April 6, 2016
Thomas and I had an incredible opportunity to travel with 13 people to South Africa. Is this real life? Yes, yes it is!
You may remember Alana and Justin. They got married in Gainesville this past November. Justin is from South Africa, so a bunch of his friends and family couldn’t make it all the way to Florida for the wedding. So, in February, Justin, Alana, Alana’s parents and a whole bunch of friends made the trip to South Africa to celebrate with Justin’s family. Luckily, we were invited along too!
I’ll be honest and say that I was excited for the trip, but I hadn’t done much research. We were just along for the ride. I had no idea what these places were going to look like, I had never really thought of visiting South Africa before. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic trip. A journey unlike any other we had taken. The nature was just breathtaking – and if it isn’t on your list, you need to add it!
Our trip began after work on a Tuesday. Thomas and I said goodbye to the pups (so sad!! But they were in good hands!) and headed to the Tampa airport. We flew nonstop to London Gatwick. From there, we headed into the city on the Gatwick Express and headed to my old dorm in London (where I had studied abroad 5 years ago). The staff was kind enough to let us use an extra shower so we could freshen up (thank you, thank you!).
We spent about 8 hours walking around London. It was chilly but the sun come out to warm us up a bit. We made our way through Hyde Park, down to Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, and Parliament. We took the tube to Borough Market and ate the most delicious lamb burger that warmed my whole heart. From there, we hopped back on the tube, made a stop at Ben’s Cookies (duhhh!) and grabbed our bags. We took the tube to London Heathrow – a glorious airport by the way – made it through the shortest security line ever – and found some of our friends that we were meeting.
We boarded our plane to South Africa and the rest I can’t remember. I’m pretty sure I just blocked it out of my memory. It was a really long flight (14 hours?).
When we arrived in Johannesburg, we went through customs, picked up our bags, and got right back in line for our next flight. This was a short haul to Durban, a coastal city on the eastern side of South Africa. Again, I passed out on the plane (I am a champ plane sleeper) and woke up upon arrival.
We hopped into our rental car and drove on the left side of the road to the Botha House. Thomas drove – don’t forget that the driver’s seat is on the right side of the car…that took awhile to get used to…and it was manual! Luckily the pedals stayed in the correct spots!
When we finally arrived at our destination we were all so filled with relief. It was such a beautiful home. The first night we enjoyed a home cooked meal of Indian curry. Thomas and I got to know all of our soon-to-be friends and headed to bed (in a bed) for the first time in too long.
The next day we drove to a gorge where we considered bungee jumping (nope, not me – just Thomas). We crossed a suspension bridge that was terrifying enough. The natural beauty was just gorgeous.
That evening, we had a welcome dinner at Justin’s parent’s home. The kids were banned to “the kids table” and we laughed for hours over some of the most ridiculously hilarious stories I’ve ever heard – including a new rendition of “Hello Kitty.”
The next morning we were off to celebrate Justin and Alana’s marriage at a coffee roaster – but you’ll have to wait until the next post to see the images! 🙂