishes tension, stimulates metabolism and creates a feeling of wellbeing and vitality. Unlike some other therapies, you will feel refreshed and energized after a Thai massage, rather than sedated and lethargic.
After a glorious holiday in Johannesburg, we flew back to my home town Port Elizabeth where I am currently writing to you from.
Snapped these photos of Charlize having lunch at Beluga in Cape Town, she sat so near me! Felt like real paparazzi 😉 Apparently I didn’t do a bad job as the Sunday Times published the photograph I took in that weekend’s paper. Awesome!
“Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives………………………”Cue music! Days of our Lives is a daytime soap opera broadcast on the NBC television network. This past week, three of the stars from the NBC hit soapie flew to South Africa for a two-city tour.
It’s one of the longest-running scripted television programs in the world, airing nearly every weekday in the United States since November 8, 1965.
Galen Gering (Rafe), Drake Hogestyn (John) and Arianne Zucker (Nicole) enjoyed the gorgeous welcome that was waiting for them here and toured the country promoting the show and really just celebrating a show which has been running on our screens for so long and which has a huge fan base here. Here are some other faces you may recognize from the hit-soapie:
I was invited to an exclusive cocktail evening where SABC 3 hosted the cast members at The Expresso Penthouse here in Cape Town, to celebrate the soapie that has for many years graced the small screen in South Africa. SABC truly outdid themselves; the décor was stunning and the food was even better. I couldn’t have asked for a better location for the evening, a stunning penthouse on a beautiful summer’s evening overlooking the city with views of the ocean and the dazzling ocean liner lights. Magical. There was a fabulous arrangement of champagne glasses upon arrival and guests were given a glass of Pierre Jourdain or a cosmo! Well what can I say, I kept going back for more.
When speeches came around, MC Janez welcomed them officially and gave them each the mic to say a few words.
During his speech he said that the welcome they’ve received here in South Africa has been overwhelming and that they are very grateful. He mentioned how when they go back to work today (Monday), they will be surrounded by the lights and the studios of NBC and they’ll just look at each other and smile. To him, they share a secret; the secret of South Africa and their fantastic trip here. He said that it’s been a magical and unforgettable experience that they’ll never forget. To me personally, I think it’s crazy how with one plane ride they’ll be transported to another world. It must be weird for them to come somewhere so far away and receive such a huge welcome, have such a fabulous time and then have to travel back to their reality, remembering all their fans here and the lifestyle that is “South Africa”. Thank you SABC for a superb evening, I enjoyed every second! You can follow SABC on Facebook HERE. And you can find them on Twitter HERE.
Last night I attended a fantastic event to mark the launch of “Kunjanimation 2012” – South Africa’s only national event exclusively dedicated to celebrating the art and business of animation. Now if that doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, I don’t know what does.
January 10th 2013 means a lot to a lot of people. Especially to 71 countries from around the world. Mean nothing to you? Well it won’t, really, unless you’re part of the group that’s been involved in creating your country’s best film or you’ve been involved in entering it into the highly-anticipated Academy Awards next year………….. Or unless you’re a film fiend, like myself! This year a record number of entries have been accepted. 71 entrants from countries around the world, which include a first-ever entry from Kenya, a Palme d’Or-winning entry from Austria and the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion award-winner from South Korea, all think they’ve got what it takes to win the coveted title of ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ at The Oscars 2013.
Nairobi Half Life directed by David (Tosh) Gitonga:
Amour directed by Michael Haneke:
Pieta by Kim Ki-duk:
Last year the winner was an Iranian drama about a couple considering a divorce.
It’s titled A Separation.
See its trailer here:
It examines the moral and social conflicts that arise in a Tehran family after a couple apply for a divorce, and was recently criticised as a “dirty picture” by Iranian hardliners, despite its commercial success in the country.
This year, though, Iran has withheld its submission. The Iranian cultural minister said his country is boycotting the 2013 Oscars to protest against the anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims made in the U.S. The controversial film sparked riots in the middle east a few weeks ago and has been banned in many countries, such as Russia, for being extremist. The filmmaker behind it has been arrested and sent to prison for violating the terms of his probation for a prior conviction.
Under the terms of his five-year probation, he was ordered not to own or use devices with access to the internet without approval from his probation officer
– The Los Angeles Times
The man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, created a 14-minute, anti-Muslim movie trailer which was blamed for riots in Benghazi in September in which the American ambassador to Libya and three others were killed. To date, no full-length version of the film has surfaced.
Here is the Innocence of Muslims trailer, with over 16 million views worldwide:
Other hot entrants this year for The Oscars 2013 include France’s The Intouchables directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano:
Morrocco’s Death for Sale directed by Faouzi Bensaïdi:
and Denmark’s A Royal Affair directed by Nikolaj Arcel:
And as for South Africa? Well it seems that Darrell Roodt’s latest work, Umfaan(or Little One), is our submission to the race.
The film tells the story of a child rape victim left for dead in a township near Johannesburg, and is eventually found and rescued by an older woman, who becomes very close to the little girl, and decides to launch her own investigation into the girl’s rape.
There’s nothing about it online, no trailer for it on YouTube and unfortunately, according to my research, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for it to be selected as a finalist. See Johannesburg’s Times Live article on it here: http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2012/10/09/little-hope-for-little-one. So now we wait to see who is chosen to be among the finalists – to be unveiled on January 10, 2013. The 85th Academy Awards telecast will follow on February 24, hosted at the Hollywood & Highland Center by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.
South Africa’s answer to Madagascar 3? The new “Adventures in Zambezia” – South Africa’s latest full-length animated feature film. Hot on the tail of previous animated films to come out of the country, namely “Lion of Judah” (2011) and “Jock of the Bushveld” (2010), it’s set to release in SA in Summer 2012. Cape-Town based Triggerfish Studios gives Dreamworks a run for its money with this touching African-inspired story about a young falcon leaving home to make a life for himself in ‘Bird City’.