Travelling Mystery Guest’s Favourite Coffee Shops

Given the nature of our business, we all obviously love coffee shops and restaurants. Travelling Mystery Guest consulted our mystery guests to compile our top 5 favourite coffee shops. We encourage you to visit these lovely places to see for yourself why we love them.

  1. Exclusive Books Hyde Park Corner

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Being a book lover and an old fashioned millennial, this shop offers something special. The book section is surrounded by a coffee shop and in between the shelves there are old couches where people can sit and read. You can buy a book and go and read it whilst enjoying some coffee. It’s a gathering of bookworms and the vibe is very welcoming to anyone who, like our mystery guest, is a book fanatic.

2. Afroboer 

This coffee shop is popular due to various factors; their quality coffee, the delicious cakes and fresh pastries. Our mystery guest especially loves the décor.  The inside of this restaurant is lovely, with high ceilings and wooden floors that creates a beautiful space. Afroboers location is also quite central, making it accessible for all their customers! Be sure to visit this place for a true African-Boer experience!

3. Woolworths at Menlyn Maine  

teapot-598122_1920Though we all are quite accustomed to Woolworths stores, our mystery guest enjoys this particular branch because of their wide variety of teas and their delicious white hot chocolate. Woolworths also has very nice food. Menlyn Maine is still a relatively new shopping centre with a lot of nice shops attracting customers, thus Woolworths is located in the ideal setting.

 

 

 

 

4. Pltfrm at the Pretoria Gautrain Station

This cute little coffee shop is located in Pretoria Central Business District near the Gautrain station. The layout looks very cozy and it’s a café type coffee shop. Pltfrm’s has a lot to offer, including craft beer, wifi, outdoor seating and live entertainment. This café has a rustic look and is perfect for delicious coffee and some yummy food before jumping on the Gautrain. Our other mystery guests are surely going to visit this restuarant!

5. Aroma Coffee in Lynnwood

Aroma

Image credit: www.aromacoffee.co.za

Most students and people living in the Brooklyn and Hatfield areas will be familiar with this coffee shop. Together with its adjacent attraction, the Aroma Gelato store, a dynamic duo is created. With the small street-like café vibe, it’s really cozy and the coffee is delicious. One will definitely be craving ice cream when leaving there, so why not pop in next door and grab a sugar cone! This place is very well suited for a casual gathering of a small group of friends.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

 

Put big snores, pummelled curries and licked folds on your UK bucket-list

The UK offers many attractions for all tastes, but a look at a map of the island shows some pretty unusual and intriguing place-names. Sue Petrie, British Airways’ Commercial Manager for Southern Africa, offers the following selection of oddities, along with clues as to how the names came about, and diversions and attractions nearby.

Travellers take selfies in front of signposts for Pratt’s Bottom (the London borough of Bromley), Bell End and Minge Lane (Worcestershire), Brown Willy (Cornwall), Boggy Bottom (Hertfordshire) Twatt (Orkney), Nob End (South Lancashire), Fanny Barks (Durham) and Scratchy Bottom (Dorset).

But, Petrie suggests starting with the capital, which has a population of around 8,6m people. London has a world-renowned public-transport system to move everyone around, and visitors can get access to all its modes of transport with an Oyster Visitor smartcard.

London Tower Bridge

One of the easiest ways to commute around London is by Tube, the underground railway system, which is a massive, busy and efficient artery running through the city. It’s an excellent way to access the capital’s many wonders and find places with some pretty bizarre names.

Monikers that have teenage boys nudging each other and sniggering include Mudchute, Cockfosters, St John’s Wood, Lickfold and Shepherd’s Bush.

Origins? Cockfosters seems simple enough: it was named for the chief (cock) forester, later shortened to “foster”.

Nearby, at the former Hendon Aerodrome, is the Royal Air Force Museum. As you’d expect, there are plenty of aircraft on exhibit, along with modern, interactive displays. A bonus is the flight simulator, which offers a variety of exhilarating rides, including aerobatics with the Red Arrows team and an air-race from the pioneering 1930s. The museum has a small restaurant, but if you fancy something more substantial, Skewd Kitchen offers Mediterranean and Turkish food and has had good reviews.

Goodge Street, in Fitzrovia, Soho, sounds like slang for something saucy, and it’s also two minutes’ walk from the Salt Yard, a tapas-style eatery that also offers charcuterie and cheeseboards. Its expansively-named Hot Smoked Gloucester Old Spot Pork Belly with Smoked Apple and Cider Glaze has helped it score four stars on TripAdvisor.

