travel

practising | packing light

packing light

Before heading off for our week holiday, Tim and I purchased some new ‘cabin size’ friendly bags. We have a few Ryanair flights this year but also thought it would also be easier for our trip to Japan to pack as light as possible as we aren’t keen to travel across the country with 23kgs of bulk.

Having bought the bag I got a bit nervous (it is so small!) but thought I would share a few tips of what I have already learnt from my first packing. Luckily for Japan it will be summer but we are away for two weeks. Obviously, last week we were still in winter so it was bulkier and I packed my laptop (which I don’t plan to take to Japan) so I think I might be alright.

Clothes

  • I mostly packed along the principles of the Konmari folding method that I have used in my cupboard after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. All my clothes were folded in this method and I was able to layout items so I could see everything that I was taking in one look. Tim said it looked like a bento box. This made it really easy to pack and, more importantly, while we were away I was able to put items neatly back in my bag so the airbnb didn’t look like something had exploded.
  • Puffer jacket. I finally succumbed to an Italian sartorial classic and bought a puffer jacket. I bought one that fits under my other jacket so I could layer up well. Mostly I had great fears that I would be cold in Budapest (although it wasn’t). But it is so light, like it won’t even show anything if I put it on a scale. And you can ball it up really small when not wearing it and it doesn’t come out looking like it has been crushed. Not only is it great for layering in winter but I figure it will also be good for travelling and while in Japan if there is a cooler evening in the summer.
  • If you can manage and feel comfortable wearing them go for bras without underwire (you get some cute tshirt bras). They can fold up much smaller and are actually super comfortable for long flights, and actually just generally more comfortable (why have I subjected myself to underwire for all these years?).

Toiletries and such

  • I have been streamlining my skincare routine so all I brought with me was a mini tub of coconut oil, a muslin face cloth and a small bottle of tonic.
  • In the makeup department I like multi-use items and none of them require brushes. Next time around I might even take fewer items.
  • Pack a small bottle of washing liquid. This is useful if you are spending more then 2 nights somewhere so you can wash socks and underwear and don’t have to try and squeeze in 14 pairs of everything.

Gadgets

  • Chargers and masses of plugs are always an issue. First decide do you really really need something? Like I won’t be taking my laptop to Japan. Then I’ve discovered that one charger can do it all and you normally just need two cords (one for my mobile and one for my tablet/kindle/re-chargable battery). For my camera I know that the battery life is rather long so I just fully charge two batteries and don’t need to bring the charger, It obviously depends how long your trip is on whether this is an option.
  • Kindles. You can have all the books and none of the weight.

Next, I would really like to buy a lighter weight ‘personal’ camera for when I am not doing ‘work’ related things and am only using photos for my own enjoyment and for sharing on the blog (in which case they don’t have to be that high a quality. Any tips on good mirrorless cameras? I’ve been eyeing out the Fujifilm X100T but it is rather steep on the budget and I don’t like that you can’t change the lens. I am looking for a camera that I can still use a viewfinder, is fully manual, has a good quality lens option which means I don’t need to buy a kit lens, is light and compact. I wish I could try them all out.

On a side note: be aware that even if you are flying with Ryanair there is no guarantee that your bag will be allowed with you as cabin luggage as there is a guarantee that only the first 90 bags are allowed. So on our way back from Budapest our bags were checked into the hold from the runway. A combination of early morning and not being prepared meant that one of our bags didn’t have a lock and something was actually taken from our bags in transit. I now kind of liken flying Ryanair to a bad relationship which you keep going back to!

Anyway, I would love to know if you have any magical packing tips for future trips?

chapmans_peak13-mycreative

In last week’s post I mentioned hiking in Chapman’s Peak and really wanted to share some more pictures from the day. It is one of our (pretty recent) New Year’s traditions to get as high as possible on the first day of the year (although this was admittedly the second). It really gives you some perspective.

Plus this part of the world is just so breath-taking. And how about the fauna? The Western Cape is one of the most biodiverse places in the world and is the only place in the world where you find these type of plants called fynbos (fine bush). It smells amazing too! Kind of like rooibos tea but better.

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I had great plans of all the tips and insights I would give you to Cape Town, my place of birth and home for 20 years. But when you go back for 10 days, have to see all your people and it is Christmas, a family engagement party and a celebration of the fact that you got married in the year, the bulk of activities and meals are allocated to not eating out. That said I still have some thoughts and things I wanted to share incase you find yourself heading to Cape Town. Which I think you should because this is definitely a city that is worth seeing!

Cape Town is a beautiful and dynamic city. Without having visited any other parts of South Africa for a while, I would say it is the ‘flagship’ of a country that embraces its multiculturalism so beautifully. In 2014 Cape Town was the ‘Design Capital’ and it is definitely showing up everywhere. I could have spent an absolute fortune in shops all over town, even little stalls in the middle of nowhere. Tip 1: Go with a big bag and spare cash!

Here are a list of my suggested places:

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1. Starlings: A coffee shop and restaurant in a suburban part of town. Has great cake and a lovely outside eating area.

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2. Watershed at the V&A Waterfront: a great destination for picking up some gifts and souvenirs by local designers who hold concessions in a large old wharf building.

3. The Old Biscuit Mill: on a Saturday this has many of the same designers that you can find at the Watershed but it does have more of a market vibe, as well as a variety of food stalls. My suggestion would be to go early and check it out and then wonder around the other shops and restaurants that are popping up in the area. Definitely a gentrification process going on here which has its pros and cons.

