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Be the first to know about the latest online and print issues of Cuisine Noir, industry updates, events and promotions as part of our cultural culinary movement. My Durbanophile tendencies manifest when I meet people in the United States who have been to South Africa, most likely switched planes in Johannesburg, then restricted their city adventures to Cape Town.
And yes, Cape Town is the country’s most scenic city with its iconic Table Mountain backdrop and easy access to Africa’s most famous wine region.
But I think of Cape Town as Europe-wannabe with its chichi restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops, its upscale touristy waterfront and its profusion of galleries and kultcha.
So, for example, the traditional Zulu version of the “coffee” klatch has women paring bloodied flesh from the skulls of decapitated cows, boiling the carved-off chunks of facial meat and serving it on wooden boards along with dumplings — steamed hand-rolled balls of flour, water and yeast — to men who lounge on plastic chairs and wonky wooden benches sipping tea from enamel mugs, chatting animatedly and using their hands to eat the meat. He is our guide at the Bovine Head Market, a refuge in the frenzy that defines Warwick Junction, site of nine markets (book a tour via Markets of Warwick on the edge of inner-city Durban that support huge creative entrepreneurship.
But the good news is, there’s a veritable feast of compelling reasons — many comfortingly less “exotic” and including a vibrant “conventional” local restaurant scene — to visit what many South Africans will tell you is their favorite vacation city.
Heritage tour options offer access to both historic and lifestyle “happenings” like the Bovine Head Market and shisa nyama (“hot meat”) feasts at township taverns , where butchers’ cuts of your choice are grilled barbecue-style over open fires.
But Durban, with its hot, humid summers and mild to warm winters, it’s lush greenness, bustling African-city downtown, philharmonic orchestra, upscale shopping malls (know that Gateway  has become restaurant central if you visit), art deco beachfront casino (more restaurants), acclaimed Durban International Film Festival and access to “big-five” game reserves like Hluhluwe–iMfolozi, the oldest proclaimed wildlife preserve in Africa with the largest population of white rhino in the world, has a lot more to offer. Pop-up food markets abound and the city has a good selection of restaurants serving sustainable, seasonal, creative cuisine.
About 15 minutes north of Durban is the resort “suburb” of Umhlanga, which brims with restaurants and is home to The Oyster Box, a destination hotel with sublime sea views that originally opened in 1947 and recently was given a state-of-the-art face-lift.
For something uniquely local, you need to eat a bunny chow  and Portuguese peri-peri chicken.
The city’s single largest population group is the descendants of the Indians from India who came as indentured laborers to work on the sugar plantations more than 100 years ago. For Colonial Portuguese, a unique cuisine that had its roots in Mozambique, check out North Beach’s unpretentious Neo Cafe. In fact there are several beaches, strung together, running past the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium with its distinctive arch and skycar for city-viewing, built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The beachfront is a hang-out for surfers, kayakers, stand-up paddlers, swimmers, strollers, runners, sun-worshippers, seine-net fishermen and usually at the weekend, robed African priests who arrive early to conduct services that usually involve dunking the faithful — perhaps to exorcise some irksome ancestral spirit. The swimming beaches are protected by shark nets and tourist attractions include booking a seat on the KwaZulu-Natal Shark’s Board viewing boat.
See you in Durbs sometime, happy travels getting here — and if you’re coming, know that South African Airways  flies daily from New York and from Washington to Durban via a brief stopover and plane change in Johannesburg.
California–based Wanda Hennig is an award-winning food and travel writer, a blogger and a life coach. Any unauthorized duplication, download or reprint of images or content from this website for promotional or commercial use is strictyly prohibited without written permission from V. Travel Advisory!  Read the whole advisory to understand what areas are safe and what areas are not safe. You probably know a few Francophiles, those weird and wonderful people magnificently obsessed by France who don’t have a drop of French juice running through their veins other than what they swill down when they pull the cork (or twist the screw top) on a tasty Rhone-style red. The term “melting pot” might well have been coined for this sprawling sub-tropical Indian Ocean port — and resort — city with its British colonial roots, where first and third worlds intersect and where Zulu (Durban is the biggest city in the Zulu-stronghold province of KwaZulu-Natal), Indian and European cultures collide, dissect and blend. To stay with coffee klatches and the food I can tell you that, same as Oakland, each time I come back I find myself both reacquainting with old favorites and stumbling upon a lot that’s new.
