Sent by Allan Ferreira
Based in Meyerspark
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Welcome and thank you for visiting my leisure travel web page.
My name is Willemien and I am a personal Travel Counsellor based in Pretoria with 29 years experience in the travel industry.
I have a passion for experiencing new destinations and cultures and have travelled extensively. I have worked in Belgium as an au pair for two families for a year. My goal during this time was to; see, feel, taste, smell and to experience as much of Europe as possible. Through this, I have obtained valuable experience and knowledge that I would love to share with you.
I have visited the following countries, some more than once: Montenegro, Reunion, Croatia, Mexico (Cancun), Egypt, India, The United Arab Emirates, Madagascar, Mauritius, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Gibraltar, The UK, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco, Swaziland, Mozambique Islands, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, cruised the Caribbean, the USA and our own beautiful South Africa. Please don’t ask me for my favourite destination as each one is unique in its own way!
If your dream is skiing in the Alps, Gorilla trekking in Rwanda, buying shoes in Buenos Aires, barging in France, bungi jumping at Vic Falls, gambling in Vegas, biking in Austria, walking the Great Wall of China, cruising in Alaska, snorkelling in the Maldives, eloping to Bali, swimming with dolphins in Australia, meeting Mickey Mouse with your kids at Disney, bargaining with the Thai, admiring the Egyptian Pyramids, island hopping in Mykonos, drinking beer in Germany, watching the Grand Prix in Monaco, visiting Diana’s memorial in London … whatever your dream is, give me the opportunity to arrange it all for you! This might just be your best holiday ever! I might not be able to arrange the weather but I might get you that emergency exit seat (with that all important additional legroom) or the vegetarian meal that you have requested.
I can save you both money & time from endless searching across internet sites. I can even meet you at your favourite coffee shop as I am not bound to a traditional office.
I look forward to being of service to you. Call me, email me, skype me or send a pigeon.
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
25 August 2020
After being confined to our house during lockdown I decided a day trip would do wonders to recharge our batteries. Just a few kilometres from Pretoria, in Broederstroom is the South African version of an Upside-down house. FEEL FUN * FEEL DIFFERENT * FEEL THE OTHER WAY AROUND Did you know that there are 22 ‘upside-down-houses’ around the world? I visited one in the North West Province. It is a two-story house. It is very disorienting walking through the rooms. We had lots of fun taking some awkward photos. There is also a cafeteria and there is plenty of seating outside with two jumping castles for the kids. Next stop was the Triumphal Arch on Hartbeespoort (Harties) Dam Wall. It has similarities to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. There are two Latin inscriptions on the arch. "Dedi in deserto aquas fulmina in invio" Translated to English: "I shall pour down rain on the thirsty land and showers on the dry ground" (Isaiah 44.3) "Sine aqua arida ac misera agri cultura" Translated to English: "Without water agriculture is dry and miserable". My teenage daughter calls this bridge the “Liefling’’- bridge. In 2010 it was one of the locations of the Afrikaans musical “Liefling” with lead actors Bobbie van Jaarsveld and Lika Berning. (She was 6 when the movie came out, but she still knows all the words to every song). We obviously then had to drive through the tunnel – It is tradition to hoot. Our next stop was another movie location: The French toast Coffee café – it was custom build for the movie: French Toast. The atmosphere was great, and the setup is beautiful. There is a small Eiffel tower and you can even buy a lock and engrave it. It is a unique experience. The place was packed, and we could unfortunately not stay, however we did have the opportunity to take some beautiful pictures whilst strolling around. Next, we went to the Jasmyn Farm Stall. This is no ordinary farm stall. It is a destination shop where you can find a selection of fruit, vegetables, cheeses, freshly baked breads and pies, dried fruit, smoked meat, chicken, biltong, a wide variety of imported products e.g. salty liquorice (we bought some Dutch stroopwafels), flowers, yoghurts, honey and even books etc. Everything is beautifully displayed. I honestly think it is impossible not to buy something when at Jasmyn. There is also a gift shop…. if you have any money left to spend. We had a late lunch at the Dutch-styled Windmill Restaurant. Sitting outside on the deck overlooking the beautiful gardens. I can recommend the ‘krokette’. The chicken salad and burgers were also great too. I felt alive being out and about. There are numerous other activities that one can do: Visit Pretville (fictional town where the movie Pretville was filmed), Hartbeespoort aerial cableway, Maropeng, Sterkfontein caves, Pilanesberg Nature Reserve, Sun City and the Valley of waves, go hot air ballooning, enjoy a boat cruises on the dam, visit The Lion and Safari Park, take an adventurous Magaliesberg canopy tour, go river rafting and abseiling, there are horse trails, visit the Lesedi Cultural Village, visit De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre, and there are also 4 x 4 trails etc. If you would like to go exploring and perhaps to stay in this region then please get in touch.
