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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Done in 60 editions

60th newsletter

To Celebrate In Style(1) our 60th newsletter, we wanted something Glamour(2), even some Hot stuff(3), to mark the occasion. So, we took a walk in XO’s kitchen(4), to attempt to define what makes XO so special. Looking for some magic formula, like an X2 0(5) elixir that would make your Travel Out of the box(6).

Ready to Dive hard(7) Inside XO Africa(8) , we started to review our last years: Best of XO 2011(9) , XO’s very best of 2010(10) … to try and find the trade secret, the quintessence of The Art of Travel(11).

Of course, we could write an endless list of What XO likes(12) , but, on second thought, the real question is: What about you?

You, who come from so far to live The Great Adventure(13) )? What makes you choose our destinations?

Are you more attracted by the Jungle bells(14) or by exploring some Temptation islands(15) ? Are you looking for a Safari therapy(16) or curious to discover the  Fifty shades of(17) the Faces of Africa(18) ?

If you are planning a Romance in Africa(19) and dreaming about a  Face to face(20) with your One and Only(21), somewhere on The Garden Route(22), Good news! We can organize an unforgettable stay for Lovers in Africa(23), and how about a Celebration(24) for your engagement!

Maybe you feel “It’s Time to show off(25) ”? Change yourself into a Cape Town paparazzi(26) , go on a Travel for men(27),  Enter the Kruger(28) or even discover Zimbabwe(29) ? Of course, we know the best places for Safaris (30) , and a little bit more…

Or maybe it’s “Time to have some fun(31) ”, get ready to party All night long(32) . Let us take you on the path of the Seven(33) Deadly Sins and the other fascinating Hot spots(34) we know around the District Night(35) that will make you say “ I love Jo’burg(36) !”

Are you involved in a “Family business(37) ”? What about discovering the Pilanesberg & Sun City(38) ? Travel for kids (39) could be turned into a game, looking for Inkosi Ibhubesi (40) (The Lion King) in this National Park, before enjoying all the facets of the extravagant resort and really Travel like a star(41).

Are you a manager organizing an Incentive 2 Africa(42) ? Let us bring you to Livingstone, fly over the famous falls and uncover Victoria’s secret(43) .

Are you fond of art? Let’s embark on an Urban safari(44) that will unveil the wonders of street art while discovering Cape Town by Design(45) through a selection of arty and trendy places.

Maybe you are in a “Leave me alone(46) ” type of mood and just feel like a Monday off(47). You’re dreaming out loud “I wish the African sun was Tanning me softly(48) right now”, and yes! Why not? These kinds of requests aren’t for Women only(49) , you know!
So, we could suggest you to head for the desert, Enter Namibia(50) , set foot on this Red earth(51) and start a Color Therapy(52).

Well, we could go on and on with this list, and yet, we haven’t mentioned Durban(53) , or even Food and Wine(54) (there is just an article on this topic in our last newsletter by the way!). Let’s not get Lost in celebration(55) .
So, If you have pins and needles in your legs and dream about getting On the road again(56) , don’t wait and Set sail for Africa(57).
Whatever you seek for your next holiday, we’ll do our best to Take it higher(58) . Just remember: all you need is to Travel in your Element(59) and have a Look Beyond The Appearances(60).

Forever more(61)

