Man oh man. Berlin. It has my heart. I took my Berlin City Notebook and UniPine Fine Line (0.05) with, and spent coffee shop time doodling and journaling away. At night I’d add ephemera found from the day. I traveled there with Fe, a fellow documenter, who totally understood and wrote in her Project Life cards as I made marks in my journal. Not that T doesn’t understand. He’s actually pretty brilliant and doesn’t mind as long as I keep occassional conversation (which I totally can, yay me).
This was a life view changing trip for me, and this tiny little notebook is really special. You can see bits of the Gossamer Blue March kit in it too.
I am the worst sketcher, but I still like my eggs benedict image.
Berlin and it’s street art. Even it’s advertising spam is gorgeous to me. I took that Ram Tam Tam right off the street pole.
I mean. That paper. All found pieces.
And all of this paper found in one shop.
The back of the Moleskine City Notebooks are loads of fun. They are a DIY travel guide and I love filling those out as we go.
So that’s what it looks like before touching it at home. I always have grand plans of completing it when I have all my supplies and my studio, but I quite like it as is. All of this was done while in Berlin itself. It’s nothing crazy, there are no watercolour cityscapes, but it’s mine. And it feels exactly like how I felt when I was there. Now that’s a little bit of magic.
Today I leave for Paris. It is my first time. My best friend is living there for a bit so I really could not not go. I’m crashing on her couch for ten days, and while she goes to work, I’ll be exploring the cobblestone streets. This is my first time semi-solo travelling, and I’m simultaneously excited and petrified (mainly that I miss my train!). This is going to be a seriously different kind of experience. Here’s what I’m packing.
In My Bag
- Moleskine Messenger Bag, lovingly well worn
- tickets for the main bus travel
- purse with cash monies, as well as random South African cash monies that need to be converted, in addition a driving licence, and South African debit card because my German one hasn’t arrived in the mail yet (yep, that’s right, the mail)
- gold pencil bag (to keep pens, and little things)
- passport and Moleskine City Notebook
- new gold iPhone with German number and the ability to finally have LTE and Google Maps while travelling
- special sunglasses
- tissues, 8 Hour Cream of Dream Creations, eye drops, luggage lock (pff, Europe)
- leopard print scarf for warmth and secondary use as a pillow
- beanie from a gardening shop
- GoPro on a stick
Memory Keeping Kit
- Kikki K box to keep everything in
- Plans and Projects Moleskine with Paris planning
- Lusidori with Moleskine Chapters Notebook that I’ve been using to journal
- Spotted by Locals (best travel guides)
- plastic envelope for ephemera
- Moleskine City Notebook
- alphabet stickers, washi tape, pens, scissors, glue tape for embellishing Moleskine City Notebook
- laptop (eugh), big camera (thanks to the Instagram discussion), iPhone camera, GoPro on stick, GoPro app
- earphones for audio books
- awful purple toiletry bag that is perfectly sized that was given as the most repetitive gift
- GHD, brush, shampoo, conditioner
- Paris scent – Issy Miyake Florale
- toothpaste and brush
- cleanser (Cerave), moisturiser (Cerave), exfoliator (Paula’s Choice)
- vitamins in an old lady pill box, pills
- my Essie colour for Paris
- deo, tissues, hair elastics, leopard print case with cotton rounds and earbuds
- leopard print makeup bag for Mac liquid liner, kohl eyeliner, Clarins blush, Dior concealer, new, straight from heaven Chanel foundation, tweezers, blush brush
I am asked about what I use all. the. time. So here’s the list. Let me know if there’s something I forgot. Right now, I’m just sending the list out into the world. While I’m emigrating, I’ll build on this, add posts and links, and turn this into a bit of a sticky post.
Analog Tools + Tech
- pens: UniPin FineLine, Bic Black, Copic markers
- notebooks: Moleskine
- printer: HP Envy 110
- paper: HP Brochure & Flyer Paper (matte), HP Every Day Photo Paper (glossy), Moleskine printer paper
- HP Pavillion g7 laptop, desktop computer, Windows 8
- Nikon D5000, kit lens
- iPhone 5, selfie stick
- GoPro 4 Hero Black
- Photoshop actions, Bridge for organising
- VSCO Cam, PicTapGo, SKRWT
Goals + Productivity
So with Christmas markets, every single one is magical. No matter how bad you might think they are, they still have a crazy amount of Christmas sparkle floating around. That is why I do not call any of these “the worst”. Rather, they are the “least best”. This is my personal list:
12. Luzerner Christkindlimarkt, Switzerland
Best for: disappointment
Imagine the scene: You just paid 500 ZAR for a plain cheese and bread fondue for one, with an additional R100 because you shared it. I can’t translate how much that is because $50 just doesn’t quite tell you how expensive it was for three South Africans to eat melted cheese and bread. You hear about the town’s Christmas market and you’re excited for some cheap foodstuffs (you’re obviously still hungry because sharing a bunch of melted cheese for one person just didn’t quite fill you). You’re excited for Swiss Gluhwein, and probably the buzz that will help you forget how much money you’ve been spending in Switzerland. You also hear that the market is inside. As someone who has barely ever owned a winter coat, you’re pretty excited not to be freezing the entire evening. Also, this particular inside is a train station. This is awesome because you love German trains, and you love that it’s being all unique.
