A Travellerspoint blog

June 2018

Getting excited!


View Namibia - 2017 on Ils1976's travel map.

All Souls' Day, what a day to wake up to. Although not particularly known as a holiday here in Belgium unlike All Saints Day, for once I am so lucky that I can sleep in. By the time it is 8 AM, I decide to get up and make things ready for an amazing journey to come and as soon as I got my tummy filled with delicious food, I say goodbye to my parents and hit the road or to be more precise, the train coz a little after 12 o'clock I have a meet up with the best travel buddy there is in the whole wide world, Tania.

I guess we can set time on each other coz we were almost at the same time at the agreed place and after a cup of hot tea and saying our goodbyes to Tania's parents, it is time to take the train towards Schiphol.

Sadly enough we aren't going to leave today. Technically our holiday starts tomorrow, but when you are traveling to such a cool place like Amsterdam, you know you have to be at the scene a little bit earlier and since Tania still needed to visit a hotel in the neighborhood of Damrak, we knew we were in for a great afternoon.

As soon as we arrived in Schiphol, we dropped of our luggage at the hotel and onwards we went to the center of Amsterdam. I don't know why, but even when it is grey and gloomy, the city has something special. It always makes me smile, maybe the "medicinal herbs" have something to do with it ... who knows!?

3 PM in the afternoon sounds still early but as it was starting to get dark, the both of us hurried to the hotel, where we got a friendly welcome from the hotel owner. He quickly guided us through several floors and rooms and although you might say that it is your typical hotel, its visitors need to be in great shape coz there is no elevator in the building, only small and steep stairs ... it is something different that's for sure.

Saying our goodbyes to the staff of the hotel, it was back on the street again and finally we could really start enjoying our beginning of our holiday and the best way to do that is by shopping! In our case it was more window shopping than anything else since we couldn't bring much with us, but that doesn't mean we couldn't have a bit of fun gazing at all the beautiful things that were for sale!

At 6 PM, we were getting a little bit hungry and just like last year, we went for a Mexican dinner. Only this time we tried out something what looked like a tourist trap for sure. Maybe it was and I have to admit it wasn't the best food we had eaten, but we had a great time and we had a nice talk with our neighbors, an older Indian couple from the States. All in all it was a more than memorable evening and I guess the dessert at the "Golden Arches" across our hotel at Schiphol had something to do with that as well.

By the time it was almost midnight we closed our eyes coz tomorrow morning we had an early start and I was so looking forward to that. Africa is still a continent that is so new to me and besides a few trips to Egypt, I don't really feel that I have seen much of this continent, but knowing me I am sure more trips are going to follow!

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Belgium Comments (2)

Africa here I come!


View Namibia - 2017 on Ils1976's travel map.

6 AM sounds insanely early if you only had a few hours of sleep. Although the hotel is very nice and even the room is very luxurious, I didn't sleep a wink. I don't know what happened coz I was really tired when I closed my eyes but still, at times it was too hot, than it was too cold ... I don't know if you can call this holiday jitters coz I normally don't have them, so I can only blame the bed and the fact that it was too soft.

Sadly enough I couldn't sleep in like yesterday, so I quickly got up and got dressed. Thank God for cold water, at times it can do an amazing trick, that's for sure.

As me and Tania arrived at the breakfast room, I was more than surprised to see so much delicious food. There were just so many yummy things and sadly enough we only had one hour before we had to leave for the airport, so we just sticked to the basics like oats, an egg and some fruits and before we knew it, we were on our way towards Schiphol, where we arrived about 10 minutes later.

Strangely enough although still early, it wasn't that busy. Not that I am going to complain about that, coz it only meant that checking in and going through customs went so much smoother. 

With still a bit of time left, we once again "stormed" the shops and looked up all the cool and new gadgets in the electrical stores. Time really flies when you are at the airport and about an hour later we already needed to be at our gate and were more than ready to find our designated seat which was somewhere at the wing of the plane.

Once airborne, there was nothing left to do for us than sit and relax for about 12 hours. From our window, we couldn't see a thing but clouds so instead of gazing at clouds all the time, I mainly spend my time with watching a movie, try to sleep, listen to some music, have something to eat and of course in that much time ... repeat those things more than once!

