The morning of the wedding I woke up after three hours of sleep and headed to my sisters cottage to begin the prepping for the day. I got my makeup and lashes done and all of us bridesmaids began doing what we had to do to get my sister ready for her big day. It was December 31st so this meant that we would be bringing in the new year with family and friends and celebrating my sisters big day!
My sister’s wedding was extravagant. It was truly a dream wedding. From the flowers, to the food, to the Rolls Royce that was sent to pick her up, everything was perfect. Her wedding was held at the Val De Vie Polo Club. As mentioned before ,this place is most well-known for Prince Harry taking part of polo matches. This club is in the wine lands and is surrounded by beautiful mountains and made for a beautiful backdrop for my sister’s wedding day. There was a cocktail hour where servers passed around an array of fresh cooked foods (so fresh that I burned my tongue). The servers were also taking requests of any drink that one wanted. Champagne was flowing as a marimba band played. There was also a caricature artist who was drawing pictures of guests. Once the wedding space was opened up to guests we were met with a beautiful place setting with our names on it. We also had a three course meal and an open bar that seemed to be stocked with everything and anything. The servers were amazing. I can not stress how grateful I was to those who worked my sister’s wedding because their kind nature, willing spirit and overall good attitude made the evening that much more pleasant. As midnight struck we all entered the new year together. It definitely was a magical night.
The afternoon after we arrived to Cape Town, we were on the move again. We traveled via private bus to Val De Vie Polo Club. Val De Vie is most notably known for housing Prince Harry and hosting his polo matches in South Africa.
Val De Vie is located in the wine lands outside of Cape Town and is about a 35 minute drive from the city.
Once we arrived to the estates we entered full blown wedding mode. The wedding rehearsal took place shortly after we arrived at Val de Vie and after that there was a braai (The word braai is Afrikaans for roasted meat) at a nearby country club. This BBQ was open to all guests of the wedding and not just those in the wedding. The foods that were included were traditional South African foods that I can not recall the name off. The meats that were roasted included steak and lamb (I am one for a good lamb). The service at this country club was amazing. The wait staff was extremely accommodating and were very kind. This gathering went on for about four hours and during that whole time the wait staff was there serving alcoholic drinks, coffees and lattes, ice cream floats, deserts, and anything else that we would ask for. I have never been anywhere in the United States where the service was as good as the service I experienced my whole time in South Africa.
After the dinner my boyfriend and I went to our designated cottage located on the Boschendal Wine Estates. This was about ten minutes away from the country club that the dinner was held. My sister initially rented these cottages for all the bridesmaids but some of them could not stay so this meant that my boyfriend and I had a cottage to ourselves. These cottages were sooooooooooo cute. The aesthetic was that of a country farm house. The bedroom and bathroom decor matched the living and kitchen area. My favorite part about the cottage was the bathroom. It had an all glass infinity shower, a stand alone bath tub, and mountain views.
For some reason we could not sleep that night and decided to stay up to see the sun rise. I am not one to miss sleep. I probably was still stuck on east coast time and could not fall asleep (maybe it was all the coffees I drank while at dinner) but either way I was down by default. Getting up and seeing the sunrise at 5am was such a treat. It was so beautiful being surrounded by the mountains, exotic sounding animals, and the beautiful views of Franschhoek Valley.
After watching the sun rise I finally fell asleep at around 6am. Considering that was the same day as my sisters wedding perhaps it wasnt the wisest thing to not get a good nights rest before that day but I was up within three hours getting my life together for my sisters dream wedding!
There was no time to take in everything that we were seeing and feeling because as soon as we were checked in to our hotel my sister instructed my boyfriend and I to hurry up and get cleaned up for a dinner that her and the other young people attending her wedding were going to. About an hour and a half into us getting settled in our hotel room, my sister came to pick us up via UBER (yes South Africa has UBER. This was our best friend as we navigated through out the city).
I can not remember the name of the restaurant that we went to but it was one where we had to pick the appetizer, entree, and dessert. Wine and drinks were included. The meal that I ordered was sushi as my appetizer, a medium well done steak, and a creme brulee. I was pretty pleased with my meal minus the sushi but unfortunately for my boyfriend everything that he ordered ended up being a miss for him, so that meant that I enjoyed only half of my meal (unbeknownst to me and what I initially planned for my first meal in South Africa. LOL).
