Memories of South Africa & Swaziland

South Africa, Swaziland

Overlooking the Three Rondavels with Charlotte, Mpumalanga

Okay, this is long overdue but in posting this it means my trip is really in the past. I've been home from South Africa for two months now but I still want to share a few of my favourite moments from my time there. I went primarily to visit my friend Charlotte, who has been living there with her boyfriend for the past three years. She was an excellent host and tour guide and I saw a lot of the country I wouldn't have had the chance to see otherwise. It was really eyeopening and it wasn't always easy but it's a place I would recommend everyone sees at least once in their life. I hope to get back one day but, for now, it's been great to have this chance to reminisce and reflect and share some of my stories with you from my time there.

If you plan on visiting this amazing country, check out my South Africa recommendations for a list of places I loved to eat, drink, and see while I was there.

Buying and selling corn as the sun rises, White River

1. Spending the day on the Mortlock farm picking avocados, selling corn to local women, cuddling stray dogs, processing macadamia nuts and driving between the crops in an old pickup truck.

2. Buying roasted corn from women on the side of the road.

3. The epic housewarming and braii at the Estate House that ended with Hayden's dare to dive into the just above freezing flinstone pool in his long underwear at 4am.

Home away from home at the Lake House, White River

4. The lovely spaces Charlotte made for me in her home.

5. Helicopter ride over the Lowveld courtesy of Roger.

6. My first braii at the Lake House.

7. Coming across a pack of wild monkeys while walking alone through the Nelspruit Botanic Gardens.

Stopped for an elephant in the middle of the road, Kruger Park

8. Game driving through Kruger and seeing all sorts of African wildlife only a few feet from our truck. Highlights include lions hunting a pack of impala and two male elephants fighting over a female, while she got it on with some other guy.

9. Hyenas stalking the fence a few feet away from us while Charlotte and I made dinner at our safari tent at the Skukuza rest camp.

10. Drinking too much wine and talking and laughing too loud too late into the night at said rest camp and being told by a Kruger Park warden to go to sleep.

Watching the sunset over Cape Town from the top of Signal Hill

11. Drinking red wine with Jean on top of Signal Hill my first night in Cape Town and her incredible hospitality throughout my week there.

12. Seeing whales from the ferry on the way back to Cape Town from Robben Island.

13. Chocolate and wine tasting with Roger and Charlotte at Bilton Winery. The lime infused white chocolate and Sauvignon Blanc pairing was heaven.

Pieter-Dirk Uys/Evita Bezuidenhout
Pieter-Dirk Uys as Tannie Evita (photo courtesy www.evita.co.za)

14. Watching Pieter-Dirk Uys/Evita Bezuidenhout, the insanely talented cross-dressing South African satirist, activist and comedian, at the Baxter Concert Hall.

15. Picking up ten hitchhikers outside of Bulembu to ride in the back of the "bakkie" on our Swaziland road trip.

16. Dancing to Brazilian/Mozambican band Napalma at the Bushfire Festival in Swaziland.

17. Getting to meet Murray's extended family on our road trip to Comrades and the incredible warmth and generosity I was shown along the way.

Murray (left) with 30km to go to Durban

18. Cheering Murray on as he ran the 90km Comrades marathon.

19. Sundowners and a boat ride on Longmere Lake with Charlotte and Roger.

Chuva, Charlotte and Roger's gorgeous cat they rescued from Mozambique

20. Chuva.

21. Cooking dinner and drinking wine well into the night at Tanya's place in Johannesburg.

22. Eating a platter of bbq meat, pap and chakalaka with our hands at the 707 shisa nyama in Soweto.

With Charlotte, Kruger Park
23. Every shopping trip, girls night, braii, family dinner, Sunday night movie, game drive, trip to town, glass of wine, bag of biltong, episode of Come Dine With Me, patio beer, avocado on toast, cup of coffee and late night laugh I got to share with Charlotte.


Recommendations for South Africa & Swaziland

South Africa, Swaziland

A noninclusive list of a few of the places I saw in South Africa and Swaziland that I really loved. This list doesn't include the places I was recommended but didn't have a chance to see, or the ones I saw and wouldn't recommend anyone someone else to go to. These are places that I visited personally and would suggest to anyone else to visit as well.

