Disappearing into the Dunes

To celebrate 365 days in each other’s company, my boyfriend and I decided to disappear for a long weekend. We road-tripped three hours out of Cape Town to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Witsand. Here we spent leisurely days jumping from dune to dune and sipping wine as we watched the sun sleepily bid the earth adieu. I took this opportunity to play around with my latest love and obsession: my Canon EOS M3, my first ‘fancy’ camera. I also tested out my editing skills using the VSCO app. Here are the 🍓🍎🍍🍒🍊🍋🍐 of my labour.

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Cape Town Bucket, Spade and Sand Castle List

I have (devastatingly recently) returned home to the UK, after a wonderfully adventurous three-and-a-bit year stint in Cape Town. During those few years, I found that my past-time mostly included eating, drinking and being merry. As such, I feel it is my duty to put pixel to page and create the ultimate restaurant and cafe bucket list, for anyone who plans to visit the Mother City and wants more than whats on offer from a tour guide.


Sushi 🍣

BelugaAn upmarket restaurant nestled in The Foundry in Greenpoint. Don’t let the white linen tablecloths fool you – this place is exceptionally reasonable. Though they have an excellent and extensive menu, Capetonians go to Beluga for a very specific reason: Half price sushi, dim sum and cocktails (before 7pm everyday and all-day on Sundays).

Recommendation from a local: Try the Tuna Crunch. I absolutely garuntee it will blow you mind and rock your tastebuds👌🏼

Sevruga – Similar look and feel to Beluga except Sevruga is situated in the Victoria and Albert Waterfront on the water’s edge. You’ll also enjoy the same half price special here 🙌🏼

Recommendation from a local: Always make a reservation and ask to be seated outside. You’ll get a great view of the ocean and all the passersby and it has a lighter and more open feel than the inside section.

Izakaya Matsuri – A hidden gem that I discovered far too late. This place is quite literally hidden in every sense of the meaning. It’s quite tricky to find it as it’s tucked beneath the Rockwell Hotel in Greenpoint which is also hidden from the main road. This unique spot doesn’t even have a front door – you need to unzip the canvas side to get in! Once you’ve finally found it you’ll be welcomed by cozy feel and friendly ambiance. Unfortunately you won’t find a half price deal here but the quality and imagination of the dishes is worth it.

Willoughby & Co – Situated inside the V&A Waterfront‘s shopping mall, this place is a strange one. Whilst the sushi is considered the best in Cape Town, the dining atmosphere leaves much to be desired. It’s worth a visit at least once to try their signature dish: The Four By Four.

Nuri – We’re about to take the ambiance down about 70 notches but bear with me. Nuri is situated in the middle of the hustling, bustling CBD and it looks like a large takeaway place – which is exactly what locals use it for. The food at Nuri is on par with the fancier sushi spots and wonderfully reasonable.

Recommendation from a local: You can whatsapp your order to them. Yes. Whatsapp. It’s excellent. Here’s their number: +27 21 461 8719 don’t say I never do anything for you.

Andy’s Sushi – Another ‘sushi dive’. Andy’s was opened by the former Willoughby’s chef who wanted to create the same high quality dishes for a fraction of the price. It’s a small restaurant that looks like a regular Chinese takeaway spot – think plastic chairs and exotic red things that dangle. It’s a fun and unpretentious spot to sit back and enjoy something delicious after a taxing day on the beach.

Recommendation from a local: They’re unlicensed so bring your own drinks – corkage is free. I’d suggest a bottle of Pierre Jourdan Tranquille (+- R70 a bottle)


Sundowners🍹

The Grand – If you want to watch the sunset or while away a couple of hours in the afternoon, this is your spot. You can sit back, toes in the sand, cocktail in hand, overlooking the stunning Granger Bay. The Grand is essentially a fancy (if slightly pretentious and borderline tacky) beach bar.