You drive there. You even find a parking that’s not in another country. And then you walk into Lucerne’s Christmas market. The least best market of all twelve is Lucerne’s.
It’s just rubbish.
Somehow they manage to get their inside even colder than outside. Somehow they manage to match the fondue pricing for plain sausages. Somehow they manage to make the Christmas market mugs so expensive that you’d rather not add to your collection, and drink out of cardboard instead.
11. Les Marchés de Noël, Strasbourg, France
Best for: feeling fancy and feeling pushed on every end
For a place that calls itself Capitale de Noel, it’s really, just, not. There were too many people. Not even the waiters would speak English or German to us (HELLO, it’s right on the German border, don’t pretend you don’t know this language). Also, what’s up with having five different sections and pretending that they’re each their own market?
After hating the town on my way to the Côte d’Azur, then kind of loving it on my way to Rome, the third time proved to settle me into my dislike.
We did manage to spot a few South Africans, and it was really fun calling Gluhwein “Vin Chaud” and making it fancy. So that helps it rank higher than Lucerne’s.
10. Altdeutscher Weihnachtsmarkt, Bad Wimpfen, Germany
Best for: most potential in a Christmas market
We got here on a day that the market wasn’t happening. It was still better than Lucerne’s or Strasbourg’s. It’s also the only market that was recommended to us by Germans.
9. Heilbronn / Karlsruhe Christmas Markets, Germany (tie)
Best for: most average Christmas markets
We stopped in Heilbronn spontaneously after Bad Wimpfen proved a disappointment (but still delightful). Heilbronn seemed to be an average Christmas market. Absolutely magical, but nothing supernaturally magical. It was the same for Karlsruhe (so average that I didn’t take any photos). What set Heilbronn aside was their wooden lodges, and what set Karlsruhe aside was their huge Glühwein Pyramide.
These are both two of the bigger German towns that I visited, and drinking Gluhwein next to clothing shops was kind of weird.
8. Berne Weihnachtsmarkt, Switzerland
Best for: a well-designed Christmas market
The fact that Berne is like a Disney storybook town helped their case a lot. So did the blue colour scheme and the snow. Most of the cottages sold handbags, or little ornaments, or big pieces of food. Nothing to nibble on. Boo.
7. Weihnachten Speyer, Germany
Best for: greatest selection of Wurst.
There is something to be said for a giant Christmas tree in front of a super old church. I like Speyer in the daytime, so it’s obvious that I’d like it at night with Christmassy things. There was also a Santa-phone, and Santa totally secretly gave me a toy (and not T and my friend with me).
6. Baden-Baden Christkindelsmarkt, Germany
Best for: surprising you with how great it is.
This was our last Christmas market, so we weren’t expecting much. We were gloriously surprised. There was such a wide selection of booths, even more options for Glühwein .
5. Schlossweihnacht Bruchsal, Germany
Best for: authentic small town Christmas market
I’m totally biased here because this is the market of the town we lived in, but it really put on a show for us. There was an incredibly average, small market, in the town centre, but the castle market happened over a weekend. They lit up the castle, they brought out the Glühwein, and they invited Father Christmas. Everyone was the friendliest we had ever seen them, and interested in our accents. We hung out with Father Christmas for most of the evening. It felt like we were all family.
4. Tripsdrill Erlebnispark, Germany
Best for: drinking Glühwein with deer
While not a Christmas market in the most traditional sense, Tripsdrill had mugs so I’m counting it. Tripsdrill is an amusement park that has an animal park. This animal park is awesome. As a South African who only ever gets to see boring animals like lions, leopards, and elephants (snore), I was thrilled to be able to walk among deer. The whole place is in a beautiful forest, and the huts are wooden. Not even the children running amok could damage my mood (although German children running amok is not quite like other children running amok). Just make sure that you don’t encourage the goats because they will jump on you with excitement (or hatred, still not sure).
3. Heidelberg Christmas Market, Germany
Best for: continously being surprised at the incredible impending castle
It’s kind of difficult to beat a Christmas market when the first snowfall falls on the day you visit. You could tell who was a foreigner (the person running outside with her tongue out) and who was German (the guy muttering about how inconvenient it is). This market is held in the old town, with views of the old castle, cobbled streets, and narrow alleyways. This is exactly what you imagine when you think of a German Christmas market.
2. Rothenberg Reiterlesmarkt , Germany
Best for: being the Christmas town
It’s commercial and busy, but it’s called the Christmas town for a reason.
1. Innsbruck Christkindlmarkt, Austria
Best for: festivities
It hurts my insidesthat the best Christmas market goes to a non-German, but at least then you know I’m telling the truth. So the Alpine regions of Germany and Switzerland and Austria have this thing called Krampus. Young guys ran around dressed as Krampus, there were Krampus chocolates… I mean, German traditions and “fairy tales” are weird, but Krampus takes the cake. Innsbruck had Krampus, which really helps their rating.