(1) Celebrate in style (n°01)(2) Glamour (n°10) – (3) Hot stuff (n°3)(4) XO’s kitchen (n°18)(5) X2 0 (n°11) (6) Travel Out of the box (n°56)(7) Dive hard (n°8)(8) Inside XO Africa (n°47) (9) Best of XO 2011 (n°35)(10) XO’s very best of 2010(n°26)(11) The Art of Travel (n°16)(12) What XO likes (n°52)(13) The great adventure (n°28)(14) Jungle bells (n°23) (15) Temptation islands (n°20)(16) Safari therapy (n°43)(17) Fifty shades of (n°50)(18) Faces of Africa (n°38)(19) Romance in Africa (n°53)(20) Face to face (n°4)(21) One and Only (6b)(22) The Garden Route (n°55)(23) Lovers in Africa (n°42)(24) Celebration (n°41)(25) ITime to show off (n°37)(26) Cape Town paparazzi (n°2)(27) Travel for men (n°21)(28) Enter the Kruger (n°36)(29) Zimbabwe (n°31)(30) Safaris (n°17)(31) TIME to have some fun (n°33)(32) All night long (n°57) (33) Seven (n°29)(34) Hot spots (n°39)(35) District Night (n°12)(36) I love Jo’burg (n°24)(37) Family business (n°27)(38) Pilanesberg & Sun City (n°59) – (39) Travel for kids (n°54)(40) Inkosi Ibhubesi (n°9)(41) Travel like a star (n°48)(42) Incentive 2 Africa (n°26)(43) Victoria’s secret (n°6)(44) Urban safari (n°49)(45) Cape Town by Design (n°34)(46) Leave me alone -(n°22)(47) Monday off (n°19)(48) Tanning me softly (n°51)(49) Women only (n°13)(50) Enter Namibia (n°45)(51) Red earth (n°5)(52) Colour Therapy (n°15)(53) Durban (n°46)(54) Food and Wine (n°44) (55) Lost in celebration (n°14)(56) On the road again (n°30)(57) Set sail for Africa (n°32)(58) Take it higher (n°40)(59) Travel in your Element (n°59) (60) Beyond the appearances (n°60) –(61) Forever more (n°7)

Edito 060 – Through the Wormhole…

edito

Gustave Flaubert never had the chance to go on vacation in South Africa… too bad. He would certainly have picked up new ideas for his “Dictionary of Received Ideas”.

With certainly less talent, but not necessarily fewer resources, this newsletter is committed, not without humour, to fight some preconceived ideas on our destinations.

I must say that you are not voiceless when it comes to feed us with well-constructed preconceptions…

My first thought goes to the families of our interns: There’s no need to ship them food rations. We do eat well… very well here! And as any trainee, they will feed themselves with chips, burgers and beer anyway…

To those who think that the weather is always nice and hot in Africa and land in Johannesburg on a cool Monday of July just wearing a T-shirt: The city is at 1800m altitude and just like your country, this one has a winter too. You might consider taking a sweater along for your evenings. Just saying.

On the other hand, it is not because you live in Marseille that you don’t need sunscreen. Quite the contrary!

No, all South Africans are not terrorists, nor thieves, nor serial-killers. There are even some ( knowing a few) who are actually quite nice. And given the birth rate between our European consultants and their African boyfriends I’d rather say VERY nice…

No we don’t feed the animals of the Kruger Park and no Giraffe isn’t a typical dish. However, lamb from the Karoo…

Joking aside, in this last edition you will find testimonials, stories and other ideas that will contradict the strongest preconceptions.

TRAVELLER: Always intrepid
According to Flaubert…

By Sébastien Charrieras

Foodie or Not Foodie ?

Far from their world renowned passion for barbecue (locally called braai) and other easy clichés, one thing is for sure, one can eat well… very well in Cape Town. And the first time and unaware traveller can only be surprised.

cape_cuisine

Judging by the recent 20 nominees of a national local restaurant award that reveals every year the 10 best restaurants in the country, it seems that the Mother City is definitely the culinary hot spot of the country.
Indeed, 17 restaurants out of 20 are based in Cape Town and its surroundings.

So I took a step back and tried to grasp what makes this place so special… and all I could see was so many different styles, influences, flavors, environments… in two words, endless diversity.

Yes, diversity and I mean it in every way.  From fresh Mediterranean flavors to exotic Asian spices, local Cape Malay dishes and traditional African specialties… all this mastered by creative and often internationally trained chefs resulting in a world class restaurant scene. A scene that can take so many different shapes considering the unexpected urban and natural settings Cape Town has on its menu.

Let’s mix all these ingredients together, stir well and see what comes out:

Enjoy relaxed seafood with a glass of bubbly while gazing at the Atlantic Ocean

bungaow_header

A trendy but nonetheless casual place located between Camps Bay and Clifton, Bungalow offers a varied menu ranging from sushi’s to beef carpaccio… for those who have worked up an appetite by lazing on the nearby beaches.

bungalow

Savor a gastronomic dinner in a historic wine farm nestled in the Stellenbosch vineyards

rust_header

Combining the freshest ingredients, personally selected wines and superior service, this authentic Cape Dutch venue is a haven of comfort. Head chef John Shuttleworth has designed a menu showcasing the world-class proteins of the country.

