Where in Paris? (15/05/2013)

I buy a lot of travel magazines, but my absolute favorite amongst them all has to be Condé Nast Traveller. It’s jam-packed with great articles, and unrivaled travel inspiration.

The minute mine’s arrives in the post, I eagerly turn to my favorite regular feature: “Where in the World”. I simply love this guessing game! Haven’t heard of it? Well, every issue features an arbitrary picture, from anywhere in the world. It could be a historic landmark, a well-known (or little known) building, and park, a river…basically anything. Readers have to guess where the photo was taken, and Condé Nast gives out a prize to a randomly drawn correct answer.

So, because I enjoy this guessing game so much, I’ve decided to create my very own. Every week or so, I’ll post a random picture of a landmark/park/building in Paris, and I’ll open the comment section of the post to answers. Unfortunately there’s no prize (for now) for guessing the correct answer, but if this seems to be a popular thread, I’ll add one!

So, here’s today’s picture! I’ve kicked things off with a relatively easy one. Care to venture a guess?

Where in Paris 15/05/2013

Where in Paris? 15/05/2013

The Devil’s in the Design

Hotel Review: Farol Design Hotel – Cascais, Portugal

I heard about Farol Design Hotel from the Design Hotels (designhotels.com) online newsletter.

The first thing that struck me was the mysterious moniker: “On the Water”. I was enticed.

Further research was required. My sleuthing led me to extraordinary online images of delirious waves crashing violently over jagged rocks. Those pictures oozed mystery and wild abandon. I was in love. I read traveller reviews, scoured a few airline fares, and viola, a trip to Cascais was born.

Crashing waves, Farol Design Hotel

Wild and Mysterious

The hotel is situated approximately 40 minutes by car from Lisbon airport, on the Estoril Coast. The drive can be a bit tricky if you’re not a local, so I’d recommend employing a GPS navigator. The town of Cascais itself is a pretty little fishing village complete with a sleepy marina and a proud lighthouse. We found that is was relatively easy to make day trips to nearby Sintra and Lisbon by car.

Lighthouse cascais, Farol Design

Marina

Upon arrival, we found plenty of parking space. I particularly loved the huge sculpture at the entrance with the bent-over man proffering a flower. These savvy sculptural details could be found throughout the hotel, and added to the quirky, design feel of the property.

Design Farol Design Hotel

Quirky

Design 2 Farol Design Hotel

The hotel itself, a renovated 19th century mansion handsomely married to a new, modern wing which had been added to house the restaurant and some additional guest rooms. The breathtaking blinding white exterior with space-age loungers certainly fed my taste for contemporary and modern design.

Farol Design Hotel

Old and New

The hotel comprises of 20 guest rooms, 3 suites, and a penthouse. 9 additional ‘designer’ rooms (fashioned by different designers) offered guests the chance to experience a unique haven.

We had booked a sea view room, and were expecting some of the stunning views that are showcased on the hotel’s website. However we were hugely disappointed to find that ‘sea view’ meant only a small window that one could peer out of onto pool and sea. There was no balcony from which we could enjoy the views.

Window Farol Design Hotel Sea View Room

Sea View, if you’re literal

Furthermore, it seemed our room was situated in the ‘old’ section of the hotel, and the dark wooden beams criss-crossing the ceiling lent a dark and dreary look to the room. I was quickly disenchanted by the huge contrast from the contemporary appearance of the lobby and common areas, to the aged look of our room.

Sea View Room Farol Design Wood Beams

Not my cup of tea

We decided not to let our disappointment over the room ruin our romantic vacation away, and after unpacking we headed out to explore the property a little more. The relatively small grounds lead out onto the magnificent pool area. The sleek rectangular design of the pool flowed perfectly into the rocky backdrop of pounding waves. It was heavenly to sit out there, sun beating down and just enjoy the remarkable views.

Cleverly, the entire perimeter was fenced by clear panes, allowing for uninhibited views of the ocean. Stone and concrete flooring gave the impression of stylishly earthy finishes.

