Right at the start I can assure you, I’m not using similes, metaphors, or exaggerating. Me. Two kids. Murder hotel. Addis Ababa.
I’m sure you’ve heard that what you do on the first day of the year will set the pattern for the year to come.
Actually, you may not have heard it, and I may have made it up. I did try searching that phrase, but I couldn’t find a Google link, which seems to indicate that I just randomly decided that it is a thing. Whatever. It’s a good thing.
I’m not going to lie, our family has a deep love of visiting South Africa. It’s a fantastic place – one of the most beautiful places in the world -with incredible wildlife and an outdoorsy lifestyle that gives a visitor no chance for boredom. And while I normally stop reading any travel article that uses the word “vibrant” to describe a place or culture, I honestly can’t think of any other word that fits South Africa as well.
If Vienna and London are imagined in the staid grays and whites of a proper European city and Budapest is a sepia tone of historic struggles, South Africa is bright purples and reds, with contrasting colors everywhere you look.
But when you are from America, South Africa doesn’t seem all that big. After you visit the big tourist names of Cape Town and Johannesburg and see all there is to see on day trips, what else is left?
What is left is Durban. And Durban is amazing.
I’m a HomeAway junkie, I’ll own it. Whenever we decide to make a trip, HomeAway is my first stop to find accommodation. We’re usually traveling with at least three children, and like any parents we like a little bit of privacy.
Two weeks in single hotel rooms with two double beds and a roll-away is a recipe for disaster. Also death threats. Possibly sanitarium time. Definitely a need for a vacation-from-the-vacation.
That’s where my obsession with HomeAway comes in.
Every year we take a big trip around Christmas time. There are a few reasons for this – first, the kids’ school lets out for about a month around that time and we have a free travel schedule. Second, if you plan your travel right (and far ahead) and aren’t too worried about methods, you can get some seriously excellent travel deals. Third, and this is probably 75% of the reason for us right here, we live in a climate that isn’t very Christmasy and I feel a deep urge to go somewhere pine trees are an indigenous species.
We all have our priorities.
Our first major overseas Christmas trip involved thirty days, three countries, five major cities, two overnight train trips, several smaller train trips, a bout with norovirus, an anti-austerity demonstration in Spain, and business class travel both to and from Europe for under $5000 (not including food).
It was absolutely fantastic.
Johannesburg, South Africa is not a vacation destination that immediately pops up when people talk about traveling abroad. Paris? Yes. London? Yes. Hong Kong? Bangkok? Yes and Yes. And if one actually does think about trekking to South Africa, it is generally Cape Town that does the honors (and believe me, it totally deserves that).
Johannesburg really should not be overlooked, though. And if you’re going to Cape Town or Kruger National Park you’ll be flying through JoBurg’s OR Tambo airport anyway – why not give it a quick stop?
I love Cape Town. I can’t even express how much I love Cape Town. Whenever the subject of Cape Town comes up, I feel like those old Muppet Show snippets with Animal running around chanting, “WOMAN!”
Except I’m chanting, “CAPE TOWN!” of course.
So I think I might have been one of the most excited people in the world to see Cape Town in the number one spot on the New York Times list of 52 Places to Go in 2014. Cape Town is one of the most amazing, kid friendly, inexpensive, and breathtakingly gorgeous places our family has ever been – and it is SUPER easy to get there.