One of the best things that you could do as a family during this time of the year is the travel to a secluded place and detach from the buzz of city life. This is exactly what we did in the past year and we all enjoyed it throughout. That’s what the Doctor ordered, some R&R, relaxation, and recovery from the long year.
It is a bit risky the travel this year, even though this year was much difficult than last year. We have the keep it close to the home for security and health reasons. What I found surprising was the time it took me the plan. I had started a month before the holidays.
When we returned I realized that it would have been great the have started planning a year before. It was great that we could go in a short space of time, besides the budget could only allow us that much.
Deciding where they go.
This should definitely be a group effort or else you will have a grumpy family for the whole trip. The list you could do is consult, but that does not guarantee that everyone will be fully on board. So, where is the best place the start?
Like any lesson, you want the start where everyone is comfortable and gradually introduce new elements. On the last trip we had we stayed at a retreat center Called “Ha Phororo”. A priest friend of ours welcomed us for the visit and we ended up staying over Christmas and New Year. It was such a spiritual and fulfilling visit that fed the whole family emotionally and brought the family together.
The Planning of the itinerary.
Initially, I would have liked to Stay at Ha Phororo and maybe add excursions to the places of interest around Hartees. The planning did not allow it as I was short notice and the New administrator was not a fan of our family like the previous or maybe she was not into last-minute visitors well it was still a month before. Hence, I suggest planning a year before, however that did make a difference with the Admin lady at Ha Phororo!
Personal reviews from the people you trust are the best.
One of my colleagues a Mr. Du Toit shares a month before about a place Called Utopia Nature Estate in Buffelspoot. So I looked around and registered with Airbnb. Airbnb is a website that can assist with worldwide accommodation bookings.
How it works is a member can let out their homes during the holiday seasons as they would supposedly be visiting another Airbnb home for their holiday. Something like “The Holiday” a romantic comedy produced and directed by Nancy Meyers starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. Cameron a movie trailer producer from California exchanging homes with Kate a publishing junior Editor from a Village in England.
Well after booking accommodation everything else falls in place.
The plan was the visit the Lost City and spent a day there. During this vacation, more like a vacation in a vacation. A very cool concept if the timing is right, more about this later. I coordinated with my wife who is usually working during this time of the year so that she could take some time of With a year the plan these are the maters that would need to be dealt with earlier on as you won’t have a vacation if everyone is working.
Doing things we like.
Not everyone in the family likes the same thing and finding a balance is very difficult. For instance, My wife is not an outdoors person if there is such a thing. And already by agreeing to go to the nature estate, she is already sacrificing. Well, that is for our children of course this kind of vacation also become a learning curve for our Children, all four of them.
Accommodation is key
Remember this is your home base for the duration of the holidays. The images of our B & B were not that exciting I took a chance. The images were not that bad as they were good enough the get my wife to agree to the come. I made payment via EFT and started communication with our host. A day or two before we go I got a message that our cabin had been flooded!
I immediately wanted to cancel, I hung on the break was long overdue we needed time together as a family. I was then given a new hostess who reassured me that we would get a great deal. The location was sent and we were on our way.
Preparation is important.
Before we left my eldest daughter helped the draw up our menu. Yes, self-catering works much better if you have a bigger family. Especially with specific dietary needs. Well, I cook for mine and that would work well for us. Everything was planned for but not everyone was on the same page. It is best the get everyone on the same page before departure. But you make it work for every family as different dynamics if you have you grove go with it.
After the non-end calls from my wife, calling from the office we were on our way. We passed by the office just as they knocked off and we were bid farewell by colleagues and friends and we drove off. I think I am a bit of a maverick, in our KIA Rio Hatchback 2015, filled the capacity with language and Substances for a week’s stay for six!
The drive was supposed to be two and a half hours but ended up being just about four hours due to the road works and rerouting and detours. Eventually, we arrived and were welcomed by a charismatic Afrikaans old lady. She was a darling.
Baffelspoort – Utopia.
The drive to our base was immaculate. The boys had been in and around the area for their year-end school camp. Our little girl was a bit overwhelmed it was one of her first long trips with the family. We had driven the Hartebeesport dam ones, but this was a bit further. The views were awesome. Eventually, we arrived and to my surprise, the cabbing was ten times better than what the image of the flooded cabin was. Our hostess gave us keys and reassured us told us about the local restaurant that is owned by my previous host, who apparently was her son, the was also there to welcome us.
Our nest was warm and welcoming.
We got a four-bedroom Chalet with two Bathrooms and an open-plan living and kitchen area with a balcony overlooking the estate all the beyond. The kids made their choice. This could have gone wrong as well but it finally worked its way out.
