New Years with the Danish

This year we celebrated NYE in Denmark! We have witnessed the fireworks in Amsterdam and were told these are some of the best fireworks in Europe, but the fireworks in Copenhagen are INSANE. I cannot even fathom how I am going to begin to depict the craziness of the fireworks in Denmark. So here it is…
Fireworks in the Square
Fireworks are being lit all day and all night long. I’m not even referring to the scheduled professional ones, these are your amateur neighbors store-bought fireworks. The most popular professional fireworks are launched at 11 pm inside Tivoli park (more on this famous amusement park later on). Then the party continues just outside the gate in the City Hall Square.
Tivoli Fireworks
Picture this, a couple thousand people of all ages, forming a circle and literally tossing any fireworks they have into the circle of people observing. It starts out as all fun and games, but it gets loud, crazy and chaotic. I literally witnessed people getting hit with fireworks, or panicking and knocking themselves out while trying to escape the upcoming sparks – one gentleman tried to run away from a misfiring firework, tripped and hit his head on the pavement and literally knocked himself out, this was our cue to turn in for the night.
Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is where we launched our celebrations. It is the second oldest amusement park in the world and was visited often by Walt Disney for inspiration. It opened in 1843 and is still functioning today. But it is expensive. To gain an entrance that does not include any rides you may have to give them your first born. Yes, it is beautiful, like a winter wonderland, light show and fake snow included. But unless you plan on standing in line and enjoying every ride, it may not actually be worth it. Even the food inside will cost an arm or leg!
Tivoli Gardens
Bringing me to my next point. It was increasingly difficult to find authentic Danish food in Denmark! They have a variety of choices from Chinese, to American, Dutch, Italian, etc, but Danish was not always on the menu. Now, this may be because we were here over the holidays and many restaurants were closed or Google Maps is not updated. Even with the conversion to their currency, the DKK, much like Zurich, Copenhagen is very expensive. My favorite stop to eat was at A Hereford Beefstouw, they had an incredible vegetarian steak! That’s a first! A runner up is Tivoli food hall as it has a variety of eats for all the foodies out there (you do not need to purchase a ticket for the park to enter this hall FYI).

Even in the high wind chill, and on the day of hangovers, they still run the free walking tour in Copenhagen. It was very informative and ran by a very enthusiastic guide whose fascination with the city was contagious. Having a guide is helpful maneuvering through the windy streets as Copenhagen is actually very large and spread out.
Changing Of The Guard
If you are there for a short trip, here are 5 places that you must include in your itinerary:

1) Christiansborg Palace is large, beautiful and a popular tourist attraction (as this is where you will find the Supreme Court, Ministry of State and the Royal Stables). We were lucky enough to watch them rehearse the equestrian show for the Queen’s party that night!
Copenhagen, Denmark
2) The Round Tower is super unique, I’ve never been in something quite like this. To reach the viewing platform at the top you don’t actually climb stairs, but instead, ascend up a flat (ish) winding ramp. There are little stops on the way with little surprises to add to the excitement.
The Round Tower
3) You cannot visit this city without a stroll down Nyhavn, better known as the canal with a row of colorful houses and old sailboats. This 17th-century waterfront and entertainment district is very photogenic, but unfortunately not authentic (thanks walking tour!). Sorry to burst your bubble, but the boats that are docked there are paid to be there to draw in tourists. Though the houses were constructed from 1670-1673, and once housed Hans Christian Anderson (in 1845-1864), they have been reconstructed and painted to draw you in. But who cares, the street is super pretty and photogenic, giving you a feel of what it may have been back in the day.
Nyhavn
4) The Little Mermaid statue is bronze and placed on a small rock by the waterside. Much like the Mona Lisa in Paris, it is a tiny attraction that creates quite a crowd. This statue is based on the fairy-tale by the same name and was unveiled in 1913. It often gets decapitated or vandalized on a yearly bases. You can go right up to it on the rocks or from a safe distance via a boat tour.
The Little Mermaid Statue
5) The Danish War Museum was surprisingly one of my favourite stops on this trip. It was a lot bigger than anticipated and had the most cannons I have ever seen at once. The focus is mainly on past wars just affecting Copenhagen; did you know they had the biggest Navy at one time? I definitely recommend this museum, it was very informative with lots to look at. It is also housed in an old military fort!
Danish War Museum
Overall this city had its charm, but I think would have been more enjoyable if most attractions were not closed for the holidays. If you plan on starting your New Year here you will experience the craziest fireworks ever, but there is a limited amount of attractions to occupy yourself in between.

