Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back Home In Africa

August 1-4, 2012
Cape Town
Hyde All Suites Hotel

The journey is near complete. The final destination is Cape Town... other than my impending 15 hour layover in Istanbul and 23 hours in Shanghai. I've been to Cape Town many times and it truly is one of my favorite cities in the world. The amazing people, absolute beauty and world class cuisine (at a cheap price) makes this a great spot to end my adventure.

I arrived after an overnight flight from Frankfurt and I must admit, it wasn't the best of flights. The food and service were great but it was a bumpy affair, similar to riding a city bus for 10 hours and thus I was unable to get any quality time in somber. My flight arrived in Johannesburg at 7:15am and I had 90 minutes in between flights which I spent at the very nice South African Airways lounge.

The two-hour flight to Cape Town was much smoother than the night before and I caught a quick cat nap and was eager and energetic upon arrival just before noon. I took the airport bus which took me to the city center and then a taxi the additional 5 miles to my hotel located in Sea Point, which is a neighborhood of high rises set right along the ocean's edge.

Day #1 I was still a bit tired and spent the afternoon walking along the oceanfront promenade enjoying the beauty of the Cape. Dinner was spent at the V&A Waterfront, a trendy upscale shopping center located along the harbor... think Pier 39 in San Francisco... pigeons included!

Cape Town is in the middle of winter and thus the lovely rooftop pool of my hotel was useless as the weather was in the 50's most of the day. If it's not good swimming weather than it's definitely good walking weather and I had a great 3 mile walk to the city bowl where so much action (good and bad) occurs. A delicious lunch at a coffee house with a great vanilla cupcake for dessert highlighted the lunch time hours.

After lunch I was picked up by a good friend. Kita Thierry, who runs a basketball program in the townships. Every Easter when we come to Cape Town we help put on some clinics with his Hoops For Hope organization and today we went to the Philipi Township and I popped by an after school basketball clinic for about an hour. There were a few familiar faces from years past and it was great to get some time with the kids. A great dinner at a restaurant just two blocks from my hotel completed the evening... a three course dinner for $15... carpaccio, pork belly and the best brownie sunday ever... yum yum yum1

Day #3 saw a journey to the closest safari lodge to Cape Town, Aquila. This trip was put together by our trusted South Africa "destination specialist" Michelle who always helps us with our Spring Break trip. We were looking at options for our 2013 safari and unfortunately Aquila isn't going to make the cut. We did see animals but it just wanted the experience we were looking for... we shall continue our search. Dinner was with Kita, his wife and their cute little daughter, Boston at a great Italian restaurant... a great day in the books.

My final morning in Cape Town saw a visit to the Old Biscuit Mill, which is a large market area similar to San Francisco's Ferry Building. So many food and drink options that it makes you a bit crazy. But I managed to escape with just a hot chocolate and left all of the other delicious food for the hordes of other tourists. We then continued our journey to Greenmarket Square which is where all of the locals set up shop with their "African" souvenirs. I purchased a few and then it was time for the 15 minute drive to the airport... time to put Cape Town in my rearview mirror.

It was another great journey to South Africa made even more special by the Olympic success of the locals and the immense pride that the South Africans felt by their success.

It's now 3:00pm and my journey continues with a flight to Istanbul where I will have a 15 hour layover, hopefully some sunshine and dinner with a 1/2 Dream kid who I met during my last visit and currently studies in the USA. From Istanbul I will fly to Shanghai where I'll meet with a St. Joseph student and then from Shanghai I fly to Tokyo for a 5 hour layover (where I will compile by "BEST OF" list for my trip) and then the final flights back to the good ole USA.

Onward and upward I go.

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