Wasn’t spring supposed to start yesterday? I’m pretty sure the Belgian weather gods missed that memo… Enough with winter already. I’m over it! After months of coats and jumpers, I’m really looking forward to those first bare-legs-days… So in the spirit of both anticipation (bring on the skirts!) and nostalgia (bring back those sunny African days!), I wanted to share this simple look I wore on a beautiful night out at the Waterfront in Cape Town.
After weeks of shorts, tees and messy hair, it was fun to get a little dolled up! Apart from my good old All Stars I actually got all items in this look on African soil. The hat at the brand new H&M in Waterfront (with an H&M ambassador like Katrien in your travel party, you just have to check out this hot new store ;) ), the bracelets at a Pad Stal on our way to Port Elizabeth and the dress at Mungo & Jemima, one of our discoveries on the corner of Long street and Church street.
In hindsight, it actually isn’t surprising that we stumbled upon a cluster of dreamy shops, all offering pretty pretty pieces from local designers, in that exact location. It appears Long street is considered to be Cape Town’s creative spine, attracting both established and emerging local designers with its urban energy. A true Walhalla for every visiting fashionista!
My personal Long Street top three:
1. Mungo and Jemima, the brainchild of Kirsty Bannerman and Marian Park-Ross. It instantly caught our eye and delighted us from the moment we stepped over its threshold, to when we stepped back out into the African sun. This cute, colorful little store offers handmade basics from local designers, including dresses, skirts, jewelry and accessories, all in happy colors, pretty prints and/or simple, flattering cuts. The girl behind the counter was super friendly and helpful, and we basically spent a fun, enjoyable moment in this hotspot (resulting in the purchase of this black baby doll style dress, which I still adore! <3).
2. WAG, the design hotspot of fashion entrepreneur Shery Bakos, where the racks are filled with unique pieces designed by herself or other local designers. Walking into this vibrant space is an instant mood booster! Between the friendly, enthusiastic reception and the happy colors, original cuts and bold prints you find yourself surrounded with, how could you not have a smile on your face… Moreover: your attention is immediately drawn to the atelier at the back of the store, where Shery and her team create custom-made designs, do alterations and give fashion training courses (Shery is known to mentor young local designers <3). It really adds to the atmosphere of creativity and authenticity. Can you tell we were totally charmed? :)
3. Me Me Me. A warm South African welcome, a counter full of beautiful accessories (both bold African style and fine, minimalistic jewelry) and a mix of feminine, romantic, simplified and nostalgic designs with a twist. What’s not to love, right? Even though the clothes were a little too out there for my humble Belgian taste (we can be such bores, can’t we…), I did treat myself to a minimalistic geometric ring, which I’ve been wearing almost non-stop ever since.
Intrigued by this love song for South African design? Both Mungo and Jemima and Me Me Me have a webshop! They don’t usually ship outside South Africa, but if you send them an e-mail, they can let you know how much shipping to your country would cost. Worth a try, if you ask me ^^
Finally, on a totally unrelated note: this will be the last post featuring my long locks! Had quite a drastic cut last week… But more on that (and changes that actually matter ;) ) later!
We crowned our South African adventure with a stay in one of its most brilliant gems: beautiful Cape Town. Like so many before me, I was struck by the city’s dualities and endless facets: concrete giants next to some of nature’s most stunning miracles, a town that’s hip and happening yet very much in touch with its history, open minded but undeniably marked by the ghost of the past, with a touch of Europe alongside deep African roots.
During our first days at the Cape, we visited the beautiful “Victoria & Alfred Waterfront” for some nice dinners and late night shopping sessions, spent a morning at Muizenberg beach, admiring its charming colored little beach houses, headed out to Cape of Good Hope to witness the not-so-southernmost point of the peninsula and went to meet the super cute suited-up inhabitants of Simon’s Town (PINGUIIIIIINS <3).
Later, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset walk on Lion’s head and went on two great daytime (guided) walks, one in the historic center and one in the Malay Quarter, better known as Bo-Kaap. We also set out to sea, towards the impressive Robben Island, and on our very last day we took a detour to Stellenbosch, to visit a craft market/padstal and discover “The World of Strawberries”.