19 May 2020
Bonjour, Comment allez-vous? Tres bien merci… I have been to Paris a couple of times. You would think if you have seen the Eiffel Tower once, you don’t need to see it again. But for some reason every time I return, I can’t help myself but to visit my favourite places again and again. I am fascinated by this city. I just love the cobblestone streets, the French language, the hustle and bustle, the parks and monuments, the cosmopolitan cafe’s etc. You do not want to drive in Paris. The Metro system is very convenient to use and is apparently the 2nd busiest underground network in Europe. In my opinion if you have limited time, then a “Hop on Hop off” bus tour, is the best way to go. With a 24 – 48-hour ticket you can see the city’s top landmarks without getting lost. The different routes (called lines) are interchangeable. There is a choice of 11 languages with pre-recorded commentary and you even get a free poncho if it starts raining. Hop off and explore on foot and just hop on again to continue your journey. It is also possible to buy a combination ticket which includes a sightseeing cruise down the Seine River. Paris is also famous as the city with the most Michelin star restaurants in the world! I was lucky enough to have my first truffles and ‘soup a l ‘oignon’ (onion soup) in such a restaurant. Even their street food is good. (stay clear of restaurants in touristy areas – their prices are highly inflated). Baguettes, crepes, macaroons, quiches … the list (menu) goes on. One of my favourite pastimes is ‘people watching’. I could be sitting on a bench in a park or in a coffee shop, just watching the world go by. If there are specific attractions you don’t want to compromise in not seeing, I would suggest to pre-purchase entrance tickets and even to pay for ‘skip the line’. Some of my top picks: - The Eiffel tower – if you have time, try to get to the top floor for the most incredible view of The City of Paris. - Visit the Moulin Rouge for a cabaret show – it has been operating since 1899 in the so called, “Red light district’. - The Louvre - most famous museum in the world: My advice: make a list of what you don’t want to miss, it is easy to get distracted. It is a great idea to visit on a Wednesday or Friday evening when the closing time is later. Or if you are lucky enough to be there on the first Sunday between October and March as your entrance will be free of charge. - The Sacre Coeur - The Notre Dame - The Arc de Triomphe - The Champs Elysees - Artists at work in Montmartre - Centre Pompidou - The Catacombs (only if you are not put off by the creepy remains of 6 million people) - Luxembourg Gardens - The Palace of Versailles I keep on telling my clients it is not important what other people think you should see. It is your holiday, your perceptions, your time, your experiences – Your memories. Make them count. Au revoir
21 May 2020
I was very fortunate to visit Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, during a Travel Counsellors Gold Awards Weekend. We stayed in the Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque Resort, one of the Leading Hotels of the World. Tenerife Island has the look and feel of a desert and has nothing in common with islands like Mauritius, The Seychelles or Maldives. It is a year-round destination and very popular with European and British holiday makers. For us travelling from Africa, it makes sense to combine a trip to mainland Spain or Portugal with the Canary Islands. I would recommend at least 5 nights stay in Tenerife at the end of your trip. This would give you enough time to relax and explore before returning home. The official language is Spanish, however in the touristy areas English is widely spoken and understood. The dress code is very informal. If you are staying in a hotel you might enjoy dressing up a bit for the evenings or if you intend to join the popular, Playa de las Americas, famous for its nightlife. Once a year the island hosts the Carnival de Santa Cruz. A huge carnival with a procession of colorful floats and people dressing up in costumes. It is a big party and similar to The Rio Carnival. During the month of October, they even have a festival dedicated to the art of clowning. There are 15 Blue Flag beaches in Tenerife ranging from volcanic black sand to soft white sand. It is important to remember good sunscreen and sunglasses. There are a huge variety of water sports to keep you busy and is also home to Europe’s biggest water park, called Siam park. A different, but unique place for a swim is in the natural pools at El Caleton. It was formed after the volcanic eruption in 1700. The highest mountain in Spain, called Mount Teide, is found in Teide National park, a UNESCO world heritage site right in the middle of the island. There are numerous hiking trails or if you prefer, a cable car to enable you to enjoy the scenery. If you don’t have much time I would recommend one of the various excursions on offer to enable you to sample a taste of this beautiful island: from the mountain to the sea. Some popular ideas include wine tours (which obviously includes tasting), boat excursions for whale watching, diving, helicopter rides, cultural trips, trekking, cycling, kayaking and snorkeling… the list go on. Well worth a visit.
