Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sydney

As I always find myself disorientated and lazy it took me two hours to find my backpackers in Sydney. First of all the toll free number they gave me for my cheap airport transfer remained unanswered so I opted for a not so cheap train ride. I took a train to Central Station and then switched trains to go to Kings Cross (R200 later mind you). The hostel wasn't that far from the station and relatively easy to find. Also true to my traveling traditions my dorm room was on the third floor. Again I had the huge suitcase (the same one I dragged up the stairs in Barcelona). The dorm room was small, fucking hot, but relatively clean. By the time of check in I only had one room mate who wasn't there. It was a four roomed dorm for girls. This girl, obviously not from South Africa, had all her belongings lying all over the room obviously not even thinking that someone might steal her shit. Anyways I went in search for dinner shortly after check-in and found myself down at Wooloomooloo wharf and had to climb a shitload if stairs again to get to Victoria street which was where my bed was located.


I ended up at a small pizza joint called Doughboy just around the corner from Sydney backpackers. This backpackers is slightly different from all the other places I've stayed before. This one didn't have a bar or a tiny restaurant. It was all self service. Its cool for one night (just make sure you have your own towel, they don't provide that - however they do provide semi decent bedding) but I wouldn't recommend it. It was cheap though. The cheapest I could find though - should've been the first red light. Don't be fooled they have a really cool website. There are many other backpackers in Victoria road which looked awesome!


The following day I woke up to have my free breakfast - dry toast with strawberry jam and then packed up, dragged my suitcase down to reception and checked out. I took a taxi to the Blu hotel where we were booked in for work for the next few days. It really was walking distance, but with a million stairs between point A and B.


The hotel was beautiful and really centrally located. Check out the link : http://www.tajhotels.com/Luxury/City-Hotels/Blue-Sydney/Overview.html


Monday, April 14, 2014

NZ continued

Tori, one of Frankie's best friend celebrated her birthday while I was there. I was lucky enough to be invited to the birthday barbeque. To my surprise, two of Tori's close friends are South African. I found myself at a braai in Wellington with lamb chops, boerewors and biltong. WHAT?! It was great but surreal at the same time to be able to speak Afrikaans in New Zealand. Who would have thought? 

The braai was great fun. Somewhere in the middle of night, Frankie and I braved the cold and walked all the way to the shop to buy chocolate and cooldrinks. On the way back we hitch-hiked and we met a guy (in the parking lot) who looked extremely happy - smiling from ear to ear. Frankie asked whether he would take us back to the BBQ and he said yes almost immediately. Turned out that he just had the best sex with a random dude he just met. Being a little freaked out at the back of the car, it was incredible to see how happy this guy was and that his night was made. A little weird all in all, but we got back to the BBQ in one piece and everyone was really happy about the midnight snack :)

Sunday was our last day full day together. The weather was so miserable that we spent the whole day in doors watching movies and eating :) It was a great way to spend the day and it was so cool to just hang with Frankie and Dave like the old days. Who know's when I'll see them again.

Monday morning I had to say goodbye to Frankie and Dave. It was a sad morning, but also a very quick goodbye (which I prefer). It's always a see-you-later and never a goodbye.


I would never be able to thank them enough for opening their home and their fridge to me for an entire week. I'm incredibly blessed to have such great friends. I just hope that one day I will be able to repay them. Frankie and Dave, you know my door is always open. Hopefully we can get you guys to South Africa soon. 

Lots of love,
Netta xx



In a land down under

I live for traveling, but man do I hate flying. It's long, it's boring, the food sucks and did I mention its long and boring?

My trip to Sydney (1 Feb 2014) was especially long. It started a Saturday morning at seven. Cape town - Johannesburg - Bangkok - Sydney (21 hours of flying without lay overs). Cape Town to Johannesburg was uneventful. As I boarded the Thai Airways flight to Bangkok I thought to myself: Ugh man eleven hours of sitting squashed up against some stranger ... Fun! To my surprise (and for the first time in my life) the plane was pretty much completely empty. I couldn't believe my luck! I had three seats to myself. What?! I had dinner (delish) and watched 'The Butler' (hectic!!) and slept the rest of the way. They woke us up for breakfast and half way through my movie we were on the ground. Nice, I can like to be traveling like so :)




Bangkok airport was a little confusing - I have to add I was also still half asleep. I sat outside my gate waiting to board without a drop of water or coffee. There was nothing to buy (plus I discovered that I forgot my Baht at home). As boarding time came closer I realised that the gate is still not open but that there are people on the other side. All the time I was waiting at the wrong side. Off course I was stuck at the side with nothing to do, nothing to buy and only about 3 chairs. All the open shops were just around the corner. fml



The flight from Bangkok to Sydney was pretty crappy. It was full, long and boring. Nine hours of doing nothing. Yay!

