I’m baaaaack!

Finally, after a whirlwind 3 weeks away, I’m home. I was quite pensive on the looong flight home, so I wrote the below post sharing my thoughts about the trip. 

I‘m writing from the air, somewhere between Nice and Amsterdam. We were up at 3am this morning, and we still have a good 13 hours before we’re home.
The trip was absolutely wonderful. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll have seen my picture journal- I took full advantage of the free wifi. I wanted to share some highlights and thoughts with you in this post, before I delve into the detailed blog posts about each place we visited.

In my last post, I wrote about how a cruise was offered to us at the last minute, effectively doubling the length of our trip. Azamara exceeded our expectations in every way. The service, food, entertainment and just the general layout of the ship were all spectacular. To give you an idea,I’d liken it to staying at a moving Palace at Sun City.

I’m always wary about the way I portray myself when on holiday. I feel like Instagram and travel bloggers/ journalists generally make travel seem very glamourous and almost larger than life. This isn’t always the case, as I’ve come to realise. While there are moments where you are completely in awe of your surroundings and everything from the wrought iron balconies to the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower in the corner of your eye gives you butterflies (and you keeping saying to yourself “OMG I’m in Paris!!”), there are also moments where you had to pay 6 euros for a bottle of water, your feet feel like they cannot walk another step, your husband refuses to ask for directions and you miss your cats. The cities which are on most people’s bucket lists, like New York and Paris, operate like any other city in the world. There are crappy areas and upmarket areas. Rich people and poor people. Fancy restaurants and Burger King. Once you spend a few days sightseeing and walking around the prettiest streets, what then? Time to move onto the next city and do it all again. Trust me, even shopping gets tiring after a while. After 2 straight weeks of touring big cities, we were tired of museums and cathedrals and were ready to come home. The ship was more like are sort than anything else so it was a welcome way to end the trip, but I don’t think either of us would have wanted to do more touring. Like anything, when you’ve had a lot of something, the novelty wears off. Of course, in 3 month’s time I’ll be longing to go on holiday again. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that before you get yourself all sad because you can’t travel for whatever reason (I know, because I’ve been there), just remember my points above.

The sad thing about travelling for me, is that it makes me hate on Jozi a bit, albeit unfairly. There is lots I love about Joburg, but sometimes I have these moments of disillusionment when abroad. I wish we had the freedom to go to dinner on foot or use public transport safely and reliably. I wish we could leave our handbags on our passenger seats and leave our front doors unlocked. These are all part of the bigger ramifications of apartheid, but we all live such a different life to our peers across the world. Yes, our cost of living is low, but relatively speaking, so are our salaries. However, I always remind myself that Europe has had centuries to evolve, while South Africa is only just starting its journey to become a world class country. There is so much that’s exciting about being part of this journey. As a nation, our collective pride is almost tangible when we reach certain milestones, like pulling off the World Cup, and I’ve heard countless people talk about how effectively the Gautrain works, the pride radiating from their voices.

So as I’m travelling more , the idea of travel is changing for me. Would I go on an all expenses paid trip to New York tomorrow if it was offered to me? Probably yes. Am I going to spend all my free time planning the next holiday- most likely. Am I going to let day to day life in Jozi pass me by while I count down to the next trip and “look forward” to it, while not making the most of “mundane” life- definitely not.

On that note, here are some of my favourite pictures from Instagram. Keep a lookout on this blog in the coming weeks for detailed accounts of all the cities we visited: Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome,Florence, Monaco and a few tiny ports dotted along the Italian Riviera.

The stunning Azamara Journey. The cruises are such good value. You have to check it out- www.azamaraclubcruises.com 
Monte Carlo
All the private yachts in Monaco alongside our ship
Portofino, one of the small islands along the Italian Riviera
Portofino- absolutely stunning
This beach in Portofino was really just gravel
The winelands in Tuscany
The leaning tower, was so cool to see it in real life
Magnificent Collaseo- I was so enthralled by it, I even watched Gladiator in the plane on the way home
Churros (like a long doughnut) and hot chocolate in Madrid
We had a free day in Madrid so just spent it laying around the park
I adored this spot for dinner, a little hidden alley lined with trees 
Barcelona- party capital! That was breakfast 🙂 
Instead of joining the tourists and going to the top of the Eiffel tower, we picnicked at the bottom 🙂
We ate at 2 different Michelin star restaurants in Paris, this was dessert at one. 

On our last day in Paris we went to Versailles- it was spectacular!

More from me soon, I promise! Missed you guys! 

xx H