Recommendation from a local: Go there for a cocktail. The menu is extensive and they are reasonably prices (R50 – R70 per cocktail). The food is palatable but not worthy of the price or the service. The draw card for this place is the beautiful view and the ambiance – so sit back, relax and spare a thought for those in the office while you’re watching yachts jet across the ocean. ⛵️

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Bungalow – Another great place to sit back, sip on something cold and naughty, and take in the beautiful sights of the atlantic ocean. Sit there long enough and you may see a couple of brave paragliders landing on the grass in front of the restaurant.


Madame Zingara ✨

Cafe Paradiso

Sidewalk Cafe

Cafe Manhattan

The Bombay Bicycle Club – Another one for my bucket list. Part of the Madame Zingara group: think glitter, think props, think awesome décor.


Mexican🌮

El Burro – I am obsessed with Mexican. After being spoilt for choice in America I felt very deprived when I hit the shores of South Africa. Portuguese? Sure! Italian? Fine! Mexican? Try your luck elsewhere, honey. That is, until I discovered El Burro. They make fish tacos that are to-die-for and their tequila menu is extensive. Make sure you make a booking though, this place has been a secret that Capetonians haven’t kept too well!

Fat Cactus – More Mexican! This place is very Tex Mex and it has a cool vibe. I’m a huge fan of the enchiladas.

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El Taqueria –


 

 

Tashas

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Superette

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The Kitchen – Karen Dudley got something really right when she opened up this little restaurant. The Love sandwich is incredible and I have never enjoyed a salad so much in my life.


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Just like Granny’s kitchen!


Burgers 🍔

Hudsons The Burger Joint – Porky Poppers, half price cocktails and EVERY BURGER EVER. Hudson’s is always full – there’s a reason for this.

Royal EateryThey describe themselves as “serving burgers that make your soul tingle and your dreams come true.” Well, if your dreams include an assortment of deluxe burgers, and, massive milkshakes set your soul alight, then they’ve got you covered. It’s situated on Long Street so make an evening of it and go bar hopping.

Village Idiot

Tiger’s Milk

Dropkick Murphy’s

The Dog’s Bollocks – This place is really bucket list material – my bucket list! I haven’t been before and it is down my road… What is wrong with me?! Every single person that has been here that I have spoken to raves about it!


Decadent Dinner 🍽

Kloof Street House

Hussar Bar and Grill – I can confirm that Hussar makes the best steak in the world. They have an extensive selection of on and off the bone pieces of meat – all aged to perfection. There are a couple of restaurants around the Western Cape (including Camps Bay, Somerset West and Paarl) but I’d recommend trying the Rondebosch. It’s been there since my dad’s University days, he’ll tell you “I used to pay R40 and they’d give me a meal every day that week!”

 

La Parada –

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Cape to Cuba – My favourite restaurant in the world. The décor is spot on, the location is sublime and the food is just exotic enough. I will happily make the drive to Kalk Bay just to go here for a coffee, it is that unreal!

Olympia Café – Olympia is so simple, rustic almost, but it is phenomenal. The menu is written each day on a chalk board and you can pretty much guarantee that anything you order will be excellent.

IMG_6727 View from outside of Olympia Cafe

The Brass Bell – Sundays were made for The Brass Bell. A place with a view made for eating, drinking and good company.

Palana – This place is a very nice restaurant that moonlights as a club (after 10). The selling point? It is smack bang on the water: if you sit next to the window you will get wet from the spray of the ocean. How wonderful!


 

Now we’re talking good food, but better yet good drinks in a setting that you feel like you could waste your whole afternoon and evening in:

Eastern Food Bazaar – Cheap, cheerful and very filling. Think bunny chow, shawarmas and curries.

 

Beleza – You walk through the doors onto the porch and you feel like you are in the middle of an American indie movie circa 1958. Wonderfully eclectic decor and all of the waitresses wear funny flowery frilly aprons. The breakfast is awesome. I find myself here on most of my hangover days. Also, it is very competitively priced.


Coffee ☕️

Just after a quick cuppa? Cape Town certainly has you covered here. You can forget about the likes of Starbucks and Costa because Cape Town is all about quirky, unique and home roasted when it comes to coffee.

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Haas Coffee Collective – As I gushed about in a previous blog post – this place is awesome. The food is pretty reasonable for a light lunch too.

