Category Archives: Beach

Croatia: First Sailing trip with my Captain in the Adria


Being with a passionate skipper for all these years but this really was my first sailing trip with him. I was so afraid of my sea-sickness getting the worst of me if I stayed on a boat for the whole week but this trip turned out great. We enjoyed it so much that and we’ve already started planning our honeymoon in the Caribbean ;-).

Though I’m like fish in the water, I am not much of a help ABOVE it so we asked our dear married friends Tulip &Jens to join us for the week. Jens was also learning for his sailling license so he was the perfect second-in-command on the yacht. We girls didn’t do much the whole week except bossing them around ;-). They flew in a couple days earlier to explore Split, we came down with the car (very long drive) to meet up with them. We spent our first night on the boat in the Marina Kastela and celebrated J’s birthday, to which Tulip &Jens were so nice and organized a birthday cake from Split.

I’ve never been on any sailing trip before but if you don’t have the skipper lisence, you can only go on those organized cruises that everyone said could be very unpleasant. Now I know why. These cruises often take place in small yachts with 2-4 cabins, each occupied by 2 people (only the skipper has one for himself, two other persons will sleep in the common “room” of the boat so a yacht with 4 cabins can occupy up to 10 people), hence if you go alone the chances are you have to share the tiny tiny cabin with a complete stranger. That for seven days and nights are a challenge in itself, given that you’re on the yacht in the middle of the ocean and there’s nowhere else to go. I have friend who sweared she’d never do that again. So, knowing a skipper and being able to go on a privat tour always has its advantage. Thus, we know Tulip &Jens for so long and had already spent a week in Sweden with them last year so we knew things would turn out great. And so they did.

Sailing is a whole different kind of vacation. After two days on the boat with no internect connection or cell phone reception (you could book them with the yacht but we didn’t want to), we felt totally relaxed and completely at ease with ourselves, the feeling we normally had after half of our 3-week vacation had gone by. We started every day with the same no-plan plan: woke up, jumped into the water for a dip, had breakfast, then looked at the navi and decided which island to head to next. The weather was remarkably warm for June, not what we’re used to from the North, it was 30-34 degrees celcius every day. The down side of sailing in the Adria in June was, there’s no really strong winds that made sailing the most fun (maybe not for someone as sea-sick as me) so we sailed only about 3-5 hours every day. Upon arriving the next island, we either sailed directly to the port or set our anchor in the bay outside. If we sailed to the port, we recharged the battery of the yacht, refilled our water tank, went bathing or exploring the island, and had dinner at some resturant in town. If staying outside, we hang around on the deck to watch the sunset, did some snorkeling, and had dinner at whichever restaurant that was in charge of the bay (the unwritten rule is that you don’t pay anchoring fees but have to dine there in the evening, which was only fair). Life could be just as easy as that.

P

(copy logbook, Avionics map)

Arriving in Marina Kastela
Arriving in Marina Kastela, our starting point
Elena, our 41ft Hansa Yacht
Elena, our three-cabin-41feet Hansa Yacht, plenty of space for two couples
Welcome on board
This baby only hit the water two weeks earlier so everything was brand new.

Getting accustomed

P "surfing" on a fender, which was actually more strenuous than expected
P “surfing” on a fender, which was actually more strenuous than expected
Easy sailing - the wind could have been a bit stronger....
Easy sailing – the wind could have been a bit stronger….
Who's the captain here?
Who’s the captain here?

sailing-8

Sunset on our first night

Beauty on bord
Beauty on bord
All you need to relax
All you need to relax
Entrance to the blue cave on Bisevo island. You can only go there with your dingi and pay an entrance fee to the guard. The blue colors within the cave are unbelievable!
Entrance to the blue cave on Bisevo island. You can only go there with your dingi and pay an entrance fee to the guard. The blue colors within the cave are unbelievable!

The following pictures were taken in the harbor city of Komiza on Vis island. The harbor was really nice, much more charming than many of the new marinas.

sailing-13

 

sailing-51

sailing-15

sailing-16

sailing-17

sailing-18

sailing-19
My deckhands on land
Swimming with dolphins
Swimming with dolphins
They are pretty big when you get closer
They are pretty big when you get closer
It was fun to see them approaching us and being curious - but they always kept a security distance.
It was fun to see them so curious and approaching us – but they always kept a secured distance and immediately swam away if we tried to get close.