As our plane touched the ground at Cape Town, it was already past 10 PM and although we had been on a plane all day doing nothing, I was really freaking tired when we arrived.

Getting out of the plane with hundreds of other people went very smooth and amazingly enough getting our luggage as well. Finding our taxi driver was a bit harder and I guess it had something to do with the fact that our eyes were tired, but as we went through the bunch of names for the second time, we finally found our guy and he was more than friendly, just as I expected.

Our driver, who's name I sadly enough forgot, kept on talking during the entire ride to the hotel. I must say, he really knows how to promote his country and kept on chatting about what to see in the city, the things to do and so on, but sadly enough we only have one day so we really have to make the most of it and although he recommended us to go to a nice disco, since the both of us were so tired, we chose a warm shower and a bed instead and I must say that I didn't regret it one bit! 

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Netherlands Comments (2)

Cape Town in 24 hours!

Sleeping in sounded so nice after such a long flight, but with only 1 day here in Cape Town, the both of us wanted to make the most of it and see as much as we could. For me it was the first time in this city so I was a bit curious what there is to see and that said, when our alarm clock went of at 7 AM, I jumped right out of bed and was the first one to finish, ready for breakfast.

The breakfast area wasn't all that big, just a few tables near the reception area and strangely enough, when we arrived, it even seemed like the food was already gone. We were a bit confused, but when the owner of the joint arrived with some bread and more stuff for a hearty breakfast, we were ready to dig in.

With a full stomach and all our stuff we needed to survive a day in the city, we asked for a map of the neigborhood and went into the unknown. 
Our hotel was closely situated near Long Street, so it wasn't too hard to walk around and see interesting things. The first thing we came across seemed to be an interesting park called The Company's Garden. Although this park wasn't all that big, it still seemed to be a heritage site, but I guess it had something to do with the fact that in the old days, this park was made by European settlers who found this an excellent place to harvest some veggies since it was near the water.

Nowadays you can stroll through this small park with loads of native trees and plants, but I guess the main attraction of the park are the squirrels. You can find them everywhere and since they get fed by us humans, they aren't scared at all. This was just so cool and together with the Egyptian geese we found at a local fountain, made already my morning, but I guess seeing the table mountain from a far all covered in its blanket of clouds did the trick as well.

As we left the park behind us, we slowly walked towards St. Johns Street where you can find a few museums like the SA National Gallery and the SA Jewish museum, but since we only had one day, we just skipped both of them and walked further towards Roeland Street and as we passed along the District Six museum, we came closer to the castle of Good Hope.

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I guess it wasn't really high season for tourists coz there wasn't much "ambiance" at the castle. A quick sneak peek of the courtyard made us doubt wether or not to visit the fortress and its contents, but as we still wanted to see so much more, we just took a picture of the outside and further we went in the direction of Darling Street which houses a beautiful building more known as city hall. It was really mesmerizing and this you could say from the African street market as well.

We had a quick stroll through the market and from there we ended up at Longmarket street, where we had a cup of Rooibos tea as well as a relaxing view on the small tourist market across the street.

It must have been a little more than half an hour later when we decided to go to Bo Kaap first and have a bite to eat later on.

As we crossed several streets, we first thought that we were lost but all of a sudden the more than colorfull houses reached our sight and what a view it was. This is really a bright area of the city and I must admit that I loved it instantly. Unlike the Castle of Good Hope, this was more a tourist attraction than any other coz we already saw a few other tourists walking around and taking pictures. There was even een photo shoot going. I guess happy colors makes people feel happy and it seemed I was not the only one with a smile on my face.

With all this going on, we still needed to see so much, but as it was already 12 AM, we decided to use something more faster and jumped on the hop on / hop off bus. There are a few tours going in and out the center, but since we only had a few hours left, we went for the blue Mini Peninsula Tour which is also said to be the fabulous scenic drive and this certainly was true as we hit the road driving passed the Kirstenbosch Gardens, the vineyards, Constantia and even a detour to the Imizamo Yethu Township.

Sadly enough we didn't have time for a more closer look at all those interesting sights, instead we got off at V&A Waterfront and went on a search for some food, which we found in a Belgian restaurant called "Den Anker". From here we had an amazing view on the table mountain which by now had lost his tablecloth and although it must have been fun to go up there, sadly enough there was just no time anymore.