18 May 2020
Reunion Island is found on the coast of Africa, only a 4-hour flight with Air Austral to Saint Denis. Even though it is a French overseas island, South African passport holders don’t need a visa. The official language is French, and Creole is also widely spoken. (a pocketbook French dictionary will come in handy). The currency is Euro. Reunion should not be compared with sister islands Mauritius or Madagascar. The 210 km coastline is mainly made up by cliffs and rocky beaches. There are about 35 km of sandy beaches to the west and south coast of the island with beach bars and restaurants – the ideal late afternoon spot - the sunsets are amazing. In one short week you will be able to experience sandy white beaches, lava black beaches and typical rocky beaches. The climate is warm, tropical and humid. Reunion is very much a year-round destination. However, it is a good idea to pack for all seasons as rain is very common in the afternoon and it could become cold in the mountains. There are not many high-end resorts or hotels. Alternative accommodation would be B&B’s, leisure cottages, hostels and even farm stays. Unless you only want to sip cocktails on the beach you will really need more than a couple of days to visit Reunion. There isn't enough time to explore everything that this island has to offer. The best way to explore this beautiful island is to rent a car. Driving is on the right-hand side, be sure to stay clear of the storm drains that lie right next to the road (there is about a 1 meter drop!) Only 98 km of the 2 784 km are freeways. The average speed allowance is 50 – 90 kph. I was surprised with the excellent condition of all the roads. There are so much to see and do. If you are an adrenalin junky, adventurous or just someone who loves the outdoors then Reunion is the place for you. To give you some idea: paragliding; ziplines; crawling in lava tunnels; 4 x 4 excursions; horse riding; golf; white water rafting; canyoning (also called aqua hiking), this is where you will be wearing a wetsuit and helmet and you will hike, swim in rivers and jump 10 m down waterfalls into natural pools – for some people this is considered fun! The best beaches for swimming is on the west coast where a coral reefs form several lagoons with crystal clear water, which is also great for scuba diving; snorkelling; surfing; stand up paddling; kayaking; sailing; kite surfing and deep sea fishing. Do not swim if it is not an approved beach: There are sharks everywhere in Reunion! Reunion Island is known for the spectacular Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most active volcanos in the world. It is located inside the Reunion National Park and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. En-route to the volcano is the, Plaine des Sables, a desert area which looks like a moon landscape. It is truly spectacular! 42% of the island is a national park and the best part - there is no entry fee. The island is very mountainous with hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails. A hike to Cirque of Mafate will take you to small hilltop villages, only accessible by foot. For the best way to get an overview of the island I would recommend a helicopter trip. You will be able to see the craters, waterfalls, the hilltop villages of the Cirques of Cilaos, Mafate and Salazie, the turquoise waters of the lagoon, rainforests and so much more... There are so many hilltop views. Take my advice: try to be at the viewpoint by 09h00 as clouds often obscure the best viewpoints later in the day. My ultimate favorite town in Reunion is without a doubt, Cilaos. This is not because of the healing waters of the only natural spa on the island. It is not because it is the only place on the island where grapes are grown for their local wine. Also, not for the tasty lentils or their hand made embroidery. It is the highest town on the island with a spectacular setting but wait for it….the road to get to Cilaos is not for the faint hearted. 30km of beautiful but extremely narrow and winding road. 400 turns with hairpin bends and narrow tunnels. A piece of advice: Do not attempt this road after dark (speaking from experience when we only arrived at 20:00 – nail-biting!) I had so much fun on this beautiful island. There were so many surprises: the graffiti art in St Denis; visiting the grave of a famous pirate; the cuisine and traditions of the locals; the fisherman’s villages; waves crushing on the rocks; the breath-taking views; sunrises over the valleys; post card images …
