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Bird of passage

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Things to do during Winter in CAPE TOWN, South Africa

Cape Town is surely many people’s dream paradise, especially surfers, hikers, backpackers or lovers (a honeymoon, maybe). It offers a great variety of services, from budget hostels to beachfront luxury villas.

Visiting Cape Town or Kaapstad in Afrikaans during Winter is actually quite nice. It’s not that cold, except the sea that’s always a bit cold. You could still do everything that you should when in Cape Town, like surfing, shark cage diving, whale watching, sailing or visiting wineries. If you don’t mind a bit of light rain then we are good here. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper and also less packed. If you’re not sure what to do during the trip, then you might wanna keep reading. 😊

Firstly, getting around is really easy, you could just walk or use the MyCiti Bus. You’ll need a bus card for that, which you just add some credit into the card, tap and go. You could get the card from many places, like the Airport. I got mine at the Cape Town Tourism Office on Burg Street.

Actually, I wanna talk a little bit about their Tourism Office. They are really helpful. I went to Cape Town with no idea about what I should do and see. Fortunately, one of the staff introduced me to Baz Bus, which offers really cool tour services around South Africa for great prices. Tours are specifically designed for backpackers. These services were amazing and I also met loads of cool people as well.

Things you shouldn’t miss when in Cape Town:
  • District Six
    • Muir Street Mosque
    • District Six Museum
  • Bo-Kaap
  • Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
  • Signal Hill
  • Lion’s Head
  • Table Mountain
  • Chapman’s Peak

Firstly, I’m going to kick it off with things you can do around the City Bowl, which is the central business area of Cape Town. It’s packed with history, especially at District Six. The district is the result of discrimination, where only white residences were allowed to stay and the others were forced to leave. It left the district abandoned. Years later, Nelson Mandela returned the district to everyone but some areas are still visibly abandoned. You could just walk around the area, visit the District Six Museum and Muir Street Mosque to know more about the story.

Not far from District Six Museum, stands the Castle of Good Hope, which is the oldest building of South Africa. It’s a good place to relax as there is a small kiosk that you could grab some warm drinks. I had my breakfast there, with the view of the castle’s garden in front of me. Tea and food was warm, perfect for the winter morning.

A bit further from the castle, you’ll find the colorful neighborhood of Bo-Kaap. You’ll notice the cobble stoned streets once you’re in the area. It’s a good place to walk around, take pictures with them colorful doors and houses. Also, check out the Nurul Islam Mosque there as well.

The next stop is Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. There is so much to see in the area. So, if you wanna fill up your tummy first, definitely check out the V&A Food Market. It’s an international food complex that sometimes plays live music as well. Otherwise, have a walk around the harbour, get the bird-eye view of the town from the Cape Wheel, shop at the mall or book yourself a ticket to visit the Robben Island.

Robben Island was used for the isolation of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela. Apart from history aspect, it’s the kingdom of African Penguins as well. On the island, you can take pictures, but for personal use only and tripods are not allowed.

Now for those who like mountains, camping and hiking, Cape Town is your place. There are many peaks and mountains for you to conquer. We’ll go from North to South and the first one is the Signal Hill (Lion’s Tail). You could just drive up the summit through Signal Hill Road. It’s great for the city’s view and the Atlantic. I also spot couple of campers there as well.

Otherwise, the one next to it is the Lion’s Head. The walk up to the top is only about an hour. So, it’s quite nice.

The next one, the landmark of Cape Town, Table Mountain is a must. It’s called Table Mountain simply because of its flatness. You could get up the top by either hiking or by using cableway. By hiking, there are many routes to choose, depending on how long you wanna spend and how fit you are. Though, a spot that you shouldn’t miss is the Devil’s Peak. The view is crazy! You just gotta see it by yourself.

Moving on to the Chapman’s Peak. This place gives you both the view of Hout Bay and Noordhoek Beach. To get here, you could simply take the Chapman’s Peak Drive and you’ll find many hiking trails up here as well.

Between Chapman’s Peak and the stunning Noorhoek Beach, there is a really cool place called Monkey Valley Resort. It offers a really sweet stay. Hidden among the trees of Milkwood Forest, with the view of the beach; each rooms are designed with massive windows for the infinite view, farmhouse kitchen and stone fireplace. It’s just really cool! 😎

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Cape Town’s shorelines, from North to South:
  • Sea Point Promenade
  • Clifton
    • First Beach
    • Second Beach
    • Third Beach
    • Fourth Beach
  • Camps Bay
    • Witsand
    • Glen Beach
  • Hout Bay
    • The Dungeons
    • Hout Bay Harbour
  • Noordhoek Beach
    • The Dunes
    • Wreck of Kakapo

About half an hour walk from Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, close to Green Point Lighthouse, you’ll see the start of Sea Point Promenade. It’s really nice to walk along the Promenade as there are many different beaches, some are smaller and some are rockier.

