Seven cool things to do in Cape Town

My first day out exploring the city in Cape Town.

My first day out exploring the city in Cape Town.

South Africa is a country with a little bit of everything.

It’s got great markets and amazing restaurants – sure to make any food lover’s day. Beautiful sights and the most diverse scenery from modern cityscapes to sprawling winelands. And let’s not forget the adventure sports you’ll find at practically every turn – shark cave diving in Cape Town to surfing in Durban.

Needless to say, I had an amazing time in the ‘Mother City’ this April.

During my recent visit, the South African rand was at a low point, meaning bad news for locals but good news for me as a cash strapped traveller.

On top of that I was able to reconnect with old friends and meet a handful of new ones – who were happy to take me beyond the local tourist traps and show me a more authentic side to their homeland.

Here are a handful of my favorite things to see and do at my first stop in Cape Town:

Victoria & Albert (V&A) Waterfront

Victoria & Albert (V&A) Waterfront

  1. V&A Waterfront: Okay, so this part of the city is super expensive, but the good news is walking around and browsing come free. Spend some time strolling around the promenade, watch the beautiful yachts sail through the port and enjoy some of the live music and dancing in the heart of the square. If you have a little extra money to blow, you can feast on fresh seafood, book a boating tour around the harbor and even shop at some of the high end boutique stores.

    Hillsong Church in Cape Town

    Hillsong Church in Cape Town

  2. Hillsong Church: I won’t lie I’m pretty much a Hillsong groupie. It’s on my Christian bucket list to visit each Hillsong church around the globe (so far London, New York and South Africa have been ticked off). If you haven’t been to one of this international mega church’s services I promise you it’ll be worth your while. You’ll be greeted by beautiful worship music, followed by a powerful message of God’s love – and leave the building with renewed sense of hope, ready to go a little deeper in your walk with Christ.

    A stunning view at the top of Table Mountain

    A stunning view at the top of Table Mountain

  3. Table Mountain: This was for sure one of the highlights of my trip. I journeyed across the city by bus to get to the mountain base, then caught a cable car to the top. From there you’ll find the most stunning views of the city. Definitely a must see if you’re ever in South Africa.

    The colorful houses at Bo Kaap.

    The colorful houses at Bo Kaap.

  4. Bo Kaap – This beautiful little community is most known for its stunning neon and pastel colored houses. Take a walk along the narrow, cobblestone streets to capture some of the most amazing photographs from your trip; pop in to one of the local restaurants or soak up some of the rich history of this Malaysian settlement in one of the free city tours.Pic8
  5. Charly’s Bakery: When it comes to baked goods, locals in Cape Town swear by this place. After hearing about it glories, I walked an hour in the blazing hot sun to try and find it. I ended up getting a delicious chocolate cupcake and got to sit down in the quirky café for 20 minutes to cool off before devouring it.
  6. District Six Tour: This place has a lot of fascinating history. From what I was told it was originally a mixed community made up of freed slaves, immigrants, artisans, merchants and laborers. Known for its lively arts scene, jazz music and intellectual minds, the Government decided to confiscate the land, forcing out black South Africans in the early 1900s. It was declared a white are and the vibrant area gradually was no more. Through free city tours and a nearby museum you can learn more about this interesting part of the country’s racial and political history.Pic2
  7. Robben Island. It’s hard to imagine a trip to South Africa without taking a day trip out to Robben Island. In case you didn’t know this was where South African President and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela spent 18 years behind bars before the fall of apartheid.  You’ll get a new appreciation for everything Mandela did – once you see the jail for yourself and hear about all the adversities he faced. Interesting fact: three of the former inmates of Robben Island went on to become President of South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe and current President Jacob Zuma.




Five reasons I won’t be returning to Israel

Israel 2

This week I spotted a disturbing video online of a young Palestinian girl whose peddle bike, without reason or consideration, was confiscated by an Israeli police officer. She was in tears; the officer didn’t seem to care.

It was the saddest video clip I’ve seen in a while.

Why? Because it reminded me of the instances of injustice I saw first-hand during my recent travels to the region.

In April, May and part of June of this year I was able to spend six weeks in Israel – living in an ancient, yet beautiful Arab part of the country called Nazareth. Yup, that’s right the place where Jesus grew up.

