Where in the World is Liz?


Current Location (s): New York, Boston, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany

Future Locations: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

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Same Place, Another Time

About a year ago, I was travelling to New York on my way to Cape Town, South Africa. This year, I'm back around the same time, travelling as my way out of the US and into Europe. It had me thinking about a year ago and how much can change in one year. 

A year ago was a pretty difficult time for me when I was travelling. I was leaving for Cape Town as an escape to think about life and to think about what had been happening the past year. I was still feeling like I was transitioning out of college, which wasn't the difficult part, but I was getting extremely tired of people telling me that I needed to get some traditional full time job, just for the money. I was also surrounded by people who weren't really creating a positive impact on my life. Just in general, I didn't really know what I was doing, and it was starting to bog me down.

A year ago, while I was in New York, I also started toying with the idea of starting a business. It had been brought up to me when I had left, and while I was in New York, I realized that it was a decision I wanted to make. Starting a business is no easy feat, and I was thinking about the amount of money I could lose. But while I was wandering the streets that day, I decided that it was something I had to do for two reasons. I wanted to prove people wrong, and I also wanted to make an impact on the world. 

As I returned this past weekend, all I could think about was how much had changed in the past year. The business grew crazy successful, I left a job I hated (and started some cool new ones), my writing had begun to take off, and there was a significant amount more great people in my life. While sifting through New York, I started to thinking about all of the ways I could keep expanding the business, and all I have to say is that there is a lot more in store. 

So maybe I should visit New York at this time every year because it seems to bring out the ideas in me. There is something about this time of the year that makes me reflect and refocus, and New York seems to bring out the best in that. So here's to visiting New York again, at the same place, but different time next year.  

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An African Safari

"An African Safari is a very posh thing," is what the older couple I was traveling with told me. 

The drive to see any real, live animals outside the city of Cape Town in South African requires at least a good two hour drive, and the farther out you go, the more likely of a chance of seeing even more animals in their natural habitat. 

It is true. Safaris is Africa have become very "posh" or very popular in general. The are more of a tourist attraction than a daily lifestyle, as no one from Cape Town would pay such an extreme amount of money to see animals. Lots of places will also advertise that the animals are live and aren't being drugged, which typically tends to be a lie. Drugging animals and taming them in South Africa is common in order to make money with tourists who don't want to pay to go to Kruger National Park, the largest land mass of live animals in South Africa. 

At Kruger, the animals really are live and wild, and there is nothing holding them back from attacking. At many of the smaller places, they are caged into a couple-hundred acre area, defeating from the live-ness part. The one that I went to, which I have no idea what the name was, was thankfully not like this and the animals were not drugged.

To get there was a little under three hours of one of the most scenic drives that wasn't along the coast that I had seen. At the safari were animals of all sorts, including lions, zebras, cheetahs, and some other animals that I couldn't possibly rename because they were so odd. A safari typically consists of someone driving people around in vehicles that look like a range-rover type car (sorry, I don't know cars well). The vehicles have tires that can run over anything in it's path, and the ride itself isn't very smooth. There was an eighty-year-old couple that I was with, and it blows my mind that they didn't throw out their backs because of the ride! Such troopers.

The safari also had options to stay overnight, as do many safaris. To me, this option wasn't all that exciting because once I had seen all the animals once, there didn't really seem to be a point in seeing them again.

My advice for those looking to go on a safari is to go to Kruger, a place I which I had made time for. It will take at least a day of travel each way, and it is easier (but less safe) to go out of Johannesburg. Don't drive there if you're staying in Johannesburg!! That's just asking to get robbed. Allow for at least three days to get you money's worth at Kruger. 

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Finding the Edge of Africa

To get to one of the edges of Africa requires about a two hour drive from Cape Town, South Africa to the Cape of Good Hope near Capepoint. Along this is drive is Hout Bay, which has some of the most scenic views on earth. There is also the option to take a boat ride to see seals up close. This is not a good idea for those who easily get seasick or are afraid of losing their lives. The ride is incredibly rocky and there were quite a few times I thought I might fly overboard. 

