Relieving All The World Cup Aches in Cape Town

24 July

We woke early this Saturday to see if the spa a block away had returned Alisa’s request for an appointment. Alisa sounded pretty horrible this morning, and as this was no less than the 7th day of this cold, her need for relief was of the utmost necessity this morning. There was no reply, so she rang them and learned they she would have to choose between a massage or a pedicure at 1pm, not both. Disappointed, she called her back up, who she thought was also close, but was actually located on Klook Rd in Seat Point, rather than Kloof St here in the City bowl. She was given a bunch of different times, and 11am was the most convenient so we dressed, had reception at Cape Town Backpackers call us a taxi and we were off. Continue reading

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A Warm Winter’s Day in Victoria Falls

9 July

I was first awoke at 1 am with a sudden stop and lurch by the train and find myself in the unusual position of sleeping on my stomach, while I find both of my hands are gripping the top corners of the mattress. I turn over in order to fall back asleep and am awakened again later in the morning, but am able to fall back asleep without a problem.

I had thought about where I would fly if there was a sudden stop, but with the compartment configured the way it was the benches were on the front side of the train, so each stop just pushed me into the wall, thankfully, instead of throwing me off. The rattling over the tracks wasn’t felt as much up that high in the compartment, but the speed of the train definitely was. Continue reading

Pretoria in A Day: Voortrekker Monument and Union Buildings

June 30

We endeavored to get an early start today, but sadly our journey back from Graskop and Mpumalanga in the evening had been quite strenuous (for me at least) and our late arrival meant that starting early the next day was always going to be hard. Driving in South Africa is generally a breeze, and quite fun outside the major cities with a proper car. This is not so much at night, where a small percentage of the motorway is lit, and even though the roads are in proper condition, driving at the speeds on the motorway with the blinding light of the cars on the other side of the road as the main illumination means that your concentration is needed the entire time. Additionally, there is a general disregard for traffic signs and postings, more so than I noticed when we drove in 2007. This is our first significant experience in the Gauteng area, and I now understand the impatience that the rest of South Africa associates with the area. The general feel the Pretoria-Johannesburg Metro area is not as fast paced as Washington DC, but on the roads they drive with an irrational need to move along faster. Going 10 km over the speed limit on residential thoroughfares is not fast enough, and you will often be overtaken by the BMWs, Mercedes, Jaguars, etc. On the motorways if drifting along at 40 kms because of congestion on a two lane motorway and a space of more than two car lengths opens between you and the vehicle in front of you,
Continue reading

Rain, Rain Go Away Come Again Another Day

June 28

Woke up this morning to rain 😦

The plan had been to spend the day outside enjoying the natural sights along Blyde River Canyon and hiking, but the weather was not cooperating. Not ready to give up quite yet, we decided to driving up towards the first view point to see how much of the of the view was really obstructed by the rain. We didn’t make it there. In fact we only made it about 5 min out of town before we turned around. The clouds/fog were so dense we only had about 5 feet of visibility.

Pilgrims Rest is an old mining town that caters to tourists with museums, restaurants, and curio shops making up the entire downtown. Not on the top of our list to visit, we were just going to stop by the next morning on our way back to Joburg, but with the rain it seemed a good a place to stay dry. Twelve Rand a person gave us access to the towns 4 tiny museums: the old garage, the printing building, a victorian home, and the general store. Although most of the museums were just compiled artifacts, we did learn two interesting facts: (1) A model T Ford was the first vehicle to make it over Robbers Pass unassisted by horses to Pilgrims Rest (2) During the second Boer War there was a shortage of paper, so the government had to use paper from the mines to print money on.

After eating lunch and visiting several shops we made our way back to Graskop where we went back to relax at our chalet.

Around 5pm the rain stopped, so we walked towards Harries to have pancakes. Many places in tGraskop claimed to have great pancakes, but Harries was the original and Lonely Planet gave it a rave review, so we were looking forward to the experience. Unfortunately when we arrived Harries was closed for the day, as were most places in Graskop except several tourist shops that we quickly popped into just before they closed for the night. By 5:30 pm it was dead along the main street of Graskop. We walked down the road to a Portuguese/Mozambican restaurant, that we had noticed a number of cars parked in front of the pervious night, to watch the end of the soccer match and have dinner.

The nicely decorated interior was complimented by the warm glow of the fire, which I was delighted to be seated next to. We were given bread with pesto and chili dipping sauce to start, which is very unusual for South Africa. In the States we are accustomed to having a bread basket of sorts served before dinner, but that is not a practice in ZA. Alex order the beef and reef and I had the lemon garlic chicken. Both meals were delicious and very filling.

Back at our chalet we read and watched ZA Soaps until the soccer match.

Off to bed. Hoping tomorrow will a least be partly sunny.