A weekend in Brussels with mum

A weekend in Brussels with mom

Weekend in Brussels with mum

Where to stay, what to do and where not to have waffles

When your mom flies halfway around the world to come visit you in Europe, it’s only right to treat her to a weekend trip to some place nice. Now, Brussels has never really topped my list of must-see-places-before-you-die, but at €19 a ticket (return!) I decided it was indeed a must. So mom and I hopped on a ridiculously early flight and navigated our way toward the European Capital of Culture.

It had been previously agreed on that stroopwafels would be eaten and Manneken Pis be visited, but neither of us quite expected to be so dazzled by the city. The curious architecture and exquisite detail of the art nouveau facades had me biting my fist at every corner. Poor mom had to stop at each turn, cause I was taking pictures of literally every, single, house.

This was especially true in Saint Gilles – the suburb where we resided during our trip. The elegant airbnb apartment we stayed at, belongs to Bénédicte and Matthieu, the creative couple behind the interior design blog Auguste & Claire. I can highly reccomend it! The one bedroom apartment has been beautifully renovated to create a calm and tranquil respite right in the heart of bustling Saint Gilles.

Beautiful holiday apartment in Brussels

Beautiful holiday apartment in Brussels
Perfect weekend getaway in Brussels

Cement tiles and wooden floors.

Elegant holiday home in Brussels
Bright and sunny Brussels holiday apartment

The streets around here are astir with loads of young people sipping coffee and swigging beer at the corner cafes and street bars. From there Mum and I took the tram up to Ixelles to have chips on the square at Flagey. We contemplated having a drink on the steps with the cool kids, but both of our noses were bright pink from the cold so instead we strolled around the Ixelles pond and gaped at the houses along Avenue de l’Hippodrome.

The Ixelle pond in Brussels

Brussels-architecture
Pretty-tree-in-Ixelle-Brussels

The beautiful houses along Avenue de l’Hippodrome

The next day we set out on an adventure that included both a hunt for treasure at the Marollen flea market and finding the cartoon murals of the Comic strip trail – a homage to famous Belgian comic artists featuring over 50 colourful murals on buildings through-out the city.

Still saving space for that much anticipated waffle, we decided to have a light breakfast at L’aubette on Rue Blaes – a delightful place with very friendly staff and perfect ambience. Actually that entire street is really cool with loads of interior design-, antique- and home decor stores. On Rue Haute we stumbled into a mesmerising tropical nursery and decor shop called Brut – lured in by the super vibey african beats of the shoe-box-sized jungle in the city.

breakfast at L’aubette on Rue Blaes
Breakfast at L’aubette in Brussels
Brut nursery and interior decor in Brussels

After finding most of the murals on our agenda, we headed north toward the Grand-Place. In keeping with its name, the huge market square is unquestionably grand. Bordered by ostentatiously grandiose edifices, the square, dating back to the 14th century, has been voted one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site and well worth a jaw-dropping peek.

Just around the corner stands the (in)famous Manneken Pis – a tiny peeing statue of a little boy that you would totally miss if it wasn’t for the hoards of selfie taking tourists. Contrary to the Grand-Place, this “Little man Pee” is decidedly little, and therefore, little more can be said of the fellow. The folk lore and legends that swaddle the statue is perhaps a bit more interesting. My favourite is the one of a boy named Jullianske who urinated on a burning fuse set by foreign invaders during a siege, and in doing so, saved the city from being blown to bits.

The Grand Place in Brussels

The Grand-Place, Brussels, Belgium
The beautiful Architecture in Brussels

Finally mom and I sat down for waffles at Maison Dandoy. The much hyped waffles was really disappointing and I guess coffee not their forte either… Mom was not impressed and believe me, she’s a good judge of sweet things. Other than that the service was deplorable, the place really dirty and the toilets despicable. I’d avoid eating here. Sorry for that one mom!

Despite the disappointing encounter with both our premeditated highlights, our weekend in Brussels was just brilliant. The city is beautiful and an absolute treat for admirers of architecture. Famed for its structural gems by architects like Paul Hankar and Victor Horta, the city is a kaleidoscope of styles. Every building looks different, stuck together in a creative architectural collage. My favourite of all was the Horta Museum on 25, rue Américaine. The World Heritage Site was once the studio and home of Victor Horta, and the immaculate details adorning the place is just amazing.

King Kong Café in Brussels

King Kong Cafe in Brussels
The Horta Museum in Brussels, Belgium

Hungry after our Horta hour mum and I dropped into King Kong around the corner for delicious burgers and interesting fries. Both plant-lovers we chose the cafe for it’s leafy interior but was equally pleased with the food. Just across from there is the Forcado Pastelaria, with their delicious and pretty Portuguese pastries – a great tip from Bénédicte!

If you have a day to spare, take a day trip to Ghent. The ride is only 30 minutes and easy to get to from Saint Gilles. The city is breathtakingly beautiful and dates back to the middle ages, having survived viking plunders, rebellions and a handful of wars. You can take the tram form the Sint-Pieters station down toe Korenmarkt and from there explore the surrounding area along the Leie river. It really is quite magnificent.

