Hello South Africa!

Hello South Africa!

When I decided to set out on this epic adventure and started spreading the word among my friends and relatives, I can’t tell you how many people said something along the lines of “Ohhhh! Thats’s amazing! You have to let me know where you’re traveling- I’ll definitely come and meet up with you somewhere!” Grand total of how many people came and met up with me during my travels- 2. TWO! And even then, I saw them both at the same time on a trip they were going on regardless, and it was actually ME that ended up traveling over oceans to meet up with THEM. True story…

Anyway, these two fellow travelers were my sister Ryanne and her good friend Holley (Don’t worry Holley, you’re my friend as well- take it easy…). They had planned a 2-week trip to South Africa, and the timing of their trip just happened to match up with the expiration of my Australian visa, and thus the transition into the next ‘Phase’ of The Expedition. To be honest, South Africa was at or near the TOP of the list of places I wanted to go while on this adventure from the very beginning, so I didn’t really need an excuse to make the trip, but knowing that I would get to hang out with my sister and Holley for a week or so in Cape Town was incentive enough to push me over the edge. I bought the ticket, planned my African Adventure, and started counting down the days to CAPE TOWN 2009.

Finally, another EPIC ‘Moving Day’ arrived, and I was off. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t filled with mixed emotions on the way to the Sydney airport that morning, as I had just experienced an amazing year in Australia- a summer on the beach in Sydney, a crazy time with Cory and Federico driving down the East Coast, travels through Tasmania, Melbourne, and the Great Ocean Road, diving with Great Whites, and a road trip for the ages up the West Coast with Steve and Jasper- literally a lifetime’s worth of memories, stories, and adventures crammed into 11 months. It was hard to leave that behind. If you can’t tell, I really love Australia…

MOVING DAY: Sydney->Singapore->Johannesburg->Cape Town

But, The Expedition must continue! I had one last Nando’s chicken sandwich in the airport food court (For old times- love that Peri-Peri sauce!), sent yet another round of “Goodbye-thanks for the good times-Ill see you again” texts to all my friends in Oz (Ill admit it- I was a bit emotional), and in a sad state of serious melancholy, forced myself onto the plane. A few mini-bottles of red wine, 22 hours, and stop-offs in Singapore and Johannesburg later, I landed in Cape Town, filled with a sense of excitement and adventure to not only be in South Africa, but also to be an an entirely new continent all-together. I was in AFRICA!!!!

I had arranged a car for transport from the airport to my hostel, and was grateful to see my name on a sign and a smiling face upon exiting the arrival hall in Cape Town. I hopped in the back seat, and my guides gave me an impromptu introduction to Cape Town and its surrounding sights and suburbs as we drove through the city. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to see a completely new city and culture, with a bit of a reassuring Western twist added to the mix. The city was a mix of old and new- crumbling churches and shiny hotels; ancient warehouses and sky-scraping apartment buildings. We navigated through the city streets and the rush-hour traffic, me craning my neck this way and that to see the top of Table Mountain, the peak of Lion’s Head in the distance, the old Dutch fort, and the immense building of City Hall, where Nelson Mandela made his famous speech upon his release from prison. It was incredible- each sight and landmark added to my excitement, and all I wanted to do was get OUT and explore the city.

Well, HELLO, Table Mountain- so nice to see you!

Finally- FINALLY- we pulled into a little side street and up to the gate that led into the hostel. I paid for the ride, checked in at the front desk, thanking the girl at Reception for her help. “Pleashah!” she replied in the customary way, a clip of an Afrikaans accent apparent in her delivery. I smiled, the simple experience of hearing a new foreign accent first hand, again noting that I was in a far different land than ever before. I hustled up to my room, dropped my bags, and checked back with the front desk for a message from my sister. Sure enough, the was a note with the name of the place they would be waiting for me, so I got directions to the meeting point, learning that it was within walking distance, and anxiously set out for the rendezvous. In my haste, I neglected to write the name of the place down, which would come back to haunt me once I got to the right part of town.

The girls were waiting for me down on the V&A Waterfront (Victoria and Alfred, named after Queen Victoria by her second son, Prince Alfred, the original designer behind the project), a HUGE complex of restaurants, art galleries, souvenir shops, hotels, boat docks and booking agencies, and a massive indoor shopping mall, all set against the magnificent Table Mountain towering in the distance over the entire city. Hundreds of people milling about, buskers and street performers entertaining the crowds, groups of students clustered on the benches and along the terraces of the mini-amphitheater, vendors trying to sell sailing lessons, whale-watching excursions, and shark-cage dives- there was a lot going on around the V&A Waterfront, that’s for sure. Needless to say, the fact that I didn’t write down the name of the place I was supposed to meet the girls quickly became an issue. I wandered around, reading a thousand signs to see if anything would jump out at me, but no luck. I scoured the Directory, trying to see if I had missed anything in my wanderings- again, FAIL. I was in a bad spot, an unfortunate consequence of my hurry to get out into the city. Finally, I stopped and asked someone working at one of the restaurants if they could help me- I thought I knew what the name sounded like, but wasn’t sure- and lo and behold, the right place was just around the corner from where I was asking. How fortuitous… Relieved, I rushed off to see if I could find the girls.


It didn’t take a lot of looking- there they were, sitting outside in the afternoon sun, a bottle of wine almost empty, two half-full glasses between them. I ran up to the table, so excited to see some familiar faces from back home- I hadn’t seen anyone from my family in over a year at that point! It was a joyous reunion, more wine was ordered, along with a bit of food, and we settled in to catch up on travel stories and what they had been up to that day while awaiting my arrival. Ahhh, it was good to be back around family again, and in SOUTH AFRICA to boot! I sighed a sigh of contentment, of a long journey completed, and a few days to rest before the next journey would begin. A deep draught of a crisp South African white, and everything was right in the world!

Ready to take on Cape Town!

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