After unpacking my clothes, the new kitchen was awaiting me. It was great that I had made packed lunches for the drive, there was plenty. There was no gas. I called Tannie our hostess and there were there in 30 minutes and we were connecting gas. A quick Spaghetti Bolognese, we were at the dinner table and rested thereat of the night.
Routines help if you have one from home, stick to it.
The dishes done, kids were bathed and off the bed. The silence and tranquility of the night were just too much we all slept through the night. We had just arrived but my holiday was complete. Now what was left was to create memories for the little ones. I woke up the following morning and prepared some porridge. Well, no one would have woken up this early on a Saturday. I was, so I went for a long morning walk.
Peaceful is an understatement.
I went through the Village hoping to see our flooded Chalet. The Air was cool and wet, birds chirping and the sound of the river down below. My head was thinking too fast. What to do how they get everyone in the holiday mode. The walk did me a lot of good. As a youngster, I planned camps for our church youth, and a plan would be drawn. I would literally shout out the place for the day and everyone would fall in. With the Rats well it was a different story.
I went all the way to the river and up the hill to see where the restaurant was and it was great. It would have been awesome to have done this with the family, but understandably so, they were tired from the drive.
Back at the warmest nest in Utopia.
I got back and the Rats were up and bathed well not all. We had breakfasted. The plan was to drive to The lost city on that morning but the way things were going, we were just too tired the go. I thought to myself even if we don’t get there the holiday was made here already.
Went shopping for groceries and our little girl’s wash towel was left at home. The locals were quite interesting, we shopped for a braai at a local Spar. The service was great.
The Day at our Utopia.
We got into our swimsuits and after an elaborate photo shoot packet the car with Balls and request just in case the weather was not agreeable for swimming. We spent the day at the pools. The pools are a fun place to be especially if you can swim. Some of our members are still learning and it will take some doing before you start enjoying the poolside. The three pools are great allowing swimmers to the big pools at the top and the leaner swimmers and non-swimmer supervisors at the bottom, closer to the river.
This day was greatly tranquil compare to what was awaiting us the following day. We ascended to the playgrounds where we enjoyed a game of tennis and an occasional slide and swing. I realize that when we are at home we don’t play as much together. That is the way to keep fit and healthy.
A vacation is not a vacation till we have our self a braai. We set the outside sitting area and lit the fires. Flames were high and warm creating an ambiance of home and joyfulness. Braai meat resting we had a wonderful diner under the stars. Marshmallows and s’more sandwiches around the settled flames, and a song or two the settle us in, an evening the remember for rest of our lives.
Holiday frenzy – You don’t want to be there.
We went on till very late. After showers and breakfast, we were on the road again driving furtherer down to the Lost City on Sun City. This holiday destination that was made popular by one of South Africa’s Superstar Director Comedian Leon Schuster’s “There is a Zulu on my stoep” and quite recently by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in “Blended”.
On a Sunday I hoped there would not be that many people but the place was full the capacity. The drive was long and with a place this full and my wife’s dislike of the outdoors. Strange enough she came alive and took charge of this one. I took a back seat and sat with our little girl who was out of place, I took the the the water rides for children on the other side from where we sat.
This is us after settling down coming in you are not sure even if you will get through. These are some of my dislikes with places like this. You are not allowed your food, your comforts, drinks, and Stuff. It is too crowded to be hoisting camp chairs and umbrellas. When you get there and try the rent they either finished, broken or not functional.
When we finally settled the boys and my big girl went off swimming. It was a great day. We did not get to do most rides nonetheless it was fun. One activity that I would still like to do when we return one day is The Chimp & Zee rope Adventure on ropes around the City.
The drive back was tough the leave Sun City on a day like that took u two hours. Then we got on the road, it was dark and the roads aren’t clear and daylight. Eventually, we braced the long drive and we were back at Baffelspoort.
Back to reality
We can in back very late, at least with some time the rustle up our last dinner. We were up the following morning after breakfast our bags were packed and of to our last stop. Initially, we wanted the spend time at Ha Phororo, but we could not so we made arrangements with our Priest Friend before coming back home to meet at HaPhororo.
This is one place you want the keep coming back to. A youth retreat center that is rooted in Christianity. Like Taize – A monastery in the south of France, the prayers are done in the style of Taize. One of the main focal points is a Labyrinth set in front and inside the Chapel space. It is my wellspring of Faith.
An hour’s visit with Father was enough for the renewal and we were heading back to the bustle of Johannesburg. Home sweet home, let’s do it again
Yes, it is a lot of work but at the end of the day what will you do?
I love traveling especially with my family it makes life worth leaving. Start planning for the coming year and give your Self and Your Family a Gift of Life on Christmas.
Thank you for taking the time to read.