rust

Experience the utmost fusion tasting menu in a casual, industrial-style environment that used to be a biscuit factory

ttk_header

With award winning chef Luke Dale-Roberts holding the reins, the restaurant is consistent in its evolution, maintaining superb standards and always seeking new flavors and ingredients to play with. Every dish is carefully and artfully presented. A micro universe on every plate.

ttk

Socialize with the Cape Town weekend crowd and enjoy some hearty and fresh street food on an organic market with Table Mountain in the background

oranjezicht_header

Held on every Saturday, OZCF Market Day is a community farmers-style market for independent local farmers and artisanal food producers. This unique market offers fresh produce grown on the farm and beautiful surroundings making it a fabulous place for a family picnic and a nice stroll.

market

I could keep on stirring endlessly, always finding a unique combination: A Japanese fusion restaurant in 5 star Hotel on the Waterfront, an open air restaurant specialized in “braai “ – feet in the sand overlooking a lagoon, Italian trattoria, French bistro, …

I’m hungry now

By Jeff Georges

Bad reputation

Only by saying its name, “Johannesburg”, ladies are suddenly keeping their handbags closer and men have a growing desire to feel their cell phone through their trouser pocket.
There’s no denying, this town suffers from bad reputation.

And one more time, imagination and ignorance maintain this everlasting fear and lousy image.

On the other hand, saying that Jo’burg is the city of Care Bears is also untrue. Between these two extreme facts, rising in the heart of South Africa at 1800m, the one we call eGoli in Zulu (Place of Gold) is also a young and enthusiastic hub, where creative energy, personal enterprises, social and cultural developments thrive, giving Jo’burg its true nature.

Johannesburg by night

At first glance, the city can be somehow intimidating. Numerous skyscrapers rule up above the 4 million South Africans living there. National highways coming from Durban, Pretoria and even from the Kruger are spewing an endless stream of vehicles that will scare the casual tourist.

Johannesburg Park

Bezuidenhout Park – Rhodes Park

But quickly you realize that Jo’burg isn’t the Bronx from the old days before Giuliani’s era. The former mayor of New York has in fact worked with local authorities on their CCTV policies and neighborhood security. Often pedestrian friendly, the city is also characterized by no less than 6000 trees spread along the streets and among the various parks.

If the suburbs of Alexandra and Hillbrow are for those willing to take unnecessary risks, it is more on the side of Sandton, Melrose, Braamfontein and Newtown that one has to seek originality.

Nelson Mandela Square - Joburg - Sandton

Nelson Mandela Square – Sandton

The 2 first are a real haven for African luxury, shopping, coffee shops terraces, trendy restaurants, art galleries and hotels of high standards. You’ll find there the most famous brands and the creations of local designers. Take some good time, visit some galleries and prepare to be delighted.

Joburg - Mabongeng Precinct

Mabongeng Precinct

But it is through the second life of Maboneng and Braamfonein that Jo’burg truly deserves its honors. Young and trendy, this neighborhood is made for those who love fashion, art deco and anything a free open mind can appreciate.
This is a “hip & happening” facet of Jo’burg. Music and books are revealing their full creative potential. I suggest you start by visiting The Grove and wander on down Julia Street. Lunch at Narina Trogon and for you ladies, a shopping session at Me & You.
The Neighbourhood Market especially is not to be missed…

Johannesburg - Juta Street in Braamfontein

Juta Street in Braamfontein

Finally, Newtown is a dish for gourmets. The historic district, a melting post from the past, has evolved into a vibrant artistic and cultural center for passionate minds. Renowned for its jazz bars like Bassline, Newtown is also about museums, theaters, markets.

Joburg - 44 Stanley Avenue Center - Braamfontein

44 Stanley Avenue Center – Braamfontein

Many buildings are still depicting the days of old while others reveal the talents of street artists, poets, clothes and furniture designers and fragrant cuisine.
You will also find the Mandela and Gandhi’s offices, a beautiful brewery… exhibitions and original galleries.

In short, this is where our guides will be pleased to take you. Without fear or regret.

By Sébastien Charrieras

One of us: Alessandra Klein, Leisure Travel Consultant

Alessandra Klein - Leisure Travel Consultant

It is almost like you created the foundation of a memory that will last forever for somebody!

Why did you arrive in Cape Town?

My husband and I had been living in China for a few years while I was working as a Lifestyle Editor and no matter how exhilarating my job was it was time for a change again.

He is South African and I had been to Cape Town and South Africa a few times already and loved every aspect of it – it just seemed like a great next destination for us.

