South Africa Trip: Day Two – Cape Town Arrival and Shady Bus

Flight to Cape Town was a crazy 11 hour flight.  We arrived just shy of 10 AM, but I had been up since at least 7 AM (Midnight, central time) for some on the plane breakfast and I had slept for the majority of that flight anyway.  I was picked up at the airport by the people at the hostel I was staying at.  I had inadvertently booked a hostel for the first couple of days out in Milnerton, so the pick up cost me 230 Rand (about $32).  Highway robbery.  It’s not that expensive really, but I’ll explain why I say that in a second.

I got to the hostel, and met a couple of people that were currently staying there.  One was a Mexican guy that was currently living in Paris, and spoke really good English, on top of Spanish, and now French.  Already more worldly than me.  We chatted for a bit while we watched a replay of the Italy/Paraguay game, I believe it was.  Then I talked to Martin, a bloke (that’s a British guy, for those of you not in the know…) who was visiting with his 13 year old son.  Super nice guy, and we talked about sports (not my forte, but I managed to hold my own), and then I told him I was probably going to go into Cape Town to explore a bit.  He recommended I tried the “bus”.  You know, to experience it.  He said, it was totally legit, and super cheap to get to Cape Town. So I decided even though it sounded a little shady.  And let me tell you, it was exactly as he described it, I didn’t really believe him when he first told me.

Basically, I left my hostel and walked a couple blocks to a main road, and crossed the street.  I walked toward the “bus stop” except for these “buses”, stops are not required.  The bus is actually a Van with 4 rows of seating. In front is the driver.  His sidekick sits in the back next to the sliding door of the van, and basically leans out the window whistling at people that look like they need a bus and yelling, “Cape Town” but with their accent it sounds like “CapTime”.  So, obviously, when you see an Asian guy walking on the side of the road, you gotta assume he’s travelling.  Anyway, I made it on the Bus and was told it was 6.50 Rand (pronounced as Six Rand Fifty, less than $1 US).  I handed the “Caller” a twenty rand bill (i suppose you would call it), and he handed it to the driver. The driver simultaneously drove, slowed down for potential customers, and made change.  These buses were pretty common it seemed.   We caught up with another one, and the driver honked.  He told everyone going to Cape Town to get out, and go to that van.  He gave that guy some of the money, and it was basically a bus transfer.  I hadn’t been on the bus for 5 minutes when this happened.  This other van took us the rest of the way.  We all got out, and everything was good.  Overall, it was good, albeit a strange experience. Also, I’d like to add, that while on the bus, I thought about how I should have done a little more to remember how to get back to my hostel (like, what the major intersection nearby was), but more on that later. The bus though, was just like Martin had described, it was something I had to experience for myself to believe.  Everything he described was to the T, with the driver, caller, and potential for bus transfers.   He also said it was kind of shady at night, so he recommended taking a taxi home.

I ended up going finding the FIFA Fan Fest and just hanging out there the rest of the day.  They were showing all of the games on a big screen in the middle of Grand Parade, the oldest square in South Africa.  It rained a little bit throughout the day, but was nice, if somewhat chilly for the rest.  I also ate at Nando’s for lunch/dinner, based on a recommendation from a girl I randomly met in Milwaukee a few weeks back on my friend Matt’s Bachelor Party (one of the guys commented on her unique shoes, and she said she got it in South Africa, so we started talking and I facebook friended her so I could squeeze her for more recommendations/advice).  The food was really good, and definitely better than eating at mcdonalds.  (Although, I’d like to see what different things McDonalds has to offer here in South Africa.)

One of the great things about soccer/football, is that how much people love the game.  I have some great fan reactions of people and them celebrating for every goal, save, near goal, bungled play, penalty, or missed penalty.  The games that I watched today were New Zealand vs Slovakia (1-1), Ivory Coast vs Portugul (0-0), and Brazil vs N. Korea (2-0).  The Ivory Coast fans were awesome to watch.  I’m pretty sure it was just a unified support for any Africa team in the World Cup that really showed.

I headed home around 11pm, and tried to take the minibus/taxi.  I got in one headed for Milnerton, only to be kept waiting, as there was no driver.  There were a few others on the bus as well, but there also was a lingering odor of perspirant in the minibus.  I sat for a little bit (maybe about 5-10 minutes) debating whether or not I should get off the minibus, whether I should say anything. I decided, the BO in the air was a sign from above that this wasn’t the route for me.  I ended up getting out of the bus, and walking away quickly, and when the man called after me asking where I was going, I said I was going to talk to my friend.  I ended up getting a taxi cab, and I told him the address of the Aloha Lodge in Milnerton (6 Algoa Rd), and he said yes, get in.  However, he failed to mention he’s not familiar with that address.  We ended up stopping and looking at a map he had of cape town, but unfortunately, his map ended right before milnerton.  We continued driving, and I started to recognize some landmarks (a gas station I had walked by that morning to catch the minibus), and I was eventually able to make it home…

Fun Facts:
In South Africa, they sell soft drinks in 500 mL sized bottles.  I think this is a better size bottle; a little smaller than a 20 oz, just right for quenching my thirst.

They don’t have “Diet Coke” but “Coke Light”.  It tastes different than Diet Coke, I think.  But strange they’d call it something else if it’s the same thing.  They also have Regular Coke and Coke Zero.

These people love their vuvuzelas.  Basically a plastic horn that you blow in to make noise.  And it’s really loud too.  I kept thinking there was a person right behind me blowing it in my ear when actually they were a good 10-15 feet away.  It’s also funny to see grown men, blowing on it, having the time of their lives, when nothing is happening.  They must be just bored.  Or can’t deal with awkward silence.  Also, I think by the end of the trip, I’d like to do a beer vuvuzela (like a flabongo, which is a beer bong made from a plastic famingo, a vuvubonga).

Vuvuzelas are annoying.  Unless you have one.  Which I do.

My Trip to South Africa: Day One – JLe-Over in London

I had a 10 hour layover in London, so I had planned to meet up with my friend/Ex-College Roomie, Thien.

Unfortunately, several delays (plane, and “Tube”) resulted in our time spent together being cut short.  But, we had enough time to get some “Fish & Chips” from one of the “Top 10” Fish & Chips places in London, according to some website Thien looked it up on.  The place was a greek restaurant called Costas Grill.

I should have known better than to trust a Greek restaurant to serve good old-fashioned British Fare, but I couldn’t give Thien a hard time, considering when Thien came to visit me, and my results searching for a fun bar to go to ended up being biker/metal themed… awkward.  Thien then took me to check out some famous sights/sites that we got to see.  Big Ben, Eye of London, and a phone booth.  The good stuff.

This was awesome of Thien to do, considering he had hurt his foot earlier that morning trying to impress somebody by biking 36 miles and then running 6 miles.  In any case, we had plenty of time to catch up on what was going on in each other’s lives (must not have much going on if you can catch up within a 5 hr period), and it’s always good to see a great friend.  We parted ways just in time for me to get back to the airport for my flight to Cape Town, South Africa, and for Thien to meet up with one of his many lady friends to go to the Leona Lewis concert… Good timing on my part, I must say.  Off to Cape Town!