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The Holiday Express Train Ride Experience

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We sent our contributor, Shelley Ferreira to experience a train trip with The Holiday Express to the Shongweni Market!

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My best memory of travelling on a train was when I took a trip from Durban to Cape Town with my family when I was just 11 years old. I remember being so excited, running from carriage to carriage with friends I had made on board. There was just something about trains that made the experience super exciting!

So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when being given the opportunity to catch The Holiday Express train to the Shongweni Market! I had also never been to the market, too – which I have no idea why!

Arriving at the Durban Station, we mingled a bit and relaxed with a good cup of coffee before we were told it was time to board the train. We picked our seats and got ready for the trip to begin. I was surprised at how comfy the chairs on the train were with proper recline seats!

As the train left, I immediately ran to the window to snap pictures like an excited little kid. I kept pointing to Nick everytime I saw something interesting!

When we arrived at Shongweni Station, we were transferred to the market via a bus. I was impressed with the size of the Shongweni Market, with so many stalls, a huge selection of food, decor and clothes. I was in pure heaven! I also noticed that a lot of people had brought their furballs with them, which made me think to take my little chihuahua with me next time.

We grabbed a bite to eat the market and walked around. Before we knew it, It was time to head back to the bus for our transfer back to the train. I was sad to be heading back home, but also couldn’t wait for the ride which was the most exciting part of the whole experience!

All in all, the train itself was an incredibly epic adventure! There’s even a bar on board, with snacks and beverages available. I’m so looking forward to the next one with The Holiday Express, that’s for sure!

SCOTTBURGH

We sent our second contributor, Candice Buckle to review the trip to Scottburgh on a Sunday morning. Here’s what she had to say:

On Sunday, mom and I went for our first travel adventure together, taking the Holiday Express train and heading south to Scottburgh. There’s nothing quite like hanging out with your mother. She’s basically you, just older and wiser and with a larger collection of stories.

As we boarded the train, parked in the eerie, speckled station, we were greeted by friendly staff who made the entire journey that much more pleasant. They made jokes, offered to relieve us of the burden of taking selfies, and showed us the way to hot chocolate and other decadent snacks. Against a background of jiving music, my mother and I sang along as we set off for our journey.

I listened the whole way there as my mom told me about her childhood, most of which took place in the areas we were passing. I also learnt that my great, great, great grandfather was the station master at Montclair station, which I thought was pretty cool. Although mom didn’t have a lot herself, she would hide her clothes from her less well-off friends when they came to visit, so they wouldn’t feel inadequate.

She told me how her best friend and her 5 siblings all drove around in a beat up Kombi, its floor devoured by rust so you could see the road beneath your feet as you drove. She thought car trips with them were such fun. I think my mother may be one of the most fascinating human beings on this planet because of the little details she finds fascinating herself. She’s also incredibly humble and of course, somewhat hilarious.

On route, we were reminded of just how destitute some parts of our country are. Not that we ever forgot, but sometimes it takes seeing it in person for it to hit home, us two now Umhlanga residents. We saw piles of colourful litter towering towards the sky, complementing the graffiti splattered on the walls. We saw people taking shelter under tents and plastic bags. It was both humbling and sad.

As we neared off to Scottburgh, the sand and seas stretched out on the left of us and we were amazed at the natural, untouched beauty of our coastline.

When we arrived, we decided to head straight for the beach. It was an overcast, breezy day, but I’ve always liked this weather for everything feels open and honest, with no guise-like sun to obscure the view. We ate seafood at John Dory’s, and then sat on the rocky shore and looked pensively into the ocean. We then hiked up the hill to the Blue Marlin hotel where we slurped on milk shakes before boarding the train once more.

The Holiday Express is an ideal family trip – whether it’s just you and your mom, or the whole family. It’s also perfect for couples looking for an unique date activity!

