January 22, 2015

Top 10 places to travel in 2015

Not much - apart from the actual travelling itself - gets us more excited than making a new travel bucket list. We’ve narrowed down a very long list to just the top 10 hot, hip and happening places we think you should travel to in 2015.

Set in a fictional kingdom in Norway, the movie Frozen has not only made billions for Disney but has also resulted in an increase in tourism to Norway, according to tour operators. Pictured is the breath-taking cliffs of the Lofoten Islands. Breath-taking!

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Overshadowed by Cape Town and Joburg in the past, we think this is Durban's year to shine. The New York Times listed Durbs 7th on their list of the 52 places to visit this year. The eternal summer city, Durban has seen an urban revival, including the jazzing up of the beachfront promenade, and a creative infusion of markets, café culture and coolness.

Photo credit: SA Tourism

Réunion Island
Often overlooked by its neighbour Mauritius, Réunion Island is our new favourite island destination. So much more than just a beach, it’s a world in one. Here are just 5 reasons to visit (trust us, there are many more). The island is on the Euro so it’s certainly not as affordable as Mauritius, but the good news is that it’s visa-free for South Africans.

Palawan, Philippines 
This photo speaks for itself. It's no wonder that Palawan, Philippines, was voted the best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveller. Visas are not required for South Africans and airfares (like much of Asia) are affordable flying from Joburg.

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Berlin, Germany
The cool kid on the block. A city with 2 equally intriguing faces, secrets and new treasures lurking around every corner, art, architecture and culture galore, and the beer beloved of every German city, it’s the place to indulge your inner hipster.

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River cruises
Not a place, but an experience so cool that we just had to include it. According to Business Insider, river cruises are booming. Forget the standard personality of massive ocean liners; river cruises are full of character and offer a unique, cultured and more refined way of exploring, especially for the well-travelled or those looking for something a bit different.

Sure Travel recommendation: For the ultimate luxury river cruising experience, consider Uniworld River Cruises offering trips in Europe, Russia, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Ask your Sure Travel consultant for more info and how to book.

Milan, Italy
Florence, Venice and Rome will always have their place on an Italian holiday bucket-list, but 2015 is the year for Milan. Set to host the 2015 World Expo, 20 million visitors are expected to set foot in the fashionable city. Attractions are being polished, new hotels are set to open and it’s hoped that Milan will soon join the list of Italy’s must-see Big Four.

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Known as one of the most expensive cities to visit, it’s hoped that that will change a bit this year. Tourism took a hit after the 2011 tsunami and since then the Japanese government has been busy cleaning up and launching tourism campaigns to attract visitors. Now’s a good time to put it on your bucket list.

Did you know? If you’re 18-35 and keen to explore Japan with ease, Contiki has just launched a tour to Japan. Contact a Sure Travel consultant for more information.

Photo credit: http://read.bi/1BhwSq1

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is fast overtaking its neighbour Dubai as the cultural capital of the Middle East. Head there for sightseeing, desert safaris, shopping, family fun, bling shopping malls, luxe hotels, souks, dhows, camels and almost anything you can imagine.

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Northern Ireland
Croatia saw Game of Thrones fans descending in droves after some seasons were filmed there, so it's expected that the same will be true for Northern Ireland when season 5, filmed there, airs.

Note: Different visa requirements apply for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Your Sure Travel consultant will be able to advise.

Photo credit: http://read.bi/1BhwSq1

What’s on your 2015 travel bucket list? Comment below – we’d love to hear from you.

Information correct as of January 2015.
First photo credit

January 16, 2015

Meet Robyn from Sure Stellenbosch Travel

To say we at Sure Travel love travel is putting it mildly. Often it’s in our very blood. Brought up surrounded by a family-run travel business, it’s no wonder that Robyn Daneel, General Manager of Sure Stellenbosch Travel, followed her family’s well-travelled footsteps into the exciting world of travel…

Robyn, tell us a little about yourself? Born in Stellenbosch, I am an avid wine drinker who ironically is very health and fitness conscious. I love any form of exercise, but only because it allows me to enjoy living in the food and wine capitals of South Africa. Weekends are spent exploring all that the Winelands has to offer and weekdays I am kept busy managing Sure Stellenbosch Travel and a small backpackers lodge on the side.