Origin Coffee – I haven’t tried the food here but I can confidently state that Origin makes the best Iced coffee in Cape Town, either at their stand at The Biscuit Mill’s Neighbourgoods Market or at their coffee shop on Hudson Street off Strand

Truth – The first coffee shop that I blogged about and still a firm favourite! They also make a flipping good breakfast. Bacon jam anyone?

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Photo by my very talented friend: @EmmaBrahamDesigns

Tribe

Cocoa Oola – Coffee to die for, the best dirty Chai in Cape Town and a wasabi chicken sandwich that was created by angels.

Giovani’s – The best hot chocolate I have ever drunk. In my life. Ever. They have an array of food that you can choose bits and pieces from. I find it hard to resist temptation to stop in this place every time I drive through Greenpoint.

 

London to South Africa to Australia – Matt Law’s flying visit to Cape Town

Matt and I met in my first year of University at Exeter. We hit it off instantly, both sharing a passion for travelling, people, culture, music, photography and partying. As wonderlust has gripped us both since graduating I could not have been happier when Matt told me that he would be coming to stay with me in Cape Town for a week on his way to Australia. A week is an incredibly short amount of time to show off all of Cape Town’s fabulous attributes, but we gave it a bloody good shot. The moment his feet hit South African soil we were on the go, and we didn’t stop until he left. Enough from me, here is Matt’s story:

1383183_10153310606835034_1931552817_nMatt and I on Chapman’s Peak Drive

Landing in Africa was more than just exciting – it was totally new. Never had I been to the continent, and what a place to begin my experience of Africa: Cape Town. From the first drive through the city, on my way to Clifton Beach 4, I felt myself brimming with intrigue. My eyes took in all that they could: sprawling township, busy roads, clear blue skies, trees, the ocean, and of course Table Mountain.

A white European hears all sorts about South Africa, about crime, poverty, a history of deep and abhorrent racial division. In contrast to this I also knew of South Africa’s beauty, its developments and progression, of Mandela’s leadership and the hope that must abound in this country.

The week that was consisted of so much, not surprising given what I know Saxony! I could no doubt write an essay about her qualities, but I will mention only her ability to be constantly surrounded by interesting, amusing and vivacious people, coupled with an unbeatable knowledge of where to eat and where to drink coffee.1385917_10151640830706879_448756060_n A Delicious Caffe Latte at Skabenga’s in Noordhoek

Unsurprisingly, my week involved two very heavy nights of partying. TigerTiger provided me with far too many cocktails, but damn were they good! Stellenbosch quite simply demanded more of me than I could provide. I had a blast, I drank too much, I met plenty of people and was put up by a house of probably the most welcoming people I have ever had the privilege of meeting.

Moving away from the alcohol fuelled ‘university’ part of my visit, I revelled in the delicious foods of El Burros, Andy’s, Buluga, Brass Bell and of course the one and only Steers (say what you like Max, those burgers are great!). Max delivered one hell of a breakfast sarnie (well, two of them actually) and the joys of Billtong and Milk Tart won’t be forgotten any time soon.

995227_10151632247936879_765632453_nThe view of Kalk Bay from the Brass Bell – a lovely lazy day spent with perfect company 

However food (for once) must relinquish centre stage and accept that the highlights of my trip were those that delivered on aesthetics. Why travel if not to take in the beautiful surroundings, landscapes and scenery provided by each new place you visit? Our ascent of Table Mountain is without doubt my absolute highlight of the trip. If you have the chance, DO THIS. The views from the top were worth every damn, painful step up, every break required to retain normal breathing patterns, and even the typical drenching in sweat that I naturally experienced. As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain delivered 360 degree views of the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

1374969_10151639195816879_279009856_nMatt on the top of Table Mountain!

1378136_10151639195141879_455795478_nThe Climbing Crew: Marguerite, Sanna, Matt, Me and Max

1380645_10151639196316879_334541997_nMax the Acrobat

1380228_10151639187306879_2029150408_nMatt, Max and I being the ultimate tourists on top of the mountain 

Another highlight was the Ocean Drive on my last full day, past Llandudno and along the Atlantic Ocean. Sanna and Sax were the perfect driver and passenger combo – thanks girls! Finally the view and wine at Beau Constantia Vineyards delivered an unparalleled blend of relaxation and awe. Thanks to Bronwyn for that gem.