Still not finished your coffee and want more to read? Check out my latest articles for other publications! Exiting Expat Life for Verge Magazine is all about my mixed feelings of moving back to Canada from The Netherlands. If you are an adrenaline junkie keep South Africa on your radar, with 8 activities you can do there! Check out my Geargreed article HERE!
Melissa in Amsterdam
Cheers,
Melissa

 

10 Things To Do in Mallorca; Caves, Castles, Cathedrals & more!

A great getaway location is Palma de Mallorca (Majorca). This tourist destination is the capital (and largest) city of the Balearic Islands in Spain. It can be intimidating deciding where to go and what to do on the island, so here are my recommendations to ensure an adventure filled trip! There I discovered that most of this dazzling island is covered by a mountain range – a pleasant surprise when we landed. This leads me to my first recommendation when visiting this popular island…
Road Trip Views
1) Rent a car. Start with something relatively narrow, and not a large SUV, or a Fiat (we’ve had issues with those on tight narrow bumpy drives), but definitely leave the comfort of your hotel and drive through the mountains. Literally. There are tunnels carved out through the mountains to get you to the other side faster than zig-zagging up and around. The freedom of driving allows you to make your own schedule, stay where you like and stop when you want for photos of this stunning landscape. Warning, do not follow Google maps blindly, as multiple times we ended up in some sticky situations going uphill in places that were likely meant just for hiking. We may have gotten stuck in a pothole or two – don’t tell the car rental company!
Fornalutx
2) Break in Smaller towns. Okay, you got the car, snacks and a full tank of gas, now what? My first stop would be Fornalutx, nestled in the Tramuntana mountain range. Voted one of the most beautiful places in Europe, I can see why! Stop here for lunch with a view, stroll through the town, and get lost among the cobblestone streets and orange trees. I enjoyed the free range to explore wherever we liked, including an old unique cemetery that was hidden away. We spent a few hours here just basking in the sun and admiring the authenticity of this charming quiet place, with only 1 bus stop – can you imagine! Some other great towns to stop along your road trip include Valldemossa, Soller, Pollenca, and Alaro.
Bellver Castle at Sunset
3) Hike up to Bellver Castle. Built back in 1300, this circular castle was once a residence to kings and queens, then converted into a military prison, and is now the post for the city’s history museum. I really enjoyed our time spent here, especially with the lack of tourists during the down season. A unique aspect of this stop is that you can hike around it for free on their many trails; an activity we did on Christmas Day. So camp out and enjoy the sunset over the Mediterranean sea.
Palace of La Almudaina
4) Feel like a royal at Palace of La Almudaina. By now you probably get that we have seen a lot of palaces. They are fun to visit for the architecture, history and décor inspirations (crown molding and gold everywhere, am I right!?). Royal Palace of La Almudaina dates back to Roman times and hosts one of the most beautiful chapels in the city! For any EU residents reading this, they also have free admission on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, so now you have no excuse not to visit. However, it was a bit on the small side and is not as glamorous as Versailles, so don’t walk in with high expectations.
Castell d’Alrao
5) Castle ruins in the hills. Sick of castles yet? Hope not because this top 10 contender is worth the drive out of the city. Perched on top of a large rocky mountain, overlooking the town of Alaro, above the clouds are the ruins of Castell d’Alrao. We followed Google’s suggestion to drive up and it was terrifying! The roads are tiny, windy and bumpier then the 29 Dufferin Street bus in Toronto if you can believe that. The narrow roads make it nearly impossible when passing other cars, especially the people that bring their large SUVs, so good luck with that. I pretty much held my breath the entire drive to the restaurant near the free parking lot. We walked from the lot to the castle, which takes about 1.5 hours if you are not an avid hiker. Tip: Pack water and snacks. There is another parking spot much further up the hike, but I have noooo idea who would want to drive there, as at this point the road is pretty much non-existent and truly a one lane road, so if there is oncoming traffic one car would have to back up on the mountain, not my view of a good time. Ascending to the top is rewarded by one of the best views in Palma and an opportunity to check out the castle ruins and monastery at the top.
Palma Marina
6) Walk along the waterfront in Palma. Strolling along the marina is the perfect way to check out the puddle jumpers to the personal yachts rivaling Carnival Cruise Line. Stop for a drink, watch the sunset or lick some ice cream. This is one of the most inexpensive things you can do, AND a great way to view the city. A fun game on your walk: look at the names of the boats along the way, pick your favourite and try to guess how the owners can afford them! Yup, we are nerds.
Cathedral de Mallorca
7) Cathedral de Mallorca is the architectural jewel of the island. It does cost money to go inside, however, if you are there over Christmas Eve you can enter for free for the midnight mass (which actually starts at 11, not 12, and I recommend starting to line up early, at least by 10:30 pm). This is the best way to see the Cathedral in all its glory, lit up and decorated for the festive season, filled with the delightful smell of incense and singing churchgoers. There is a large selection of cathedrals to visit, however, during our trip; most were closed during the day. Oh, Island time.
Port de Pollenca
8) Stop for a swim at Port de Pollenca. This beach is great to explore with its soft sand and near perfect washed up shells. Though it was not warm enough to swim in December, the empty beach was the perfect setting for a nice long walk and some photos for the Gram. End the stroll by watching the sunset while eating cheese and crackers, and let’s not forget some Spanish wine. Or you can grab tapas at one of the many local restaurants – though not all will be open this time of year. See my previous blog post about this HERE. Plus, if you are like us, we prefer not to have tapas and like full entree meals.
Palma de Mallorca
9) Old town timing. Palma’s old town looks like a movie set. Not only is it filled with all the best places to eat, shop, and see, but it really gives the feeling that you are traveling through time. The roads are tiny and untouched, as they would have been originally. Most of the must-see tourist museums are located within this downtown core, including the cathedral and palace. It houses scenic squares, century-old streets, gothic details and Instagram worthy hot spots like Passeig del Born. Be sure to nibble on some tapas (often overpriced), street meat (literally a paper cone filled with jamón serrano [ham]) and their famous Paella rice dish (great for vegetarians).
Coves de Campanet
10)  Explore the caves. The Coves de Campanet are located on Mount Sant Miquel, in Northern Mallorca. Visits include an hour guided tour through multiple spacious chambers. It was a really unique experience, which we were lucky enough to enjoy without a crowd. Normally in the summer, the groups can span from 75 to 100 people, which can get quite crowded through certain passages. Since we were alone with one other couple, we were allowed to venture off and explore on our own, and allowed to take as many photos as we’d like! It can be a bit slippery, wet and hot inside, so dress appropriately.