So I’m uploading my 2013 photobook for printing, and I’ve included all the places that we went that year. It came up to 54. 54 individual little towns that we visited for longer than a few hours. Countless more that we popped in to see.
This got me thinking about all the places I have been in my life. I wanted to make a list before I forgot (I already am forgetting!).
In 2013 I was in 13 different countries. In 2014 I added another two countries to that list. My total is now sitting at 17. In 2015 I want to add 15 more countries. We’ll see.
I have lived in 14 different places. Two countries. Seven cities. I have had 13 different homes since 2008 when I met my husband, including the six stints of about a month each at family while we were homeless waiting to move to a new country (that was shit). I am okay with moving precisely three more times in my life. We’ll see.
Places I have lived:
- 17 years: Port Elizabeth – Pari Park (I grew up here)
- 3 months: Port Elizabeth – Charlo (I broke up with my first serious boyfriend here while we waited for our house to be built)
- 2 years: Port Elizabeth – Walmer Heights (I finished high school here)
- 2 years: Stellenbosch (I went to university here)
- 1 year: Port Elizabeth – Summerstrand (I lived with my first boy here)
- 1 month: Somerset West (I lived with my mother-in-law and my boyfriend here while we waited for our Cape Town apartment)
- 1 year: Cape Town – Gardens (I had my first catpets here)
- 1 year: Cape Town – Century City (I was proposed to here)
- 1 weekend: Stanford (I was married here; we moved out of our apartment completely, and went to Stanford, homeless, for the weekend to get married)
- bits: Johannesburg – Sandton, Cape Town – Vredehoek, Cape Town – Gardens
- 2 months: Van der Bijl Park (I lost my soul here as we waited for Germany)
- 3 months: Port Elizabeth – Walmer Heights (I regained my soul here as I waited for my visa at my parents’ house)
- 8 months: Germany – Bruchsal (I went on adventures here)
- 1 month: Johannesburg – Randburg (I waited here – our apartment that we had booked from Germany had lied to us about when it was available)
- currently 8 months: Johannesburg – Paulshof (I settled down here, I started a small business here, I made our married a family with a fur baby here)
Countries I have visited:
- South Africa (obvs)
- United Arab Emirates and Qatar
- The Vatican
- The Netherlands
And a whole stack of photos of the 54 places I saw last year… in chronological order.
Spending a year traveling Europe and learning German made me want two things: 1. to travel my own beautiful country, and 2. to learn another South African language. When Mary sent her new prompt for the month, I dreamed of sharing photos of Berlin. But, as I was writing out a travel plan for German friends visiting in December, I realised that I couldn’t not share my favourite parts of SA. See it more as a brainstorm of ideas than a concise travel guide – feel free to research your own ideas.
The ten most beautiful parts of South Africa
(in no particular order)
A great set of photos here. This city has the best food, culture, social, and vibe. I lived here after getting my degree. It is a very relaxed town, and salaries are low because it’s so beautiful. Cape Town has street art,
This is where I fell in love with my husband. A student town with beautiful old buildings, covered in trees, and not far from wine farms. It’s always spring time in Stellenbosch.
Cape Wine Farms
Some of my favourite wine farms include Groot Constantia, De Grendel, Constantia Uitsig, Tokara (fancy!), Asara, Clouds, Fairview (for cheese and goats), Hillcrest Estate (for berries), Holden Manz (our almost wedding venue), Jordan Winery (incredible muscat), Rust en Vrede, Spier (for the Moyo African restaurant, or a picnic), Van Ryn’s (brandy). But I recommend pretty much every wine farm in the Cape.
This is where we were married and completely has my heart. It’s a tiny town, with nothing going on, and transports you 50 years back in time – perfect for a complete escape. The best part of it is just outside in the forest we were married in – Beloftebos – forest of promises.
It wouldn’t be a list of South African travel places without including our furry natives. We have a LOT of game farms, and I know a few people who own small ones. The main game farms here are Kruger National Game Park, and Shamwari. More niche ones include Addo Elephant Park, Knysna Elephant Park, and the Wolf Sanctuary.
Our weather is fantastic pretty much all year round, and it makes for perfect conditions for camping, glamping, and getting up close with animals and nature.
Soft sand (unlike Europe), warm water, and prettiness. We also have Boulder Beach, which has a parcel of penguins walking around there (the actual collective noun!).
The Garden Route
My family goes here on holiday every single year. It really is the best part of our country. Wilderness, Knysna, the Knysna Heads, Thesen Island, Sedgefield, Mosselbay, Plettenburg Bay, and all of those places are just gorgeous.
A visit into the townships with a tour is a must. It shows the heart of our country.
This city, my new home, is growing on me a lot.
This is my country, and I’m learning more about it and the more I learn the more I love. It’s a country of contrasts – the high rise buildings, and the township tin shacks, eleven official languages, crazy gorgeous nature and beautiful buildings. We have the friendliest people I’ve ever met – yeah, the Greek are close competitors, but it’s South Africa’s raw honest friendliness that wins.
All photos are linked to their original sources