Itinerary Series: Andalusia, Spain

In October 2010, we travelled to Andalusia, Spain with our then 8 month old son and 2 1/2 year old daughter and we are still longing to go back!  It was a very relaxing trip with just enough sight seeing and culture to give me the travelbug fix that I needed.  I’ve had some requests from friends for information on our itinerary so here it is!

Arrival:  We flew into Malaga Airport, direct from JFK.   One word of caution- I know of at least 2 people that had small bags stolen from this airport, one in the car rental parking lot.   I knew this, so I was constantly keeping track of all our belongings but somehow a small black bag that was actually a child carrier went missing between getting off the plane and arriving at our next destination.  I admit, I have no idea how that could have happened, so these thieves are slick!

Week 1

We rented a house, approx 90 minute drive from the airport. The house, www.fincaalboran.com, was perfect for our family!  It was very private and peaceful, surrounded by farms and about 1km down a rough dirt road from the white village of Gaucin.  The village has a couple of great restaurants.  Our favorite was La Fuente.  The house itself came with everything we needed for the kids and much more than was listed on their site.  There were games, toys, books, movies, pool toys and more.  The pool is gated, so no worries with little ones and has a little pool house with a bed which the kids loved to play in.

We spent some days doing day trips to local town of Ronda and the beach town of Estepona (30 minutes).  Gibraltar would also be an easy day trip, but the day we headed out, we realized part way there that we forgot our passports and would not have been able to enter.  If I was to go again, I would also try the beaches closer to the Portugal border as I understand they are nicer than those closer to Malaga.

Many days we just went for hikes in the area, walks in the village to go to the market and then relaxed by the pool for the afternoon.  The house has an outdoor charcoal grill that we liked to cook on at night.

Week 2

Sevilla

I love Sevilla.  It was a very romantic city.  Not too big but lots of culture, delicious tapas, friendly people and everything was within walking distance.   The shopping would have also been great, but not so easy to do with 2 little ones!

We rented an apartment in the same building as the link below.  It was basic, but had a balcony (necessity when traveling with kids and parents need some time to relax after they are in bed) and it was in a central location.    I would spend at least 3 nights in Sevilla.

http://www.spain-holiday.com/rentals/accommodations/properties/6757/Sevilla/7/Sevilla/0/Andalucia/Sevilla.html

Granada

After Sevilla, I didn’t think I would be as impressed with Granada, but I fell in love all over again.  Granada has lots of character.  The Alhambra is worth the visit. Wandering the alleys of the Albaicin, buying sweets (dulces) and wine from nuns at a convent were highlights.

We stayed in an apartment that was very close to the main plaza and at the entrance to the Alhambra.  It was a safe street.  The apartment had a lot of stairs so caution for really little ones and a very small kitchen but overall we really liked it.

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/apartments/granada/apartment-3513-115.htm

Benalmedena (just outside of Malaga):

The last 2 nights we stayed at Sahara Sunset Club in Benalmedena.  I’m not sure I’d recommend it.  The positives-It was really cheap ($65/night for a 2 bedroom apartment with full kitchen), there was a lot for kids to do in the area, there was an indoor and outdoor pool, hot tub, hammam and more on the resort.  The negatives- It was quite run down, the town is very touristy and the beach was very dirty.  It was a relaxing way to spend the last 2 days after a lot of sight seeing in Sevilla and Granada and the kids were happy with it.

Hope this was helpful to somebody.  If you have any questions, send me an email.  If you have a trip itinerary of your own that you’d like to post, send it along!

10 Things My Kids Loved About Spain

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It is amazing the impact that family vacations have on our children. My daughter, two and half years old during our recent adventure in Andalucia, Spain has not ceased talking about it, even 3 months later. The most interesting part is finding out what she liked about it and what has made a lasting impression. In random order, here are the top 10 things she talks about regularly:

1. 1.  The Bidet- Also known as ‘the bum washer’. She was amazed when she saw the extra porcelain bowl in our vacation house. After we explained how and when to use it, she needed to use the facilities a lot more frequently than usual.

