Big sister


As you know, Husband and I just spent a week skiing in San Martin de los Andes in Argentina, which was a great ‘break’ in our trip. People-watching on the slopes is almost as fun as from a sidewalk cafe and I really had a few giggle while I made my way along the snow …

– No matter how much effort you put into choosing a ski outfit, it is really hard to look slim and/or glam in padded ski pants and/or goggles and/or a beanie that covers your ears as well as head … not to mention the ski-boot walk.

– You might think you look ‘experto’ (as they say here) and be confidently ‘carving’ but then, out of the blue and just to bring you right back down to the chilly earth (literally), you fall – and I have yet to see a graceful ski fall – and generally slide down the slope losing skis and/or poles and/or items of clothing, but definitely sense of humour, along the way.

– Ski freeze is a very real medical phenomenon that occurs when your legs and coordination stop working as you realise you are in way over your head on a treacherous red or black slope and there is no way down but to ski down … thank goodness for snow plough.

– Large groups of people dressed in matching ski outfits are not conducive to seamless skiing as one of them will always be falling of the ski lifts or lying across your path, invariably annoying everyone but carrying on completely obivious to the chaos they leave in their wake.

– People hate queues be it for ski passes or lifts and there will always be those that push in and/or shove from behind and/or jostle for position.

– Kids have no fear and while I am shaking in my boots on a steep downhill they come screaming past in packs, jumping and shouting for joy … other than the common lone one at the back with tears running down his cheeks, screaming for mommy. This makes me think – when do we gain a sense of fear? Is it when it suddenly looks a lot further to the ground than when you’re 3 foot?

– Teenagers travel in packs, enough said.

– At the end of each day, after hours of skiing and feeling cold we all love the feeling of taking of those darn boots and savouring a warm hot chocolate. Aaahhh!

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So Koeksisters is back! Well I’m not sure if I will juggle two blogs very well but will try my best (Travelling Roystons is up and running while Husband and I travel the world).

What is it about a gorgeous, deluxe hotel? I can spend hours surfing the net ogling over OTT hotel rooms and intimidating lobbies, over cutting edge design and dream restaurants, over perfect locations and xtreme attention to detail with no immediate intention of ever staying at the lustworthy hotel in question. During the last 2 months in South America, Husband and I have stayed in our fair share of dubious places and a couple of days ago Hotel Garden sent me over the edge … I don’t expect a lot but we have managed to stay at some lovely budget places, e.g. Hostel Macondo in Cuenca, Ecuador, and Hostel Akari II in Cusco, Peru – places that are clean and comfortable, friendly and warm. Beds you look forward to climbing into at the the end of a long day. Hotel Garden was not – it was dirty and worn, tired and unappealing and brought to my mind imagined hourly rates. That’s when we realised we had strayed from our Flashpacker roots – hotels do matter to us and do affect our experiences. Who were we trying to kid? So our approach has changed, we are back on track and our level of discernment will not flag in the face of a budget, after all this is OUR dream trip so we should have sweet dreams (even if they’re not in the Gansevoort just yet).

P.S. Glad to report that we are now snugly tucked in at La Escondida, a charming B&B in Mendoza, Argentina!

I have just spent 4 days in Cape Town and have thought a lot of all the fun times we had together over the years in Cape Town and Stellenbsoch. I was lucky enough to be invited to join Parents and Gran on this mini-break as a substitute for Grandpa, who decided not to come on this trip, which suited me well in the end! Husband is at home as he is still working out his notice period while I am already a lady of much leisure. It has been a long time since I holidayed without Husband and this has definitely made me feel like more of Parents’ Child while away than my current adult self.

We have had such a lovely time – walks along the Sea Point promenade, meals at lovely restaurants, reading and relaxing, cocktails. The weather has been typical of Cape Town – two beatiful days followed by two rainy cold days. I was quite relieved when the bitter-cold hit as I packed according to the weather forecast (a risky approach when going to Cape Town) and was running out of warm weather clothes.

