My Google Story – #MyGoogleZA

It’s hard to think of one specific moment when Google has made a big difference to my life, because honestly Google plays a part in my life almost every single day. When I’m planning a holiday I spend hours Googling tourist attractions, transport options, and hotel accommodations. I use it to give me up to date exchange rates, just by searching “convert Rands to Dollars/Pounds,etc” and Google Maps was my lifeline when I first moved to Johannesburg and had literally no idea where I was all the time. In all honesty, I would say that Google Maps is probably the most used app on my phone, even more than my social media apps! I hate getting lost (even though it happens all the time) so even if I’m in a taxi or driving with a friend, I usually have Google Maps open and the route planned out. My life would certainly be a lot harder if I didn’t have the option to use Google to prep for my shows during the week – as it is I spend hours finding new music online, and without it I would be lost and definitely wouldn’t be able to research the best music for my show.

I do have one specific story to share when Google (and their apps) literally saved my skin. When you think of Brazil, what’s the first thing that spring to mind? Probably football, or beautiful beaches, bikini clad women with perfect bodies… which is fair i suppose, but honestly, if you don’t speak Portuguese (or Spanish which seems to be their most known second language) then you probably won’t be able to find any of those things. I’ve traveled to places like China and Hong Kong, and in all seriousness, the language barrier in Brazil is way more of a hindrance. In cities like Sao Paulo, Fortaleza, Belo Horizonte, and Manaus you could go days without anyone being able to speak or understand even the minutest amount of English. Joe and I traveled Brazil during the World Cup for a month, and without Google Translate we wouldn’t have been able to tell the taxi drivers where we needed to go, or ask the pharmacist for headache tablets, or even order off of the menus in restaurants.

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Thanks to Google Translate, whenever I needed to ask something that hand gestures just couldn’t get across, I’d whip out my phone and just use Google Translate. The best part was that I would type the English in and translate it to Portuguese, but then I’d just switch it around, hand them the phone and they could type in Portuguese and translate it to English for me to understand. I even had a few locals asking me what app I was using because tourists would stop them all the time and try and speak to them, but they had no way of communicating. As a result of the app I felt like I could actually genuinely connect with more people because we were able to go beyond the “where *makes wild hand gestures* toilet?” questions you might ask when traveling in a country where English isn’t even the fourth language. I had some fully fledged conversations via that little app on my phone, and we always parted ways with smiles on our faces. I remember there was a day in Sao Paulo where my phone died, and we tried to get around without the help of the app, and it was significantly more testing. I had to resort to pointing at pictures in a booklet to try and ask the taxi driver to take us to Beco do Batman (yes, that’s actually its name… no it isn’t pronounced Batman like the superhero).

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Today I’ve collaborated with Google to bring you an EPIC hamper to the value of over R5000! But to be honest, you can’t actually buy most of these things, they’re exclusive Google swag. All you need to do is share your Google story on social media (Twitter/Insta/FB) and you could win :) Tell me about the time Google Maps helped you avoid the traffic and you made your crucial meeting just in time, maybe you found your wedding dress via Google Search, or maybe like me Google Translate helped you out of a sticky situation? Don’t forget to tag me in your story and use the hashtag: #MyGoogleZA – you need to do this in order for your entry to be counted.

What’s in the hamper:

  • Sony Xperia device
  • R250-00 Google Play Vouchers
  • Google Cardboard <<< this is amazing
  • Selfie Stick
  • Power banks
  • Google Headphones
  • iKnow Board Game

Just a quick FYI – I’ve recently downloaded Google Calendar too… and I’m hoping it’ll help with productivity and keeping all my events/appointments/meetings/travel in a row. So far it’s super easy to use and nice to look at too :P Thought it was worth mentioning in case you’re looking for something better than the native calendar app on iPhone/Android.

CONGRATS to Gary B Laight for winning the competition! His entry was received via Facebook, and he perfectly described how Google has become an essential part of his everyday life!

Terms & Conditions:

The competition is only open to people older than 18.

Only one entry per person, and entries may not be longer than 300 characters.

By entering this contest you agree to the competition rules: https://events.withgoogle.com/mygoogleza/terms-conditions/

By entering you agree that your stories may be published.

The full Ts&Cs can be found here: https://events.withgoogle.com/mygoogleza/terms-conditions/

Cabin Porn

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If, like me, you spend a large amount of time daydreaming about all of the wonderful places in the world you’d like to escape to for a holiday – then chances are that you also appreciate a good cabin as much as me. Besides wanting to desperately visit a cabin the middle of rural America for a holiday, i also imagine myself retiring in Colorado somewhere in a beautifully modern cabin on a small-holding where i can have an entire farm’s worth of animals…. at least 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 foxes, and definitely a few sheep, goats, and chickens!

