Category Archives: Travel

South Africa Part 10: The Return Back Home

The last thing that was a big treat for us was that  my boyfriend and I got a free upgrade to business class during our layover in Dubai.

img_6206
Us in business class. Can you see how excited we were to be there!

The amount of excitement that we were filled with was that of a child being able to eat ice cream and cake for dinner!  Don’t get me wrong coach on Emirates Airways is really great but Business Class takes your flying experience to a whole other level.

For instance, business class is located on the top floor of the plane (Yes, this plane has two levels). As soon as we got to our seats we saw how big of a difference it was flying business class. The biggest thing were seats that could be laid out horizontally with a push of a button so that one could sleep on the flight the same way that you sleep in your bed. This was so BOMB!

The second major difference was the food. Though the food in coach was delicious, the food in business class was much better. The food seemed fresher as though it was cooked by a chef on the plane (although I know it had not) and as soon as we sat down we were given a choice of champagne, and mimosas before take off. Oh and did I mention that they had premium alcohol in business class.

In business class they feed you, LITERALLY, all through out the flight. I thought we were pretty well feed in coach, but in business class they come around with many different things such as: warm croissants, pastries, and warm nuts.  There is also a lounge area in the back of the plane and a fully stocked bar! My boyfriend and I took this as a chance to try some expensive alcohol that we probably will never buy with our own money! In the lounge they had even more snacks for us to munch on during the flight  including cheese, small cakes, and crackers. And yes we did get fed three meals while in business class, so all the extra snacks were just an added bonus! Flight attendants also  laid out linen table clothes for each person before we ate. We also had actual glasses and silverware in business class that made you feel a little bit more at home.

Because our seats converted to beds I slept way more on this leg of the trip than I did when I went to South Africa. I am not sure when I will ever get an opportunity to fly in business class again (considering for one leg on Emirates it can cost you upwards to 5k for a business class ticket), but I sure did enjoy my 13 hour flight from Dubai back to the United States!

South Africa Part 9: Our last day in Cape Town

Our last day in Cape Town we spent the day at Green Market Square. The day before we had asked one of our servers  where was a good place for us to purchase South African souvenirs at a cheaper price. He said Green Market Square was the place to go. Since we only had a few more hours left in Cape Town until we departed, we ate a small breakfast and made our way to Green Market Square. We called an Uber and he dropped us off right by the square

Once we walked up, there were several different vendors and most of them were selling the same things. Initially I thought that each vendor had hand crafted, painted or sewn each item, but as I walked around I realized that they all had the same exact items. But this was not that big of a deal to me because the items were very nice nonetheless.

What is good about Green Market Square is that you can negotiate prices with the vendors. What is bad about Green Market Square is that you can negotiate prices with the vendors. What do I mean? Well first off it is always a good thing when you can talk down a price but some times this can lead to vendors haggling you, giving you their life story about how much they are struggling or even you feeling guilty that you asked for a cheap price on an item (this was my case, I felt really bad asking for lower prices). It was a bit overwhelming when we were walking around the different booths trying to decide what to get. I wanted to get everything, but of course I could not. It was also overwhelming because as soon as I would go up to look at an item more closely I was then bombarded with the vendor asking me a ton of questions or saying things to me to try and make me buy it. I mean I get it. This is how people make their living and as a person from a third world myself I respect the hustle, but sometimes I just want to browse and decide on my own.

Nonetheless we ended up getting some real good items to bring back to America. Some of the vendors actually take credit cards, but most only take cash. We ran out of cash at one point in time so we had to go to a local ATM to get some more. Since Green Market Square is in a busy part of Cape Town finding an ATM was not hard at all.

 We purchased kente clothe bags, necklaces, cups, dashikis, key chains, and so much more. Here are just some of the items that we purchased. Unfortunately I did not think to take any pictures of Green Market Square myself (still trying to get use to documenting everything) but I went ahead and googled some images of the square so that you could get the idea of what it was like.

South Africa Part 8: Discovering Cape Town

img_6201

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.

img_2925
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.

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!

img_20170101_191417
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
Boschedal Cottages
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
img_6026
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.