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Things you should know about Maldives

VKATZ MALDIVES 001

Maldives

Maldives has been on my bucket list for years. Ever since I can remember, I dreamt of the turquoise water and the beautiful coral reefs.

So when I had the opportunity to jump on a plane and strike this alluring place off my incalcuable bucket list, I jumped at it.

Maldives is not just an archipelago of islands, its beauty transcends every place that I have been to and as I sit here harking back to the my fond memories, I wish to share some information with you.


Things you should know about Maldives

  • Maldives is a gathering of more than 1,190 Islands, most of the islands are occupied my luxurious resorts.
  • Maldives is predominantly Muslim, therefore it is important to note that no alcohol or pork can be brought into the main island. Fear not!!! when you are on the resort, you can consume both.
  • The best time to visit Maldives is between June to September although saying that, the weather is pretty consistent throughout the year.
  • The most expensive time of the year is during their peak season which is from December to April.
  • One of the things that I adored about Maldives is the beautiful coral reefs and the flamboyant fish that whirl around you as you take in all that there is.
  • I suppose this is probably the reason why you can get the best snorkelling experiences.
  • Lets not forget that you can also swim with the sharks, and oh, there are Manta Rays that can be found chilling in front of your bungalow.
  • This is something you should take heed off. Once you get to the resort, you will be amazed at how tiny the islands actually is. I stayed on an island that was 600 m long, so if I stood in the middle of the island I could see everything. Besides the water sports and sun bathing, there was nothing more to do.
  • If you are planning a trip to Maldives, its important to remember that it is a very expensive place to holiday, so consider the all inclusive package, some resorts have partial packages as well. You will thank me later.

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ReviewTravel

Club Med Mauritius

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Spring break is a wonderful time for a club Med  get away, and being a single mom I am always looking for places that are kid friendly.

The ideal getaway during this short break was Mauritius. Obviously, its a no brainer.  Only four hours from Durban and a two hour time difference makes it the ideal escape.

It has been two years since my last vacation to Mauritius. The last visit was at https://www.clubmed.co.za/r/La-Pointe-aux-Canonniers/y.

Read more about my stay http://www.vkatz.com/mauritius-calling/

 

This time on booking I found out that the La Pointe aux Canonniers was under renovation so my next best option was https://www.clubmed.co.za/r/La-Plantation-d’Albion-Club-Med/y

Although this is a Five star resort, I have heard that it was not as kid friendly as the previous resort that I had stayed at, however I gave it a go.

So here is my review on the two resorts :

I found that when comparing the two resorts I much favoured La Pointe aux Canonnier for these reasons :

La Plantation d’ Albion

Although this resort was alluringly elegant, I found that it fell short in a few elements that is required when holidaying with kids.

  • When booking this resort, it is important to note that it is a five star resort, therefore it would be, and most definitely is quieter than your usual kid friendly resorts.
  • There was very little activity around the pool so if you are expecting pool sports and DJ’s playing, think again.
  • Music levels were kept low as compared to La Pointe aux Canonnier where everyday seemed like a party.
  • The beach on this side of the island is much smaller and not as enchanting as the beaches on the other side.
  • The resort offered a few water activities as part of the package and these included snorkelling, standup paddle boarding, and kayaking. There were a few other activities that you could book with the private operators. The downside about the included activities like the snorkelling  was that you could only book on the day. This had to be done at 9am, unfortunately with me being on holiday, there was no chance of me waking up before 11am.
  • I found that most of the visitors on the resort were from South Africa, so everyday felt like I never left home. For some travellers home is good. However when I travel, I need to feel like I’m away.
  • The food was incredible and in abundance. The food was served buffet style with at least 10 stations available. If you are a foodie, you will be in foodie heaven.

La Pointe aux Canonnier

  • This was my first experience with Club Med, and I have to tell you that I was blown away. The resort was  alive with entertainment from morning into the wee hours of the next day.
  • Although the resort is smaller in size as compared to Albion, it was comfortable.
  • The kids were constantly entertained whether at the kids club or at the pool.
  • The room I occupied here was smaller than the one at Albion however the beauty lay in that my room overlooked the exquisite beach.
  • In comparison to the Albion beach, La Pointe aux Canonnier sat on a much bigger beach. There was always  a hub of activity on the beach. Some were  part of Club Med and some private. The private vendors brought more of a variety of what was offered therefore I do not believe that people complained about the extra costs.

