Tag Archive: africa


We’ve been to Africa twice before, visiting Egypt & South Africa. They were completely different experiences to say the least, and completely different worlds. I still rate Cape Town as one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful city I’ve ever visited. I’d be interested to know which cities in the world people think are more, but that’s always up for debate, and a matter of opinion. Since moving to the EU, I said I wanted to visit Morocco, but never pulled the trigger. Then after speaking with my cousin, and finding out she also wanted to see Morocco, I then had no excuse and had to do it. Some tickets came up, I booked them, and that was that. We decided on Marrakech simply because we wanted to fly direct, and have never heard much great about Casablanca. And we’re off…

Landing in Marrakech, connected with my cousin and her husband, and off to the hotel….sorry, the Riad. Unless staying outside the Medina, you are most likely to stay in a Riad, which is a private home that has been converted into a hotel, which can have anywhere from 4-20 rooms usually. Our choice mainly was done because a spa was connected to it, and we wanted to experience that before we left. The Riad was located in a maze of alleyways and streets that thankfully were made easier by a guide from the hotel who met us at the perimeter to grab our bags. So after following him, and checking in, we wanted to go for a stroll and get some dinner. The medina is not that large, but you can get lost quite easily. We found our way to the main market/square, where every night most locals get their dinner, and shop after shop is trying to convince you to eat at their place of business. We eventually sat down at one, just so we didn’t have to listen to them anymore. We tried all the local food, which was good, but in the end, WAY overpriced and quite honestly a rip off. They came up with prices out of thin air and then begged for tips afterward…not my type of scene. Was glad to get out of there.

Day 2 we wanted to see as much as we could, do some shopping, drink some beers, eat some local food, and relax. We did it all. I’m going to explain what we did in pictures instead of script since I don’t know the history behind most things in Morocco. One thing I can say is that we ended the night at dinner at a local restaurant that was on top of a roof, and it was fantastic. Once again, a local guide lead us back to our hotel since Marrakech is an eerie place at night, especially in the Medina.

Our flight was late home on Sunday, so we definitely wanted to have a hamman, a spa, before we left. The facilities next to the Riad were well-known in the area, so we figured it must be good. IT WAS. I had a scrub with local muds that pretty much ripped a whole layer of skin off, but pretty sure it was good for me and it felt fantastic. I also got a massage in a wet steam room, which was a bit strange to get used to, but by the end I was relaxed and felt extremely clean. I think relaxed for about 45 minutes in a cold, calm room with Annemarie while we sipped on local tea and ate cookies.

We then pushed off, but not after getting our customary magnet for the country visited, and picking up a Moroccan lamp for our future daughters room. Our house is going to look like a time warp once we settle somewhere for more than 5 years.

Advertisements

There comes a day in every trip we take that we just like to relax and pretty much do nothing. Well, Day 2 in Cape Town was just that. We woke early and headed downtown to look around, see what the FIFA Fanfest was all about, and maybe find some good souvenirs for the trip. Well, we made it downtown, and picked up a few things as we had planned, but one thing I really wanted was a World Cup scarf with the South Africa logo on it. Now, mind you, this was DAY 2 of the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world. How much inventory did all the stores and street vendors have of these particular scarves………NONE! I spoke to a couple of vendors and store owners, and they all said they were sold out of them a few days before the World Cup even started!!! You’d think that they’d stock up on what would be the most popular selling item at the World Cup….besides the vuvuzelas of course!

Cape Town FanFest

So with the morning being a disappointment looking for these items, I pretty much decided I wanted to hit the pub to watch the matches for the day, especially the USA vs. England match that would be on…8 hours later. I had read about an English pub downtown that was the most popular place for ex-pats to watch matches, but we were there just a tad early….in fact early enough that no one was at the pub yet. Seeing that it was off the beaten path a bit from the rest of the area, we decided to head back to the V&A waterfront and watch the match from the Ferryman, which is an infamous pub which shares a center wall with Mitchells Ale House, which is also a pub popular with ex-pats. Safe to say, 8 hours before the England match, Mitchells was already filling up, so we sat outside at the Ferryman.

