Adventures by Disney: Safari to South Africa
Day 0: Houston to NY
My favorite Auntie and I are very excited about taking an Adventures by Disney together! (Yes we did have a nickname for ourselves,The Safari Sisters-HA!) A dear friend of mine and her cousin were also on the trip. We travel together quite often, so it was a bonus that we would all be having this great experience together!http://www.miceshots.com/usr/71/235.jpgOur Adventure began with a flight from Houston to Newark, and on to a hotel near JFK for the night. I always like to fly in the night before a big trip in case there are issues arriving at our destination.
Aunt Shirley, Paula, Lisa, Teresa
Day 1: NY to Johannesberg (aka JoBerg), South Africa to Capetown
Word of the day: Welkom (Dutch and Afrikaans for Welcome!)
South African Airlines departed at 10am and landed in Johannesburg the next morning (it was a 17 hour flight).
The food was really good and there were plenty of choices for movies and T.V. shows. The seats were wide and comfortable enough for my 50 year old –um—self ;) We had to change planes in Johannesburg (where the airport had lots of shops like a mall, however we did not have enough time between flights to shop, but there were clothing, book and specialty shops galore!) We landed in Capetown an hour later.
In Capetown we were met at luggage claim by the ABD guides Chris and Craig. Craig has been an ABD guide for about 7 years, and Craig is a Capetown native who brought a great deal of richness to the trip with his experience of living through all of the changes that have happened to South Africa in his lifetime.http://www.miceshots.com/usr/71/DSCN0687.jpgWe gathered our luggage and took a short bus ride to our hotel. We pulled up to the Table Bay hotel, in the harbor district, where it was extremely quiet and very peaceful. We went through the lobby to the back where a private check in and welcome desk awaited us, (an ABD exclusive). We quickly got our keys and were anxious to find our room. WOW! The room was really nice and the view was spectacular!
Our ABD guide Craig
Outside the back of the hotel-This is a statue of Oscar, the hotel mascot. The small ovals are names of the dignitaries and famous people that have stayed here.
The Table Bay Hotel reminded me somewhat of the Yacht Club at WDW. The rich wood tones in the lobby and rooms, the views of the water, and overall attention to detail, like fresh flowers everywhere.http://www.miceshots.com/usr/71/lobbyentry.jpg
Just inside the Lobby
Our view of Table Bay!
The bathrooms were rather nice too.
Not elevators, lifts!
Even the elevator doors were snazzy!
The mascot for the hotel is Oscar the seal and his likeness is on a lot of their signage, so in the spirit of Hidden Mickeys in the Disney parks, I went on a Hidden Oscar hunt!
Table in the lobby
The hotel is adjacent to a nice mall and this sign is in the walkway connecting the two.
His likeness is on the entry mats. . .
etched on the doors. . .
This is a small wall hidden in an outer courtyard--can you see Oscar?
Here is a closer look.
I like when resorts take the time to add small details that add so much character in their hotels.
There was part of a seawall that kept the water out of the city still on the property. A newer wall was constructed further out and the hotel was built where this one was originally, but they kept part as a historic landmark.
Since we were so tired from the flights we ordered room service and were very pleasantly surprised at how affordable the food was. We had rib eye, vegetables, diet coke and a dessert and with tip it was only $20!
We turned in after that--we had a long plane flight and one of us (me) was too excited to sleep on the plane.
---------- Post added 04-29-2012 at 02:13 AM ----------
Day 2 (Capetown)
Word of the day: Fynbos—meaning fine bush in Afrikaans. Fynbos is a type of botanical region, or floral kingdom, where the vegetation is distinct to the area.
We had our Good morning breakfast (most of the meals are included in your Adventures by Disney trip, this was the first of many) where we received an overview of the whole trip and met everyone.
This is the area in which our good morning breakfast was set up. Most of the time it is the bar for the hotel!
The breakfast was a mini buffet, which was about ¼ of the regular buffet we would have on the other days at Table Bay, but this one was exclusive to ABD. The regular breakfast buffet always included yogurt, cereals, juices like Mango and Orange, and had items for their international guests, like baked beans for their friends from the U.K., sushi for the Japanese as well as bacon and eggs for the Americans. There were also a lot of fresh avocado, fresh fruit, and the waffle station had a plethora of topping available ranging from syrup to clotted cream to candies! Yes, we really really liked the breakfast here!!
I was surprised to see people on the trip that I had met on past Disney cruises! Disney trips always seem to have someone you know on them, so it truly is like traveling with friends.
