July Trip Part 1
This week I returned to site after my second extended trip through South Africa. Traveling in South Africa is always great fun, partly because there are so many great things to do, great (cheap!) places to stay, and great things to see. The Rainbow Nation’s landscape and geography are even more diverse then its people and there is a bit of anything you could ever want with in it’s boards. This trip was made all the better because I was accompanied by one of my best friends since 9th grade Christine Breton. She actually went to UVA as well but we each had separate groups of friends which only occasionally overlapped. So it was great to travel around such a wonderful country and see so many great things with her. She brought her iPhone along on the trip – it’s true, once you get an iPhone there’s no turning back they change how you interact with the world, truly a revolutionary piece of technology – and was able to blog the whole thing from her phone as the trip progressed. You can check her blog out here. Also joining us for most the trip was one of my best Peace Corps friends Steve Gerner.
Since we packed so much into a two week period I think I’ll make the whole trip multiple posts. In this post I’ll give a general overview and talk about beginning of the trip. Below you’ll see a map of our complete trip.
As you can see we traveled a good portion of South Africa. With the exception of Cape Town and Barberton each night we stayed at a new, and often very interesting, place. I never thought South Africa was so big. The CIA fact book states that it’s “slightly less than twice the size of Texas” so maybe I should rephrase that to: I never thought Texas was so big. All together we traveled over 3500km (2100mi) and I spent I little under R6000 ($750), which considering everything we did is extremely awesome and since I’m on a Peace Corps budget extremely necessary. The first leg from Jo’burg to Cape Town was done on a bus. It was supposed to be on the Shosholoza Meyl, but they canceled my reservations 2 hours before I arrived at the station to pick the tickets up (sent them feedback saying they shouldn’t do that during the world cup). As it turned out this was quite fortunate for two reasons.
First, it gave us time to do the Soweto Bike Tour. I bike through a township everyday, although not as large or of as much historical significance as Soweto, and still really loved the tour. It was very well done and I highly recommended and hope to to go on it again with other Peace Corps Volunteers (or if anyone else wants to come visit I’ll do it two more times!). Second, we had a very unforgettable 17 hour bus ride from Jo’burg to Cape Town. SA Roadlink, like most bus companies in South Africa, has large double decker coach buses. Christine and I were lucky enough to sit in the top front and so for the parts of the trip when the windows weren’t foggy (not very often) we got a great view. The bus seemed to stop about every two hours for reasons beyond comprehension, though as veterans of many a long Marching Band bus trip Christine and I coped fine. Starting at around 6:30 am we even got to watch all three Back To The Future’s in reverse order!
We got to Cape Town around 11:30, only 30 min late despite leaving Jo’burg 2 hours late just to give you an idea of the type of driver we had. Cape Town is a beautiful and fun little city with so many things to see that we couldn’t even come close to seeing everything in just 3 days. Some highlights included: our trip out to Cape Point where the rain seemed to always start when we were furthest from our car, normally up some rocky path. And “accidentally” walking half way up Signal Hill in search of a tea house that was only 70 street numbers but about 10 steep blocks from where we started. On the plus side we got to have an amazing tea with some great views of Table Mountain, the city, and the water front. By our last day we’d rented the car we would use for the rest of the trip and decided to do both Table Mountain and Robben Island in one day before driving out of the city to stay further down the coast. Table Mountain was covered in a giant tablecloth of clouds and we could barely see people standing 10 feet in front of us, let alone the city. But when it comes down to it I would much rather have had good views of Table Mountain then good views from the top which is exactly what we got.
I think that’s enough for my first post about this trip. The next one will be about our fast passed journey from Cape Town to Barberton, almost exactly opposite sides of country. I would also like to mention a couple we met in Cape Town staying at the same place we were. They’ve been traveling west around the world from South America through Australia and Asia for the last 8 months and plan to continue up through Africa and Europe. Their blog, which is filled with lots of pictures and longish articles, can be found here. It was quite cool to talk to people who had seen so much in the past year and managed to do such a trip on limited savings. I invited them to come visit me in Barberton if they make it this far in their months stay in South Africa. They say they don’t really plan much before entering a country and figure it all out day by day. The best way to travel in my humble opinion.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 6:39 pm and is filed under Peace Corps SA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.