Cape Town 2017: Day 1

In 2013, it took me only about 10 minutes to decide that I was going to take up my relative’s offer to visit her in Switzerland. Roughly 2 months later, I was on a plane. That was the least amount of time I had taken to plan, book, and go on a trip. Ever. Until now.

One of my friends from India who is contracting to my company went back home on Wednesday 17 May. Because we had been so busy with the project that I’ve mentioned several times in recent posts, we could not really go anywhere over the weekends. Surbhi had been saying for weeks that she wants to go to Cape Town before she leaves, but we didn’t know if or when we could make that happen.

By some miracle, we got permission to take the much-needed quick break, considering all the overtime we’ve been doing. Permission was granted on the Tuesday, and together with Premsheela, we left that Friday morning after booking the flights and accommodation on Tuesday night.

When we arrived on Friday, we got our hired car from the airport and went straight to Table Mountain. The weather was dismal and the sun was playing hide and seek with us. We were stuck in annoying traffic and realised that it was partly due to a large truck which was going at around 30km/hr. The horse part of the truck was Stuttaford Van Lines, but the trailer had transparent plastic sides. When we looked inside, there were 2 surgeons inside operating on a patient. I was totally taken aback because I made eye contact with one of the surgeons the moment that I realised what was going on. The girls were totally freaked out by it, and the fact that it was close to one of the hospitals made the whole situation even more believable.

As it turned out, it was just a marketing strategy for a new movie called Bypass. The patient was a dummy, and the surgeons were just actors. Damn, they did a good job!

I hadn’t driven a manual car for at least 2 years, so I was slightly nervous driving around a city that was relatively foreign to me, especially up the windy road to Table Mountain. I felt like such an idiot when I eventually found a parking but couldn’t figure out how to put the car into reverse. Before my BMW, I drove my dad’s VW Polo, and one had to push the gear to the extreme top left to put it into reverse. I tried that several times with this car (a Toyota Corolla) and I just kept going forward. Eventually, I went so far forward that 2 cars were able to parallel park behind me. Eventually we just sat in the car waiting for someone to park in front of me so I could ask them. Only a minute or 2 later, a young local couple showed up, and, visibly embarrassed, I asked the guy if he could help. He chuckled and got into the car while telling me that all I needed to do was lift the top of the gear up while shifting. I had never used a gear like that before, so I didn’t feel so bad after that. It was still pretty funny though.

Unfortunately, once we got to the ticket station, we were informed that cableway was closed because of the wind. We didn’t know what to do because going up the mountain was pretty much our only plan for the day. We spent a few minutes considering our options before deciding to head down to the V&A Waterfront. Even if we couldn’t do anything, we could at least enjoy the beauty of the place.

The hunt for accommodation

We wandered around the waterfront for at least 2 hours and even considered going to the Two Oceans Aquarium so that we could be indoors and avoid the occasional drizzle and cold wind. It turned out to be a little too expensive considering we would only spend an hour or 2 there so that we’d make it in time for check in to the guest house we booked at in Camps Bay. Despite the dull weather, we got ourselves an ice cream sandwich from a Crumbs and Cream stand right outside the aquarium. It’s never too cold for ice cream.

When we eventually arrived at the guest house, there was no one to receive us. All the doors and gates were locked, and we didn’t know how to get in. I called the owner and he had forgotten that he didn’t send me an access code or directions on how to enter. It was like a puzzle getting into that place: first there was a combination lock on a box against the wall next to a gate which, when opened, gave us access to a big door key that was stuck with Prestik to the back of the box in which it was in. Then we had to use that key to unlock another box close to the ground which contained an envelop marked “Welcome pack”, inside which lay a set of keys. One of those keys opened the gate, and another the door behind it. The third key opened the door to the actual guest house.

We were uncomfortable as soon as we walked in. Let’s just say the place was not at all like the pictures made it out to be. Besides it being tacky, it smelled as though the windows hadn’t been opened in months. The bathroom was a scary sight too; it was as if we were in a jungle thanks to the blue mosaic tiles and plastic roof. We only spent around 1.5 hours there trying to come up with an escape plan. Long story short, we cancelled the booking and bolted out of there, only to spend the next 2 hours or so looking for an alternative within our price range on booking.com. My best friend Sophia was on the phone with me trying to help us out too, and eventually we found the perfect place titled “Convenience by the sea”. Sophia found it very amusing, but I knew it was just a description of the place as it was clearly an apartment.

