Family hols post the Final Fling!
07.10.2011 - 30.10.2011
WOW! The time has finally arrived...the Final Fling is shortly to commence! Currently sat in Jo’berg airport (S.Africa), awaiting my next flight! Been up since 3am, flight was at 6am (forgot it was only domestic...good start eh!), 2hr flight, and been wasting time in the airport (don’t board till 12.35 for a 1.15pm flight) and thats only to Singapore, then i’ve still gotta fly to Perth uuuugggghhhh (about 30hrs total!)...lets not think about it ay!
So finished up work, after 3 years working in manly, living all over the eastern suburbs, making the most of Sydney life, whilst trying to save a bit for l’argent for the travels! It was sad to say goodbye actually, definitely a home away from home, and got great friends, who i hope, but cant be sure i will see again! At least i had an exciting propospect ahead...meeting the family! 9 months flew by, but it was great to see them, managed to sneak up on them and make them jump at the baggage collection area tee hee. The Holiday was LUXURY!!
River Bend lodge was our first stop – a safari in Addo Elephant park. The place was amazing, not that i considered safari as i knew it (having been to Kenya & Uganda National Parks and safari’s) but the proximity to the animals and the place we were staying and the people were top notch! Went for high tea, with all homemade goods before heading out for our afternoon safari. We saw elephants a 1m away, zebra, warthogs, elands, red heart beasts, tortoises, osterichs, and.....lions! awesome! We then went for a sundowner, where our driver steve got his eskee out and pulled down a grill at the front of the open topped landcruiser and layed out a selection of nibbles and beverage to enjoy whilst watching the sun go down! When we drove back in we were greeted with hot towels and cup of coco! What a day!! Shower and change and we off for a 3 course stunning meal....you’ll soon realise our trip revolves alot around consuming an array of pretty top quality meals...’Life is the space between eating,’ as we read in one of the shops we visited :-p
Woken up at 5.30am the next day for a 6am depart, given warmed blankets! To take on the ride as it was a bit nippy that early in the morning, then out safariing on the hunt for rhino. Unfortuately it was a pretty toast day and they are based quite far away, so didn’t come across any, but stunning rid along the ridge of the park overlooking the bush. Again, steve whipped out an array of morning treats, tea, coffee and hot chocolate whilst we soaked in the view, before heading back to base for an afternoon of lounging by the pool, well actually dipping in and out of the pool, got to 39 degrees! High tea again, we were getting accustomed to the routine then out on our evening safari to watch the elephants bath, slashing, spraying the water and rolling in the mud at the waterholes...no words for it! Went up to the opposite ridge from the morning for our sundowners then a night drive spotting all the wildlife becoming more active!
Our last day and we were keen to see the sunrise and try and beat the heat to find the rhinos! Up at 4.30am for a 5am start, and we were in for a treat...went to a good sunrise spot and the lions were there too....with a kill! Bit gory, bloody all around their chops, but pretty cool to see! We left them to go on our hunt for the rhino...we were unsuccessful, however we came across a herd of buffalo which were huge, and again we were so close. On the way back we were going down a hill and over some pretty bumpy ground, we’re all bouncing up and down and next thing i know MUMS FLOWN OUT HER SEAT, LANDED (luckily) ON THE FLOOR OF THE TRUCK AND IS BOUNCING AROUND ON THE FLOOR BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA, im sorry, not very sympathetic but she was fine and it was pretty entertaining coz steve hadn’t realised and obviously was still driving, until he heard the rawcus laughter of J and I and then realised we were missing a sitting person ha! AMAZING, love you mum
Back to base and time to move on! Just realised how long that section was and thats only day one and two and morning of three ha! Only 18 more days to go..ok highlights....
Tsitsikamma next, staying in these funny alpine chalet like accommodation. Went for a walk around the local area, mum did another classic (reminded me very much of Fraser Isalnd, if anyone else rememeber, when the one instruction we got was not to lean sideways in the canoe, and what did she do at the first branch, lean sideways. But refusing to go in the way, swung white knucked from a tree branch until she was safety (if not a bit shaken) back into the canoe...well, this time there were no instructions, but crossing over a river, we had to pass under a tree...lets just say it was another white knuckled near soaked experience....she knows how to keep us entertained!