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4. Take the metro along the coast: When I lived in Cape Town I used to take the metro to work and on the weekends we would head down to the lower regions of Cape Town for some adventuring. You need to take the route that goes from the City Bowl towards Simons Town. From Muizenberg you start seeing the sea and it is such a lovely trip. Get off at Kalk Bay for trendy shops and eateries or Simons Town for some sightseeing in the former naval town. Locals might still warn you about safety but I had no issues and really felt quite comfortable. Get the Metroplus (which is like first class) as you will have more space and more comfortable chairs and a return ticket is still less than £2.

5. Try out some of the local wines: We went to Eagle’s Nest in Constantia for a picnic which was absolutely brilliant with delicious food and definitely suggested. On Christmas we also went to Blaauwklippen in Stellenbosch (outside of Cape Town) for a Christmas meal and wine tasting. Apparently they also have a brilliant market on the weekend with live music (which is currently my Uncles).

6. Get some fresh air and go for a hike: The scenery around Cape Town is absolutely breathtaking. We went for a hike up Chapman’s Peak. In summer I suggest you go early as it does get hot. Also take lots of water to prevent de-hydration. It probably requires a moderate fitness level but there are also more gentle excursions. There is something particularly special about seeing all the way around the peninsula from the top though.

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7. The Oude Molen Eco Village has a little restaurant that had a lovely and well-priced breakfast menu which we enjoyed with the sounds of chickens clucking and a nice view. I felt like we had driven an hour of of town and had found a quaint dorpie (little town).

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8. The Imhoff Farm: An old farm in Kommetjie which now has several eateries (we had breakfast at the restaurant with a view of the mountains and peacocks). It also has a few shops and if you have young kids a sort of zoo and camel rides.

9. Truth Coffee: good coffee in a steampunk setting which has some great attention to detail.

Also, I didn’t get to experience it but Cape Town is expanding its public transport facilities with a City Bus. The routes are limited to the City Centre but if you are a tourist in town that is probably where you want to be anyway.

Honestly, I didn’t take my camera out much while in Cape Town and these are all iPhone pictures. I suppose that is sometimes the way when you are just enjoying time with friends and family. But I will be sharing a few more photos of Chapman’s Peak that I took.

eek! life is awesome

reflection-mycreative

Last night I spent three hours organising a very small corner of my life. Copies of exercises for tutoring (something that I never would have though I would have been doing a year ago). But that isn’t very awesome is it?

I want to share some plans without sounding like a big brag. Is that okay? It is just life is currently pretty awesome and I like to share with you guys. Because I feel that you are some of my people.

We just bought tickets to Japan for “Summer 2015″. I put that as a ‘title’ because our summers are pretty epic with Tim teaching and me on a similar contract we get an amazing two and a half months off. We don’t get paid in that time but I think it is worth it.

We’ve made travelling a priority for the next few years so we are also looking at spending a week with friends in Crete as well as heading back to London in August for three (!!!) weddings.

Oh and we are heading back to South Africa for Christmas but that has been in the pipeline since the beginning of the year.

Prioritising travel means making some adjustments. Taking on some extra tutoring work and being a bit tighter with the budget. But when I question why it is 8pm on a Thursday night and I have three pre-teen boys staring at me questioning whether something is a past participle I can adjust my attitude to ‘how awesome is my friend that passed this on to me so I can have the amazing experience of eating Ramen in Japan!’. Happiness is just an attitude after all, right?

Anyway, if you have any tips for Japan and Crete I’d love to know!

On a side note this is a detail from the picture above which I just thought looked cool. Kind of like a painting.

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travel | 24 hours in zagreb

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Zagreb was on our list of places to see as it is only a three hour drive away but without knowing too much about it, it wasn’t too high on our agenda until a friend said they were driving there for a night.

So we booked an airbnb*, packed a bag and hopped in the car two days later.

I love travelling to a place without having expectations of it. It is definitely different to the other places we have been in Croatia but that is unsurprising since we have mostly visited coastal areas. Without having ever been to Berlin I kind of feel like they might be similar. It has a designy, cool-things-are-happening-here kind of vibe with a lot of restaurants and apparently the more museums per square foot than any other city in the world.

As we only had 24 hours in the city we went ‘full tourist’ and did lots of walking around, passed lots of green spaces, spent some time watching the market happenings, watching old people queue for the busses to the cemetery (as it was the day of the dead), went up a hill, saw some old churches and visited several design shops as well as the Museum of Broken Relationships (which now tours but started in Zagreb). I really loved this original concept for a museum and it was really beautifully done. If it does a tour of your town you should head to see it.

Also if you find yourself in town there is an amazing vegetarian restaurant called Nishta. We visited a branch in Dubrovnik and the food was so good I ordered another main to take away which I ate for lunch the next day!

In the end my final thoughts of the city are I don’t think we will hurry back on our own steam but if a friend is heading that way again I would love to visit more of the museums and get a back back I was eyeing out but can’t find online.

* definitely recommended for cheap and cheerful with a central location and very helpful host, although earplugs might be warranted as it is on main road.

p.s. I think this title would be an excellent name for a spy novel. Any takers?

venice | three things

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Blushing colours

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Signage Love

foggy-venice

Foggy days (see see more of the foggy day at Steller)

Venice has definitely grown on me since our first visit (prior to us moving 2 hours away from it). Funny that. Also note that many museums, including the Architectural Biennale, are closed on Mondays. But if the day is perfectly, beautifully foggy you can fall a little bit in love with Venice.

Also you can follow me over on Instagram. I’m @mycreative