A Tranquil escape in Hout Bay

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Tinstwalo Antlantic, the boutique lodge in Hout Bay, which was destroyed by a devastating Cape fire in 2015, has been restored to its former glory. I was invited to enjoy their Winter Warmer package. The package includes an overnight stay and gourmet cuisine, for two people sharing – this is worth it for a five-star lodge.

CT TOTT Tintswalo Atlantic interrior

Resting on a pebbled beach at the foot of the Table Mountain National Park, directly overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the view from the wooden decked terrace is breathtaking. This is where we had a refreshing spritzer on arrival while listening to the sounds of ocean waves lapping gently against the shore.

Here, seated on cushioned chairs, you will have a front row seat to the sunset or you can watch the sun go down from your room terrace, we opted for the latter.

The property boasts panoramic views of the picturesque Hout Bay Harbour, dramatic Sentinel mountain’s peak, and the ocean.

We spent the night in the elegant Sicily Island room, each suite is named after an island.

The luxurious, fully-catered villa, decorated in off white and nautical shades of dusty blues has a wooden ceiling and parquet flooring, comfortable seating area, fireplace to keep you warm during the winter nights and its own private balcony with views of the bay.

The bathroom is my favourite room. The stand-alone bathtub faces a large window with incredible views of the sea and mountain a majestic sight.

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Tintswalo Atlantic serves breakfast daily in the dining room or deck and the fine dining restaurant offers a variety of tastes and cuisines. Lunch and dinner are available upon request. I enjoyed hake and a salad for lunch on the deck.

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Taking a walk around the establishment, we visited theterrace which has two heated outdoor swimming pools. Although they are heated it was too cold for a swim.

There is also a spa on the premises and a 24-hour front desk which is on hand to assist in arranging activities such as horse riding and fishing, as well as an airport shuttle upon request.

Dinner consisted of five-courses with a bottle of house wine. It was prepared by the recently appointed head chef Guy Clark, who has made a name for himself in the foodies circles of Cape Town.

Tintswalo Atlantic Black salt cream. Japanese chilli cured salmon. fresh fig. gooseberries. 1MB.jpg

 

 

Dinner consisted of five-courses with a bottle of house wine. It was prepared by the recently appointed head chef Guy Clark, who has made a name for himself in the foodies circles of Cape Town.

Clark recently returned to his home town, the Mother City, having honed his skills in India and Florida (US) for the past four years.

He takes a simplified approach to cooking, focusing on flavour.

“I believe in celebrating ingredients in their purest form, using methods and techniques that enhance flavour, presentation and texture.

“Sourcing and utilising local, sustainable and organic is key to delivering an ethical and superior menu” he says.

His new eight-course Ocean & Ash tasting menu for Tintswalo Atlantic is based on different themes, whereby he cites local ingredients and foraging as important components of the process.

Unusual plating and presentation styles also play an important part in the dining experience.

The first course includes three variations of one of his new favourites, seaweed – which, he says, makes perfect sense, seeing that it is available in abundance right on the restaurant doorstep.

Our five-course meal included a berry sorbet palate cleanser, a crispy pork belly and Japanese chilli cured salmon, a delicious lentil warm salad and fresh fig and gooseberries sprinkled with black salt cream.

We had our mains and desserts in our room.

I liked that we had this option, as we had a long day and the villa offered enough comfort for you to dine in private.

Sleeping right next to the sea means listening to the rhythmic and calming sound of the waves crashing on the shore.

It does get chilly during the night so keep the fire going.

Tintswalo Atlantic Panoramic Ocean Views 2

Breakfast time is flexible, this means you can sleep in and watch the sun rise from your comfortable bed – that’s what the floor to ceiling windows are there for.

Also, enjoy the fresh sea air, it will make you feel like you are on a real island and it will make you forget that you are not far from the city.

When we eventually managed to peel ourselves from the bed we headed to the dining area for breakfast.

Now, usually in the mornings a breakfast smoothie is all I can stomach.

Therefore, breakfast was potentially overwhelming for a light eater like me.

Breakfast starts with a delicious creamy yoghurt, fruits and muesli, followed by pastries, a cheese platter and eggs of your choice.

The breakfast is a foodie heaven and satisfies Instagram goals – after all they offer free and fast wi-fi.

