5 Destinations That Stole My Heart

Photo credit: Igor Ovsyannykov

As one born of gypsy blood and with ancestors who boarded a ship from India to South Africa to find new adventures, it is no wonder I am besotted with travel. My love for travel has been fuelled by my parents and my Spice Goddess blog, which has afforded me many amazing travel experiences. Check out the 5 places that stole a piece of my heart.

Midlands Meander – my new local favourite spot. There are so many wonderful places to stay at, like Brahman Hills, amazing places to eat at, like the Midlands Kitchen, and lots of locally produced products from leather goods to craft beer and soaps, to name a few. Only an hour and a half Durban, it’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. There are several excellent spas hidden along the meander to suit all budgets. Having never visited the Midlands before, after two trips in six months I wish I had done this much earlier. I am now determined to visit the Meander at least once a year.

Mauritius – a mere 3 hour flight from Durban and paradise awaits you. The island is home to a few UNESCO world heritage sites and there is loads to see and do besides lying on the beach sipping cocktails. Recently the island celebrated its 50th year of independence and showcased the rich history of the island from indentured labourers to French farmers to Chinese traders. A perfect family holiday – and yes it is visa free for South Africans. One of my favourite memories of the island would be a visit to Grand Bassin to Ganga Talao, a religious temple visited by thousands of Hindu devotees yearly for the Shivarathri festival. This experience was so emotionally moving that it brought tears to my eyes.

Kerala – based in the South of India, Kerala is a beautiful multi-faceted society steeped in history, culture, technology and religion. The home of Ayurvedic medicine and treatments, Kerala is a popular destination for many. Discover the Backwaters of Allepy on a houseboat, watch the locals fish using Chinese fishing nets, and drink loads of fresh coconut water. I was fortunate enough to spend 15 days exploring ‘God’s Own Country’ with 30 travel bloggers from around the world on a road trip. The Backwaters of Kerala is something that words cannot describe and it is no wonder that it is nicknamed the Venice of the East.

Abu Dhabi – home to the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the famous Formula 1 race track. Abu Dhabi oozes old school Arab charm in a modern setting with something for the entire family to do. From dune bashing to Ferrari World and not forgetting all those amazing malls to shop and eat in. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with the Arab world, so finding myself in Abu Dhabi and ticking it off my bucket list was pretty awesome. Just before my trip I watched Sex in the City with the girls in Abu Dhabi and the thing that stood out for me was their desert adventure. So when I saw my itinerary included a desert adventure, all I could do was think of those epic sand dune photos. My ultimate was catching a desert sunset and watching the stars later that night … truly breath-taking.

Turkey – with direct flights from SA to Istanbul, Turkey is sure to become a popular holiday destination. A country filled with history, the poetry of Rumi, and delicious food, there is loads for one to do here. And with Turkey been visa free with just an online application, it should definitely be on your bucket list. My first encounter with Turkey came when I lived in London and taught Turkish students who introduced me to their food, culture and music. This led to me visiting Istanbul twice – and each time I fell deeper in love with this city and her people. I recall sitting silently on a bench while gazing at the Blue Mosque … I was so blown away by the beauty.

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