Nazareth, Israel

Nazareth, Israel

This small village has a rich religious and political history (hence why I chose to spend the bulk of my recent world travels there). On the political side, it was after the devastation of the Holocaust the world powers decided that Jewish people should have a state of their own. They decided to take back ‘The Promised Land’ – you know the same plot that God told Moses he would lead the Israelites to after they were freed from slavery in Egypt.

Sounds fair, right? They are the chosen people after all.

Only problem is the Israelites took that land and forced out hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families who had long settled there. These Arab people were removed from their homes, many had to abandon their businesses and livelihoods; and sadly many lives were lost.

While I won’t ever claim to understand all the intricate details of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, I will say (as a solo-traveler and woman of colour), Israel was one of the least welcoming countries I’ve visited.

On one occasion I saw young Palestinian teenagers hanging out around the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem being chased away by Israeli police with guns – for no apparent reason other than loitering.

Here are five reasons why for me Israel wasn’t really the holy land I’d imagined:

Israel 3

  1. Everywhere was religious, but not very spiritual.

During my time in Israel, I got to visit so many important religious locations; the church where Jesus performed his first miracle turning water into wine at a wedding; the Sea of Galilee where Jesus spent most of his time in ministry sharing parables and healing people; and even the place in Jerusalem where He was eventually crucified. Don’t get me wrong it was great getting to experience these landmarks in real life. It reminded me that Jesus isn’t just some man from an old book, He was a living, breathing example of all that’s beautiful and good in this world.

But one thing I didn’t expect was all the religious bureaucracy that surrounded those sites. You’d often see or hear about Greek Orthodox priests arguing with the Catholics (and vice versa) over anything – and everything – to do with God and religion. I noticed some of the same legalism going on that Jesus tried to fight against during his ministry 2,000 years ago. For me, as a believer, it made it harder to feel a spiritual connection with God while visiting these places. Instead I focused on getting my spiritual nourishment from podcasts and sermons online; and eventually avoided these sites altogether.

  1. The country completely shuts down during Sabbath.

I’m not just talking about restaurants and shops being closed, I mean if you’re trying to leave the house – or in the case of tourists, the hotel – on a Friday evening or Saturday you should think again. Transportation stops and running and Orthodox Jews are even known to throw things at cars to get drivers off the road in time for Shabbat. I was told by residents there that some people take this day of rest extremely seriously. They cook all food for the weekend before sunset on Friday; and even rip sheets of toilet paper ahead of Shabbat because even that is considered ‘work’. In my case the strict rules meant I had to travel to the airport more than 13 hours in advance just so I could be certain I didn’t miss my flight early on a Saturday morning struggling to find a taxi to the airport. Definitely not fun.

  1. Israel has one of the strictest immigration processes in the world.

I’m used to travelling near and far – and have to admit some countries are better than others, but for me as a tourist Israeli customs officers were too intense. I don’t know whether it was my brown skin (perhaps I was mistaken for Muslim) or my Serbian last name that confused them, but whereas some other tourists were easily ushered through immigration I was interrogated both coming into and leaving the country. ‘What is your father’s name?’ ‘What religion is he?’ ‘How many siblings do you have?’ ‘What are their names?’. These were just some of the barrage of questions I was asked before I could board the plane to return home – and by that point I was very much ready to leave.

Israel 5

  1. Most of the cities looked and felt the same to me.

Don’t get me wrong, Israel definitely has its charms. I loved the graffiti spotted streets of Tel Aviv, the boutique restaurants and cool markets. But there was definitely a repetitiveness to it all. The markets all sold the same items; every street corner sold the same foods like pita, hummus and falafel; and there wasn’t much diversity in terms of activities to do sights to see for tourists.

A wonderful Palestinian girl Loma (center) I met during my travels.

A wonderful Palestinian girl Loma (center) I met during my travels.

  1. Talk to a Palestinian person and you’ll see how unwelcome many of them feel in their own birthplace.

Like I mentioned, I was situated in an Arab part of Israel and had the chance to meet and make friends with a few Palestinians. It’s so interesting to hear their stories and get their take on the ongoing conflict. As someone from the other side of the world, I’m don’t think I have the right to weigh in on it, but what I can say is it’s hard to see anyone – no matter what their race, religion or creed – being treated unfairly or denied access to certain opportunities.