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Tintswalo Atlantic is the ideal destination for a romantic weekend getaway, to celebrate a special occasion or to pop in for lunch and sundowners on the terrace.

* The Winter Warmer Package at Tintswalo Atlantic will be on until August 31, an overnight offer includes luxury accommodation, as well as breakfast and a five-course dinner with a bottle of house wine, at R7000 for two people sharing.

During weekends, a minimum two-night stay applies.

Connect with Tintswalo Atlantic on Instagram and Twitter @Tintswalolodges https://twitter.com/Tintswalolodges

This feature was first published in the Cape Times’ Top of The Times on June 15 2017.

Connect with me on Instagram @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en  Find more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style 

Wide-eyed in New York City, the city that never sleeps

The view of the city from the Brooklyn Bridge

The view of the city from the Brooklyn Bridge

Hunger pangs at 3am in New York City? No problem

IT’S 3AM in New York City and we are on a mission to find a halaal food truck. For some reason, as it is not a dietary requirement, my brother-inlaw is insisting on halaal food. Leaving Webster Hall, one of the city’s biggest nightclubs, in a taxi, we stop at the first food cart we come across on 11th Street. It happens to be halaal. The food truck has a variety of food on offer, from chicken and basmati rice to hot dogs. We settle on lamb biryani and lamb pita. As we make our way to Brooklyn, our home for the duration of our vacation in New York City, our driver, a Jamaican, tells us halaal food trucks that sell cheap and authentic food are a city staple.

During the 15-minute drive, he explains how he and his younger brother came to the Big Apple with dreams of making it big in the city. His job is not the best but it pays the bills and has supported his family back home over the years, he says. During our stay we meet more people like him, who left their home countries in pursuit of the American Dream. Some arrived with just a few dollars in their pockets, others are working more than one job to survive.

View from the Brooklyn Bridge

View from the Brooklyn Bridge

NYC’s diversity is impressive; it’s a melting pot of nationalities from all corners of the globe. During a short subway ride you could hear myriad different languages spoken.

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Everyone walks with a purpose and you can feel the super-charged energy in the air. They walk faster, dashing from one subway to the next. The streets are busy and the subway is packed, day and night. This is why NYC is referred to as “the city that never sleeps”.

$1 pizza at Times Square

$1 pizza at Times Square

When the sun dips low in the sky, the streets get busier. Grocery stores that are open for business 24 hours a day are on every corner and most of the nightclubs are open until sunrise every day of the week. From Harlem to Manhattan, there is always something to do.

We spent three days exploring this beautiful city, navigating our way using
the subway and on foot. Most New Yorkers don’t drive as traffic and parking are a nightmare. The subway is affordable, reliable and runs 24 hours a day.
Our subway rides were made more pleasant by impromptu “subway acrobats” – breakdancers and beatboxers performing daring dance moves by spinning, flipping and pole-dancing among us passengers for a quick buck. Although the police are clamping down on subway acrobats, the culture is still very much alive.

Subway dancer

What to do
1. Sample as much of the street food as you can: the food trucks and carts are dotted all over the pavements. They offer anything from Mexican falafels, pretzel dogs to duck shwarmas and pizza. The portions are big and tasty at a cost of around $5 (R60) per meal, including a soda (cooldrink).

$1 pizza Times Square

2. Visit the breathtaking Brooklyn Bridge: connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the 486.3m-long bridge over the East River is an impressive sight. The views of the city from the bridge are amazing too, and the Statue of Liberty can be seen in the distance. It’s also a hot spot for pedestrians and cyclists.1

3. Visit Times Square: this is the busiest square in NYC, known for its flashing electronic billboards, Broadway theatres and cinemas. The square is a one-stop hub for shopping, dining and entertainment, and you will be able to grab a bite to eat at the $1 pizza slice place or at one of the world’s biggest McDonald’s, three-storeys high.

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square

4. Escape the city noise by visiting Central Park in the middle of Manhattan. Spend a peaceful day roaming the Towers. Spend time in Manhattan; there are impressive skyscrapers and architecture to admire in the area.

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6. Head to Chinatown, Manhattan, for some bargain shopping and good eateries. Located next to Little Italy, here you will find restaurants representing the provinces of mainland Hong Kong and China. Be prepared to bargain for everything, from designer bags to watches – which can be knock-offs.