To shop: While wandering the city, we stumbled upon a cluster of super cute stores on the corner of Church Street and Long Street. Mungo and Jemima, which offers a beautiful (and affordable) selection of fresh and wearable pieces from all local designers, Babette Clothing, a vintage wonderland for all you boho lovers, Mememe, the embodiment of African chic, also from local designers, and Ceramic Factory, a little treasure room filled with pretty printed design wannahaves.
To stay: We booked an apartment at the Icon Luxury Apartments and were not disappointed by this choice. Not at all. Standard but not too basic, nice but not too pricey. Quite centrally located and with a kick-ass rooftop swimming pool (believe me, after an afternoon of walking the city under the African sun, you’re gonna want that refreshing dive!)
To eat: For the healthy/yummy hipster experience, one of Cape Town’s food markets is definitely the way to go! We really liked the happy vibes at the V&A Waterfront Food Market and had a top lunch at the Earth Fair Market (which you can find every Thursday at St. Georges Mall).
Should you Belgians be feeling a bit homesick, you can always head over to “Den Anker” at Waterfront, which has some pretty funny African interpretations of Belgian food on its menu. For a “classic” African meal, on the other hand, you should head to Mama Africa in Long street (be sure to book your table in advance, though!)
To explore: Like many other big cities, Cape Town offers free walking tours, to discover the city guided by a local. We took 2 free tours, one of the historic center, and one of the Malay quarter with its brightly painted houses, also known as Bo-Kaap. We were blessed with a great (albeit slightly sarcastic…) guide: Paul, who told tales of the city’s history with exceptional verve, interlaced with authentic personal anecdotes of growing up under the reign and fall of Apartheid.
To drive: Fancy a scenic road trip? Chapman’s Peak drive, which stretches out from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, is said to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. You shouldn’t always believe what “they” say, but I can personally attest to the marvelousness of its sea view! Extra tip for you fellow lovers of all things yummy: we ended our drive at the lovely Dunes beach bar in Hout bay, with cocktails and ice cream ^^
Mind the fog! A stop at Cape of Good Hope is a definite must for an all-rounded Cape experience. Sure, it’s not really the most southern point of the peninsula, but there’s just something symbolic about it. However: make sure to plan your stop a bit better than we did. We did the Cape point walk when it was covered in fog and even though it’s quite a remarkable feeling to find yourself at the tip of that massive continent, a little glimpse of the outstretched waters at your feet might be a considerable plus :) Same goes for Table Mountain: when it’s not covered in its cloudy table cloth: get your ass up there. You might not get another chance.
PINGUINSSSS. Ok, they’re a bit smelly. And funny looking. And they don’t do much more than stand there and soak up the sun. But there so freaking adorable! We obviously went crazy for these suited up inhabitants of Simon’s Town. Btw: on the beach in Simon’s Town you can take a casual dive and swim right beside these black and white cuties. No biggie.
Robben Island Testimonies. On Robben Island, we got a tour around the prison facilities by a former political prisoner. Sure, he might not have been the most eloquent guide we had throughout our trip. But he was definitely the most impressive one. What a strength of character it must take to go back to that place of suffering, to share your stories with future generations, helping ensure history never repeats itself…
Badass grannies. Imagine: you’re sitting on a boat, on your way back from Robben Island. Waves are pretty hefty (yes: you almost fell on your face/in the arms of a friendly sailor). You are surrounded by a group of retired school teachers from Soweto. All of a sudden, one of them starts singing an African folk song. Another one chimes in. And another one. And another one. And all of them! There’s clapping. And chanting. And dancing! A delightfully surreal experience… Gotta love badass old ladies <3
Oom & Tannie <3 Travel memories are made by the people you meet, and we were lucky enough to meet some of South Africa’s finest. Katrien’s Oom & Tannie welcomed us with open arms on our very first day in Pretoria, and waved us goodbye in Cape Town. They introduced us to South African life, the art of Braaj and the beautifully quirky Afrikaans language (Drukkies – hugs – will forever be my favorite word!) Lots of love and baie dankie to these two warm and wonderful peeps!