In terms of a holiday experience, both are enticing resorts, and like everything, it always depends on what you are looking for.

If you are wanting a family holiday and traveling with younger kids, my recommendation is the La Pointe aux Canonnier resort. The kids will delight in the activities and all that is on offer.

If you are travelling with teenagers and still want them entertained whilst you relax part taking in adult time, then I recommend Albion.

Either way you will still get to enjoy the hospitality of the staff, the food and the evening entertainment. The standard at which you will be treated definitely will not differ.

 

 

 

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Fashion

Havaianas, the perfect holiday flip flop

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Do you want to know why Havaianas is the perfect island holiday flip flop? Consider this.

 

Packing your suitcase for that long awaited island holiday can be crazy exciting or a tooth pulling nightmare. Can you imagine packing your entire wardrobe into a suitcase that has a weight limit restriction? Yes, holidays  mean that you can be relaxed and chilled out but if you are anything like me, you still want to look cute and adorable. After all, you still need to post pictures on Instagram.

During my travels, I have found that shoes take more space than anything else, and besides the space, they are also heavy. So on my recent visit to Bali, I went in search for my perfect holiday shoe. The brief that I gave myself was simple, the shoe  had to be comfortable, stylish,  and it had to be versatile, meaning that it could quickly transition. But more importantly, it had to be light.

The choice was simple, there was no rocket science used or any deranged formulations were needed. The obvious choice was Havaianas.

Pool side with my Havaianas

History of Havaianas

The name Havaianas is actually Portuguese for Hawaiians and the first pair was made in 1962.

About Havaianas

The brand was created in 1962, Havaianas has been bringing Brazilian spirit all around the world through the legendary rubber sole and bright joyful designs.

Havaianas represents comfort, happiness and freedom in the most simple and spontaneous form for everyones feet.

 

What makes Havaianas the perfect holiday flip flop

Havaianas is the perfect holiday flip flop because it is

  • Comfortable
  • durable
  • light weight
  • heat resistant
  • non slip
  • water resistant
  • most importantly, it effortlessly stylish

Indonesia’s weather is alluring and that is exactly what makes it the perfect island holiday destination. Bali was on my bucket list and 2017 was the year I was striking it off the list. September is said to be  the most amazing time to visit Bali,  with the tempertures reaching highs of 38 degrees Celsius on some days.

My travel buddy was my nine year old son, so when searching for where to go in Bali, the criteria that I used was that it had to be kid friendly and there should be very little need to leave the resort. We settled on Club Med Bali .

The resort was ideal, it had all the amenities that one would require and the resort’s entertainment was undeniably breath taking.

As you got off the plane the first thing that hits you is the humidity, and although I reached Bali at 22:00, it was still hot.  and after traveling for twenty hours, all I could think about was getting my sneakers off and having a shower.

Bali is that place, where you go for veritable relaxation, the mornings were spent lounging at the poolside, the afternoons were exhausted on the beach either just laying there taking in the rays or getting onto the boat to part take in some water activity. The evenings were my favorite as the resort scheduled theme nights, so there was theatre and pool parties and as the night progressed the parties faded onto one on the beach bars.

My Havaiannas were amazing, I got to wear them both day and night. They were incredibly versatile and transitioned from poolside chic to casual elegance at night with ease. Flip flops are never seen to be fashion piece and as a fashion blogger you will rarely find me in them, but Havaianas have definitely been the game changer. There are so many different styles to choose from you will be spoilt for choice. I think the greatest challenge will be actually walking out off the store with just one pair.

Without a doubt Havaiannas is my perfect holiday flip flop and I know it will be yours.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT
PR MANAGER : Cebisa Luzipho
cebisa@thebsc.co.za
telephone : 021 511 1182
www.Havaianas.com
@Havaianas_southafrica
#HavaianasSouthAfrica
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BlogTravel

Zakynthos Island

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Zakynthos, the island where post cards come to life. This picturesque  Greek island is located in the Ionian Sea. Zakynthos is a popular island for summer holidays with its stretched out beaches and crazy water sports.