The embarrassing first meeting

After securing the booking, I called Marc (the guy letting the apartment out) from Surbhi’s phone, and he quickly agreed to meet us there within 30 minutes. I thought it was brilliant that he’d be available at such short notice. We found the place easily and parked in the space in front of the apartment building, next to the front door. We waited patiently in the car for a few minutes, since we were only 5 minutes away. The apartment is in Three Anchor Bay, which is an area in between Green Point and Sea Point. Barely 10 minutes later, a very good looking guy showed up at the door. He was looking at his phone so I asked Surbhi to check hers in case he was calling or messaging on it, because I was convinced that he was the guy I had spoken to on the phone. I thought that his face matched his voice. I told both girls not to stare at him because he’d be able to see that the 3 of us were all looking at him at the same time, and it would have been creepy!

When Surbhi’s phone didn’t ring and the guy went inside, I thought I was probably wrong about who he was. A minute or two later, a petite woman entered the building. I figured it was another resident. Suddenly I noticed movement on my right so I turned to look – the same good looking guy had come out of the side entrance and was walking towards me smiling. That smile instantly confirmed that he was Marc.

We all got out of the car and he introduced himself to each of us. I don’t know if it was just me, but I pretty much became like a blithering idiot because he was so insanely good looking. He said that our timing was perfect since the cleaner had just left, and the apartment had only just become available as the last guest had left that morning. He then asked if I could move the car a little to the extreme left of the parking as that was his parking. I don’t know why the girls got back into the car with me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because they were just as starstruck as I was.

Because there was a small gutter in between the parking and the road, I had to move the car very slowly as I was scared I was going to scrape the bumper on the road. Let’s just say I went a little too slowly and I stalled the car not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. I wanted to kill myself; it was without a doubt the most embarrassing moment of my life. When I got out of the car, I told Marc to forget what he just saw cos it was my first time driving a manual in a very long time. He chuckled pleasantly and said it’s ok and that these things happen. He was so nice.

He broke our hearts seconds later when he said that his girlfriend was waiting for us upstairs. Turns out it was the woman we had seen entering the building minutes earlier. The girls and I gave each other looks of approval the moment we entered the apartment as it was not only clean and tidy, but also bright, airy, and kind on the eyes.

I really don’t remember her name, but Marc’s girlfriend said that she noticed us in the car but wasn’t sure if it was us, and I said yes, we saw her and Marc too but I told the girls not to stare cos it would be creepy for all of us to be looking at them at the same time. It was quite amusing, and they were so warm that I didn’t feel embarrassed to say that. Besides, what could be more embarrassing than stalling the car 3 times in front of an audience?

Marc was also nice enough to waiver the deposit of R1500 because he said we look like decent girls so he doesn’t foresee any trouble. If you think I’m exaggerating about how good looking he is, ladies, do yourselves a favour and google Marc Buckner. Yes, he is a model. You’re welcome.

The apartment was just off a popular main road which had lots of restaurants and supermarkets too, so after getting some groceries for the next few day, we headed to Posticano, an Italian restaurant that Sophia recommended. Surbhi is a foodie so she eats anything (vegetarian), but we weren’t sure what Premsheela was going to have. Long story short, Surbhi and I ate while Premsheela sat and watched us. That girl is crazy, but she did make something to eat once we got back to the apartment.

We were pretty exhausted by the end of the day and were already in bed by 10pm. Premsheela decided she was going to binge watch Full House on Netflix until passed 2am, so Surbhi and I didn’t actually sleep much till after that.

I knew the next couple of days was going to be a lot of fun.

USA and Canada: The trip I’ve planned the least

This trip should be very interesting. The project I mentioned in my previous post has been moved yet again (with good reason) and this time we are targeting the end of May. I hope to God that that’s the last time it’ll be moved, but the last thing we want to do is sacrifice quality just to meet a date. Fingers crossed.

Thanks to this project, I am now working 10 hour days every day, which is not at all normal for me. There are the odd 11 and 12 hour days here and there too. My body has actually adjusted to it now and I’m not sure whether or not that’s a good thing. I am also attending training now which is awesome, however I missed the past 2 weekends because classes ran over both Saturdays and Sundays, from 8:30am – 4pm, so I’ve been having 7 day weeks. Thank God for the Easter weekend break. Thereafter, classes will be exclusively on Saturdays.