Even though temperatures suggest otherwise, it has happened: winter has come. Despite being a summer spirit at heart, there are a few things I adore about winter time…
1. Holiday Spirit! I’m such a sucker for the holidays. Christmas movies, trees, jumpers, carols, gifts, markets… you name it, I LOVE it! I’m currently in full Christmas-eve-prep-mode, and might be driving the people around me a little crazy… Oh well :) Can’t wait to gather around the tree with the people I love most and see how they like the presents I got them! (As said here, I get a little gift obsessed). Also: shameless laziness watching Xmas movies with some hot chocolate, beside my pretty pretty tree: YES PLEASE!
2. Sweater weather! If like me, you own quite the collection of sweaters (question: do you really need another grey sweater with print? Answer: ALWAYS YES), you’re kind of looking forward to the days when it gets cold enough to wear them all day every day.
3. Knitting! Granny in training, reporting for duty! A little over a year I’ve been bit by the knitting bug (many a recipient of handmade gifts can attest to my condition). It’s just so relaxing and quite fun to create something soft and cuddly with your own hands. I’ve even added a little crochet to the mix lately! Somehow, this knitting fever is more socially accepted in winter, so hurray for movie/knitting winter nights and knitting coffee dates with like-minded souls!
4. Layers! A warm coat on top of a snuggly sweater over a crisp shirt over a soft top: hello winter uniform! Topping it all off with a giant scarf and a knit hat, of course… Probably not the most sexy look ever (remember the man repeller paradigm…) but who cares, it maks me feel so warm and cosy…
5. Cozy Crafternoons! Nothing like a day where you just don’t want to face the cold outside, to inspire an afternoon of staying in, having a nice hot drink and messing around with everything crafty. Been a while since I got out my scrapbook (yez, I’m a craft nerd), but looking forward to it!
6. Winter food! I’m sorry to break it to you salad/bbq-lovers, but winter food kicks summer food’s ass any day. Tasty roasts, winter veggies, heartwarming oven dishes, cozy soups, Christmas spiced sweets (like these!), and basically everything with hot chocolate. On that note: one of my lovely colleagues treated us to a tartiflette lunch today and it was TO DIE FOR. (All them cheeeeese <3 )
7. Marathons! Obviously I don’t mean the running kind… Personally I’ve been recording every Xmas movie that’s being ran on Belgian tv lately, in preparation of a few days off, where I think I might combine all of the above, with some Xmas movies on the background. However, there might be a few series that demand some serieus benchwatching sessions as well… Decisions! :)
8. Books! Granted, my favorite place to read a book is on a lounging chair in the sun… But a cold afternoon spent bundled up inside catching up on my reading (cause who has the time for it throughout the year :( ) must be a close second! Perfect formula for some quiet time after the hectic holiday period.
9. Cuddles! There is something about cold weather that makes me feel even cuddlier than usual (yes darling, even more :p ) Snuggled up on the couch (damn, I’m sensing a couch-theme in this post…) with your favorite blanket/cat/lover (whatever floats your boat ;) ), it’s just the best way to get warm on cold days. (See, I’m not cheesy, it’s just very practical!)
10. Winter Wonderland! They are pretty rare in our little country, but I have to admit: there is something magical about those sparse mornings when you look out of your window and everything is white and untouched… Provided you don’t have to get in your car and drive through this wonderland that is, obvs.
11. Rosy cheeks! You know that feeling, when you’ve been on a long walk in the cold and your cheeks get all tingly and rosy? <3!
Keep warm and enjoy these merry days!
It’s that time of year again! Time to fill the space below that pretty tree with pretty gifts for all your pretty peeps! Personally, I get a little gift-obsessed every December (ok: even earlier in the year..), I just love that quest for the perfect gift for all of my favorite people! <3 However, I don’t necessarily feel like leaving the house for that quest… It’s so warm and cozy inside! There’s twinkly lights! And Christmas sweaters! And hot chocolate! Anyway: if, like me, you prefer to score those awesome Christmas presents from the cozy comfort of your own couch, here are 10 great gifts you don’t have to leave the house for:
1.For your best friend: nothing is as good a gift as those fun/beautiful/sad/silly moments you share together. But a little Instagram photo booklet of those moments might just be the next best thing ;) I had one printed at Hema a little while ago and was really happy with the result!
