Tag Archives: Travel

South Africa Part 8: Discovering Cape Town

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After our tour of Robben Island we decided to go  to lunch and walk around Cape Town a bit. Unfortunately I did not take as many pictures as I should have during this leg of our day. We stayed down by the water front and took in the atmosphere of this tourist town. We walked around and grabbed lunch at a restaurant right by the water front. The wait staff was very polite and was very attentive. As I said in other posts, service in South Africa is top notch and the people who work in service seem to be extremely grateful to be serving customers.

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People walking around the water front of Cape Town

After we ate we proceeded to walk around and take in the atmosphere. We went to the mall and saw how similar the mall in Cape Town felt to the malls in America.  We also got a chance to take a picture with one of the signs that says “Table Mountain”, with the back drop obviously being Table Mountain. These signs are actually sprawled out around Cape Town for tourists to take pics with.

The first thing that I would say that I didn’t not expect while in Cape Town was the obvious European influence in its architecture (obviously if you know the history of South Africa this isn’t that surprising). Even though I haven’t been to Europe yet, I could imagine, that this is how some places there would look. Although there are a lot of Black people in Cape Town, I would say I was also surprised at the diversity. There were Indians, Chinese, and White people. It felt a little bit like Trinidad to me.

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South Africa Part 7: Robben Island

We had one more day in South Africa and we were going to use that last day discovering Cape Town and visiting Robben Island.

We purchased tickets to Robben Island prior so that we knew for sure we would have a place on the tour. They offer about 3 tours a day. Each tour takes about three hours. An hour each way to and from the island and an hour touring the island. We took a small boat to Robben Island.

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On the boat from Cape Town to Robben Island

The first part of the tour was the bus tour around the island. We had a guide who gave us the history of Robben Island and its many uses. Unlike what most think, Robben Island was not only for prisoners, it had many other uses including a place for leapers to live. The views from this island are amazing and breathtaking.

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Robben Island main entrance

The final stop of the tour was the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years imprisoned. The tour started in a holding area where prisoners would first be brought to be booked and processed. While we all found a place to sit, a man came to the front and began telling us some of brutal history of the prison, and he revealed that he himself was also a prisoner for many years with Nelson Mandela. The tour continued as he walked us around the prison grounds telling us about the different sections of the prison, and some of the things that prisoners were forced to do. The tour finally concluded with us passing by the cell that was designated to Nelson Mandela.

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Entrance of the prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years

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Holding cell of prisoners

 

Grounds of the prison

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Mandela Prison Cell
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Our tour guide was a prisoner here during the same time as Nelson Mandela

Being on this tour was a great way to end our trip to South Africa. Walking the same steps of one of my heroes was a transient feeling that I will never forget. Walking the grounds and thinking of being imprisoned behind those walls for years was a sad feeling that reminded me how much people had sacrificed all over the world for black rights.

South Africa Part 6:New Year’s Day

After the wedding my boyfriend and I went to the Airbnb that we were staying in on the property of Val De Vie. This place was HUGGGEEEE. We stayed there along with some of the other wedding guests. One thing that we had no idea of until we got there was that this was the exact same house that Prince Harry stayed in when he came to Val De Vie. We were mind blown once we found this out by seeing a picture of him and the house attendant standing in the house. Considering we all paid about $150 each for two nights,  we couldn’t believe that we were staying in the same place as Prince Harry. “If it’s good enough for Prince Harry, It’s good enough for me” became my motto for our stay there. Our Airbnb also came with a house attendant who made us breakfast each morning. Once again I can not stress how amazing the people were while we were there. The lady was the care taker of the house, as the owners of the house only used that home to vacation, was amazing. She was so kind and warm and she seemed very happy to see black people renting out the home.

The day after the wedding my family decided to have a braai (BBQ) at the cottages where my parents and other relatives were staying. All guests were invited! Because it was New Years Day many places, including some grocery stores, were closed so we decided that we should purchase some extra food just in case there wasnt enough food for everyone. We all came to the consensuses that we should get a few extra buckets of chicken and french fries from KFC. I stand with my statements that KFC tastes wayyyyy better overseas than it does in the United States.

As we were driving off of Val De Vie property, I looked over out of the window, and what did we see but wild Zebra running around! This was so awesome and very unexpected! As we pulled over to look at them it seemed as though they were looking back at us like “What are these stupid humans doing?”. img_20170101_203037_267We eventually drove to KFC, got the extra food, and headed to the cottages where the braai would be taking place. Once we arrived it was surely a sight to see as we had to drive through a vineyard to get to the cottages( every place we went in South Africa was a sight to see). It was so great to be surrounded by family, friends, food, and a scenic background for another day!

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Driving through a vineyard to get to the cottages

South Africa Part 5: The Wedding

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.

South Africa Part 4: Wedding Mode

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.img_2682img_2617img_2702

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.

View from the bathroom window
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View of pool and valley

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.

The sun starting to rise
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Sun Rise at Bonschedal Cottages

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!

South Africa Part 3: Dinner and Jade

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.

South Africa part 1: The flight

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.