*On the upside, I believe that every Christian should visit Israel at least once. Everyone has different opinions on a place; and while Israel didn’t pique my fancy, I heard from people who had fallen madly in love with the country. I’ve also heard there are awesome mission’s trips, so you don’t have to travel alone. And those can be very spiritually and emotionally rewarding and come highly recommended.

Faith, Uncategorized

Overcoming disappointment: a three step how to

Photo by Akil Simmons

Photo by Akil Simmons

Last year when I decided it was time to leave my job, I thought the hardest part of my story would be taking the leap – facing the fear of not having a stable pay check, handing in my resignation and having a steady, wholehearted faith things would work out.

I was wrong.

The hardest part of stepping out of your comfort zone to do something different – something you’re passionate about or feel called to do is persevering after you take the leap.

I had such huge hopes from my travel adventure before I set out with my trusty backpack on March 18.

I imagined God would just start opening doors for me. Like in that movie Matilda, all I’d have to do is concentrate really hard and wiggle my finger then all the challenges and obstacles in my way would move. But that’s not what happened for me.

Progress was slow and as time went on I had to fight against disappointment. I felt as if God had abandoned me.  I was so certain He was there with me earlier this year and had given me the spiritual ‘okay’ to leave my job, but where was He after the deed was done? Why weren’t things happening in the timeline I had expected? Did that mean I had made a huge mistake and wasn’t in His will after all?

Not necessarily.

I was sitting in the large theatre at Grand West Arena in Cape Town, for Hillsong’s Colour Conference in April, when God began to speak to my discouraged heart.

He revealed to me how He was more interested in my character than He was in my goals, dreams and agenda. You see, God won’t just allow the doors and windows to fling open if He knows we aren’t yet ready or mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes with the elevated platform or immediate success.

Priscilla Shirer’s prayer over the ladies in the room that day was for the Lord to ‘give us ears to know when He has called us and give us patience to wait until the Holy Spirit tells us to go’.

So here I am in a period of waiting – but that doesn’t mean sitting around and twiddling my thumbs.

I’ve come to see waiting as an active word; a time of preparation and refinement. I’m going to be using it as wisely as I can – and hope you ladies will do the same, but in the meantime if any of you are in a similar space where you feel discouraged or disappointed with where God has you right now, here are a few things that have helped me to keep the faith:

Step One: Lean in deeper.

Once I started to feel that God had forsaken me, my natural response was to want to distance myself from Him altogether. Instead of giving in, the best thing is to dig into your faith any way you know how – go to prayer meetings, start writing in a journal or talk to a trusted friend.

In my case I started to listen to online sermons from pastors like Christine Caine and Beth Moore.

What happened was I’d start the sermons with a hardened heart or a wonky attitude, but along the way small parts of the messages would make me think a little differently about my situation and how I was choosing to react to it. I like to call them spiritual seeds – and over time if you continue to water them they begin to sprout and eventually bloom.

Step Two: Surround yourself with people who believe in you.

Here’s the reality sometimes we’re too close to see ourselves clearly.

It’s like when you look into one of those magnified mirrors. You can’t help but see every blemish, stray hair or pore taking up precious real estate on your face, however, once we take a step back suddenly it’s not as bad as we imagined.

Life is like that – that’s why we need really positive, encouraging and supportive friends to remind us of the big picture.

One of my best friends reminded me of something beautiful this week: I may not have checked off everything on my lengthy to-do list during my time overseas, but even just by taking the risk I’ve hopefully shown other women it’s okay to face your fears and be courageous.

Step Three: Try to find the lesson in it all.

During my travels one thing God revealed to me was that I hadn’t yet arrived.

Yes, He had already done so many amazing things in my life – helped me to overcome deep rooted insecurities and heal from some of my old, painful wounds, but I’m still not in the clear with a lot of these issues. When challenges come my way those negative feelings have a tendency to come flooding back, but by acknowledging they are still there I can continue to do the work necessary to beat them.

