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5 best affordable things to do on Valentine’s Day

I know I am not the only one who dreads Valentine’s Day and that is for many reasons which one of them is that it falls in the middle of the months and usually involves spending loads sh*t of money. Lucky for you, you don’t have to go around searching for things to do and asking you girlfriends or trying to find out what your girlfriend wants as a token of appreciation.

Lucky for me (lol) I get to spend V’Day alone, not by choice though but because I am in a long distance relationship plus I am moving house so we know we can’t be spending a lot when we have a mission at hand. This however does not mean I cannot share a few fun things you can do alone or with loved ones on this very “special” day. Here are the best top 5 things I recommend you do on 14 February:

  1. Visit any Botanical Gardens in your area for a picnic: I am not a fan of journeying to the park but by the time I sit down, I am already enthusiastic about the idea of just sitting and being unbothered about everything because it is always just so quiet. A picnic with someone you cherish should also feel the same. I remember
  2. Hiking: Anything for a day in the “wild” is what I would sign up for any day. Not only you get to hike with someone or people you love (maybe alone), when you get to the top, there is a feeling of fulfillment and it comes with any type of hike.
  3. Movie and beer at home with a projector: What do you need the tv for if you can just use a projector for some big screen action right in the comfort of your own house. All you need is a projector, a laptop and a clear wall and you have yourself a movie marathon.
  4. Host a game night: You are never too old to have a scavenger hunt or just a good old charades or 30 seconds. This is great because you will be having fun and at the same time learn about each other’s qualities. I know my boyfriend is competitive and a sore loser, myself on the other hand can win and lose without pressure.
  5. Cook together: A meal for two is the cheapest way to reminisce about how you met and the funny stories that were so bad then but all jokes now. Some couples even go for a cooking competition where they time themselves and they create a romantic meal from a cooking show and rate each other with a side of good wine.

There is clearly no excuse to not love Valentine’s Day. There is also no reason to hate it. I feel like people who hate Valentine’s Day are just sour that they are not as creative about self as they think they are. The fact that you bought yourself wine and sat alone does not mean you hate it, it just means you love your own company so when you go out there to the world, please try appreciating that you had the chance to celebrate it, don’t make others feel bad for having done something special for their loved ones. If you feel like you need to do something for yourself, how about writing a love letter to yourself or a spa day- there are so many deals online that will cost you so much less compared to a full on Mangwanani spa day.

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Europe, Travel

Paris, France

A day in Paris, France:

If someone told the twenty-years old me that I would someday find myself in Paris, I would have laughed them to shame. This year however, I did find myself in France and my oh my, it is absolutely everything they say it is and more. Well kind of!

My partner and I are in a long-distance relationship and with that comes traveling to each other’s countries. This year instead of me going to see him, we planned to a cross country road trip to Paris. In my head, I always imaged Paris as this expensive and inaccessible city where you must spend thousands of Rands to make the trip work. Here is how you can spend a day in Paris and spend less and still get to visit ALL the sites:

Paris is designed in a way that all the tourist and historical sites are in a semi-circular way when using the metro. We stayed in a hotel 35 minutes outside of the city center called Hotel Tilde , a cozy hotel that is close to the best bakery ever! (side note: my life will never be same after those croissants. It’s unfortunate I don’t remember the name). The best thing about this hotel and Paris is that there are Metro stations EVERYWHERE!

Where to go:

paris tour map

As seen in the map above, we visited five sites which we visited smaller and “in-between detour” sites while heading to the rest. This can be done from 9 am to ensure you have all the time to enjoy each place you visit. We visited:

  • Sacre-Coeur: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France.
  • Arc de Triomphe: Is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l’Étoile — the étoile or “star” of the juncture formed by its twelve radiating avenues
  • Eiffel Tower: Is a wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower
  • Notre Dame de Paris: Meaning ‘Our lady of Paris’ is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture
  • Louvre which is the largest art museum in the world!
  • Champs-Elysees which is the longest avenue in France filled with restaurants and luxury shops.

There is so much to visit which we could not because of the service protests are currently happening.

Getting there:

As mentioned, there are Metros everywhere and it is so easy navigating the city with google maps. Google maps gives you detailed routes to all the places including which metros to take- either buses or “trains”. In Europe, the train we use on a daily is what they use for long distance travel and they call their daily trains “metros” and “trams”.

The best thing to do is buy a minimum of 20 metro tickets for € 14,90. You are given 1h40 minutes to use one ticket however you want between stations for all metros within the city- great right! I mean who has money for parking because it costs €15 a day out of the city, imagine how much it is within the city.

Things to look out for and more:

Paris is not really a clean city so don’t be shocked when you get there and get shook by the sites. It is not entirely dirty, but it is not as clean compared to the Netherlands or other European countries and the issue might be the huge number of tourists coming in and out of the city, so I am hoping there will be some sort waste management system going on around the country.