Little Italy

Little Italy

*Visit Central park and spend the day grounds, gazing at the fountains and
admiring the flowers.

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5. Visit the 9/11 memorial and museum located at the site of the former Twin Towers.

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This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on May 26 2015

About the Jameson Victoria Falls Carnival 2014 #JVFC2014

picture by Cindy Waxa

picture by Cindy Waxa

IT IS the last morning of 2014 and we are standing in front of the largest curtain of water in the\ world, the spectacular Victoria Falls. The 1 708m-wide sheet of falling water is an awe-inspiring sight and is deserving of its place as one of the year’s New7Wonders of Nature.

The “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (Smoke that Thunders), as the local call it, hisses and rumbles as it drops into the Zambezi Gorge. We are viewing the mighty falls from the Zimbabwean side. Just across, on the Zambian side, is Devil’s Pool – possibly the most dangerous naturallyformed pool in the world. The rock pool on Livingstone Island is on the edge of
the falls and we watch as a small group of people, led by a guide, join hands and one by one drop into the pool. From our vantage point it looks like they’re flirting with death, as only a rock barrier separates the swimmers and the cascading water.

picture by Cindy Waxa

picture by Cindy Waxa

“It’s the most exhilarating thing I have ever done in my life,” says Heinrich Husselmann, 33, of Parklands, of the experience. He had to swim across the Zambezi to get to the pool. “Once you get into the water, there is no turning back. We spent about five minutes in the pool, just enough to take pictures… it was definitely worth it.”

Cape Argus photographer Cindy Waxa and I are in Victoria Falls for the annual Jameson Victoria Falls Carnival, a trip sponsored by Seed Experiences.
We drove 2 920km over three nights to get there. Our adventure started at Ashanti Backpackers in Gardens on a gloomy Boxing Day morning. Our group of six included ourselves, the Africa Travel Co crew, our driver Emias Dendere, tour guide Onery Chimunda and Husselmann.

We loaded our bags into a Overland Truck, a road beast, just before 7am. The truck already contained a tent – our accommodation as we travelled – and other necessities. The long drive was broken into three overnight stays. We spent our first night at Bloemfontein’s Reyneke Park. This is where we had our first lesson in putting up a two-man tent.We were to become professional campers over the next 10 days. Our tour guide, Chimunda, a colourful personality, immediately took us under his wing. A former chef, his cooking skills became a trip highlight. He whipped up restaurant-worthy food, including breakfasts of flapjacks and French toast and dinners of pasta chicken with delicious creamy white sauce. His braaing skills were also impressive and he soon had a few pap
(maize meal) virgins sold on the thick porridge.

picture by Cindy Waxa

picture by Cindy Waxa

Next was a very welcomed overnight stop at the Mufasa Backpackers in Joburg, where we ditched our tents for a comfy bed. In the morning we were joined by the rest of the overlanding party, from the city and beyond. We left in a convoy of about six trucks for Camp Itumela in Palapye, Botswana, between Francistown and Gaborone.

Located near the Morupule Colliery coal mine which supplies Morupule Power Station, Botswana’s principal domestic source of electricity, the campsite is as rough as they get. The water ran out on both occasions that we were there, an unpleasant experience when there are so many people around.

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The 850km trek to Victoria Falls the next day was an epic journey, filled with breathtaking sights. We took selfies with elephants in the Pandamatenga Game Reserve and Chimunda was on hand to give us history lessons on Botswana and its wildlife.

We arrived at Victoria Falls on December 29, minutes before departing on a steam train to the secret Steam Train Party in the bush. This is where the carnival officially commenced.

picture by Cindy Waxa

picture by Cindy Waxa

Tickets to the train party sold out fast, so if you are planning to attend, make sure you buy your ticket early. The vintage steam train with its turquoise and camel-colonial decor is rusty, but there was something about jamming to hot tunes on a moving train as we rushed through the Victoria Falls National Park to a location deep in the bush. On disembarking, we jumped straight on to the dance floor, where we stayed for the next five hours, dancing to the musical arrangements of talented mixers from Zimbabwe and South Africa. Local acts included DJ Acedabass and one of the carnival founders, DJ Francis.

