A Travellerspoint blog

Day 27: Today Was A Rough Day

Where I get a 1.5 hour massage, have to eat delicious chocolate, and have long naps. Terribly hard, I know.

Firstly, I'll confront the obvious issue: I somehow time travelled and missed a few days here and there. I'll fess up and admit the real reason for this, as it's definitely not laziness: I am utterly exhausted from my relaxation massage, which I had to endure for close to two hours. I was drowned in grape seed oil and lulled to sleep by the gentle notes of "Lavender Radio." Pure torture. To add to the entire ordeal, as I was laid out prostrate on the massage table, I had nothing to think about but the vintage bookstore I found earlier in the morning, chalk full of books to sniff, and, most importantly, books to buy. Life was beautiful.

The massage shop was in a little mini mall across the street from a larger shopping centre, called Cavendish Place. The shop is owned and operated by a lady named Lily, who had came from Hong Kong to Capetown 9 years ago. She was working at an IT company in the city, and met her husband there. Since she had moved to South Africa 9 years previous, she hasn't been back to China, and hasn't seen her mom or anyone else in her family... Needless to say, with my propensity for being a mamma suck, and my umbilical cord being stretched upwards of 20,000 miles, upon hearing this fact, I broke in to hysterics. Let me tell you, when you are face down with your nose hanging through a hole, and you start crying, it's not pretty. I had rivulets of snot dripping in strings on to the silk flowers she had put under the table for a "beautifying effect". Classic.

My adventures for the day ended with a nap. And the nap turned in to a three hour long snooze fest. AREN'T MY ADVENTURES FASCINATING.

Checking out for today to sleep some more. Traveling, tough business I tell ya.

Posted by haclabAlysse 10:24 Tagged travel happy massage healthy Comments (0)

Day 5-19: Time Flies When Alcohol is Cheap

HOLY WOW. So, I am a few days away from being in this fabulous country for an entire month! And has it ever been a whirlwind. The first two weeks weren't spent idle, instead we were running around like Energizer Bunnies on RedBull, preparing for the wedding of the century! Along with my fellow bridesmaids, and the beautiful blushing bride-to-be, we frequented every shopping centre and market in a 5 mile radius, to purchase every last knick knack one could possibly need to get married in style. Also, I discovered this clothes store that seemed to have read my personal style journal and had everything I loved. Consequently, I spent way more money on clothes than I needed to, and added a good 20 pounds to my already over weight suitcases. Shopping really is like a drug; there is nothing better than the high of swiping a credit card to purchase things you really don't need.

One of the most interesting places we visited was Chinatown in Durban. It is basically a stuffy, brick maze of tiny shops stuffed to the brim with glitter and kitschy things. Everything from Hello Kitty stickers to bra's with enough flashy rhinestones on them to signal a UFO to land. The weird thing is though that there weren't that many Chinese people working in each shop ... I'm not meaning to sound racist or to stereotype a shopping centre, but, it's just like when you go to Sea World, you expect to see sea creatures, not prairie dogs and antelope. Get what I mean?

Shopping aside, everyone staying in our jolly little penthouse (overlooking the sea, dolphins swimming by each day, beautiful!) took advantage of being on "holiday" and having free evenings to do what we pleased. We went to quiz night at Hooters, karaoke at Someplace Else (actual name of the bar), bachelorette party at Hops, and a few nights spent bumping and grinding at a bar on the beach called "Beach Bums." It was too many fantastic evenings blurred together, fuelled by extremely cheap and tasty alcohol, and good people to party with. The only weird thing though is how early most of the pubs close at ... Beach Bums was closed up, lights out by around 10:30pm. Very different, considering most of our establishments, regardless of what kind of entertainment they offer, stay open until at least 2am. I guess maybe it makes for less time to make bad decisions? Or, it equals out to people drilling alcohol and who knows what else down their throats in order to have a rip roaring good time before the 10th grade curfew rolls around. Who knows.