This particular adventure had 40 people on it, which is the max of any ABD trip. An average Adventures by Disney trip is usually about 30 people, which is a 15:1 ratio with your guides, and you usually have additional experts so your guide to guest ratio is frequently higher.
On this day we were suppose to visit Table Mountain, but the fog at the top of the mountain was too heavy. Our guides knew this was not optimal viewing so the quickly arranged for our group to have a private tour at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Our tour was lead by the very funny and knowledgeable Kirstenbosch guide, Andrew. ABD always goes out of their way to secure quality, knowledgeable guides for their guests… even due to unexpected fog!
What a cool map of the floral kingdoms!
Andrew and Craig
View of the foggy mountain. It would have been hard to see anything in that fog.
There were lots of beautiful flowers and plants here.
Our group at Kirstenbosch
Sausage tree description
You can see why the sausage tree was given it's name!
Scary beetle statue. To come upon that after all the beautiful flowers was quite surprising!
Prehistoric looking tree leaves in the prehistoric section of the park.
Nelson Mandela is greatly respected and revered in South Africa for his role in defeating apartheid, so if he visited somewhere it was usually identified with a plaque or statue. Here is a plaque describing a plant that was named after him and a photo of him visiting the park.
Here is a bust that is in the park of his likeness.
We then went to the District 6 Museum, where we learned a lot about apartheid and how it affected Capetown. This was a really moving and educational tour, since I had never heard about District 6 before today. We spent about 2 hours here listening to first hand reports from people who were displaced. It was very sad and made me feel naïve and uninformed to not have heard of it before.
Area of District 6 that was destroyed.
Noor telling his personal story of being displaced.
Street signs that had been saved by the former residents.
Sign outside the District 6 museum.
Craig grew up in Capetown so he could speak about apartheid from his experiences as well as what you read about in history books. Since he lived it the stories were much more personal and you could feel the emotions that his countrymen went through. It was fascinating to listen to someone who was raised thinking apartheid was normal but who later came to an understanding about the injustice of blacks being separated and denied their basic rights. His stories of wanting to help but being afraid of going to hear Nelson Mandela speak when he was released was heart wrenching. I am amazed that South Africa has come so far in such a few short years.
After visiting the District 6 museum we were bussed over to lunch at the Sinn restaurant and then went on a city walking tour through the city gardens to Green Market Square, which is named for the area in the center of town that local farmers brought produce to sell. It is now a fabulous place to get a good buy on souvenirs! The prices were very reasonable, and negotiation was the name of the game. A general rule was to offer half of what was listed and deal from there.
Cecil Rhodes, of Rhodes Scholars fame-- He is from Capetown!
Funky twisted tree on the city garden walk
Pretty roses grow here.
some rose bushes have hidden squirrels!
Capetown buildings range from modern to early European.
The Green Market
ABD guide Chris and I about to go shopping in the green market.
We ate dinner at the Castle of Good Hope, (which at one time was a fort that protected the city and is the oldest surviving building in South Africa, started in 1653).
Since we were the only ones in the Castle it was a little eerie walking to the motorcoach after dinner--you could easily imagine past inhabitants still lurking about since the way back was dimly lit and your footsteps echoed along the paths.
Back to the hotel, where this is what we found for turn down service:
yeah, this hotel is pretty cool
Day 3 (Capetown)Word of the Day: Iningizimu Afrika (cool language with a lot of clicks) a popular word for South Africa
No fog today so we made a quick trip to Table Mountain, which is roughly 260 million years old and is thought to be one of the oldest mountains in the world.
Just think, this is 200 million years older than the Rocky Mountains!http://www.miceshots.com/usr/71/DSCN0600.jpgWe rode the gondola to the top of Table Mountain—the floor rotates and everyone is standing so we all had a good view. The cabin was crowded but the view was spectacular and the gondola did not sway so there were no problems with motion sickness.
If the hooter hoots, pay attention!
Look it is Gulliver in the land of the little gondolas!
If you look over to the left you can see a tiny circle. This is the Capetown soccer stadium that was used during the world cup.
Rock Hyrax ain't afraid of no heights!
The view from up here is just lovely
This is a relief of the mountain range we are on.
There are plaques with historic information on them scattered about
Hiigh on a mountaintop in Cape-town-ee
It is time to head down to continue our day of exploration--even the view from the gondola tower is breathtaking!
In South Africa they have soccer ball dispensers in the gift shops!
After spending a few hours at Table Mountain we got on our motorcoach for the hour long drive to the Cape of Good Hope.