Mitchell's Ale House and Ferrymans

To pass the time, we had to watch a lot of sports, so we did. First there was the end of a rugby match that we didn’t really pay attention to, but there was a soccer match up next, so we didn’t really care. Well, that would’ve worked out fine if it hadn’t been for the big Springboks match that was on immediately after the current rugby match. Now for those that don’t know, South Africa rates rugby much higher than soccer, and it is the national sport if you speak to any locals. South Africa was playing France, whom they hadn’t beaten in 5 years, so this was a big one, and it was at home. I mean, why wouldn’t you schedule a huge rugby test match in Cape Town at the same time of the World Cup. Seems logical, no? Anyway, South Africa killed France, and reassured everyone at the pub, which was full now, that they do have the best team in the world. We had followed rugby a bit when we were in Paris back in 2007 when the Rugby World Cup was going on, but not much since. Well, I think I might follow the Springboks a bit more now, as I started to get into it again while were watching. My old man would be proud, but I have a million questions about the rules again, so there’s our first conversation when I get back to the states Dad.

This was about 6 hours into the night!

After that match, there was a soccer match, which included Nigeria. All the teams from Africa have quite a bit of support down here, but the locals are pulling for all of them as well, as they want to see their continent do well, and hopefully have a few teams progress. At the time of this blog post, the only team that looked good after the first round of group play was Ghana, who had won on a penalty.

We finally get to the USA vs. England match, and the pub begins to fill up again. Fans from England, USA, etc surrounded us. We sat next to a couple people that were in from NYC, and had just landed in Cape Town a few hours before after a 30-hour trip that included a connection in Dubai. Again, if you traveled to the World Cup this time around, you were a true fan I feel. Well, the match started out well for England, as they slipped one by Howard only 5 minutes into the match. But in true England fashion, they have an unmemorable blunder by their goalie, which allowed the USA to tie it up, and ultimately get the draw in the match. All in all, I was quite disappointed in the match, as I thought England would rip through the USA, but they didn’t show much desire after they gave up that terrible goal, but at least they got the point, and will play Algeria next on June 18th in Cape Town.

After the match, we decided at that point it was time to turn in for the night, as we had been at the pub, for what my friend Iain would call, a solid 10-hour “sesh” of boozing. We also had some big plans the next day, as we headed to the Cape of Good Hope and planned to spend some time driving up the west coast of the cape. More of that day in the next post.

Cheers

WURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! WURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! That’s the first sound we heard when getting off the plane in Cape Town, coming from the vuvulezas that are a staple with South African sports. They were especially noticeable the day we got in since we were 24 hours from the World Cup starting, and South Africa was in the opening match. It was more electric here than I remember at any sporting event than I have ever been to….and the game wasn’t even in Cape Town!!! This country is really behind their team, or as they call them, Bafana Bafana (which means “Boys, Boys”).

There were two games on the first day of the World Cup, and we had tickets to the “other” game, which was being hosted in Cape Town at their new stadium, France vs. Uruguay. But we’ll get to that a bit later as we packed in quite a bit during the day before we hit the match.  We knew we only had a little less than 5 days, so we wanted to do as much as we could while down here, seeing this isn’t exactly the easiest locale to visit. Note, we flew from Madrid, and it was still another 5,000+ miles to get down to South Africa. For all the fans that made the trip, they definitely put on the travel legs to get down here. Anyway, on to the day.