2. For that lovely crazy cat lady: we all have at least one of them in our friend/family circle, don’t we? You just know that nothing will make her happier than goodies picturing her furry little friends (except for an actual cat that is, obvs). One of my favorite crazy cat ladies introduced me to the brand cat vs human, and I’m sure they will have the purrrfect gift for any of your feline-loving friends!
3. For your favorite happy crazy girl: if she has the right brand of craziness, she will surely LOVE the designs of Eva Mouton! Head over to Eva’s webshop and assemble a fun package, especially selected for this special girl! (Tote bag: Yes! Pins: yes!! Nail tattoos yes!!! Neuters gonna neut print: YEZZ!!!)
4.For every girly girl: As a true girly girl, I do indulge in a little beauty splurge from time to time. I have to say: the best beauty investment I ever made was my Urban Decay Naked3 palette. At the time, I still had to get it abroad (thanks again for bringing it Kattebel <3) but today you can also get it in Belgium, hurray! Even better: you can order it online via ici Paris XL: double hurray! Easy success-proof gift for every girly girl: check!
5. For your bon vivant dad/uncle/brother: not always easy to find this one an original present, is it? Basically he just wants to enjoy the good things in life, and those aren’t that easily wrapped… However, I recently got one of my favorite bon vivants Luc Hoornaert’s “Must Eat”, a beautiful book full of original resto addresses, all selected because of their originality and focus on a “house specialty” (their “must eat” :p ), and it was a big hit!
6. For your sweetest softie: why not reward her softness with even more softness? Whether it’s your mom, grandma, sister, girlfriend or best friend: get this softie wrapped in the dreamy cloud that is an EllePaca scarf. My favorite? The Nightingale! In minty fairy, of course (of only because that color name is just the sweetest ever).
7. For your digitally savvy little brother/sister/niece/nephew: I recently got overwhelmed with social ads from Osmo, a game system combining iPad games with hands-on play (this movie explains it better than I ever could) and I have to admit: those sneaky stalkers got to me! My little brother is also part of that iPad-loving-speedily-sweeping generation and I think he would love it!
8. For the girl who deserves something special: Want to show someone you have been thinking about their gift a little longer than right before Santa’s big night? Nothing screams not-last-minute like a personalized gift! One of my favorites is still personalized jewelry (I am a child of the Carrie Bradshaw generation, after all). Two of my go-to web spots for this: Onecklace (Carrie-style necklaces) and Ijcandie (name-stamp arm candy!)
9.For your amazing crafty friend: Sure, she will most likely get you a totally pinteresty handmade gift (no biggie), but if you’re not feeling too DIY-ish yourself, go for the next best thing: something she can get crafty with! I recently discovered one of my favorite web shops, Wander & Co, offers a selection of super stylish DIY packages, and they seem like a great gift! My personal favorite: this Cactus cushion package!
10. For your hipster lover: You really want to find something nice for this one, don’t you? Not always easy though! But if he’s a bit of a hipster, a little Komono around his wrist will definitely be a winner! A little arm candy for your eye candy ;)
It takes quite a bit to shut me up. Ask anyone who knows/has met me. But I have to say: nothing like a glance at some of Mother Nature’s miracles, to render even this girl speechless. Those moments you can’t do anything but stare in wonder, and thank the lucky stars that led you to this place, this moment. So if you’d ask me what I did the most while traveling the Garden Route, the answer’s pretty simple. I stared. I marveled. I thanked.
After a stop for lunch and an afternoon lounge on the beach in Jeffrey’s Bay, we headed towards Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, our home base in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park (Waves, rocks & water falls!). Next, we drove further West towards Wilderness National park (kayak!), with a stopover in Knysna for a yummy Cray Fish lunch. Final stop before going down to the Cape: Hermanus, for some epic whale watching!
Pad stalls! On the road towards Port Elizabeth, make sure to keep your eyes open for pad stalls beside the road! In these little shops you can find all sorts of pretty/yummy regional and handmade goodies. Guess where 70% of my souvenir gifts came from…
Tasty Table is definitely a solid lunch tip in Jeffrey’s Bay. Fresh yumminess (try the calamari!), beach views (hello pretty surfer boys) and super sweet service.