Sailing to the next destination, the bay of Sesula on Solta island:

sailing-28

sailing-29

The bay of Sesula, a bit crowded but with a very good restaurant

sailing-52
Sesula bay view towards the sea side

sailing-30

Best-looking figurehead ;-)
Best-looking figurehead ūüėČ

sailing-35

P 15m above the ocean level – was a bit of work for the captain to tow her up there

And here are some views from the top taken by P:

sailing-55
Our neighbours and the restaurant

sailing-54

sailing-53
Elena from the top

 

South Africa ’14, Part 4: St. Lucia


After falling totally in love with Umngazi River Resort, we didn’t expect much when arriving in St. Lucia knowing it’s a very small touristy village. That’s when you’re mostly positively surprised, I think. So were we.

We chose to stay at Lodge Afrique which was a little bit out of town, but like I said, it’s a really small town so we could still go¬†everywhere on foot. One night on our way back to the Lodge after dinner, we saw a hippo grazing on the side of the street. We actually heard it first before spotting it cause it’s impossible not to recognise their huffing sound. We had heard about this being quite a frequent sight in St. Lucia, which has the highest density of Hippos and Crocodiles on the East Coast, witnessing it though was a different story, both exciting and frightening at the same time. People also told us that, despite being rather¬†aggressive in the water, hippos are quite “human-friendly” on land knowing they’re not in their own territory. The most remarkably thing for us is, these hippos really went pretty far away from the water to reach downtown St. Lucia, which was like 10min drive with a car. Maybe they really thought the grass was greener on the other side ;-).

During our 4 days here, we went kayaking for crocodiles and hippos watching, visited the Crocodiles Center and learnt a lot about so many kinds of alligator and crocodile worldwide. We also loved hanging around in the garden of our Lodge and going for long walks along Cape Vidal beach. We were very sad to leave, but also every excited to reach our next destination, the one and only Kruger National Park.

P

lucia_f

A small pathway leading to the bungalows of Lodge Afrique where we stayed in St Lucia
Lodge Afrique, which made us¬†feel more like home than we expected. There’s a lot of privacy cause each room has its own entrance, as you can see here. It’s at the middle-price range and definitely a great value for your money.
Tessa, our host. She is such a wonderful person. Talking to her was a big pleasure. Hope she's doing fine!
Tessa, manager of the Lodge, who treated us so warmly we would come back to this place again just for her.¬†Hope she’s doing fine!
Fruit market on St Lucia's main street
Fruit market on St Lucia’s main street
The beach of St Lucia, you have to be really careful here because of the hippos and crocodiles - it's their territory
The main beach of St Lucia, which goes on and on.
Another smile that makes me smile
Another smile that makes me smile
Wooden pathway during sunset
Wooden pathway from the beach to the parking lot, it’s no surprise to spot¬†crocodiles underneath.
Cape Vidal beach
Cape Vidal beach within the St. Lucia Marine Reserve, still no hotel or resorts allowed, only some camp sites. I really hope it will remain like this for a very long time.
Male kudu
Male kudu, who has the most elegant jumping/running style of all the bush animals. We were left in awe seeing one jumping across the road in front of us.
Another kudu watching us
Female Kudu
Dinner...
Hardly imagine to find sushi in a country like South Africa. We went for the usual local dishes though.
Kayak tour on the river, watching hippos and crocodiles
Kayak tour on the Mfolozi river for hippos and crocodiles watching. Despite much warning, people still come swimming in here on occasions. A couple days before we arrived, a newly-wed couple went in for a midnight dip and was never found again.

lucia12

A "traffic" sign in the crocodile centre
No words needed ūüėČ
St. Lucia Crocodile Center
Buying some fruit on the way to our next destination.
Buying some fruit on the way to our next destination. Yes, we ate them all.

lucia19

She does like chilli!!
She does like chilli!!