We have been having our main meal at lunch around town and eating a light dinner in the hotel at night. (Our rooms are really great – very spacious and, being on the 4th floor, a stunning view of the sea, as well as with kitchens cleverly hidden behind shutter-doors.) As you know I cannot resist a geat plate of food and we have had some superb meals during our holiday. On the day we arrived, we had lunch at one of our favourites, Manna Epicure, on Kloof Street. You two would have loved the cupcakes they had there – little cupcakes with shaved white chocolate arranged as a rose on top instead of icing. The next day Mom, Gran and I (three generations!) drove through to Kalk Bay for lunch at another perennial favourite and Cape institution, Olympia Cafe . Isn’t it funny how such a seemingly rundown and somewhat grimy place can be so popular and have such divine food. I’m not sure if either of you have seen the new, separate bakery they have opened where you can buy their delicous breads and pastries. Before lunch we looked in some of the antique/junk stores – they are packed with so many things it is quite overwhelming – and after lunch we took a stroll through the harbour. Yesterday we tried a new restaurant, Showroom, which I have read about in a few magazines lately. I do love chefs – better than other ‘known’ people like actors any day – and Bruce Robertson is a perfect example of why! The restaurant is adjacent to the Investement Cars dealership so you can drool over hot cars and your food and the chef all at the same time! We had delicious meals, all presented so beautifully. You both wold have loved the dessert – Snakes and Ladders – a selections of lots of littles tastes of a few desserts from Turkish Delight to Basil Mousse. If one can get over the oh-so-superior attitude dripping off the staff, it’s a great place for a unique and intersting but very tasty meal. (The Ghost chairs are stunning too.) Today we took in the stunning views as we drove from Bantry Bay through Camps Bay, past Twevle Apostles to Hout Bay and through to Constantia where we ended up in the Constantia Winelands at one on my favourite restaurants, Constantia Uitsig, for lunch. I just love being there – delicious food in a wonderful setting is such a treat.

Other than gorgeous lunches we have had cocktails at Salt (what a view!), watched Miss Potter (you must both go and see this gem about Beatrix Potter with Renee Z and Ewan McG), enjoyed evening meals relaxing at the hotel in our PJs, and a few games of Scrabble (Dad won them all – no surprises there).

So, as you can tell, I have has a great time here and could happily spend a few more days in the Cape but I am off home tomorrow – Husband is calling!

Today, an unforeseen problem arose from having three sisters living in three different cities on three different continents with three different languages. (I know they technically speak English in America, however, it is not the same as the ‘Queen’s English’ that we tend to use in South Africa.) So as Middle child and Little one get accustomed to their languages, I suppose it was inevitable that we would experience some confusion along the way. Since ‘travel’ is a key theme in my life at the moment it was only a matter of time until I used the word ‘travelling’ (actually in the invite for our bon voyage party, which I sent to my sisters for comment). A short while later, Middle child sent me an instant message informing me that I had spelt ‘travelling’ incorrectly and that it is actually ‘traveling’, i.e. with one ‘l’. I was shocked and surprised as I have always prided myself in being an excellent speller. Little one was unable to comment as spelling is not one of her top talents. I asked Husband, ‘Can you believe traveling is spelt with one l? I mean hopping has two p’s and running and two n’s. Why then is there only one ‘l’ in travelling?’ As I was preparing to edit the invite I thought I would consult my New Pocket Oxford English Dictionary only to discover that in our own world’s we were both correct. English people spell travelling with two l’s but it is noted that in the US it is spelt with one l! I am sure there will be many more spelling debates between three sisters speaking English, American and French!

Today was an uncharacteristically rainy day in Jo’burg – not the afternoon thundershower type of rain that we love but the persistent rain from dawn to dusk. (Ironic then that a newspaper poster shouted ‘Drought to continue’ from the street poles!) However, asides from a change in wardrobe, this did not affect my plan for the day, which was to go with Mom to the airways office to try, for the tenth time, to finalise the booking for Husband and my round-the-world trip – an exercise that has proved much harder than expected, with 100’s of permutations and eventualities to consider. (How I would have done this if I was still working, I do not know.) Luckily, Mom has befriended one of the assistants at the offices (most likely when planning all her trips to visit you two) and he was so helpful that I actually made some progress … and at least 26 152 miles of our trip have been booked! It’s always pleasing to come across these sorts of people who are excellent at their jobs, no matter what it is, and take great pride in what they do. Although the flight plan is by no means fail-safe – we are particularly concerned about a 50 minute connection time from landing in Charlotte to get to our Miami connection – I am pleased with the progress that I made and feel that once I have the tickets, the countdown will truly begin.