29 October 2012
Have you ever seen turquoise waters? I can assure you, you have not seen the different shades of turquoise if you have not been to Cancun. In my opinion I had the opportunity to visit one of the most romantic destinations in the world: Cancun, Mexico. Put on your bikini or swimsuit, it's time for fun under the sun! The most direct route from South Africa is with Delta Airlines, via Atlanta. It takes 24 hours to get there but it is definitely worth the distance. The Cancun airport handles the second largest volume of traffic in Mexico. If you are travelling via the USA – be sure to have sufficient connecting times, as the security levels in both Atlanta and Cancun are extremely high and passing through passport control can be very time consuming. South African citizens require a Mexican visa, however if you do have a valid USA visa there is no need for a Mexican visa as well. Cancun weather is tropical and humid with year round sunshine making it ideal for a vacation at any time of year. The temperature ranges from 20° to 30° C from October through to March and from 22° to 33° C from April to September. Cancun is 8 hours behind South Africa. The official currency is the Mexican Peso, but US dollars are widely accepted. The most common religion is Roman Catholic and the language most commonly spoken is Spanish. However English is spoken in the tourist areas and major cities. Smoking is banned in all public places. I want to compare Cancun’s Hotel Zone with the Strip in Las Vegas. The Zone is a 17 mile area of white sandy beaches next to the Caribbean Sea, hosting from the cheapest form of budget accommodation, family-friendly or adult-only, to the most expensive 5 Star all-inclusive, resort style hotel. Whatever you desire there will be a hotel for you. There are more than 60 all-inclusive resorts, (which includes all meals, beverages and entertainment). Various resort style hotels can be found within a radius of an hour’s drive from Cancun, which offers ultimate luxury and sophistication. It is easy to understand why Cancun is becoming one of the world’s most favourite destinations not only for honeymooners and destination weddings. Cancun offers so much. In Cancun there are numerous shops, beaches, night clubs (e.g. Coco Bongo with live acrobat shows), waterfront restaurants, marinas, bars… The Party Zone, for endless fun and entertainment… There are small beach towns e.g. Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos where you will find more of a Mexican flair. Diving Cozumel is an island near Cancun and the largest in the Mexican Caribbean. It has the second largest barrier reef thus making it the perfect destination for diving enthusiasts, with spectacular marine life. Scuba diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing are very popular. For adventure seekers there is parasailing, swimming with dolphins (a surreal experience definitely recommended), wind surfing, kayaking, mountain biking, jungle tours through the mangrove and zip lining. (Some of the longest in Latin America can be found here). For people interested in history The Tulum ruins with the mystique of the Maya civilisation are definitely worth a visit. It is a beautiful walled fortress and the only one overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Excursions A day excursion worth a visit is Xcaret, known as ''nature's sacred paradise''. It is one of the world's most famous eco-archaeological parks. There are archaeological ruins, a dolphin show, horses, and a farm with tropical birds, butterflies, bat caves, a coral aquarium and a stunning beach. We did some snorkelling in the famous caves in an underground river. What an awesome experience. At night time there is a show with more than 300 artists taking you through a journey of the history of this magical land of legends. Playing golf is something that can be very time consuming, so while your partner is busy practicing on one of the world class championship courses you can spend hours on end in a thalassotherapy spa, having luxurious treatments getting revitalised and rejuvenated. Conclusion Think about it - what can be nicer than to lay in a hammock, tequila in the hand, nibbling on a tortilla with salsa and chillies, watching the sunset over the Caribbean? During my 7 night stay I visited 10 hotels – the mission: to ‘create memories’ let me create some memories for you! Start dreaming about your Mexican vacation and allow me to plan it all for you!