And since his family here is so similar in many aspects to what I cherish about my German and Italian family – the loud environment, lots of people always around you, too much food and drinks and overbearing love – I felt right at home and still do.

What do you like the most about your job?

Since I deal with direct clients for me it is the direct contact to the client that I enjoy the most. Finding out what they like, arranging special occasions and surprises for them or a great restaurant visit and then hearing their feedback! It is lovely to have played a role in a memorable holiday for someone. It is almost like you created the foundation of a memory that will last forever for somebody!

What is your job philosophy?

Just breathe – You have to learn that you can not possibly please the entire world (especially in the service industry) and certain things are out of your hands but there is always a solution to a problem and it is a great feeling when you have found it.

Tell us one of your best travel memories in Southern Africa.

It will have to be two – city and bush / family and romance:

I enjoyed my very first safari holiday in Madikwe with my husband’s family. It was a particularly cold winter but we had fantastic sightings while being warm and cozy in our blankets, beautiful dinners and comfortable tents and overall an intimate, revitalizing family holiday.

The other one that stood out was a night at Kanonkop House in Knysna. Breathtakingly beautiful accommodation with an attention to detail in design and service that is outstanding. We stayed in the Forest Suite which literally felt like connecting to Mother Earth whilst staying in a 5 star hotel. Wallpaper to resemble the green treetops, feathered lampshades shimmering magically like peacock feathers, wooden tree trunks as stools, floors like pebbles and carpets – green and shiny as grass. It made me feel like time stood still – just for my husband and me to relax and enjoy.

What is your favorite destination in South Africa?

Even at the risk of sounding boring but I will never get enough of Cape Town. Safaris, road trips and the beach are just as gorgeous but it is just the overwhelming amount of things to do in this city that will never cease to amaze me.

Enjoy the beach in Llandluno, hike up Lion’s Head, shop for spices in the Bo Kaap, enjoy exquisite restaurants wherever you find yourself, have a picnic in Kirstenbosch, drink and eat yourself silly at the many beautiful markets, have brunch overlooking Woodstock in the Pot Luck Club, ride your bicycles in the winelands, submerge yourself into the history of this country at Robben Island or the Slave Lodge – the list is endless.

Plus you can do day trips or weekends anywhere in the surrounding areas.

After more than three years and I am still far from having seen it all!

What are your secret addresses (restaurant, sunset, club…) in Cape Town?

Lovely Italian food (and my happy place) you can find at Pizza Vesuvio in Tyger Falls, Durbanville or at 95 Keroom. For a really special event visit The Greenhouse at Cellars-Hohenort. Dim Sum are amazing at South China Dim Sum Bar on Long Street.

The Sky Bar at the Cape Royale has stunning views over Cape Town and a decent Gin Tonic to go with that. But on top of my list for a sundowner would be Tintswalo Atlantic – nothing beats the untouched beauty of this accommodation (you will have to bear the burden of an overnight stay for this one though).

South Africa is not just a safari land

If when someone speaks about South Africa, you immediately think about wild animals in the middle of the African savanna or if every time someone says to you, “I’m going to South Africa for the holidays” you answer back, “Oh nice, you’re going to go on a safari!” Then take a few minutes to read this article and you will understand that it’s a shame to reduce such a beautiful country to only one activity, no matter how incredible it is!

In this country, there is something to satisfy everyone’s tastes. Adults, young and old, couples, families, retirees, athletes, nature lovers, musicians, foodies… yes I do mean everyone! It would be tedious to list every place, landscape or activity in the country… However let’s try to highlight the peculiarities of South Africa to introduce you to something other than a safari!

First of all, you should know that South Africa is a really BIG country, which deserves to be captured differently depending on where you are. Indeed if you travel in Western Cape, Kruger Park or Kwazulu Natal, you will see very different landscapes, animals, climates and cultures! It’s certainly relevant to speak of bush but we shouldn’t forget that South Africa also has amazing beaches, mountains, lagoons, dry deserts, and vineyards as far as your eyes can see…

Diversity of Lanscapes (Clockwise): Drakensberg mountains, Namaqua NP, Winelands, Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Diversity of Lanscapes (Clockwise): Drakensberg mountains, Namaqua NP, Winelands, Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Yes really, you’ll never get tired of this country! If there are landscapes to suit every taste, imagine how many activities there would be for you to do!