Enjoy tongue-in-cheek colonial splendor, a delightful collection of original art and several restaurants and bars that while pricy, are worth it for the style, the charm and to experience this gem.

Mosques and temples plus spices and curries are among the rich legacy — and bunny chow, originally a cheap meal for laborers comprising half a loaf of white bread, the inside scooped out, bean curry spooned into the bread “bowl” and the inside put back to mop it. The beachfront with its pedestrian walkway, great for strolling or cycling, continues all the way to the harbor entrance. You get to watch the nets get serviced and enjoy great views of dolphins, the city and the sunrise. Filled with canals, culture and beautiful medieval architecture in abundance, here are our reasons why we think you should add Ghent to your travel wish list, sooner rather than latera€¦CuisineGhent is fast topping the list for foodies from all over the world, as local chefs come to dominate the food scene with dynamic takes on traditional dishes, championing locally sourced products and offering diners a taste experience to remember from a basket of shrimps at the medieval fish market to an oyster tasting bar to the best cuts of Kobe beef, Ghenta€™s restaurants will leave even the fussiest Foodiea€™s tastebuds hankering for more.However, no article about Belgium would be complete without mentioning chocolate.
Sometimes, it’s only a region that is unsafe and potentially a region you would have been far from anyway (you know, this is especially true for all those Mexico advisories!). About 6,000 street vendors and up to 8,000 market vendors support themselves by selling everything from apples and oranges to beads, live chickens for rituals and the pot, tailoring skills, spices and medicinal “muti” herbs and much more.
An erstwhile Durban university buddy, visiting from Scotland, had the peri-peri queen prawns.
Temmermana€™s offers a veritable smorgasbord of old-fashioned and eccentric candies while Yuzu provides Chocoholics with fresh, homemade chocolates which draw their inspiration from all over the globe, ranging in taste, texture and design. If youa€™re looking to sample some traditional Belgian beer, head to Friday Market Square which is the largest and most popular in Ghent and an excellent place to soak up the atmosphere in the car-free city centre.Firstly, try Delirium Tremens Beer which, is brewed locally outside the town itself in the original brewery which, is about 350 years old and is considered one of the best in the world. And after all that beer sampling, soak it up with a street-side Belgian waffle.CultureThe first thing most people notice on arrival to Ghent is the bicycles.
The city centre in Ghent is the biggest car free zone in Belgium and everyone commutes via bicycle which gives the city an added relaxed and laid back feel. The first port of call is to the STAM museum where history comes to life, visitors come to discover the rich history of Ghent using the most modern techniques like, allowing visitors to build a Ghent tower from Lego or do their own research into that famous stolen Van Eyck.To understand the true essence of the Flemish culture, visit the folklore museum.
This museum is full of interesting nooks and crannies choc full of snippets of times past ranging from typical commercials of the seventies to the clothes worn by Ghenta€™s women in the fifties. The city itself hosts all kinds of cultural festivals, small boutique art galleries and antique shops pay homage to the history of the city and the citya€™s artists have been making a name for themselves in the international stage.CanalsIta€™s hard to imagine ever getting tired of the wandering around Ghenta€™s cobbled streets but if you feel like trying something different, try a canal cruise and see graceful Ghent from a different angle. Construction began on the Ghent-Terneuzen canalA  in the early nineteenth century and has been a success ever since, originally used for sea access, the canal now is home the many boat tour companies which offer guided tours of Ghent from a different perspective. Every year the castle attracts thousands of visitors who are now able to walk around the castle walls, investigate the original moat, climb to the top of the turrets and peruse the traditional torture instruments in the dungeon.CathedralsIt has been said that Ghent became quite rich during the middle ages due to its ability to manufacture textiles and the great and good were only too happy to share their wealth with the Catholic Church which, accounts for the number of spectacular churches around the city. Bravoa€™s is the first and was built in the ninth century and is full of religious works of art, none more famous than the altarpiece which, is more than worth the short queue and small entrance fee.
Nicholasa€™ and the 14thA century Belfort are also must-sees.CharacterGhenta€™s character oozes from every brick in the wall and cobble on the street.
The city has extremely well preserved medieval architecture with cathedrals, towers and even breweries dating back as far as the 11thA century.
While walking through the city, you feel like you are taking a walk through the ages as medieval blends into art nouveau and then art deco.
The city is full of quirks with bicycles cluttering junk shop windows, interesting shops are around every corner selling anything from retro products, vintage pieces, flower ice cream and wallpaper from the fifties. Even the most opposed of shoppers will struggle not to be lured in to buy a unique, one-of-a-kind souvenir of their visit to Ghent.We believe no one will leave Ghent disappointed. The air of a well-preserved tradition and culture permeates the city at every turn with something to amaze and enthral every tourist.
The locals are friendly and eager to impart their secret tips for shopping, hints for sight-seeing and recommendations for food and drinks to visitors.
Sign up to our email list to receive the latest travel tips, guides and photos straight to your inbox: Posted by Emma Clair KellyRegular contributor from Ireland.

Follow Emma on Google+31 Comments Sally14 November, 2014I plan on visiting Belgium next spring so this came in at the right moment. If things go smooth, I could spend there 2 to 3 months so I need a huge list of things to do and places to visit. Reply febe3 October, 2014I’ve been living in ghent for 15 years and it’s an amazing place to live!
Btw, this summer I worked in the placethat you can see on the fourth picture ?Y?€ Reply Becky Padmore16 October, 2014What a great place to work Reply rebecca29 September, 2014couldn’t agree more! I have lived in Ghent for 14 years now (I have also spent some years as a student in Brussels and Louvain) and I love the city (and I’m quite proud about it as well ?Y?‰ ) I would like to add reason no. Ghent is a vibrant city with over 70,000 students and an overwhelming offer of cultural events all year round.
Reply Anja, the Curly Traveller23 September, 2014Although Brussels and Bruges are worth the visit too, I have always preferred Antwerp and Ghent. Anja, the Curly Traveller recently posted..Selfie Sunday #5 Reply Emma18 September, 2014It looks beautiful and very quirky, what a great find!
You’re really inspiring a return trip to Belgium, and this time around, we really need to prioritize Ghent. Reply Hannah Wasielewski16 September, 2014I remember meeting Belgians a few years ago and they kept telling me on how Ghent is the most beautiful city in Europe, with your pictures it looks like it could be! We're also joined by a team of self-confessed travel snobs and together we're on a mission to discover the world's most underrated and beautiful places. The city is known for beautiful temples and palaces, which has unique architecture and remarkable decoration. It said that you haven't reach the Bangkok unless you have a stop at the Grand Palace and the Temple of Emerald Buddha where you will find building and pagodas lavishly adorned with gold and exotic material. This is yet to include popular attractions like Wat Pho, The Giant Swing, and Wat Benchamabophit (the Marble Temple), which offer an awesome photo opportunity. Here, you will find at least one food stalls on every street corner, selling various kinds of freshly made food and sweet round the clock.
There many shopping places scattered around the city from down to earth open aired market to high-end shopping plaza. Jatuchak Market and Train Night Market (Talad Rot Fai) are the most popular shopping venues with thousands of shops selling so much choice and variety of goods at a bargainable price.
If you are looking for newest or special priced brand names' collections, take a visit to Central World, Central Chitlom, Siam Paragon and Em Quartier, which will all make you enjoy throughout the day. This is the place where you can experience old way of Thai community where Mae Kha (merchants) rowing small wooden boats full of goods and stuffs to trade and sell. We recommend you a visit to Damnoen Saduak, Amphawa Floating, Talin Chan, Khlong Lat Mayom or Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market. You can have some nice dining treat in a restaurant by the river or a river cruise to enjoy with foods and view, pampering yourself with choices of delicious international and Thai eateries at eating venues around the city, hit a nice bar with friends at Khao San Rd. It is one of the main transportation hubs of the area, so you will never find any hardship to get to and from Bangkok.

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