The city is insanely beautiful! The only mistake I made was wearing heels throughout the entire trip and I had a bad case of sore feet.

Eating out can be nice but Europeans love discounts so always ask around for restaurants that have specials and nice food. I always eat anything and everything on holiday because I do not have time to watch my weight or eat clean.

P.S: You can add more stops to your map as you go along. Also, something you do NOT want to miss, Paris by night is a sight for the gods especially the Eiffel Tower.

Here are some of Auguste Rodin’s work from Musee Rodin which is a must visit! 

Enjoy Paris if your next stop is there! I do however wished we went into the Louvre and Versailles.

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Africa, Travel

Victoria Falls, Zambia

Imagine going on an amazing holiday only to find out that the airline providing the a connecting flight sold you dreams and then find yourself stuck in the middle of home and nowhere. On Monday I left Europe with the hopes that I will be home in time for a one man brunch and my bed. Instead I found myself with others stuck in Zambia courtesy of Kenya Airways (the story will be told another time).

Sometimes getting lost can lead to unexpected adventures. 

I met a group of people who were coming back from different corners of the world and we decided to use the opportunity to visit Victoria Falls.

Flowing from the Zambezi River over a cliff and into the Boiling Pot before flowing through a series of gorges is Victoria Falls, located in the western area of Zimbabwe. This is where you will find the Devil’s Pool, a natural infinity pool, is on the edge of a sheer drop. Spanning the river is 1905 Victoria Falls Bridge. The surrounding Zambezi National Park is home to white rhinos and elephants.

Myself and other companions entered Victoria Falls from the Livingstone side in Zambia where you can see a quarter of the waterfall and even though it is not everything, it is worth visiting!

What you will need:

  • We had to find transport which picked us up from the hotel and drop off back and also entrance fee fee into the park which totaled to 280 Zambian Kwacha.
  • Due to the intensity of the waterfall, the water hits the ground and there’s mist and little showers by the waterfalls, you will need a raincoat.
  • Because the ground is wet, make sure you were good shoes because it gets slippery.
  • For those scared of heights, you will need to cross a bridge that is high up to get to a different side to see more of the falls.
  • Take your time and just breathe in the freshness of the waters and surrounding.
  • There are monkeys everywhere, get your camera out.
  • Make sure you have cash, it is easier than finding a card machine.

What you need to know:

  • Zambia is hot! People who are like me, buckle up because you are going to be sweating your tits off.
  • Visit the falls super early when there are less people around then you get to really enjoy it. They open at 6am and close at 6pm.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Zambia is great because even the gravel roads have names, something you don’t see in South Africa.
  • There are lots of lodges, it should be easy to find accommodation close to the airport.
  • Livingstone is 5km away from the Zimbabwe boarder and 200km from the Namibia boarder.
  • It is not expensive but the Kwacha is stronger than both the Rand and Dollar.
  • Zambians are beautiful people- I mean of course, you are in Africa anyway!
  • You will most likely fly with Kenya Airways, prepare yourself.
  • I had beer from there and it was really good for someone who does not enjoy beer, I think you will love this one.
  • 52% of Zambians speak Bemba and some words are similar to those in other South African languages (e.g: There is a street called ‘Mosi-oa-tunya’ translated to “the smoke that thunders” which happens to be another name for Victoria Falls.

I would like to thank the people I was with who put the idea to visit the falls in action. I never thought I would one day visit Zambia- even though it was not planned, I loved it.

Travel

The cash passport.

You have booked your flight. Got your visa. Bags packed. Now what?

At this stage you are probably thinking of calling your bank to notify them of “irregularities” that will be taking place in your account because you will be swiping your life away and living your best life. Well, not exactly! In most cases, banks block your card if they see unusual activity on your account even if you notify them prior to your travel. Great banks will even inform you of what to do in order to avoid that but hey.

A cash passport is a method of banking almost anywhere around the world without using your official bank card but rather transferring your monies from your bank account to a temporary card which can be used anywhere in the world. You have access to a maximum of 4 currencies on your card which are transferable as you travel and as you shop- NICE RIGHT!

I am with FNB and they somehow offer the quickest process for the cash passport, however, I could not apply for mine in time. Did you know FNB charges you R70 a transaction outside the country? That is a lot of money! That is a cheap burger and drink.

travelex-group-lineimages

You are required to have a minimum of $100 which is about R1,500 to start using your card. You can also reload it anytime you want, online. This card is valid for 5 years and the currencies can be changed every time you travel so which means you don’t have to apply for another in order to have a different currency loaded.