At the Cape of Good Hope is a lighthouse that is not in use anymore, but provides an outlook out into the sea. While it is hot in Africa, this point of the continent is chilly due to the two oceans colliding. From every point of the cape, there are spectacular views of the ocean, and just a mile away is another hike to get the highest view. 

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The Road to Nelson Mandela--Robben Island

For anyone that doesn't know their history, Nelson Mandela is from South Africa. 

Off of the V&A Waterfront, there is a center with ships that depart to the island that Nelson Mandela was held in prison. The ship there is actually incredibly beautiful, as it gives a phenomenal view of the city on the way out. It takes about twenty minutes to make it out to the island or thirty if you get stuck on a day with high winds.

The tour of the island is like that of any other tour, where tour guides show one around the island but don't exactly let people run free. It is a fairly large island and humans do still live there. Our tour guide, as well as all the others, were imprisoned on that island and now live and work there. 

Besides the prison on the island, there are other areas, such as a church and houses where people still live. It was quite odd to see some of these houses with satellite dishes on them, until they mentioned that people still do live there. Almost all people that live on the island were people that were in prison there.

On the prison part of the tour, they walk their attendees through the prison, which honestly looks like any other prison, and then show them where Nelson Mandela was held captive. Like any other prison, it's pretty desolate and gloomy. That also could have been because the day I went happened to be gloomy. Either way, it is now a pleasant island that houses a simple lifestyle. It is not accessible to the public, as buses still roam around the island and only people who were captive can live there. 

 

For more information on Robben Island, please visit: http://www.robben-island.org.za

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Camps Bay, Cape Town

Camps Bay, located in Cape Town, South Africa, is home to just many beaches that lie across the southern coast of Africa. I honestly don't know if there is any beach more beautiful in the world that is as popular as this beach. It's one of those beaches that celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga, and other people I don't care about hang out. 

Behind the beach lies a set of famous mountains, such as Table Mountain and Signal Hill. Closer to the actual beach, the streets are lined with incredibly expensive beach houses and restaurants that are home to any food imaginable. The site is absolutely stunning.

While it may be the most popular beach in the country, it also seems quite quaint. For the amount of traffic that goes through the beach, getting a nap in the sand isn't really that difficult (as long as I watched my stuff to keep it from getting robbed). While getting robbed does tend to happen a lot in South Africa, it is more likely to get approached multiple times to buy water from some locals. 

There is also a good chunk of nightlife that takes on after dark. As a tour guide once told me, "It is very posh nightlife." It is very unlikely to find anyone out and about in Camps Bay wearing basic clothing. From the expensive drinks to the amazing view, it has been one of my favorite places on earth to go out. 

 

For more information on Camps Bay, please visit: http://www.campsbaytourism.com

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Townships and Mizoli's, Cape Town

Townships in Cape Town are basically what Americans would call an outdoor shelter. I can't remember the name of the one we went to, but it was one of the largest in Cape Town, housing over 18,000 people in an incredibly small amount of space. People with little to no income will live in these Townships and the government provides subsidy to them, yet still makes them pay full price for electricity. 

The township we visited in particular had a program where children and adults would create works of art and sell them to visitors. The people there highly embraced visitors because they knew that some of the visitors would someday may an impact on their community. The townships are such a high crime area that the police even give up when it comes to answering police calls, yet the people that live there are happier than most of the people that I know back in America. The children are so adorable and dance around and held our hands!

There are two parts to the Township we visited. One part is the incredibly run down part (as shown in the photos above with our tour guide looking down in the photos), where multiple families would live with about fifteen people in each small room. The other part called the "Beverly Hills of Townships," as our tour guide called it, is a section of the Township where there are actual houses. People that live in those houses can afford to live outside of the Townships but choose to stay because it's their roots. The people that also live there tend to care more about clothing to show status instead of other essentials in life. 

