Dear NT Diary,
It's Rory. You already know me so no intro necessary....*If you've found my entry and you're wondering who I am, I'm a part of the TripZapp team by day and licensed architect by other days*
Back to you diary................................................
I had a few days off work and decided to use the visa I didn’t get round to using on my birthday in January. Leave Lagos on Thursday to be back for work on Monday morning-I can do this! So off I went to Johannesburg.
Got in on Thursday night on Arik Air. I had reservations at the Reef Hotel and had the hotel come pick me from the airport since I had no forex on me. About that. You know how we thought the dollar rates were crazy in April? (If only I had bought plenty then) Well I wasn’t going to buy for N330 and I couldn’t get PTA (personal travel allowance) from the bank either. So I sent money to myself in South Africa via moneygram. Pretty cool huh? Anyway I found the guy holding a cardboard with my name on it, slouched into the back seat of the car headed to my hotel.
The next morning-Day 1
I woke up excited. The smell of new city...I did my happy dance before going to wolf down some breakfast at the naturally lit, quaint, rustic hotel restaurant then headed off to go pick up my moneygram. My hotel was at the edge of downtown, which was perfect 'cause proximity was key given the shortness of my trip. I asked for directions at the hotel reception to the Carlton Centre where there’s a moneygram agency and which is the tallest building in Africa (not a coincidence –I'd done my research). Another guest was asking for directions going my way so we decided to walk together. It turned out he was from Innsbruck, Austria and I’d visited there so we quickly became friends. We walked to Carlton making sure not to look like tourists and as we walked I was slightly nervous that I wouldn't be able to retrieve the money even though I'd called and confirmed before leaving Lagos. But it worked! I got the money without hassle and we went to the top of the building (the 50th floor). The view was lovely. You could see the whole city from up there. We walked round the floor to see all four views of Jozi-north, south, east and west-before continuing our exploring.
Going in at breakfast
Carlton Centre (the building with Transnet on it), the tallest building in Africa
View from the top of Africa
We then walked in search of Africa Museum. Markus, my new Austrian travel buddy, wanted to see it. I'd told him it wasn't much but he was set on it so we walked. And man Europeans can walk. We found it, It wasn’t much so we left. I was determined to see the Apartheid Museum so after frantically searching for taxis and finally putting together that “robot” meant traffic light, we finally found one and went to the museum. The museum is large and impressive and takes hours to get through if you want to soak in all the stories of the struggle. From the door you get a sense of what the discrimination felt like, as there’s a black entry and white entry (although, it’s only experiential because you all meet inside).
Markus at the different entries for black and white people at the Apartheid Museum, deciding which to take...lol
The theme park, Gold Reef City, was right next to the museum but since I was travelling solo, it wasn't on my itinerary and seeing as Markus and I were tired and hungry and it was getting late we returned to the hotel. However, it’s a definite to do.
We met back later at the roof top lounge of the hotel, prepared to go checkout the nightlife. After a few drinks and some randomness that involved a South African guy joining our table, handing us condoms and attempting to tag along with us, we set off to Taboo in Sandton. D’banj was going to be there apparently and they played house music, so yass! Well we heard mostly Nigerian music and little house. They go crazy for our music and watching South Africans dance is a big trip. I wish they could teach me.
Drinks before the Club at Elevator Roof Top Venue, Reef Hotel
The next day-Day 2-I had my travel essentials ready: gopro, phone, camera, sunglasses, tripzapp card and passport wallet. I set off with Markus to Lions Park after breakfast. If I couldn’t make it to Kruger National Park, this was the next best thing and I was so excited. We paid extra to walk free with lions. We had to sign some forms to waive our rights to claims in the event the lions got hungry and ate us or something like that but who cares right? We were YOLOing this all the way! Lol! Markus was all up for it too. So after petting some lion cubs and feeding some giraffes we got on a truck that took us to the lions. I was a little scared when they were released at first but they seemed friendly and the rangers toting their bucket of chunks of raw meat knew what they were doing so I relaxed and enjoyed petting them and taking pictures. It was an amazing experience. One thing I learnt is you should probably say your last prayers if you ever encounter a hungry lion in the wild. They'll see you as prey if you lie down and they'll run up that tree faster than you can. basically if you don't have a gun and Jesus you're finished.
Some of my travel essentials
Climbing a tree is not an option
We did the game drive around the park to see all the animals. There were hyenas, cheetahs, gazelles and ostriches but of course the white lions were the most interesting. Although not so much when our truck got stuck in the mud in a lion’s pride and they started circling, and we had to switch trucks and run across from one to the other. Nobody died and it was thrilling. Lol. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I can’t wait to go on a real safari to see the Big 5.
Our truck got stuck in a lion’s pride
Found Simba and Mufasa
Day 3-Markus was off to another South African city and I had a lot of time before my night flight so I set off to Soweto. I always find something bucket list worthy to do on my trips and this time it was bungee jumping. The Orlando Towers in Soweto, which used to be a coal fired power station, is now a jump site. I signed another waiver to make no claims in the event of a fatality and went up the 100m tower thinking this should be fun but when I got to the edge I looked down. Do Not Look Down. I was like "fada lord nooo...I kent!" Then I remembered the no refunds policy so I gathered my liver and took the plunge screaming all sorts of profenities as I fell towards the ground and was thrusted back up and down like a pendulum. And then I started laughing! It was soo insane fun. I had people clapping for me afterward. My 5mins of fame passed and I went to see Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu’s houses, Hector Pieterson Memorial and the stadium. My driver and tour guide was pretty cool and helped take photos of me. After all that exploring I caught my flight back to Lagos and made it to work on time on Monday morning.
Orlando Towers jump zone
100m above ground at the top of the Orlando Towers, Soweto
Took the plunge with GoPro in hand
Mandela House, Soweto
Hector Pieterson Memorial, Soweto
Street Art in Soweto
Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed my rather short trip which caused a total damage of N300,000 all inclusive. Not bad ay? I always find you only need a few days to truly explore a city and this trip was no different.
South Africa was nice, sane and organized. The people were pleasant-flirty but pleasant. Lol. It’s a quick getaway destination if you’re ever looking for somewhere to go. I’ll definitely be back-Cape Town and Durban next time.