As for the wedding, I don't really think there are words that can describe how beautiful the entire thing was. The venue was a small hotel, Palm Dunes, situated directly beside the beach. The entire grounds were canopied by giant leafy trees that looked like they were straight out of Timone and Pumba's oasis in the Lion King. The greenery was amazing, and in the morning, herds of loud and annoying monkeys catapulted from the trees to annihilate everything in their path. The day before the wedding was spent getting completely pampered in a beautiful suite where we would all be staying the night. I was a little nervous about the whole bridesmaid thing, as I had never stood up at someones wedding before, and there were literally thousands of ways to screw it up. Like, falling down the steep steps leading to the altar on the beach and having my underpants show, sweating off all my makeup and ruining all the pictures, or accidentally tripped, stepping on the brides train, and ruining her dress. The possibilities were endless.

Thankfully, all my worries turned out to be for nothing, as per usual, and the entire joyous occasion went down without a hitch. I mean, how could a wedding with an awesome bride and groom getting married on a beautiful beach go anyway but amazing? Answer: It can't! Anyways, with the nuptials done, we headed up to the reception hall to have the party of the century. The venue was absolutely stunning: birdcage centrepieces stuffed with flowers and suspended from the ceiling, blue accents everywhere, and beautiful linens draped across the ceiling. It was a fairytale wedding if I have ever seen one, and I couldn't have been happier for my two lovely friends. And the party afterwards, well, let's just say it was one for the books. By the end, the photo booth was raging, the drinks were being free poured, and all the guests had realized they had an entire room of new best friends. It. Was. Awesome. Definitely a great first experience of being a bridesmaid!

With yellow eyeballs, a potential case of scurvy from too much booze and too little fruit and veg, I wearily hopped on a plane two days after the wedding and made the reluctant voyage to Capetown. I was sad to say goodbye to all the great friends I had made during my time in Durban, but I was very much looking forward to all the adventures to be had in the Mother City! Not to mention a week of quality alone time spent watching series, not showering, and recovering from my case of the pirate disease while Mike and Robyn were on their honeymoon. Happy days!

Posted by haclabAlysse 07:11 Tagged wedding travel fun party capetown Comments (0)

Day 4/5: South Africa, What's Happenin'

Where I set foot on the same ground as my favourite friend for the first time in 3 years.

I am here, and I am exhausted, but today has been a great day. My flight from Johannesburg to Durban was uneventful, besides almost missing my flight due to insane lineups, and having to pay a lot of extra money due to the fact that I decided to bring ten pairs of shoes. Once arrived in Durban, I began to get jitters like a 15 year old pubescent boy about to go on his first date. I could pretty much smell Robyn in the building- we have friend ESP like that. (Just a refresher course for those of you who don't know, Robyn and I met three years ago in England, a chance meeting brought together by FATE, and have basically been inseparable ever since, despite having 20,000 miles between us. Our combined awesomeness broaches the distance quite easily.)

Anyways, our reunion was tearful and awesome, and I don't think I have ever been so excited or happy in my whole entire life. Which is a testament to how much I love this friend, considering I had not slept in over 48 hours and had not ate good food in as many. I am writing this on Wednesday, the day after my arrival, and I feel like I have been here forever. This is my first big travel experience where I have had a wonderful friend and warm home waiting on the other end, and I can say that it is quite nice. You get an entirely different experience in a new country when you are living life "normally"; we are busy with wedding prep and running errands, going from one end of Durban to the other and everywhere outside and in between, so it's neat because I get to see and do a lot of things that I never would have on my own, and waking up and having coffee in your PJs while looking over the ocean can't be beat. Basically, I am pretty sure I never want to leave, which makes me feel like an extremely traitorous Canadian. But, I mean, how can I not feel that way ... Tomorrow after our errands are finished, we are engaging in 'Pooza' (mind the spelling) Thursday, where my understanding is that we basically get pissed in celebration of the weekend and eat meat. For all you that know me, you will now understand why I feel the need to relocate. People here understand my need to imbibe alcohol on a Thursday, just because it's Thursday. Also, we went to Chinatown today, and the amount of shiny things that I could buy for under a dollar was absolutely disgusting. Yet another reason why I may never return home.

