Hello from Gauteng! I’m currently up in Johannesburg after a crazy four days in Durban at the Travel Indaba for Skybok. This weekend my brother and I went for an ice cream at the famous Nelson Mandela Square in the Sandton City Mall. The name ‘Sandton’ is derived from a combination of Sandown and Bryanston. In less than 30 years, Sandton has become the most significant business and financial district in South Africa. It’s home to approximately 300 000 residents and 10 000 businesses including investment banks, top businesses, financial consultants, the Johannesburg stock exchange and one of the biggest convention centres on the African continent, the Sandton Convention Centre. I loved the Nelson Mandela statue in the centre of the square.
The weather in New York has been so hot! The ‘coldest’ I’ve experienced so far has been 26°C. I’ve been shopping for easy summer dresses and cool blouses to wear to class. I must say, one thing I do miss about Cape Town is the beach! What better way to put the summer rays to good use than by getting a nice tan and showing off your favourite swimwear 😛 Here are some other awesome destinations which, contrary to here in New York, are off the beaten track and still provide near-perfect summer weather and miles of sandy beaches .. plus they don’t have the suffocating crowds!
Barbuda, Eastern Caribbean
Part of the tiny nation of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbuda is a great alternative to the Bahamas. Whilst the island’s beaches stretch for miles, its most well-known spot is the Pink Beach, so named because of its rose-hued sands. Barbuda has only one paved road that runs outside the main population centre of Codrington and it’s possible to while away hours without encountering a single tourist.
Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
A tiny island off the Caribbean coastline of the nation of Nicaragua, Little Corn Island can only be accessed by ferries. As such, this laid-back island is relatively free of tourists. It has very little infrastructure and heaps of untouched tropical beaches. And, though you may encounter a handful of locals working or playing soccer, the beaches are usually deserted.
Great Lakes, Michigan
With plenty of quiet beaches, gentle waves and a rustic, woodsy setting, the sandy beaches of the Great Lakes are secluded enough to make you feel like you have your own private seafront. Try the Lake Huron and Lake Michigan shorelines for the best coasts and take a walk into the friendly towns that dot the area, if you actually end up needing more company!
Soak up some culture along with some sun on the beaches of Cartagena in Colombia. You can admire its well-preserved 17th-century architecture while you fill your belly with the local cuisine, particularly the Colombian delicacies of Bandeja Paisa and Fritanga.
Cabo Polonia, Uruguay
Uruguayans recommend this laid-back peninsula village for a private beach experience. 4-wheel drive trucks or horses will take you over the dunes to a hidden beach, where you can get settled in a rustic motel or vacation bungalow, before strolling into the rugged and undeveloped areas that surround the beach.
I celebrated my birthday in New York! My favorite moment was at a rooftop bar for my called “230 on 5th avenue”. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. I would recommend that if you have anything you want to celebrate in New York, this is the place to go! Check out their website. I also really enjoyed the “Hudson Hotel” … I suggest starting at the “Tequila Park” then working your way over to the “Sky Terrace” and finally ending up in the “Hudson Common” like we did 🙂 Here is their website and the address is 356 West 58th Street. (Needless to say the evening began with a bottle of proudly South African Graham Beck Brut…..you can take the girl out of South Africa, but you can’t take South Africa out of the girl…..!)
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!