** Here’s something I want you ladies to know: where you are now is not permanent. The enemy would have us convinced our lives won’t get better and we’ll be stuck in this place of uncertainty forever. That’s because Satan knows once we allow disappointment to set in we become more and more disconnected from God. I’m challenging myself to keep taking baby steps towards where I want to be – it may not happen overnight, but I know eventually I’ll be where I’m called to be. I hope you’ll do the same.

How do you ladies cope with disappointment when it arises in your life? I’d love for you to weigh in and share your thoughts.   

With lots of love,

Nadia xo



Seven things I wish I’d known about Uganda before going there


Sometimes your expectations for a place are so far off you feel like you owe that country an apology.

To that end I’m sorry Uganda.

I’m sorry for allowing what I heard about you in Western media to shape my perception of you – even before taking the time to meet you myself. I’m sorry about being fearful of you and letting that fear almost stop me from experiencing your warmth and beauty.

Plain and simple, my short time in Uganda was transformative. I met the most beautiful people and my faith was strengthened in a big way.

Here are a few surprising things I discovered about the ‘Pearl of Africa’ during my time there earlier this month:

1. There isn’t violence everywhere.
One of the biggest mistakes I made before leaving for Uganda was watch that Oscar award winning film ‘Last King of Scotland’. Fact is: the film is based on Idi Amin’s reign during the 1970s. Lots has changed since then.
If you’re traveling on your own to Uganda, I would certainly suggest making plans with a reputable travel or volunteer organisation. You can’t go everywhere alone and you certainly don’t want to be out gallivanting at night. But don’t let all the hype scare you out of visiting this amazing part of the world. The way I see it bad, scary things happen everywhere these days. No matter where you are you have to keep your wits about you and keep your eyes on your money and belongings, but please don’t assume every bad thing possible is going to happen to you when you travel to a new place. It won’t.

2. The people will be extremely friendly.
Ugandan people are known in the African continent for being ‘too polite’ a.k.a. ultra friendly and super helpful. During my two weeks there I met the most kind, warm and welcoming people. I think some of that had to do with me being hosted by a Christian organization, Word Of Life, but so many of the people I encountered went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable and content.

3. You have to shop around for the best prices.
Within the same market you’ll find dozens of women selling the same crafts and souvenirs, but the prices can vary significantly from one stall to the other. Browse around for 20 to 30 minutes before settling on which one has the fairest prices. Note: there’s also some wiggle room to get the price down a bit more if you buy three or four things from the same shop.

4. English speakers are very easy to come by.
Uganda has almost 45 different tribal groups – many of which have their own unique language and customs. In order to communicate with each other they use English, especially in the city areas where it’s more common to find tourists and expats.

5. The currency will throw you for a loop.
As I write this the exchange rate is about 3,300 Uganda shillings for one US dollar, so when you go into a store and see that a bottle of water costs 1,000 shillings don’t panic. That’s about $0.30.

6. You’ll find plenty of Western food if you choose to eat it.
My host family made me a wonderful meal one week during my visit consisting of ugali and fresh fish. It was lovely. But outside of that most of my meals were been pretty western – I feasted on everything from chicken burgers, to spaghetti and quesadillas. So if you’re a picky eater, don’t fret. You can definitely find menu items to suit your palette in Uganda.

7. Uganda is extremely beautiful.
I don’t know why, but whenever most people think of Africa they think of a dry, arid land with lions and mud huts. Truth is the land around the African continent is extremely diverse. Uganda had everything from beautiful mountainous regions, lots of green picturesque landscapes and even the occasional sandy beach. It’s not called the ‘Pearl Of Africa’ for nothing.


How to pack for an around the world trip


You don’t need two suitcases and a carry on to be comfortable during a four-month around the world adventure.

Don’t believe me?

Well, I managed to fit all my essentials into one backpack three weeks ago to the surprise of my husband and most other people I’ve met so far.

I have all the study materials I need, plus some basic toiletries, clothes, shoes and technology to get me through the next few legs of my journey. No, I won’t be dressed fashionably or be rocking any of the latest trends, but I do have pretty much everything I need for daily activities like sightseeing or casual dinners out.

