South Africa: The Johannesburg & Cape Town Edition. 

So, the first 24 hours of our trip didn’t fully go as planned. As you may recall, a major part of why we even spent the night in Johannesburg was so that we could have a wonderful dinner at The Royal India. …but before I get into that…

DAY 1:

iphone update 535I arrived into Johannesburg first, my British Airways flight landed close to 8 AM.  By the time, I was through customs, got my luggage and got to the hotel, Radisson Blu Gautrain,  it was nearly 9:30. After a quick shower & taking my sweet time, I finally headed out toward Mandela Square to get some lunch. I wandered around from place to place checking the menus, and made it a point to actually snap of picture of Nelson Mandela this time… I finally settled on The Butcher Shop & Grill. iphone update 049Although I was temped to order a filet, I ended up with a Caesar salad and a bowl of sauteed button mushrooms because I figured a light meal was more sensible after close to 28 hours in airports. It actually ended up being more than enough. I was completely stuffed, but decided that I wanted a sweet treat, so I ordered the brownie, it was good… but not good enough to finish.  All in all, that was how I felt about my whole Butcher Shop experience. Good, but not great.

iphone update 058From there, I just cruised the mall for close to  two hours. It felt like a maze, with the exception of two of the entrances that I was familiar with from our trip before. I ended up stopping in at Woolworth’s for a large bottle of water and mango, then went to Walnut Grove for some green tea, as I could feel my exhaustion catching up. I took my time sipping on my tea, while updating my Instagram.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to head back to the Radisson. When I reached the entry, I was told that I could not enter, and to follow the employee and other guest that had been a head of me. I followed them around the corner & into the street. Something was happening, it seemed like an evacuation. I was concerned. The last thing I needed at this moment was to lose all of my possessions on the first day of my trip. Thankfully, it was just a drill. At first I was feeling stressed and agitated that this was happening, but then… I tried to enjoy the moment. After all, how often do you get to experience an evacuation drill with a hotel in a foreign country??

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We were told we could finally head inside. Tricky, though. The communication didn’t seem to hit the entry as quickly as we hoped. When the other guest that had been waiting with me told the doorman that the hotel manager had given us the “ok” he was hesitant to believe us, and had to confirm. Once that was confirmed, they let him in, and as I began to follow, I was told “just him”. I tried to communicate with him that we were all told it was okay, and thankfully the other guest and the doorman both came to my defense, and finally the whole small group was let back in. A funny memory, to say the least.

With Brad arriving in about an hour and half, I committed to some relaxation with the goal to not sleep. I ended up watching an episode of planet earth, and it was more than enough to hold my attention. Eventually, I headed down to the train station to wait for Brad.

We were finally reunited. Brad took his time getting settled in, and it was nice to have some mellow alone time together before we headed out to dinner.  I had taken a moment to check my email, and our trip had taken an unfortunate turn, on Day 1!!! I received an email from Apex Shark Expeditions. We were informed that they had not had any shark sightings for the Month of February at False Bay, nor had there been sightings at Gansbaii (Shark Alley) for the last 16 days. This was terrible news for us! Shark diving was one of the biggest things on our to-do list, especially after it fell through on our May 2016 visit. The option was ours to go or skip, and we decided to think about it for a short while.

With sharks on the brain, our stomachs were beckoning. We gathered all of our necessities and headed out for our favorite Indian meal at our favorite Indian restaurant. The Royal India. With much anticipation we ordered our usual chicken korma, basmati rice, and garlic naan. We were anxious to dig in, and when we did, we were very disappointed. We don’t know what happened. Perhaps, the restaurant changed chefs, but it was nowhere near as tasty as it was last May. The chicken didn’t melt in our mouth as it normally should, and the flavor was very bland…. and our garlic naan wasn’t garlic naan. It was truly a devastating blow. With disappointed hearts, we left. We headed back to the hotel. We were ready to just go to bed. We skipped dessert because of exhaustion, and prepped our belongings for our travels the next day.

Day 2:

Once again we woke with much excitement in anticipation for one of our favorite breakfast places, The Tea Room. We made the walk past the train station, the mall, and our hotel from last May. We crossed the street and kept going. Once we found the small hotel, we wandered in toward the restaurant…. However, we found out they changed it. The Tea Room was no longer in existence… It was now Stelle & it was not open for breakfast.