There are more museums and churches in Palma then you could count on one hand, or even two. As long as you are not traveling over the Christmas holidays you will have an incredible list of opportunities to explore. You can vacation here on any budget, but I recommend coming when more attractions are open.

Have you been to Spain? Did you visit Palma de Mallorca? Let me know in the comments below, Id love to hear from you!

Cheers,
Melissa

Holiday Travel

Thanks so much for all your comments, questions, and support this past year! Due to popular demand, I will continue my monthly ‘Travel Tip Tuesday’ posts! Since the holidays are wrapping up (see what I did there?), this month’s tip is dedicated to traveling over the Christmas season.
Travel Trip Tuesday
On previous Christmas vacations, my husband and I have traveled to the Caribbean, and for the most part, it was seamless. The trips were on the pricey side since our dates were not flexible, though this was offset by the near limitless alcohol, constant parties and the weather was heavenly. This is the only way to really enjoy the holidays when traveling, in my opinion.
A Sunny Christmas Vacation
This year we tried something a tad different. We celebrated Christmas in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and dashed off to Copenhagen, Denmark, to catch the New Year’s fireworks. Though both trips were fun filled in their own way (and stay tuned as I will be posting more details on each trip very soon), they were difficult this time of year. Having known what we know now, we would have done it differently.
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Due to Palma being in their offseason, coupled with the last remaining businesses being closed for the Christmas holidays, many of the attractions and restaurants were closed for Christmas and New Years. We found that museums closed early (if they were even open at all), open restaurants were far and few between (and adding in our GF/ Vegetarian needs was a blast), some excursions were not running, and often it was a ghost town between mid-afternoon and late at night. In warmer countries like Spain this is not a huge issue, however, Copenhagen is collllllld. So walking around aimlessly can be tiring. Why not stop and have a drink you ask? Well, Denmark is expensive (like Zurich, Switzerland expensive) and who wants to spend their whole trip held up in a bar? Then add the cold chill and it’s probably not even healthy to spend the entire day walking around in the winter wind.
Copenhagen, Denmark
Don’t get me wrong, both countries had a lot to offer and were beautifully decorated for this time of year; just be prepared to do extensive research before packing your bags and booking your flights. Instead just go on a guided tour or an inclusive resort to ease the stress of planning and just enjoy relaxing away from the holiday stress! Better yet, get out of the city, rent a car and drive around for a few days; this is when we typically have our most fun.
Palma Decorations
Do you travel for the holidays or do you prefer to stay in town with the fam jam? Any stories of traveling during the Christmas season? Do you have questions for me to cover on my next ‘Travel Tip Tuesday’? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Happy New Year!