Here’s what’s in my rucksack:

4 short sleeve t-shirts to combat the harsh heat in places like Uganda and Israel.
6 long sleeve shirts in various colours to wear in case it gets cool.
1 grey sweat shirt. Some days I just wear it around my waist, but this has proven useful on flights where the air conditioning is just a tad high for my liking.
2 pairs of tights (one black, one tribal print). Not only were these light weight to pack, but they’re also good in places where modesty is expected. I just layer tops over them that fall below my hips and presto!
1 pair of jeans. Instead of a heavy pair, I choose a stretchy jean like fabric that was easy to fold up inside my bag.
1 pair of black exercise pants. For the time being I’ve been doing short exercise videos in my room in the mornings and using these stretchy pants as pyjamas.
1 pair of long, loose fitting pants. These have been invaluable to me over the past two weeks. Funny thing was I was actually going to toss these out in one of my recent closet purges considering I never felt comfortable wearing them in Bermuda. They’re a little too long and over there look more like pyjama bottoms than pants, but because they’re long and loose and have an African inspired print to them they work really well in this environment.
1 pair of hiking shorts. I probably didn’t need these and might get rid of them after my next stop.
1 paisley print scarf. I’ve worn the scarf maybe twice since I’ve been out here, but I’m hoping it might come in useful in parts of the Middle East where women need to cover their hair. I might also use it as a basic shawl in case I visit any religious sites while travelling.
7 pairs of underwear
2 bras
4 pairs of socks

1 pair of black sneakers for wearing around the airport or in case I do any exercising or running.
1 pair of black flats. These have come in really handy. I wear them on a daily basis because they’re comfortable and match with everything.

Travel size portions of conditioner, eye make-up remover, coconut oil for my hair, cleanser for my skin and facial moisturiser.
A small makeup bag containing the following: under eye concealer (for any late nights and early mornings); mascara, eyeliner, two colours of eye shadow – a matte eggplant shade and sparkly brown (for times when I want to dress up). Plus a red lipstick – in case such an occasion calls for it.
Anti-malarial pills. If travelling to parts of Africa you’ll need to have these pills to prevent malaria. You’ll have to take one for every day you’re on the trip, as well as one before arriving and another the day after you leave the affected area.
Mosquito repellent. I bought a gel like mosquito repellent at the pharmacy in the airport before arriving to Uganda, but I can’t tell if it is attracting or repeling the bugs. I slather my skin with this gel several times a day, as it’s supposed to last for eight hours, but every time I check I have more red bites on my skin. My suggestion? Find one with a lot of deet in it.
Hand sanitiser. I haven’t used this much yet, but was told it would come in useful during my travels. If not I may ditch it to lighten the load a bit.

Other items
Two pairs of earrings: gold hoops and small gold dangly ones.
Bracelets. One costume piece was given to me by my godmother before I left; the other – a leather bracelet with the word Uganda on it – I purchased as a small souvenir.
Day purse. Because who wants to carry around a huge backpack all the time?
Huge text books. By far these are the biggest and heaviest things in my bag, but I recently enrolled in an online course for life coaching (one of my goals is to help Christian women like me overcome fear, self doubt and insecurities so they can find their calling… more on that later). Anyways these books are both huge, but I couldn’t have come on this trip without them.
Cellphone. It’s been the only way I’ve been able to keep in touch with my hubby and other loved ones over the past two weeks. My host family in Uganda gave me a SIM card when I arrived and it’s been a lifesaver – providing me access to social media, email and Whats App.
Travel pouch to keep my money safe.
Travel documents aka passport, flight and hostel details.
iPad. I really wanted to bring my laptop with me, but it was too big and too heavy. The next best bet was my iPad. I’ve been writing stories on this handy device for he local religion section, using it to play games and use the Internet and read the bible and some novels as well.
Camera- My phone takes pretty good pictures, but I still wanted my camera handy – just in case.
Chargers for all the above mentioned devices.

That’s it! Writing everything down it feels like a lot, but thankfully everything fits between my travel backpack and my small day bag. The only thing I feel like I could have used is a thin, black maxi skirt, which would have served me well during any dressier occasions like church or fancy dinners out.

Hope this helps some of you with your next big trip. If I can pack for several months in one bag, I’m sure you can pack lighter for your next cruise or family vacation!

Talk to you soon,