I did fall asleep once or twice. Also managed to finish watching Hugo (such a cool movie). Further more I watched Turbo and Tintin - still it felt like the clock was standing still.

Andy, Maggie and Michael were at the airport in Sydney to meet me and took me to their house. Andy and Maggie met my parents on a cruise in 2004 and have been friends ever since. Michael have visited us in South Africa and  now I've visited them as well. It was so cool to see where they live and to hang out with them. Enroute home they took me the scenic route - we crossed the big Sydney bridge and I could vaguely make out the opera house. It was pretty amazing and very surreal.

We had a couple of beers at home while catching up. I slept like a baby, literally woke up every hour but felt pretty refreshed the following morning.

Arriving at the Sydney airport the next morning, I was told that my ticket to New Zealand didn't include luggage, so I had to pay $80 for my suit case. Not a nice way to wake up. Nevertheless I had to do it cause I was going away for one week and really had nowhere else to leave my stuff. The flight to Wellington was uneventful and by the time I got off on the other end I was proper sick of flying. Didn't want to see the inside of a plane anytime soon.  Dave picked me up from the airport and drove me their house. I met Frankie and Dave back in Korea and saw this as the perfect opportunity to come and visit! Dave and I went home, made cheese sandwiches and had a chilled afternoon. Was so nice to see their house and their pets all the way from Korea. It was even more surreal being in New Zealand than in Sydney.

Our first night was spent out in the front yard with some friends of Frankie and Dave, eating pizza and playing cards.

Petone, where Frankie and Dave lives is a pretty little town. It has an American feel to it, super suburbia. On my first morning I went exploring down Jackson street, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed down to the beach. Thereafter I took the train to Wellington and walked all along the quay. Wellington is beautiful, just a pity it was a bit windy. The weather is a lot like Cape Town. I walked, I sat, I shopped and had Burger King :)






Our first official site seeing was that of Zealandia. It is a beautiful bird sanctuary that forms part of the green belt that runs around the city. Its over looks the city centre but feels like you are miles away.




The Friday was probably the highlight of my trip. We woke up to a drug bust in our street and watched the whole thing unfold. It was pretty exciting to see them catch the bad guys. It was a gorgeous morning so we headed off to town and rented some stand up paddle boards on the wharf and paddled up and down the coast of wellington city. The views were breathtaking, just wished I had a water proof camera to take it all in. We even managed to do downward facing dogs on our boards without falling off. We then headed to a little hill overlooking the airport for a picnic and went home for a well deserved nap.






It was a good weekend to be in Wellington.  Waitangi day as well as the Sevens. The Sevens is almost like Halloween in Wellington. Everybody dresses up and takes to the streets to get hammered.  We had cheerleading outfits but they didn't fit so we just headed out looking funny. We partied on the wharf and then went to a house party in cuba street where we got stuck in a lift. The house party was such a mood killer, there was only 6 people and we knew no one. It was on the way out that we got stuck in the elevator. Luckily it was only for a few minutes but it was really scary - it was so tiny and we were six people squashed up against each other. When we finally made it out we went to Courtenay place to check out a few bars.





So tuned for what happened next ... 










Thursday, April 3, 2014

Some Barcelona pictures :) Next time I won't be so lazy and I'll add them to the text. Enjoy x





















Monday, March 17, 2014

Barcelona

Ok so continuing my blog. Call it a travel blog if you will. I haven't been here for a while - sorry about that. Again, I'm hoping someone reads about my adventures, if not its a cool way to remember where i went and what I did.

So I went on my first official sales trip to attend the annual tradeshow called EITBM. No idea what it stands for.

My awesome boss gave me a few days headstart so that I could explore.

A friend from school, Hilde, met up with me for the weekend. We rented an apartment in the gothic neighbourhood for the weekend. I arrived on the Friday morning and took a train to some station to connect with metro line three to Liceu on La Rambla. I was supposed to meet the landlord there for the keys but he was in a meeting so I set off to find the laundromat where he left the spare set of keys. It was actually really close to the metro stop but a slightly panicked and tired me walked for probably an hour (with my suitcase) to find the place. Ended up in the right street in front of a very dodgy black and graffiti'd door. I opened the door only to find the  most frightening staircase of my life. My first thought was, o my fuck, I'm gonna  get raped or robbed in my sleep. I managed to drag my suitcase up three flights of stairs to the apartment. The apartment is great though. It felt relatively safe, was beautiful though small. It was clean and ridiculously central so who was I to complain?

I took to the streets to shop my heart out only to be super disappointed. I was craving H&M and a proper Zara, but could not find anything. I walked and walked and walked exploring and ended up at a little tapas place on Las Ramblas to drink sangria and write post cards.