20 July 2012
I promised to show my children snow during the July school holidays! On the 11th of July, we left Pretoria and travelled to Fouriesburg where we would be staying for the next three nights. With an easy 3 and half hours drive (350 km) we finally arrived in the small border town of Fouriesburg. A mere 10 km drive to the Caledonspoort Lesotho border. We stayed in the “Wegkomkans B&B”. It is a charming old sandstone house which sleeps 6 people. The house, dating from the early 1900’s is beautifully restored. The guest house is owned by Paula Greyling, what a friendly host. We were met with hot chocolate and jaffels. Across the gravel road (I think there are only 5 tarred roads in the town), was the “Pophuisie”, it is a beautiful 2-bedroom house and is also more than 100 years old. It is used by guests who are looking for an affordable self-catering option. Our aim was to cross the border early in the morning and to drive to Afri Ski. We discussed our plans with Paula who advised us on our passport & custom information that we needed to know for both the South African and Lesotho side. We remembered to get fuel (at either Fouriesburg or Clarens) otherwise we could have got stuck. The next morning after a hearty breakfast we left for the border. It was just a couple of minutes and there weren't many people in front of us. (Remember to take a black pen with you, to complete the necessary forms). The border post opens daily from 06:00 until 22:00. Everybody in the vehicle had to present themselves on both the South African and on the Lesotho side and our passports were stamped. Although Afri Ski is a mere 89 km’s from Fouriesburg the drive there can take up to 2 hours. Look out for goats, ox wagons, children, donkeys and the ever winding road…remember to take the necessary precautions if you are prone to getting car sick. The Monteng Pass is really scenic . There are no shops along the road, so be prepared. I would also suggest that all travellers should take enough food to last at least 24 hours and enough warm clothes &blankets with them. The weather can change within a couple of hours making the roads extremely slippery and the mountain pass can also become inaccessible. The excitement grew by the minute, as soon as we started seeing the frozen waterfalls along the road along with some snow. But when we saw the ski resort – there was no stopping our children. The entrance fee for day visitors is R50-00 per person. In return you get a Snowbucks voucher to the value of 50. This is then redeemable from the vendors on the mountain. Our vouchers bought us 2 hours on the ‘bum boards’ per child. (Even if you think 2 hours is not going to be enough – believe me it is. You have to walk back to where you want to start your descend). The children (and adults) had a blast and as our confidence grew, the distance and speed grew with it. You can have skiing & snowboarding lessons either privately for you can join a group. The Pudi Kids Club will entertain your children and they offer ski lessons to the younger ones as well. There is also a day care centre. All equipment and clothes can be rented. The resort has snow-making facilities. There are different accommodation types ranging from backpackers, to Mountain chalets, to Ski lodges, and Apartments. The Ski Passes range from 1-4 days, or you can get a season pass. The slopes are open daily between 09:00 and 17:00. The Sky restaurant offers apre-ski drinks and meals. After a great morning on the slopes and a couple of falls with bruised egos … we had lunch at the Gondola Café before making our way back to “Wegkomkans” – and what a true 'wegkomkans’ it was! If you would like more information please contact me.
26 July 2012
What is it about Mauritius that keeps me coming back time and time again? * Is it the great all-year summer weather? * Is it the natural beauty with coconut trees and the most beautiful sunsets? * Is it the rich and diverse culture? * Is it the Mauritian cooking? * Is it the wide selection of water sports? * Is it the popular white sandy beaches? * Is it because one can be busy all the time, or just do nothing at all? I don’t know. It could be any of the above, or it could be any other aspect of the Mauritian way of life… I recently visited Mauritius for our annual Travel Counsellors Conference and I was once again intrigued by this fascinating island. It really offers something for everyone; from the youngest child; to the honeymoon couple; to the tired business man looking for a break; to the well travelled senior citizen. Furthermore it caters for various budgets from self-catering to 5 Star boutique hotels or resort style hotels, including B&B’s, self catering, half board, full board and all inclusive options. Spa treatments, golf, snorkelling, day excursions, catamaran cruising, deep sea fishing, sailing lessons, glass bottom boats, undersea walks, horse riding, botanical gardens, museums, the second oldest race course in the world, national parks, biscuit factory, mosques, chapels, shrines... there is so much that you can do, just too little time! I visited the new 5 Star Long Beach Hotel – a one of a kind, luxury resort style hotel. I adored the contemporary designs, the open-air living spaces, the neutral colours and fresh feel to the rooms. (I felt proud to know that the architect of the hotel was a South African.) The 2.5 staff to 1 guest ratio compliments the experience without intruding at all. There are 5 restaurants to choose from – one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make is to decide where, when and what to eat or drink. It