Surfers (Shopping) Paradise. After you’re fueled up on all that that tastiness, you might want to put that energy to use and visit some of the Jeffrey’s Bay Factory stores. Top surfer brands (O’Neil, Billabong, …) at outlet prices: score!
Kayaking in Wilderness. Wilderness appears to be a stop a lot of SA travelers skip. But if you have the time, definitely consider a detour to this beautiful piece of greenery. And while you’re at it, get yourself a kayak and your ass into that water.
Hermanus Backpacker. This was definitely one of the nicest backpackers we’ve stayed at during our journey. Beautiful pool, cosy rooms, friendly people and a nice braaj dinner. The perfect home base for your whale watching adventures.
Wild pass. If you think of doing several of the San Parks National Parks, consider buying a Wild Card. It will give you unlimited access to the parks at a very reasonable price. (Yups, we were dumb enough to pay for each park separately. But at least you can learn from our mistake ;) )
Tsitsikamma Love. One of the most breathtaking sights of our entire trip must be the beautiful waterfall we saw in Tsitsikamma. Talk about a rewarding hike! (Or should I say rock crawl :p ). Overall, Tsitikamma National Park was definitely one of my favorite stops on our trip and one of the first things I would recommend someone to visit in South Africa (after the Bush of course <3). We stayed in the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, which is built along the Wild Coast, with cozy, comfortable wooden huts looking out on all that rough gorgeousness. We caught some beautiful sunsets and I spent one afternoon just reading on our deck, basking in the soft sun and looking out on the crashing waves. Bliss.
Dassies! These soft and furry cuties were literally ALL around in Tsitsikamma! They’re a little shy but if you’re very very carefull (and have a top notch 200mm lens <3 Katrien) you’ll be able to approach them enough to (figuratively!!) catch them in all their melt-worthy cuteness
GO Springboks! During our time in South Africa, the Rugby World cup was taking place, and even for a sports-noob like myself, it was hard to not get infected with the „Bokke-fever” In Wilderness we were lucky enough to catch the semi-finals in the company of some lovely South Africans. We got totally into it! (Yes, there was yelling). The fact that the Bokke didn’t win did spoil the fun a little bit (by then we felt like they were „our team”, you know), but we got to meet and chat with some very interesting people, so I guess we did win in some way…
Whale Watching Wonders. The timing of our trip was perfect for whale watching (excellent planning skills, Katrien! <3) and we got so spoiled with sightings! Can you imagine, just having lunch (Sexy Hoender burger x Hermanus brewed beer = yumz), while spotting those magical creatures right from your terrace on the shore! Crazy. On our whale watching boat tour we even came across an albino baby whale. Such a big little miracle!
I can’t hide from it any longer. I can’t pretend anymore. It’s there, and I will have to deal with it. Winter really IS coming. I got a bit of an extension on enjoying my Summer wardrobe during our South African days, but this weekend the cold hard Belgian truth really (and quite literally) hit me. However, saying goodbye to colorful dresses and floaty tops means welcoming cosy knits and snuggly sweaters. Silver lining? I think so!
Since I am taking a page out of my dear friend Mara’s book, and trying to cut down on the shopping the following months (year?), I want to be very deliberate about my winter purchases. Nothing like a cold night to do some pre-shopping homework (on my couch, with a warm blanket and some tea, obviously) and assemble my Winter Wish List.
The stars of this story: a calf length grey wool coat (got my eye on this Marco Polo one. Pretty hefty price tag though, so saving up a bit, or waiting till I spot a similar, more budget friendly one :) ) and a minty fairy (<3 that color name!) EllePaca Nightingale scarf, to add some happy punch to that grey silhouette
Also starring: a winter version of my beloved Stan Smiths, some cosy cashmere (love the ones & Other Stories has in its winter collection!), a super soft cardigan (this June one is sooooo soft! I touched it, so I’m not making this up ;) ), happy headwear (not sure if I can pull this Esprit one off, but thinking about giving it a try), this burgundy Komono wrist candy and last but not least: a little reminder of summer in my pocket, with this Moonloft phone cover from Wander & Co!