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Traveling internationally from Durban is not as difficult as it used to be, with many international flights leaving directly out off Durban. The easiest for us was to travel to Istanbul and then transfer to Anthens. From Athens, it is a mere hour flight to Zakynthos, however the flights are not scheduled daily.  I was unfortunately unable to get a flight to Zakynthos from Anthens on the day we arrived, so we decided to hire a car at the airport and drive to the harbour where we would need to catch the fairy to take us to the Island. After flying 14 hours, the last thing anyone in their sane mind would want to do is drive 5 hours, but we did, and although we were exhausted from the flight, the drive through Greece was scenic and beautiful that we hardly felt the trip. From the harbour, the fairy ride to the island was another hour and a half. There was not a single moment on the boat that either person complained, we were completely and utterly taken aback by the sea. The different shades of blue and the clarity of the water does nothing else but entices you to want to rip off your clothes and jump into the sea.

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After travelling for 24 hours, we got into the hotel, showered ate dinner and crashed.

The next 10 days on Zakinthos Island was a dream.  The most busiest times to visit Greece is July and August when the temperatures are high and although we arrived late September, the weather was  marvelous.

We hired a boat and explored the sea as well as the little islands scattered around. When visiting the Island it is a good idea to hire a car or even a quad bike so that you can explore the island and visit the popular beaches with their entertaining beach bars. Some of the popular beaches that we visited was Agios Nikolaos, Alykanas and Tsilivi.

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As you drive to each beach, you get to encounter tiny villages scattered through the island. It is mind boggling as to the simplicity at which these people live their lives. Olive farms fill the island with many of the woman folk in the villages making olive oil to sell to the tourists. As you drive through the village you will notice the men, young and old gathering together, drinking coffee, smoking and having a good old chat. The roads themselves are so tiny and narrow, its hard to believe that 2 cars could pass each other, but somehow they do.

The Island is filled with the natural perfumes as the air bursts of the aromas of herbs growing on the sides of the streets. As warm as the day may have been it would be your disadvantage if you opted to drive with the windows up and air conditioning on. You would regrettably miss out on natures wonder.

We stopped off at the side of the road to take in and appreciate the aroma, and I remember plucking oregano, I have never smelt anything like that in my life, not even the shop bought “fresh” oregano.

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The Island is also filled with the most beautiful and historic churches, some date as far back as the 1800’s.  Having a tremendous affinity to churches and to be surrounded by them was a a blessing and a personal favourite.

When on the Island it is imperative that you visit the Cameo Beach Bar. You can spend the day swimming in the lagoon, sipping on cocktails whilst being entertained by their resident DJ. As the day progresses, the party picks up a few levels as the people become a little more intoxicated and inhibitions are lost. Thats when it becomes really interesting and the dancing begins.

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Navagio beach was made famous in 1980 with a great story and a shipwreck. The story goes something like this, please forgive me if the facts are slightly off however I relay the story as the story was told to me by the tour captain on the boat. So there was a ship carrying illegal contraband cigarettes, and the coastguards got wind of this. There was a sea chase and the Captain of the ship sailed it onto the rocks where is crashed. The captain and the crew escaped through the mountains, however was eventually caught. The cigarettes were destroyed and the ship was drained off all its oil and given to the fisher boats.  The shipwreck remains standing resting in a sandy cove framed by cliffs and the only way to access this beach is by boat. This is a beach that must be visited. You cannot spend the entire day on the beach however the tour boats give you about an hour only to explore the shipwreck and enjoy the water. This was without a doubt the most beautiful beach on the island with its white sand and turquoise water.

 

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The food on the Island is predominantly Greek however many restaurants do make an effort to widen the options available on their menus. I have seen restaurants offer Mexician, Italian and even Indian food. But if you are travelling to Greece, you would want to indulge in the authentic Greek food. Unfortunately, this is were the Island falls short for me. We ate in many restaurants, and although they offered us Greek food, it was not authentic. It was only at the end of the trip that we managed to find a restaurant on the Island that served us real Greek food. If you are not familiar with Greek cuisine, then it is possible that you will get away thinking that the food was  delectable, and it is, however not authentic.

greek-salad

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The days sped by swiftly and before I could digest this captivating Island it was time to leave.

On the long drive back to airport, we decided to stop off at the Ancient City of Olympia. This city was where the first Olympic games were played 500BC. It is fascinating  and mind blowing to be able to walk through such a historic and relevant place in our history.

