Tag Archives: Honeymoon

Blyde River Canyon…A Bit Belated

19 Mar

The Beautiful Blyde River Canyon

As it always does…time has slipped through my fingers once again.  Not only have I not posted anything in regards to China lately, I haven’t posted  – well…anything at all!  So, I thought I would step back in time for a moment and finish sharing the tales our adventures in Africa this past October.  It was brought to my attention that I never wrote about the Blyde River Canyon or Mozambique.  Two places that definitely deserve recognition (and high praise…Nick Cage style).

Stealing a kiss at the top of God's Window on top of the Blyde River Canyon

From Camp Jabulani (where I left off…see the following link for details:  https://ablondeinbeijing.com/2011/12/27/its-all-about-the-elephants/) we traveled to the Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa – a Relais & Chateaux property nestled in the woods of northern South Africa.  The lodge is perched 3,000-feet above sea level amidst Mpumalanga’s forests, mountains and meadows between White River and Hazyview. Owners Rupert and Barbara Jeffries have transformed the original hunting lodge they bought in 1979 to a cosy, yet stylish retreat. There are twelve quaint cottages and ours had  the added advantage of our own heated swimming pool!  It was divine!

Brett standing in God's Window at Blyde River Canyon

During our two nights stay, we took all of our meals in our room at the dining table or poolside on the patio.  It was the ultimate in privacy.  We did leave the room…twice.  Once for a couple’s massage and once for a helicopter ride through the canyon, complete with a stop at God’s Window for a champagne picnic.  Needless to say, it was a very strenuous 48 hours.

Champagne picnic at the top of God's Window

Heli Silhouette

I honestly had never heard of the Blyde River Canyon (the 3rd largest in the world – not to mention that it is a GREEN canyon) until we began our research for the trip.  I am so glad that we made the decision to venture off the beat and path to see this side of South Africa.  It was completely unexpected, and is mostly highly recommended.  I don’t think it is possible to truly capture the beauty of this magical place with unprofessional photographer hands (like ours), but I  hope that our pictures capture enough of its essence to encourage you to visit.

One of many waterfalls falling through the Blyde River Canyon

Our fantastic pool. We did have to watch out for the monkeys though! Little thieves that they are...

Thank you Cybele Forest Lodge & Spa for such a rejuvenating stay!  Just writing and remembering has relaxed me…and well, distracted me from the hazardous pollution of Beijing.  Literally.  The “pollution-o-meter” recommends staying in today.  So – Blyde Blogging it is!

The Trip of a Lifetime

14 Dec

At the Beijing Airport - Ready for Take-Off!

Our honeymoon trip to South Africa was one of the most magical experiences of my entire life.  It was 3 weeks of total bliss, and I would love to share all of the details of our adventure.  Perhaps if you have African Safari dreams of your own, then our journey and experience will help in planning your trip.  It is not an easy trip to plan, and it requires lots of outside help – but  every second spent researching or working with Intosol, our travel agency, whom we loved BTW (www.intosol.com) was well worth it.  (Please note – I truly believe that planning this trip without an agency would have been impossible!  We were very involved, but there are some things you just can’t book properly without the assistance of an expert when it comes to South Africa and Mozambique!)

Our  journey began with Emirates.  What an airline!  As first time Emirate’s passengers, we were pleasantly surprised by the free flowing Moet, the delicious Pommerol (in-flight Pommerol…are you kidding me?), the lobster, the remarkably large seats (almost like a little condo in the sky) and did I mention THE BAR?  I felt like we had stepped back in time to the days of Pan Am glamour.  Is there any better way to kick start a honeymoon than by toasting bubbly in a beautiful, fully stocked Sky Bar at 35,000 feet?

In-Flight Accommodations

The flight from Beijing to Cape Town is by no means a short one – but it certainly was a fun one thanks to my travel partner.  After nine hours in the air, we had a three hour layover in Dubai (where I learned that Wal-Mart quality L’Oreal lip-glosses are the price of Chanel and Chanel glosses are the price of…well – solid gold I guess.)  For the record, I stood in a ten minute line and then didn’t buy them.  I have my limits. I also learned that Emirate’s Airport Lounges are fantastic.  Sorry Continental – you know that I love you (and I am rather sad about the merger with United) but Emirate’s really puts your bagels and granola breakfast buffet to shame.  From Dubai we hopped back on board for another ten hours… Cape Town bound.  (FTA “for the Americans” – it is a similar travel time for you, albeit a much different route.)

Around 4PM South African time –  we were back on solid ground, rested, and ready for a night on the town.  Cape Town that is.  Upon arrival, we were graciously greeted at the airport by our driver who helped with our bags and began to share his favorite list of fun facts about the southern most and second largest city of South Africa. Population 3.5 million.  He beamed as he shared his knowledge of the Cape’s first settlers -the Dutch in 1652 – but he really lit up when we passed the recently built World Cup stadium.  Out with the old and in with the new.

After twenty plus hours of travel, my first priority was a bath.  Thanks to the wonderful concierge at the Cape Town One & Only  (http://capetown.oneandonlyresorts.com/)for the honey moon suite upgrade, on top of the upgrade from American Express Travel Services, we were greeted with the most incredible bath tub (bathroom actually – okay the entire hotel room was ridiculous) that neither Brett nor I had ever seen.  Check-in was seamless and by 5:30 we were sipping on the pre-chilled champagne welcome gift from the hotel and munching on canapés while waiting for our giant bubble bath to fill up.  Obviously there was no possible way we were hungry, as we had basically been eating since take-off, but we managed to choke down a few! I probably should have been more diligent in reminding myself that I had a wedding dress to wear in 3 days…oops!

By 8:45 we were dressed and ready.  And, thanks to the excellent team at One & Only, who had already taken care of booking a table for us a couple of weeks in advance at La Colombe, a contemporary french meets asian restaurant settled in the middle of the beautiful Constantia Uitsig winery (http://www.constantia-uitsig.com) we had the perfect dining spot awaiting us. (Please note – the restaurant is actually quite small and books early so be sure to plan ahead.)

The decor is quaint.  One very large chalkboard meun, hand written daily is personally carried by a waiter to each table during the carefully guided ordering process.  The chill in the air is relieved by the wood burning fireplace and the growl in your belly (or lack there of in our case) is satisfied by the melt-in-your-mouth tasting courses.  And obviously, the wines are quite nice.

In front of our personal chalkboard menu at La Colombe in Cape Town

More of our Cape Town time tomorrow and then on to the Safari…and then the wedding ceremony…and then the mountains..and then the beaches of Mozambique!   That’s right…the Blonde in Beijing is back.  Sorry for the lack of blogging.  Life sort of sucked the “blog” out of me for a bit – but now I am back.  Thank you so much for continuing to check-in!  Please stay tuned…


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