Though, if you are looking for a bigger scale beach, then definitely check out the Clifton area. Here, there are 4 beaches, from First Beach to the Fourth Beach. For surfers, the First Beach has the strongest and the Fourth Beach has weakest waves. The Third Beach is the smallest one but it’s a very busy beach. This place is awesome and beautiful!

For divers, you might wanna check out Camps Bay. Here, there is a famous dive site called Witsand. However, this bay is also good for surfers, especially for those who like a bit of challenge. At Glen Beach, it’s one of the harder beaches to surf as the take-off area is quite small.

The next stop is where I spent most of my time while in Cape Town. It’s Hout Bay! It’s the place for big wave surfers who wanna ride the 14-metres Dungeons. The place itself is beautiful and colorful, with cute fishing village and Hout Bay Harbour.

Lastly, it’s the one we’ve talked about for a bit, the Noordhoek Beach. If you want to relax, then this 8 kilometres of peacefulness is your place. You might wanna visit The Dunes, take a horse out and enjoy the ride by the beach or explore the Wreck of Kakapo.

What else?
  • Cape Winelands
  • Cape Peninsula
    • Simon’s Town
    • Boulders Beach
    • Cape of Good Hope

Apart from Cape Town itself, you could also explore the area around it as well. I’d recommend few places. Firstly, Cape Winelands is the region where many famous wines are made. Wines are sooooo cheap and sooooo tasty! By the time you’re having lunch, you’d already be tipsy. It’s a joy! 🍷

Apart from the beauty of wineries, you could also join the search of South African’s Big Five. If you are keen on spending a day with animals, you could book yourself a day trip and head to Worcester. I’d recommend horseback safari because it’s a lot more exciting. Otherwise, try any styles of Game Drives.

Most importantly, since you are in Cape Town, you have to visit the Cape Peninsula. To do so, you might wanna start at Simon’s Town, which is a Navy Base Town.

There is a cute history here too. It’s about Just Nuisance, which is the only dog enlisted in Royal Navy because he was a loyal dog that always travelled with seamen by train. He was enlisted as a Royal Navy so that he could travel freely on the train. He was somehow a moral booster for the town during the World War II. His statue is by the town’s main street.

Another cuteness here is the African Penguins at Boulders Beach. The place is so cute! What penguins live by the beach of blue water? This place is so heart-warming. 😍

Next, you should definitely visit the Cape of Good Hope. To explore the whole place, which is also a Nature Reserve, you could just drive around, hike or go around with bicycle. I did cycling and my companies were some ostriches, baboons and couples of deers.

You might wanna stop by the Cape Point first because it’s higher than the Cape of Good Hope so it offers a greater sight of all peaks and ocean. The view from the lighthouse is the best! You also don’t have to worry much about the weather, all the walking will heat you up but the wind won’t let you sweat.

The final most important stop is the Cape of Good Hope. It holds so much history and the area is stunning. The shore is great for taking pictures and to be there is just great!

 

 

 

 

 

How I Spent a Day in Cardiff, Wales

Is the idea of chilling in a park, visiting some castles, reading in a café, eating by the bay and shopping in an arcades sound like a good weekend? If so, then Cardiff might be your place.

Cardiff is a big city with modern buildings, lively waterfront, blended with Victorian architectures, old shopping arcades and decorated by big parks. You should spend a proper weekend there. It’s pretty sweet! However, for this post, I want to share with you how I spent a Spring day in Cardiff on my own, walking on foot, exploring.

I arrived at Cardiff Coach Station in Sophia Gardens late evening and from there I walked for about 30 minutes to Nomad Backpacker at Howard Gardens. Along the way, I got to admire the sight of the lit-up Cardiff Castle and experienced the busy Queen Street.

After a good sleep, I woke up quite early, grabbed something to eat at Sainsbury’s, and headed off to my first stop, the Llandaff Cathedral. It took me about an hour to get there. I was stunned by how nice this place is. It’s slightly ruined, with magnificent architecture. The surrounding was peaceful and the Cathedral itself is quite charming. I also spent sometime relaxing by the Llandaff Meadow, along River Taff as well.

After a good rest by the river, I took off and aimed for Bute Park, using Feeder Canal Trail, walking through Gorsedd Gardens for about half an hour, then stopping at Cardiff National Museum, City Hall and Crown Court.

After a couple of snaps, I kept walking a bit further and ended up at the Cardiff Castle. The castle is massive and it’s beautifully decorated by towers, giving the place a classy edge.

