Last bites of the Big Apple – 17 February 2013

It was back to NYC to bring in the New Year.

We opted for a quaint boutique hotel on the Upper West Side this time round and with little regret. Slightly less crowded and showing off a different side to New York, a few days upside   completed the experience.

NYE was of course all that you don’t think it is when you plan to visit the city to bring in the new calendar… Crowds of ginormous proportion…. Times Square beyond full to witness 3 seconds of the ball dropping… but undoubtedly unforgettable!

Here’s the last of the snappy-happy moments…

Of course I couldn’t leave without a visit to the famous Dash NYC, home to the Kardashian empire… The merch was pretty ok, and I picked up a few things but settled on trincketty items over any real fashion buys.

Down the street however… was a different story. SOHO on New Years eve was buzzing beyond comprehension but I still managed to get in some sneaky buys…

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We tried Baked by Melissa’s miniature cupcakes… although gone in a bite they were ultra-delish!

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NYE was too busy to bother with pics… the post 3-second-craze bash left clean up efforts long into the day after.. and confetti floated in the air like colorful rain drops


Always one of my favorite stops in NYC – Toys R Us Times Square. Its not just the huge ferris wheel or Wonka section that gets me excited… its BARBIE land!!! Yes, I am a fan and yes, I am collecting again!

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These two discovered another NYC favorite – honey roasted nuts. They were super tasty and I left wanted a few more packets…


Every time I visit the Big Apple it leaves the longing to return before I’ve even left! Undoubtedly one of my ultimate favorite cities, and having been in summer and winter – I cannot tell which I prefer.

I shall see you soon, Lady Liberty!



Brrr… Boston

For a bit of variety we ventured away from NYC for a few days to the university town of Boston.

Boy, did Boston bring the cold! The home of Harvard University and (the brain haven) of MIT, the city was rather quiet with many students having left for the holidays.

Nevertheless, with the snow, outstanding hotel and historic tales behind the city the days spent in this tranquil town were much enjoyed.

Here’s what went down when the Variawa’s dropped into town…


Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox


They may be half a century old, but these kids are a handful!….


Delish seafood lunch at the ‘No Name’ restaurant


Boston’s equivalent to Magnolia’s in NYC – Mikes Pastry and its famous canolli’s (spelling, eek!)

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Then came the icing sugar from the sky! SNOW…. and loads of it

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Apparently this was supposed to be mama’s tango in the snow…



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Ice rinks in every US city in Winter…


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The trolley tour! Took us through the legacy of Paul Revere and the rich history of Boston

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Quincy Market! Yummy sweet and savory treats and nifty touristy buys


I had my doubts about Boston, I must admit, but on the way back to NYC I felt a little sad to be leaving. It was a lovely town, offering a different US experience.



Dec/Jan Travel Part 1

I’ve gone from one end of the world to the other in the last two months with a brief break in the middle of the globe at home in between.

I’ve realized that even if it meant sleeping on the street with a paper bag over my head – travel is something I will spend my life doing, and still never get enough.

After 6 years, my family – mum, dad and brother took to the skies on a vacation much awaited.

From March we debated on where the big year end vay-kay should be with suggestions of Turkey, London, Beirut, Brazil and more thrown back and forth on many a bbm debate.

Ultimately, we decided that with it being big birthdays for both parents around December, we should do something big… nothing gets bigger than The Big Apple.

South African as we are, cold is something quite of a novelty to us. So is snow. With schedules leaving everyone comfortable to travel over Christmas and New Year, the countdown began for the half century birthdays – family celebrations… all holding thumbs for a white christmas.

We got everything we bargained for and more. Being a bit snap-happy there are just far too many pics to share all at once.

Here is part one of the ‘The Variawa’s snow filled Christmas in New York’… (oh too cheesy!)

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What is New York without grub from the Middle East street carts… best hot dogs ever!


Zain found his hero


Trekking the streets in the cooold

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Our favorite breakfast stop… Speedy’s deli


Post Brooklyn tour defrosting in a quaint Italian deli…


The 24/7/365 Apple store on Fifth Ave… it was packed as always


Christmas tree at Rockerfeller Centre





The MnM’s store…. heaven! Zainy had a ball creating personalized MnM’s

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Layered for the day… and night

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Umm, we aren’t related


A cosy turkish spot on Bleeker Street


And just as the snow started falling, I decided to start my shopping in Soho

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Part 2, coming soon!



Qasr Al Sarab, Abu Dhabi

Dad was recently over and we did a dad-daughter trip to the beautiful desert resort, Qasr Al Sarab.

We arrived after what seemed like an endless drive, through the terracota mountainous dunes of the Liwa desert to a resort hidden away.


We kicked off our getaway with a buffet lunch at the Al Waha Restaurant followed by a small walk up to our room. Kindly upgraded by the hotel, the room boasted majestic Arabic splendor.

