Travel


Over the past two weeks we’ve been seriously jesting about packing it all up and start traveling again. Now, this might sound like it is just a temporary itch and we should just wait it out, but I’ve been suffering from a mild to serious case of the wanderlust since about June. And instead of dissipating like fog around Lion’s Head on a summer’s day it just grew and grew into the ‘dilemma’ we are in right now. I use the term dilemma even though it probably isn’t that serious. But it feels kind of serious.

We’ve been getting fairly settled into our apartment over the past few months, we finally have a washing machine and a Kitchenaid. We have furniture we like, some of which we restored ourselves. There is a nicely kitted out kitchen and we have regular magazine subscriptions. So basically, we have a home. Something we were both craving when we arrived back in SA this year after months of travel.

But, despite enjoying being pretty settled in our home, we feel something lacking. I miss going to foreign destinations on the regular, something I do not see being an option if we stay here long term. It is a very well-known fact that travel is just not cheap for South Africans. Also, our dream of opening a café does not sound so appealing anymore, it would mean a big time-investment from our side and the opportunity to just go away for a couple of weeks would disappear instantly. Even traveling within SA would be seriously limited.

So we’ve been fooling around with the idea of packing it up, putting our stuff in storage and start a journey working and traveling around the globe. Settling in a couple of destinations for a few months, working a bit and then moving again. I know I will miss having a solid home, but somehow I feel I would be happy if I can settle for bits and then travel again. So should I do the ‘adult’ thing and stay here, establish ourselves her for the long term? Or should I start saving towards those tickets calling my name and spend the next two years living itinerantly and accept that as life?

I do not even want to think about what my mother will say when she hears about these murmurings in my head! But I’d love to hear what you think.

The last night of our trip we stayed in the Karoo town of Prince Albert. The Karoo is one of my favourite parts of South Africa, it is a pretty dry part of the country, with whole lots of nothing between each little town. Here and there you see trees around a farmhouse in the distance, giving the impression of an oasis in the desert, but otherwise it’s just hills and shrubs, road and dust. I fondly remember childhood visits to my paternal grandmother in one of these old Karoo towns, and Prince Albert refreshed the atmosphere of my memories.

The town is basically one main road, with a couple more running off to the sides. Most of the homes are in the old Victorian or Karoo Victorian style, with a few more modern ones from the fifties. On both sides of the road old irrigation canals run alongside the pavement, still supplying water to the gardens of resident gardens and fruit orchards.

Prince Albert PM1

Despite the fact that we saw very few travellers, most places in town were fully booked, luckily we got rooms at this old house that is almost two-hundred years old, with many of the original fixtures still in place.

Prince Albert GH

Prince Albert has become quite a popular destination over recent years, with many of the homes neatly restored and now housing guest houses, restaurants and stores selling locally produced food and wines. Despite the town’s popularity it still seems like a sleepy hamlet, with the residents some of the friendliest people I have encountered in South Africa.

We picked up a lot of the preserves for our wedding here, as well as the leg of lamb we served, at the small and pleasant butchery below, bottom right corner.

Prince Albert Scenes

We spent a very short amount of time here, arriving late in the afternoon and leaving the next morning, but we did get to take in the local scenery, like the historic Moederkerk or Mother Church.

Prince Albert Moederkerk

Some very Karoo details.

Prince Albert Details

Pretty gates.

Prince Alber Gates

And local cats enjoying the warming morning sun.

Karoo Sunny Cats

coastal alloes

After our two nights in Addo we headed west on the N2 in the direction of Knysna where we were to spend our the third night of our trip. The N2 runs through some beautiful country with the ocean to one side for much of the road and spectacular mountains on the other.

