The holidays have come and gone and it’s back to the grind.
Or, well, for Robyn’s Wanderings’ latest columnist back to “de rock”.
Nicola Arnold has been scavenging the world over her holidays to bring us the latest in her adventures from South Africa to Italy and everywhere in between.
We welcome you back to your regular blogging program: Nicola’s Saturday posts:
Honey, I’m home… home sweet home… and for us Bermudians, back on de Rock… and I must admit it is nice to end up at home, even if it’s windy & rainy at the moment! I did manage to hope on a computer every now & then to write my Saturday postings while I was away.
See if you can work out the riddle below that explains the journey:
If you understand the riddle, you might be in the in travel industry, travel frequently, or admit to being an aviation geek… although you may have just been left thinking “what the heck?” Don’t worry, I had to Google a few that I did not know myself. That string of letters is the list of airport codes for each leg of my journey. 10 Flights in 21 days!
To break it down: Bermuda-London Gatwick/transfer to London Heathrow-Rome Fiumicino-London Heathrow-Johannesburg (transfer)-Cape Town-Johannesburg-London Heathrow (transfer)-Amsterdam Schipol-London Gatwick-Bermuda
In Rome, we joined-up with my older sister Katie, who lives and works in England. We stayed with my dad’s uncle who lives in Rome as a Jesuit priest, and we were also joined by Jenna, an American friend of mine studying in France who hopped on an EasyJet flight to Rome! We witnessed wedding party photos being taken outside the Coliseum, inadvertently jumped into rivers of rain that flooded down the cobblestones by the Trevi fountain – and of course enjoyed our share of pizza, gelato and marocchino coffees (an espresso with foamed milk and cacao, to be taken 2-3 times daily!).
In & around Cape Town: Within 36 hours we had accomplished a visiting marathon … we had afternoon tea
with the friends who met us at the airport, enjoyed breakfast at a café with my mom’s uncle & aunt (who she hadn’t seen in 30 years), went to lunch with the parents of my dad’s best friend from college, ate dinner with my mom’s college contemporaries – PLUS stopping by a busy restaurant in the afternoon to see the daughter of a South African friend we know in Bermuda. We may travel light, but we certainly pack-in the travel adventures!
Next was Johannesburg, which is known locally as Jo’burg, Jozi, or eGoli, where we stayed for 8 days right up until New Year’s Eve. Christmas was upon us so the catching up, preparations and feasting were off with a bang! As I had not seen some of my relatives in 7 or 8 years, it was an absolute delight to spend a week eating leftovers by the pool (Jo’burg summertime meant 25-30°C days and nightly thunderstorms), go on day trips to historical sites such as Pretoria (we visited the Voortrekker monument to the Afrikaans’ pioneers), Soweto (an abbreviation of South Western Townships, where the famous Soweto Uprising took place in 1976), the Soccer City Stadium from the 2010 FIFA World Cup (designed to look like an African cooking pot), and even a day spent peering through binoculars to see the wild animals at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve in Kromdraai, an animal reserve where we drove a few feet past fabulous animals such as white lions, cheetah, wild dogs, rhinoceros, kudu, warthogs, jackals, and buffalo.
[In Africa, people flock to see the “Big Five” game animals on safari or in game reserves. These five include the lion, the African elephant, the Cape Buffalo, the leopard and the rhinoceros, as these were historically the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot. A neat fact is that on the Rand, the currency used in South Africa, banknotes published since 1990 portray a different animal of the Big Five for different denominations.]
The return to Europe meant a crash in temperature, but after New Year’s Eve on a plane and seeing an electric pink sunrise on January 1st from 35,000 feet in the air, we started the New Year in style. 2011 began with a 2-day stay in Amsterdam, and sight-seeing by boat cruises, tram rides and on foot,but not by bicycle. There was plenty of Christmas cheer about with ice skating rinks in vary city squares, Christmas markets selling sugared donuts and mulled wine (yes please!). Rather unfortunately, empty champagne bottles were strewn across frozen canals and bobbed up and down in watery canals… such is city life.
Last, but not least, in London we had 3 days to catch up with my sister Katie, our cousin Michael who also hosted us, and my Bermudian friend Kerri-Lynne who joined the Arnolds for a meal in town! Being the end of a 3-week journey, London was a bit of an energy struggle for me but the sites were seen atop the famous red, double-decker buses, where we always clambered to sit on the top, in the front. We even managed to squeeze in some shows in London’s West End, including Wicked which was fantastic even 9 rows from the back of the theatre!
Sure, we incurred delays and cancellations, upgrades (yay!) and downgrades (boo), various aviation hurdles
(taking off in thunderstorms, de-icing the plane) and at one point a finger infection (I will not expand all of the details, let’s just say I’m glad my dad could ‘doctor’ it).
Anxious to know what travels await me in 2011. Nothing is booked yet, but ideas are being put into place, and I am looking forward to the opportunities. Right now, I’m going to plead “jet-lag” as an excuse to return to my book. Not surprisingly in the genre of travel literature, it’s called “A Trip to the Beach” by Melinda & Robert Blanchard, a couple from the USA who set up a restaurant on the Caribbean island of Anguilla. As I read, I imagine myself in a hammock, sipping on a fruity drink with a tiny umbrella inside…