IstanbulWhat a start to the new year! A wonderful trip to Istanbul. The city is an astonishing buzz of activity mixed with sights, sounds and wonderful smells. My friend Laudec and I were met with snow the first few days – certainly a treat, as neither of us experienced snow before.  First thing that struck me was how busy the streets were, even late at night. It’s as if the city only come alive after 8 at night.  It’s something I am not used to.

Our trip started with a visit to the Bacilica Cisterns, a trip to the Blue Mosque as well as the Hadgia Sofia. We passed by these buildings almost on a daily basis as we didn’t stay too far away from them. On the road down there were plenty of wonderful little restaurants we frequented, with warm welcoming atmospheres and delightfully friendly people.

We spent two days on the Big Bus tour around Istanbul, visiting a couple of wonderful places, of which Miniatürk certainly was a highlight. To see so many historical buildings in such detailed miniatures is admirable work. The best part was seeing a model of the Theatre of Aspendos. Seeing a similar theatre at Pamukkale a few days later at Hierapolis made every hour travelled there worth it.  While visiting the ancient site, we spent some time in the hot water springs in Cleopatra’s pool while admiring the thermal pools next to the mountainside.

Other highlights on the trip included visits to Topkapi palace, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. We also tried a few Hamams or Turkish baths. What a mixed bag that was… from good, to bad… to ugly! But nevertheless each an experience.  One thing is for sure… it’s certainly worth paying a little extra for the “tourist” experience.

Istanbul is a must-visit with such a rich history and culture and friendly people.  I would love to go back some day and explore more of this wonderful country and it’s rich heritage.

Durban Whirlwind Adventure

What an amazing weekend! I flew down on Friday afternoon for a 36 hour whirlwind adventure in Durban with Leo. The evening was spend catching up on the day and an Italian dinner at a small restaurant in Umhlanga Rocks where we would stay for the evening.

Umhlanga Rocks

The next morning we had a quick breakfast at the hotel before heading down to Umhlanga Rocks for a quick walk on the beach, where I took some photos of sea creatures on the rocks. It’s incredible how we sometimes miss the micro-world around us by being too focussed on the macro world we’re so accustomed to.

Umhlanga Rocks Umhlanga Rocks Umhlanga Rocks Umhlanga Rocks Umhlanga Rocks


Leo was talking about going to Amanzimtoti in his childhood and I suddenly realised that I’ve never been there! So he suggested we take a drive down there and see what it looks like these days. It certainly made a welcome change from the crowded beaches at Durban. The wind was relentlessly blowing all over the place, making for some choppy waves crashing over the beach. We spent a while on the beach and looking out over the ocean on some rocks.

Amanzimtoti Amanzimtoti Amanzimtoti

Catamaran trip

After lunch a trip out to the deep ocean on a catamaran seemed in order, so we headed over the Wilson’s Wharf where we bought a ticket. Unfortunately we coudn’t head out too deep on the ocean, as the waves were really choppy, making for an adventurous ride indeed. It didn’t take long before we got ourselves soaking wet from splashing through all the waves.  The ride back into the harbour seemed rather tame compared to the roller coaster ride out.

Catamaran trip

The rest of the trip consisted of a trip up to the new casino out towards the airport, dinner and a quiet evening relaxing.

I really had an amazing time down in Durban for the day with Leo. What a difference a day can make to just refocus the mind and pepping for a really busy week coming up.