2013 in review – my year in ten trips

2013Travels © J Horak-Druiff 2014


So I have shared my favourite restaurant experiences of 2013 and my favourite recipes of 2013 with you, and as promised the final part of this series is a roundup of my travels in 2013. Ladies and gentlemen please fasten your seatbelts, return your seatbacks to the upright position, ensure that your tray tables are stowed – and prepare for take-off!

The travel year kicked off  in February with a week’s skiing with friends in the French Alps in the resort of Samoens, part of the Grand Massif ski area. We stayed in an outstanding chalet called Grand Ourse owned and run by a young English couple under the banner of Absolute Alpine who truly understand the kind of ski holiday I want: luxury accommodation; a hot tub; a relaxed atmosphere; and outstanding food (their chef for the season  had done a stage at the Fat Duck, no less!) . An excellent time was had by all, as you can probably see…!


Samoensskilift © J Horak-Druiff 2014



Samoens2013Group © J Horak-Druiff 2014


Samoens2013HotTub © J Horak-Druiff 2014


ChaletGrandOurseChocFondant © J Horak-Druiff 2014


The next trip was our annual trip home to South Africa in March.  We started in Cape Town and managed to fit in a night at the spectacular Cullinan Hotel, as well as a blissful short break to the magical Grootbos reserve outside Hermanus.  We also made it down to Port Elizabeth and Cape St Francis where I hung out with my awesome nephews and spent rather a lot of time on the beach!


CullinanHotelPool © J Horak-Druiff 2013


CullinanHotelLobby2 © J Horak-Druiff 2013


GrootbosBreakfastDeck © J Horak-Druiff 2013


GrootbosLandrover © J Horak-Druiff 2013


GrootbosBath © J Horak-Druiff 2013


GrootbosChampagneSunset © J Horak-Druiff 2013


SamDavidApr2013 © J Horak-Druiff 2013


May brought the Plate to Page food writing & photography workshop at which I am a speaker and this time we held it at Decoy Country Cottages in Ireland, just outside Dublin. We welcomed 11 participants from around the world (including two from South Africa!) and fell in love with the Irish countryside, people… and food!


PlateToPageIrelandMarketWeather2 © J Horak-Druiff 2013


PlateToPageDecoyCottages1 © J Horak-Druiff 2013


P2PIrelandSage&StoneGroup1 © J Horak-Druiff 2013


JeanneProsecco © Meeta K Wolff 2013


PlateToPageIrelandInstructors © J Horak-Druiff 2013


Early June saw me head off to Nantes, France for a press trip to the Muscadet wine region.  Two very happy days were spent travelling from wine estate to wine estate and meeting interesting, diverse and passionate winemakers; as well as experiencing some fantastic meals including the wonderful local seafood.


LAtlantide78Muscadet © J Horak-Druiff 2013


LAtlantideLangoustine © J Horak-Druiff 2013


LAtlantideJoLandron © J Horak-Druiff 2013


MuscadetWine © J Horak-Druiff 2014


MuscadetPoironDabinWinemaker © J Horak-Druiff 2014


In August we went to visit friends in Jersey – an channel island we have visited several times but that never fails to provide an enjoyable weekend. You can always find a spot on a sandy beach, even on Bank Holiday weekend, and a trip around the food market in St Helier to collect fresh local produce for dinner is a foodie’s dream.


JerseyBeach2013 © J Horak-Druiff 2014


JerseyCow © J Horak-Druiff 2014


JerseyMarket © J Horak-Druiff 2014


JerseyMarketFish © J Horak-Druiff 2014


JerseyMarketTomatoes © J Horak-Druiff 2014


Early September saw me finally set foot in Asia (it only took fortysomething years…) when the Hong Kong Tourist Board invited me along with a couple of other journalists on a press trip to explore Hong Kong as a foodie short break or layover destination – a perfect halfway house if you are travelling to Australia from the UK. We stayed in possibly my favourite hotel ever (the Hotel Icon in Kowloon) – an establishment that takes customer focus and attention to small details to new heights. From the first evening bobbing up and down in Victoria Harbour on the Aqua Luna red-sailed junk in a happy jet-lagged daze, to the extraordinary views from The Peak, through a foodie tour of the Central district, to a series of increasingly excellent dim sum meals, it was a hugely memorable long weekend and I definitely want to return to Hong Kong to explore further.