2. 2.  Architecture – We did spend some time pointing out to her the differences between homes in Spain and homes in Canada but didn’t realize it was sinking in until one day she saw a picture on a magnet and told us it was Spain. It was actually Italy, but she was recognizing the cobblestone streets, flowers in window boxes, narrow alleys etc.

3. 3.  Fascination with Donkeys- While we were waiting for check-in time at our vacation house, we wandered around the quiet streets in the village of Gaucin. We came across a donkey tethered to a stoop in front of somebody’s house. We could hear the ‘hee-haw’ before we could see it. It must have been the excitement of hearing him and trying to find him that started this fascination. Once we found him, she didn’t want to leave and for the rest of the trip kept asking if we could go find the donkey. She still talks about him today.  (incidentally it also started an obsession with talking about donkey poop).

The Donkey, Gaucin, Spain

The Donkey, Gaucin, Spain

4. 4.  The airplane-This was a no-brainer. We knew she’d love it and all that was associated with the airport, security, luggage etc.

5. 5.  The moon- She has always loved the moon but actually seems to understand the concept of the world turning. In the daytime, she will say ‘Now the moon has gone to Spain’.

6. 6.  Mango flavoured ice cream- We were spoiled with daily gelato (Mom’s favorite) and she caught on quick to this daily ritual. She says she doesn’t like mangos, only mango ice cream? One gelateria, also gave her a chocolate cookie with her icecream and a clown on a stick.

7. 7.  Her special toy. Also a gift from a gelato stand. We bought various souvenirs throughout the trip, but this was her favorite. It was a free, red foam and plastic toy that you can pump. I believe it is to be filled with water and used for water fights but she doesn’t know that . She just imagines that it is something different each time she plays with it.

8. 8.  Patterns in the stone tiled streets and alleyways- It wasn’t too long before I noticed that she was examining the stone tiled streets very closely and would often decide to only walk on one particular shape or colour in the pattern. It was a game that could amuse her for ever. img_2415

9. 9.  Getting Lost- Ok, so this happened a couple of times. She picked up on it and is now forever wondering if we are lost again.

10. 10. ‘The Cottage’– This is the name she came up with for our vacation house in Gaucin. It was a beautiful whitewashed house in the country side complete with pool, pool house, many nooks and crannies to play, her own pint sized bed, toys galore and lots of farm animals in surrounding properties. She was in love. We could hardly tear her away. Whenever we went somewhere, she just kept asking to go back to ‘ The cottage’.

Many of the things she learned and loved were not those that I expected. I was excited that she was being exposed to a new language and culture. I thought she’d love the castles, swimming in the pools or maybe the horse and carriage rides.  She did, but they were not her favorites. When I asked her on the plane ride home what she liked the most about our trip, she said “ I liked that Daddy was with us the whole time”. What more could a parent ask for!

Family Fun and Celebrity Sighting at Rissers Beach, Nova Scotia

Our walk near Rissers Beach, Nova Scotia

Our walk near Rissers Beach, Nova Scotia

Weather in Nova Scotia can be unpredictable, but this past weekend we lucked out!  We had planned a family trip to Rissers Beach area to stay in a family friend’s cottage.  It was a 3 bedroom, winterized cottage with views of the ocean and surrounded by farmland, walking trails (and this may sound creepy but…) a beautiful graveyard from the 1800’s.  We went with my husbands parents and his sister, her husband and their daughter.

In the evening before bed and early in the mornings, Nana and Papa took the girls for a walk to find deer and they spotted some each time.  They apples from the trees along the way and loved their time being wrapped up in blankets and carried on their little adventure.  Saturday was warm and sunny.  Warm enough that when we went to the beach, my little bug immediately wanted to get in the water.  She gleefully ran in and out of the waves as if she didn’t even notice that it was freezing cold water!  The first beach we went to was Crescent Beach with white sands that appear to go forever.  It is one of the few beaches in Nova Scotia that you are allowed to drive on.  A few cars were there, and a small plane flew by but didn’t land.  Later there were people horseback riding as well.  One of them looked exactly like Nicole Kidman, but I’ve googled this fact and can’t find any information that she may be visiting this weekend.