Golders Green is pretty straightforward: it was the surname of a local landowner and the “green” simply refers to the open land on which housing was later built. Golders Road was the site of the Lido Picture House, a cinema beloved by locals and known for a bit of unintended humour in 1988. One night a high wind blew the ‘t’ off the sign advertising the screening of the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, much to the mirth of the area’s predominantly Jewish population.

Some visitors and locals joke that another Green – Turnham Green this time – is the ideal place to meet environmentally friendly people (greenies). It’s also where you’ll the find Sipsmith Distillery, which has been making London gin since 1820. Nearby is the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery, reputed to be the last family-run brewery in London, operating since 1828. Both venues offer tours and tipples.

Curry Mallet is in picturesque, rural Somerset, so not on the London Tube-line. The name has nothing to do with tenderising ingredients for a korma though, as any of its 300-odd residents will explain.  The tiny village’s history is intertwined with events that shaped Britain, like the Magna Carta and the Battle of Hastings and it was mentioned in the Domesday Book (essentially the first survey of land and population in Britain) in 1086. The area also has plenty of Roman history.

Also noted in the Domesday Book was the North Norfolk village of Great Snoring, slightly larger than its neighbour, Little Snoring. Both are small, but neither are particularly sleepy.

No Man’s Land Fort looks like the lair of a Bond super-villain, but it’s also a luxury hotel. It juts out of the sea just off the Isle of Wight, near Portsmouth, like a concrete-and-steel cupcake that belies the opulence within. It was built 150 years ago in response to the threat of invasion by the forces of Napoleon III. Being stationed there at the time, and in the conflicts that followed, was pretty grim and the garrison was selected on the basis of being unable to swim to freedom. Now a luxury hotel and spa, its most sought-after accommodation is the lighthouse suite, with 360-degree views over the Solent.

UK Taxi

One way to help decipher some of the UK’s names, is to understand their origins in the languages of yore. For example, a “chester” or a “caster” was a fortified Roman camp, hence Manchester, Doncaster, Gloucester and so on.

“Mouth” refers to a river-mouth: Cockermouth in Cumbria is so named because it’s where the Cocker River flows into the Derwent River. Not only does the area offer splendid views for hikers and road-trippers, but Wild Zucchinis Bistro gets 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor for its crispy duck wrap and other fare.

“Beck” also refers to a river, hence Troutbeck, Holbeck, Beckinsale and the delightfully named Tooting Bec. “Aber” in the prefix to a place-name refers to a river-mouth, hence Aberdeen, Aberystwyth, Aberdyfi and so on. Aberfeldy is a small town in the Perthshire Highlands of Scotland, so scenic that the Scottish nation’s national poet, Robert Burns, wrote a poem about it. You can hike through a forest – the Berks of Aberfeldy – to a bridge directly over the Falls of Moness.

On your return to the village, you can reward yourself for braving the great outdoors by visiting the Dewar’s Distillery, which offers tours, interactive multimedia exhibitions on whisky, and of course, tastings galore.

British Airways flies to the UK from South Africa daily.

British Airways

Would you like some tea?

Everyone has a preferred hot drink. Whether it’s strong espresso, sweet Milo, malty Horlicks or the classic cappuccino, with the weather forcing us under a blanket, Travelling Mystery Guest wanted to take a look at what interesting and relaxing teas there are. Some teas have beautiful colours and it might just help to brighten up the grey mood accompanying winter.tea-1132529_19201. Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus

This tea has a crimson or deep magenta colour. It almost looks like some sort of soda, except it’s much healthier. Some of the health benefits of Hibiscus tea include lowering high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It also assists with digestive system problems and strengthening your immune system. When dieting, this tea can help to speed up your metabolism to help you lose weight faster. It is also rich in vitamin C, which aids in wound healing and dental gum health. You can drink this tea hot or cold and some sugar or honey can be added to sweeten it up.

 

 

 

2. Black Tea

Black tea

Black tea usually has a more intense flavour than other teas like green tea. This is because black tea is more oxidised.  Black tea is already a very popular tea because of its various health benefits. It is said to help with digestive problems, low concentration levels and poor blood circulation. The colour of the tea itself is not actually black, which one would expect given the name, but the oxidised leaves are, in fact, black. The tea has a dark reddish colour and in China, this tea is actually referred to as “red tea”.

3. Earl Grey Tea

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Most people are familiar with this Earl Grey tea and personally, it is one of my favourites.

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Bergamot

This tea is flavoured with the oil of bergamot, which is found in the bergamot orange peel. This gives the tea its orange-blossom-like aroma. This tea also has an unexpected beauty hack – bergamot is one of the products that promote hair growth, so for anyone who is a fan of tea and who desires long and luscious hair, why not drink some Earl Grey?