We made a stop along the way at this bridge crossing the Storms River. Looking down the lush canyon it was almost disappointing to see this small river at the bottom called Storms River, but the clouds overhead and the steep cliffs overgrown with greenery added to an eerily stormy atmosphere.

storms river bridge

storms river

We also pulled into the Tsitisikama National Park, set along the coast. We wandered around, gazing at the the incredible waves crashing onto the rocks…

3 waves crashing

…and taking in a stroll through some dense foliage to a rickety suspension bridge over the mouth of the Storms River into the ocean.

storms river mouth

It was an incredibly beautiful stretch of coastline and I hope to revisit it for longer some other time, spending a couple of nights in the wooden bungalows with views of forest and ocean.

waves and rocks

chicago-1

Before our return to South Africa we spent 3 freezing days in Chicago, visiting a high school friend of Alexander’s in Chicago. We spent the days leading up to our visit mentally preparing ourselves for the freezing weather she warned us about. I thought Albuquerque was cold, but Chicago was supposed to be way worse.

Her boyfriend picked us up from the airport on the icy evening of our arrival and took us to their lovely apartment building near Lincon Square in the former German neighborhood of the city. I was amazed at the mountains of snow everywhere and the way my condensated breath turned icy on the car windows.

Chicago is one of the coldest places I’ve ever visited, but it was not as bad as I expected and besides my feet going numb every time I stepped outside I thought I was doing quite fine. The snow that fell ever so often, giving everything a fresh coat, and the lovely houses and fascinating architecture certainly helped distracting my mind from the sub zero temperatures.

chicago-day-1

Our first day was spent riding the El into the city, wandering around the downtown area and visiting the Art Institute, admiring the original artworks and displays. The warning signs beside all the skyscrapers had me rather nervous about my own safety.

chicago-clarks

We stopped for late-late lunch at Clark’s Hot Dogs, a decidedly seedy joint near Boy’s Town. I would not have it any other way. The disinterested lady serving us kept on peering over our shoulders as we placed orders and shouted at someone that may not have been there. I ordered a hot dog with chili and a root beer. It was incredibly satisfying.

For dinner that night our hosts ordered stuffed pizza from a popular local chain who’s name I now forget. The pizza resembled something between a pizza and a pie with a thick crust coming up to about an inch from the base. This was filled with loads of mozzarella, sauce and peppers. I had a hard time eating two slices, the pizza was super filling and really delicious.

chicago-stuffed-pizza-in-box

On our last day we strolled around the trendy Division Street Corridor, browsing through all the hip stores and enjoying a long lunch at Milk & Honey, which included sandwiches and tasty desserts. Too soon we had to hurry on to O’Hare International to catch two very long flights and a dull Frankfurt layover to the warmth of the South African summer.

I would have loved to stay longer, exploring more of the neighborhoods and the architecture. I have not had nearly enough hot dogs or pizza or locally brewed beer and would have enjoyed being shown around more by Meghann and Tom. There were also lots of suggestions from Erin and Jeanne we did not get to. Next time we will go when the weather is a little warmer and make more time for Chicago.

We arrived safely back in South Africa just over a week ago. It’s been a crazy couple of days since then, catching up with friends and family. Unpacking large bags that traveled with us from the States, unpacking boxes that were in storage at my parents and decided what’s flying to our new home, what’s staying behind and what’s getting thrown out.

kruger-gate

This past weekend was a little more relaxed. We went on a very traditional family trip to Kruger National Park with my family. It was my mother’s 60th (this blog was named for her), and she decided to spend it in one of her favorite places. It was a fairly fruitful weekend with lots of elephant, monitor, giraffe, and rhino sightings as well as plenty of incredible birds. Sadly no hyenas.

We are already on our way again to our final destination. Where is that destinations? I’ll give you a hint. It’s a very popular coastal city in our country, surrounded on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and on the other by a magnificent mountain named for its resemblance to a table. Hopefully by the end of this month we would have found a new home and started unpacking, settling in, and starting on a new chapter in our lives. I will keep you updated.

xandmeganhh-in-snow

I finally get to see what the winters of my childhood fantasies really look like, and it did not disappoint. Chicago is a beautiful city, with lots of lovely old brownstown apartments, period-piece houses and snow everywhere. I think I’ll be staying!

chicago11

Even though it’s probably going to be below freezing for most of the time, I’m still pretty excited about this new destination we’re heading to tomorrow.

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