 

 

After the Townships, our guide took us to Mizoli's, which is this massive party barbecue located in other Township across town. It's CRAZY!!! It's literally just a massive party with DJs and tons of food and people literally in the middle of nowhere. People will wait two hours in line to order food and then one hour for the food to be cooked. The food is absolutely amazing!



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Old Biscuit Mill, Cape Town

*Click above photos to view slideshow*

The Old Biscuit Mill is located somewhere in Cape Town. I wish I could say where but my taxi driver was so talkative that I honestly was hoping for my life that I was headed in the right direction. Taxi drivers in Cape Town tend to be very interested in learning about tourists and also trying to become your taxi driver for the day since they know tourists can afford it. There's a lot of awesome drivers but also a lot of sketchy drivers. If you ever visit Cape Town, don't take cabs without any signage on them. Or we will probably never see you again.

Anyway, from the gist of it, The Old Biscuit Mill is located somewhere near a sketchy area of the town, but is honestly one of the most hipster and foodie places I have been. All of the food is unique, kind of like the market at the V&A Waterfront, except even more hipster. There is no traditional beer, only crafted beers with crafted food. It's actually pretty awesome. 

On Saturday mornings, the market is full of people and it looks like a massive party. Everything in Africa in some way or another becomes a massive party. People there just walk around with wine or beer in the hand and shop. The shops are local designers, artists, whatever they may be. It's a great place for unique gifts and for a lot of great food. It's also another place to be seen in the city. 

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V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

*Click the photo to view more photos*

 

The V&A Waterfront, located in Cape Town, South Africa, is a bustling waterfront on the Atlantic Ocean towards the end of the city. It is still a working waterfront, meaning that ships are still coming in and out of the waterfront and workers still work day and night on repainting and rebuilding ships. 

Beyond it being a working waterfront, it is also home to some of the most exquisite cuisine and shopping experience. The waterfront is host to many restaurants, both chain and craft, as well as hundreds of stores, including MRP and Cotton On. If you're looking for a good deal on shopping, head to MRP. In American dollars, my total for flip flops alone came to around fifty cents. There are also smaller shops that host crafty items. 

V&A Waterfront is also home to the gateway towards Robben Island. A post is soon to come later with photos. 

If you ever visit the Waterfront, be sure to check out these places:

  • Market on the Wharf: Home to local and unique foods
  • MRP: High end fashion for an insanely low price. 
  • Mugg and Bean: Incredible coffee for a low price. They offer a bottomless cup for something like $2. It's so cheap that I didn't even convert it. 
  • Any restaurant in the Waterfront is worth going to. All of them have their own types of cuisines that have some of the freshest food on the planet. 

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Waterfront, Cape Town

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The Waterfront is a huge area for shopping and dining! Situated right on the coast (and near construction), it has a ton of well known shops as well as smaller markets. 

 

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London

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The one place in the world that I could never get tired of visiting is London. I was lucky enough to also get a day layover there as well. It had been two years since the last time I had been there--and nothing had really changed. Tube prices had gone up, there was more construction, and it was gloomy, like normal.

 

The reason I love the city so much is the style. Everything is done in style. Everyone dresses so well, and the people are so kind. It's like a second home to me, and hopefully it will be some day. 

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New York, New York

New York has always been one of my favorite places to visit, beyond the shopping (though that part is really important). If I have a chance to take a layover here, I do it. There's eomthing about the city that I've always loved, most likely the business of it. The city really never does sleep, and it's comorting to know that at four am, I'm not the only one awake. Plus the people actually get dressed, which is a nice change from Minneapolis. If I wear heels in Minneapolis, people look at me like I'm nuts.

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The Road to Cape Town

Currently preparing to travel to Cape Town, South Africa. Check back next Tuesday for updates beginning in New York and London!

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