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Instead we just enjoyed the sun rays and went for a walk on the Sea Point Boulevard. Our goal was Saunders rocks, but the lack of time made us strand at the Sea Point Pavillion, not that it was too bad, the views of the ocean were more than great. 

We took the last bus back to the city center and got off at Long Street, a few minutes later we were back at the hotel and ready for a nice hot shower, a change of clothes and into the night we went for some more food searching, which we found in a local burger joint which had really great burgers.
By the time we were back at our hotel it was already 11 PM and by the time I closed my eyes, it was way after midnight. I really needed to sleep coz tomorrow another early day awaited us. I must admit that we had seen a lot in one day, but Cape Town is just so big and interesting, that it is near to impossible to see it all in a day!

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in South Africa Comments (4)

road tripping!


View Namibia - 2017 on Ils1976's travel map.

A little bit before 6 AM our alarm clocks went of simultaneously and although still feeling like a zombie, I got up as quickly as I could and after some water in my face, a bit of food in my system, I was more than ready to face the day.

Since we weren't able to have breakfast at the hotel, we were smart enough to bring something from home just to have something into our stomachs. Double checking that we didn't forget a thing, we slowly walked to the reception, checked out and about 10 minutes later we were outside and ready to meet our fellow travellers on this road trip through Namibia.

The walk from the hotel towards the Nomads office wasn't that long, we only needed to cross the Longmarket square and after walking down a few streets, we finally saw the office at the corner. Although we needed to be there at 7.15 AM, we were just a few minutes earlier and still some of our group members beat us. Not that we minded one bit, it was nice to see that the office was open and that there was an open bar of hot delicious beverages such as tea and coffee.

As we went through the formalities, we also got to know our other group members of which the majority seemed to be Swiss. Besides us 2 Belgians, we found out we also could speak German to a couple of Austrians, 4 Germans and last but not least, the odd ones of the group, our newlyweds from Brazil. 

Looking at our group members, we seemed to be a good mix of everything, going from young to old and from into new experiences to the seasoned travellers. Once we learned that the whole group was going to be lodged and no one was going to use the tents, we suddenly became a bit closer to each other. Sounds strange, but that was just the simple fact. I guess most of us were a bit afraid of getting divided as the journey progressed.

It must have been almost 8 AM when we were all outside and the final count of our group turned out to be 17. With our luggage safely stored inside the safari truck called Chris, we also got to know our other 3 crew members being Alington, our trusty driver, Rhyno the clown and chef of the crew and last but not least, Norman our guide, but commonly known as the boss!

Today we had a whole day of driving ahead of us, so as soon as we got out of the city center of Cape Town, Alington took us to a point near the beach where we could see the infamous table mountain for the very last time. When I saw this majestic piece of rock in front of me, it finally hit me that I was in SA.

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Although I had only one day to see a bit of this interesting city, I knew it was not going to be my last time. That is the promis I made to myself on that beach. 

Once back into the belly of Chris, we drove for about 2 hours seeing the landscape change from time to time when all of a sudden we saw the vineyards popping up. We finally reached the Cederberg region and were ready for our first stop of the day.

It was nice to stretch our legs for a bit and of course I was looking forward to the wine tasting, although I was thinking that 10 AM was a bit early, but on the other hand, who says no to fruitjuice with a twist. No one does!

The funny part of this vineyard was that it was the exact one that Tania visited several years ago. There are dozens of vineyards in the vicinity and they happen to pick this one again! This could only mean that the juice is freeking good and about half an hour later, I had to agree with my thoughts.
Our stop at the Fairview vineyard was sadly enough a short one and with a smile on our face, the majority of the group was glad to be back inside Chris again for a relaxing snooze.

Another 2,5 hours on the road later, we made another stop. This time we had our lunch break and since we were in the middle of nowhere, this meant that Chris' restaurant was opened for business. Rhyno impressed us with a very basic sandwich lunch which was more than yummy and with our tummies filled, we yet again needed to face another long stretch of driving.

This time I struggled myself and as soon as we were on the road, I fell asleep only to open my eyes again when we were close to our final destination of the day, Citrusdal.

Norman already warned us that the first couple of days were mainly going to be driving days and I was a bit surprised that it went by so very quick. It was almost 5 PM when we arrived at our lodge and as soon as we all got settled into our room, we had a bit of free time before diner at 7 PM.

