Vegans Barging in France 1

Vegans Barging in France 1

One of the best bits about traveling in France is enjoying French foods. Words like chef, gastronomy, cuisine, Michelin stars and café spring to mind. They take food seriously in France. Very seriously. Lunchtime, anywhere from 12.00pm to 14.30pm, is sacred. Lock-keepers on the waterways go off for déjeuner (lunch). In smaller towns – the shops close. We like that. My other half and I are often asked what we eat. I thought I would share what vegans eat while barging in France. We eat similar food back home.

Soy yogurt and berry confit parfait

Soy yogurt and berry confit parfait

French food varies considerably from region to region. In the south it’s all olives, garlic and tomatoes whereas near the German border they love sauerkraut and sausages. Where we had been traveling, in Burgundy, they’re famous for Boeuf Bourguignon, Bresse Chickens and good quality wines – amongst other things. Don’t underestimate the influence North Africa and the Middle East has had on French food. Couscous is a favourite meal. In Paris we hunt down one of the many Lebanese restaurants. They serve the most delicious made-on-the-spot falafel and salad plates.

Vegan snacks

Vegan snacks

As a vegan couple I won’t lie, it is trickier to eat out. But it’s tricky no matter where we go. However, each year it gets easier. People don’t realise how fast the plant-based food movement is growing in France. In the world actually. We check out before we get to a place. If we can’t find anywhere to eat, then we improvise, taking inspiration from what we find in the French supermarkets and see on the menus at cafes and brasseries. You don’t have to be in France to enjoy French food. Plenty dishes, particularly what is known as peasant cuisine such as Ratatouille, are already vegan. Swap out eggs for corn starch and dairy cream for soy cream to make a crème brûlée. Skip the beef and use mushrooms to make a Mushroom Bourguignon. Maybe some of the ideas that follow might add a Gallic touch to your vegan home cooking?

Marinated tofu steak with veggie risotto

Marinated tofu steak with veggie risotto

I was prompted to write this section as one of the books I took with me to read on the boat was – The Happy Vegan – by Russel Simmons. I thought he did a great job explaining why he went vegan. It made perfect sense. He backed up all his arguments with supporting information. One thing he speaks about – is how he finds and makes food when he goes away. I thought this information might help someone who follows a plant-based diet on the French Waterways or even visiting France – to plan and make meals. Or maybe help someone who wants to increase the pant-based quotient in their diet?

One of the things Russel says, and it’s so true, is that vegans eat the same as everyone else. They just make their food differently. Burgers, cheeses, omelettes, meringues and yoghurt for example, are not off the menu. It just requires using different ingredients, techniques and flavourings to make them. The easiest way to find recipes for your favourite food in a vegan version is to go on-line and search for food you would like to make – with the word vegan next to it. Try vegan meringues or vegan omelettes. You will not believe how many recipes come up.

The Galley

The Galley

Most boats have a gas hob and oven. Ours has a ceramic electric hob – but no oven. So, baking and grilling are out of the question. Since we like to eat as much fresh and raw food as possible, it’s not been a problem. We have a small kettle BBQ that we sometimes fire up and make food like kebabs, stuffed foods or fire roasted veggies. We have a small fridge/freezer which means we must shop fairly regularly. A stick blender is an absolute must. If you don’t have one available, then pack one. They aren’t particularly heavy and are extremely useful. The more powerful the better. You can make delicious smoothies, soups, juices, pâtes, nut cheeses, nut milks, salad dressings, pistous and sauces with a stick blender. I also cannot live without a coffee grinder. They are small, and not only do they make fresh coffee, I use ours to make flours from grains and nuts and also to mill flax seeds.

The story contnues – here.

