Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, coined the term “Rainbow Nation” to capture the extraordinary diversity of races, tribes, creeds and landscape that characterizes modern South Africa. Getting to know South Africa’s amazing people may be the most enduring memory of any visit.

South Africa’s varied museums are a good place to get a feel for the history of the country and learn more about what makes the people here so special. Here is just a sampling that highlights a few of the country’s many outstanding museums.

Apartheid MuseumThe Apartheid Museum gives visitors insight into the country’s turbulent past and ultimately it illustrates the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. A unique interactive system where you can assume the identity of an individual who lived during the struggle lends an emotional poignancy to a visit.

Sign at District Six MuseumThe District Six Museum in Cape Town is another stirring tribute to the past, a remembrance of the once vibrant mixed-race community of 60,000 people, including many artists and musicians, forced to relocate during apartheid. Live music performances and first-hand narratives add to the affecting atmosphere.

Robben IslandRobben Island, the former prison where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were held during apartheid, is easily reached by boat from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town. It is, however, an emotional voyage to the UNESCO World Heritage site, and one you’ll find yourself remembering long after you return home. Former inmates of the notorious penal colony lead the guided tours and the entire island is a moving symbol of the inhumanity of apartheid and the great sacrifice made for freedom.

Nelson Mandela MuseumThe Nelson Mandela Museum is located in Mandela’s birthplace of Umtata. Although the area is one of the poorest in the country, its residents are rich with pride for their native son. You’ll learn about Mandela’s life, from childhood to present, through powerful exhibits that explore his book, “Long Walk to Freedom.” Also on display: a collection of gifts that he received when he was head of state.

Hamba Happy Hour in Sarasota

Wine ToastEvery other Friday we serve complimentary South African wine and snacks, share a fun travel social hour and hold giveaway drawings at our St. Armands Circle location. And the time has once again arrived! Join us from 5-6 p.m. this Friday, August 1st for all of this PLUS an amazing 20 % off all items in our Touch of Africa gallery during Hamba Happy Hour only. The Hamba Lounge is cozily tucked at the back of the gallery and contains travel books, magazines and videos for your enjoyment.

Our Story

“Hamba” means “travel” in the Zulu language. Zulu is one of 11 official languages in South Africa.

The Hamba Lounge is our casual travel library where we offer you a taste of our South African hospitality. Here we transport you to extraordinary places through our books, magazines and videos, one sip at a time.

Hamba Lounge on St. Armands CircleSouth Africa, the Adventure Capital of the World, is our specialty and is on most travelers’ wish lists. If you plan to go in the near future, why not go with South Africans? We can show you the best of this country, when to go and how to get there. (We have small group tours departing from the USA and Canada every week.)

If customized travel is more appealing to you, then our in-house travel agent can design your itinerary for any destination in the world.

If cruising is more your style, we invite you to peruse our amazing selection of cruise catalogues and magazines. As registered Cruise Planners agents, we ensure that your vacation planning is a breeze and at competitive group rates.

Don’t forget to save the date. See you at 5 p.m. at the Hamba Lounge this Friday, August 1st on St. Armands Circle. We’re easy to find… just follow the sounds of the drums!

 

 

AvontuurAvontuur Estate

Sprawling grounds blanketed in flowers, award-winning wines, a top-rated restaurant and some of the most graceful and beautiful race horses in the world… we think this is a winning combination. That is why we have added a visit to Avontuur Estate to our Cape Town itinerary. And our travelers are returning with rave reviews.

Avontuur Estate RestaurantFruit of the Vine

This gorgeous estate is nestled against the Helderberg between Stellenbosch and Somerset West and has been producing quality wine grapes for more than 140 years… a historical commitment that is reflected today in their range of award-winning wines.

They offer a selection of easy-drinking blends called the Vintner’s Range, which is also extremely affordable. Next up is the top-quality Estate range and then the limited volume Premiere range, which reflects the best their winemaker can produce in a particular year. They also produce a Methode Cap Classique Sparkling wine and a pot-stilled, hand-crafted brandy, which makes a great gift.