How did you start working in travel? I like to say that I have travel in my blood. Sure Stellenbosch Travel was established in 1952 and was first run by my grandparents, and then my father. I worked in hospitality for 3 years before realising that I may have a passion for travel. I joined Sure Stellenbosch Travel in 2008 and swore I would give it a bash for about 6 months and then would head off to the UK. It was then that I went on my first educational and that was it, the travel bug had bitten, no more UK for me! After 7 years of learning the ropes and adapting to travel, I now run the family business and am the third generation of Daneel to do so.

What do you love most about your job? There is never a dull moment and we are constantly learning and evolving. I also have an amazing team and incredibly interesting clients who make it a joy coming to work.

Local attractions in Stellenbosch? There are so many amazing places here that it’s a little hard to narrow them down. Warwick Wine Farm is a must; they do the most gorgeous gourmet picnics on their lawns and have delicious wines. Mulderbosch is also an amazing spot; they serve pizzas and have play areas for the kids and boules for the adults. For those looking to spend some time hiking or mountain biking, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is a wonderful way to spend a day.

What would you tell a tourist in Stellenbosch to do? Rent a bicycle or simply just walk around. The centre of Stellenbosch has a European vibe to it with many street cafes and cute shops. A must is to book a wine tour and do a guided tour of the wineries – you will get taken to a selection of farms and you won’t need to worry about driving.

First time you ever travelled? My first trip was to Disney World Orlando with my dad when I was in primary school. Complete information overload and I absolutely loved it! The USA is still one of my favourite places to visit and anyone wanting to treat their kids should definitely consider Disney World. Another special trip was with Contiki to Europe in 2009 which was my second solo trip. I met amazing people, two of which I am still privileged to call my closest friends.

On a Contiki trip in Switzerland

Trying to kick over the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Favourite destination? I can’t say that I have a favourite as every country is so different and what I love about travelling is the diversity and culture that each country brings. I really enjoyed my most recent holiday to Thailand - it began as a relaxing beach holiday and ended in the north where we had the opportunity to experience true Thai culture.

Sunset in Dubai

Sipping bubbly at Vic Falls

Meeting the wildlife in Hoedspruit

The Sydney Opera House

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Probably to Europe again, hopping between countries.

Next place on your travel bucket list? Not a place, but an experience! A Uniworld Boutique River Cruise through France.

Most treasured travel memory? My 30th birthday at Rawai Beach in Thailand with my other half. The day was spent relaxing in the most amazing pool villa after which I was treated to a candlelit dinner at a restaurant overlooking the sea.

My 30th birthday dinner in Phuket

Phromthep Cape Viewpoint, Phuket

Funniest travel experience? Being swindled in Bangkok, but in a good way! No matter how many times you are warned, you will probably still fall for it. Our last day in Bangkok we decided to do some sightseeing leaving the hotel at 12:00. We were picked up by a taxi driver who informed us about a special tourism day so all public transport was cheap on the condition that we stopped at a tailor and then a jeweller and pretend to be interested in their products. We thought “hey why not?”. It was only after this happened again and then yet again that we eventually saw it was 16:00 and we had been to 3 tailors, 2 jewellery shops and one incredibly small temple! We saw the whole of Bangkok and had a great laugh!

Your best travel tip?  I know it sounds boring, but to take out travel insurance. I never travel without it as anything can happen.

What advice would you give to a traveller? Do proper research and speak to specialists who have visited where you are planning to travel. There are always hidden gems or tips that people who have experienced the destination can pass onto you that you don’t necessarily find on the internet.

Hobart, Tasmania

Southern most cruise in Tasmania

Something most people don’t know about you? That I appeared on an Afrikaans programme called Bruilof on KYKNet in 2013 to discuss honeymoons.

Tell us about Sure Stellenbosch Travel? We've been in operation for over 50 years, are still situated in the same building at 58 Bird Street that we started in and are now into our third generation! We handle all aspects of travel ranging from leisure to corporate travel, individual to group travel – always going the extra mile to provide the best service possible.

Why should someone visit Sure Stellenbosch Travel? I would have to say that our service definitely sets us apart. Not only do we go the extra mile for our clients, but we treat them like a part of our family, building relationships with them so they’re not just a number. We handle every aspect of travel and have 24/7 emergency services so our clients can rest assured they’re always taken care of.

Contact Robyn & Sure Stellenbosch Travel here.
Email: robynd@steltrav.co.za
Call: 021 887 2920