Basically, my main thoughts today were how I wished that all the people who told me I was crazy for coming here, and that I was going to get beat, robbed, or worse, could come and have the experience that I am. I know very well that bad things do happen here, but so do they everywhere else, just maybe not as frequently. And yes, life here is different from Canada, you do have to be more aware of your surroundings and maybe not as trusting; yes it is strange to have a boy coming up to your vehicle at a stop light to ask for food, but I think all the negative stereotypes are a little too harsh. I am a single, white, young female who just traveled almost 72 hours across the world alone, and not once did I feel like my safety was in danger from the first leg of my trip to the last. So, mom and grandma, please rest easy and stop having the daily phone calls that I know y'all are having, talking about my safety and what not. ;)

Posted by haclabAlysse 07:06 Tagged people travel beauty airports Comments (0)

Day 2a: Little Orphan Annie Gets Saved

Calgary to Amsterdam

Despite the fact that I am writing this in transit, and basically smell like the inside of a shoe, I cannot do anything but RAVE about my first flight with KLM ... I checked in for my flight eleventy billion hours early, and because of this, I was the first one offered the chance to upgrade to business class for around an eighth of the original ticket price, due to KLM messing up and overbooking the entire plane. SO I obviously jumped at that opportunity. I am a sucker for spending money that I don’t have, and I could not resist the chance to see how the richer halves fly. It was not a hard decision to make when faced with the other option of jamming in to too small leather seats, my butt spilling over the edge to awkwardly rub against my grumpy neighbour, who, with all my luck, probably smells funny and chews with their mouth open.

My privileged life began with early boarding. AKA smugly walking by the sweaty masses, grubby boarding passes in hand, as they attempt to wriggle their way to the front of the general boarding line. (I can talk all pompous like this, because tomorrow at 1015 am, I am back to living the thug life, slummin’ it in coach.) After I walked down the sharply slanted boarding walk way, following an elderly woman in the wheel chair who kept whacking her daughter in the ass with her cane and cackling, I had my boarding pass checked my a REALLY beautiful Dutch woman. Her smile was so bright that it basically knocked me off my feet- they must save the flight attendants with the blinding chompers to usher in business passengers.

In the business cabin I was greeted by a blue carpeted cabin full of Heaven and rainbows. A fluffy, almost full sized pillow awaited me on my seat, nestled on top of a plush blue blanket with fleece lining. In the seat pocket, there was a pair of ginormous headphones waiting, I’m talking Beats by Dr. Dre kind of thing here. Just as I was settling in, realizing I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, ANOTHER really pretty blonde lady with perfect teeth came and handed me a small black bag with a leather bow on it, it looked somewhat like a shaving kit. What is it, you ask? Well, inside is everything you would ever need in the whole wide world: a pair of knitted socks with grippies on the end (perfect for slippery bathroom floors. Or the airplane bathroom after 3A gets out.), a toothbrush and toothpaste, a pen, an eye mask, and lip balm that smells like my grandpa. WONDERS NEVER CEASE.

Needless to say, I have continued to be dumbfounded by everything that has been going on in this little air pressure regulated mile high club. We were served a three course meal that was more elaborate than anything I have even enjoyed in a restaurant, followed by after dinner chocolates and wine to match. Wine equals another great perk of this whole thing, and not just wine, an extensive assortment of other dealy refreshments. Free booze. Unlimited booze. And I will be pretty honest here, I have spent some time getting to know the Netherlandish version of Absolut vodka. It was yet another opportunity I simply could not resist. Recurring theme of this trip? I think so. (Just kidding, dad.)