1383541_10151635267786879_1021968572_nWine Tasting at the beautiful Beau Constantia

1394448_10151635267441879_1448249686_n Bronwyn giving us all a lesson in wine at Beau Constantia

1376317_10151640831566879_1408250919_nMatt on top of the world on Chapman’s Peak Drive

1385535_10151640830846879_1919839001_n Matt and Sanna taking in the fantastic view of Noordhoek 

Finally, I must mention Emma, a really welcoming gal who I couldn’t thank more for not minding me snoring away in the living area of the flat – and James: such an affable chap! Saxony, you are and all time great host, and a real loss to the world of the B&B (perhaps you ought to follow in Mum and Dad’s shoes?!)

Thanks Africa, specifically South Africa and indeed in particular Cape Town. Thanks for an unforgettable week on my way to Melbourne and for showing me exactly how fantastic a country you are, with such diversity and character. I leave only with the very real threat that I will be back, and that I will miss you!

Have to Have Haas

Nestled in the middle of CBD’s colourful Bo Kaap is the wonderfully unique Haas Coffee Collective. Haas offers a feast for all of the senses as soon as you walk through the doors. You almost don’t know what to do with yourself, walk up to the counter and order a delicious smelling coffee and every cake they have (they all look incredible)? Or grab a seat and assert your place in the middle of this design emporium? Or explore each of the sections of this small coffee shop that also poses as a sort-of gallery with incredibly unique, bizarre and inspired art pieces, hangings, trinkets and curiosities? As I’m sure you can tell from all of those questions, there are a million dazzling things hitting you all at once. However, once you have settled yourself in and ordered a (delicious) coffee or tea, you have time to soak up the very chilled atmosphere that Haas offers.

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Haas Coffe

1003985_10151452626141879_309519496_nSome shots I took showing off Haas’s wonderfully weird decor

Incredibly friendly and knowledgeable staff will explain the different blends of coffee that they offer and might even suggest that you try the maverick drink of choice:  kopi luwak coffee, priced at an unashamed R100 per cup (about $10 or £7). This is the most expensive coffee in the world and it is pretty rare – Haas is the only venue in South Africa that sells it. It is so rare and expensive because of the bizarre process that goes into creating it. Sometimes known as ‘poop coffee’ it is created by the Asian Palm Civet eating the coffee berries and then excreting them. This process supposedly takes out the bitter taste of the coffee and improves the flavour. Obviously after hearing all of this I had to try it! I must confess though I love coffee, I am no expert. I enjoyed my civet cup of coffee but it certainly didn’t blow my hair back. I’m glad I tried it just to tick another interesting thing off the bucket list though.

936475_10151354759661879_1380912874_nMy cup of kopi luwak coffee

Haas offers a number of other interesting coffee blends, all with wonderfully original names, ranging from ‘The Swimming Club,’ to ‘The Mysterious Gentleman,’ to ‘Monday Moring Lift Club’ and my favourite: ‘The Famous Jailbreak’ – all unique and equally delectable.

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1005954_10151452626221879_76974248_nWinter’s day vibe and a Summer’s day vibe at Haas

The reason that I wanted to write about Haas is because it is my go-to coffee spot in Cape Town. I love the decor and the vibe, and I especially love showing it off to my friends. If someone has never been there or heard of it I know I have to take them. If it’s a sunny day we’ll sit outside and soak up the multicultural beauty of Bo-Kaap, or we’ll sit in the inside/outside courtyard in the back and enjoy our own little oasis of serenity. On a cold winters day walking into Haas is like walking in to a (very stylish) hug, the warmth of the place and the aroma of the coffee greet you at the same time.