Walked along the Otter Trail.. done lots of walking. Stunning coastline, but pretty much all over uneven rocks, there is NO heath and safety in SA, which i rather like (as you’ll discover later), and a South Africa definition for ‘unstrenuous walk’ means in English terms ‘potential heart attack inducer.’ But we made it, dad had a bit of a tumble this time, he was just jealous of mums bruised bum ha, and he got a nicely purpled arm. We stopped off on our way to our next stop Knysna at the largest bungi in the world 216m high...aaaaahhhhhhh wanted to do it, but really didn’t want to! They have a bar you can watch ppl do it. 1st everyone was cocky as, they were like bring it, and secondly the guys in charge chuck you off pretty much, no choice in the matter, once your there your going off in a matter of seconds, plus we didn’t have time ;-)
Knysna was lovely, a chance to actually have a bit of r&r with a few day trips and a few cracking walks (Robberg NP) and restaurants (Emily Moon). There was dune running, boul (French owned place), paddle boats and markets.
Outshoorn next for canoeing, ostrich races, YES, J and I got on a ostrich and rode it haha! Went to Cango caves (800k yr old caves), swansberg pass (spectacular mountain pass), Cango wildlife centre to play with cheetahs (they purr so loud, just wanted to bundle them up into my suitcase, so cute!!), Braai (BBQ) in our little lake side cabin (was a bit chillie outside and we had a log fire inside, basically a Barbie!). Onto Swellingdam – 3rd oldest town in SA, ok, historic, scenic, good food, but not that interesting. Then onto Hermanus!
Hermanus is home to hundred of southern right whales (and a few other types) for 5 months of the year in Walker Bay, adjacent to Hermanus. They come pretty close to the shore for shelter to breed, train up the baby whales (calf) and also mate again. You can see all these ways breeching, tails diving and just hanging around! There are also a few wineries around there, so when we couldn’t get on the first day (due to wind) we went for a walk, wine, and sushi at Harbour Rock (very good & over looking whales!). we got on the next day early in the morning...this whole holiday i don’t think ive got up later than 8.30am!! But went our on the little boat (which is cheaper, less people and closer to the water!! Def recommend it, although if you suffer from sea sickness maybe opt for the bigger boat). Went out spent most the time with about 7 whales who were doing some sort of mating ritual, then if that wasn’t good enough we saw some splashing further out, and coming towards us was a HUGGGEEE pod of DOLPHINS! Literally hundreds, leaping though the water, they followed our boat, swimming and jumping in the bow of the boat! Just made the morning!
Next stop Cape Town (round 1) to see as much of CT whilst squirt (aka Jenna) was still with us, so up table mountain, as it was clear enough and everyone says as soon as it is not in cloud get up it! Bit of crazy golf, then down to the waterfront, which is nicely done and pretty lively (found S.African’s eat early, we’re the last ones in there at 9.30pm!). Saw Baukaamp (a colourful malay end of town, nice), and all the sites in town, before doing the Chapman drive (scenic coastal drive) to Kalk bay where we found this fab spot, saw the sealions, the fishermen came in, then there was a fish market, then went up to Harbour House for cocktails. It was J’s last eve so we went to see what Cape Town had to offer...Long Street and The Fez :-D
I offloaded my stuff onto j to take home (amazing how much you can accumulate in 3 years!) and we went to Constansia (to the oldest winery) for a wine tour and a piss up lunch before she flew back to London for work. Then there was 3...onto Stellenbosche to find Paul and Sue Wiltshire on the corner of the street in town! Few beers and a meal at the Apprentice, a restaurant for wanna be fancy chefs – very good!
Obivously watch the rugby final, which we watch with the guest house hosts (frightfully frightfully chaps, but good company and into the match ha). Another walk and a few wineries for cheese and wine. Over to Franschooek for lunch at Haut Cabriere – stunning! And very much reminded me of the alpes! We went for a drive after and thought we could climb up to the top of a hill for a good view...there wasn’t a path and just over half way up, we realised it was rather more higher than we first though! Back down and back to town for shops, beers and sunset. A few more wineries before we head back to Cape town (round 2).