We were frustrated. The trip was not off to a great start, but we were not going to let it get us down. We headed back to the mall to have breakfast at Doppio Zero. We remembered that it was quite good the last time, and this time it tasted even better. I got the Avo Toast which was so scrumptious that I gobbled the whole thing! I wish I could have it again right this second!

Post-breakfast, we headed back to the hotel, to quickly pack up our belongings before we departed for the airport. Once that was taken care of & we were checked out we boarded the Gautrain to OR Tambo, and boarded our flight for Cape Town.

iphone update 069.JPG2 hours after air time we touched down, grabbed our bags & headed to Thrifty. They put us in a bright blue Datsun, which was cracking us up. We figured out that it was the same model that we had last time. In the event of an accident, we are pretty sure that the Datsun would not survive.  Anyways, we loaded up the Datsun, & headed back to the The Portswood V&A Waterfront where we received confirmation that our shark diving outing was cancelled. With sad hearts, we got settled in & then headed out to the V&A Waterfront. We first headed to the V&A Food Market where we grabbed some Chicken Pad Thai for a late lunch, and then jumped over to my favorite shop: African Trading Port. We wandered all 3 floors, and I found one fantastic mask, but it was $100 or some odd dollars, more than we wanted to spend, so we went without.
iphone update 559From here we wandered aimlessly for a while until we decided to head back to our hotel for a mini break & to get fixed up for dinner. We headed back out in search of a new place to try. We settled on Quay 4. We had passed it on our last trip, were intrigued, but never committed. Tonight was the night. Brad went for a sea food combo & just went for a Greek salad. I was desperately wanting greens. After listening to the live music & observing the other restaurant guests we headed out for a short stroll before we headed back to our room for an early nights sleep. I was still working off some jet lag.

Day 3:

iphone update 090With our shark adventure cancelled, we weren’t sure what we wanted to do with our drive. We headed down for our buffet breakfast, and came to the decision that a coastal drive would be a good way to spend the majority of our day. Once we had our swimsuits on, we got into the car and headed to Camps Bay. We spent close to an hour enjoying the waves & soaking in a little South Africa sun before we decided it was time for lunch. We hit up Col’Cacchio once iphone update 136again because we really enjoyed it last year. A cheese pizza, an order of garlic bread, and a fantastic view made us quite comfortable. Once we scarfed it down, and used the restrooms we headed to Gelato Mania for gelato. Yes, we went back I can’t say that I enjoyed the chocolate brownie ice cream as much as I hoped I would, but it was still a great treat after being in the warm sun.

iphone update 620We continued our journey down the coast passing by Llandudno Bay & continuing on to Hout Bay. We made brief stops at both before heading back to the Waterfront to change out of our swimsuits. After a little down time in the room, we were both quite hungry so we headed back into downtown Cape Town. Brad wanted to go back to the BEERHOUSE for his all time favorite beer, The Californicator. The last thing I wanted was a burger or bar food so, we decided a small snack was necessary and ordered a side of potato skins. TIP: For Americans, potato skins here, are literally the potato skin that has been deep fried. They are not like our potato skins which is basically a wedge of deep fried potato that has been smothered in cheesy, bacony, sour creamy goodness…. It’s just the skin of a potato…. still good though, but would be better with ranch. God, I miss ranch dressing!!

iphone update 159With a heavy attitude, and uncertain appetite, we decided we would play it bold, and try something new. Ethiopian. I was surprised at how much we enjoyed our Tibs & Couscous. The atmosphere at Madam Tatou Ethiopian Restaurant was so fun! The quaint spaces and over decorated interior truly added to the festive charm. Tibs which is a season beef and veggie mixture was so good! It is served with a grain free naan which had an odd spongy consistency… All in all though, it was probably our best meal in Cape Town. I highly recommend it! From here we just headed back to the hotel & called it an early night. We had a big day coming…

Day 4:

