Travel Dates: November 4 – November 14, 2016
After three quick weeks back in the States, where we attended Sum and Prita’s beautiful wedding in Minnesota, spent some quality family time in Florida with our folks and most importantly were reunited with one of our little guys for a week (we miss our dogs so much!), we repacked our bags (this time more efficiently we hope) and geared up to hit the road again.
One of Amit’s best travel experiences was his summer spent in Kenya over fourteen years ago. So when we decided to circumnavigate the globe there was no discussion necessary, we were going to Africa. To get to Cape Town we took a 12 hour flight from JFK to Dubai. To break up the total transit time we decided to spend one night in Dubai, the business hub of the Middle East, before jumping back on the plane for the remaining 10 hours to our destination.
Dubai reminds me very much of Vegas, sans the gambling. It is a metropolitan city right smack in the middle of the desert. The skyline is filled with high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, each one more impressive than the next. Our short visit would not be complete without visiting the granddaddy of them all, the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world standing at 2722 ft. To avoid the crowds make sure to book reservations in advance and the best time to go is at sunset! Afterwards we were able to catch the largest choreographed fountain show in the manmade Burj Khalifa Lake. This one was way more impressive than the fountain show at the Bellagio in Vegas with water shooting up to 500 ft. For dinner we made reservations at Zengo, a cool Japanese restaurant with both a sushi and robata bar. Dinner was great, except when Amit realized he left his phone in the taxi and had no way calling or locating his phone because it was in airplane mode. Luckily the cab driver found the phone and was nice enough to call the restaurant to track us down. Crisis averted and my husband had a big smile on his face again!
Accommodations: Airbnb Clifton; Sea Star Rocks
We’ve heard nothing but good things about Cape Town and we are happy to report all things true plus more. Nice weather (similar to SF), beautiful beaches, great surf (except for the really cold water and great whites!), affordable delicious international cuisine and getting around town is really easy and cheap thanks to Uber! Average wait time 1-3 minutes and average fare $5-$10 for 10-20 minute rides. It made exploring the city for the next week very fun, convenient and tasty!
We’d always thought the Red City Tour Buses would be too cheesy for our taste (we see them everywhere in LA!). But at Amit’s friend’s suggestion, we decided to hop aboard and take the red line for an hour tour through the city. To our surprise we ended up really enjoying the experience and learned so much about the city through the audio guide. The best part was jumping off at Table Top Mountain and taking the cable cars to the top to see the expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean. The only downside were the Brassies (buck-tooth beaver like rodents) that kept harassing us for food. Whatever you do, don’t feed the animals!
The next day we arranged a philanthropic cultural tour through Uthando where we visited four community projects in the local townships. Our tour took us into the slums where we had the privilege of meeting some of the participants and the incredible community leaders behind those projects. Our first stop was a project in the township of Langa called Quirky 30 where we met an incredible entrepreneur/former convict who decided to turn his life around and put his natural talents as a hustler and business acumen to good use. His mission was to provide youths and other former inmates with job skills that would make them desirable as the world moved digital. He taught himself to code and went on to find partnerships to give him funding and a platform to teach computer skills to his community in hopes of providing his students an opportunity for a better life. Next was Ikhaya-Kulture Garden, a school based project in the township of Khayelitsha that made gardening and landscaping cool and artistic while providing environmental awareness. Our third stop was a tour through a primary school for children ages 3-6 where we had the opportunity to interact with the children at recess. Amit and I became human merry-go-rounds, taking turns spinning the kids in circles until we got dizzy. In between my breaks I was also able perfect my patty cake skills. Lastly we visited Ekaya Ekasi (Home in the Hood) which is a community center that empowers women through crafts and entrepreneurship training. It was a long day, but we learned so much and it really put things into perspective and helped us appreciate life’s blessings.
Another day we rented a car and drove to Boulder’s Beach to visit a colony of 2000 African Penguins (A.K.A. Jackass Penguins bc they sound like donkeys!). I don’t know what it is about penguins that make them so darn cute. Maybe it’s the way they waddle that make them so endearing. It was an incredibly windy day, I almost felt like I was going to blow away a couple times, not sure how those little guys were able to stay grounded. As tempted as I was, I did not take one home with me…but we did snap a million photos as keepsakes before heading into Simon Town for a delicious lunch at Lighthouse Cafe.
If you go to Cape Town, make sure to visit wine country! On our last day we visited three vineyards in Stellenbosch. We had a picnic lunch at Vergenoegd where we watched the duck parade, sampled 8 different wines and munched on tasty nachos on the beautiful grounds of Peter Falke (our favorite vineyard of the day), and had chocolate & wine pairings for dessert at Waterford. South African wines are super delicious but have not penetrated the American Market as much as French or Italian wines, so we made it a point to drink as much as we could before we left.
There is so much to do in Cape Town, and 7 days was just not enough. We’ll definitely be coming back again in the future!