20 Best Money Saving Travel Tips

20 Best Money Saving Travel Tips

1. Visit the local tourist information office and get brochures for the tours they have on offer. Then do them yourself for free. Walking tours are also usually cheaper than bus tours. Sure, they take a bit longer, but you get to explore a city or the countryside up close and personal, and you get some exercise.
 2. Use local public transport. Catch a bus or train to the furthermost end of the city and back to get a sense of what the whole city looks like. A day pass allows you to hop on and off to explore sections of a city.
3. No need to eat at restaurants or cafes. Pack snacks such as dried fruit and nuts in your backpack or buy a sandwich and a bottle of water at a supermarket.
4. Save on Wi-Fi costs by having a coffee at a Starbucks or cafe with free Internet access. They often have free newspapers so you can read the local goings-on.
5. You don’t need to buy a travel guide. Visit your local library to see if they have a travel book for your destination. You can also try Lonely Planet or Wiki Travel for free on-line travel guidance.
Boulders Beach Simonstown
6. If local tap water is safe to drink, then refill your water bottle at the end of every day, at your accommodation.
7. B and B’s are often cheaper than hotels and include basics such as Wi-Fi that many hotels consider extras. More often than not, you can stay at a B and B for less, or not much more, than a Backpacker place. And B and B’s are safer than a Backpacker spot, as you are not sharing amenities and rooms with unknown people.
Town centre Simonstown
8. You can go online to find out just about everything from where to go, restaurant reviews or weather reports with regard to your holiday location. There is no need to buy local restaurant and wine guides.
9. Eat in your room. Get yourself a healthy take out meal plus a great bottle of wine from a supermarket and skip overpriced restaurants, plus taxis and tips, by eating in.
10. There are always plenty of free museums. Avoid the ones that make you pay.
11. Book in advance. There are often huge savings to be made by booking in the right window period. Think long haul bus trips, train trips, car hire and flights. They all have early bird specials.
12. Many credit cards and insurance companies have free health travel insurance. Find out what you are eligible for.
Penguins Simonstown
13. It should be obvious but hiring a smaller car is cheaper and lighter on petrol than a big gas-guzzler.
14. Avoid travel agents. Booking yourself and booking on-line is always cheaper.
15. Don’t look for a taxi when you arrive at your destination. Most major cities have an airport shuttle bus or train service. Use keywords to do an online search for the best one at an airport. We hardly ever use a taxi. Taxis are much more expensive than public transport. Most taxi drivers are surly and unhelpful too.
Harbour Simonstown
16. Consider self-catering if you have 3 or more days in one place. You may well find your accommodation comes with a washing machine. You save on laundry costs and its way cheaper to cook for yourself than eating out.
17. Travel credit cards and traveler’s cheques don’t always work out cheaper. You are paying twice to change your money. We pre-arrange with the bank to clear our debit and credit cards so we can use them when we travel. We’ve been able to draw cash out of a “hole in the wall” in locations such as Thailand and India. The only thing to remember is your daily limit. 
Do the maths and work out what it will be in local currency. Credit cards are also safer. You can always query a transaction with your bank if things go wrong.
18. Look for holiday specials. A Google search will yield some surprising specials. Use keywords like bargain, specials or budget and see what comes up. Many spas have off-peak rates and shipping companies sometimes do specials when the ships travel unusual routes.
19. We join all the loyalty programs that we can. It costs nothing to fill in the forms. We have managed to score a few free flights and hotel discounts that way.
 20. If you are up to it, camping is by far the cheapest way to see a country. It should be obvious; but make sure you pick warm months and avoid the rainy seasons when doing a camping trip.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

20 Top Travel Packing Tips

20 Top Travel Packing Tips

1. Don’t pack light colours. They look grubby in no time and you don’t want to be worrying about your clothes getting dirty. Pack mostly black or dark colours. They probably also get grubby but at least you can’t see it. Black is also versatile. It goes from day to night easily. And it all goes into one wash load. No one wants to sit waiting for different loads of washing to get done on holiday.

Robben Island – Nelson Mandela’s cell

2. Choose lightweight hand luggage and suitcases. The limit for most airlines is 23 kilograms. If you start with heavy bags, it doesn’t allow you to pack much. Plus you might have to carry your luggage around. Not all destinations are suitable for a wheelie suitcase. Think of the stairs to the London Victoria underground station. Not fun!

3. Running shoes are perfect for walking about and the odd run if you are up to it. Wear them on the plane in case your feet swell. Pack flats or lightweight shoes for going out at night or visits. Heels are best saved for when you are at home.

4. If you have over-shopped then pack heavy items like toiletries and shoes into your hand luggage when you fly home. The limit on hand luggage is on size, not weight.