City of Ghent in Brussels

The beautiful medieval buildings in Ghent Belgium
The beautiful Leie river in Ghent, Belgium

Weekend highlights

Where to say:

Our beautiful airbnb apartment and the vibrant suburb of Saint Gilles

Where to eat:

Breakfast at L’aubette, lunch at King Kong, dessert at Forcado, beers at Moeder Lambic, and chips for dinner on Place Flagey.

What to do:

• Stroll around Ixelles pond to admire the surrounding architecture
• District of Marollen with its antique & vintage market, cartoon murals, art galleries and designs stores
• The Grand-Place with it’s golden swans and strangely named buildings

Where to from there:

Day trip to ghent. Look for the tickets to Sint-Pieters – reduced fair for pensioners & students

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Johannesburg guest house 2 Mokolo

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Patio area of Johannesburg guest house 2Mokolo

 

JOHANNESBURG GUEST HOUSE
2 MOKOLO

 

When I lived in South Africa, my sis and I ran a small design studio. One of our first and favourite projects was to design the brand identity for a new guest house in Johannesburg, called 2 Mokolo. The project was for Sandra de Witt, the then Creative Development Officer at the Jupiter Drawing Room, and her husband Graham Hickson. Both nature lovers and avid birders, Sandy and Graham sought to create a refuge for visitors in search of a nature filled respite from the bustling surrounding city. On my resent trip to South Africa I decided to stop by and say hello.

 

Birder friendly guest house in Johannesburg
2 Mokolo guest house in South Africa

 

The 2 Mokolo guest house is situated in the beautiful Johannesburg suburb of Morningside in Sandton, a stone’s throw away from the Outspan Bird Sanctuary. With its natural canopy of wild olive and white stinkwood, the garden itself is home to an abundance of bird species and 100% indigenous flora, which makes it the perfect retreat for bird and nature lovers.

 

Pool side patio of 2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg
Pool side lounge area at 2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg

 

The bed and breakfast has recently expanded to include an elegant 4-star guest house called Annex at 18. Each of the luxurious rooms have wooden decks where guests can relax in the sun among giant palm trees. Sandy and Graham designed louvred sliding screens, to provide complete privacy while allowing access to the surrounding garden.

 

The Annex at 2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg

Suite I at Anex at 18 at the 2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg

Guest house 2 Mokolo in Johannesburg South Africa

2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg South Africa
Luxurious bathrooms at 2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg

 

The rooms are vibrant and friendly, each with a brightly painted barn style sliding door that opens into a luxurious en-suite bathroom with beautiful bath and huge shower. The spacious bathrooms open onto the private deck as well, giving them an almost spa-like feel. My favourite is Annex III with it’s pewter bath and private outside shower.

 

2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg

2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg South Africa

Spacious bathrooms at 2 Mokolo guesthouse in South Africa

 

As a film maker, Graham’s love for story-telling is visible throughout the guest house. Quirky elements like repurposed tripods (now used as bedside lamps) and old tin cars and wooden toys, add to the inviting character of the interior. The couple’s love for birds and the african bushveld is also evident in the collector-like aesthetic, choice of fabrics and use of materials.

 

2 Mokolo guest house in Morningside, Sandton

The private outdoor shower at 2 Mokolo guest house in Johannesburg

 

Sandy, who’s won numerous awards at Cannes, D&AD, One Show and the Loeries during her corporate career as Creative Director of TBWA South Africa, now runs 2 Mokolo with equal fervour. So it’s without surprise that the guest house has such an excellent traveller rating on Trip Advisor.

 

2 Mokolo guest house in Morningside South Africa

2 Mokolo guest house in Sandton
Guest house in South Africa, 2 Mokolo

 

2 Mokolo is central Joburg’s first BirdLife SA accredited birder-friendly establishment, but it’s not just nature lovers and birds that are welcome here. The guest house has it’s own beehive too. So aside from Graham’s delicious home-made sourdough bread and preserves, guests can enjoy honey from the resident bees!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this story. For more details and booking information why not check out their website or facebook page.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

2 Mokolo's Beehive in Johannesburg
Garden animals at 2 Mokolo guest house

Home made honey from 2 Mokolo's resident beehive

 

STORY + PHOTOS: BARBARA CILLIERS

 

F R E E • G I V E •  A W A Y

What better way to kick off the new year than with a free gift! You can win a 2 night weekend* stay for yourself and a friend at 2 Mokolo guesthouse in Johannesburg to the value of R3400.00.

To win, all you need to do is follow each of these steps:

Step 1. Like this post

Step 2. Follow both ositsitso AND 2mokolo on instagram OR facebook 

Step 3. Share this post on your wall (sharing buttons below) and tag 5 friends who you think would like to enter

And that’s it!

Competition closes on 12 Feb 2017.

*Please note the prize includes breakfast and a room for two. Other costs related to your travel is not included & dates may be subject to availability.