HongKongStreetScene © J Horak-Druiff 2013


HongKongSklyline © J Horak-Druiff 2013


HongKongThePeakJeanne © J Horak-Druiff 2013


HongKongDimSum © J Horak-Druiff 2014


HongKongAquaLuna © J Horak-Druiff 2014


As luck would have it, my first and second trips to Asia took place within two weeks of each other as we departed on our long-awaited Singapore holiday in late September. I had been promising Johanna that I’d visit since she moved there and I had finally made good on my promise!  We arrived just in time for the Singapore Formula 1 Night Race – an unmissable spectacle even for non-fans like me – and had a Killers concert thrown in as a bonus. For the next week, we explored and fell in love with Singapore – its tropical climate; exotic plants and animals; bustling hawker centres full of cheap, exotic food; elegant high-end dining options; and its melting pot of cultures. We also spent a night at the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel, mostly to be able to swim in their spectacular rim flow pool on the 57th floor.  Yes, it is worth every penny, and then some.


MarinaBaySands © J Horak-Druiff 2014


MarinabaySandsPool © J Horak-Druiff 2014


SingaporeF1NightRace © J Horak-Druiff 2014


SingaporeJohanna © J Horak-Druiff 2014


SingaporeBotanicGarden © J Horak-Druiff 2014


SingaporeMaxwellHawkerCentre © J Horak-Druiff 2014


SingaporePeranakanHouses © J Horak-Druiff 2014


On the way back from Singapore, we stopped off in Dubai for a few days, where we stayed at the magnificent One & Only The Palm resort, quite possibly the most luxurious and relaxing resort I have ever visited. Our villa was halfway between the swimming pool and the beach and it was difficult to tear ourselves away from the pool long enough each day to do a little sightseeing. Seriously difficult. We did manage it though, and did a spot of skiing at Ski Dubai as well as going up the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building), having (enormously expensive) drinks at the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel, and meeting up with Sally for dinner.




OneAndOnlyThe PalmPool © J Horak-Druiff 2014


AtTheTopBurjKhalifa © J Horak-Druiff 2013


DubaiMallWaterfallDiver © J Horak-Druiff 2013




In November, the planets magically aligned and we were able to take a weekend break in Scotland on the same weekend that the Springboks played rugby in Ediburgh.  I had won a weekend at the Monachyle Mohr hotel in a cooking competition earlier in the year and had no idea what to expect – but boy, was I blown away!  Situated on the shores of the small but perfectly formed Loch Voil and a stone’s throw from Rob Roy’s grave, the hotel is a serene oasis of beautiful decor, friendly staff and seriously good food.


MonachyleMohrHotel © J Horak-Druiff 2014


MonachyleMohrRoom © J Horak-Druiff 2014


ScotlandLochVoil © J Horak-Druiff 2014

BalquhidderGraveyard © J Horak-Druiff 2014

BalquhidderAutumnLeaves © J Horak-Druiff 2014


In mid-December I was thrilled to be invited to experience a gourmet ski weekend on the slopes of  the Dolomites.  The concept of “Slope Food” is that a number of Michelin-starred local chefs (the area is over-endowed with them!) each create a single signature dish that is to be served at one of the mountain restaurants that dot the area.  You buy a ticket that entitles to you to all six dishes and then ski from hut to hut, sampling a dish and a matching glass of wine at each.  My dream trip?  You bet. All I can say is that the French resorts can learn a lot from Italy in terms of stylish mountain huts! Definitely a must-do for any skiing foodie.




DolomitesSunrise © J Horak-Druiff 2014


DolomitesSpeck © J Horak-Druiff 2014


DolomitesDeckchairs © J Horak-Druiff 2014


DolomitesPiste © J Horak-Druiff 2014


2013DolomitesSlopeFood © J Horak-Druiff 2014


And a week after my Dolomites ski trip, Nick and I jetted off to spend our Christmas skiing in Obertauern, Austria with Johanna and her family. We’d been to the resort previously two years ago, but I had hurt my knee on day 2 and so had not seen much of the resort – but this time I skiied it flat! Compact and pretty, it’s set in a bowl and you can ski in a clockwise or anti-clockwise circuit (the Tauernrunde) without ever having to retrace your steps. Our hotel (Hotel Austria) was situated directly next to the Edelweiss lift and slope, which just so happens to be the slope where night skiing takes place – can there be a greater luxury than tumbling out of your hotel and directly onto the chair lift and then spending the day skiing with one of your best friends? Nope, didn’t think so!