Hilde arrived just after midnight, it was so good seeing her and catching up. We went looking for a bar after we got her settled at the apartment but couldn't find anything close by that was open.

Saturday morning we woke up to a huge storm, thunder and all! We were extremely tempted to stay in bed all day but eventually set out to find some breakfast. After buying umbrellas we went to the food market and got some breakfast followed by delicious wine.

Thereafter we did the heaviest tourist thing and got onto the red hop on hop off bus. The bus took us to La Sagrada Familia which was ridiculously cool! Unfortunately the line was so long it went right around the church so obviously we couldn't get in. Always leave something to come back to right? We continued on the bus a little bit and then got sick of being stuck on a bus and got off at Tibidabo to have coffee and catch the metro back to La Rambla. Did i mention that it was super cold?

Instead of getting off at la Rambla we continued to Port Vell for some shopping. Up until this point it was pouring with rain and we were frozen so we opted for some indoor shopping goodness. Two hours later we left the mall with various purchases and went home to deposit our new goodies.

My main shopping mission for Barcelona was to buy a nice pair of leather boots. After we left the apartment the boot search continued in the pouring rain. Wet feet is a great incentive for buying boots :)

Literally five minutes before we had to meet the girlfriend of Hilde's cousin we found the perfect pair of boots.

Marga (the girlfriend) took us to the most amazing little tapas place. It was a bit of a wait but soooo worth it. The place was super nice and crammed with locals. We fought our way open to the bar and took our seats to start our tapa and wine feast. I cant even describe the food we had, but it was out of this world delicious! Marga took us to a bar close to our apartment for some late night sangria. We were met by a transvestite and a cross-gender cow person/thing. It was such a creative and awesome place and we literally just sat in a corner people watching.

What an amazing day!! I havent even told you yet, Marga is a big time celeb in B-town. She is on the Spanish olympic synchronized swimming team. It was so interesting and amazing listening to her stories and experiences. She is such a nice person and we are really lucky that our paths crossed with hers.

My last day with Hilde was also spent in the rain but we had so much fun! We woke up late and headed out for breakfast. A breakfast of champions. A chocolate croissant and a late. We walked a lot (in my new boots) and accidentally ended up at Barcelona's  own Arc d Triomph. What?! Yes thats right.. If im not mistaken it was for some world show thing (i cant remember the name, but will post as soon as it comes to me). We took a couple of jumping pictures in front of the fake landmark and missioned on. We landed up on a bus making our way up to Tibidabo. Tibidabo is sort of a mountain and a lookout point over the beautiful city. Once the bus drops you, you board an ancient funicular ( more scary than cool old!) to the top. Ed and Tyler shared the funicular with us - fantastic meeting these two actors from Canada land (?) - they were great photographers and even posed on a few pics with us. Hopefully somewhere around the world we'll bump into them again.

Tibidabo was gorgeous and the views over the city beautiful, but unfortunately we had only a few minutes at the top as we had to rush back home to get Hilde to the airport. We made it home just in time.

We said our goodbyes and Hilde headed off to the airport, and i took a cab to my hotel. The hotel, Murmuri is just up the road from the awesome tapas place Marga took us to. Its a beautiful boutique style hotel located very centrally and close to amazing shops.

Monday morning started early as i got back into work mode. I met Yolanda and Rupert for breakfast and chatted through the day's happenings. We went to the convention centre to go and check our stand and headed home to prepare for our meetings for the following three days.

For those of you who dont know, i work in sales and marketing for a destination management company. We sell southern and east africa as destinations for international corporate incentive groups. We attend various international trade shows all over the world to market our product - gorgeous dark wild africa. In conclusion, this is how i found myself in Barcelona. Barcelona is the host city to the annual EIBTM show in November. In feb 2014 we are heading to AIME in Melbourne, Australia.

Ive heard many things about these shows and to sum it up i was warned that im going to talk a lot, walk a lot, smile a lot and be exhausted after three days. Well they were right. However they made it out to be a bad thing. Yes i was exhausted, but i honestly enjoyed it. It was so empowering telling people about our amazing country and refreshing that most of them actually showed a real interest. I was so psyched up half way through the first day i couldve danced circles around the entire conference centre.

During the show days we visited amazing restaurants; i had an apple and basil martini, saw a dj in a unisex bathroom, had delicious spanish ham, beautiful white wines and moody spanish waiters. All in all Barcelona was one hell of an experience!

The trip back home was not so much fun. I flew back on Egypt Air - a dry, boring and slightly creepy airline. I really wouldn't recommend this, but it was cheap and the food was sort of edible :) ag no worries, i got to go to Barcelona and got home in one piece so all good.

Stay tuned for New Zealand and Australia.

Lots of love,
Netta

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cook Club

Myself and three girlfriends decided on starting our very own cook club. The idea is for us to have a proper excuse to catch up once a month and to exchange awesome recipes and also to learn a few tips here and there.