4. White tea

white teaThis tea’s leaves are minimally processed (from the Camellia sinensis plant). Its name originates from the fact that there are fine white hairs on the unopened buds of the tea plant, and this gives the plant a whitish appearance. As with the other teas, white tea also has a few health benefits. These include antioxidant properties, anti-aging properties and white tea can also aid in preventing excessive thirst among people with diabetes.

 

5. Blue tea

blue-tea

Being more of a coffee drinker myself, I was quite intrigued to learn that there is a bright

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Butterfly pea blossom 

blue coloured tea out there. The tea gets its blue colour due to the presence of blue flowers often blended with white or black teas. Of course, the more flower petals in the tea, the brighter the colour (which can range from light yellow to deep blue). The most common flower used is the butterfly pea blossom. If ever given the opportunity, I will definitely try this one!

 

A Whale of a Trail Run at De Hoop

This is trail running at its best!  

The Whale of a Trail Run at De Hoop, along the Southern Cape coast, takes place this year on Saturday 29 July 2017.

De hoop - Koppie Alleen beach (Custom)

Koppie Alleen Beach 

A mere three hour’s drive from Cape Town along the Southern Cape coast, close to Cape Agulhas, the route takes runners on a 53km journey from the Potberg mountains to Koppie Alleen in the De Hoop Nature Reserve. The first 26km winds through fynbos-covered mountains with spectacular views of the Breede River Valley and then descends to the enchanting Noetsie Bay, turning west and winding along the rocky shores of the Indian Ocean, with a mix of sandy beach and coasteering trails.

De hoop - opstal area yellow flowers (Custom)

De Hoop Opstal 

De Hoop Collection is proud to host the 2017 Merrell Whale of Trail; organised by the Mountain Runner Events, the Merrell Whale of Trail route attracts the kind of participants that enjoy the challenge of a tough trail, as well as the contemplation and solitude that a mountain trail gives; people who genuinely, simply, love being out there – the true adventurers.

Limited to just 175 athletes – the prescribed limit set by Cape Nature since they do not want to put too much pressure on the iconic De Hoop Nature Reserve coastal trail – the Merrell Whale of Trail is “a small race with a big heart”, says Mountain Runner Events organiser Graham Bird, “and one that is a a must-do for anyone who has already tackled the more conventional runs out there. Participants experience a 53km route that is a veritable smorgasbord of mountain and seaside delights – undulating rocky ridges, steep climbs, relentless sandy beaches and flowing fynbos paths and the whales, of course”. 

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Drone photo 

Bang in the middle of the whale season, runners can be excused for thinking they are being chaperoned by the Whales, as scores of the annual migratory Southern Right Whales breach the water, spy hopping and waving their fins at the passers-by; every year from around June the Southern Right whales leave their icy feeding grounds in Antarctica and head for African shores, particularly favouring the De Hoop marine reserve in the Western Cape. The 71 km stretch of coastline ranks as the most important nursery area for Right whales worldwide, where they give birth, nurture their calves and engage in mating and social behavior.

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Whale mother with orphan and calf

Entries: whaleoftrail.co.za and for further information go to www.whaleoftrail.co.za

Book your accommodation at De Hoop now for the Whale of Trail Race Weekend from 28 July to 30 July.

Take advantage of the special winter rates valid until 27 July 2017 and be part of the De Hoop Collection’s 10th Anniversary Year celebrations – you can book a de Hoop Village for as little as R250 per person* for up to six people (*R1 500 per cottage (normal rate R4 770)!

This special is only valid for new bookings made for the period 1 May 2017 to 27 July 2017 and applies to the De Hoop Village units only.  The Village units sleep six guests and consist of 1x double room, 1x twin room, 1x room with bunk beds, a lounge, a fully equipped Kitchen and dining room, bathroom with shower and an outside barbeque/braai area; perfect for the whole family during the school holidays.

Phone 021-422 4522 or email res@dehoopcollection.co.za

 

 

5 Impressive buildings in the world

Whether buildings are designed for an amazing purpose or if the architectural skills displayed are amazing, buildings can be quite fascinating. Some are very old, which makes it even more impressive and some display new age designs; either way, some of them seem too good to be true! Travelling Mystery Guest takes a look at some of the most impressive buildings in the world.

1.Guggenheim Museum 

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This building opened in 1997 as a cooperative venture between the Guggenheim Foundation and the Basque Regional Administration of North-Western Spain. The museum was designed by Frank O. Gehry and consists of interconnected buildings, presenting a very abstract structure. The interior space, organized around a large atrium, is mainly devoted to modern and contemporary art, particularly massive sculptures.

