Saturday, February 26, 2011

Week Fourteen Daily Journal

Friday, December 31
Cape Town, South Africa

We all went over to the Cape Quarter mall for a late breakfast.  Our taxi wasn't going to make it before the breakfast service ended so we all told Darren our dream meals and miraculously they were all on the menu!  After walking around the mall we headed over to Greenmarket Square, the African market.  Later that day J got a haircut and then we all went to Wakame for our NYE dinner, and then to the bar at Pepenero's to ring in the New Year.

Saturday, January 1
Cape Town & Wilderness, South Africa

Delicious coffee and muffin at the Blue Cow
All of our friends left for safari - it was so sad to leave them all!  We got off to a late start as the alarm failed to off and by the time we got packed up and found a taxi we didn't get to Avis until 12:15 pm.  And it turns out they closed at noon on Saturdays.  Slightly panicked we called the Avis reservation line and were told there were no cars left.  Very panicked, we took a taxi to the central Avis office in the city.  They were about to close but luckily they were able to get us a car!  So we drove off to Wilderness.  Unfortunately, since we didn't get on the road until after 2 we had to skip what we had planned to do, an ostrich farm and the Cango Caves.  We did have a nice break in Barrydale at a small family owned coffee shop, the Blue Cow, which was located on the land that the family farmed.   We finally got to Wilderness as it was almost fully dark, and drove the long and winding road up the mountain to our hostel, The Wild Farm. Turns out it was day 2 of a massive 2 day new years rave, and we unexpectedly got into a fight with the manager over the missing key to our room, so we scarfed chicken sandwiches and fell asleep to horrible thumping house music and the revelry of the many partiers.

Sunday, January 2
Wilderness, South Africa

On the Wilderness Beach
We woke up with the intention of driving back to Ootdshoorn to go to an ostrich farm and see the Cango Caves.  But by the time we got to George we had lost motivation so instead we drove back to Wilderness and walked along the gorgeous beach.  We had lunch at the Wilderness Beach Hotel, overlooking the water, and then in the late afternoon headed back to the mall in George to do some internettting and see Due Date at the movie theater.  We were trying to delay having to go back to the hostel so we had dinner at an italian restaurant in Wilderness.  Happily the hostel was quiet and had been cleaned!

Monday, January 3
Knysna, South Africa

Tasty mini-muffins from Mon Petit Pan
We've never been so happy to leave a hostel, especially since the owner had been so nasty to us when we checked in and attempted to negotiate a discount since they had lost the key to the room and we would have to walk outside in the mud and rain to use the bathroom.  Anyway we got in the car and drove right to Knysna and the charming Knysna Backpackers which had everything you would want in a hostel - nice staff, clean rooms and bathrooms, etc.  Dave took a nap while J went into town.  Later we had tasty sandwiches (and a spectacular mini almond muffin) at Mon Petit Pain and then drove to the Knysna Heads and went to the Knysna Beach.  We went back to the hostel to meet Ted and Sarah and we all went down to the waterfront and had oysters (Knysna specialty) and nachos at The Oyster Catcher.

Tuesday, January 4
Knysna, South Africa

We slept in and then we all went to Il de Pan, a famous Knysna restaurant, for lunch.  We drove to the Knysna Heads for our scuba dive appointment but the water was too rough so we couldn't go out.  Instead we went back to Mitchells Brewery for a tour and tasting and then spent the rest of the day at the beach.  For dinner we went to 34 South,  a bustling waterfront seafood restaurant.

Wednesday, January 5
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

We said goodbye to Ted and Sarah and drove to Storms River for our canopy ziplining tour.  The zipping was fun but all the waiting around in the heat was tough, and the 10 zips ended up taking 3 hours or so.  After the included lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches, we drove back to the Bloukrans Bridge, the dividing point between the east and west cape and also the location of a 216 meter bungy jump.  Fortunately there was a cancellation so D was able to do it!  J sat in the cafe and watched it on the tv and chatted with an Israeli girl who also wasn't jumping.  That evening we drove to Port Elizabeth, checked into the Wet Hippo Backpackers, and cooked a chicken stir fry for dinner.

Thursday, January 6
Dubai, UAE

It was an early wakeup to get to get to the airport and return the car before our 8am flight to Johannesberg.  We spent our layover in JNB shopping at Cape Union Mart and returning to our old haunt, Cafe "mad flava" Flavor, in which we spent 12 hours back in 2008 when our flight to Botswana was repeatedly delayed and then canceled.  Our love for it was marred as we spent way too long arguing with the cashier about the price of substituting salad instead of rice as the side with Dave's roast chicken meal.  The flight to Dubai was long but wonderful.  Emirates has possibly the best in flight entertainment system we'd ever seen, with dozens of excellent movies (j watched 4 over the 8 hour flight) and actually pretty good food.  We landed in Dubai after midnight (the airport is huge, spotless and looks like a casino) and by the time we got through the incredibly slow immigrations and customs, it was after 2am by the time we got to our hotel, the Ibis Mall of the Emirates.  Their whole computer system was down so they couldn't make us a key and at first took us to (and opened, with their master key), an already occupied room that people were sleeping in.  Awkward!

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