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Interesting Facts about Zakynthos

  • Zakynthos is the Southern most and the third largest island in the Ionian sea.
  • Zakynthos was named after the son of Dardanus.
  • The island escaped Ottoman domination however was subject to the Republic of Venice for many centuries.
  • Zakynthos has only 1 town and 44 villages.
  • Zakynthos produces grapes, olive oil, raisins, wine and strawberries.
  • Two great poets come from the Island. Dionisios Solomos and Ugo Foskolo. Dionisios wrote the national anthem.

 

 

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BlogTravel

Drakensberg Sun Resort

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Drakensberg Sun Resort

The advantage of having my son at his present school is that their term and holiday dates do not coincide with many of the other schools, so during the winter vacation period, he had an extra week as compared to other schools. The upside is that we can schedule getaways at a time when the rush is over.

Winter in Kwazulu Natal, or should I correct myself and say Durban, is unlike the rest of South Africa. Where the rest of the country is experiencing a significant drop in temperatures, Durban still maintains its warmer climate. So to experience a little nip in the temperature, Durbanites often venture towards the mountains of Drakensburg. I am no different to the rest, taking my son at least once a year on the pilgrimage.

This winter vacation was no different, and although spoilt for choice, we settled on Drakensburg Sun Resort. The last time I visited this resort was eight years ago and reminiscing on those fond memories, my belief was that it was the perfect spot to shiver and shake for the next four days.

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The drive from Durban was  two and a half hours, but the scenery was worth every minute. The only problem with driving in that direction is the trucks not keeping to their designated lanes and road works. We hit slow traffic a few times but we were too excited to notice.

We finally reached our destination and it was just as I remembered it. Clean, neat with well mannered staff. We checked in and then headed off to grab some lunch.

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At this point I asked the waiter to recommend his best white wine and his response was simple, he could not recommend a wine because he did not drink wine. I giggled at his response and brushed it off to a lack of training. My son ordered a burger which arrived burnt, but that was not going to deter us from having a good time.

The next few days was spent bonding with Alex. The temperature was not as low as anticipated, with the days been a cool warm and the evening getting a bit colder. The resort is fully equipped for family fun. A game room with table tennis, a pool table, fuze ball machine and play station, if you are more of an outdoors person, they have great guided hiking trails which I would have loved to have done but having an eight year old does not allow for such strenuous activities. We did however sneak in some action putt putt and a few hours on the jungle gym. You also have the option of going horse riding which is not something I enjoy so that was struck off the bucket list. We definitely enjoyed the 20 minute boat ride around the little dam where if you wanted to, you could buy a fishing licence and fish for trout.

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The resort itself is tranquil and I can imagine great parties happening around the pool area during the hot days of summer.

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The downside side of the resort was that you had a limit on your internet access per day, so for someone like me who spends most of her days on the net, been rationed was torture. The resort also does not have a gym, which I found to be very weird. The food that I experienced during my stay was mediocre, however not so bad that you will lose weight. The resort has many monkeys who have a tendency to steal your food, so this is something you need to watch out for.

The one lesson I did learn was never to charge to your room and if you do, make sure that when you are paying you pay close attention to what you have been billed for. My account was incorrect, however after bringing it to the managers attention, he quickly sorted out the extra charges. However, how often do we pay and never really look at the bill in detail. So my advice for you is that make sure you know what you are paying for.

The manager and staff were all very accommodating and at the end I do recommend a visit to Drakensburg Sun Resort. It is a great little family break away and I am sure a little couple alone time at the resort could do no harm.

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Travel

Champagne Sports Resort

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Champagne Sports Resort

Whilst searching for a quick weekend holiday destination in KZN, I remembered having a look at Champagne sports resort in 2015. At that time the resort was completely booked out. This intrigued me and my curiosity was aroused to a point that at the chance of the first quick weekend away, I decided that this is where I was going to book.

Champagne sports resort caters for both hotel and chalet guests, I opted to stay in the hotel, after all it was just going to be two people. Booking was a breeze and two emails later my reservation was confirmed. The process was handled professionally and after been dealt with in such a manner, I did not mind paying the price.

Escaping to the Drakensburg is always such a treat , one can feel completely removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. Champagne sports resort was going to be the ideal break away, just a 2 hour drive from Durban and if travelling from Johannesburg, just 4 hours away.

Road trips can be quite interesting especially when travelling with my 7-year-old son. Anyone that has a 7 year old knows that there is never a dull moment.