 

Holiday in Majorca: finding the perfect Farm Stay

Holiday in Majorca
 

HOLIDAY IN MAJORCA

The name Majorca has passed my awareness several times, but for some reason I always associated it with images of drunk beach goers and partying teens so akin to the neighbouring Ibiza. But boy was I wrong.

 

Towards the end of April I desperately needed an escape from Berlin (it was a looooong winter). After a quick google flights search, I discovered very well priced flights to Majorca and booked it right away. But since I’m not much of a beach person I set upon a hopeful search for a farm stay, if there was such a thing…

Eventually I found Sa Rota, a farm in the middle of the island and set about my Spanish trip with great expectations.

 
 View of the gardens at Sa-Rota, agro-tourism on sitsitso

Sa Rota farm in Majorca
Outside terrace at Sa Rota farm in Majorca

 

The self catering unit we stayed in was perfectly equipped, complete with pebbled courtyard to enjoy home cooked breakfasts on sunny mornings, as well as a private deck with spectacular views over the valley and its breathtaking sunsets.

The interiors are unpretentious and stylishly decorated, with well chosen pieces that support the integrity of the old building. The shuttered windows and terracotta tiles are unmistakably Spanish while the bare stone walls add to the old age charm.

 

dressing
Sa-Rota farm house in Majorca

Elegantly styled bedroom at Sa Rota de Mallorca on Sitsitso.com

 

Wether your planning a romantic weekend or a week long stay, I can highly recommend Sa Rota. The peaceful atmosphere is perfect for lazy days like reading in a hammock or bathing in the pool. And should you wish to explore, the location makes it easy to get to every corner of the island in under 2 hours.

 

Unpretentious, yet elegant interiors of Sa-Rota farmhouse in Majorca
terrace

Swimming pool area at Sa Rota finca in Majorca - travel with sitsitso

 

The warm welcome we received from the owners of this 18th century Spanish farmhouse, was surpassed only by the magnificent beauty of the place and it’s surrounds. Nestled against the hilltops, the finca offers everything you might wish from agritourism; from lemon trees bursting with fruit to bees buzzing around massive lavender bushes and the sound of cow bells and bleating sheep from the neighbouring farmlands.

 
Beautifully tended gardens at SaRota farm-stay in Majorca

Venice | A trip to the Biennale (All the world’s futures)

Close-up of Venice Canal

 

la Biennale di Venezia

 

Cobblestoned footpaths down dimly lit alleys, crossing quaint little bridges of opaque teal water … Few cliches more aptly describe their subjects than the ones depicting the ancient city of Venice.

 

Late night stroll to the fruit market in Venice
Captivating beauty of Venice at night

 

And the water-bus from the airport only adds to the allure once you finally set foot on the historic island. A trip to the Biennale (All the world’s futures) allowed me this magical visit, and so I was doubly delighted, first by the romance and splendour of the city, and second, by the spectacular displays at the la Biennale di Venezia.

 

Old school lamp in Venice

 

The Biennale

Like Alice I wandered into a land of wonder, of pearls and dragons and critical expressions of our current world state. Karo Akpokiere’s “Zwischen Lagos und Berlin made me humble and homesick through his themes of social inequalities and cultural juxtapositions. The “dead” flags in Ivan Grubanov’s United Dead nations for the Serbian pavilion delivered a beautifully dismal display of the notion of nations. On a brighter–much yellower–note; Great Britain’s Sarah Lucas had me itching for wanting to touch her oh-so-smooth er … could it be penises?

 

Experiencing Antonio Manuel's Occupations/Discoveries at the Venice Bienale
Experiencing Antonio Manuel's Occupations/Discoveries
yellow
Deep Cream Maradona by Sarah Lucas
flags
Ivan Grubanov’s UNITED DEAD NATIONS, Installation at Venice Art Biennale 2015

 

The city

The World Heritage site dating back to the 10th century BC, is actually a group of small islands (118) connected by footbridges. It’s enjoyed wealth through most of it’s history due to it’s maritime power and commerce. The resulting grand and majestic architecture (Venetian Gothic architecture) effectively obscures the fact that their foundations are wooden piles of alder trees, that have been submerged in the ocean for centuries.

 

Venice in the day time
The teal colours of the Venice canal

 

There’s just so much to say about Venice that I’m thinking of doing a follow up post later. But here’s a quick round-up of my experience so you have something to go on should you decide to visit:

Sleeping: I can really recommend the airbnb apartment hosted by Silva Farina. The immaculate and elegantly decorated apartment in Castello is perfectly located, only 5 mins away from the Biennale, but central enough to the rest of the islands so we could do all our exploring on foot.

Eating: Suggested to us by Marie from Stil in Berlin, the Osteria il paradiso perduto at Fondamenta della Misericordia, 2540 – 30100, did not fail to deliver on its promise. Here you’ll experience culinary delight in both their seafood and vegetarian dishes.

Drinking: Vino Vero is a charming wine bar we stumbled across in Cannagerio 2497, that draws you in with its cheerful character and keeps you there with its impeccable selection of wines.