Follow The Holiday Express on Facebook to keep up to date on their next destinations:
www.facebook.com/theholidayexpresstrain

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Accomodation

The Beauty of Brahman Hills, Midlands

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Our Durbanite contributors, Shelley and her mother, Carmen were invited to experience Brahman Hills, their spa as well as the Midlands Kitchen.

Read more on what they had to say about it.

“I had been to Brahman Hills back in March with two of my friends, and I absolutely loved it! So you can imagine my delight when I would be returning, but this time with my mom.

We left our busy little city of Umhlanga and made our way towards Brahman Hills. The drive there is fairly quick and accessible, taking only an hour and a half.

THE MIDLANDS KITCHEN

Before arriving at Brahman Hills, we decided to try out The Midlands Kitchen.

The Midlands Kitchen is an eating area which hosts 15 kitchens, including Mexican, Mediterranean, Burgers, Chicken, Pizza, Indian and Vegan dishes. There’s also a harvest table for instant artisan fresh meals.

We loved the fact that is is both kid and pet-friendly!

We sat down and our waitress promptly greeted us while handing us menus to browse through. We were given a card with a table number on it. This is for The Midlands Kitchen to keep track of our orders throughout our visit.

I ordered a vegan dish which was a Cauliflower-based burger, while my mom opted for the spring-chicken burger. We added on two cappuccinos to go with our order.

The food was DELICIOUS! We were both delighted to have made the right choice, but I’m sure with any one of their options, it would never be a disappointment.

We ended off our meal with an ice cream cone each from their gelato station. Oh, and can we make a note that this was undoubtably the yummiest gelato? I mean, they had Nutella flavoured ice cream!

On our way out, we grabbed two chocolate croissants for later indulgence, because… why not?

BRAHMAN HILLS SPA

After our lunch at The Midlands Kitchen, we arrived at Brahman Hills to check into our room. We were seated in the lounge area and offered tea/coffee while our room and key was being organised.

We checked in to the most beautiful little hotel with a private garden all to ourselves!

After a quick power nap, we headed out to the much talked about spa. We were excited to experience our treatments in the countryside.

At the spa, we both had a full body massage with an exfoliation and soak off in a bath. Beforehand, we got to choose which essential oils we would like. We both opted for lavender which helps with stress and sleep.

After our massages, we headed upstairs to get a mani & pedi done. There’s nothing quite like getting a mani while watching the cows roam around outside in the open. So incredibly relaxing!

My perfect mani from Brahman Hills spa

89 ON COPPER

For dinner we had the pleasure of dining at the incredibly beautiful 89 on Copper restaurant which is underground in a cellar-like environment.

We had the two-course dinner. Both of us chose the rib wing for mains, and had the cheesecake & brownie for dessert.

Can we talk about how pretty this restaurant is?
We loved the holes in the walls where different bottles of wine was stored!

BREAKFAST AT BRAHMAN CAFE

We woke up early to start off the day with breakfast Brahman cafe.
We had the choice of choosing which breakfast we wanted.


Never in my life have I had such a good start to the day with their breakfast!

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If you’re ever in the Midlands, do yourself a favour and pop into the Midlands Kitchen and of course, Brahman Hills!

Phone: +27 (0)33 266 6965
Mobile: +27 (0) 81 370 9478
Email: reservations@brahmanhills.co.za
Address: Old Curry’s Post Road, Mount West, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

www.brahmanhills.co.za

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Accomodation

REVIEW: Shayamanzi House Boats, Jozini

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Experience the first Houseboats in South Africa – the only ones of their kind: Shayamanzi Houseboats.

Soak up the stunning scenery of the Lebombo Mountains and superb wildlife of the Pongola Game Reserve on the shores of Lake Jozini (also known as Pongolapoort Dam). Enjoy the calm serenity of the open Lake Jozini waters, the thrill of Tiger Fishing or the adventure of Mountain Biking in the heart of the Zululand bushveld! Shayamanzi is about taking time out to appreciate Africa’s special wonders.