View Farol Design Hotel

View from our room (through the window)

The pool sparkled like a jewel but the water was freezing and made any hope of swimming disappear. Sleek sun loungers lined the wall closest to the pool while comfy day beds lay strewn along the patch of lawn.

Pool Farol Design Hotel

Sparkling

On our first day, we tried the Sushi bar, Sushi Design. The sushi was beautifully presented, and the taste and quality were exceptional. We would have liked to return for another meal, but we quite enjoyed finding local restaurants in the area instead. We never visited the Mix Restaurant, so unfortunately I can’t offer any advice on that. However the stunning décor of the restaurant left me breathless. Huge flower-petal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and the mixture of chrome, glass, black and white made for a very extravagant setting.

Restaurant Farol Design Hotel

Extravagant

Breakfast was included in our rate, and comprised of the usual hot and cold selections. Several made-to-order items were also available, such as pancakes or omelets, but one had to ask (or read the menu’s fine print). We ate out on the terrace every day, as we could not get enough of the magnificent views. The pancakes were outstanding and we found the patisserie fresh and tasty –not a dried croissant in sight!

Breakfast View Farol Design Hotel

What a view!

The breakfast staff were extremely polite and friendly. We had celebrated Mr Wolf’s birthday on this trip, and I had made mention of this to the waiter during breakfast. And what do you know… as we were finishing our coffees, the exceptionally sweet waiters brought over a birthday cake and two glasses of champagne to our table, on the house. It was a lovely, unexpected gesture and we really enjoyed the moment. Great service really goes a long way in creating lasting memories.

Birthday Surprise Farol Design Hotel

Happy Birthday

What I loved:
  • Bar on the Rocks: The poolside servers were very efficient, and soon after ordering, we had our cocktail of choice in hand. The bar prices are somewhat higher than typical hotels in the area, but the hotel’s 5 stars, and its affiliation to the Design Hotels group would certainly have contributed to that. All in all, for the exceptional views, stunning décor, and efficient services, I did not find the prices prohibitive at all.
  • Views to die for. I finally understood “On the Water”. It was literal.
On the Water farol Design Hotel

On the Water

What I didn’t love:
  • I’ll say it again and again. I hated the wooden beams and the darkness of the room. I wanted a bright, modern space. It’s what sold me on the hotel in the first place!
  • The neon lighting along the pool area at night: Fancy? Yes. Luxurious and fitting for a 5 star hotel? No.

Night lights farol Design Hotel

In summary, once I got over the disappointment of our room, I quite enjoyed my stay at Farol Design Hotel. The staff interact well with guests and are very friendly and helpful in terms of giving directions or suggestions for local activities, restaurants etc. The contemporary design appealed to me, but should extend to all guest rooms to ensure the flow is maintained.

That being said, I probably wouldn’t return to this hotel.

Disclaimer: No part of this vacation (travel, accommodation or otherwise) was paid for by Farol Design Hotel. The views expressed in this review are from my own personal experience, and have not been prejudiced in any form.

Caribbean Caress

Hotel Review : Secrets the Vine Resort and Spa, Cancun, Mexico

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the uber-deluxe Secrets the Vine Resort and Spa located on the Cancun hotel strip, for a week of pampering and sun. The strip is just that, literally a thin strip of land (over 22kms long) in the shape of the number 7, on which sit an endless line of hotels with views of the Caribbean sea on one side, and the Nichupte lagoon on the other.

Cancun Hotel Zone

The Strip

Being my first trip to Mexico, I didn’t know what to expect, but having researched the hotel in detail before arriving, I had great expectations.

When we landed in Cancun, even before we reached the resort, I found something I liked rather immensely: the 15 minute drive from the airport! After a 10 hour flight, one would certainly appreciate the short drive to relaxation.

Disappointingly we were not greeted with the customary glass of sparkling wine and cool towel on arrival, perhaps due the fact that we breezed in at 10:30pm? That did not discourage us at all though since the check in went very smoothly and in a matter of minutes we were whisked up to our room on the 20th floor.