Each month one friend gets a chance to host cook club and have to provide a proper meal for the other 3 girls. The other three make sure there's enough wine and so the party begins :) 


Our first round of cook club was super successful. Santie was the first to host and made delicious homemade burgers.  What a great way to start cook club?


I was next up and made bobotie from the legendary Kook en Geniet. The recipe is as follows:


Ingredients:

- 2 x onions
- Oil or butter
- 1kg x mince
- 1 x slice of bread
- 250ml of milk
- 2 x eggs
- 15ml Curry powder
- 22.5ml sugar
- 10ml salt
- pepper
- 30ml vinegar or juice from 1 lemon
- 7.5ml tumeric
- 125ml raisins
- 4 x bay leaves
- 45ml chutney

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
2. Chop onions, and brown in the oil. Add meat.
3. Soak bread in milk and squeeze milk out - you want to work the bread into the mixture
4. Mix all the ingredients, except for 125ml of the milk, 1 egg and the bay leaves
5. Dish mixture into a sprayed oven bowl
6. Bake for one hour.
7. Beat the one left over egg and milk and pour over meat mixture an half hour before taking out of the oven.
8. Serve with yellow rice and chutney

Next in line was Lyall who made Paella. I'm not a fan of Paella, but couldn't get enough of Lyall's. It was delicious and a great night with the girls. We even had cook club cupcakes from charly's bakery.





Last but not least was Tessa. Tessa made a delicious lasagne with the best chocolate mousse for dessert.

Here's the recipes:

Beef Lasagne: (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:
- 250 g packet instant lasagna sheets
- 1.5 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
- 1.5 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
- 1.5 cup thickened or pouring cream
- 1.25 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


Ingredients for the Cheese sauce:
- 60g butter or margarine
- 1/3 cup plain flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese 
- salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the meat sauce:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 x onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 500g beef mince
- 2 x 425g cans tomatoes
- 1.25 cup red wine
- 1.5 tsp ground oregano
- 1.5 tsp ground basil
- salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Brush a shallow overproof dish with melted butter or oil, line with lasagna sheets - breaking them to fill any gaps. Set aside. To make cheese sauce, melt butter in a medium pan. Add flour and sit for one minute. Remove from heat. Gradually add milk, stirring until mixture is smooth. Return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until sauce boils and thickens. Reduce heat, simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat, add cheese, salt and pepper. Stir well until combined and set aside.

To make meat sauce, heat oil in a large pan. Add onion and garlic and stir over low heat until onion is tender. Add mince. Brown well - breaking up with a fork as it cooks. Stir in undrained, crushed tomatoes, wine, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer 20 minutes.

Spoon one-third of the meat sauce over lasagna sheets. Top with one-third of the cheese sauce. Arrange a layer of lasagna sheets on top.

Continue layering, finishing with lasagna sheets. Sprinkle with combined mozzarella and cheddar cheese.

Pour cream over the top. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until bubbling and golden.





The Choclate mousse:



Stay tuned for more from the cook club. Important to remember that we have rules:

1. You cannot prepare anything the day before. It has to be prepared after work
2. You have to make it from scratch
3. We have to eat before 21h30

Will post more soon x

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Herb Trolley


I recently acquired a small shopping cart and got a few herbs for my birthday and decided to merge the two and make my very own little herb garden on wheels. This way I can move them out of the harsh Camps Bay wind and move them from sun spot to sun spot. They can either be on the balcony, in the kitchen when cooking or even my room.

I have started out with Parsley, Coriander, Chives and Basil.

There are various amazing tips and pointers you can find all over the internet, Pinterest is particularly good for this.

In order to start a good herb (or any) garden, you need good soil. You can use any soil, but be sure to add compost to the soil before planting your seeds. It's always a good idea to add the compost to the soil a week or so before planting, to give the compost time to do it's job. Compost can be bought at any garden centre. You can also make it yourself. I found a couple of cool websites, but this one is a good one to check out. Everything you need to know about Composting. The cool thing about doing it yourself is that you are actually reducing your amount of kitchen waste. There are ways of doing this as to not stink up your entire garden. Here's another cool link: http://www.makeandtakes.com/its-not-trashy-to-compost?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+makeandtakes+%28Make+and+Takes%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

Another really cool idea that keeps away slugs and pests are crushed egg shells. I never know what to do with them. They protect your plants and provides nutrients over time that can help your plants grow and blossom.

This weekend I'm going to add to my garden, by buying a few more herbs. I will keep you posted as this is quite an experiment and something new to me. I have had herb gardens before, but nothing serious, just for fun, and each time I moved, I had to sadly leave them behind.

If you have any pointers or helpful hints, please pass them onto me by commenting on this post.

Wish me luck x