Continuing from my last post….after a full day and two nights at Port Shepstone, we drove 2 hours north to Durban in the morning. As typical of our entire trip thus far, the weather was cloudy and a bit chilly…so the beautiful beaches of Durban were a bit underwhelming. We spent the day walking up the main coastline in the city from our backpackers in the south of the city center to the Moses Mabida stadium (where several World Cup games were held) on the north side of the city center. Ever since seeing the stadium during World Cup games in 2010, I’ve always wanted to see the Mabida stadium up close…so I insisted we all take a tour of it in the afternoon. Following the tour we returned back to our backpackers, rested up for a bit, and then headed to a popular restaurant that served Durban’s most famous Indian dish – Bunny Chow…which is hollowed out bread filled with curry. I had been looking forward to eating Indian food in Durban since arriving in South Africa, but unfortunately the food was a disappointment. South Africa is said to have the largest diaspora of Indians in the world, and Durban is at the epicenter of that. More so than the Western Cape, Durban really represents South Africa’s reputation as the “rainbow nation.”
On our second day in Durban, we visited the famous Victoria Street Market. This indoor market caters specifically to tourists and reminded me much of what many markets I have seen in India look like. After wandering around the market for a bit, we drove to the King Shaka airport to return our two rental cars and drop of Jonas at the airport as he had a flight back to Stellenbosch (he still had exams to take!). When we returned to Durban the remaining five of us decided to take an city bus tour…which also was more of a disappointment than anything else. At the end of the day, Durban was a very interesting city that we all enjoyed…but I came to appreciate what everyone back in Stellenbosch kept telling me – besides beautiful beaches – there’s not much to do or see in Durban. As the next morning, our group was splitting for good…we enjoyed a nice homemade meal at our backpackers and reminisced about our great trip.
In the morning, Rita and I left Maren, Clara, and Daniela for a full day bus ride from Durban to Johannesburg…to meet up with two other friends – Hunter and Jannis. It was only fitting that it rained the entire day as I was quite sad that the first leg of my journey had come to an end. Not only that, although I was to see Maren and Jonas again in Stellenbosch before heading home…this was my final goodbye to Clara and Daniela! By far the most amazing part of my study abroad experience was the friends I was able to make, so I was very sad to say goodbye to two of my closest that morning. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll be able to visit both of them in Germany soon though!
Luckily though, having learned from our mistake the first time, Rita and I booked a comfortable Greyhound bus for our journey to Joburg, and were able to relax before beginning another epic trip the next day.
When we arrived at our backpackers in Joburg, we were happily greeted by Jannis…who had been in Joburg for a few days waiting for our arrival. Having just said goodbye to two of my favorite Germans in the morning…it was great to be able to say hi to another after a long bus ride in the evening. As we shared our travel stories, we patiently waited for Hunter to arrive. He had been traveling with his parents and sister…but with no cell phone…we were worried we might never be able to find him. But no worries…he arrived later in the night and we all got ready to leave early in the morning the next day. Funny enough, this was the second of four times I would be in Joburg (although the other three were just in the airport) during my time abroad…but I would see none of the city…besides the drive back and forth from the bus terminal to our backpackers. Although I wish I had time to spend in the country’s largest city – since arriving in July I had been bombarded and brainwashed by students at Stellies about the fact that there was nothing to do there. I’m sure I would have enjoyed the city, but in the words of many of my South African friends…”Why would you ever want to go to Joburg? The only thing to do there is go to the mall. They have lots of malls.”
Anyway, our plans for the next few days would take us north to Polokwane, south to the beautiful Blyde River Canyon, back north to Polokwane again, further north into Zimbabwe, and then up to our final destination (or at least where Hunter and I would leave to return back to Stellies from) – the majestic Victoria Falls. We were in for quite an adventure!