Our holiday to Franschhoek and Cape Town in South Africa a couple of months ago was the tight hug I didn’t know I needed but ABSOLUTELY DID! Our 12 days away saw my husband Peter and I, returning to a country which holds many special memories for us not least because we got married there in 2005 but we also shared our first holiday abroad together in the country.
Peter, who I met in my early 20s while he was studying in the UK was born in the picturesque town of Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape and we married there in our first magical wedding (our second wedding was in the Greek Orthodox Church a year later after Peter had been christened and finished his Greek studies-it takes a lot to marry this girl). Our life definitely felt very Big Fat Greek Wedding in 2006!
But back to our utterly moving wedding ceremony in South Africa where we said our vows, holding back tears, overlooking the sea from a stunning hotel on the coast, candles flickering on flower-laden tables, champagne flowing, with 25 of our loved ones by our side.
We spent our honeymoon in the beautiful lagoon and forest-heavy town of Knysna on the Western Cape and enjoyed another holiday before the wedding, visiting game reserves and travelling the wine route by car, where I experienced so much of this achingly beautiful country. We also made a heartbreaking visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was once held prisoner.
This trip, though, was the first there with our two young sons, Oliver, 9, and Alexander, 6, and offered us a chance to spend precious quality time with Peter’s parents, David and Cathy in what undoubtedly our most favourite holiday to-date. As cliched as it sounds, every single day with our family there was filled with so much love and laughter.
Franschhoek is the most tranquil place we’ve ever visited. You could hear a pin drop from our apartment, it’s that quiet and tranquil.
A valley with centuries-old vineyards and Cape Dutch architecture and white washed houses, you feel like you’ve entered a 3D fairy tale there. Alexander asked if ‘were in a movie’ when we arrived and that couldn’t have summed up the area better.
I think from here on now, if I’m ever feeling sad or overwhelmed, I’ll close my eyes and transport myself back to the balcony of our pretty apartment in the picture-perfect Franschhoek overlooking the mountains and will take a deep breath. It really is my new happy place.
The apartment fit us all (4 adults and 2 children) and was kindly gifted to us by HomeExchange, a site where you can exchange your home and travel the world.
You simply sign up, pay the joining fee, upload details of your own property and when you can make it available and start searching for your own trips. It couldn’t be simpler and the properties vary from smart apartments to mansions in the mountains.
Spacious, traditional, homely, with a cleaner who came twice during our stay, and a fridge full of goodies including champagne, plus a stunning bouquet, the owner Craig and their management team were incredibly generous to us and a complete joy to liaise with from start to end. We were lucky to find him via HomeExchange.
I’ve made a vlog with an apartment tour and highlights from each day away (shared below), so I want to keep the blog post as short as possible (famous last words!) as nothing transports you to a country like a video does but we hung out with family we’d not seen in far too long, the children met their Uncles, Barry and Rohan and Barry’s partner Josephine as well as Aunt Jen and Uncle Geoff, truly connected with the country my husband is from.
We dined in restaurants overlooking mountainous terrain that took our breath away, visited animal farm sanctuaries in Franschhoek that played classical music to their inhabitants, including Pigcasso, a pig who paints brilliantly, and marvelled at rescued chimpanzees playing catch, and sleepy lions who wanted to do anything but play with one another, at Drakenstein Lions Park. We immediately took to a slower pace of life and frankly never wanted to leave.
Self-care at its finest.
The kids keep asking when we’ll return, and we all miss the family masses.
Travelling to Cape Town for the final few days of our trip before heading home, we made a stunning penthouse apartment our home (this was paid for by us and incredibly reasonable thanks to the exchange rate) with sprawling views of Table Mountain which felt so close, we could almost touch it.
There, we experienced the most exquisite sunsets of our lives (the one we witnessed at Camps Bay beach felt dream-like as the skyline morphed into every single colour imaginable, enveloping us in its magic) and I honestly can’t remember a more tranquil or nourishing holiday ever.
Don’t miss the vlog:
Thank you HomeExchange. Thank you so very much.
Our apartment with HomeExchange was gifted. All words, as always are honest.
Excitingly you can win membership with HomeExchange which is worth 130 euros.
No cash alternative
Ends August 30th 2019.
The prime will be 1 year membership Optimal for the value of 130€ on HomeExchange platform. To get the free membership the winner will have to fulfil his/her personal and home profiles up to 100%. The winner will also have to initially pay for the membership and the reimbursement from HomeExchange will be processed within a week from the day in which the winner has been announced. The GuestPoints are not considered part of the prime. The winner will have to use the GuestPoints received through the sign up funnel.