Let’s start with what seems more obvious: the beaches in South Africa. Two Oceans and thousands of beaches. Below the mountains, hidden between cliffs, spreading as far as your eyes can see, it’s up to you to find your small corner of paradise! And for those who can’t stand lying on the beach, you have the chance to do many water activities such as surfing or windsurfing, swimming with seals, watching the whales and even shark-cage diving…

Whales watching, Hiking in Cedeberg, Sailing in Port Elizabeth, Golfing with zebras, Surfing on the two oceans

Whales watching, Hiking in Cedeberg, Sailing in Port Elizabeth, Golfing with zebras, Surfing on the two oceans

For those who love nature, the Drakensberg Mountains in Kwazulu Natal is the place where you belong. Choose a path and explore this huge nature reserve for several days. You will enjoy a very unique experience in harmony with nature. Or maybe you’re more attracted to Table Mountain? You will definitely enjoy a breathtaking view of Cape Town from the top!

Don’t worry! If you prefer the excitement of the city and cultural visits, the major cities of South Africa, Cape Town and Johannesburg are perfect for you. Through visiting many museums (the Slave Lodge in Cape Town and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, amongst others…), or wandering in the different districts (townships, sea side, CBD…), you will feel the strong influence of history that is still very present in this country.

Clockwise: The Iziko Slave Lodge (Cape Town), Mandela Capture Site (KwaZulu-Natal), Robben Island gate (Cape Town), Apartheid Museum (Johannesburg)

Clockwise: The Iziko Slave Lodge (Cape Town), Mandela Capture Site (KwaZulu-Natal), Robben Island gate (Cape Town), Apartheid Museum (Johannesburg)

There is nothing better than interacting with locals, discovering their habits, their ways of life and state of mind to have a truly accurate overview of these cities. Eventually, it’s crucial for you to know that South Africa takes food very seriously! Once again there is something for everybody: South African specialties or international food (Asian, European and more), in a themed restaurant (jazz, hipster, pub) or in a casual market… you will be completely overwhelmed! This culinary diversity can be coupled with a huge range of excellent wine produced in Cape Town, in the Winelands. If you have the chance to visit these vineyards you will discover wonderful properties that have absolutely nothing to envy from all these castles in Bordeaux (in France)!

There you are. You now have a modest preview of what is waiting for you in South Africa. Go ahead; come discover a country that will blow your mind!

And never forget, going on safari is an excellent reason to visit South Africa – but hardly the only one!

By Capucine Motte

Safari: What is it exactly?

Below is an interview with Greg (36), game ranger in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. He tells us about safaris and tries to give us a clear insight into them.

Tell me about yourself, your career path and your current job.

Greg: Well, I was born in Johannesburg. But I was lucky because as far as I remember, I was going to safaris with my family every holiday. The bush quickly became my passion, so I decided to turn it into a job. First I was a guide for years in the Kruger National Park where I organized walks. Then I worked in several reserves and now I’m here. It is in the bush that I feel good, and I don’t think that I will leave this place anytime soon.

safari

How are the safaris here?

Greg: Here, we offer two safaris a day, one at dawn, very early in the morning around 5, 5:30am and the other in the afternoon, 3:00 pm in winter and 4:00pm in summer. We use open 4×4 vehicles to take the guests’ see the wildlife: the best conditions to enjoy the view and take pictures. Sometimes we do safaris by night but we do not always offer it.

Can you see animals each and every time? Or it is still a matter of luck?

Greg: Sabi Sand Game Reserve is one of the best sighting spots for game in the country. So we are not really looking for animals. Sometimes, after a few minutes of driving, we find lions and leopards, and even sometimes all the Big Five! But Sabi Sand Game Reserve is obviously special. I have worked in other reserves and there, we kind of know where the animals are. Most of them are not really nomadic and they remain in their territory, so we get to find them. But we always need to be on the lookout for them and follow the tracks. But it’s true; it’s also a matter of luck! Sometimes we do not see all the animals we wanted to. Sometimes we’re looking for them for a long time. That’s the law of nature …

leopard

And for very large reserves, some rangers need to communicate. If someone finds a lion or something else, he usually lets the others know. And so on … In short, everything is done in order for the guests to see as many animals as they can, but they must also understand that it is not always possible, and it is not our fault. And sometimes, it takes more time than expected.

Is it not too dangerous to work in the middle of wildlife and organize safaris?