Service providers to apply for your cash passport:

  • FNB
  • Standard Bank
  • Western Union
  • Educonnect
  • Travelex
  • ABSA

Ever used a cash passport card before? How did it go? How were the charges?

You may ask how this is different to any credit card like American Express-

Please comment with your thoughts in the comment section.

Beauty and Travel

Hair and make-up tips while traveling

In less than a 24 hours, I will be traveling from Cape Town to the Europe for the holidays and I am pretty much excited about it because instead of just visiting the Netherlands, my babe and I will be doing a couple of trips cross country vibes. Plane tickets booked, accommodation booked, dinners booked and we are well ready for it all.

One thing that always graze me off though is looking beautiful without wasting time when getting ready and also being ready for anything that might happen during the course of a day touring places and meeting friends for dinner. My first concern is always my hair! I would rather not have to deal with my fro during the festive season, I honestly do not have time to be brushing and detangling.

Keeping the skin clear and clean while looking amazing is essential and here are a few tips on how to not burden yourself with all that and still feel great:

For hair:

  • Be versatile about your hair. It’s always great to get it box braided and you just switch up the look every time. Or have simple but funky cornrows which can be covered with a wig to make your look even more interesting.
  • Get a beret or a hat that can help with looking different everyday.
  • Always carry an essential oil for your scalp to help with any climate changes but keep it at a 100ml.
  • If it is cold, it is always best to wear a wig so not to stress out your hair.
  • Visit a local salon for a nice braid wash if possible to keep the scalp clean. I have realised it is difficult washing braids than anything else.

 

For skin:

  • Exfoliate!!
  • Drink water.
  • Stay away from make-up when flying. It is not good for you. Like, who the hell are you trying to look good for? the flight attendants?!!
  • Always have some wet wipes with you to wipe your face during transfers or every 5 hours to help your skin breathe especially during long flights.
  • Drink more water. This is very important.
  • Apply a night cream oil to help getting rid of bags or signs of tiredness.

For nails: 

  • Always have your hands dry (obviously)
  • Moisturise
  • Keep a hygienic habit when it comes to hands and face
  • It helps carrying a hand sanitiser
  • Trim your nails all the time. This helps with breaking and polish chirping
  • Base coat is important to protect your nails from nail polish stain. You can also add a layer of base after every coat for lasting shine and protection.
  • Give your nails a break. The way you give your face a break from make up. Let your nails breathe for a moment. So a week before you travel, just have clear, clean nails before bedazzling them.

I guess the point here is that, try keep your hair and skin routine as natural as possible. Only apply make-up when you know you won’t be sleeping on the road- overnight to help your skin breathe and get used to new climates. Your hair should not be a priority but taking care of it is important- which means, keep it minimal while giving it what it needs.

I hope this helps. What do you do to keep your skin and hair clean during the holidays?

Travel

How to save for your travel plans.

Ever looked at someone’s Instagram or Facebook feed and wondered how the hell are they managing to travel without privilege? I have, so many times and this was during high school all the way to 1st year of my profession. How does one just get up and go to a different country and a week later they are leaving again. It is very possible.

You see then, I had no idea about savings. In the black community, especially South Africa, you are never taught to save. When it happens is because you are lucky that you grew up around people who knew the importance of saving; a family member is in banking or investment and they teach you to invest in small things at a young age. For the rest of us unfortunately, you realise when you are in your 30’s that you could have saved close to a Million if you did not buy bunny chow everyday for 10 years.

Here are the many ways you can afford a R10 000 trip within 6 months:

  • Draw a budget for every single month and stick to it.
  • When going grocery shopping, stick to the things on the list. We tend to walk out of the store with more things not on the list than the ones on the list, so avoid that.
  • Instead of getting your hair done every month, get yourself a wig. It will last you longer than paying 600+ every month for a hairstyle that lasts you 2 weeks.
  • Buying in bulk helps. All the hygiene stuff, don’t buy them one-by-one.
  • Focus on one debt at a time. Trying to pay off everything at once will not help you.
  • Instead of incurring interest on your debt, make a payment arrangement.
  • Eat at home everyday instead of take outs.
  • Buy sale items. Always compare prices. I know it is annoying and tedious but you want to travel right! So get on with it and make it a habit.
  • Instead of a girl’s night out, call your girls to your house or go to theirs and drink at home instead of VIP section and transport costs plus expensive bottles, not to mention dressing up and wasting make-up.
  • If you are in a relationship, you and your partner need to sit down and focus on the most important debts first and leave the little ones a bit.

In this case, you will find yourself saving more than you planned to save because not only are you stingy, but you are taking care of your financial health.

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Or maybe just go with this style of saving below:

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Where to compare flights and packages:

Below is a video I took when I visited the Netherlands. Hope you enjoy it after pondering this travel saving plan.

Karabo Goes to Amsterdam