 1044168_10151452626101879_860813165_nJess Curtis and I enjoying the sunshine outside on the vintage Haas chairs

Haas is kooky, and quirky without being too try-hard. Their décor is based on a wealth of curated design items, most of which can be purchased. You never know just what you will find next time you visit – dinosaur pot plants, a flea cross-stitched into a pillow, painted ants crawling over your saucer or a crocheted animal head hanging on the wall – next to the real taxidermy heads.

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931254_10151452639041879_165981638_nExamples of some of the awesome curiosities one can find at Haas

It’s refreshing to be able to go into a place and sit with a cup of coffee and just survey the scene for a while. Haas is most definitely a winner in my books – you will probably find me there on a casual afternoon this week!

482159_10151317135756879_1875434565_nMy favourite – the Zebra head that greets you as you walk through the door

“Chile is the new Iowa” – The World According To Kendra

481019_10151048984241879_1106593579_nKendra and I jumping for joy in front of the Capital building in Des Moines, Iowa

Kendra Murphy is my sorority sister, and one of my best friends in the entire world – even though we are worlds apart. I met her when I spent my year in America and we instantly became close when I moved into the White Castle. Kendra was one of my roomies and I hope one day in the future we can live together again (maybe in London where she can perfect her faux British accent). Kendra was born and bred in small town Iowa but she has always had a passion for all things foreign – particularly Spanish. This year she moved to Chile to teach English and this is her story so far:

After one of my most memorable and fun weekends in Chile, I feel more comfortable here than ever. I flew to the south of Chile, the region otherwise known as Patagonia. It is easily the most beautiful place I’ve seen in my ancient 24 years. This particular trip really made me think about the phrase “local tourist”, and how it is almost exactly how I feel at times living in Santiago, my “home”, and visiting other places in South America.

1082183_10200852513293382_1392977359_nSantiago from above – Photo taken from Kendra’s private collection

My 10-month anniversary is slowly creeping up on me, and like most things nowadays, the time has flown! In fact, I feel like it has only been 3 months. Then again when I think about all of the things I’ve done in these past 10 months, it seems a good amount of time. I originally came down to teach English, and after receiving my certification, I started teaching. It has been quite the learning experience as an English teacher. You’d think speaking a language your entire life would leave you with some technical knowledge of the language. Well, try to teach a foreigner all of the meanings of “get”. Jokes aside it’s a challenging, flexible, and fun job, plus very interesting to work with intelligent professionals who struggle with the past tense of English.

There are so many amazing things about Chile, most that I learned after I had been here a while, but some are obvious when you look at a map. This skinny little country has the driest desert on earth; some of the worlds best observatories; a coast of ocean and the opposite coast of mountains; a few volcanoes; beautiful Patagonia; and then the most southern part of South America… to name a few. And that amazingness is only geographical! Can you imagine the scenery? It’s too incredible for words, and pictures definitely do not come close to the real beauty. That’s what’s great about living here; we are able to see these sights in front of us most days.

 36295_4116409506820_1295031686_nView of the city – Photo taken from Kendra’s private collection

Beyond the physical, Chile is a country with a lot of history, art, culture, wine, and bread. For those history inclined, you probably know that Chile was under a dictatorship up until the 80’s. As for me, I learned this after several months of being here, and it still blows my mind that not even 40 years ago this country was under such strict government control. I recently visited the Museo de la memoria, de Los Derechos Humanos, and there was an entire floor dedicated to this era. There were videos, radio shorts, newspapers, artifacts from prisoners, diaries, all of which made it more real that this situation not only happened, but in the recent past. This time obviously sparked a lot of opposition, and with that comes art. I’m not the biggest art connoisseur, but I have realized this country has artistic thinking, and it’s visible in their architecture, music, poetry, and those who produce the art. With a dictatorship come rules and restrictions, which perfectly transitions into my favorite subject, food.