The drive from Durban was strikingly scenic, with everything being lush and green. It was hard to believe that KZN was and still is in the midst of a water shortage.

Two and half hours later, we were disembarking from the car and eager to get checked in and settled. The sight of the mountains were majestic and I suddenly realized how small I am in relation to the beauty that surrounded me.

The check-in process was a nightmare; the staff preferred talking to each other than actually assisting the guests waiting. After a long drive, this is not what I expected, however keeping my composure intact, I decided to brush it off. After all, I was on holiday.

I finally got my room key and was escorted to my living quarters. The room was adequate, neat and most importantly for me, the bathroom was clean. There were renovations taking place in the room above me, so any hope for a quick nap was definitely out of the question.

We then decided to get some sun, so we headed off to the pool area, which I might add is probably the best part of the entire resort. The service there was less than poor, with the waitrons less than eager to assist.

After a few hours of sun, it was time for a quick shower and dinner which was served buffet style. The food catered for all taste and I am sure all guests were happy.

As far as recreational activities was concerned, there is a pool, and a play area for kids which consisted of trampolines, putt putt and a jungle gym, golf enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the resort boasts an 18 hole championship golf course.

I felt that the resort lacked in this area which meant that we had to leave the resort in search of activities. In trying to book for one of the outside tours, I requested assistance from the receptionist who refused to help and advised me that I had to book on my own.

In terms of service, my experience at Champagne Sports Resort was unsatisfactory and the resort should look at investing in customer service training for their staff. The renovations above my room continued the entire weekend from 8am to 6pm, which made resting in the room impossible, there was no other alternative but to stay out.

In terms of the scenery, one can not fault Drakensburg, it feels like God spent a little more time there, the resort itself was neat and clean, however in business we always know that human resources can be a huge downfall.

What I expected and what I received was unfortunately very disappointing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel

Secrets to travelling like a local

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It’s that time of year again; you are sitting in front of your computer planning your next holiday. Where to go? It seems natural that the purpose of your vacation would be relaxation coupled with an experience of maybe a different culture.

The big problem is that everything is so expensive. You finally settle on a place, and try to get everything to fall within your budget.

Finally the day has arrived for you to leave, suit case in hand, camera steady over the neck, moon bag around the waist and off you go. STOP! Take a few steps back and check yourself in the mirror. You look like a tourist and a target to be taken advantage off.

To have a truly desirable travelling experience would be to embrace the destination you are traveling to, by being local.

Dress Local

Why do so many tourists feel the need to dress the part, as if they really want everyone to know that they are tourists? The secret to travelling like a local is first and foremost, STOP dressing up like a tourist. You know the type very well; they are hard to miss, in their khaki shorts, hiking shoes and camera around the neck. They might as well walk around with a big sign saying, “I will pay 10 times more than any other person, because I am a tourist.”

The secret to travelling like a local is to remain inconspicuous, so the first thing you need to do is to complete a full mirror check.

Travel Local

The next point to travelling like a local is to use public transport. Research the areas you are visiting and mark off the places and things you want to do and use their public transport to get around. The fare for a local and a tourist would pretty much remain the same.

Speak to the locals

Try to make a local friend, someone who can suggest places to shop, eat and visit. To experience the true culture of any given country, one only needs to hang out with and where the locals do.

Eat Local

Most tourists are afraid of trying out the authentic local cuisine and end up eating things that are “safe” or what they would find at home. This is pointless, firstly you will end up paying tourist prices and second, you are cheating yourself of the authentic experience.

Learn Local Language and Customs

Before leaving, try and learn about the local dress code and customs. Some countries are strict on what they allow, so don’t be caught in a situation where you find yourself been “spoken to.” Also learn a few words and phrases that may help you get around easier.

Rent Local

The new fad is to rent holiday rooms in peoples homes rather than staying in a hotel, if you don’t mind living with strangers, this is an excellent alternative, you automatically have a holiday family that will advise you on local places to visit, and chances are that the homes are generally not in the middle of the tourist attractions, but close enough to get around.

The secret to travelling like a tourist is to book your holiday during off peak season. There are many benefits to this; the more obvious ones would be cheaper rates and fewer tourists.

So, the secret to travelling like a local is in essence, to blend in, but remember that it is still your well deserved holiday, so let your hair down, fill your soul with the experience and enjoy every moment.

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