Where to sleep*
Balule Rest Camp, Kruger National Park
Balule Rest Camp, Kruger National Park

Balule Rest Camp Kruger National Park
Skukuza Rest Camp Kruger National Park

*I was fortunate to stay with Charlotte and her friends and family for the majority of my time in Africa so don't have much insight into accommodation options.

Where to eat & drink
shisa nyama at 707 in Soweto
Shisa nyama at 707 Panyaza Shebeen, Soweto

Jock and Java Nelspruit
Kuzuri Nelspruit
Mahoi's White River
Fez Restaurant White River
Gum Treez Pub & Grill White River
Bohemian Groove Cafe Kaapsehoop
Harrie's Pancakes Graskop

Johannesburg & area
Wolves Cafe
The Good Luck Club
Cafe Mexicho
Ratz Bar
Ant Cafe
Neighbourgoods Market
707 Panyaza Shebeen Soweto
Tribeca Pretoria

Cape Town & area
Sidewalk Cafe
Haas Collective
Dear Me
Skinny Legs and All
West Street Cafe
El Burro
Old Biscuit Mill Market
Fairview Wine & Cheese
The Toad Noordhoek
De Oude Bank Bakkerij Stellenbosch
Kanonkop Wine Estate Stellenbosch
Morgenhof Estate Stellenbosch
Bilton Wines Stellenbosch
La Bri Wine Estate Franschhoek
Haute Cabriere Winery Franschhoek
Elephant and Barrel Franschhoek
Olympia Cafe Kalk Bay
Mariners Wharf Hout Bay

What to see
Bulembu, Swaziland
Bulembu, Swaziland
Kruger National Park
Bourke's Luck Potholes
God's Window
Three Rondavels
Lowveld National Botanical Garden

Johannesburg & area
Apartheid Museum
Co-op Gallery
The Creative Block
Union Buildings Pretoria
Voortrekker Monument Pretoria

Cape Town & area
Baxter Theatre
Labia Cinema
Robben Island
Woodstock Foundry
Signal Hill
Kalk Bay
Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
Chapmans Beach
Elgin Valley
Camps Bay

Durban & area
Comrades Marathon

Bushfire Festival May/June
House on Fire


PARKSALE poster, Calgary

typographic poster for PARKSALE, an outdoor art market in Calgary
I've worked with the team at PARK for over a year now and always enjoy doing design for them as they are a great non profit organization with a huge emphasis on creative design. This week I worked on a poster for PARKSALE, an annual outdoor art market with no vendor or admission fees. My office for the month of August has been the home of my lovely friends Natalie and Greg as I am house-sitting while they are celebrating their one year anniversary in Thailand. The space definitely inspired the typographic paper cut-out design for PARK, especially considering the Rob Ryan pieces and soft vintage touches. It's been a beautiful and inspiring workspace, complete with lots of cuddles with Hercules the cat, and I'll be sad to leave this weekend.

typographic poster design

character home interior design

character home interior design

character home interior design

character home interior design

calgary character home interior design       character home interior design

character home interior design       character home interior design

character home interior design       character home interior design

framed Rob Ryan paper cut art

framed Rob Ryan paper cut art

typographic poster for PARKSALE, an outdoor art market in Calgary


Memories of Central Europe

Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland

Chelsea Watson and Steven Oates in Prague
New Year's day in Prague with Steve (photo courtesy Steven Oates).

I spent a good chunk of time in what I am calling Central Europe last winter and absolutely loved it. This was likely the most spontaneous part of my seven months overseas as, aside from two weeks over Christmas in Prague, I didn't have an itinerary and just booked things as I felt inspired to. This was also the point in my trip that I spent the majority of my time travelling alone. Because of this I ended up meeting some fantastic people and never really felt lonely. I could have spent much more time in any of these countries and know I will go back to explore further one day. For now, here are a few of my favourite memories, in no particular order, from my time in Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

graffiti street art in Kreuzberg, Berlin
Street art in Kreuzberg, Berlin.

1. Exploring alternative Berlin street art with Mike and Che in the pouring rain.
2. Attempting to keep up with the professionals at the ping pong club in Berlin.

The Untouchables by Voin de Voin from the GIF. ME. BERLIN. exhibition.

3. Attending the GIF. ME. BERLIN. animated gif exhibition and party with Alex.
4. Living on bratwurst and glühwein at Christmas markets for the entire month of December.