I must make particular mention of the fact that we did not choose to book a room in the “preferred” category. After much online research prior to this trip I decided against upgrading to the preferred experience, as it just didn’t seem worth the additional cost for the 12th floor pool, preferential bath amenities, and newspapers.

The standard room (Deluxe Ocean View) fitted the description found on the hotel’s website. Our turn-down service had already been by, so our first impression didn’t include the azure green bedding this resort depicts on their website. However, it did not take away from the aesthetic beauty of the room.

The modern wood and tile finishes gave the room a sleek, minimalistic outlook: EXACTLY what appeals to me in a hotel. I was very satisfied. The bathroom and WC area were separated, each enclosed by glass “walls”. (Something to think about when not holidaying as a couple). I did feel that this design provided a sufficient amount of privacy though, as these glass walls were cleverly frosted in appropriate places. There was a set of ‘his’ and ‘hers’ vanity sinks complete with storage spaces for towels as well as mirrors. We found ample closet space, with bathrobes and slippers (which had been left on the side of the bed by the turn-down service).

The room Secrets the Vine

Contemporary and minimalistic designs echo throughout

We found all the hotel’s common areas (lobby, restaurants, pools) succeeded in exuding a feeling of large open space. This must have been particularly challenging to achieve, as the hotel itself if built on a relatively smallish piece of land (when compared to other hotels on the strip). The hotel is in fact a high-rise building, which doesn’t have a sprawling footprint so don’t expect to be surrounded by lush, tropical foliage. If this is a deal breaker for you, I suggest you book somewhere else. What you can expect though, is a sleek modern design, with contemporary décor and stylish finishes throughout.

Lobby, Secrets the Vine

The hotel’s lobby creates the impression of endless open space

Secrets the Vine

High Rise

The first restaurant we tried was the Market Café for the buffet breakfast. The Market Café also serves a buffet lunch, and for dinner, it transforms into an a la carte Mexican restaurant. I must admit, that I am not a huge fan of these all-inclusive type vacations. I really enjoy going out to local restaurants, whether for a gourmet meal, or a lunchtime burger. I enjoy the experience of scouring blogs and websites beforehand to find local foodie gems, and I love to experience and review these for myself. I also like knowing that we’re giving a little something back to the region’s economy by patronizing local restaurants.

However, at Secrets the Vine, once we were aware of the quality of the food on offer, and the sheer variety at the various restaurants, we were happy to ‘slum’ it on the resort and never leave!

We tried all of the restaurants, save for Olio (Mediterranean cuisine). The reason for skipping this one, was the fact that we tried Nebbiolo on our 3th night, and literally ate dinner there every night for the rest of our stay (It was just that good!)

Back to the Market Café though! We ate breakfast here almost every morning (we ordered breakfast room service once as we left early on a Chichen Itza tour). We loved it! The variety was astounding, and I experienced one of the best qualities of buffet standards EVER! I mean, have you ever had scrambled eggs from a buffet that actually tasted good? Well at the Market Café we did! There was something for everyone, from fresh fruit, to made-to-order omelets, from a smoothie bar to quesadillas. Anything and everything the heart wanted, it got. Even a mimosa or two. Or 3! (Hey, no judgment, I was on vacation!)

Market Cafe, Secrets the Vine

Breakfast choices at the Market Café (photo source: https://www.facebook.com/zuleica.econcierge)

For lunch we usually ate at the Sea Salt Grill. We avoided the pool side buffet (Barefoot Grill) for no reason except the fact that we wanted a sit-down, restaurant experience at lunch time and welcomed the break from lounging in the sun. (Yes, poor us.) We found this restaurant a bit hit and miss. We had a very good experience on our first visit, followed by uncooked grilled salmon on our next. The complaint about the salmon however, was handled very efficiently, and a new plate arrived within minutes, cooked to perfection. We found the waiters in this particular restaurant to be harried, and not as friendly as the other places, and our wait times were the longest here. I assume this was down to the fact that it was the restaurant of choice for lunch, and was usually full to capacity. However we went back several times, as the issues mentioned above did not outweigh the amazing shrimp tacos they served there!