2018 was a year of travel adventures, starting a marriage, acting escapades, and more discoveries of expat life across the pond. I am super grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way, and cannot wait to see what the next year brings!
Hello 2019
To start off the New Year, I’d love to introduce my latest project, my new YouTube channel: Mellie Telly. This channel is to share my travels with you, showcase my acting accomplishments, and everything else in between. Though it has been a few years since I’ve focused on editing, I hope to improve with each video and am open to any constructive and friendly feedback! Let me know what you want to see! Please have a look, and if you like what I’ve done so far hit the subscribe button, leave a comment, or like it! I would be forever grateful for your support!

Mellie Telly on YouTubeYou can check out my new channel HERE.
Seasons Greetings!
Be sure to stay tuned and have your reading glasses close, as I also have more articles coming out this year in my usual online magazines, along with blog posts on our upcoming trips to Spain and Denmark! Lately, my blog topics have covered living the expat life, travel tips, wedding planning, and my favourite places to eat. But if you want to hear more on other topics, let me know and be sure to follow me on Instagram @melissaverwey & @mellietelly for posting reminders!
Cheers!So let us raise a glass of bubbly and cheers to an exhilarating year in 2019 for all of us! Who knows what is around the next corner?! Do you have any exciting plans in the New Year? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Become a Photographer

Well, folks, this is my last monthly travel tip of the year! I can’t believe how fast 2018 has gone by! If you want me to continue my Travel Tip Tuesday monthly blog posts, please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!
Travel Tip Tuesday
This year has been very busy for travel; by the end of the month, we will have covered 12 countries in 12 months. Since returning to Canada last Christmas, we have been to Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, France, The Czech Republic, Germany, South Africa, back to Canada and France, and soon flying to Spain and Denmark. It has been an epic year, and I feel so incredibly lucky for all the adventures! I know one day the years will go by faster and faster and may eventually blur together, so my take away for this month’s tip is to take lots (and lots) of photos when you travel!
Take Photos!
Each trip is unique and if you travel like us, it may be your only time visiting that city or country for several years. The places you eat, visit, and people you meet, will likely only happen once in a lifetime. So don’t be shy about taking photos (or videos). Photos will help you remember when you are older, can be shared with family members who are not able to travel, will be a learning tool for younger generations, and are really the ultimate souvenir!
Souvenirs
Souvenirs can start to clutter your home, break in transit, or take up space in your bag. Don’t get me wrong, we collect plates, magnets, etc when we travel, but photos are priceless. They literally cost you nothing!
Tourists
It’s OK to look and act like a tourist, it is your trip after all, so take your photos! Obviously be smart about where you store your phone and how you carry your camera though, especially in busy public spaces prone to pickpocketers. We like to use a general rule that our photo taking opportunities should not impact surrounding people. For instance, taking photos should not block other people’s views, hold up lines, disrupt traffic flows or draw too much attention. Most importantly, once you capture that picture perfect moment, put your camera away and simply enjoy being in the moment and take in your surroundings. What does it look like? Taste like? Smell like? What is something unique about what you are seeing or experiencing? Make sure you actually enjoy it with your own eyes and not just through a lens. Don’t just walk from one landmark to the next to get a single photo just to prove they have been there because honestly, nobody cares where you have been. Travel for you and your personal experiences. Pictures are great, living in the moment and truly enjoying the experience is best; when you relive the moment through your photos in years to come, the memory will mean more because it will be a strong emotional experience.

My last note: To cut down the time spent to capture “the shot”, take some photo lessons or watch some tutorials online. Minimizing time spent behind the lens allows for more unobstructed experiences.

Do you like to take lots of photos when you travel? Do you have any travel questions for next year’s Travel Tip Tuesday posts? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Pop the Bubbly, I have a Hubby!