5. A cloth tote bag is perfect replacement for a handbag or in-flight bag. It’s squashy and you can fit lots into it. It’s also light.

6. Weather can be unpredictable so pack clothing you can layer or clothing that is versatile. A tank top can be worn alone on a hot day or as a pull-over on a cool day. You can also sleep in it. Cardigans are light and fit snugly under a jacket on cold days.

Robben Island – prison cells

7. Use your casual wear to sleep in. Why pack pyjamas as well?

8. Pack drip dry and easy hand-wash fabrics. You can rinse your clothes at night and they will be dry in the morning.

9. Scarves are light and an easy way to give a repeat outfit a fresh pop of colour.

10. Don’t pack heavy gold or silver jewelry. Rather take lightweight plastic for a bit of fun; or pack rope and string type accessories. Plus, you don’t want to have to insure your jewelry. You are going on holiday to relax and have fun.

Robben Island – guard tower in distance

11. Always, always, make sure you can manage your luggage. As in, don’t take tons of suitcases. You just might have to carry your own luggage and if you have more than you can manage, you will not be happy with yourself. Don’t bank on someone else carrying for you. Things do go wrong.

12. Ensure you have copies of all your important details with you at all times. Think flight details, addresses of accommodation, medical insurance, passport, etc. Not everyone is welcome when they arrive at a destination and immigration officers can ask some really obscure questions. If you have all your information on you, you can refer to it. You could get lost or have an accident. Then you will need it. Keep it all in a clear plastic Ziploc bag or water proof file and – keep it on you.

13. You have to accept that if you are travelling, perfectly styled hair might be a challenge. Practise easy hairstyles before you go so you can relax and enjoy your holiday rather than getting hung up about hair. Think easy pony tails or a classy chignon.

14. Pack products that do double duty. Some soaps double up as shampoo. Hair conditioner can also smooth dry skin. And pack your toiletries in clear plastic Ziploc bags. Toiletry bags are bulky and don’t always contain leaks. With clear plastic bags you can see at a glance where your toiletries are.

Robben Island – prison

15. Pack make up that works harder. Lipstick for example can be used as blush. Avoid heavy powdery make up on holiday. You will either be on the beach or working up a sweat walking about. Face powders can look a mess in no time and touch ups aren’t easy on the move. Plus you are likely to be wearing lots of sunscreen so cream based make up is your best bet.

16. Do pack plenty maximum factor sunscreen and a lightweight sun hat. Chances are you will spend a lot of time outdoors and you don’t want to get burned.

17. Keep a spare set of underwear, wet wipes and a toothbrush with you, along with your important documents. Flights run late; baggage goes missing; tours end far later than planned. Stuff happens. You might have to wash and freshen up in a hurry and you will want fresh underwear and clean teeth.

18. Slip slops are super handy. They double up as slippers, plus are a really good idea when walking around in communal areas such as on the beach or at a spa. On a hot day they can be worn out. They are light and take up very little packing space. Haviannas come in a range of fun colours and they last forever.

19. Yet one more thing to consider carrying is a lightweight, water resistant windbreaker. Umbrellas are a nuisance to carry and they get confiscated at the airport. At least if the heavens open, you are dry with a windbreaker. And if it gets chilly it keeps you warm.

20. Never, ever pack valuables such as cell phone, camera or lap top into your main luggage that goes into the hold of an airplane. Keep that sort of thing on you. You luggage will be scanned and insider thieves might help themselves to your new I-Phone or inheritance jewelry. Always lock your suitcases if they are out of sight.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Garden Route South Africa and getting about

Garden Route South Africa and getting about

Garden Route steps leading to beach

The Garden Route is a popular holiday and retirement destination. Coming from Cape Town, it begins around Albertinia which is a tiny and not too exciting place. Give it a miss. The first coastal town is Mossel Bay (Mussel Bay). Mossel Bay is hardly a town. It is a big place and the road passes through the outskirts of it.

The other end of the Garden Route is at the Storms River Mouth. Place names like Natures Valley and Lake Pleasant give a clue to the beauty that this area holds. A mix of lakes, lagoons, estuaries, rivers, forests and mountains are what make it such an attractive place.

Dwarf and mini horses for kids to stroke. This is Henry.