Avonturr WineSit and Sip

The cozy tasting room at Avontuur welcomes visitors with a wooden counter made from old, used wine barrels and a wine display along the back wall. Seating is at the counter on bar stools, at wooden tables set out inside the venue or during the summer months, outside on comfy furniture overlooking the paddocks and Helderberg.

Taste of South Africa

The restaurant is decorated in an eclectic mix of old and new, and has a warm inviting atmosphere. The sun drenched terrace with its vine draped pagodas, has spectacular views of the paddocks, vines and Table Mountain and is popular in summer. In winter, a blazing fire and underfloor heating welcomes guests. As for the food? TripAdvisor voted it the No. 1 Restaurant in the Helderberg.

Avonturr Horses

Exceptional Equines

You’ll see some of the finest thoroughbred horses roaming the property as you sip wine on the veranda overlooking the estate. Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm, situated next to the wine estate at the foot of the Helderberg mountain, has always strived towards the “quality not quantity” motto. It was established in the late 1980s by the late Tony Taberer, and his dream and passion continues.  Avontuur now has a superb broodmare band from around the world, slowly but surely establishing the operation in the top league.

Are you ready for some fine wine and fast horses? Visit www.avontuurestate.co.za to learn more about Avontuur. Visit www.touchcorporation.com for more information about our South Africa tours.

 

Join us for dinner on Friday. This sumptuous meal will be paired with select South African wines. Call today to reserve your spot!

5-Course South African Wine Dinner

presented by

Café L’Europe and

Go Touch Down Travel & Tours as Wine Sponsor

Friday, July 18th at 7 p.m. in The Gallery Room at Café L’Europe

$85 per person, inclusive. Reservations required: 941-388-4415

Jumbo ShrimpMENU

 HORS D’OUERVES

Jumbo Shrimp

Offered with Bloody Mary cocktail sauce

Brandied Peaches & Brie Puffs

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

Kissed with a brown sugar glaze

Wild Mushroom Tartlet

Lobster BisqueServed with Lions Lair Chenin Blanc

 1st COURSE

Iconic Lobster Bisque

Lobster morsels, crème fraiche

Served with Lions Lair Rose Cab/Merlot

2nd COURSEWine Tasting

Assorted Field Greens, Summer Tomatoes, Hearts of Palm, topped with Luscious Crab Cake

Drizzled with a balsamic reduction

Served with Rustenberg Chardonnay

3rd COURSE

CrepesBoneless Short Ribs

Slowly cooked in a red wine demi-glaze, chef’s selection of fresh market vegetables

Served with Barista Pinotage

4th COURSE

Summer Crepe

Filled with luscious summer berries, napped in crème Anglais

Served with Robertson

Late Harvest Gewurztraaminer

Coffee service offered with dessert

Sip, Shop & Socialize to the Rhythm of the Drums

South African wine will flow freely on Friday, July 18th – Nelson Mandela International Day – at our new Hamba Lounge inside our Touch of Africa Gallery on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota.

Hamba Lounge on St. Armands CircleA ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 3 p.m., and then at promptly at 4:53 p.m., the fun really begins… 67 minutes of complimentary beverages at the lounge and a 20 percent off sale on everything in the gallery, including conversational art, home décor and jewelry. Our South African drummer might just inspire you to dance a bit while you sip, shop and socialize. The best part is, it’s all for charity.

Mandela DaySince Nelson Mandela contributed 67 years of his life to public service, the United Nations encourages everyone to contribute 67 minutes for community benefit on this day. In this spirit, we are going to donate a portion of proceeds from the 20 percent off sale to a local charity.

This celebration kicks-off our bi-monthly Hamba Happy Hour and 20 percent off sale, held every other Friday from 5-6 p.m. (Hamba means “travel” in Zulu, one of 11 official languages in South Africa.) Just follow the sound of the drums to Hamba Lounge, our casual travel library where we offer you a taste of our South African hospitality. Here we transport you to extraordinary places through books, magazines and videos, one sip at a time.

Hamba Happy Hour ends at 6 p.m., but on Mandela Day the celebration continues at Café L’Europe. The renowned restaurant has partnered with us to commemorate the day with a delectable five-course menu paired with select South African wines.