Shrimp Tacos, Sea Salt Grill

Delicious shrimp tacos at Sea Salt Grill

We ate dinners at Dragons (fusion Asian cuisine), Blue Water Grill (Grilled specialties) and Nebbiolo (Italian fare). I enjoyed the meals at every one of these, but Mr Wolf did not appreciate his experience at the Blue Water Grill. (He was not happy with the choice of cut for his steak). As mentioned, once we tried Nebbiolo, we just couldn’t eat anywhere else. The food was impeccable and this was topped only by the service (ask to be served by Hector -you won’t be disappointed!) Mr Wolf swears by the beef carpaccio, and I think the Carciofo (artichokes cooked in mozzarella, spinach, parmesan and garlic) was the best dish I had at the resort. For dessert, I rarely strayed from the Pianono Reimpito (a hazelnut-filled canelé in a red wine sauce- heaven).

With the exception of the Market Café and Olio, all restaurants had a ‘casual elegance’ dress code for dinner. I quite enjoyed dressing up and “going out” to dinner each night.

Dress Code Secrets the Vine

Dress Code Tips (photo source: https://www.facebook.com/zuleica.econcierge)

We were also pleasantly surprised at the level of service and quality of food provided by room service. (Expect same standards as high end (non-all inclusive) hotels).

What I loved:
  • Smiles: Everywhere we went, we were greeted by smiles. Be it the man who kept the stairs at the entrance to the resort polished and gleaming, or the friendly lady who spent all day replacing towels in a pyramid shape by the pools. From waiters to poolside barmen, from restaurant managers to room cleaning staff. Secrets the Vine added a little extra magic to our vacation simply by hiring the friendliest, happiest, most polite staff. Ever.
Hector Secrets the Vine

The lovely Hector at Nebbiolo

  • Exceptional Cocktails: No watered down daiquiris and weak mojitos in sight! This was not your typical all-inclusive! Add to the fact that every drink was served with a smile, and cocktails magically reappeared when finished, and you have a winner!
Cocktail Secrets the Vine

Every hour is cocktail hour!

  • Coffee Bar: Nothing chases away the mid-afternoon munchies quite like a slice of cheesecake and a cappuccino. If you preferred, the lovely ladies at the coffee bar would whip you up a Baileys Frappuccino and offer to toast your steak and cheese sandwich. I loved the elaborate foam designs in my lattes, and even though this may not count for much to some people, these extra little touches, made the difference.
  • Chef’s Parade: Daily at 1pm, it became something we eagerly awaited. We loved the interaction with the chefs almost and much as we loved the delicious delicacies they served.
hef's Parade, Secrets the Vine

It must be 1pm!

  • Media presence: Zuleica, the resort’s wonderful e-concierge does a great job of updating twitter, facebook and pinterest. She is also proactive in responding to questions and suggestions from guests. I had several comments and special requests that were taken care of before I even arrived at the resort!
  •  The Views: Room service on your balcony staring at the endless turquoise Caribbean Sea. Need I say more?
Room Service Secrets The Vine

Room Service with a view!

  • The Bed: I won’t elaborate except to say that this was, by far, the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. Hotel or otherwise. Seriously considered packing it up, and taking it home with me!
  • Heated pools: (in February) felt like a relaxing bath!
Pool Secrets The Vine

Fancy a dip?