Francis explained that the carnival started slowly as a Forest Fest in 2009. It then officially turned into a three-day carnival in 2012. “I love that there is a fusion of local and South African artists. It brings people from around the world together. People get to experience my country by blending in with the locals – who we are and how we live – as well as to enjoy the beautiful sights we have to offer,” he says.

Cape Town-based DJ Toby 2 Shoes was my favourite of the night, unleashing a mixture of “home-grown” sounds and electro beats. The Vic Falls Rest Camp, a mixture of campsites and chalets, was our home for the next four nights. Days here were filled with lounging by the pool sipping Zimbabwe’s own lager, “Zambezi” beer. At (US) $1.50 (R16.50), it was the cheapest in town since the use of the Zimbabwean dollar as an official currency was abandoned in 2009 due to skyrocketing inflation. Instead, the country uses the South African rand, the Botswana pula and the American dollar as its official currencies.

The campsite is situated along the small town’s main road that is lined with fast food outlets and tourist offices offering adventure activities.

picture by Cindy Waxa

picture by Cindy Waxa

The Victoria Falls are about 5km from the town centre. The next three days included the carnival’s Colour Party at the Vic Falls Farm Schools and – unlike most music festivals where there is a constant lineup of music throughout the day – we were left to our own devices to take part in the many activities Vic Falls has to offer. Husselmann describes the experience as a holiday that ended up being an adventure. Besides a dip in the Devil’s Pool, he also canoed on the Zambezi and went on a sunset cruise, which turned into a booze cruise as there was no sunset in sight. Throughout our stay the weather was humid with intermittent rain.

“I am definitely blown away by Vic Falls,” says Husselman. “The people are welcoming and friendly, I definitely want to see more of Zimbabwe such as Harare and Bulawayo. Since the Vic Falls town is a tourist destination, it is a bit expensive, but if you do what the
locals do, it’s doable.” We spent our days doing just that. We shopped at the Elephant Walk shopping village, where you can get anything from beadwork to wooden ornaments, but be prepared to do some serious negotiating. Our nights were spent at a popular local hang-out called Club Imvuvu.

picture by Cindy Waxa

picture by Cindy Waxa

We met locals who asked us about living in “violent” South Africa. “We hear people kill each other for nothing there,” one man said. We danced to local music and ate pap and warthog (wild pig) meat into the wee hours of the morning. We counted down to the new year listening to the soothing sounds of Zimbabwe’s Oliver “Tuku” Mtukuzi and Cape Town group Beatenberg. The rain that pelted us did not dampen our spirits. As the clock struck midnight, we screamed our lungs out to South Africa’s favourite electronic
dance act, Goldfish.

picture by Cindy Waxa

picture by Cindy Waxa

” We met locals who asked us about living in ‘violent’ SA. ‘We hear people kill each other for nothing there,’ one man said”

We were exhausted when we started the journey back home on January 2. After days of being on the road and living out of a small suitcase, I missed my comfortable bed and a proper hot shower. But I will definitely do it again, as the awesome people I met made the trip memorable. Charlotte Kanter, marketing manager for Seed Experiences, says about 5 000 festivalgoers attended the 2014 carnival.

“We were so happy with the global audience that descended on Vic Falls, and we hope it keeps on growing year on year. #JVFC2015 planning starts now,” says Kanter.

Photographer Cindy says… IF I WERE asked which country I would like to travel to in Africa, Zimbabwe would not have been my first choice. But when I heard about the road trip to Victoria Falls, I was keen to go as I had never slept in a tent or at a
backpackers. Driving to Zimbabwe was tiring at times but I enjoyed the scenery. I saw places that I would not have seen if I had been in a plane, and by the time we set up camp at Vic Falls I had already made a few friends. I expected empty shelves with no food, and unhappy people, but instead I was greeted by friendly, warm-hearted people who are just
trying to live a better life despite the difficulties.

 “Warm-hearted people are just trying to live a better life despite the difficulties”

Most people spoke isiNdebele, which is similar to IsiZulu, and it made me feel right at home. The music they played was mostly South African and the food, pap and meat, was familiar too. I also learnt some Zimbabwean dance and a little Shona. This trip was an eye opener to me, and as the locals would say, “Ndinorumbidza Zimbabweans” (I respect Zimbabwe).

picture by Cindy Waxa

picture by Cindy Waxa

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on January 22 2015