Greg: Oh, I’m glad you are asking that question! I just wanted to talk about it. Here in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, and even in most reserves, the animals are now accustomed to humans. Well, I should say they are used to seeing 4×4’s! They know we’re not a threat, so they do not attack. But it took time, about fifteen years. Now, when our cars make a hellish noise approaching a lion, sometimes it does not even look up. But you can’t generalize, they still remain wild animals and in the wild, you never know what can happen …

bebe-lion

Sometimes I have clients who want to get off the 4×4 to closely approach the animals, take a picture of them and come back into the car … You can even see in the Kruger Park, people leave their cars on the side of the road and start walking on foot in the bush! These are attitudes that are unconscious and dangerous. We, rangers, always have a gun if something happens. Here, it’s forbidden to walk alone and even at the Lodge you must be careful. There are rules for safaris: remain silent and wear neutral colors. So, in short, it is not really dangerous, otherwise safaris would not exist! But we need to be aware that all animals here are still wild animals, and yes, if someone walks all by himself or starts to display reckless behavior and tries to pass for a hero by getting out of the 4×4, then, it is not safe.

What do you think the tourists don’t expect on safari?

Greg: I think that they are often surprised when they see really violent scenes. Sometimes customers do not expect this. Hunting scenes with leopards slaughtering antelopes, crocodiles ripping a leg off of a buffalo, or when wild dogs hunt …

leopard-chasse

Sometimes the guests think they will see a peaceful bush where all animals live in harmony, like, let’s say the Lion King movie. But no, the law of nature is cruel and wildlife is violent! But it is also what makes it so interesting.

Thank you Greg, now it’s time to practice!

By Sophie Pollet

First impressions from one of our travellers

« Apparently we never leave South Africa in the same spirit as upon our arrival »

Victor L., thirty-years old, staying in South Africa with a group of his globe-trotters friends, fascinated by distant destinations, shares with us the news sent to his family.

Hi family,
I arrived in South Africa a week ago and I cannot stop thinking about the discussions we had about this beautiful and mysterious country that I discover day by day, with many surprises along the way. My trip started in Pretoria, a city of a million inhabitants who seems nevertheless so peaceful. There are thousands of Jaracandas and it’s a pleasant place to discover on foot. Pretoria is the administrative capital and it is made up of ancient memorial buildings colonial houses, which enchanted me as I love architecture. My group of friends and I decided to go cycling in a park near the city and I had the pleasure of seeing zebras and giraffes, which reminded us that we are in Africa and the bush is never very far!

Pretoria: Jaracanda trees - Old Arts Building of the University

Pretoria: Jaracanda trees – Old Arts Building of the University

Here I am in the south of the country, in Cape Town, the famous Mother City! It’s hard to resist these landscapes of such a beauty. The city is situated in one of the most beautiful bays in the world, it is overlooked by the majestic Table Mountain. A modern city in a relaxed atmosphere which offers numerous activities and a lovely environment.

Cape town: View from Lion's head

Cape town: View from Lion’s head

Yesterday, I was able to alternate hiking up the mountain, taste delicious food at the food market and relax on a beach situated some minutes from the city center – all in one day! I am impressed by the choice of good resturants and beautiful addresses: cafe’s, bakeries, bars with amazing cocktails, and European, Indian and African cuisine! There are a range of high quality establishments, these gourmet restaurants are classified as some of the best in the world! The traditional cuisine is very varied, just like the Rainbow Nation. All the cultures are intertwined in Cape Town, it is a real cosmopolitan city where cultures and religions mix together in a harmonious way.

Cape Town: Clifton Beach

Cape Town: Clifton Beach

I also learnt that the country has 11 official languages and contrary to my thought, English is not the most spoken language. Travelling in European countries, in the United States or in India is amazing, but I am simply in love with South Africa, this country is magic! As for the question of the security I don’t feel any different than I do with any other big metropolises that I had the opportunity to visit in the world, even those in France ; you have the total freedom to walk. It is simply necessary to be vigilant and to know the sensitive districts. But even there, I was surprised by the welcome which I received in the heart of the Township. I had the opportunity to savour excellent grilled meat in a simple place, but in a warm and festive atmosphere with traditional African music – one of my best memories!

I will briefly finish my email because the lively night life of Cape Town is waiting for me. After a concert in one of the most beautiful parks of the city, we will go to the most trendy night club in the city on the 31th floor of a glass tower.