First order of the day was spa bookings, and I had to negotiate Dad into a hammam treatment while I enjoyed a fabulous signature massage.


Sunset over the desert dunes.


Dinner was splendid black cod with asparagus and creamed spinach.

It was a superb stay of nothing’ness – book reading long baths in a hugenormous tub and simple desert relaxation.

Overall a fantastical weekend break, just papa bear and me



Early Summer Travels June 2012 – KL, Bangkok, Singapore, Langkawi

After a slight time delay on getting bookings done for my European adventure originally planned for June, I made a change to travel to the East – a region my green mamba (SA Passport) allowed me to travel with ease… and there are very few of those.

The flight plan: Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok to Singapore to Lankgawi

As usual bags were packed a few hours before I was due to fly – grabbed a new bikini for each day of travel, beach gear and everything else I could that would make the break ultimately relaxing! I didn’t take my mobile and was happy to bid farewell to the busy bussle of Dubai for 12 days – luggage and great company in tow.

Kuala Lumpur was a good city to tick off the list – not particularly special in anyway though. We spent days shopping, walking the streets of chinatown, and took the Hop on Hop Off (do not recommend that).


Sunway Lagoon is the theme park in KL. Muggy waters, slightly below average rides and facilities and not the best selection of nibbles either – I think it’s definitely worth a skip! We spent time walking the bridge, trying our hand at archery and having a bad version of traditional fish and chips.

Oh! The Tigers were great, and so were the ‘fun fair’ type games… I did leave with a few (million) Sunway Lagoon badge pins!


I enjoyed the warm days and nights, excessive massages and spa treatments and even braved their hair salon.

Bangkok was not a first time visit for me, and one I thought I would never revisit. The few days spent in the Thai capital were relaxing and echoed the KL experience – walking the streets, bits of tourism shopping, and enjoying the sights and sounds…. oh! and the ping pong show. And um, THAT is something worth seeing but dont hold your breath… or eat before. Eek!


My favorite and first time city stop was Singapore. Its a city that works, is super clean and boasts a population who think themselves aloof of the rest of Asia.  We opted for a boutique hotel over the larger hotel groups and enjoyed the special individual service and fabulous mini doughnuts made fresh in the lobby.


Universal Studio’s was brilliant! Smaller than the parent resort I visited in LA back in 2009, but SO much fun. We enjoyed the thrill and shrill on every ride, and spent the entire day between coasters, fairytale favourite characters, the LUGE and the flora and fun of Sentosa Island.


 The Sentosa ‘beach’ was in fact an extended arm of the bay… murky water that had me in on one end…. and massive ships not too far away!

Langkawi was a piece of island heaven. Less commercial and less visited than other island in Asia, it was the perfect end to a relaxing vacation. The resort could not have been any better either – Berjaya Langkawi Resort & Spa – water chalets out on the ocean. Water skiing, tanning (more tanning) and delish langoustines put the cherry on the top.


Ear candling on the top of the mountain after a cable car trip to the top – highly recommended. There isn’t too much to do on the island so it is a must to take a stroll or short drive to the village centre.


The water chalets were beautiful – all open plan from bathroom to ocean, I spent the first evening in a bubble tub that appeared to be floating on the sea… with tiny, colorful fish between the wooden slates of the room terrace. Buggy’s collected you at your room to move you from place to place in the resort…

… and the spa (splash rock pool below) was where I spent my last night… wrapped in seaweed then massaged before the morning flight home.

Sadly, like most holidays, time flew by. The vay-kay was all that it was intended to be – simply blissful!



Home Visit March 2012

Before the rain of Tropical storm Irina messed my sunshine plans up in (usually) sunny Durban, I made a pit stop at one of my favourite craft markets – Essenwood Flea Market. I grabbed some homemade soaps and salts, and other spa-like smelly stuff AND got some beadwork from my oh-so-talented African broers



Then came Irina


But no visit is complete (even just a 5 day one) without my woolies food stock up…


and topped up my biltong supply, woolies bed sets AND Mr P pillows. I LOVE the Mr Price Home store stock…. soooo ZAR ‘lovin!

More travel on the cards soon, Inshallah!



Back on London Town: Feb 2012

London Town was a busy 5 days, with work and meetings BUT I always find time to do some of my fave london things. Like the theatre – Wicked it surely was!

I was certainly not about to leave without adding another red sole to my collection:)

and enjoyed the winter dressing in the wardrobe I had bought for my 5 day trip. From Oxford street to partying it up at Cirque Du Soir (just 2 nights after Will.I.Am Dj’d in the venue)… it was 5 days of little sleep, lots of action, and some constructive work done too.


And the fashion week fun was all a buzz around the city




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