has a wonderful Spa and the mind blowing attention to detail was given to the Kiddies and Teen’s Clubs. There is even a rock climbing wall. The design of the swimming pool is something to talk about and the very well equipped gym will impress any fitness fanatic. I have visited the vibrant 4 Star Le Preskil Beach Resort, just a couple of minutes from the airport. The hotel is close to the village of Mahebourg on a private peninsula. What a gem with: sandy beaches, a lovely swimming pool, Ylang spa, tropical gardens, mini club, large selection of free water sports. All rooms have either a terrace or a balcony and are spread throughout the gardens. The hotel even has its own catamaran – what’s nicer than enjoying a relaxing sundowner cruise to end a perfect day? Another property I could recommend is the Astroea Hotel. This is a 3 Star boutique hotel recommended for honeymooners or clients that want to get away from it all. It is built right on the beachfront and has an intimate, calm and very laid back feel to it. There are only 16 rooms – some with garden views and some with sea views. It looks like a beach house and not like a hotel at all. I loved the white and aquamarine colour theme throughout. There is also a spa which offers guest numerous treatment options. Guests can also use the facilities of the nearby Le Preskil Hotel which can be reached by means of a 3 minute speedboat ride, regular transfers or even by a 15 minute walk. The 5 Star Shandrani Hotel is a firm favorite of the South African market. This hotel is only 5 minutes from the airport and very well known for conferencing. The all-inclusive Serenity package works especially well for families and conference delegates as all meals and drinks are included, even the use of your mini bar. There are 5 restaurants, a stunning Spa, mini club, 3 beaches, floodlit tennis courts, mashie 9 hole golf, pedalo boats and various other motorised and non-motorised water sports on offer. The hotel is currently busy refurbishing their deluxe and family rooms. Without thinking of any specific reason I can honestly say I am ready for another trip to Mauritius.
16 November 2012
Ancient history, amazing culture, spicy food, colourful saris, a nation obsessed with cricket, more than 15 national languages and thousands of dialects, the cultural phenomenon of Bollywood, the smell of street food, chaotic traffic, religious festivals, poverty vs. tremendous wealth… We embarked on a tour of the “Royal Rajasthan”. The journey started off in the bustling port city of Mumbai (Bombay). Stepping out of the plane into the sweltering heat, we were immediately whisked off on a horse-drawn “Victorian buggy” tour of the down town area, passing through the imposing Gateway of India. Then it was time for dinner. It was here we discovered that the food was a lot hotter than the weather! If you are not used to the variety of spices then it might be a good idea to specifically ask for the Westerner version of their food. I just loved the thick gravy and naan bread, the yoghurt-based drinks, the lentils, the masala, the kebabs, the Tandoori chicken… After a night in Mumbai we hopped onto a plane bound for the “Blue City” of Jodhpur. We visited the imposing, red sandstone Mehrangarh Fort. It is one of the largest forts in India offering breathtaking views of the area around. We made our way down the winding streets to the city centre. Here we experienced our first taste of the “Real India”. As we entered the colourful central market area, we were greeted by the stereotypical image of elephants, cows, dogs, tuk-tuks, bicycles, motorbikes, cars (constantly honking) and people, all battling for space on the narrow streets. (Cows always have right of way as they are considered sacred). I was in my element – I have arrived! From Jodhpur we made our way to Jaipur – the famous “Pink City” which makes up the third point of the Golden Triangle. A ride on a beautifully decorated elephant took us to the Amber Fort. We were awestruck by the amazing architecture, paintings and mirror mosaics. We also encountered our first snake-charmer! Again this was surreal to think I was watching this from only a few steps away. We then visited other attractions such as the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the wind), Jantar Mantar and the City Palace. The next stop was in the city of Agra – the Taj Mahal – the 7th wonder of the world! It is a bit cliché, but a must-see for anyone visiting that part of India. We visited in the early morning, when it was bathed in a pink glow as the sun came over the horizon. An emotional experience – the sheer beauty of this “monument of love” – a romantically sad story. We then visited the impressive Agra Fort – a UNESCO World Heritage site! It was mentioned the first time in 1080 AD. It is very difficult to imagine how huge these Palaces are until you stand in front of it. Our last stop was Delhi were we visited the memorial site of the Indian leader Mahatma Gandi. We drove through the India Gate – inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and had a view of some parliament buildings designed by Herbert Baker. The similarities of this in comparison to the Union Buildings in Pretoria were obvious and it almost felt like home. It was with a kind of sadness that I said goodbye to this fascinating country. A kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and aromas, where ancient culture intertwines with the hustle and bustle of modern day-to-day life. India is not a destination, it is an experience.
Piet Retief 03/07/2023
Pretoria, South Africa 18/11/2011