All thoses more time consuming of not as important things to do in CT were left for this round. So Camps bay sundowners and a gorgeous sunset, down to Cape Point, cape of good hope , boulder bay for the penguins (very cute, and crystal clear waters over white sands!) and back to Harbour House for a most extravagant (and drunken) meal! A more relaxing stroll around Kirstenbosche gardens (Kew Garden equivalent) and then an “unstrenous” walk to the top of Lion Head – the one to the right of table mountain. From looks it doesn’t look like it would be that easy, but 3 people (which i now realise were all S.Africans) said it would take 40mins to 1hr and not hard...started off quite steep, but smoothish track, then narrowed to a stepped path, then became rock (questionable at times which way to go), then there were ladders...we then got to a point which had a recommended route and an alternative...climbing up a vertical rock face using rungs and chains provided (as i said no health and safety issues out here!). So mum and dad sensibly carried on, but come on, i couldn’t miss out on an opp like this, so up i went. Pretty hairy, coz one slip and there weren’t any safety nets or harnesses. It was all well worth it though, got to the top and its so tranquil! 360 degree views towards Robben Island, Camps Bay, Table Mountain and over the city towards the waterfront! Stunning! Next time i’d take a picnic and just stay up there and soak in the views! Coming down wasn’t as bad a we expected and before we know it, its that time of day again...time to eat!
Last day we were supposed to go to Robben island, but there were strikes (which were very happy and tuneful, felt like joining in dancing haha), so we had a walk around the city, went to the castle (very disappointing), then walked through government avenue (pretty) and then went to the Mount Nelson Hotel for High Tea (i guess SA’s equivalent of the Ritz). It was AMAZING! Unlimited cakes, sandwiches, a massive selection of teas, scones, etc. The tea was cool as well, it had a clear tea pot, and a pot of herbs which you dunk in, have an egg timer and brew it for different amounts of time, depending on the type of tea you had. Very nice! Couple of hours later we were off for dinner at Opal Lounge – thoughly recommend it! Amazing unique food – had a watermelon gespachio for starter with olives, pine nuts and coconut sorbet in it (strangely refreshing!), but by the end of the night!
Back home, finish packing, 3am up, 6am flight Cape Town Jo’berg, 2hr flight, 5hr wait, 10.5hr flight Jo’berg Singapore, 5hr wait, just about to board, handing in my ticket and passport fashes up red...sorry miss Mackie, you don’t have a visa...’ummm yes, im sponspored till june 2013, i just renewed my passport and they informed me my visa would automatically be transferred as it is all done electronically these days?’ ...sorry thats not the case you cant board this flight!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Nightmare, next flight isn’t until 7.35pm, its 9.20am. Luckily i was able to get a tourist visa (otherwise i would be allowed back into aus, would have to cancel the van, would be there for when Fi arrive – the whole point of coming out to aus was to relive our first year together!! Panic!), but the 7.35pm flight was fully booked, as was the 1am flight, so i was on standby which meant i couldn’t leave the airport, and they had provisionally booked me on the 7.35pm on the 7TH NOVEMBER!!!! The next available flight! 10hrs later i went to the counter a bit early to see if there had been any cancellation, he said there hadn’t, there were 11 people on stand by and they were waiting for 21 more ppl to check in. If there were a few that didn’t show the priority of getting a seat was to Star Aliance customers, then people with frequent flyer mile, etc, basically i was bottom of the food chain! ! i honestly was convinced i wasn’t gunna be put on the flight, felt like Tom hanks in The terminal...was scoping out where would be the best place to sleep, how i could wash my clothes, ha! Of all the airports to get stuck Singapore was prob the best, free cinema, butterfly garden, kio ponds, rest areas (although the air con is so high you need a sleeping bag to sleep there!!) Thank goodness, i was let on at 7pm! Sprinted to the boarding gate a good 10min jog from where i was! I nervously approached the boarding pass gate thinking that the visa might not have processed or something, and it went green! The relief, oooooh the relief of actually being in the flight!! 5hrs later, 1.30am its finally time to go to katie’s! 42hrs later, i cant tell you how good the soft, warm bed felt!
Not the best start to my travels, but hopefully it’ll be smooth running from here....ha! who am i kidding!