When I was satisfied exploring the massive castle, I was just walking around until I came across the Cathays Cemetery. Then, I followed all the dogs and their owners into Roath Park, got myself an ice-cream and relaxed by the massive lake. I was entertained by a little boy, who was constantly throwing tennis ball into the lake for his dog to swim and pick it up. The park was packed with couples, children, dogs and runners. It was a lively day filled with energy. 🙌

After I finally managed to get my lazy arse off the ground, I made my way toward the city centre. The first stop I made was at the YHA Cardiff Central, because that’s where I spent my night. So, I was just dropping off my stuff.

With lighter feet, I walked to Bute East Dock, stopped for few pictures of the reflected houses above the water, continued my journey toward the bay and made another stop at Wales Millennium Centre. The architecture of this arts centre is quite artsy but the interior is amazing! It’s so glamorous and classy.

I also spent sometime walking around the area, exploring places like Merchant Place, Roald Dahl Plass, Senedd and Pierhead. I decided that I’d stop for food at the Mermaid Quay, so that’s how I walk around, finding a place to eat. 🍔

After a big meal, I kept walking, sticking to the right until I found the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. It’s a wetlands reserve in the middle of the city centre and it’s very green! They have done an amazing job looking after this place. I was very impressed.

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My next destination of the day was Penarth Marina, so from the wetlands reserve, I kept walking and crossed the bridge twice until I found the Dolly Steps, which is the entrance to the Alexandra Park. I enjoyed walking through this park a lot because there weren’t many people and it’s beautifully decorated with smaller gardens and the Penarth War Memorial. I took the exit to the Bridgeman Road and found the stunning Penarth Pier.

I spent a lot of time walking along the esplanade and had my early dinner by the pier. Once I was ready, I headed to the left of the pier on Beach Road, continued to Windsor Road and took one right onto Harbour View Road, High Street and finally stopped at the Paget Road.

At the Paget Road, I was stunned by the sight of Cardiff Bay under the golden sunset skies, with the elegance marina. It’s a perfect lookout point, because of the distance and the height. The view that you’ll be rewarded is amazing. It’s honestly my favorite spot of this Cardiff trip. I was a bit unfortunate that my phone was out of battery, otherwise I could show you the picture. Though, you should definitely check it out if you are gonna be exploring Penarth.

Because I saw the lit-up Cardiff Bay in front of me, so that’s where I headed to next. I crossed Cardiff Bay Barrage, with the bay on my left and the channel on my right. On the Tardis Walk, I walked toward the Doctor Who Experience, which was closed by the time I arrived, but still, it’s better than nothing. 😂

I founded the Norwegian Church Arts Centre at the Britania Park and tried to figure my way back to the hostel. I was a bit tired. Because my phone was out of battery and I had no map on me, it took me an hour to get back to my accommodation when it should only take about half an hour. Though, It was great fun and I enjoyed it a lot.

The next morning, I made few more stops before going to catch the bus to my next destination. The first stop was for some quick breakfast, then to St Mary Church, the Parish of Saint Paula Grangetown and finally the Principality Stadium.

From the stadium, I walked the Millennium Walk by the river, then crossed the bridge into Sophia Gardens and the National Express Coach Station was my final stop.

Even though I didn’t spend that much time in Cardiff, it’s still one of the very memorable trip for me, especially the view of Cardiff Bay from Paget Road during the sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

BOURNEMOUTH: Top 10 Places to Visit

Bournemouth might not be on many people’s list when thinking about destinations in England. It’s a bit underrated. Some haven’t heard of it before and some don’t even know where it is. Well, it’s right by the Jurassic Coast, the South of England.

Bournemouth is known for it’s 7 miles of the UK’s best beach (according to TripAdvisor in 2016). It’s a perfect place for sports and outdoor lovers, with awesome countryside and buzzing nightlife.

For anyone interested, I have a list of places that you should visit while in Bournemouth and a really beautiful cycling route for you! 🚴

Top 10 Places to Visit in Bournemouth
  1. Bournemouth Parks
    • Lower Gardens
    • Central Gardens
    • Upper Gardens
  2. The Balloon
  3. The Bourne River
  4. Coy Pond
  5. Meyrick Park
  6. St. Peter’s Church
  7. Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff
  8. Bournemouth Beach and Pier
  9. Boscombe Beach and Pier
  10. Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens

I. Bournemouth Parks

Bournemouth Parks are separated into 3 areas, the Lower Gardens, Central Gardens and Upper Gardens. These 3 areas are different and each has their own vibes. Though, all of them are perfect for a sweet walk, a quick cycling or for a fun picnic.