What’s on your Winter Wish List? <3 C.
I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees – Henry David Thoreau
As much as we loved our stay in the animal kingdom, when it was time to continue our journey we were all excited to stretch our legs. Enough (spotting) excursions on wheels! We got out our hiking boots and hit some of the many beautiful paths, trails and hills this land has to offer. I’m far from the active-Dora-the-explorer type. But you know what? I LOVED it! (Yes, I was almost as surprised as you are). Granted: there were some tomato-faced-out-of-breath moments. Hiking up yet another hill, wondering how the hell I was going to make it to the end of this trail. But the sights. Oh those beautiful sights… They make it all worthwhile. Catching your breath while having it taken away.
On another (yet related) note: don’t expect any outfits from this trip. Besides our days in Cape Town I basically spent three weeks in shorts and T-shirts, with messy hair and no make-up. That felt like vacation all by itself! But all this sartorial practicality aside, my hiking boots did have coral-colored accents. You cannot expect a girly girl to totally dismiss her sensibilities, now can you? :)
After saying goodbye to the bush, we headed towards the Amphitheater area, where we spent a day hiking the Drakensberg and another visiting Lesotho, a teeny tiny country, completely enclosed by South Africa.
After that, we set off towards the coast, which we were to follow for the rest of our journey. First stop: Coffee Bay, perfect home base for a hike along the coastline to the beautiful “Hole in the wall”.
The Amfitheater Backpackers Lodge, is definitely a fun location to stay while visiting the Drakensberg area. (From basic camping to en-suite deluxe rooms, whatever floats your boat ;) ). Nice braaj area, beautiful pool and chill jaccuzzi: check! They organize guided tours to different locations, which (if our Lesotho experience was a representative sample) are definitely worth trying!
Lesotho Love. We took the Lesotho tour organized by the backpackers and were fortunate enough to find ourselves with an amazing guide (<3 Sila!), who didn’t only showed us its beautiful landscapes and rock paintings, but introduced us to some local people and told us fascinating stories about both Lesotho and South Africa. Stories are the best kind of history lessons, aren’t they? <3 Nice plus: the backpackers has a collaboration with a local school in Lesotho, which offers a little history lesson and a taste of local cuisine (and the locally brewed “Maluti” beer) for their visitors, in exchange for help buying teaching materials and food for the kids. Top!
Be Sweet! When visiting/walking by the local villages, make sure to stock up on some candy. Something to fill the cute little hands of those cute little ones that will be running up the hills to meet you (I know, SO not good for them, but those happy faces <3)
Friends Café. On our way back from a particularly exerting hike in Coffee Bay, we found safe haven, a yummy lunch and a beautiful view in this lovely place owned by a charming South African-Texan couple. Delicious fresh food, made with <3 It was so yummy we went back for dinner the same night. And we were not disappointed :)
Pajama Party. After our days in the bush, as amazing as they were, we have to admit that a night at Aberdeen House ordering in food, lounging on our luscious bed and watching Coach Carter felt like the best pajama party ever.
Back to basics. So we booked this stay in a traditional round hut through Airbnb. Sounds cool, we thought. Because no: we didn’t mind a bit basic, and yes: we definitely wanted to try a unique traditional experience. Ahum. Let’s say our interpretation of a bit basic slightly differed from what we found upon arrival. And that the sanitary traditions were a little more than we bargained for. There was a small “let’s-get-out-of-here-NOW” moment… But we put on our big girl pants and decided to tough it out. We’re badass like that. Ahum. Ok, it really wasn’t THAT bad… You get used to that “solar powered aka plastic bag” shower. Plus: there is something to be said for that wonderful view and the friendly reception <3
Doggie! When leaving for our walk from Coffee Bay to the “Hole in the wall”, this beautiful sheep dog just walked up to us and decided to tag along. She was so sweet! For some mysterious reason she felt called upon to take care of this group of stupid tourists and stayed with us the whole way. Like a real pro, she was running from the head to the tail of the group and back again, all the while fiercely protecting her newfound flock against the “Transkei Big Five” (mostly cows ;) ). We baptized her Doggie and felt like the biggest a*holes in the world when we had to leave her behind to take the bus back :’(