Not far down the road is Rissers Beach, with a campground that has sites right on the ocean.  Sites 21,22 are good ones, because they have trees for privacy but are also still on the ocean.  Washrooms are nearby.  In between beaches there are antique stores and a kayak adventure business.  Kayaking would be perfect for families with older children as there are many coves and islands nearby to explore.  A little futher down the road is Petite Riviere where we visited The Maritime Painted Saltbox which was a quaint barn housing paintings, folkart and furniture created by the owners of the property.  There is also a vineyard and a river for fishing in the area.  Green Bay is a road leading along the ocean again, with many cottages for rent.  It offers beautiful scenery and small sandy coves to sunbathe, swim and walk.  This is where we ran across local celebrities, ‘Ricki and Julien’ from the Trailor Park Boys television show and movies.  They were apparently there to celebrate a friends birthday that weekend, but this picturesque setting was far removed from the trailor park we see them in on T.V.!

Overall, I highly recommend this area of the province.  There is lots to do with the kids in nearby towns of Bridgewater and Lunenburg.  On the way home on Sunday, we took the Lahave Cable Ferry across the river and took the scenic lighthouse route back towards Lunenburg.  In October the leaves are brilliant colours of orange, yellow and red.  It is a great time of year if you enjoy hiking and outdoor activities.  Alternatively July and August would be great for a beach holiday.  If you want any more information about the area, feel free to post a comment!

Crescent Beach

Crescent Beach

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Open Farm Day in Nova Scotia

This past weekend, the government of Nova Scotia, Canada, hosted an event called Open Farm Day.

photo courtesy of Nova Scotia Agriculture website.

photo courtesy of Nova Scotia Agriculture website.

There were 52 farms across the province participating featuring all different types of farming and various activities planned at each site.  We chose to visit this one.

Farm: Sunni Knoll Farm
Type: Dairy
Host: van de Riet family
Civic Address: 234 Mill Village Road., Shubenacadie
County: Halifax East Hants
Directions: Take exit 10 from highway 102, come to 3 stop signs and turn right at each. Drive approximately 1 km down Mill Village Road until you reach civic number 234

There were lots of activities for the kids at Sunni Knoll Farm! It was a beautiful afternoon, bright sunny and not too hot, not too cold.   As we rounded the bend on approach to the farm, we were overlooking bright green pastures as two horses came bounding along pulling a wagon of laughing kids and parents up and down the rolling hills.  We parked and got out to meet our friends who had been there a few minutes.  A fellow Mom was quick to inform me that she wasn’t sure about the llama, but the farmer taking her around to the kids was worth a second look, so we headed in that direction first!  My daughter wasn’t so sure about petting the llama, but she really enjoyed saying the word over and over again.

Next we went to visit with a goat that a young girl was showing off to the guests.  We thought it must have been pretty cool to have your own goat, and she told us that she actually had 6 goats of her own (and was quite proud of that fact).  I had to make a quick escape from the goat because my ‘little bug’ became fascinated with its rear end and started trying to stick her finger there.  The other adults pretending not to notice as I quickly pulled her away.  Luckily the next area had a bottle of hand sanitizer for public use.

The cows were pretty exciting for all of the kids.  They fed them grass and moo’d back and forth.  The baby calves were also very sweet.  At 4pm they started to milk the cows and you could go in to watch the process.

