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Cruise news: "Our 2nd best cruise ever was from Barcelona" - the western Mediterranean is special. Email cruises@southafrica.to for more info (or phone 021-531-7453).

"Barcelona, centre of the wise, model of purity, quarry of Kings "

Barcelona Flights from R6356*

Hola! These are the lowest rates that we could find for flights to Barcelona (Spain) from Johannesburg and Cape Town. *An asterisk next to an advertised price indicates that it may have changed.

 

Johannesburg to Barcelona

Cape Town to Barcelona

June 2013

R6356* (10th - 21st June)

R7252* (1st - 10th June)

July 2013

R6365* (16th - 23rd July)

R7252* (16th- 23rd July)

August 2013

R6365* (14th - 22nd August)

R7952* (4th - 12th August)

September 2013

R6352* (12th - 22nd September)

R7252* (15th - 24th September)

October 2013

R6365* (1st - 9th October)

R7602* (14th - 24th October)

November 2013

R6352* (3rd - 11th November)

R7252* (4th - 12th November)

December 2013

R6352* (1st - 9th December)

R7952* (1st - 10th December)

January 2014

R6352* (10th - 20th January)

R7952* (15th - 24th January)

February 2014

R6352* (1st - 10th February)

R8302* (12th - 22nd February)

March 2014

R6352* (2nd - 10th March)

R7502* (1st - 9th March)

April 2014

R6352* (1st - 9th April)

R7602* (1st - 10th April)

Flight path from Johannesburg, Cape Town to Barcelona

Here's a photo of Barcelona from the top of the cable car station. If you've got a head for heights, then the Barcelona cable car ride is a must-do.

Cafeteria Miramar

The beach in Barcelona:

W Barcelona Hotel

 

The Robertson Wacky Wine Weekend takes place from the 6th to the 9th June. Make a turn in Montagu to De Wetshof Estate, where the Mimosa Lodge is hosting the "Mimosa Al Fresco Restaurant".

OR Tambo International Airport are running a fire and safety campaign in the nearby community at Section 1, Wattville, Benoni. There'll be a soup kitchen starting from 09h30.

A lot of activity in Tripoli at the moment. First we announced that Emirates are resuming flights, now we hear that Qatar Airways are commencing direct flights from Doha to Tripoli from 1 June 2013 (previously they were via Alexandria) - this creates 1-stop options from Johannesburg to Tripoli and Cape Town to Tripoli (via Doha).

Book an Air Namibia flight and get 50% off your stay at a Namibian Protea Hotel, for a maximum of 3 nights. Special lasts until 31 December 2013. Present your boarding pass stub and ID when you check in at the hotel.

Email us a write-up of your trip & we'll give you a travel voucher (write more & share pictures for bigger vouchers):
With its Hands on Harvest and other wine festivals, The Robertson valley is predominantly known for its wine but what many people don't know is that the area is also home to some of South Africa's finest table olive and olive oil producers. I recently visited Marbrin Olive Farm and was surprised by how interesting the humble olive can be.

Marbrin farm's olive trees, Robertson

Rather naively I thought that olive farming seemed like an idyllic lifestyle best suited to wrinkled Italian Nonnas eating olives from ancient groves. It turns out there's more to it than meets the eye, for starters olives straight from the tree are eye wateringly revolting; they taste like nail varnish remover.

The South African olive oil industry is relatively young but it is making a big impact on the international scene. Consumers in South Africa have for too long been subjected to Europe's surplus, often substandard, oils so few people can tell what a top quality fresh oil tastes like. And tests have revealed that imported  'Extra Virgin Olive Oil' often turns out to be pretty much entirely not what it says on the tin. It seems that the Genco Pure Olive Oil company, a front for Vito Corleone in the movie The Godfather, is not such a far cry from the truth. The olive oil industry in Europe is particularly beset by scandal and double dealing. Stories abound about unscrupulous Italian oil 'producers' importing olives from North Africa only to press them in Italy and sell it as 'Italian' olive oil. A new book called Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller tells the scandalous story of fraud in the olive oil industry. 
Marbrin was founded twenty years ago by Pieter Coetsee. His son in law, Clive, showed us around the boutique factory where magic happens to those bitter little fruits. All the olives at Marbrin are picked by hand both for better quality and to provide local employment. The table olives are then soaked in a pure brine solution for 6-8 months before they lose the bitter turpentine taste of the fresh olive and turn into something whole lot more interesting. The kalamata olives were my favourite, nutty and slightly sweet.

olives about to be pressed at Marbrin Farm

Olives for oil must be processed fresh from the groves - you wouldn't press vrot oranges for juice and it's the same with olives. The extra virgin olive oil they produce gets pressed just once and must be kept under 27°C to be called 'cold pressed' which maintains the quality of the oil. It's a bit like wine -  there's a delicate, mild and intense blend made up from different kinds of olives grown on the farm; coratina, frantoia and mission. The latter is particularly aptly named since the harvest takes about six months as olives on a single tree ripen at different stages. Marbrin is better known for table olives and only started producing olive oil in 2011; Pieter with his farm manager and master blender, Matthew Gibbs, struck gold and won a medal to prove it. In 2012 they were one of two farms in South Africa to be awarded two gold medals (for the delicate and intense blends) and a silver (for the mild blend).  
Clive, a serious foodie recently returned from the UK, has begun to make olive tapenades. They alone are worth going to the farm for a tasting. Try the lemon, garlic and nutmeg tapenade.

Marbrin regularly take part in the Olive & Wine festival at Riebeek Kasteel.

Written by Emily Blott

Views expressed here aren't necessarily those of SouthAfrica.TO's.

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Simon Brown, a stock analyst, is bullish on the prospects for hotels in South Africa - here's a quote from him in yesterday's Finweek: "THE CITY LODGE share price has been storming ahead adding some 45% in the last year and a number of factors indicate that more upside is likely. First, tourism numbers for South Africa, which came out last month, show great numbers coming to South Africa, and while the majority are from neighbouring countries rather than the richer European and North American countries, these tourists fit right into the City Lodge profile of lower- to middle-income tourists. Further, we see from the Tsogo Sun results that occupancy levels in the local hotel sector are rising, and this will bode well for City Lodge as the largely fixed cost of a hotel means that most of the increase in occupancies goes straight to the bottom line. The pre-World Cup expansion by the hotel industry has mostly been absorbed (albeit not so much at the top end), which will start to give hotels some pricing power, adding not only extra occupancy levels but at better rate per night". Note that Simon Brown owns shares in City Lodge.