2013ObertauernPistes © J Horak-Druiff 2013




Groomed Pistes © J Horak-Druiff 2014




And that, as they say, is that! I don’t like to pick favourites, but suffice to say we are already planning a stopover in Singapore in 2014, en route to Australia… :)  If you are in the travel industry and would like me to visit a specific destination during 2014 please get in touch with me to discuss how I can help you showcase your destination through high quality photos and text via all my social media channels. 

Happy travels to all my Cooksister readers and may you get to explore to your heart’s content in 2014!

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider sharing it using the social media buttons below the post. I'd also love to hear what you thought about this post so please do leave a comment below. Hope to see you again soon!

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  1. says

    Wow Jeanne – you had an excellent year!

    My wife and I were married on Zanzibar and did the Tanzania safari tour. Very spectacular countryside. I did collect ZAR coins at one stage (from the late 1800’s) but they have all been sold on now.

    I’m in Cork, Ireland so if ever you are over let me know and I’ll cook you a lovely meal.


    • Jeanne says

      Hi Marcel – thanks for stopping by. I’ve never been to Tanzania (never been on a proper safari in fact, which is a terrible admission for somebody born in Africa! ;)) – I can imagine that a wedding on Zanzibar must have been magical. Ireland is somewhere that I really need to explore further – such wonderful people and fantastic local produce!

    • Jeanne says

      Thanks Jen – high praise coming from a photographer as talented as you!! 2014 should be a big travel year – planning to be on five of the seven continents :o) Watch this space…

  2. says

    Oooo, I’m not jealous… No not at all.. 😉 You had an amazing year Jeanne! Well I knew you had been a way a LOT but that it was this much I could only have guessed! Wishing you a great travel year again for 2014!

  3. says

    Dear Jeanne,

    How exciting your year was. Beautiful pictures. I am happy I met you a couple of years ago at Monkey Valley Resort in Noordhoek for a food blog course.
    After we closed Cucina Carolina in Strand, we are now on our way to Spain where we are going to open another Cucina Carolina Restaurante at the Costa Blanca.

    Wishing you well and love to see more beautiful pics.

    All the best.

    Carolina da Cucina Carolina

    • Jeanne says

      Hi Carolina :) Thanks for popping by – I think you mailed me to say that you were closing in the Strand but I did not realise you were heading for a new venture in Spain – how exciting! Will have to come and visit when you are up and running. All the best for 2014 and the new venture!

  4. says

    Wow Jeanne what a year! Your pictures are stunning!
    Glad you enjoyed amazing Singapore, a place one can’t get enough of.
    So looking forward to my first visit to SA so soon.
    Happy New Year and see you there!

    • Jeanne says

      Thanks, lovely lady! People had such mixed reactions when I said I was visiting Singapore – some said 1 week there was WAY too much, but I ended up leaving with so many things I still wanted to see (and eat!). Can’t wait to see you in S Africa in less than 2 months!

  5. says

    What an amazing travel year 2013 has been for you Jeanne. I always love hearing about them. Hope maybe 2014 takes us on a few trips together!

    • Jeanne says

      Thanks for visiting, Jamie! And hahaha, yes indeed, there was a lot of wine going on everywhere I went 😉 2014 should be an exciting year with trips planed to 5 of the 7 continents! Stay tuned…

  6. says

    Awww – love that pic …so nice to meet up and that was a rather beautiful evening at the 101. I’ve patently lived here too long though as it’s the Ireland pics and Monachyle Mohr that pique my fancy. That loch…..wow! Hope to see you in 2014

    • Jeanne says

      It was a spectacular evening indeed – such a treat for us to sit outside on a balmy night listening to the water lapping at the jetty and enjoying spectacular food and company! And yes – here’s to meeting up in 2014 – maybe when you do your annual UK pilgrimmage??

  7. says

    What an incredible year, I’m so jealous! I saw this and saw your wonderful writing and beautiful pics about Hong Kong food…itching to go back.