We were recently invited to experience a stay on the Shayamanzi Houseboat.

“Shayamanzi Houseboats are based in Jozini Dam and has for some time offered a cruise with a difference onboard their houseboats.

We took the 3 and a half hour drive from Durban and made our way to Jozini Tiger Lodge where we met our host and the rest of the guests.
We then boarded the Shayamanzi II Houseboat where we were given a welcoming drink and set off on our journey with our very able and competent captain, Alan at the helm.

John our host, made everyone feel so welcome with his warm and hospitable nature as he got everyone relaxed and looking forward to the adventure that lay ahead.

We moored at our first stop where 2 small tender boats were used to take us to view wildlife and also to try our luck at tiger fishing.

Lucky and Bheki, the 2 crew members that were assigned to each tender boat were so helpful as they baited up and helped everyone. After a fun afternoon out, we made our way back to Shayamanzi for a rewarding hot shower and then all met up in the dining area to have drinks and wait for our supper. We were all served a delicious 3-course meal.

After dinner we all settled in the lounge, partying and exchanging stories, getting to know the other guests.

Shayamanzi

View from our cabin

With the following morning being overcast, it didn’t damper our spirits and so we went on the tender boats again! But not before we finished a scrumptious  breakfast.
On our boat trip, we were blessed to have seen hippos, elephants, crocodiles and fish eagles. Truly a remarkable sight, and not something you get to see everyday all in one place!

For the rest of the day, we relaxed in the jacuzzi while the men caught tiger fish off the back of the boat. Words cannot describe the wonderful feeling one gets whilst viewing the game in their natural environment from the comfort of a houseboat, whilst still being able to fish for tiger fish at the same time.

The last day we were all so sad to leave as we had 4 incredible days of fishing, game watching, laughing, dancing, eating glorious food and getting to know new people.

Shayamanzi

The wonderful, helpful crew at Shayamanzi

We would highly recommend this unique cruise if you would like to get close to wildlife and still have some luxury thrown in for measure.”

To book a Shayamanzi Cruise:

Tel: +27 (0) 34 413 2299
Fax: +27 (0) 34 413 2396

Address: P.O. Box 1070, Pongola, 3170, South Africa
E-mail: shayamanzi@saol.com

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Attractions

Review: Goldfish Live in Durban

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Durban has a history of attracting rain when big live events happen, and thankfully on Friday night at Botanic Gardens, this did not deter the few thousand people that turned up to see Goldfish in the slightest.

Knowing it was going to be a bigger event they made the smart move of having the concert on the field next to the actual gardens, and thankfully so because of the wet conditions. It is lovely seeing bands perform amongst the trees next to the lake, but when you know you are going to have a huge crowd that Goldfish pull it’s an all round better experience that means everybody who comes gets a great view of the performance.

Jono Greenway Photography

The rain was always going to be a feature of the event, but thankfully it only rained as Goldfish started and then stayed dry for most of their performance, with most people happily dancing in the rain barely even noticing it. Some of my most memorable concerts I have been to are actually the ones where it has rained, maybe the performers put in a bit extra effort knowing that the people really want to be there and see them, even if it is raining.

And a performance it was. Goldfish never disappoint. They are masters of getting a crowd going, even if it is a cold rainy night in Durban. Despite being at it for many years now they thrive on the crowd interaction and still do such a great job of ensuring everybody who comes to watch them has a great time.

Jono Greenway Photography

Their second song “We Come Together” really summed up the night, the lyrics really rang true:
Oh, oh, when we come together
No matter the weather
We gonna love each other till the end of time (whoa, oh, oh)

If we all went through life with this attitude we might always have a good time, rain or shine.

….

Photo Credit: Jono Greenway

Want to get to know the duo better? Check out the short Q&A sesh we did with Goldfish a few years ago.

Jono Greenway Photography

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