Top of Table Mountain with Cape Town in the back

We were told the weather in Cape Town can change every 10 minutes, so if it’s predicted that the day will be clear for the most part, you should take advantage and head up to Table Mountain, because you might not get another chance. Friday was a perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky, about 60 degrees, and no wind. So to combine two things we wanted to do, we hopped on the bus tour around the city, as we usually do, to knock out a lot of stuff in one package. Table Mountain happened to be a stop, so we could get dropped off, check it out, and then hop on another bus when we were done, as they came around every 20 minutes or so. The bus tour actually wasn’t bad, as it was a double-decker bus, and it was open up top, and with the perfect weather, it just made for a great time.

cable cars going up and down from the top of Table Mountain

They showed us a couple sites around town, explaining how Cape Town came to be, the struggles it has gone through, and the effects pre and post apartheid. That time took quite a toll on the city, and still rears it’s ugly head today when you look at District 6 in the city, which to this day still hasn’t really been rebuilt from the time when the government decided to level it and make 60,000 homeless….instantly. After seeing that part of the city, the tour only could get better, and it did, as we headed for Table Mountain. Now what did I say about good weather and getting up there as quick as possible? Yeah, everyone knows that, so of course it was busy, but I knew it would lay off a bit as the South Africa match was on at 4pm, and there was no way any locals were going to miss that, so I think crowds were a lot lighter than they could have been had there been no match. So we get in line, and get to the cable car, only to be stopped for a private group to go up by themselves.  I think most people would’ve been mad we were cut in front of, especially the guys, but it was the WAGS from France who were in front of us, and naturally they were posing for all the cameras. It also made sense that they were there, as France was playing that night, and the team is not allowed anywhere near their women for 24 hours prior to the match. Here they are below:

The Wives and Girlfriends of France

Now being at the top of Table Mountain, you get to see what has been voted the last 3 years, the most beautiful city in the world. I’m not sure if this is the best view of the city, as pictures from the ocean and out on Robben Island looking at the city from the water tend to look a bit better, but you can see how unique the city is, and how amazing it is that the mountains literally run right into the ocean, and everyone lives on the flat area between. I had seen pictures of this city for years, but couldn’t really believe I was there until we snapped some pictures. The views from up top are incredible, and the luck we had seeing it on a clear day was even more amazing. Just for the picture opportunities alone, I suggest getting up there. I thought the cable car would be a bit scarier, but it’s very stable, and the floor actually rotates inside as you’re going up, so everyone gets a chance to see all the views it has to offer.

Sippin' a Castle while watching Bafana Bafana

After taking about 500 pictures up top, we headed down to see the rest of the bus tour, which took us around Lions Head mountain, and then through the ritzy neighborhoods of Cape Town, which were much different from downtown, and had their own vibe as well. I can see why many who are from Cape Town never leave, because the landscape of their city is so unique and beautiful it would be hard to beat. The tour ended, and we had about 15 minutes to get to a pub or anywhere that had a seat to watch South Africa play Mexico in the opening match of the World Cup. Of course, it was rather hard finding a seat, but we took a back way into a restaurant, and ended up having pretty decent seats outside to watch the match….and of course grab a few beers. We took off about halfway through the second half, as we had to drop off our bags, and then head to the stadium to see our match, but we were there long enough to see Bafana Bafana score and the restaurant went crazy. Dancing, cheering, blowing their vuvulezas, singing songs, and everything else you can imagine. It was something we’ll never forget.

Locals watching the match at a big screen at the V&A

So we head over to the stadium, which is only about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying, although with security checks and the volume of people, it took more like 30 minutes to get inside, but none the less, it was close. Now, the seats for the World Cup were split into three categories, and I had one match in Category 2 and one in Category 3. The only thing was you had on idea where in those sections your seats were until you printed them out in South Africa. Well, we got lucky for the first match, as we had 2nd row in the club level of the stadium!! Our seats couldn’t have been any better for Category 2 tickets. You know you have good seats when you can hear the ball being kicked, even with 60,000 people screaming and horns blowing everywhere. On top of that, the new stadium is a work of art, and extremely modern. The match ended up being pretty dull, 0-0 draw, and in the following week it has been dubbed the most boring match of the tournament, but I really didn’t care, as we were there, and had great seats….albeit for a boring match!

Not a bad view for the first match, eh?

That really covered what our first full day in Cape Town was like. The best part at the end of the day was we knew we had 3 more days, another match to see, and whatever else sparked our curiosity. We knew if the rest of the trip was anywhere near as great as this day, that this trip would be one for the books.

WURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! WURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Best banner at the match...too bad they were forced to take it down!