The cows

The cows

I loved this whole experience but was a little disappointed with this because I thought we’d see a demonstration by hand.  I guess that is rarely done these days.  It was all done by machine.  I think the highlight for the kids was the display of antique tractors.  They got to sit on them and pretend to drive and none of them wanted to get off.  There were also chickens to visit and a really neat version of a sand box.  Instead of sand, the box was filled with dried corn (feed) and it had plenty of tractors and farm toys to use to dig around and play.There was some art for sale including traditional hooked rugs and painting exhibits and a BBQ provided by the local Shu-Mil 4-H Club as well.  The trails and the fields made for a beautiful place to take a stroll with some peace and quiet.

All and all it was one of the best afternoons we’ve had in a while.  I will definitely be taking our family to visit some more farms at next year’s event!  It has also inspired me to look into some more fall activities in Nova Scotia and I found a great website for U-pick farms and associated activites.  It lists farms in U.S., Canada and several other countries.  Check it out and let me know if you have any other suggestions for fun fall family outings!

Serious tractor driving going on!

Serious tractor driving going on!

The farm version of a sand box.

The farm version of a sand box.

Educational Family Travel

There seems to be a new trend in Family Travel and I love it!  It’s Education!  Parents of this generation see travel as an opportunity to provide their children with an education they can’t get in school.  I am excited about the topic of Educational Family Travel because I believe that the insight and education we can acquire from travel is meaningful and enduring in the minds of our children.

I have a number of tips for engaging your children while visiting your destination:

1.  Before your visit, search the local library database, for fiction books that take place at your destination, either past or present.  Tales of adventures in a foreign destination will spark the imagination of your child and create interest in the location.

2.  Involve your children in your family travel planning choices.  I would recommend picking 3 or 4 destinations of choice and collecting some information about each one.  Let your children take a look and tell you what they think looks interesting about each one.  You can even let them have the final pick on which one you go to.  Once they’ve traveled a few times, and done ‘educational trips’ they will likely be more enthusiastic about future trips.

3.  If your child has specific interests, try to combine them with the activity.  For example, if he loves food,  get him excited about the traditional food available at your destination.  If she loves Soccer, bring along a ball to play with in the park after the visit and invite some local children to join in.

4.  Make time for play and creativity during the visit.  If they like to draw, bring crayons and a small art supply kit along, so that they can draw what they see.  For younger children, you can bring play-doh and they can sculpt.

5.  Music makes the world go round!  If you plan to rent a car, find international music, appropriate for your destination on itunes and bring along a CD or i-pod adaptor for the car.  Older children and teens can choose their own music for the personal stereos or MP3 players.

And most importantly!

6.  Make a game out of it.  Make the trip a scavenger hunt!  I have created a the ‘Amazing Family Race‘ for My Little Travel Bug.  Once you know your destination, you can add some more specific challenges to the list.  They can be designed so that your children will need to research, learn and observe while they are away, to be able to complete the list.

I hope these tips are helpful!  If you have specific destinations in mind which you would like me to provide advice on activities etc, I’d be happy to help.

Hit by a Motorcycle, Kicked by a Horse, Attacked by a Monkey

Have you ever watched, ‘Christmas Vacation’ with Chevy Chase? There’s a great line by cousin Ed, that goes something like ” Kicked by a mule, eyes go crossed. Fall down a well, eyes go un-crossed.” There was a day in November 2002, Siem Reap, Cambodia, where my husband and I repeated this over and over, laughing hysterically because that was basically how the day had gone!

Early in the day, we were in a taxi in the city of Siem Reap, when a motorcycle came out of nowhere and ran into the car we were in. The driver of the motorcycle went flew off the bike which skidded across the street. Shocked we started to jump out to see if he was ok, but he just got up, ran to the bike and off he went again. The driver of our taxi seemed indifferent to the event and muttered something like ‘idiot’ and off we went again, on our way to spend the day at the ancient ruins of Angkor.