 994902_10200849464977176_584356296_nTraditional Chilean barbecue – Photo taken from Kendra’s private collection

Yes food is my favorite subject to talk about, especially while snacking, but I don’t want to get your hopes up. Chilean food is, to be polite, not spicy. By not spicy, I mean, bland. (Chileans, please don’t take this too hard, because food is food, so obviously I love it anyway) Here is a little rundown of the food situation in Chile. The overused condiments are salt, mayo, and olive oil. Bread is, kind of sacred. Don’t even get me started on the coffee, but I’ll say one thing – instant. On the opposition, meat is taken very seriously (I do have to say, I’ve had some of the best meat in my life here), and man do they know how to throw a BBQ. The desserts are more pastry-like, but supremely delicious. If you like empanadas, they have more flavors than you can think of. With 4000 miles of coastline, it’s inevitable that seafood is a popular choice.

 522325_4199315779425_70447954_n 558857_4199294258887_321121202_nKendra enjoying the sea side – Photos taken from Kendra’s private collection

With all of the bland, yet some delicious food, we have to wash it down somehow. A famous alcohol in Chile is Pisco. This alcohol is usually accompanied by coke, or I prefer it with Tonic. It’s a sweet liquor, that has a distinct taste, and hangover. Along with Pisco, Chile is wine country. You won’t believe me, but the wine is amazing, and cheap. Yes, there is a God. There is a special grape, Carmenere, which was originally only found in France, and mistakenly brought into Chile long ago. Since this minor mistake, Carmenere has been the rage in Chile for many years, and still today is rarely found outside of this isolated country.

1170870_10200849462177106_1358490018_nKendra with the mountains behind her – Photo taken from Kendra’s private collection

After receiving this “assignment” from dear Saxony, I’ve been constantly noticing, even feeling my experiences differently. Things that used to never catch my attention or interest, are now intriguing for me. I think as a foreigner we’ll always find these new and interesting parts about the foreign or different place. That’s why we’re there, isn’t it? To have a new and different experience? Well, I don’t have that answer for everyone. But I may have found mine, and/or an epiphany. As I near my trip back to my homeland after these 10 months, I am convinced that we (everyone, people, humans) need to look for these interesting things/people/experiences in our daily lives, whether we’re in our hometown, favorite restaurant, or another continent. If we do this, we will forever be a local tourist, and my friends, that means our journey never has to come to an end.

South Africa as told by Chris Lynch

1209327_10151544472961879_1480625386_nChris and I after bumping into one another at a festival in London this July

I met Chris during my last years of school in England. We met because Maidenhead (the town that I lived in for most of my time in England) isn’t that big and our schools couldn’t help but overlap. Mr. Lynch has always been a source of comedy, though you’ll never catch him laughing at his own joke. When I found out that he was coming to Cape Town I could not contain my excitement. Here is his story:

On the 18th of March 2013 I made a Facebook status that will forever live in infamy.

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Not merely because of the lazy racism that went into the spelling of SA or even the MINIMUM 6+ likes that rained down like that festival you forgot your wellies at. OH NO! This was because it stirred a simple reply from a certain Saxony Goodwin:

sax

Now I’m sure you’re thinking what I thought at the time… “That’s all very well and good but that doesn’t let me know if Robin Island is worth a visit?” Once I had got over the initial disappointment I excitedly got in contact with Saxony and arranged a meet up. Posting my amazing 2 week journey all in one blog would be impossibly boring, so in the interest of brevity ill quickly provide My TOP 5 moments you’re gonna feel most like a tourist in South Africa.

Tourist

1) You are drunk on excitement on the drive in to Cape town only to suffer an intense sobering experience when you see your first township. It’s then you realise that the same section that you thought they must visit every year to get video reel for Comic Relief? yea? well that goes on for miles and it doesn’t get any nicer. And that’s one of the many many townships you’ll see on your travels around SA.

2) You stop and take a picture of a drive through Nando’s getting stared at by the locals.

3) Getting approached by a guy in a dark alley that it turns out is a warden whose job it is to escort you safely home. (He worked 6 days a week 12 hour shifts by the way… yea)

4) My Safari was a life changing experience. Truly Amazing. Imagine hunting a cheetah in a car and then getting out of said vehicle to trek it on foot just yards away! but there is something in the back of your head remembering you’re paying a lot of money and this cheetah was bred in captivity and the park you are in (although the size of the isle of Wight) is basically just Longleat on steroids.

5) You get slagged off by a local for calling a safari a safari and not a game walk.