Basically, I have no life right now. I have not even had the time to get my Canadian visa yet. The US one took less than a week – I did it in January I think, which should give you an indication of how busy I am since we’re going to be in the second week of April and I still haven’t gotten to it. Next week it needs to happen; come hell or high water!

The visa is probably the biggest thing left for me to do. That, and booking for the Calgary Stampede. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I do a fair amount of planning before any trip, but by the looks of things, I’m gonna be winging it for most of this one. I have not even had a Skype call yet with the family I’m going to stay with in Toronto and I kind of feel bad because it’s almost as if I’m only going to be in contact with them while I’m there. That’s really not how I want things to be considering I’ve never met them before.

This year hasn’t totally been about work though, and up until last weekend, I did have some form of a life.

Some colleagues-turned-friends came down from India to work on the project, so I took them out a little bit. They’ve only got about 1.5 months left here – will definitely miss their company!

St Patrick’s Day was the bomb, and since I got sick again and had an awful hangover for half of the next day (just like last year), I’ve decided never to drink more than one Guiness at a time ever again.

A friend and colleague of mine also resigned, and we did something I haven’t done before for her farewell – Paint Nite. It’s basically what they like to call “creative drinking” i.e. paint while you drink. The event, where the artist guides the class in recreating his/her painting, is held at different restaurants around Joburg. Once upon a time I was pretty good at art, and considering my mom was an art teacher, it’s in my blood. I’m not sure if I still have it in me, but I’m happy with how my painting turned out. So besides bidding Steph farewell, this was a small tribute to my mom too.

Judging from what I just wrote, do I really need to provide any more proof as to how little planning I’ve done? I literally have 82 days left before I get on that plane to San Francisco, and instead of working my ass off so much, I should just take half a day to get myself to the Canadian embassy and sort out that visa.

Dammit Aradhna, don’t forget that July isn’t so far away any more.

The Hills Are Alive in 2015

Its been a good start to 2015 so far, though more professionally than personally. Trust me to be the one to fall for someone who I’d never see again cos he left the country! I mean, really?! Other than that, there is so much to look forward to this year, mainly my travel plans.

This year I plan to do only items that are on my bucket list, and not places that I’ve seen before. I mentioned in a previous post that my heart is in Europe, and that I’m not done with it yet, so of course it is my destination of choice yet again.

Last month a good friend of mine temporarily moved to Latvia, having never left South Africa before. He was petrified the day he arrived, wanting to go home immediately. I tried my best to console him and assured him that there was absolutely nothing to fear, and that it would be the best thing that would ever happen to him. Its not very often that you get paid to stay in a European country while studying for 6 months. My advice to him was to enjoy it while he can; to go out and see as much as possible, meet people, try the local cuisine, and travel out from there.

Having listened to some of my advice, the travel bug had bitten him within almost no time at all. The first thing I said to him when he told me that was “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!”. This was a friend whom I’d been trying to get to travel for years, but he just never did it. Now that he’s been in Riga for a month, he understands why I’m so in love with Europe.

My travel inspiration, Brooke Saward, continues to inspire me every single day. Often, she unknowingly voices my thoughts. She did so yet again just yesterday:

Brooke_Patagonia

Every time I go to one place, at least another 3 or 4 places (if not more) that I have to visit come to mind. Right now I don’t know if there is such a thing as a finished bucket list. Mine certainly isn’t. I choose my destination in order of priority. Yes I want to see the Yangtze River and the Grand Canyon and the Southern Alps, but right now it is time to see places that have been on my mind for years.

So, where exactly am I talking about? In a nutshell: Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. I’ve been to both Germany and Austria before, but never to any of the major cities. The largest city I visited is Heidelberg, which was extraordinary, however I’ve been pining to visit both Berlin and Salzburg. Now’s my chance. So here’s the plan:

2015_plan

Starting point: Munich. From there, a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle in south west Bavaria. Next up, Salzburg – the land of The Sound of Music. From there, a day trip to the tiny but beautiful lake village of Hallstatt. From Salzburg the plan is to head out to Prague, and eventually Berlin.

I am still the early planning stages and there is much to research (and coordinate) before finalising anything, so there is a chance that the plan will change. However, so far my trips have always worked out the way I planned them to. So fingers crossed, this one is what will be in a few months.

Have a place that’s been in your mind for a long time? Stop making excuses and go see it.

“All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us.”

– Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring

Looking back at 2014

Up until the end of May, 2014 was quite a blur for me. I’m not quite sure how time progressed as fast as it did in those 5 months; all I know is that it was only after that did I get my life back.