I digress! I came across a subreddit that will forever change the way i see cabins… reddit/r/cabinporn! A must for any cabin lover. I’ve collected some of my favourites from across the web, but definitely go and check out the linked page for even more cabin amazingness. It’s not updated as much as i’d like, this is quite a niche thing i would imagine, but it was nice to see some stuff i’d never come across before.

Owl Tree Cabin – Albion, California available to rent on AirBnB!

Stone Creek Camp – Big Foot, Montana

Yellowstone Club, Montana – a classic! I think this might have been the one that started my obsession.

Take a look at this breathtaking lake cabin’s interior:

Deer Cabin Reverie

A gallery of the interior:

Ralph Lauren’s Guest cabin, Colorado – no cabin gallery would be complete without making mention of this beauty. It’s like i’ve died and gone to cabin heaven.

Sun Valley Lodge, Vermont – this has got to be one of my favourites! Just look at it, i’m in love.

The beautifully designed interior:

Yellowstone Club, Montana – SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST!

Yes, another one in Yellowstone Club… seems like the place to be for cabin enthusiasts like myself! This one is more “lodge” than “cabin” though purely because of its size, but it’s cabin-y enough for me to add it in. This is by far my most favourite, i just wish it was closer to a vast body of water like the other one in Yellowstone Club – but let’s be real, i wouldn’t say no to a week here, or even early retirement :P

This interior will make you cry… also, i’m actually too poor to even be looking at these pictures. It is fun to dream though.

Travel: Motswiri Safari Lodge – Madikwe Game Reserve

Have you ever been to Botswana? If your answer is no, then you need to remedy that asap, take my word for it. It’s a wonderful country with wonderful people, wonderful weather, and wonderful scenery… in other words, it’s just wonderful. It’s a lot cheaper than i thought it would be, considering their currency is stronger than the Rand, but i found taxis, hotels and food in general extremely affordable.

On our return to Johannesburg from Gabarone, we both thought that it’d probably be a good idea to try and visit a game reserve in the area seeing as we’d driven all the way out there. So on our way back to the Big Smoke – we decided to stay at one of the lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve, as it’s a reserve i’d never visited before.

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Madikwe Game Reserve is on the South African side of the border, but barely 35min from Gabarone. The reserve itself is relatively “young” at only +/- 24yrs old. It also happens to be the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa – which is unusual considering how little we hear about it. It’s supposed to be one of the best conservation areas in Africa and offers the Big 5 in a pretty decently sized park. With it only being 3.5hrs from Joburg AND in a malaria free area – it is exceptionally convenient.

There around 27 different lodges within the reserve [so you’ll be able to find one in your budget quite easily], and we finally settled on Motswiri. Since moving up to Joburg, i’ve prioritized visiting as many game reserves and lodges as possible because of the proximity to the city and the fact that it wasn’t something i did a lot as a kid.

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Three Irish Dudes Riverdance Across The World

These three Irish friends travelled through 23 different countries over the space of a year, all the while, recording themselves dancing at different landmark and locations in each of their destinations doing some rather bad Irish dancing. The best has got to be when in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a window-washer dude decided to join. SIDENOTE: I didn’t know other countries had people that stood at traffic lights waiting to “wash” your window with a squeegee and a wiper.

This is such an awesome way to document your travels, instead of boring old pictures:

Ghost Towns

I spend a lot more time than i would like to admit looking through pictures of abandoned towns/schools/institutions around the world. There’s something eerily romantic about places that once were homes to families, that now lie empty. Some of the most beautiful pictures are those of places that were left in a hurry – a dinner table with plates and cutlery set out, a school where the desks are still in neat rows, and hospitals with equipment still plugged into the walls. Nature always finds a way in though, and most of these abandoned places have been partially reclaimed by the surrounding vegetation.

Varosha (Famagusta, Cyprus)

During its heyday, between 1970 and 1974, Varosha was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and was a favourite destination of wealthy, rich and famous stars such as Elizabeth TaylorRichard BurtonRaquel Welch and Brigitte Bardot. Long story short, the Turkish invaded Famagusta, the inhabitants of Varosha fled during the invasion, and it has been abandoned ever since.

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This has got to be one of the creepiest abandoned places in the world, because the locals literally left their entire lives behind. Car dealerships full of cars, planes on runways, and even sheets on beds. Due to the violent nature of the occupation, i think everyone left in quite a hurry, and no one has been back since. Access is controlled by the military as it is still a highly disputed area.


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