What I didn’t love:
  • Cabana Bookers: Around the pools we found there were plenty of loungers, irrespective of what time of day you rolled out of bed. The few cabanas towards the sides of the pools however, were a different story. These were frequently “booked” by 7am, regardless of the fact that the ‘bookers’ sometimes rocked up as late as midday. I found this highly annoying, and it seems (from twitter and Facebook posts) that the resort is trying to implement policies to deter people from doing this. I doubt they will have much success in enforcing this though. I just think that this is a highly selfish and deeply irritating way to behave whilst on holiday (sorry, tangent).
Loungers Secreats the Vine

There are plenty of loungers, no need to be those annoying people who book

  • Spa Prices: I never did get to experience the Secrets Spa by Peruvia. I found the prices a little steep, especially having recently visited ESPARiga which had been voted the top overseas day spa in the Condé Nast Readers’ Spa Awards 2012. I tried to use the spa coupons for a massage, but the exclusions to coupon use extended to any treatment that wasn’t at full price.
  • Hot water issues: I love me a piping hot shower, and I frequently had to deal with lukewarm water in the mornings. I read this on some other Tripadvisor reviews since our stay, so I hope its something the resort management addresses soon. I must state however, that the lack of hot water seemed to resolve itself in the afternoons.
  • Blotchy Wifi: Free wifi? (good), highly sporadic wifi? (not so good)

All in all, we found Secrets the Vine to be one of the best resorts we ever visited. The concept of Unlimited Luxury echoes throughout the resort, and you end up feeling special and pampered throughout your stay. The look and feel of the sleek modern elements appealed greatly to my tastes, and the food was exceptional. We swam in the sea every day, and found the beach to be extraordinarily clean and remarkably maintained. The water was a bit rough, but we swam despite the red flags being up. I dare you to take once look at the topaz color of the sea and the powder-white sand and not swim!

Beach, Secrets The vine

The inviting Caribbean Sea (red flag be damned!)

One thing I must mention before I wrap up this review: the staff at Secrets the Vine work exceptionally hard to ensure you have a great vacation. People, please tip! Even $1 to the poolside server will be appreciated!

We rarely visit the same hotel/resort twice, as I feel this planet has SO much to offer travellers in terms of destinations and experiences. I want to have as many different experiences as I can in this lifetime, but that being said – I am already planning a return visit to Secrets the Vine in the coming year. I can’t wait to visit again, and see if they have managed to keep up their extraordinary level of service! (And you will surely read all about it, right here!)

Boardwalk Secrets The Vine

The boardwalk

Disclaimer: No part of this vacation (travel, accommodation or otherwise) was paid for by Secrets the Vine. The views expressed in this review are from my own personal experience, and have not been prejudiced in any form.

A hop, skip & a jump!

Tips on Bagging that Perfect Weekend Break

I absolutely adore the concept of the ‘weekend break’.

While these few days away can be relaxing in just about any continent on earth, there is just something about a weekend break when you live in Europe.

I mean, with just a little hop, skip and jump on a plane you can find yourself sipping coffee at a corner shop in Vienna, soaking up the sun in any of Greece’s Cyclades islands, or gliding down the Canal Grande on a gondola in Venice, gelato in hand.

French people love to vacation. Come July and August, the offices are practically empty. Add to this a 36 hour work week (with compensated time off), numerous public holidays (and forced office closures when those public holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday), and voilà! You have the perfect excuse to take those long weekend breaks in just about any European city your heart desires.

I may not be French, but I have adopted their love for weekend traveling.

Venice Weekend Break

Sleeping Gondolas, Venice

I’m going to share my best tips on booking that dream weekend break at the best price. Ready? Here we go.

The first and most important thing is flexibility. Ok, so your office is closed from Thursday until Monday for Ascension/Spring/ Bastille/ Assumption Day. But that trip to Rome has a great deal on a package departing Friday and returning Tuesday. If your budget (and most importantly, your boss) will allow, why not take the Tuesday off and grab that deal. You won’t be sorry when you toss your wish coin into the Fontana di Trevi knowing that by doing so, legend has it you will one day return to magical Rome.

Weekend break Rome

Make a Wish, Fontana di Trevi, Rome

Be flexible also on when you will travel. The Easter weekend is typically a no-no if you’re budget conscious, as prices skyrocket no matter how long in advance you book. Similarly, trying to book a weekend in just about any major city for New Year’s Eve celebrations can be daunting.