Non Tourist

Being a travel agent my mum was lucky enough to get a free stay in THE most preposterously posh hotel. We’re talking:

> butler meeting you at the door

> asking for your name

> sounding a gong (causing man browsing yahoo on the receptions free wifi to comically jolt)

> announcing “The SMITH family have arrived”

> The entire check in staff standing from their individual mahogany desks to clap you down the stairs.

Now I bring this up not to show off, but to highlight the culture shock I experienced when moments later I was being bunged in to the back of a tiny car. I had been picked up by Saxony and 2 of her friends Emma & David. From a week of pool and relaxation apparently i had stepped into a plan and we were already late! What followed next was a whirlwind of going to Emma and Saxony’s house, ditching stuff, grabbing booze (from a walk in fridge MENTAL) and organising meet ups. I had not a clue what was going on but was happy to go along with the ride as it was a much needed change of pace after 2 weeks of the stressing over every plans minute detail that comes with being on holiday. It was then the question of dinner came up…

Now, we live in a lucky age where after a mere 2 hours googling one can achieve a knowledge of where is good to eat of anywhere in the world. I pride myself on this ability and was able to name the top 5 restaurants in Cape Town. After a week of doing this for every meal however I don’t think I need to explain my relief that they would take care of it. They asked for a type of food and all I said was “Whatever you’d normally do”. At the time I wasn’t interested in taste, I just wanted to eat somewhere normal where there isn’t that nagging feeling you’re being laughed at for haven fallen into a tourist honey trap. It sounds petty but by asking for just “The standard thing you’d grab before a night out” I was committing to the (dare I say it) ‘authentic experience’ that I strive for anywhere I go. Without realising it I realised I was…

Becoming Cape Town

Now if I had known that “Whatever you would normally have” meant a takeaway Steers Burger I would have kept my damn mouth shut 😉 (Joking) But eating it on signal hill watching the sunset with tinny in hand was a highlight of my entire trip. A shame therefore that the second the last ray of sun disappeared behind the horizon we were off and you also heard the orchestra of other car doors slamming as the locals rushed off to leave the tourists at the mercy of the local Vagrants that appear at the drop of nightfall. If you listen closely you can almost hear mine and my parent’s “Sorry, no thanks” “Not to day’s” echoing in a parallel universe where we had gone there ourselves.

The plan was to go out out to Assembly as it was the place everyone went that night (obviously, how could I not know?) But first I had the pleasure of getting to know the group better. The high and lowlight of which was due to Saxony’s comment “I think the best way to get to know someone is to hear their most embarrassing story”. What followed were some of the most horrific story’s I had ever, and will ever hear.

Although life scarring, it’s not often you meet somebody on holiday you get on with well enough to get to that level of conversation and I really enjoyed getting to know everyone I met that night. Oh and the club? It was oddly similar to any night id had out in east London. You know the drill:

Assembly

Anyways, a lot of the time when we are travelling it can sometimes feel like we are simply ticking boxes of things “you’ve just gotta do”. Sure, when these things include things like seeing one of the last rhinos on this planet its not something to complain about. But every so often it’s nice to relax and have a burger & a beer on a hill with friends.

 10150_10151315855706879_1308817815_nenjoying the sunset on signal hill 

Thank you Saxony

Thank you for reading

Peace x

Chris

Oh America

Until now I have focused on my transition from England to South Africa and all the exciting new things that I have discovered in the process. But as promised in the ‘about’ section I do want to give America a little mention. Mid-West, College-Town America, to be more specific. I spent my second year of university in America studying at Iowa State University, and what an experience I had! I decided before I boarded the plane that I was going to make the most of every single American experience that I possibly could. I went with another friend from Exeter, Rebecca and we became a little family.

IMG_1375Rebecca and I the day after we arrived in Iowa – ready to rush!