Nelson Mandela Dinner at Cafe L'EuropeIn addition to the award-winning cuisine for which Café L’Europe is known, you’ll be treated to descriptions of the five varietals featured with each course. The cost per person is $85 inclusive. Dinner is at 7 p.m. and reservations are required; call the restaurant at 941-388-4415, or visit www.cafeleurope.net.

Come on out and celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day with us. See you on the 18th!

 

South Africans are known for being enthusiastic beer drinkers. They also produce some of the world’s best wines (worthy of a whole encyclopedia). But that’s by no means the whole story. As with the country’s food, South Africa’s drinks have been influenced by the different cultures that have colonized through the years.

Alcohol

AmaraluaAmarula Cream – a local cream liqueur, generally drunk after dinner. It is made from the fruit of the marula tree (Sclerocarya Birrea), a favorite of elephants, baboons and monkeys who are said to get drunk and party as the rotting fruit ferments in the wild.

Beer – South African beer is typically American-style. Castle lager is the runaway biggest seller of all, but local brewing giants, South African Breweries also produce Carling Black South African BeerLabel, Grolsch and various other brands. Lion lager and Namibian Windhoek lager are also popular.

Mahewu/Mechow/Umqombothi – with different names in all the different local languages, traditional African beer is made from mashed up maize or sorghum, malt, yeast and water. It is thick, heavy, creamy, slightly gritty, slightly sour, with a relatively low alcohol content.

Dop (dawp) – general Afrikaans term for any alcoholic drink: “Would you like a dop?”

Mampoer (mum-poo-er)/witblitz (vit-blitts, literally ‘white lightning’) – Powerful homemade brandy/firewater, similar to American moonshine, made from a range of different fruits.

Van der Hum Liqueur – this wonderfully aromatic liqueur is a blend of brandy, wine, naartje (mandarin oranges/satsumas) peel and spices. It was distilled here for centuries by housewives before it was bottled officially. It is named after Admiral Van der Hum of the Dutch East India Company fleet who is said to have been ‘fond of it to the point of distraction’.

Wine – Jan van Riebeeck, the Dutch founder of the Cape colony, produced the first recorded wine way back in 1659. The first French Huguenots arrived 20 years later and from that moment on, South African wines began to make their mark on the world. Fine wines are given a WO (Wine of Origin) label, with around 60 districts. Here are some local specialties to look for:

South African Wineshanepoot (haa-nah-poort) – a sweet wine made from the muscat blanc d’Alexandrie grape

hanerood – a sweet wine made from a blend of red grapes

pinotage (pee-no-targe) – this red varietal is a cross between the pinot noir and cinsaut (hermitage), producing distinctively rich, earthy, smoky wines

Non-Alcoholic

Amasi/Maas (pronounced um-ah-see) – a drink of thick soured milk, similar to yogurt and similarly said to be very good for the digestion. Traditionally it is unpasteurized and fermented in a calabash (gourd), but it is also now also sold in a pasteurized form. Amasi is the Zulu name, Maas the Afrikaans.

Cooldrink, Colddrink – any soda, such as Coca-Cola or Fanta. Soda is reserved purely for club soda. Amongst local specialities, look out for Stoney’s Ginger Beer and Schweppes Granadilla Twist (passion fruit) which are both delicious.

Mageu/Mahewu/Amarhewu/Amahewu - the non-alcoholic version of maheu, this is a thin drinking mealy meal (maize or sorghum) porridge. Traditionally made at home the night before drinking, it is also available commercially these days.

Rock Shandy – a local specialty that is a lovely thirst-quenching alternative to overly sweet sodas – half lemonade, half soda water, with a dash of Angostura bitters, a slice of lemon and lots of ice.

colate Mint Rooibos Iced TeaRooibos (roy-boss) – Afrikaans for red bush. Now adopted across the world as a health drink, rooibos has been drunk as a tea in South Africa for generations, usually served black with lemon or honey. The Cyclopia genistoides bush is native to the Cederberg mountains of the Western Cape and is said to be caffeine-free, high in anti-oxidants with a very low tannin content.