Burns Evening with my friend Sharon

Burns Evening with my friend Sharon

I was going to speak on nearly everything that happened this year, but that could cost me hours of writing time. So, after writing about 5 paragraphs, I decided to scrap the lot and redo the entire thing cos at the end of the day, no one really wants to read a saga (unless you really like me a lot, in which case, you’d know the details anyway).

Since the highs far outweigh the lows, I think its best to start with the bad and end with the good!

Things that belong in Isengard (because Mordor is a little extreme):

  • Family. So bad that I’ve cut ties with some of them!
  • The project that started in Mid-February and ended in the first week of June. I experienced the highest amount of stress and worked the most overtime I’ve ever had to do. This project, however, was also one of the year’s highlights.
  • A close friend leaving the company.

Things lit up by the Phial of Galadriel:

  • Burns Evening. Pure Scottish delight – bagpipes included.
  • The project mentioned above. It gave me new friends and an immense amount of exposure and recognition.
The Iron Throne

The Iron Throne

  • My friend Anine got back from maternity leave. She was lucky enough to have missed all the chaos of the mad project.
  • Meeting Brooke Saward, founder and author of World of Wanderlust. She is my biggest travel inspiration and I am proud to call her my friend.
  • Rowan, a.k.a my brother-from-another-mother doing his yearly pilgrimage to visit me
  • Pre-birthday drinks with my good friends from work
  • Sitting on the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones
  • Road trip to the Drakensburg to celebrate my 30th birthday
  • An evening at Montecasino for about 7 hours which consisted of playing games, eating, drinking, and just having fun till 2am. It was probably the most fun I’ve had all year.
  • Bonding with friends at the company year end function.
  • Meeting up with Cristina, my American friend who I hadn’t seen for over a year, for catch-up drinks
  • Being introduced to my favourite song by someone who barely knew me at the time – Divenire by Ludovico Einaudi.

 

  • The births of my high school friends’ babies, both in August – my birthday month!
  • My high school friend Natasha’s wedding.

I think its safe to say that 2014 was, without a doubt, a great year. Of course a great year cannot go by without equally great photos to prove it. Here’s some of my favourites:

Year end function with Anine

Year end function with Anine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gallivanting with Rowan

Gallivanting with Rowan

 

Taking a selfie with my favourite 2 year old, Katherine

Taking a selfie with my favourite 2 year old, Katherine

 

Attending Natasha's pre-wedding celebrations

Attending Natasha’s pre-wedding celebrations

Lesson learned this year: throw out the bad and focus on the good. The negative isn’t worth thinking about. If you can count the good on only one hand, there’s still more to come. Things can only get better!

 

Different Ideas

So I have this friend that I studied with a few years ago. We were always pretty close but we lost touch for a few years when I changed degrees. We got back in touch recently and its as if nothing has changed. Actually, nothing has. He’s still the same sweet, caring guy I knew then. He still has the same girlfriend too (going on something like 8 years now) and there are still no marriage plans. I wonder sometimes what’s going on.

But anyway, this has made me think a bit. What if you’re in a relationship with someone for that long, and marriage is something you’ve thought about, but haven’t acted on yet? What are you waiting for? I think if that was me, the only reason I would have delayed was if I had a doubt in my mind about whether its something I really want forever. The thought could have been planted by, I think, any of the following:
1. Something your partner did
2. Something you want to do but haven’t because your partner is holding you back
3. Something your partner said or their behaviour towards something
4. Someone else’s views that made you think outside the box

I’m not saying that if your partner did or said something, that it is wrong. I’m saying that if it was something that you didn’t feel good about because of your own personal views, then yes, its good to accept it if you love the person, but at the same time, it may not be something you should ignore. Is it worth living forever with that feeling?

Something I heard from the movie Marley and Me: “Mend it, don’t end it”. Its difficult making decisions like this.

In my friend’s case, I hope he makes the right decision. Personally, I don’t think the girl is right for him. I just hope he doesn’t end up marrying her and ruining his life. Dear friend, think long term. Marriage is not a joke. You’re a good guy, don’t make a decision you know you’re going to regret, especially when there will be children involved.

As for me? Depends. If I was married, I’d try to mend it to the best of my ability. If I wasn’t married, I’d reevaluate everything and if its not worth it, I’d end it. Its better to end it sooner than later, right?