K and M
Weddings are beautiful and magical, and behind every bride, there is a load of stress. I’d say it’s like event planning on crack. You have to orchestrate many moving pieces to come together in perfect unison and form your dream day, and you also have family politics, traditions and childhood fantasies to adhere too while looking fabulous. It is extraordinarily tough to accomplish all of this while still staying under a reasonable budget.
Kiss
I decided to plan our wedding from abroad, with no assistance from a formal planner. I have experience in event planning and TV production anyway, so why not. It came with its own challenges for both myself and the groom, however, in the end, it all came together perfectly and I would not exchange it for anything in the world.
Taco Bout A Wedding
If you want to know more about the planning process, or the details such as what I wore, what venue we decided on and what we ate, check out my latest article for Verge Magazine HERE. If you are looking for gift ideas for your Groomsmen, check out my latest article at Geargreed Men’s Magazine for ideas on what to purchase HERE.
Reception
Honourable mentions to our Best Man, Maid of Honour, Mint Room Studios, Good Fortune Bar and our patient loving friends and families for all their help!
In The Chair
Let me know what you think! Have you planned a wedding abroad? What was your biggest challenge? Leave a comment below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Money Money Money

Travel Tip TuesdayToday is Travel Tip Tuesday! Novembers tip is about finances, not necessarily my strong suit, though a topic that should be covered, especially when so close to Christmas shopping. When travelling we all hope for a picture perfect trip with no frustrating situations, and often the unexpected can happen. Here are some ways to protect yourself from money theft and getting stuck in an unpleasant vacation.

When travelling, I always pack several different cards with me (both debit and credit). Even if the intent is not to use all of them, sometimes your bank may block a card, or your card simply won’t work in that specific country (It’s happened to me in Poland and South Africa). So just in case, I always bring a few cards which are all linked to different outlets. I would suggest keeping at least one tucked away in your room, in case your purse or bag gets stolen! On that note, it may be a good idea to give your bank a heads up that you will be travelling – depending on the institution you may be able to do this online for convenience.

Cards are great, and as they say, cash is king…sometimes. Some restaurants will not accept cards, in Europe you may need change for the water closet, and transit can be tricky to pay for when in a rush. Flea markets are usually cash only and normally a good way to bargain is by only showing them a small bill or a few coins. Cash is also good in case of emergency! I also suggest splitting between your wallet, bag, sock and money belt. It will seem a bit ridiculous, especially when taking off your shoe to pay for something, it will at least offer some protection against losing everything to an opportunistic pickpocket. This hidden cash can get you a meal, somewhere to sleep, and a call home for help.

I never owned a money belt until we went to South Africa. And now, I think they are a great investment. I’d suggest not using it as a replacement for a purse and only for the essentials (this includes your passport/residence card, one bank card, a photocopy of health cards and a bit of cash). Have it hidden under your clothes, and don’t go digging for it in public. This way even if your purse gets snatched, you can still get home.

I get this sounds a bit paranoid and over the top; as safe as you may feel in your surroundings, you never really know what can happen when abroad in a strange land. Neighbourhoods can look fantastic when the sun is up, which can drastically change after sunset. Why test it? Be prepared and therefore you can worry a bit less about logistics and more about enjoying your trip!