You deserve a break today! Stop by the Afro Café to sample some of South Africa’s finest beverages.

Does the thought of going on vacation inspire feelings of joy? It should! There are nine secrets to a happy vacation, according to the new “Road to Happiness Study”, which quantifies the connection between happiness and travel. Results of the study revealed some key elements of the happiest vacations.

Plan Ahead

When you plan ahead, you get a double benefit: better prices and more availability. A recent CheapAir.com report monitored 4 million flights and found that the average lowest fares surfaced 54 days before travel. And, according to the Road to Happiness Study, 90 percent of the happiest vacationers planned more than a month in advance, leaving plenty of time to savor the delicious pre-vacation anticipation.

South African Airways

Look Far

For vacation happiness, you must commit to actually going away, not going halfway on a staycation. According to the Road to Happiness Study, 94 percent of respondents found greater happiness when traveling far from home. And while the occasional weekend getaway might boost morale in the short term, 85 percent of the happiest, most memorable vacations occurred when people ventured to destinations beyond the United States.

Table Mountain

Beat Stress

Vacation happiness comes from taking it slow enough to really be present, not zooming ahead to the next sight, activity, or meal. In fact, a whopping 88 percent of travelers reported that their happiest vacations were mostly stress-free. And a happy vacation has lingering benefits as well: 93 percent of respondents said that their happiest vacations boosted their energy at work after their return.

Kapama Spa with Elephants

Befriend a Local

A place truly comes alive when you see it through the eyes of a local. Instead of relying on the same guidebooks or online reviews that every other visitor is reading, you get a personal connection and the inside scoop. In fact, the study suggests that this is actually a key to vacation happiness. Nearly 80 percent of travelers polled said that on their best trips, they had the support of a knowledgeable friend in the destination or benefited from the expertise of a local guide.

African lion (Panthera leo); Republic of South AfricaSplurge

Vacation is the right place to splurge. It takes such a significant investment of time, money, and effort to get you to your destination that it just doesn’t make sense to not take the special behind-the-scenes tour of Rome’s Colosseum or book the heli-tour in Hawaii because you want to save some money. This isn’t an argument for springing for the private jet, but you don’t want to regret passing up activities you may never have the chance to do again. In fact, of travelers surveyed, only 13 percent said the costs associated with a vacation hindered their overall happiness with the trip.

Bungee Jumping

Seek Meaning

The happiest trips are those that spark something in your soul, feed your curiosity, or fulfill a lifelong dream. So next time you start planning a vacation, take some time to really consider your choice. Too many people default to popular or convenient destinations, without taking the time to consider which trips—even if they would take a little more time, effort, or money—have the potential to be life-changing experiences.
Elephant-Back Safari

Seek Help When You Need It

Trip Advisor 2014

For some, planning is as much a part of the trip as the journey. But for others, it can seem a bit daunting. You’ve got plenty of options that will make your vacation far more enjoyable right from the outset, including availing yourself of the services of our Travel Specialists who will tend to all of the details, so you don’t have to.

 

Manage Typical Stressors

According to the study, the top three barriers to happy travel are time-management issues, unfamiliarity with the destination, and transportation challenges. For a happier vacation, be realistic about your itinerary and don’t over-schedule yourself. This is a non-issue when traveling with us to South Africa, whether on a Cape Town tour or safari. Our itineraries are carefully planned to optimize your days and nights while also allowing for down time.

Fly Fishing

Go to Your Happy Place

If you want to find happiness on vacation, make sure you’ve chosen a destination that makes you happy. Find places full of the things you love, whether that’s art or nature … or exotic cuisine.

Leopard

Need a little inspiration? Call us at 877-480-6881 or visit our website. In addition to affordable luxury South African Tours, we can help you with cruises, condos & resorts and customized travel worldwide.

 

The Road to Happiness Study was led by renown positive psychology researcher Shawn Achor in conjunction with Monograms Travel. Portions of this article were excerpted from “Nine Secrets to a Happy Vacation”, originally posted at smartertravel.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers

%d bloggers like this: