As part of the next instalment in Guests’ Corner, a local and international travel interview segment on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, I chatted to Janet Rowsell, SA food and wine blogger at Just Janet.
Janet Rowsell, a passionate foodie and wine blogger at Just Janet, might tell you that she is just your average Joe (read: Janet), but her incredible blog, Just Janet – which is filled with top-class food and wine posts – tells a different story.
A former high school teacher-turned-full-time blogger, Janet considers herself to be an unofficial South African wine ambassador and is particularly passionate about South Africa’s wondrous wine routes.
From her home base in Cape Town, Janet uses her blog to share and document her tales of all the amazing food and wine places she visits, while simultaneously inspiring her readers to go out and explore them too!
Follow Janet’s tempting social media feeds or her visual blog for all the latest scoop on where she’s exploring, sipping and reminiscing.
1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?
My love of food and wine stems from my mother; it was a passion of hers to visit new places, try new foods and taste new wines. I shared in her enjoyment from discovering new places to visit, and we were always looking for a new picnic spot or fine-dining restaurant.
Unfortunately, she passed away in 2016, but I still feel close to her as I continue to follow her passion. Her dreams have now become my dreams – and I often think of her whilst on my wine and food adventures…
2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?
I suppose I am more of a nature lover. Although I am not a fitness junkie (just the idea of a hike terrifies me), I do love to spend time in nature. It is so peaceful and relaxing, and sometimes just what you need to recharge.
I also love adventure. I feel that there’s nothing better than getting in the car and going on a drive through the beautiful wine routes we have here in the Western Cape and visiting a wine farm or two.
There are so many boutique wineries that are ‘off the beaten track’ that we would perhaps not discover if we didn’t feel the need for an adventure every now and then.
I also love food! Like, a lot! And so, to find pretty spots with great food, brings me such joy.
3) Which are your top three most memorable travel experiences and why? Please list each one with a brief explanation.
1) Zanzibar 2013: This is probably my favourite travel experience. Firstly, because it was our honeymoon and what could be better than that?
Secondly, it was so incredibly relaxing. We stayed in a resort and spent time relaxing on the beach, under the palm trees and sipping on a cocktail or two. We went snorkelling and even got to swim with dolphins (although ‘swim’ is a bit optimistic, as dolphins are super fast and you cannot keep up with them).
2) Europe 2015: We went on a Trafalgar tour to Europe and I’d really recommend this if you haven’t travelled much. It’s a whirlwind tour where you’re able to see all the main tourist attractions in each city/country. I particularly loved Paris and Venice, and we’ll be returning to Venice for a few days this year.
3) Hogsback 2010: This is a small little ‘dorpie’ in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. I loved it so much – it’s quaint, lush with greenery and has beautiful waterfalls and walks in the forest.
We were there in July, and it actually snowed and this was the first time (and only time) that I had seen snow in real life! I ran out into the garden in the early hours of the morning to stand in it and it was so magical! (And a bit cold!)
4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening local travel experience in South Africa and why?
Every time we visit a game reserve in South Africa, it is completely eye-opening… The wildlife here is something else!
I particularly enjoyed the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape – you never really understand how big an elephant is until you’re right next to it! They are truly magnificent creatures.
5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?
I am fortunate to not really have had a ‘worst’ experience. Obviously, there’s an odd thing here or there that was not ideal – but really nothing serious.
6) Your top three travel destinations across the globe – either that you have personally experienced or would love to visit?
1) Greece: I cannot wait to visit (later this year)! I have always wanted to go.
2) Italy: Who doesn’t love the Italian wines and food?
3) Bali: I have never been. And if you haven’t been to Bali, have you even lived?
7) Any useful travel sites/blogs that you can recommend for following?
I am fortunate to follow some really awesome local travel bloggers.
8) If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Greece! (I am literally in the process of organising that holiday.) It has been a dream of mine to visit the beaches there – so tranquil and beautiful… I cannot wait!
9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city (and please state which city it is)?
I’d definitely organise a wine tram or a bus tram to explore the wine routes in Cape Town. Driving through the beautiful wine routes and tasting some fantastic wines is much more of a treat when you don’t have to drive yourself. (It’s safer, too).
10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?
Read local travel and food and wine blogs to get the honest opinions from the locals. Sometimes there really are ‘hidden gems’ that you would not necessarily find otherwise.
Photo credit (lead image): Nita West
To read about and see all of Janet’s food and wine-inspired travel stories and experiences, you can visit her amazing blog. Or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Thank you very much, Janet, for appearing in this South African guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.