December 14, 2012

Sure Travel’s memorable travel experiences of 2012

We have had an amazing year of travel here at Sure Travel Head Office – between us we have cruised the high seas, travelled through Eastern Europe, visited far-away remote islands and walked the streets of a deserted New York City after Hurricane Sandy. Here are just some of our most memorable travel experiences of 2012…

Shaun Pretorius: Sure Online & Fares Consultant
Favourite travel destination of 2012: 
Beijing, China. I would really recommend that people visit Beijing - it hosts a multitude of heritage sites such as Tian'an men Square, The Forbidden City, The Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. It really shows off China's gems and is the centre point/gateway to their country’s history.

An unforgettable moment from your travels:
Hiking up the Great Wall and seeing traces of snow, fake fighting a Cambodian Soldier and doing a line dance with 100 Chinese locals in front of an Anglican church in the streets of Beijing. Finally doing a cooking class and learning how to cook Kung-pow chicken... lots and lots of oil!

On my travel list for 2013:
Definitely Mauritius with my beautiful fiancée for my honeymoon! 

Shaun in Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China

Natasha Henry: Marketing Assistant
Favourite travel destination of 2012: 
I didn't do much travelling this year, but had the fantastic experience of visiting all the Protea Hotels/African Pride properties in Gauteng. Protea Hotel Balalaika Sandton, Fire & Ice Melrose Arch!, OR Tambo Airport, Roodepoort, Wanderers, African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel, Protea Hotel Capital Pretoria, Hatfield, African Pride Irene Country Lodge, Protea Hotel Midrand and Protea Hotel Samrand – I visited all of them!
My favourite was African Pride Irene Country Lodge – it is tucked away in the country, far from the bustle of the city, and has a great country farm vibe. The scenery, lake, gorgeous old chandeliers in the lodge and amazing spa are really special. Protea Hotel Samrand and African Pride Melrose Arch also had the best food!

An unforgettable moment from your travels:
A definite highlight was drinking milkshakes in the vibey hot-spot, Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! in trendy Melrose Arch. Everything at this hotel screams glamour from the celeb guests to the classy decor.

On my travel list for 2013:
On my travel list for 2013 is a trip to beautiful Knysna where I will do the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour. And I definitely won't be leaving before doing an elephant trek (something I want to scratch off my travel bucket list).

African Pride Irene Country Lodge

The milkshake bar at Protea Hotels Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch

A bedroom at Protea Hotels Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch

Abigail Pires: Solutions Optimisation Manager
Favourite travel destination of 2012: 
It had to be the Azores. Mainly because it is so unspoilt, not a typical South African destination for tourists, not commercialised, and has an exquisite natural beauty. 
The vast array of natural beauty is all in contrast with each other. Wherever you looked on such a small island, it was absolutely amazing. The flowers blooming everywhere along the roadsides, blue Hydranges everywhere, volcanic black beaches, steep cliff faces, green and blue lakes. Volcanic rock built houses and churches dotted through valleys of green – awesome!

An unforgettable moment from your travels:
Standing in the middle of the island Sao Miguel, in the Azores, and seeing a volcanic crater lake in front of me, while being able to see the Atlantic Ocean in two shades of different blue on either side of me. And driving up a dirt road leading to nowhere, barely wide enough for a car, and stopping at the top to look out over a massive volcanic “lake of fire.”

On my travel list for 2013:
I am seriously wavering between Iceland, Norway or doing the Grand Canyon and Route 66.

The Azores

Flowers cover the landscape in a maze of colour in the Azores.

Martin Janse van Rensburg: Marketing & Events Co-ordinator
Favourite travel destination of 2012: 
My favourite travel experience for 2012 was going on a MSC Sinfonia cruise from Cape Town to Walvis Bay, Namibia.

An unforgettable moment from your travels:
An unforgettable moment was when I visiting Tintswalo Atlantic in Hout Bay. I had never been to such a luxurious lodge before and the setting was magical overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

On my travel list for 2013:
I would love to relax on the beach in Mauritius and visit London – I’ve never been to the city before and want to go in the summer to see Big Ben, go up the London Eye and shop in Harrods. 

Martin about to board the MSC Sinfonia in Cape Town.