The entrance to Angkor Wat

The entrance to Angkor Wat

The day before, we had a guided tour, so this day was going to be to ourselves to wander around and explore. My husband, Sean, loves animals. I like animals, but have an underlying mistrust for animals, I don’t know. As we walked the path towards Angkor Wat, we admired a horse tied to a stone, in the middle of a grassy field. There didn’t seem to be anybody around with the horse. Sean wandered over and gave the horse a pat. He kept trying to coax me over, to say hello to the horse as well. I said, ‘No thanks-I’ll just watch from here’. He kept insisting that I come, so finally I gave in and headed towards the horse. As soon as I was within 6 feet of the horse, he started to turn around so that his back was to me. Before we knew it, he was winding up for a kick. Sean, was between me and the horse, and our camera bag, was slung across his shoulder and sitting at his waist. The horse connected with the camera and therefore his hip which then slammed him into me and I went flying. We quickly retreated and luckily he was tied. The horse must have sensed that I was uncomfortable. In the end, we were a bit sore but no worse for wear and we continued to explore. Our camera, however did not survive and we had to take the rest of our photos with a disposable camera. (The camera was insured, and I’m sure ‘kicked by a horse’ must have been pretty funny to an insurance adjuster somewhere!).

The horse!

The horse!

Later in the day, we came across a tribe of monkeys, hanging out on the side of the road. The looked friendly enough and interacted with people at a distance. There was a roadside foodstand not too far away, and my husband spotted some bananas. Jackpot! We bought some bananas to give to the monkeys. Again, I was a bit nervous so I kept my distance. Sean was about 20 feet away, and he squatted down and pulled out the bananas to give to them. I wish I could have captured this on videotape. Probably the most terrified I’ve ever seen him look. One of the friendly monkeys, suddenly beared his fangs (who knew they had fangs?!) and started running at him full speed. Sean jumped up, tossed the bananas and ran for his life! Once a safe distance away the monkey gave up and went back for the bananas.

What a day! Lots of drama, many lessons learned, but not a scratch to show for it. It’s one we won’t forget.

O-O-Mexico!

This James Taylor theme song, keeps playing over and over in my head this week.  All this talk of Mexico and the ‘swine flu’ is really only making me reminisce about the lazy pre-parent week we spent on the Mayan Riviera.  It was the end of January 2007 and we were exhausted.  We usually pack our vacations with adventure and sight-seeing but this time all we wanted to do was lay on our beach bed and relax.  We went to the El Dorado Seaside Suites and loved every minute of it.  Our suite had a jacuzzi tub right in the room and our patio stepped out to a soaker pool that was sort of like a moat around the resort.  We were the second row in from the beach but could still see it from our patio.  It was only a 1 minute walk to the beachfront, 3 restaurants, bar and entertainment area and the resort had a very small and cozy appeal to it.  img_0175We loved the beach beds.  They were queen size mattresses that swung beneath a thatched roof that you could lounge on while watching the sun set.  Every nook and cranny had one of these beds, even in the bar area.  We watched the evening entertainment while laying back with a glass of wine one evening.  The food on the resort was excellent and you could order all meals a la carte if you wished.  They weren’t the slushy, high sugar drinks that you get at most all-inclusive resorts but the real thing, made for you personally by the bar tenders.  We developed a love of mojitos on this trip and the champagne and orange juice was served all day!  We walked the beach and explored some of the other mammoth resorts, but were always happy we’d chosen our smaller more intimate atmosphere.  We’d also got a great deal on this last minute trip using Selloffvacations.com so that didn’t hurt either.

It is unfortunate that the travel industry in Mexico is taking such a hit with the onset of the H1N1 flu virus.  Canadian and U.S. governments are now advising against any non-essential travel to Mexico and there are reports of cruises and flights being cancelled and many attractions and tourist destinations are closing.  Having said that, would I go to Mexico right now?  Probably not.  Now that I am a parent, I will be following advice and taking the travel advisories seriously.  Let’s hope that the international spread of the virus, will be slowed by this downturn in tourism and that those affected will have a speedy recovery.  In the meantime, everybody should be taking precautions to prevent the spread of infection by using good handwashing techniques, avoidance of coughing and being within 1 meter of those coughing in public and where known cases are occuring, those individuals will stay in isolation.  For those that are traveling through major international gateways, you will need to follow these guidelines carefully and some are even considering wearing N95 masks in these situations.  Individuals that are at high risk, such as young children, elderly and immunocomprimised individuals should avoid situations that could expose them to the virus.  More information can be found on the Canadian Government Website.

Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? A Book by Thomas Kohnstamm

This title caught my eye when I was perusing the travel section at our local Chapters store.  It is the story of Thomas Kohnstamm, a fellow travel addict that struggles with trying to settle down to a stable job, while the lure of the open road keeps pulling him back out.  He decides that he can’t fight this addiction any longer and makes the transfor51f13u1dt4l_sl500_aa240_1mation to professional travel writer, in order to try and sustain his bohemian lifestyle.  Thomas lands a job as a Lonely Planet Guidebook writer in Brazil and takes the reader on the hilarious journey that results in the kind of Guidebook that you read each time you head off to a new destination.

The cover of the book describes it as ‘A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics & Professional Hedonism’.  If that doesn’t make you want to read on, what would?  If you have ever wondered what it would be like to work for a major travel guidebook company or thought that  it would be a dream come true to have a job that required you to travel and research exotic destinations, then you have to read this book.  As long as you are not offended by the frequent f-bombs, tales of promiscuity and drunken debauchery, it is a really interesting read.  You learn a bit about Brazil while reading about the process of writing a guidebook.  I’ve always been curious about what that would really be like.  Whenever I travel, I always wish that I would meet a guidebook writer so that I could ask some questions.  How much do you get paid?  If the restaurants, bars and hotels don’t know you are a writer, how do you get such detailed information?  Wouldn’t that tip them off?  Do you travel alone all that time?  Is this the best job in the world?  The author answers all of these questions and more.  I would be interested to read a similar tale from a female perspective.  I wonder if all travel writers have the same experience?

I’m not giving the ending away by telling you that he claims that the writers don’t really visit all of the sites listed in the book, nor do they really follow the policy that says they cannot accept anything for free.  Lonely Planet doesn’t actually claim that they don’t take anything for free, they claim the writers don’t accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.  So…. really they can accept freebies.  I don’t really see anything wrong with this, as long as they really are objective.  I think it would be better to identify yourself as a LP writer because more doors would open up for you and therefore, more doors are opened for its readers.  I would still continue to buy the books, because, even if all the details aren’t exactly right, it gives you a place to start.  I read guidebooks just to decide if the place is the destination I’m looking for and what things I want to try to see and do once I’m there.  I rarely use the restaurant sections because there are always so many to choose from, that there is no need to go searching out the one that millions of other readers have also been to.  Having said that, there will always be a place for a guidebook in my backpack despite the claims of questionable ethics, I’ve always found them to be invaluable.

Argentina: A Themed Staycation

A staycation (or stay-cation, or stacation) is a period of time in which an individual or family stays at home and relaxes at home.

As there are many families going through tough economic times right now, I thought it would be a good time to talk about Staycations.  Even if you can’t afford to go far during your vacation time this year, you can still take the opportunity to make it a fun time for your kids and add a little culture while you’re at it.  Recently, we hosted an Argentinian Wine Tasting Party and I thought why not extend this fun to the whole family and make a week out of it.  I love a theme, so I’ve come up with some ideas so that you can pretend you are visiting Argentina for the week.

Most important thing you need is food. Argentinians love their beef and barbecued meats so stock up.  This recipe for ‘Best Chimichurri Sauce’ was found in House and Home Magazine in August’08.  Chimichurri Sauce is an Argentinian condiment.  I served it with beef tenderloin, barbecued and then thinly sliced, placed on top of fresh bread slices and topped with this garlic and parsley condiment.  It was delicious and easy to make!

For best results, use a mini food processor to turn the aromatics into a paste.

