Trip Recap: South Africa

To continue sharing some of my travels you, I figured I’d do some trip recaps to give some insight into some of the amazing places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. In August 2016, my friends and I embarked on a trip to visit Johannesburg, Phalaborwa, and Cape Town.

Lodging

In Johannesburg, we were lucky enough to stay with my friend’s cousin. Staying with a local is the best way to really get a feel for a place.

In Phalaborwa, we stayed at Sunbird Lodge, a cute guesthouse with beautiful grounds you could probably spend hours admiring.

In Cape Town, we stayed at a loft via Airbnb. Centrally located and around the corner from the most delicious eatery, Eastern Food Bazaar. I hate to go to the same restaurant more than once when I travel, but this was so worth it.

Things to Do

My favorite thing about Johannesburg was visiting the Apartheid Museum. As someone who is mixed (black & Puerto Rican), in South Africa I’m considered “coloured” which is a really weird experience. Obviously, we have our own racial issues here in the U.S., but it’s very different, of course, than what South Africa has been through. We didn’t have a whole lot of time, but I’m very glad we visited. There’s so much history that I had no clue about.

In Phalaborwa, we went on a safari – something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. We saw baboons, zebras, elephants ,giraffes, impalas, bison, and so many more I’m sure I’m forgetting. It was an incredible experience.

Cape Town had so so so much to offer. The exchange rate is pretty awesome for us, so I did lots of shopping. One of my favorite shops was a thrift store named Afraid of Mice.  We got a great club recommendation from the employees there, after our first attempt was a bust. So, we headed to Coco that night, where AKA was making an appearance (He is apparently the South African Kanye West). It was probably one of the best club experiences I’ve had (except for the fact that unlike in NYC, people can smoke indoors, so I definitely smelled like straight up Marlboro afterward.)  And last, but definitely not least, we made a trip to Table Mountain.  With its breath-taking sights and the signature cable car ride up, it’s not to be missed.

Getting Around 

Of course, while In Jo-burg, we got around with my friend’s cousin. However, in Phalaborwa, you can walk around, of course,  but Kruger is definitely the main draw. There are also Hippo Crossing signs everywhere, and they are actually very deadly, so we arranged to be picked up with whichever tour guide we were using that day. We used Little Shingwedzi Safaris for the much of our travel in town, to/from the airport, and to our boat tour. In Cape Town, we were able to walk around to most places and we just took Uber any other time.

 

 

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My Travel Personality

Something I touched on briefly in my Shediac post is my travel personality. Let’s first start off with what exactly that means. Your travel personality dictates where you stay and what you do while on vacation. Some people like to just chill on vacation; you’re not going to see them hiking, zip lining, or anything like that. They just want an escape from their ordinary lives. Others are thrill seekers, they’re going to be zip lining, bungee jumping, scuba diving, all of that.

For me, I’m somewhere in between. I love cities, so when I travel, I’m not too interested in lounging on a beach the whole time or hiking up some mountain. That’s not to say I don’t do these things while on vacation, but I like to see other urban areas and how other countries have defined what it is to live in “the city.”

What does this look like in action?

Location, Location, Location

I usually end up going to the capital city, think: Buenos Aires, Cape Town (did you know South Africa has three capital cities?!), and London. I like cities because you’ll find ordinary citizens living their daily lives, not just tourists taking selfies everywhere. Even though I’m technically a tourist when I go abroad, I don’t act like one. I figure the same way we hate the disrespectful way many tourists behave when they come to New York, other people in other cities must hate it too. I also am annoying and talk about how similar or different everything is to New York. I’m working on it.

Getting Around

I also hate driving. I’m a stereotypical New Yorker and got my license as an adult. So when I travel I like to be centrally located near public transit or at least in a place where I can catch a cab pretty easily. I love walking so once I’ve got some comfortable shoes, I have no problem going for a long walk to check out a new and fascinating place.

Activities

I like a good mix of active, physical activities and time to relax, go shopping, etc. I like to be amongst the locals when I travel, so of course I’ll check out tourist attractions, but I also like to check out hidden gem cafe or local boutiques. I also am not opposed to curling up and watching a movie or taking a nap. Actually, naps are a must.

Packing

I’ll do a full packing post in the future, but because it is a part of my travel personality, I’ll touch on it briefly. I try to be a minimalist when packing because I like to avoid checking my bag. I don’t like to wait when I get off of the plane. I just want to take my stuff and start my adventure (or head home!). So I try to have a carry on for the overhead and a book bag with my essentials and entertainment.

Once you’ve figured out your travel personality, you’ll have a much easier time planning your trip, especially when traveling with others.

What’s your travel personality? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

 

Travel: Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada

Traveling has become such an integral part of my life that I thought it might be a cool idea to start sharing some of my experiences abroad on the blog, so every week I’ll be sharing some of my stories and maybe even some tips or recommendations.

First up, I’m going to share my most recent trip, which was to Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada. It’s all the way up near Nova Scotia.

Disclaimer: I have been fangirling over Canada since I was a preteen (because that’s totally normal, right?). In fact, my first foray out of the country was to Toronto and my trip to Shediac marks my third time visiting our neighbors up north.

Transportation

My husband was taking a class and basically I decided to tag along since I was on vacation anyway. We decided to drive and by we, I mean he, drove. It’s about 11 hours, which is a long time to be in a car. However, we did make some discoveries along the way. We decided to stop in Portland, ME both going and returning. We stopped at Salvage BBQ , a spacious barbecue spot with a smoker out back. I loved the casual vibe (especially after having been in a car for hours) and how tender the meat was (yum!). On the way back, we stopped at Isa, which I think it the kind of restaurant I’d have if I ever went into the food industry. Minimalist and with a focus on local/seasonal ingredients, Isa is a perfectly cozy spot for date night or, like us, just stopping in for lunch.

Oh, we also discovered Hot 96.9 which provided a flawless soundtrack to our drive.

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Salvage BBQ – Portland, ME

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Hotel Shedicac, a modern and fairly new hotel in the area. It houses a bistro (aptly named Le Bistro) and a restaurant called St. James Gate. Order the lobster mac and cheese, you won’t regret it.

It also has a pool, hot tub, exercise room, and game room. Because it’s off season, we pretty had these spaces to ourselves 🙂

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Hotel Shediac Room

What To Do

Shediac reminds me so much of City Island. In speaking with one of the shopkeepers on Main Street, he informed me that in the summer, Shediac is teeming with tourists checking out the restaurants and visiting the beach. In the winter, it’s a bit more calm, but  there’s still some sights to behold.

I spent a day checking out the stores on Main Street. One of my favorites was  Ancient Roots, a tea and holistic living shop. I picked up some chai and lime chiffon tea from the friendly owner who was so helpful. Another store I enjoyed was A Touch of Class, where I picked up the perfect travel sweater – long and warm like a robe with pockets to hold my miscellaneous crap. The shopkeeper was really friendly and is a fan of NYC, who gave me some tips on places to check out.

Though we didn’t make it to Magnetic Hill, it’s a very popular attraction and has a theme park in the summer.

One of Shediac’s most notable features is the Giant Lobster, which as the name implies, is a legit giant lobster statue.  It’s what welcomes you to this quaint seaside town.

We did drive around a bit and went to see a movie (ticket prices in Canada are so cheap omg!!!!!!!!) in Dieppe and went to lunch at a place called Tide and Boar in Moncton, which kind of reminded me a little of New Rochelle.

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Overall, it was a nice getaway, even though temperatures were spring-like in NYC and I was still packed away in my bubble coat and Heat Tech layers up north.