Art & Opulence in Gumboots at The Chocolate Box

“I didn’t think it would be this high up, the view is going be incredible; and from what I’ve seen online, its sheer opulence!” I said as I considered my leopard-print gumboots, inspecting them for any farm dirt that might have joined me on my trip from Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN) to Cape Town.

I had decided against wearing my trademark gumboots when arriving at the 5-star Chocolate Box in Gordons Bay, opting for beige heels with a graceful below-the-knee chocolate brown dress. And I was grateful for it on arrival, the ample front door whispered of the bespoke luxury behind it.

After a warm welcome by owners Brad & Olaf, it was seconds before my shutter and I were making the usual sounds of capture and delight. I was immediately drawn outside (as per usual) to a sprawling deck looking over a sparkling False Bay, Table Mountain lurking far in the Westerly distance, and the looming Helderberg Mountains in the East.

I explored the outdoor dining area set afore a charming indigenous garden, sky-blue pool, and elegant chairs and not-chairs, all of which seemed to call my name. Brad then introduced me to the other Chocolate Box family members…wait for it…a pair of resident blue-headed lizards (Agamas) – of which the female was pregnant. Bees buzzed around the lavender, and I around them and their neighbourly reptile friends as we all enjoyed some Western Cape sunshine.

Our suite was directly off this rooftop paradise, the clever use of space and king size bed made it feel as voluptuous as the deck. Opulent in furnishing and décor, it really is as pearfectly 5 star as the outdoors 😉 . The spacious bathroom is a chique sanctuary in itself, and the hotel is also green-equipped with a grey water system.

Brad then gave us a tour of the Chocolate Box, to which I tried my best to pay attention while focussed on subjects of his informative and knowledgeable chatter. My main point of interest was the exceptional Capetonian artwork appropriately placed around the hotel; and rightly so as Brad himself runs Cape Culture, custom art tours in and around Cape Town. A particular work caught my eye, a piece by artist Ryan Hewett hailing from my area, the KZN Midlands, clap clap.

Both evenings offered fierce and fabulous False Bay sea sunsets and mornings exquisite Helderberg mountain sunrises. We spent our days exploring Gordons Bay and found it loveably quirky. Thanks to the weather we were able to take full advantage of delicious breakfasts on the deck, surrounded by shades of blue and flecks of indigenous colour.

It was on the final morning that a sharp wind called for gumboots at breakfast, by now I felt at home enough not to tread so lightly. And so I boot-liciously captured my final memories of Chocolate Box, mountainside luxury mixed with seaside opulence, and a 5-star stay, for shore 😉

Opulence – The Palace of Versaille

From April 29th to May 12 myself, mother and two sisters traveled to France.

SAM_0761

This is the first of my posts, Opulence, fitting, as on the morning of this day, 3o April 2014, we journeyed to see the (in)famous Chateau de Versaille

SAM_0762

Fortunately, we went with a tour, so we were able to skip the dreaded queues, which were horrendous, even out of season.

SAM_0779

Versaille was home to Louis XIV, also know as the Sun King.

SAM_0775

This is because he was so self centered. He even had all the rooms in the palace built centrally around his own room

The short little beds of the French are most odd. I heard, which I cannot verify, that back in the old days, the French were so fat, that sleeping lying down posed a danger to their health.

SAM_0758

They therefore used to sleep sitting up, or as upright as possible, shortening the beds so they could not be completely horizontal.

Like I said, I cannot substantiate this, nor find another viable explanation

SAM_0765

When the castle was built for Louis, the required fountains were not The Gardens are incredible and by far the most worthwhile of all the viewing.

SAM_0764

The gardens stretched for miles, and I would have walked or ran them all if not for our shuttle back to our Parisienne apartment

SAM_0769

SAM_0768

What fascinates me is that men and women, dressed in appropriate 17h century garb, walked the same halls  wherein I moved and breathed

SAM_0766

I found the inside of the palace almost stiflingly opulent.

SAM_0760

Honestly, I could not wait to burst free into the gardens.

SAM_0755

The decadence is shown in magnificent paintings on the ceiling, causing many a tourist collision.

SAM_0759

Once outside, I could breath easy again

SAM_0762

God made beauty, outshines man’s feeble attempt to harness and manipulate it.

SAM_0777

The town of Versaille is one of the more well to do areas of Paris, about 30 minutes (depending on traffic) from the Champs-Elysee 

SAM_0771

When the fountains of Versaille were first built, to run them constantly was impractical due to the sheer volume required, and impossible with the limited engineering knowledge.

So, the estate merely hired enough staff to turn on each fountain as King Louis passed by until they figured out a more viable solution.

**Look Out for the next French Adventure**

*For detailed history of the Palace of Versaille, please visit their homepage

*Unfortunate many of the fountains were under construction at the time. April/May seems to be the time of year for construction in France, as we encountered at least 5 significant places with unsightly scaffolding enshrouding the fabulous architecture.