You can get there by hiring a car and driving. Visit these links for price comparisons of the various car hire companies in South Africa – option 1 and option 2 and lastly option 3. The roads have recently been re-done and long queues seem to be over for the most part. The views along the way are special.

Bus companies to consider are Baz bus which is a hop-on hop-off bus. Links to other inter city coach bus operators are IntercapeGreyhound and Translux.

Maybe you might like to do a motorbike trip through the Garden Route? Follow these links – MotoBerlin and AdMo. Have yourself a Harley holiday.

Garden Route sand and castles

I would be wary of the intercity trains. I read the local news and I don’t feel I can recommend them. The Blue Train or a special train is fine.

There are organised cycle tours. I have included a link for those who would relish a chance to sit on a saddle and cycle – mountain biking in South Africa.

I would strongly discourage anyone from hitch hiking in South Africa. And I’m not sure I would couch surf either. I know of people who have done some couch surfing in SA, and maybe it’s just me, I don’t like to take that sort of risk.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Visas, vaccinations, natural approach to malaraia

Visas, vaccinations, natural approach to malaraia

Camps Bay beach

First lets deal with visas. Some nationals may require visas and others not. You will need to refer to either your local embassy. Another handy site is this SA Tourism.

You could also utilise an agent who deals with foreign visas and they do all the leg work for you. For a fee of course, but hey, they know the business.

Next vaccinations. Depending on how you enter South Africa, you may require a yellow fever vaccination. Do an Internet search for a list of possible entry countries. If you have travelled through them, then you need the jab.

The list includes most of Africa and a few South American countries.

Malaria does occur in South Africa but not in Cape Town. It’s possible to find maps showing high, medium and low risk areas as well as maleria free areas.

As a rule of thumb, the tropical bush camp areas on the east coast are where you need to be cautious. The recent high profile case of Cheryl Cole is proof that malaria does happen to visitors. That said, I will not take some of the new generation anti malarials.

I have seen too many people get very, very ill on them. The older generation anti-malarials are no longer effective against the new strains of malaria so you can’t rely on them. I prefer to practise extreme vigilance and take my chances. I do not recommend my approach. However I refuse to be struck down by medication and ruin a holiday.

Here’s how I do it.

Always cover your arms, neck and legs with light cotton clothing. Rub insect repellent gels and lotions all over exposed body parts regularly. I like Citronella oil. You won’t smell good to your travel mates but the mosquitos will be put off you as well.

Sleep under a net. Eat loads of garlic and drink gin and tonic. Apparently tonic water has quinine which is supposed to be an anti malarial. I also take a few drops of the herbal extract of Artemesia three times a day in water.

Lastly I take homeopathic China. You can use search terms such as Cinchona bark or China malaria to find out more.

You should have plenty ideas to keep safe from malaria.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Airport transfer, My CiTi, Golden Arrow, bus services

Airport transfer, My CiTi, Golden Arrow, bus services

My CiTi bus

The My CiTi bus service is now well under way. The first route to get going was from the the airport to the city centre. At R50 for the trip, it’s a bargain. We’ve used the bus a few times now, and I can see no reason to spend, what in comparison is a fortune, on one of the shuttle bus services or taxis. A shuttle bus or taxi costs around R250 to R300 for the same trip. The embarking process is designed so that you can roll a wheelie suitcase right into the bus. Perfect!

More good news is that the next route which is from Table View to central Cape Town is about to open. Interim fares are also excellent value at R10 per trip.
The My CiTi bus is based on a similar concept that has been in effect in Brazil for a while. The buses will ultimately run in and around the city and to Hout Bay. Can’t wait.

For more on what the Cape Town City Council have planned and plenty of useful information for visitors or potential investors, visit their website Cape Town City Council. Train timetables, news, a map of all green services such as public parks, farmers markets and more can be found on their website. Very handy!

Golden Arrow bus

Lastly you could also take one of the Golden Arrow buses to get around. Visit the – Golden Arrow Bus – website for timetables. I don’t find the website particularly user friendly but maybe it’s just me.

Find the link at the top of this page for travel tips relating to Cape Town in particular and travel in general.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Photo of My CiTi bus c/o City of Cape Town website

Pin It on Pinterest