Money

Cheers,
Melissa

South Africa Part 2

South Africa
If you haven’t read part 1, I suggest doing so first! South Africa is way too amazing to cover in just one post so I have split my top 10 favourite stops into two posts. So let us dig right in with what to know for your Safari game drive!
Elephants in South Africa
6) Park It: We did two game drives through Addo Elephant National Park. This park is the 3rd largest in all of South Africa and was created in 1931 to provide sanctuary for the remaining elephants in the area.  The cool thing is that all the animals and vegetation in the park are originally from that area. The park rangers prevent the influx of animals (such as giraffe and cheetahs) and any vegetation that does not actually originate from that area. They have over 700 elephants, along with buffalos, rhinos, zebras, antelope, hyenas, monkeys, ostrich, lions (rare to see as they only have 14 in the entire park) and the largest population of the flightless dung beetle! Our first drive was insanely early in the morning (up for 3:30 am), and it was chilly! Be prepared with layers, it is cold. We thought ahead and brought fleece, gloves and hats. We were there in September, which is their spring, so most days have a bit of a crisp breeze, with a nice warm afternoon in the sun. I found that the animals were more active on our second drive in the afternoon, as the watering hole was the meetup spot for almost 50 elephants!
J Bay
7) Surfer Dude: If you are a surfer, or think now is the time to learn, ride the waves in Jeffrey’s Bay! Jeffrey’s Bay is in the top 5 most famous surfing destinations in the world and hosts the annual World Surf League. This town was pretty quiet during our visit, as summer has not started yet, but I can see the potential during the peak surfing season for sure. It did have some cute souvenir shops, an awesome beach with a quickly rising tide, and beautiful accommodations at Mandyville Hotel, who were super accommodating to us with gluten allergies (which is quite rare).
Cape Town
8) Cape Town: A must see on this side of the Western Cape is Table Mountain. You can get to the top via a cable car (book your tickets ahead online and be prepared for a long line up), or by a 2-hour hike. We opted for the cable car as we had limited time to explore and wanted to spend most of our time viewing from the top, turns out, either option takes the same amount of time during peak times. Once there, you will have incredible views of Cape Town and it’s Harbour on one side, and the never-ending ocean on the other. The landscape is rocky with some bushes and adorable Dassie’s running around (A gopher like animal, actually related to the elephant family surprisingly). We were lucky enough to experience this at sunset and had a view that would give Santorini a run for its money. However, if you stay that late you will have to wait for HOURS to take the cable car down, and be prepared for lots (and lots) of butting on epic proportions. In Cape Town, I would also suggest my usual, a free walking tour. That way you can explore the city on foot safely with a guide, and learn about the history and politics of the country. We did feel rather unsafe in Cape Town, we were harassed for about 6 blocks by an aggressive homeless man and nobody stopped to help us out. We ended up going into a store and waited for the person to leave. It really ruined the vibe of the city for us.
South Africa
9) Townships: I don’t recommend heading to a Township on your own. These government made neighbourhoods have high poverty and practically no employment. They are so bad that even our Uber driver would not venture to one. If you do, go with a guide in at least a small group and ONLY during daylight hours. I’m not even exaggerating this. We made a quick stop at Kayamandi Township and met with a wonderful local who made homemade Xhosa treats such as amagwinya (deep-fried dough bread, not so great for your stomach If you are GF) and chakalaka (a vegetable spicy relish, great for vegetarians). She also explained the traditional wardrobe that women would wear to a wedding (how fitting since we were on our honeymoon) and filled our stomachs and hearts. Within the first 30 seconds of exiting her house, we had someone threaten us for our cameras, so we quickly got into the van and left.
Baboons
10) Baboons: If you are driving along Cape Point, you are bound to see these creatures at some point (usually near mountains) We stopped to take photos of the baboons on the side of the road. However, I warn you not to get too close. As adorable as these old world monkeys are, they are not pets. They can be very aggressive (especially if you have food) and are incredibly smart (they can zip open your purse, inspect your lipstick and open car doors). So make sure to leave space between you and them if you decide to get out of your car! Also, watch out for traffic, but that’s a given.
Elephant Hugs
The great thing about driving in South Africa is that every 100 Km, the scenery drastically changes. The ecosystem is so diverse that one moment you are gazing up at snow-topped mountains, and the next fields of the canola flower. Instead of cows you will see Springbok (an antelope, apparently they taste delicious), and will constantly want to stop for photos, guaranteed! I had no idea that South Africa would be so rich in landscape, really I envisioned walking into The Lion King, but it is so much more than that. It is a beautiful country with an immensely long list of things to do and see, filled with welcoming people, magnificent wildlife and delectable food. If you have the opportunity, book your tickets and go see for yourself!
KVDV PHOTOGRAPHY

Photos courtesy of KVDV Photography!

Check out my YouTube video on the Top 15 Things To Do in South Africa HERE.

