Help! I Need Travel Ideas for the New Year

The Open Suitcase needs travel ideas for the new year. Where’d you go in 2016? What did you love? Or hate? Leave your suggestions for places to visit, foods to eat, and things to do, or not do, in the comments section for a chance to win some travel inspiration.

quebec-city-street-with-orange-balloons

The calendar flips in a few days and I need travel ideas for the new year. It’s how I survive winter.

I’m inviting you to play a round of show and tell. Continue reading

Need A New Wine Pairing? Try Biltong With Shiraz.

Waterford-Estate-Stellenbosch

I’ll give you two guesses. Napa? No. Provence? Negative. It’s the Waterford Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a destination brimming with magnificent vineyards. After days of intense touring in Cape Town, it was time to kick back and relax and let someone else handle the wine pairing. Continue reading

Why You Should Hire a Tour Guide When You Travel: Part 2

Kirstenbosch-Gardens-flowers-mountain

My second day in Cape Town happened to be my birthday so I was keen on having a fantastic day touring the peninsula. But I was still bothered by the nagging dilemma about whether it’s better to guide or not to guide?

When I returned I asked my travel agent, Yvette De Vries of African Portfolio, if she arranges tour guides for all of her clients or if I was projecting some type of weird “help me” vibe during our planning stage. She assured me that she encourages guides for guests visiting Cape Town. “It’s the best way to optimize the limited time available in a 150 square mile city that’s spread out around a 3,600 ft mountain.” Continue reading

Why You Should Hire a Tour Guide When You Travel: Part One

Capetown-Bo-Kaap

“Is it okay if I take a few minutes and give you a little background about South African history? It’s not something most American schools teach.” That’s how Garth introduced himself and I bristled a bit. South Africa. I know about South Africa. There’s apartheid, Oscar Pistorius, the Sugar Man, and the Lion King. Heck. I participated in a sit-in during the 80’s to protest my college’s investments in South Africa, an effort that was abandoned after a few hours because I needed to get back to my apartment to host a party.

Okay.

I know nothing about South Africa.

But I hoped my guided tour of Cape Town would change that sad fact. Continue reading

Rovos Rail: Climb Aboard and Travel Back in Time

Luxury train travel in South Africa described in a Rovos Rail reviewRemember pop-up books? I loved them as a kid. You’d be reading along, then you turn the page, and SURPRISE! – a fantastic 3-D illustration of a scene would spring up.

That’s what it felt like to be sitting in the balcony car at the end of the passenger train as we click-clacked our way through South Africa’s Great Karoo, sipping chilled cocktails. But I wasn’t in a children’s storybook; my pop-up was straight out of an Agatha Christie novel. All that was missing was a chalk body outline on the floor and Inspector Hercule Poirot. Continue reading