Go back. And again.

Most cities, especially those in Europe, are just so full of enticing history and culture. A weekend will get you acquainted, but I doubt you’ll become best friends in that first meeting. Surely you couldn’t discover, in depth, the hidden treasures of Barcelona or understand fully the complexities of Prague in just one weekend.

If you have the opportunity, go back. Again and again if you so wish. Peel back the layers of the city like an onion, and discover its depth on every subsequent visit.

Barcelona Weekend Break

Gaudi’s La Pedrera, Barcelona

It’s like my love affair with London. I’ve been back numerous times over the years, for a quick weekend dash, or longer ‘weekends’, or what some may call a weekend, minus the end.

On some of these breaks, London’s flashy and loud. On others, she’s grey, secretive and cultural. And then there are those days when she surprises you with you a new off the wall restaurant, or a tiny bookshop you never thought to enter, but is actually full of little gems. London never fails to deliver. “No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. Samuel Johnson got it right.

Last minute.

If you’re everything I’m not (which is an annoyingly anal control frEak!) you could be happy with the cést la vie attitude to vacation planning. I have always admired those free spirits who could just put together a camping bag at the last minute and hit the road. But since I’ve never been the camping type (and don’t even get me started on ‘glamping’), I like to plan every last detail before I even click ‘buy’ on the airline tickets.

But there is something to be said about last minute deals. I’ve found fantastic savings on everything from luxury resorts to boutique hotels simply by making a late purchase. In fact one of my most memorable visits to Santorini was booked a mere 3 days before depature. Sure, I had to scramble to get my vacation approved, and ensure that dress I ordered from Asos arrived by express delivery, but it was all worth it when I lay on the beach, mojito in hand, knowing I saved 50% more than those suckers in the loungers next to me. ;)

Greece weekend break, luxury travel

Santorini, the lost city of Atlantis?

Places you never dreamed off.

London, Paris, Madrid and Rome all receive their fair share of fame in the weekend city break category. But there are several lesser known cities that have been overlooked by travellers in terms of their touristic potential, just waiting to be discovered.

The key here is to be open-minded, instead of going for the sake of going. It’s all about thinking out of the box. A weekend in Kiev? Avid opera enthusiasts can find dirt cheap tickets and a lovely stroll through the city brings to view its famous cathedral, Saint Sophia (Unesco World Heritage site).

Got a couple of days to spare? Why not explore Ljubljana? Don’t let the tongue twister of a name scare you away – I found the Slovenian capital to be oddly charming. The little winding streets of the old town are best explored on foot and a visit to the medieval castle high up on the hill overlooking the city is a must.

Other underrated cities include Bratislava, Saint Petersburg, Dubrovnik, Valencia and Brussels to name a few.

To promote tourism to these cities, one may, by chance stumble across wonderfully priced weekend packages on some private sale vacation sites, if you’re on the lookout.

Which brings me to my final tip: Register on private sale vacation sites.

I’ve personally used Voyage Privé numerous times when booking vacations. I recently found a particularly lovely boutique hotel in Dubrovnik for the fraction of the cost on their site, which included access to the hotel spa. I love that they incorporate mostly luxury branded hotels in their vacation packages, and the fact that some of these vacations are up to 70% off the regular price doesn’t hurt either.

Dubrovnik Weekend Break

Dubrovnik

Their customer service (on the French site anyways) leaves a little something to be desired, but again, the huge discounts offered on top notch hotels helps me sometimes overlook that.

These private, invite-only vacation sales are becoming increasingly popular, and I won’t mention them here as a quick Google search can get you all the most updated info.

I just think it’s worth registering your email, and browsing through their latest offers when you’re ready to book. Or in my case, during every lunch break at work.

Seriously, Mr Wolf calls these online brochures my “porn”. I just call them “my preeeeccciousss”.

Oh no! Not another travel blog!