Cheers,
Melissa

South Africa: My Top 10 Favourite Stops

Sunset in South Africa
South Africa is a beautiful country, with so much to see and do. We spent over a week there for our honeymoon, and covered a lot of the southern coast, driving more than 5,000 KM along the Garden Route with Hot Spots 2 C Tours. I highly recommend this company (and by the way, this is not an ad, I am not being endorsed for saying this), they were safe, accommodating, fun and both of our tour guides were a dream! They took care of everything from hotels, to excursions, nightly restaurants and pit stops along the way. Since this was an epic trip to cover, I’m going to share with you my top 10 favourite stops in South Africa in 2 parts!
Cape Agulhas
1) Cape Agulhas: This charming stop has something quite magical about it with the picturesque lighthouse and the romantic boardwalk pathway. The path is best done at sunset. My favourite part was the most southern tip of Africa, this is where the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean meet (there’s a sign so you know when you arrive). Some say you can see a distinct line where this happens, I think that’s a tourist grab to incline people to check it out for themselves – we did not see this so-called line. Perhaps the locals will blame it on the rough water that day. Either way, it’s gorgeous with super cool geological features to check out!
Stellenbosch
2) Stellenbosch: One of my personal highlights of the entire trip. This quaint town reminded me of Canada’s Niagara on the Lake wine region. It is old and cute, and famous for their wine, which you know I love. If you are staying there, be sure to stop at Wijnhuis Wine Bar & Restaurant for a great wine sample platter with your dinner. The food was a bit overpriced (tourist pricing), however, the wine was not! If you are looking to visit a winery check, out Simonsig to sample MCC (Methode Cap Classique is the South African version of Champagne), though they did not offer any tour (via Hot Spots 2 C), so keep that in mind. Our favourites from the tasting were the Kaapse Vonkel Demi Sec 2015 and the Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2005, yum! In Stellenbosch, we stayed in an old Victorian house turned into a bed and breakfast. It was decorated with antiques, with each room having its own unique theme; ours even came with silver plated snuffer candle holders to light your room! I highly recommend staying at this gorgeous place with a secret garden in the back. Check out Caledon Villa Guest House HERE. A little Bonus tip for you, not too far away, there is another great town called Franschhoek, South Africa’s epicurean capital. In this 17th century town, travel to more wineries, or walk around sightseeing down the main boutique-lined street.
Penguin
3) Marine Life: South African is known for its wildlife both on the ground and in the sea. In Hermanus Bay, you can sit on a patio, or on the edge of a cliff, and watch whales surface in the bay all day long. In fact, Hermanus is known as one of the best whale watching locations in the world during whale season from June to November. We were there for an hour and saw over a dozen whales. It was incredible. Not far from there is Betty’s Bay that hosts a thriving African Penguin colony. This is now one of the only remaining breeding grounds of the African penguin. Walkthrough and prepare to say “Awww” at least a dozen times, maybe more! If you want a bit more danger, then head to the fishing town of Gansbaai for some shark cage diving! Stay tuned as I will be dedicating a whole blog post to this, as it was a once in a lifetime experience. It’s exciting, exhilarating, a bit cold, and prepare for seasickness, but worth every penny! If you want to watch a short video of our shark cage diving experience (the shark sticks its head IN THE CAGE!), check it out HERE!
Bungy Jump South Africa
4) Adrenaline: If you are more on the active side and desire adventure, then you have some great options! You can bungee jump from the world’s highest bridge bungee in Tsitsikamma Forest, or there you can also hike and hop along the suspension bridges overlooking the ocean (there is a great restaurant with a view nearby). Still craving the adventure there? Then zip line across a waterfall and river gorge! I tried this and although I was a bit nervous, okay a lot nervous, it turned out to be an absolute blast!
Oudtshoorn Ostrich Farm
5) Oudtshoorn: Hands down a winner in my books. This stop was unforgettable! Just outside of town is an Ostrich pet farm, allowing you to feed and hug these odd looking creatures. I could stay there all day if our schedule allowed it. These worlds’ largest birds are flightless and adorable, though quite dense. Ostrich rides are no longer offered as it can be incredibly dangerous (to the rider, not the bird) and short-lived. Be sure to pick up an Ostrich egg as a souvenir! You can find them engraved and painted, or etched and turned into a candle holder. For a short video on our highlights at the Ostrich farm check out this video HERE. If you are in Oudtshoorn, the Cango Caves are simply a must do! They offer different tours through the caves for various levels of athleticism; we opted for the adventure tour. It was a bit tough carrying cameras (DSLR, 360 camera, cell phones), so I suggest to leave them behind if you can. On this tour, you are crawling, twisting, sliding and climbing your way through small passageways. It is very tight and slippery on the path, so make sure you are actually up for it. No bathrooms once you get started, so be sure to go first as you will be gone for a while a couple of hours. If you are not a cave or bird fan don’t worry, you can hug, feed and walk with elephants at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge nearby instead!
Honeymoon Selfie
I’m going to end here for now, but stay tuned for my next post with the remaining 5 stops to make in South Africa. I’ll cover the townships, an honest review of Cape Town, what to keep in mind for your Safari game drive and more!

Photos courtesy of KVDV Photography!

Cheers,
Melissa

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