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Into Africa

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

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Hey all! This has been a long Internet day, what with the Italy posts too, but I found a super-cheap place and the weather sucks, cause guess what? They actually have winter here – go figure! So I arrived in Cape Town on the 16th, and had forgotten to book a ride to the hostel. Luckily there was another dude on the plane with me who WAS getting picked up to go to the same hostel, so it all worked out, cause there’s no public bus or anything. The Cape Town airport is actually quite small, smaller than Madison’s, which I wasn’t expecting.

The first few days on my own have been a little overwhelming. I’m glad I left things so open-ended, but the options here are countless and the distance is vast. Thursday the weather was terrible so I got a lift to the mall (joy) and hung around there for awhile. Picked up some second-hand books on a street called Long Street, which is simultaneously touristy and seedy as hell. Like I said before, I’ve been warned innumerable times by everyone about watching my bag, watching myself, never going out alone after dark, etc., etc. I wasn’t nervous before I got here, but all the warnings have made me more so. Let’s just say I have a third eye in the back of my head.

Aside from the weather, Cape Town is beautiful, set on a bay with Table Mountain behind the city. Friday the weather was good – hooray! – and I took full advantage of the day. Have met tons of cool people at the hostel, which is by far the nicest I’ve ever stayed in, with hardwood floors, pretty decor and an incredibly helpful staff. One of the dudes who was staying there, a fellow American on a RTW tour, rented a car Friday and invited me to join him for the day of sightseeing – a stroke of great luck, cause a tour down to the Cape of Good Hope would have been around $50.

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We went first to the top of Table Mountain, then drove down the cape to the point, then back up its east side to a town called Simon’s Town, where there’s a beach filled with penguins. In fact, here’s the wildlife I’ve seen so far: baboons in the Cape of Good Hope park, tons of lizards, penguins and seals in the bay by the shopping mall. And I’ve barely even left the city! So it was a great, full day of sight-seeing.

Saturday morning dawned gross, windy and rainy. I had to reschedule a trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held for 22 years, to today, but guess what: today sucks ass too. So, it’s now rescheduled for Tuesday, cause tomorrow I’m doing my: SHARK DIVE! Am very, very excited about that one, let me tell you. I bought an underwater camera today to showcase the sharkies. Don’t worry, mom, I’ll remove all my shiny jewelry, and I won’t try to pet the little fishies. So my plans are a bit up in the air at the moment. I originally thought I’d go north through Mozambique, but I’m trying to work out a way now to do some diving there as well as cut across to see Victoria Falls, which is unfortunately most easily accessed through Zimbabwe. The political situation there is less than ideal, to put it mildly, and I’m not going to do it if I can’t find a cheapish/safe way to get there. As for the rest of South Africa, I’ve decided to bypass the backpacker Baz Bus (sorry Toni), which is very convenient as it drops you off and picks you up at hostels, and take the Greyhound, which is actually quite nice here, and about a tenth as expensive. So that’s what I’m off to do now: book the first few legs of my Greyhound journey up the Garden Route, which extends from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, then I’ll carry on up the coast for a while before veering off into Mozambique. That’s it for now, folks. Keep the emails and comments coming, and I’m going to try and get some pictures on here – we’ll see about the results.

Lemon Trees, Package Tourists and Frosting

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

After Rome, we arrived in Sorrento much relieved to be in a smaller town. We had neglected to get accurate directions to our hostel, which was actually in a suburb of Sorrento, and after what really was the Bataan Death March, uphill in the blazing sun, with our bags, we found it about 6 hours after we arrived. It was a private room, I’ll give it that, but it adjoined a barnyard, so I have to take away some points. We promptly canceled our booking for the following two nights and changed to a hostel in central Sorrento. Returned to town for a wander and some dinner. Sorrento is a pretty little Mediterranean town, sitting on some cliffs, with pastel buildings the color of frosting, or to quote Karen, “This town is so sweet, it’s like frosting.” There were lemon and orange groves everywhere, and orange trees growing on the city streets. In the central square, I’m pretty sure we heard more English than Italian, as there were oodles of package tourists from the U.K. there also.

That evening, I started to feel sick – really sick, like a terrible cold was coming on. Come on it did, and it turned into a full-blown sinus infection. I brought some antibiotics though, an extra round that the doc had prescribed for the one I got right before I left. Anywho, checked in to Sorrento central, and decided to spend the afternoon of the second day on the Isle of Capri. A French Canadian girl named Stephanie staying at our hostel accompanied us to the ticket booth, and we hung with her and a Chilean woman later that night – my age and traveling alone; it gave me heart for the trip to come. So, Capri was gorgeous, like a fairy tale. We brought a picnic lunch, because we had heard how expensive the island was – they weren’t kidding. Baguettes, ham and a bottle of wine (no glasses) shared between the three of us = heaven. Walked around in some gardens, walked to a monastery, paid .50 to use the bathroom, petted some cute stray kitties and kept wishing I’d see George Clooney somewhere. By the end of the day, I felt mega-sick, and Karen and Mike wandered a little while I sat on a park bench, slurping a lemon ice and mouth-breathing cause my nose was so stuffed up.

Next day: Pompeii. I think it was neat, but I was in a foul, sick mood. I tried to keep up with the whippersnappers, but spent a good portion of the day sitting on wall, blowing my nose. It really is an awesome site though, and as luck would have it, FREE that day. (That means both the Acropolis and Pompeii free!) The streets are incredibly well preserved, many of the buildings still have frescoes on the walls and the homes still have the mosaic tiles on the floor. The “official” brothel, out of 25 that they said existed in the city when it went bye-bye, was in really good shape too: there was a “menu” on the wall with all the available positions, visitors needed only to point at what they wanted. And for illiterate citizens, there was a big stone penis on the road, pointing the way. How helpful!

After Pompeii we went to Positano via bus. A gorgeous ride, and another beautiful little city clinging to a cliff. For those of you (ladies) who have seen Under the Tuscan Sun, this is the village that her Italian Stallion is from. It was very pretty, very touristy and very steep. I got separated from the kids though and got into a foul mood. Pouted at the bus stop for about an hour before they came and joined me and we returned to Sorrento. Left mid-day the next day, after Karen did a little shopping, to return to Rome for our last night together. The hostel that final night was a total hole – think multi-national frat party – but it was right next to the train station where we all needed to go. Karen left early in the morning, and Mike and I didn’t have any plans, so we: went back to the Vatican to check out the picture gallery! (Sorry Karen.) Then Mike took off around one, and left me to do some expensive Internet-ing, and then it was off to the airport for my 7:30 flight to Athens-Johannesburg-Cape Town. After all that, I think I can say that I’m pretty confident that I’ve seen everything I wanted to in Rome – Africa awaits.

When In Rome

Sunday, May 20th, 2007
Becky 010.jpg Hey peeps! Still here in Cape Town as I fill you in on Roma and the rest of Italia. Just BTW, if any of you are thinking of coming to South Africa in winter ... [Continue reading this entry]

Little White Sugar Cubes

Thursday, May 17th, 2007
Becky 001.jpg Left in the morning for Santorini on a 8-hour ferry ride. Never has the world seen so much gin rummy played in one day! Got to Santorini around 3pm, picked up at the port ... [Continue reading this entry]

Clash of the Titans

Thursday, May 17th, 2007
Athens.jpg Hi all! It's been a while, I know. As I get ready to write this blog entry about Greece, I'm sitting in Cape Town, South Africa. It's pissing down rain, and I've been advised countless ... [Continue reading this entry]