2.Doge’s Palace

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The Doge’s Palace in Venice mainly consists of a marble structure and it is huge! This is absolutely a Gothic masterpiece. It is structured in a magnificent formation of constructive and ornamental elements, consisting of three large blocks that incorporate previous constructions: The wing toward the Bacino San Marco (which contains the Hall of Great Council), which is the oldest and was rebuilt in 1340; the wing towards the Piazza (former courthouse) with the Ballot Hall, which was built in its present form from 1424 and on the other side, the Renaissance wing, with the Doge’s residence and many government offices, which was rebuilt between 1483 and 1565.

3.Geisel Library – University of California

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In 1995, this library was renamed Geisel Library in honour of Audrey and Theodor Geisel for the generous contributions they have made to the library and their devotion to improving literacy. You may know Theodor Geisel better as Dr. Seuss. After being renamed, the building’s design actually makes more sense. We could imagine one of Dr. Seuss’s stories coming to life in a building like this.

4. Ribbon Chapel 

Ribbon Chapel

Image credit: www.archdaily.com

This wedding chapel stands in a garden of a resort hotel, “Bella Vista Sakaigahama,” in Onomichi, Hiroshima. It took us a while to figure out how this building works. This would definitely be one of the more modern designs and we can only imagine the beautiful wedding pictures one can take here. The design is made up of two spiraling staircases that support one another and this creates a lot of free space.

5. Hotel Verde

Hotel Verde

Image Credit: www.hotelverde.com

 

Said to be South Africa’s greenest building, Hotel Verde is impressive in the way it cares for the environment. The hotel was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum Green Building Certification by USGBC. When staying here, there is no need to feel guilty about your carbon footprint. This building inspires all to live more cautiously with our resources.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Tourist Perceptions on Elephant-back Safaris

Elephants

We recently attended the launch of Camp Jabulani‘s new interactive, evolved elephant experience with a very strong conservation ethos. Adine Roode, owner and CEO of Camp Jabulani says that the decision was prompted by increasing international opposition against elephant-back safaris, because of the abusive way in which some operators train their elephants.

We would like to know your thoughts on elephant-back safaris. Are you for or against it?

Discover Natural Beauty on the De Hoop Trail

Very few places in the world can boast of the breathtaking diversity and stunning natural beauty that De Hoop, the Jewel of the Cape, offers.  Nature lovers can experience this stunning, pristine environment by walking the De Hoop Trail, a stimulating and inspiring exploration of both the De Hoop Vlei and the magnificent De Hoop Coastal Reserve.De Hoop

The De Hoop Coastal Reserve has a variety of values:

  • It is a magnificent outdoor ‘classroom’, offering spectacular viewing opportunities.
  • It houses undisturbed archaeological sites of great significance and the well-preserved architectural historical homesteads at De Hoop, Melkkamer and Potberg, allows you to experience a bygone era from a cultural-historical perspective.
  • The Vlei is a 19 km long, highly productive ecosystem – it is a Ramsar site of international ecological importance, where water fowl and other organisms breed and feed undisturbed. It is here that many of the 260 bird species which occur at De Hoop can be seen.
  • Its diversity of 1 500 plant species is amongst the highest in the Cape Floristic Region. It’s an absolute privilege for discerning visitors to walk between rare fynbos vegetation and view the rare flowering plants from up close.

Guests on the trail are accommodated in the Opstal Suites or in the Opstal Manor House.  Another accommodation option is on the western bank of the De Hoop Vlei, where there is a remote area known as the Melkkamer. This was originally the centre of the farm, ‘The Hope’.  The Melkkamer Manor House was built in 1907 and has both Neo-Cape as well as Edwardian and Art Nouveau features and is the epitome of stylish elegance, with tall chimneys, spacious verandas and high ceilings. 

Melkkamer, De Hoop

Trail ‘must-knows’:

  • A maximum of 12 people, aged 12 and older, may participate (children younger than 12 will be accommodated by prior arrangement if the entire trail is booked by a single group).
  • A reasonable level of fitness is required. The walk can be long and sometimes uneven, especially on the coastal rocks, but the walking pace is leisurely and focuses on being an interpretive experience of the natural environment.
  • The Trail incorporates birding, game viewing, learning about the fascinating fynbos and incredible marine experiences along the unspoiled shores of De Hoop, learning about life in the inter-tidal zone.

The three-night trail is a fully catered luxury trail with two days spent with a private guide to accompany you on special guided activities.

The Rate:

R7 900 per person sharing. This includes accommodation, internal reserve transfers, all scheduled meals, hot/cold teas, bottled water, coffees and juices but excludes cool drinks and alcoholic beverages.  Minimum six guests.

*De Hoop Collection Terms and Booking conditions apply. The general rules and regulations of Cape Nature and De Hoop Nature Reserve will apply and indemnity documents will be completed before participating.

Phone 021-422 4522 or email res@dehoopcollection.co.za

www.dehoopcollection.com