One of many memorials in Prague during the week of public mourning for Václav Havel.

5. The immense outpouring of emotion and public mourning for former Czech president Václav Havel.
6. Eating "chicken of mysterious taste" at a chinese restaurant for Christmas Eve dinner as per Lani's family tradition.

string art on the Vlatava River, Prague
String art on the Vlatava, Prague.

7. Discovering this string masterpiece while on a walk along the Vlatava on Christmas Day.
8. Listening to the New Year's Eve fireworks explode on Petrin Hill as Steve and I hung out of the hotel window getting drunk on cheap champagne.

view of the Danube from the river pathway
The Danube from the river pathway, Bratislava.

9. Running along the Danube.
10. The grocery stores of Bratislava.

Mangalitsa Pig Festival goulash cook off, Budapest
Goulash cook-off at the Mangalitsa Festival, Budapest.

11. Drinking homemade palinka, tasting goulash and listening to stories of the Hungarian Revolution around a log fire at the Mangalitsa wooly pig festival.
12. Roma basement dance party in Budapest.

Szechenyi thermal bath, Budapest
Szechenyi thermal bath, Budapest

13. Figuring out the Szechenyi thermal bath system, including the rapid strength of the whirlpool and the fact that one side is much warmer than the other, but only after spending an hour near freezing in the cool pool.
14. Meeting the incredibly inspiring Amy at Massolit.
15. Eating late night lángos following Lissie's impromptu breakdancing performance in the streets of Budapest.

view of Budapest from Gellért Hill
Pest as seen from the top of Gellért Hill.

16. Climbing the icy steps up Gellért Hill to the Szabadság Szobor and an incredible view of Pest.
17. Watching the Miskolc Ice Bears hockey team play in the championship game, where the snack counters served onion and lard sandwiches with hot wine.

With Dávid and István overlooking Miskolc.

18. Touring Miskolc with Paul's Hungarian high school students as our guides.
19. Serendipitously running into Jaqueline and Lissie in a Krakow cafe after having spent a week with them in Budapest a month before.
20. Learning the beaver song at a basement dance party with Nanna, Jeppe and the rest of the Cracow Maya Conference.
21. The incredibly surreal bus trip to Aushwitz-Birkenau.


Recommendations for Central Europe

Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland

Continuing my trip recap, here is a noninclusive list of a few of the places I saw in Central Europe* that I really loved. This list doesn't include all of the places I was recommended but didn't have a chance to see, the places I saw and wouldn't recommend someone else to see or any of the places I saw but, for the life of me, can't remember their names. I definitely need to start taking better travel notes.

*There is conflicting information out there about what exactly "Central Europe" means but in trying my best to split it all up I figure this will do. I debated including Germany with Western Europe but, having spent my time there in Berlin and Dresden, I felt it would fit best in this post.

Where to sleep
Czech Inn, Prague
Czech Inn, Prague

Wombats City Hostel Berlin (Alte Schönhauser Straße)
Kangaroo Stop Hostel Dresden (Äußere Neustadt)
Czech Inn Prague (Francouzská)
Red and Blue Design Hotel Prague (Malá Strana)
Hostel Blues Bratislava (Staré Mesto)
Mama's Hostel Main Market Square Krakow (Rynek Główny)

Where to eat & drink
Love Krove, Krakow
Love Krove, Krakow

The Barn
Il Casolare Trattoria
Konnopke's Imbiss
Bottoms Up
Aha Cafe

Kavárna Šlágr
Ambiante Lokal
Café restaurant U Dědka
Beerhouse U Švejků
Al Capone's Cocktail Bar
Bar B52
Strahov Monastic Brewery

Shtoor Café
Burgess Brewery
Slovak Pub

Massolit Books & Café
Castro Bistro
Most! Bistro

Massolit Books & Café
Cupcake Corner
Zapiecek Polish Pierogi
Love Krove
Gospoda Koko
Kolanko No. 6
Le Scandale
Cafe Szafe
Budda Bar

What to see
Frauenkirche, Dresden
Frauenkirche, Dresden


Dresden Castle
Katholische Hofkirche



Miskolc Tapolca Cave Bath
Castle of Diósgyőr
Miskolc-Avas TV Tower
Ice Bears Hockey at Miskolci Jégcsarnok