Introduction

For years, writing has been a cathartic release for me. When I was younger, I imagined I would grow up to be a writer. This was of course before I realized that writers were, for the most part clichéd-ly poor.

No, even at that tender young age, I knew that poor wasn’t going to cut it.

So in keeping with my love for verse, I changed my dream (I’m resourceful like that) to screenplay writer. Of course at the age of 9, I called my dream job “writer of movies”.

Now this twist on my literary dream was merely because I wanted to take what I really loved, writing, and make some money out of it.

What’s this obsession with making money you ask? Well back then when I was growing up, we never had much of it. No, we were not starving out on the streets, but merely middle class citizens making by. That meant: nothing frivolous.

My mom who was a single parent, did her best to ensure that that we never lacked for anything, but I always knew, at the back of mind that one day, I would grow up, get rich, and have all the finest things in life.

And the thing I dreamed about the absolute most: TRAVEL!

There is something soul-stirring about getting on a plane and heading off for a far off land. A new place, full of new languages, new sights, new sounds, new cultures.
This dream of traveling has filled my thoughts for as long as I can remember.

I could never walk past a travel agency without stopping to pick up hundreds of brochures ranging from Asia to North America. I wanted to see it all.

While my friends went to movies and concerts, I poured through the glossy brochures making out my dream trip on paper. Everything from cost of flights, transfers, hotel and meals.

Once I had my “dream trip” all plotted out, I moved on to my next destination.

If I can be honest, while I wanted to go everywhere and see everything (naïve dreams for a teenager, I know), my absolute preference was London. The city called out to me like no other.

I watched any movie that showed me a glimpse of London life. Oh, a double decker red bus, behind Hugh Grant. Yes, that’s Westminster Abbey where Joey met Fergie in Friends.

I knew the tube map like the back of my hand, and I had never even set foot on British soil!

Funny enough, I never left my homeland of South Africa until I was 28 years old. Until that time, I watched as my friends had annual family holidays to Mauritius and Madagascar.

Then the year I turned 28 years old, something happened. Mrs Wolf, met Mr Wolf, halfway across the world, in Paris. Online relationships never quite cut it, and in the discussion of who should visit whose homeland, I knew I was going to win that race. I was going to Paris! But first, even before I set foot anywhere else, I scheduled a quick dash to my city of dreams, London.

My very first overseas trip and I packed 3 suitcases full of tulle dresses, trench coats and knee-high boots in 5 different colors. (Blame it on the fact that I had just watched reruns of Sex and the City’s last season, with Carrie in Paris)
How was I to know that French women do not actually wear buffy tulle dresses and stilettos while walking down their cobbled streets?

I wore what Carrie wore

I wore what Carrie wore

I skipped the fancy outfits in London, and spent the quickest 3 days of my life doing every possible touristy thing imaginable. By myself, alone in a new city for the first time, I rode the tube like local, found little restaurants, and lay my head down on a London pillow. I had made it! I had become acquainted with the city I loved. Little did I know, that I would travel there again and again, and well, again. I was in heaven!

Onwards to meet my French hero in Paris.

Nervous and anxious, I arrived in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport with my 3 suitcases, and a heart full of hope.

Anyways, what followed was a wonderful Autumn month in Paris, filled with romance and sightseeing.

Paris' most famous landmark

Paris’ most famous landmark

The French are famous (or notorious) for their romantic skills, and my Frenchman was no exception. In that month, he convinced me to marry him, and I said yes. What followed was a simple ceremony overlooking the Indian Ocean in South Africa, and a prompt relocation to the City of Lights. My travel dreams were taking root and starting to grow…

So why a travel blog? The world does NOT need a new travel blog; in an already over-saturated blogosphere.

But if you’ve been following closely, you’ll know that:
a) I love writing
b) I love travelling, and
c) I really thought French women wore buffy tulle dresses every day. (But that one’s not really important!)

For the past 5 years I have called Paris home, and I have had the sheer JOY of having travelled to places my heart has dreamed of!

I hope to share these travels with you in this blog!