When we last left off, we were finishing up our safari after seeing all of the big 5, petting cheetahs, and learning tons about South Africa and the animals that live there! We made our journey back to the airport, said goodbye to our wonderful guide, Riana and took a 2 hour flight to Cape Town. We had seen pictures of the beauty that resides there, but I don’t think any of us were prepared to see the breathtaking things that laid in front of us! While Cape Town isn’t the safest place in the world, it is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful. Everywhere you look there are mountains and scenes that could be on a postcard. There are so many activities to do that we had a hard time picking just what we would do with our 3-4 days there.
So, we decided to just try to see as much as we could and not have too definitive of a plan! Below you will get to see Cape Town and Stellenbosch through my lens – I swear I didn’t take enough pictures to capture the beauty of these placesThis is a pictures of some of the small villages that essentially live on the side of mountains! It baffled me how they survived, when stores and other things were seemingly so far away! When we got to Cape Town, we arrived at approximately 9 PM or later. My fearless friend, Lindsay, drove us – mind you – they drive on “the wrong side of the road” safely to our hotel, once we got to there, were already impressed with the city! This was the view from our lovely hotel – beautiful views of Table Mountain! We decided to hike Table Mountain the next day – we didn’t make it the whole way up, seeing as we were unprepared and didn’t have enough water to make it the whole way, so we went about half way up and then hiked over and back down. We then took the cable cars to the top and hiked around up there for HOURS after eating lunch! We literally could have spent the ENTIRE day hiking up there!
Later that night we went and had a nice dinner at the V & A Waterfront! It was really pretty there and I think it would have been fun to see during the daytime, but we didn’t have enough time to do so! The next morning, we grudgingly dragged ourselves out of bed at 5:30 AM (at this point in the trip, we were starting to wear thin just from all the early mornings!) to see the sunrise from Lions Head, overlooking Cape Town and Table Mountain. Boy were we glad we did! It was SO gorgeous, I would have been devastated if we missed it! Before we left our hotel, we stopped off at Green Market Square – a kind of flea market. We were one of the first there, so we were just about the only (obvious) tourists around, and people were extremely aggressive trying to get us to buy from them. We did buy a few things, but in the end didn’t feel entirely safe there and decided to leave. I will say that it is a great place to buy souvenirs for anyone back home – and you can haggle the price down, too. After that we headed off to Boulder Beach, in search of some penguins! We found them and they were just so stinkin cute! It was a really odd thing for me, seeing these penguins on a beach! I always only imagine them in cold climates!After we had our fill of penguins, we grabbed some dinner at The Harbour House, which was recommended by some locals that we talked to. Good Grief was it amazing! Fresh seafood, and we could see seals playing in the water as we ate! What a great way to end our time in Cape Town! Filled up with delicious seafood, we headed on to the last leg of our trip – Stellenbosch. It was this quaint little college town (Um. I would totally go there if I were in college!) and had a lot of really neat restaurants, bars and little shops. We did most of our gift shopping there and I got the most amazing coffee to bring home! We also stayed in this adorable B&B type place! We did a wine tasting tour for most of the day, where we met some really interesting people! It was fun to learn about the wines, and to take in the beautiful views (again – they are everywhere), but wine is not really my forte. Our guides were very knowledgeable and definitely made it fun for us!
And thus ends our time in South Africa. We took a 2 hour flight back to Johannesburg (with a couple hour layover), a 15 hour flight to Atlanta (with a couple hour layover), a 2 hour flight to Chicago and a 3 hour drive home. It ended up being about 32 hours of travel for me to get home by the time all was said and done! But it was completely worth it!
Some random bullet points about South Africa to note:
- When you park somewhere, they have “self proclaimed” parking attendants. They make sure your car isn’t messed with while you’re not by it. When you come out, you look it over and pay them a tip if all is ok with your car.
- A “traditional” snack in South Africa is Biltong. It’s essentially like jerky here in the US, but made out of more of their local animals like ostrich, kudu, etc. I got a bunch to bring back home with me & share with friends, but got it taken away at customs.
- Apparently we say Zebra wrong. It’s supposed to be said like “Zeh Brah” not “Zee Bra”
- They turn off the heat once it is Spring (we went when it just entered their spring – end of August, early September), but the temperatures still get down into the 30s. THANK GOODNESS one of my travel buddies friends got us what I called water bladders – you would fill this thick plastic thing with boiled water and sleep with it. Our first night, in Graskop it got below freezing and if we hadn’t had these little bladders, it would have been the worst night of sleep EVER!
- They call the pharmacist a chemist. I had what I think was the start of a sinus infection and our guide took me to “the chemist”.
- I had the best cappuccino of my life (which I don’t know if that’s saying much because I haven’t had THAT many) in Johannesburg!
- If you see a Harrie’s Pancakes – be sure to stop in! We had amazing crepe like things – one tasted like thanskgiving wrapped up, another tasted like a delicious cheesecake, mmm mmmm!!
While you’re here, don’t forget to check out my new years deal – it’s almost over, so pass it along to anyone who is engaged! -Abby