Cape Town nightlife: The Crypt Jazz Club & Long Street from The Beerhouse

Cape Town nightlife: The Crypt Jazz Club & Long Street from The Beerhouse

Apparently we never leave South Africa in the same spirit as upon our arrival, I actually have to admit that without expecting it we quickly become attached to this wonderful country full of wealth!

Take care,
Victor

By Mélanie Chapellan

Living in the Mother City

Today, we have exclusively interviewed two XO Events consultants. Discover these two French girls who left their country to live halfway around the world… We met them in their office in Cape Town, South Africa, smiley, relaxed and happy to live in this region.

Sophie arrived in Cape Town 10 months ago and she confides in us her feelings about this country that she keeps on discovering every day. Laura arrived in Cape Town about 11 years ago, when she was still a child. She knows South Africa! And she shares her advice about this rich and varied cultural country that is sometimes not known by the public.

Laura

Laura: “…people are welcoming and helpful”.

What was your motivation to come to South Africa and why did you choose to stay here?

Sophie: It was for a personal reason. I arrived in January with my partner. He had been transferred to Cape Town. So here we are!

Laura: I was 12 when I arrived here. I came with my mom to join my family who had settled in South Africa 25 years ago. I grew up in this region with friends and family. It’s for this reason that I chose to stay here. I fell in love with this country.

What were your prejudices about South Africa before you arrived?

S: Like lots of people, it was the insecurity in the everyday life that scared me. I didn’t know if I would be able to walk in the street alone without being attacked. Also, I thought I would arrive in a city where poverty is everywhere. (She laughs). I was far from the truth!

L: I came here several times on holiday to see my family, and I was a young girl so I didn’t have the same worries as adults. Despite that, I thought about the insecurity but also the racism. Finally, I realized that it’s the same all over the world.

How did your relatives react when you’ve told them about your departure?

S: (Imitating them) “But it is far from here!” (She laughs). It was the distance, which left worried them most. But they were really happy for me. For them, South Africa is a must-see! No doubt about it, my family was convinced that I was about to live an incredible experience! And they were right (She smiles).

L: (She laughs on her turn). My loved ones weren’t positive at all! For them, it was really far and that meant we wouldn’t be able to see each other a lot.

What was your first reaction when you arrived?

S: I had a positive reaction about 2 points. First, it was the colors: it was a lovely day and everything was brightly coloured. It was wonderful! I was surprised at the modernity of the infrastructure. I discovered a modern and contemporary city! The architecture and design are omnipresent.

L: I jumped into the swimming pool! (She laughs). I arrived in January. I moved from the French cold winter watching the TV all day to the South African summer! I remembered it was so warm! I spent my day playing outside! I was really happy! I still am (She smiles).

sophie

Sophie: “…I didn’t expect to have such a good food”

Does the country correspond to what you thought?

S: I didn’t think that it would be such a stylish and modern city. The first time I went to the hairdresser, I noticed how the welcome was warm and conscientious… The hairdresser offered me a cupcake! (She laughs) I’ve never had that in France! People are really welcoming and attentive. I can’t get over it. The life is nice here. There are lots of cultural and sportive activities. We are never bored on the weekend. And above all, I didn’t expect to have such a good food. Good quality and inexpensive are two adjectives that could describe the restaurants here.

L: I love South Africa. The rhythm life is quiet, especially in Cape Town or Durban. Joburg’ (Editor’s note: Joburg = Johannesburg) is more chic! Even if we can see a difference between rich and poor, people are welcoming and helpful. Without taking into account the fact that the landscapes are breathtaking.

Give us 3 words that represent South Africa.

S: Size. It doesn’t look as though it is, but South Africa is really big! Nature. It is green and there are flowers everywhere. During spring time the region is beautiful. Good value for money. (She laughs) I know it is not one word but it is the reality. We have good offers for affordable prices!

L: Friendly for the people, chilled for the atmosphere and diversity for both the landscapes and the mixture of cultures.

Do you have any advice for the people who want to visit South Africa?

S: When you prepare your travel, don’t forget to check the distance because it is really big!

L: In some parts of the country, we can get the 4 seasons in one day! Cloudy in the morning followed by a shower, sunny and scorching in the afternoon and a chilly evening… Yes it is possible! So take a dress but don’t forget your jumper!

Interview by Aurélie Jammes