At first we were put into Halls just off campus, ominously named ‘The Towers’ – where they stick all of the transfer students and study abroad kids. Luckily Becca and I didn’t spend much time there in the first week – we were too busy going through Rush. “Rush?” I hear you say, “sounds like something from a movie” well have you seen legally blonde? Becca and I were embarking on our biggest cultural shock yet, Greek Land. Rush is the week before university starts and it is the biggest interview process of your life. You visit all of the sororities in Greek Land and talk to millions of girls to figure out which sorority you want to join, while they figure out if you should join them or not. Each day gets more intense as the list of possible houses to join gets smaller and you spend more time in your chosen houses. After an exhausting week Becca and I joined a sorority – Sigma Kappa.

46051_427479211878_4388057_nThe ladies of Sigma Kappa on the day that Rebecca and I got our bids (invitations to join the sorority)

We chose to move into the sorority house as quickly as possible, fondly known by the women of Sigma Kappa as the White Castle. Living in a sorority reminded me of what I imagine living in a boarding school to be like. You share a room with either one girl, two or even three – completely different from England where you have a room to yourself. I absolutely loved it. Our sorority had a bedding situation that was entirely peculiar to me, and when I tell people about it now they still don’t believe me. Rather than having beds in our rooms we all slept in massive rooms called cold airs. Cold airs are ALWAYS dark and ALWAYS cold. It’s a massive room with a lot of bunk beds, everyone has their own bed and is in charge of getting their own linen etc. In the middle of Summer all of the windows are always closed and the air conditioner is in full swing. The first night I slept in cold airs in the middle of August, while it was about 35degrees outside I froze underneath my sheets. In the middle of winter they open all of the windows. Let me tell you something about Iowa – in the winter you freeze.

IMG_6454A casual freezing walk on Campus in the middle of winter

The first thing anyone would tell me when I asked about winter was “you’re going to need a North Face” these brand-loyal Americans were not wrong. My North Face jacket absolutely saved my life. Back to cold airs – picture the scene: pitch black -30degrees outside and it’s snowing, you’d think we would close the windows right? WRONG. Cold airs – always cold.

1174697_10151536568031879_1321986768_nThe White Castle – our Sorority house 

There were lots of other awesome aspects about living in a sorority though. You were always with friends, there was always food in the fridge and always many an activity occurring. There were also fun little aspects to it that made you feel like you were in a club, that you really shared a bond with these women – every Wednesday everyone in Greek Land would wear their letters. Any piece of clothing that had the Sorority or Fraternity name or letters on it counted. That being said, everyone wore their letters all the time anyway! I still have so many items of Sigma Kappa clothing that I find myself in all the time. Also, in any photo opportunity the girls would make the Sigma Kappa hand gesture urging the other girls to “throw what you know”

221756_1759909995691_1177260072_3089248_7640757_n“One Heart One Way” – The Sigma Kappa Motto

Each semester different events happen like Homecoming and Greek Week, where the sororities and fraternities are paired up and compete against each other. We did things like Yell Like Hell which involved a skit, a routine, stomping and a lot of shouting. Another fun event was Lip Sync which also involved a skit, a routine, some interesting costumes and can you guess it? No yelling this time, lip syncing to a previously recorded tape.

207842_10150121407181879_3190374_nMe as Hermione Granger in Lip Sync for Greek Week 

All of these events were taken very seriously in the Greek community and there were committees in place to make sure that everything ran smoothly. One thing was for sure though – it all added to the spirit that is always felt in Greek Land. Becca and I are now alumni of Sigma Kappa but I know that this chapter of our lives will always hold an incredibly special place in both of our hearts. Though there is no equivalent in either England or South Africa there are a couple of similar opportunities to get involved with and experience that school spirit.

198501_1932517196880_1360780971_2226059_5309263_n

IMG_9155

IMG_9140Sigma Kappa ladies and Fiji gentlemen competing in the Greek Olympics

In England the sports teams with their initiations, Wednesday night partying and formal dinners remind me of Greek Land. And in South Africa what I have heard about going into Res sounds quite similar too. The best thing that Sigma Kappa taught me was the value of getting involved. I was able to get involved in so many philanthropic events and meet amazing people at the same time. I urge you to volunteer, try it out, make a difference, and never be embarrassed.

216125_10150153675511879_3889269_nBecca and I getting ready for Vespers – the Greek land Oscars