The theatre onboard the MSC Sinfonia

Jenna Berndt: Social Media Co-ordinator
Favourite travel destination of 2012: 
This year, I got to go on an awesome Contiki tour visiting Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest - some more places ticked off my travel bucket list! However, I have to say that my favourite destination of all was probably Salzburg, Austria. I know it’s ‘clichéd’, but ever since I watched the Sound of Music as a little girl, I have always wanted to visit the land where the “hills are alive with the sound of music!” Salzburg lived up to every expectation – rolling green hills and snow-capped mountains, friendly Austrian people, a medieval Old Town with cobbled streets & fountains, gorgeous Baroque architecture, yummy pastries, a huge fortress overlooking the city, palaces and fountains and mazes and rose gardens – and all those picture postcard perfect Sound of Music locations.

An unforgettable moment from your travels:
It’s difficult to choose just one… Jumping the steps in the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg (like the Von Trapp children do in the movie while singing Do Re Mi!), standing where the Berlin Wall used to be - with one foot in what was East Germany and the other in West Germany, seeing the East Side Gallery in Berlin, looking out over the red topped roofs of Prague from the castle, tasting the famous Sacher Torte cake in Vienna and taking a dip in one of the famous thermal baths in Budapest.

On my travel list for 2013:
I am trying to choose between island hopping in Croatia or the Thai islands – I feel like my next holiday should involve some sea and sunshine!

The Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, Austria. Some scenes for the Sound of Music movie were shot here.

Hellbrunn Palace Gardens, Salzburg.

Dusk begins to settle over the Old Town of Salzburg  - view from the Fortress.

One foot in what was previously West Germany and the other in what was East Germany - stepping over
the stones of the Berlin Wall.
A section of the Berlin Wall has been turned into the East Side Gallery - displaying paintings by artists
from all over the world.
Jenna overlooking Buda and Pest on each side of the Danube river in Hungary. Together the two sides
 make up the city of Budapest.
Budapest is well known for its thermal springs and public swimming baths.
Vienna's famous Sacher Torte chocolate cake - arguably the best in the world.

The red roofs of the city of Prague.
Anthea Kaufmann: Sure Online Supervisor
Favourite travel destination of 2012: 
Malacca, Malaysia. It's a heritage city in Malaysia, 148km south of Kuala Lumpur. All the old buildings are beautifully preserved and when you walk around the town it really does feel like you have stepped back in time. People are friendly, and there are many little "restaurants" to try out the local cuisine including their famous pineapple tarts and "the best coffee in Malaysia". There are also lovely little shops where you can buy beautiful ornaments and trinkets to bring back home.

An unforgettable moment from your travels:
Batu Caves - Kuala Lumpur. 272 steps lead you up into the sacred Hindu temple caves, and they say once you reach the top and look up, you can see heaven. There is an enormous gold statue of the Hindu deity Murugan at the foot of the steps. At 42.7m, it is the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world.

On my travel list for 2013:
I would love to visit Scotland. Not sure if that will happen in 2013 though. Will have to wait and see. Wherever I go, I'm looking forward to the adventure!

Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca, Malaysia

Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur.
Vanya Lessing: Sure Travel CEO
Our Sure Travel CEO certainly had some unforgettable travel moments for 2012 when she was caught in New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Here she tells her story…

“I was preparing for disembarkation from the Queen Mary II on October 28 when the captain made an announcement advising that a hurricane was heading for the east coast of New York and that he would be departing earlier than scheduled to 'outrun' the storm. I had planned to spend another 2 nights in NYC before returning home. What to do?
My first thought was to head straight for JFK but I knew that all flights would be full and shortly after disembarkation, news reports advised that the airports and public transport had shut down operations. So I headed for the Hyatt Grand Central Hotel where I had a booking.
Staying in a good, centrally located hotel was the best decision I made. Being close to everything meant I could walk and the hotel had access to facilities such as complimentary beverages, snacks, breakfast and, most importantly, Wi-Fi. No shops were open, not even a coffee or pizza shop, for two days - thank goodness for hotel food! And what would I have done without my iPad? An indispensable tool! 
When the electricity went off, the hotel was not affected as most good hotels have back-up, which meant I was not stuck in a hotel room, there was food, and I could keep in contact with friends and family. 
Having a good relationship with your travel agent or airline partner becomes critical in circumstances like this. I was in constant contact with Delta Airlines, who offered me invaluable advice and made sure I was handling the situation."

What has been your favourite destination for 2012? What unforgettable travel moments have you had? And where do you want to head off to next year? Let us know!


WOW - We had a sensational year of travel! It's wonderful to see all the pictures here!

A really awesome year - and I've been inspired to add so many other places to my ever-increasing travel bucket list!

thank you for sharing Sure Travel.. i loved the article

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