Me and Tania had to share a bungalow with the two Swiss girls and this was not too bad coz ours happened to have a jacuzzi and the both of us immediately knew how we were going to end our day here at the Cederberg region.

Dinner was a "braai" which is so common here in SA and although we know it as a BBQ at home, a braai is more than that, it is basically a feast of food which is shared with friends and loved ones and for some reason it made us all bond a little bit more.

Time flies when you are having fun they always say and as the clock turned almost 10 PM, we went back to our room and quickly changed into our swimmers for a relaxing half an hour underneath the stars. The hot tub was just awesome and the ideal ending of such a long day. By the time we went to sleep it was almost midnight and thanks to the hot water, I fell asleep almost instantly.

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in South Africa Comments (2)

crossing borders


View Namibia - 2017 on Ils1976's travel map.

Once again we had an early rise and shine, but somehow the hot tub had done miracles coz I was really fit and ready to face another day on the road and what a day it was going to be. Punctually at 8 AM we left Citrusdal behind and were on our way towards the border of Namibia and even a little bit further.

As we were driving, Norman told us that this was going to be the day with nothing else but driving, driving and some more driving. If we ever got tired of hearing the wordt driving, well, today was definitely that day!

Being on the road is always a bit adventurous, but sadly enough, today was not that day. We left Citrusdal behind us and I must say that everything looked a bit dusty, but as the time passed by and even a few bushie bushie (read bathroom) stops later, the views changed even drastically and it looked like we were closer to the desert than ever before.

The road luckily was still good, after all we were in SA, but the color of the sand changed from brown into something red and for some reason I had a few Australian flashbacks. I just love that color and I guess I wasn't the only one coz Norman insisted that we got out and had a photo stop.
It was just so funny to see that a guide got more enthousiastic than the tourists. I must say the vibe catched on coz in no time we were jumping, making funny pictures and just absorbed the atmosphere. Rhyno even found us a turtle but lucky enough he didn't make soup out of it.

Back inside our stallion of steel, we drove for about another 2 hours when we finally made a stop for lunch. Chris' restaurant once again provided a delicious sandwich lunch and after filling in our forms for crossing the border later today, some of us made use of the bushie bushie toilets again. I on the other hand was more interested in the views of our little place in nowhere land and even the birds making funny sounds above my head caught my interest.

As we were all good to go and ready for another endless stretch of road, most of us quickly fell asleep, including me and waking up a few hours later, we made another toilet stop. Vistas had suddenly made way for city views as we arrived in Springbok, where we stocked up on food and the most important thing there is ... water!

Yesterday in Citrusdal, the temperatures were okay and nice and warm but as we drove closer and closer to the Namibian border, it got hotter and hotter as well. We were now in Springbok a little later than 3 PM and it was just so hot, that it just asked for ice cream which we had to eat very fast because it melted in no time. Not that we were complaining coz back at home people were almost freezing because of the cold temperatures, so bring on the heat!

Somehow a few hours later, I just wished I didn't thought that coz as we arrived at the border it was just freaking hot and I got the feeling that I was melting. Even our crew was complaining that it was just too hot and if they said so ... than it was HOT!

It took a while to cross the border and in my opinion, the Namibians are not that friendly looking as the South Africans, but maybe it all has to do with being at the border. For some reason people need to look bored and annoyed and don't dare to smile, maybe they melt when you do that ... whatever the case, I was glad to be out of there.

Our final destination for tonight was going to be the Norotshama river lodge at the banks of the Gariep River, where we arrived a little before 7 PM.

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Getting out of the truck, we all noticed that the heat was not going away. We got a friendly welcome by the owners of the hotel and as soon as we all got our keys, we could settle in our room and enjoy a well deserved cold shower, what a bliss!

Dinner was served from Chris' restaurant at 9 PM and to be honest, pasta had never tasted that good, we were just so lucky with our chef Rhyno and our entire group made sure he knew how good his cooking was coz we cleaned out all the pots!

A whole day on the road makes a person tired and most of our group turned to their rooms at about 11 PM, us two included and after rearranging some stuff because it was just that hot in the room as the AC was put in a complete wrong corner, we finally closed our eyes about an hour later or so.

Posted by Ils1976 05:07 Archived in Namibia Comments (2)

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