3 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 shallots
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves ( or 1/2 dried)
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
several grindings of black pepper
pinch sugar
2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves ( gently pressed into measuring cup)
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Combine first 10 ingredients in mini food processor and puree to a paste.  Scrape into bowl.
2. Finely chop parsley in food processor.  Add to garlic mixture.
3. Stir in olive oil.  Chill at least one hour (or overnight) before serving with barbecued meats.

Next the family needs to learn to Tango! You can watch instructional videos on youtube such as this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMZDCk6dT6c&playnext_from=PL&feature=PlayList&p=072C38A00E96724B&playnext=1&index=18

Get some roses (real or plastic) for the kids to use as they tango around the room.  You can also find tango music to play on itunes by listening to the Latino radio stations or find music to purchase by typing Argentina tango in the search box.

Greet your kids each morning with ‘Ola Buenos dias’ and say ‘Gracias’ at every opportunity.  Encourage your kids to learn some new Spanish words.  You can find free Spanish lessons on-line at:

www.learnspanishtoday.com/

www.studyspanish.com/

Plan activities that you would normally do on vacation, but near your own home such as hiking, swimming or kayaking.  Before you go, you can watch some videos on Argentina so that you can imagine the scenery while you are there.

Youtube videos:

Ushuaia, Argentina- penguins-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk-FIi0kSKY&feature=related

Buenos aries- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYirXGk9ysI&feature=related

Patagonia- Argentina- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0jlOF7Bci8

Iquazu waterfalls-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0jlOF7Bci8

Other ideas:

  • organize a soccer game with friends and family
  • For young children give them a snorkel and mask in the bathtub to find the penguins and seals

Do you have any other ideas?  Post a comment and share!

Webinar: The Variety of South Africa

Last week I attended an on-line seminar entitled the Variety of South Africa through GoWay Travel.  It is a destination that I’d love to travel to with my children in the future, so I thought it would be good to find out a bit about the country and options available.  It sounds like it would be a good place to take kids as long as they can handle the long plane ride from North America (17.5 hours from New York) .  I couldn’t imagine doing this with a young child but older children could probably handle it.  Currently South African Airways flies from NY and Washington via Senegal to Johanesburg.  Other alternatives are via London then Johannesburg or flying Emirates to Dubai ( 12.5 hours) and then another 8.5 to Cape Town. 

Once you’ve arrived, there are several game parks to choose from.  The Kruger National Park is the most popular, however you must take anti-malarial medication if you choose this one.   A safari in many of the large game parks, would be thrilling for children of any age but many only accept children over the age of six such as  Manyatta Rock Camp that offers elephant back safaris.   You will see, lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, hippos, zebras,  as well as many bird species.  Some of the parks located near the Eastern Cape and Madikwe region are in a malaria free zone and therefore do not require that you take anti-malarial medication.  Some parks in the Eastern Cape will only accept children age 6 and over but  the lodges and safaris in the Madikwe area are very family friendly, such as Jaci’s Tree Lodge.  Some lodges have packages where the first child stays free. 

In Capetown, Table Mountain stands over the city and can be visited by a revolving cable car.  There are penguins to visit at Cape Point, beaches nearby and lots to see in the city itself.  The Garden route is an area with beautiful countryside and lots of physical activities to do.  There is whale watching, Oudsthorn has ostridges that you can ride and Cango Caves to visit.  St. Lucia Wetlands, further up the coast are a breeding ground for turtles, so if you plan your trip right you may be able to witness this event.

 Overall, this seminar was informative, although ofcourse they were discussing primarily the accomodations which they sell on their site.  The information about the country was good and it was a quick and easy way to get an overview and talk directly to people who’ve been there before.  I’ve booked through this company before as they often have really good deals on long haul flights.  Recently they advertised Buy 1 Get 1 Free tickets from NY to South Africa at $1099 for 2 tickets! ( plus many taxes and surcharges) Still a really good deal.


 

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