I didn’t expect the end to come so soon. And yet here it is: the final post of my #MeetSouthAfrica series.
As I mentioned before, the #MeetSouthAfrica blogger adventure ended in Durban. We were in Durban for three days but spent only part of that time exploring the city; a large portion of our visit was devoted to attending the 2014 Indaba — a huge international travel convention.
We still squeezed in several interesting Durban activities, including a jaw-dropping walk through the sprawling traditional markets at Warwick Junction. I could write 10 blog posts about the Warwick Junction markets alone so I’ve decided to save that topic for later. I need to go back and do more exploring. Until then, here’s a little taste of what I saw at Warwick Junction.
The Indian spice market on Victoria Street. “Mother-in-law exterminator” is the name of a spice. Don’t ask me what’s going on above that.
Our group stayed at Durban’s Southern Sun Elangeni, a high-rise hotel along Durban’s North Beach. Big-chain hotels like this aren’t normally my thing but I really enjoyed staying there. The view overlooking the ocean is amazing and unlike comparable hotels in America, the windows actually open. I could roll right out of bed, slide open the window, and shoot pics of the sunrise.
My first morning in Durban. I was lucky to catch this because the next two mornings were overcast.
Not bad, Durban.
Anyway, let me fast-forward to my last morning in Durban: a Sunday, the final day of #MeetSouthAfrica.
I checked out of my room at about 10:00 a.m. My flight wasn’t until 4:00. Most of the other bloggers had either flown out already or gone to the Indaba. I should have done the same. The Indaba is an ideal opportunity for networking. But to be honest, networking is a challenge for me even under the best of circumstances. After a week-and-a-half of intense traveling, 16-hour days, fighting a cold, and generally having the time of my life, I couldn’t face thousands of people in a massive convention center.
I stowed my luggage at reception, sat on a chair, and stared into space for 30 minutes. For the first time in ten days, I was alone and had nowhere to be. I let that sink in for a bit. Then I picked up my camera bag and walked outside.
The Southern Sun Elangeni, where I stayed, overlooking North Beach. The Southern Sun Maharani, which adjoins the Elangeni, has a rooftop deck with an amazing view of the coastline.
I had been to the North Beach waterfront — also known as Durban’s Golden Mile — before, years ago on a trip with Jon. But somehow I’d forgotten. And I’d been so busy for the last two days that I’d barely noticed my surroundings except for that beautiful sunrise through the window.
But on that Sunday morning, with #MeetSouthAfrica essentially over and the other bloggers gone, I looked around and saw what a cool place I was in. I wandered, snapping pictures as the mood struck.
I started at the lovely water gardens just across the street from the Elangeni. The gardens are ancient and well maintained.
I skirted past Indian families who, despite the relatively early hour and the threat of rain, were gathering for picnics on the grass. Soon I reached the skate park.
This park is so cool.
I spent quite a while at the skate park but struggled to get a photo that I was happy with.
The skate park is right beside the beach. The beach wasn’t busy. This was the first “regular” weekend in South Africa after a month-long string of three- and four-day holiday weekends. Also, it was cloudy and had been raining earlier. But there were still plenty of joggers and a few die-hard swimmers.
My favorite die-hard swimmer.
A police car, patrolling slowly down the cement boardwalk, stopped beside me. I lowered my camera, sheepish. I thought they were going to scold me for sneaking photos of a half-naked sleeping man.
“What settings are you using?” asked one of the policeman, in a lilting South-African-Indian accent.
I looked down. “f7.1, 1/125 of a second,” I said.
He nodded sagely. “Where are you from?” he asked. I told him. “Coming here on Sundays is a Durban tradition,” he said. “Have fun.” I waved and the car glided away.
Locals and tourists enjoying a Sunday tradition.
I ambled along, watching the surfers, admiring the pristine public pools and the colorful amusement park. Then the sun heated up and I got tired.
I felt vaguely hungry and scanned the big-name fast-food chains along the water. Nothing caught my fancy. I turned up toward the road, drawn by a vague, mysterious force.
Then I saw it.
The North Beach Café and Takeaway.
Ahhhh, yes. My foggy, aimless Sunday ramble was meant to bring me here all along. I was meant to find myself at the North Beach Café and Takeaway. This was how my #MeetSouthAfrica trip was meant to end: Alone, with a Durban bunny chow.
A spicy, greasy vegetarian bunny chow. I ate it with my hands. It tasted as good as it looks. Cost: R22 (about $2).
And that’s all I have to say about that.