The Lower Gardens are the busiest. It’s where most of the actions happen. It’s only 2 minutes walking from the town’s square and only couple of minutes away from the beach. It’s busy with kiosks, young people out and about and there is a Mini Golf as well. ⛳️

The Central Gardens are a little quieter, with a small river along the gardens. Trees and plants here are a little taller and bigger than those in the Lower Gardens. The walk is pleasantly accompanied with beautiful pergola. Here, there is a tennis court and a playground. In the Pleasure Garden, there is a World War I memorial, scripted with beautiful notes.

The Upper Gardens are the most relaxing ones. There are 3 different garden’s theme: European, Asia and North America themes. It’s more green here and there are more to see along the way like decorations of each themed gardens, the water tower and long wooden walkways. The gardens take you more or less to Poole.

II. The Balloon

This Hot Air Balloon is one of the landmark of Bournemouth, right at the Lower Gardens. It allows you to see Bournemouth from above and it offers great views of the beach and the piers. Unfortunately, it’s not available at the moment, but hopefully, it’ll reopen soon.

III. The Bourne River

The Bourne River flows through the whole length of Bournemouth Parks and reaches the beach. The stream goes through everything, the paths, the trees and the rose beds. Throughout the parks, there are several cute falls of this stream and it’s actually a really relaxing sight.

IV. Coy Pond

Coy Pond is a Koi pond right by the end of the Upper Gardens, just a bit outside of Bournemouth. The pond is beautifully surrounded by trees around the bank and some other animals like geese and ducks. There is even a small island! It’s a perfect stop after all the traveling through those gardens. Though, if you prefer driving there, there are several parking spots available. It’s one of my most visited spot in the whole Bournemouth and Poole.

V. Meyrick Park

Meyrick Park is a large field area, with many walking and running trails, including the cross-country running trails. I was lucky enough to spot a baby fox here! 🦊

Meyrick Park is also a home to one of the biggest Golf Club in town; The Club at Meyrick Park. It’s also a home of the Oakmeadians RFC Rugby Club. It’s quite fun to watch them doing their things, especially when you have a special seat. This secret seat is by a walking trail, right behind the club.

VI. St. Peter's Church

St. Peter’s Church is right in the heart of Bournemouth. It’s a minute away from the Square, about 5 minutes from the Lower Gardens and less than 10 minutes walking from the beach. The church itself is a very elegance sight, with incredible interior. The churchyard is calmly beautiful and it is protecting the spirits of many novelists, including Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

VII. Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliffs

Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliffs offer best views of the ocean throughout the length of the beach. From the overcliff, the stunning Old Harry Rocks can be seen as well. Plus, there are many paths that lead you down to the beach.

VIII. Bournemouth Beach and Pier

Bournemouth Beach lies just underneath the overcliffs and it’s accompanied by one of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK. It’s also really clean! Good thing about the beach is that there is so much you could do. It’s great for skaters, runners, swimmers, surfers, campers, families, friends or couples. It’s also really safe and convenience, with lifeguards, free toilets and showers. The beach is perfectly decorated with colorful huts that you could rent to maximize your fun. If you want to know more about these huts, please click here. 😊

Bournemouth Pier lies beautifully by the beach and it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunset! It’s stunning! It’s also not far from beach facilities and the town’s square. Also, there is so much you could do on the pier such as sipping cocktails at the Aruba Restaurant & Bar. Drinks here are nice!

IX. Boscombe Beach and Pier

Boscombe Beach and Pier is quite similar to the Bournemouth one, but it has more restaurants, cafes and sports facilities. Somehow, it’s a little quieter. Boscombe Beach is actually a perfect place for campfire during warmer nights.

X. Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens

Alum Chine and Argyll Gardens are probably the greenest and most tropical area in Bournemouth. It’s perfect for walking around, under the shade of massive trees. There are few small suspension bridges over the gardens as well.

Recommended Cycling Route

I have provided you with a cycling route that’ll take you to other places that you shouldn’t miss. It’s not difficult, but it’s quite a long distance. Though, it’s manageable within a day. So let’s just pack some snacks and drinks!

  • Bournemouth Pier
  • Boscombe Pier
  • Hengistbury Head
  • River Stour
  • New Forest National Park
  • Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary
  • Ringwood
  • River Avon
  • Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

So, let’s start at Bournemouth Pier then keep going along the beach, pass Boscombe Pier and stop at the Hengistbury Head. (5 miles, 30 minutes)

From Hengistbury Head, we are heading toward Christchurch, passing the River Stour, then entering the New Forest National Park to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. (16 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes)

After spending sometime inside New Forest National Park, then we are exiting the park, heading to Ringwood, passing the River Avon, checking out the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest and then heading back to Bournemouth. (25 miles, 2 hours 30 minutes)

This route took me 9 hours, including eating, stoping to take pictures, and getting lost. I departed from Bournemouth Pier around 10 a.m. and got back into town around 6 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

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