There is one thing I have to say regarding the upper echelon that is business class ... The poor people in the back are WAY more friendly. Whoever stated that there was way more camaraderie back in economy class (Helen from Bridesmaids?), they were totally right. There are 18 of us in this cabin, and not one person has made eye contact with me, besides the brown boy at the back who has no manners and is boring holes in the back of my head, nor said hello. No one says thank you to the flight attendants when they perform any task, and no one is there to lend a hand, My shoe got kicked by a passerby over to the other side of the aisle, directly in front of the genteman to my left, and in stead of being a neighbour and picking it up, he gingerly tapped it with his foot, like he suspected I had transmittable herpes on my feet that he could catch, and moved the shoe about a millimeter. I guess he felt that he had done his due diligence, because I had to get out of my seat and crawl across the aisle to retrieve my disease free shoe, almost getting my head skewered off by a rampant refreshments cart, I might add. Wouldn’t that have made him feel bad. Well. Actually, probably not. He seems to be more worried about repetitiously clearing the phlegm from his nasal passages, and horking it to the back of his throat.

It just goes to show that even though someone wears Harris Tweed sports jackets, immaculately pleated slacks, and haughtily wipes their face with the lemon scented warm toilette provided by flight staff, in the end, they still eat their own snot. And have a disgustingly loud habit that makes you want to beat the literal snot out of them.

Posted by haclabAlysse 14:54 Comments (0)

Day 2: EH, what the hell.

Where I prepare to leave the country after three hours of sleep.

Vacating Canada is always hard for me. I almost feel like a traitor, like I am turning my back on the potholed, beaver infested, maple leaf adorned vestiges of my homeland in search of something bigger and better. In the few hours before scheduled departure, I go through some regular rituals ... I almost always search out one last Tim Horton's coffee, even at astronomically priced airport fees. I buy a plethora of tabloid magazines to take with me; it's almost like I think reading about Kim Kardashian's fat pregnancy feet will bring a piece of home with me. I try and watch one more episode of a favorite show, this morning it is 'Coronation Street', viewed while drinking a cup of coffee and texting back and forth with my dad regarding Roy and his transvestite wife attempting to find his cheating birth father. Even though this show is British, it has enough skanky plot twists in it to rival any of our poorly put together afternoon soaps. DSC00606.jpg

For the remainder of the day, until I feel the wheels of my plane leave the ground, destination Amsterdam, I'll have recurring moments of "this will be the last time for two months..". And, trust me, I get a little extreme with this. A few of the "lasts" that I grieve over include:

a) the last time I will pee on a Canadian toilet
b) the last time I will safely converse with a homeless bum on the street
c) the last time I will call my parents on a real phone
d) the last time I will eat Canadian Bacon
e) my last soggy, overcooked Tim's chicken snack wrap
f) the last time I will say 'eh' without someone making fun of me

This last example is extremely true. You really don't know how appreciative you should be of living in a place where everyone else speaks your stereotypical vernacular, and therefore don't point at you like an amusement at a side show, until you are wandering a land full of foreign tongued, quick witted people. Secretly, though, I firmly believe that all Canadian's thoroughly, if not subconsciously, play up this little quirk. The eh's get longer, more pronounced, placed in a speech so as to be noticed more, and thus remarked upon as being "Soooo Canadian." I personally feel like it's a way of staying close to home, in a sense. I love being Canadian in the first place, but when I am abroad, this gratuity deepens. I want EVERYONE to know where I'm from, and I want to tell all who will listen about the terrible pot holes in my road, and the smell of cow shit, which I actually miss when it's gone, that I can smell when the feedlot gets a little ripe in warm weather. But, then you kind of start to embellish, for the sake of astonishing the crowd you're with. It's like that fish your grandpa lost twenty years ago: twenty years later, it was an escaped whale that had almost taken down his entire boat in the fight. That's how describing your home country works. That pothole in my street turns in to a forty foot deep black hole that swallowed the neighbour kids and half of your vehicle. If you live on the edge of town, you're suddenly "pretty much" living in the boonies. On and on, and on. I think the story telling may be the best part of travelling. That, and being able to delude yourself in to eating and drinking as much as you want, because you're on foreign soil, and it doesn't count.

Posted by haclabAlysse 14:53 Comments (0)

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