velvet | cultural holidays
sunset-ipanema-beach-rio-photo

The magic of Rio de Janeiro in photos

Rio de Janeiro is a city of contrasts and great diversity. Squashed in between imposing mountains, the ocean and a massive bay, the city enjoys one of the most spectacular settings in the world. There’s no denying that the city has a lot of issues – poverty, inadequate infrastructure, high prices and crime to name […]

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History brought to life

“A theme park?”, I asked my guide as we strolled around Melbourne. Cartoon characters and wild, adrenaline-inducing rides immediately sprang to mind. “Well, no”, she replied, “it’s more like an open-air museum. If you’re interested in history, you’ll love it there”. It was the first of several times that day that a local recommended a […]

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schloss-vollrads-photo

History and wine in Rheingau

Rheingau is one of the most historically significant wine-producing regions in Germany. Situated along the Rhine River just west of Frankfurt, the region is characterised by hilly landscapes, castles, monasteries and picturesque towns (the most famous of which is Rüdesheim am Rhein (a fairy-tale like historic town in the heart of the Rheingau), one of […]

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The high-speed ICE train hits more than 300km/h in Germany.

Rail away in Europe

There’s just something special about travelling by train. The rhythmic sounds and motion, the scenery that whizzes by, the other travellers you meet along the way, and pulling into the heart of a city make train travel anywhere a unique experience. With its dense network of railways and high number of frequencies, train travel in […]

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Wine-blending at Middelvlei Wines

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Almost every time I take a sip of a white or red blend, I try to differentiate the different grape varieties that have gone into the wine and their specific impact on the resulting bouquet, taste and finish. I’ve often wondered what my perfect wine would be and […]

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A Stellenbosch winery.

Discovering the magic of Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is a small university town in the heart of South Africa’s Cape Winelands, a short drive from Cape Town. I first visited Stellenbosch (map) more than ten years ago and I’ve been back a few times since then. The Cape Winelands, with picturesque towns like Stellenbosch, beautiful Cape Dutch architecture, dramatic mountain scenery, gorgeous […]

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bologna-sunday-photo

Bologna on my mind

My doorbell rings. I open the door to find a good friend of mine standing there with a big grin on his face and a bag casually slung around his shoulder. Minutes later, he’s settled at my dining table and he reaches into his bag. “We’re going to Bologna!”, he announces. “You’ve been talking so […]

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zamek-czocha-photo

The land of a thousand castles and palaces

m4s0n501 Lower Silesia is a region of vasts forests, snowy peaks, picturesque villages and historic towns in southwestern Poland, bordering Germany and the Czech Republic. Power over the region exchanged hands many times through its history; from the medieval Kingdom of Poland to the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Habsburg Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia […]

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degraves-street-melbourne-photo

Discovering Melbourne’s hidden secrets

Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city and capital of the state of Victoria. The second you arrive in Melbourne, you’ll immediately be swept off your feet by its infectious energy; at times brazen, often funky but always omnipresent. You can’t miss it! On my previous visit in 2008, I remarked: Melbourne is a city with aspirations […]

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valletta-malta-walls-photo

Impressions of Malta

“The reason we often refer to Malta as an archipelago is because it sounds bigger”, my guide quipped. I smiled. At just over 300 square kilometers, Malta is indeed small. However, as I was about to discover, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in history and culture. Situated smack in […]

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