South Africa ’14, Part 2: Umngazi River – our kind of paradise


When I saw some pictures of the¬†Umngazi River Bungalows & Spa the first time while planning our trip, I knew we had to make a stop here. It was a long drive from Drakensberg, not in terms of distance but in terms of time because of the very curvy mountain highways across Kwazulu-Natal province. The resort is nicely located at the Umngazi River Mouth where it meets the Pacific ocean, very secluded from the rest of the crowds along the coast around Durban. It is the oldest beach resort in South Africa dating back to 1906. The staffs were¬†friendly and attentive, the foods were beyond delicious, and they had the most amazing home-made chilly sauce I’ve ever tried, and I tried pretty much everything(!). Do you know any resort where the chef went around every night asking every guest if they were happy with their meals? This is that kind of place. The rooms are on the modest, eco-friendly side ¬†so nothing really luxurious, but decent and clean. What they lack in luxury they more than make up for it with ¬†this view…

umngazi1
Ocean view from our bungalow

and this Spa…

Spa at it's best. 2 hour program with massage, bath, champagne and a priceless view
Spa at it’s best and a million-dollar¬†view. We spent one¬†entire afternoon here, first with a two-hour couple massage & facial then who-knows-how-long in this tub afterwards. Champagne in the afternoon is always a good idea ;-). We slept like babies that night.

and the exclusive beach of course . At low tide, you can cross the river on foot to reach the beach. Other than that there’s a small ferry taking you to the other side anytime you want. All you have to do is go to the port and ring the bell.

Beach day
Often we had the whole beach for us all alone

 

View from the ferry boat that carries you across the river to the beach
View of the entire resort from the ferry that carries you across the river to the beach. I still miss this view every now and then.
In the resort
The garden

The garden/pool area

That's the flag to raise when you're looking for (another) drink at the pool - great service all over the place
No more shouting for hotel staff, just raise the flag and they’ll be at your service

The pool

Horseback riding is a so-called community event, organised by the local people living nearby
Horseback riding organised by the local people living in the area, one of the many activities offered by the resort
Looks like John Wayne - almost....
My John Wayne ūüėČ

 

The must-have selfie

Sunset Umngazi river tour, watching fish eagles
Umngazi river sunset tour, watching fish eagles

umngazi13

Playing dart after dinner. I have to admit, the dart right in the middle was hers.....
Playing dart after dinner. I have to admit, the dart right in the middle was her’s…..

During the 5 days there we didn’t get on the car once. We spent our time going for long walks on the beach, horse-back riding with the local kids, taking the sunset tour along the river, reading some in the library (yes, they built a library from books left by hotel guest, which I think is a genius idea), and the rest of the time lounging around the pool and bar area. It was exactly what we needed after the long winter in Europe. It was so relaxing that we were really sad to leave.

Writing this from today perspective (19.02.2016) we’re kind of ready to move on from South Africa cause we’ve “been there and seen it all”, at lease those places we wanted to see, but this is the only place that’d probably make us come back someday.

Au Revoir

On the way to our next destination. A funny shop in some village in Kwazulu-Natal.
In some village in Kwazulu-Natal on our way to the North. We couldn’t have said it any better so Have a Ding Dong Day!

South Africa ’13, Part 6: Langebaan Lagoon


Langebaan is one of the many beach towns on the west coast of South Africa. We dicided to make a stop here hoping for some sea-sand-sun time but weren’t lucky with the weather. Afterall, September was post-winter time and the Atlantic ocean was never a warm place to swim in. We ended up spending most of our time by the pool at the hotel, going for long walks on the beach (imaginatively) picking out¬†our favorite beach homes, and eating tons of seafoods every day.

langebaan-1

langebaan02

The weather was pretty much like this the whole time: a little sun, a little rain, and lots of clouds.

langebaan03

Beach town in Langebaan lagoon.

langebaan04

langebaan05

We also visited a small National Park nearby that had one of the most beautiful beaches on the west coast: no single restaurant, no single tent, just you and the nature around.

langebaan06

langebaan07

langebaan09

langebaan10

langebaan11

langebaan12

It was a very windy day and the ocean seemed a bit “angry” as well.

langebaan13

langebaan14

langebaan15

The highlight of Langebaan is properly this¬†beach bar /restaurant named Strandlooper. It looks more like a pirate hideaway than a restaurant and that’s the charm of it. Besides, you are served 10-course menu which are all prepared/grilled in front of your eyes. It’s nothing fancy but great seafoods prepared in the simpliest way, and the atmostphere was absolutely adorable. It was a little chilly on that day but the sun more than made up for it. We’d come here every week if we lived nearby.

langebaan17

langebaan16

langebaan18

langebaan19

langebaan20

langebaan21