After dinner it was time to party and celebrate my sister and my brother in law’s upcoming nuptials. We ubered to a club by the name of Jade that was about six minutes away from the restaurant. We had a section in the club so as soon as we got there we were taken to a little area with small tables and couches. The first thing that I noticed about this club that was different to clubs in America was that there was no rope or security to section off the VIP. This wasnt a big deal as people seemed to not be trying to do the most, come into our section and drink our drinks. The best man in the wedding party knew the club owner so the whole night we were being sent bottles, and bottles, and more bottles of every drink imaginable. It was so many bottles that after we all left people in our party took the purchased bottles with them back to their hotels.
Club Jade had an overall pretty cool vibe. The club had a mixed crowd (Blacks, Whites, Indians, Asians) and the music seemed to accommodate that mixed crowd. The locals that I interacted with seemed cool and everyone who came with us seemed to have a pretty good time at Jade.
Once we touched down in Cape Town we had to go through immigration. The first South African that we came in contact with was the immigration worker. As we handed him our passports, the first question that he asked my boyfriend and I was if we had ever been to South Africa or Africa before. Once we said “No”, his response was “Welcome Home”. The smile and the feeling that we both felt after hearing him say that is indescribable. After 24 hours of flying, this warm welcome set the tone for the trip. I have never traveled anywhere (other than Trinidad) where I felt like “Yes, this is my home. This is my land, and I do belong here.”
Once we got through immigration and collected our baggage we decided to change our US dollars into Rand at the first money changing station that we saw. This was a mistake made on our part as the American Express station that we used took a larger percentage of our money out than the other stations that were readily available to us once we left baggage claim. But hey you dont know, what you dont know. We also spent 12 US dollars to purchase a electrical converter (this is necessary if you want to charge your phones, computers and any other electronic devices that you have brought with you to Africa).
As we walked through the airport looking for my father who was picking us up there were many pictures plastered around the airport of Nelson Mandela. Ahh what a sight to see, faces that look just like me…every WHERE!
After we were picked up by my father we drove through the city to our hotel, Cape Town Westin, my first thoughts of South Africa was “Wow this place is very 1st world”. Because I am so used to my third world countries that I have visited in the Caribbean, I just assumed Cape Town would be the same way. Not at all! Cape Town is like any other major city in the United States, and many parts of it reminded me a lot of Los Angeles. Although this was my first impressions, we did drive past some of the townships as we drove to our hotel. This was a reminder that although Cape Town was very modern there was still a lot more progress left to go in regards to blacks in that country.
Prior to heading to Cape Town, South Africa I had to get myself mentally prepared for the flight there. The flight is not for the faint of hearts, and if flying isn’t your thing, this trip can be difficult. The total time of travel was 24 hours. My boyfriend accompanied me on this trip and I don’t think that I would have been able to do that long trip by myself.
The itinerary that we had, had two parts. The first being a 14.5 hour flight from Washington DC to Dubai, and then a 9.5 hour flight from Dubai to Cape Town. While traveling to South Africa, we had to spend an extra hour in Dubai’s air space due to fog that delayed all flights from landing and taking off. Luckily for us we did not miss our connecting flight as many other people did.
We flew Economy Class on Emirates. This was my first time flying with Emirates and I must say that even in Economy class on this airline I felt extremely comfortable. As soon as we were in the air the flight attendants gave each person a pouch that included a sleep mask, a tooth brush, toothpaste and socks. Each passenger has a tv screen on the back of their seats and this allows passengers to stayed entertained while in the air. There is a plethora of movies, radio stations, and tv series to choose from. About an hour and a half into the flight we were fed lunch. I had the lamb, and I swear this was the best meal that Ive had on an airplane. A few hours after that we were fed a “snack” which was a small, one person, cheese pizza. Then a few hours after that we were fed breakfast. Alcoholic beverages were also included with meals. Needless to say between DC to Dubai, we were fed very heavily. The same occurred on our flight from Dubai to Cape Town.
In all the flight wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. There wasn’t much turbulence and all the flight attendants were very accommodating. After our flight was over it was almost as though I was sad to get off of the plane because it was so comfortable.
My God, my trip to South Africa was more than great. I am excited to share the pictures and stories that I have for all of you. After 24hrs of flying to and from South Africa, you have to agree with me that a bit of decompressing time is more than needed.
I will be back soon with everything that occurred!