1It was paragliding day!!!! We woke early & got everything ready to go. Our main priority was to contact our paragliding company, Fly Cape Town, to confirm our flight time. We had an updated time, we were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before we headed out for our paragliding adventure. Eventually, the time did come to make the drive through Cape Town up to Signal Hill. We followed the road all the way to the end as instructed. There we were met by our guides. We quickly signed our waivers and strapped into our gear. Brad was up first. I watched from the side as they connected him to the sail & guide. Within seconds they were running toward the edge & were off. Then it was my turn. I stood in front of my guide and was locked in to place with a couple of industrial carabiner. Then I was running towards the edge of a very large hill. Very quickly, our sail caught air, and before I knew it, my feet no longer touched the ground. I was into my sitting position and we were sailing over the hill towards the ocean. The views were stunning.
iphone update 658 It was a great day to fly over the beautiful city of Cape Town. (You can watch Brad’s takeoff here & the end of my flight here)

After we touched down, the company gave us ride back up Signal Hill so that we could retrieve our car, but instead of leaving right away, we ended up sitting on the tarp & watching the other Paragliders take off. It was fun to watch one by one, start to finish. Some sailed solo for & some botched the take off. It was relaxing and amusing.

iphone update 186Finally, we took our car back down, & left it at the hotel. We headed back to the Waterfront in search of a snack. We walked through Workshop 17, checking the vendors & seeing what each had to offer, and then settled into V&A Food Market. I opted for “Mexican” A quesadilla sounded so bomb, as did a slight taste from home. Brad headed over for an ostrich burger. With both meals in hand, we spared no time scarfing down our scrumptious snacks. With the desire for more, Brad stopped at the biltong shop for some Kudu jerky, and I grabbed a fresh pressed juice. We had a great time sitting on the patio outside soaking in the warm air, and swapping goofy conversation.

With my juice complete, we decided to head into the mall to find Brad some work jeans. Once that was wrapped up, we stopped into my favorite souvenir shop in the mall, Out of This World. I was on the hunt for some glass beads for our home. Sure enough, they had them. The price was right and Brad approved the colors. With beads, jeans, and jerky… We were ready to wrap things up. We headed back to the hotel to drop off our belongings and unwind for a bit.

iphone update 195We didn’t know what else to do, but we had an interested in checking out new places and hunting for fun crafts, so we headed to The Old Biscuit Mill.  We were able to park right across the street and walk straight in which was a great convenience because otherwise you have to pay for parking.  Once we entered the grounds, we entered one shop at a time, and truthfully, most of the products for sale seemed like a lot of the trendy stuff that you could get in the states as well. Nothing was overly exciting. Even the antique/souvenir shop had some neat things, but the prices were very high. We contemplating grabbing a bite at one of the restaurants but I was feeling extremely indecisive & unsure of what to get, so we ended up driving back to Woodstock Brewery, the maker of Brad’s favorite Californicator beer.
update 001Not in the mood to drink, nor in the mood to eat a large/heavy meal, we opted for small order of onion rings that were the smallest order of onion rings I had ever seen. Because I wasn’t going to have a meal, and our onion rings were far and few between, we departed shortly after Brad finished his beer, and headed back to the hotel.

We dropped of the car, and decided to head to the Indian food restaurant that we had eaten at on our last visit, The Jewel of India. It was easy and reliable, and I just had no clue what else I would want to eat, so we ordered our usual.. A bottle of water, chicken korma, basmati rice, and garlic naan. This time, we were not let down as we were in Johannesburg.  It was perfectly delicious, and our service was phenomenal.  We were incredibly satisfied! For some reason though, we couldn’t shake the desire for Cinnabon, so being the foodies that we were, we headed back to the mall for our sweetest treat. Although, the temptation to each get our own was strong, we overpowered it & just shared… but it was barely enough because who are we kidding… Cinnabon is one of those indulgences that just isn’t meant to be shared. It was nice to not feel sick from all the sugar though.

Satisfied, we headed back to our room for our last night. We focused on packing or bags in preparation for our early morning & our next big adventure.

Day 5:

iphone update 201The next morning, we were up bright & early so that we could catch our flight to Namibia. We were up before the sun, and the breakfast buffet so we loaded up our Datsun, and headed back to the airport, which was soooo empty. Going through security & customs was a breeze because there was no line… Just us, and the airport employees..

We loaded up on a small South African Airways  plane & head for Namibs…

LESSONS LEARNED: 

iphone update 133
view out the window of Col’Cacchio

1) a disappointment can always be forgotten with the right attitude.

2) Ethiopian food was surprisingly amazing.

3) Kudu tastes great, but I still prefer my meats to be cooked or dried thoroughly.

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The Compulsive Traveler

out to see the world, and snap beautiful photos while doing so.

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