Desperately holding back a panicked cry and a stomach full of vomit, I fumbled in the dark with a circa 1800 key thinking “why would a place with a fingerprint scanner at the front door, use such ancient room keys?!” A click and a gasp, then a race to the toilet at the far side of the hostel.
No, my trip was not off to a good start. I spent the rest of that night wretching every hour, ensuring I met every female patron in the bathroom, who soon grew to pity me. Perhaps it was the 22 hours of flying, or the water I drank in Turkey, but something wasn’t agreeing with me. I spent the following day in bed, with the best trip I could do to the neighbouring bar around 8pm, to make an odd request of “Orange Juice to go please!”
Let’s rewind a bit. On Sunday, Lee and I got on a plane at Pearson Airport in Toronto. A little over 9 hours and a pretty decent sleep later, we landed in Istanbul, Turkey. I know certain members of my family cringe as they read that, but we really had a lovely time! We had pre-booked our visas so clearing customs was a breeze, then we immediately looked for a tour operator. We found one that Lee seemed comfortable with (though I think we got a bit ripped) who offered to take us into the city for $100 USD and give us a tour around.
(Turkey photos will have to come at a later date as they dont seem to want to upload today)
They dropped us off at a rug store and a guide took us walking to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. We did have to pay separately to get into the Hagia Sophia as it was a museum, but it was very beautiful. It was a bit eerie, as the entire city seemed almost dead, and every hour or two echoes of prayer blasted across the city on loud speaker. Overall, we did feel very safe there and there were TONNES of kittens everywhere!!
We then walked back to the rug store with a couple options listed to us, and I think we just said “ok” to whatever he suggested. Well, we ended up with close to an hour long rug sales pitch, and shooting the shit over a beer with his… cousin?… in the rug store. So… I think we probably could have seen more for our $100 and I have a good laugh thinking about where we ended up – drinking beers out of fine glasses atop heaps of multi-thousand dollar rugs. We did have a few minutes before our ride came and they had suggested we go to the cafe across the road for a turkish coffee. Lee partook, I wanted to sleep so I just got a water. Here is a tip: Get the coffee.
The light started to fall and all the shops lit up with the most beautiful lanterns. I would love to see Istanbul at night, it must just be the most magical place!
Fast forward another 10 hours of flying and we were touching down in Johannesburg. Side note – Turkish airlines is wonderful – good food, entertainment systems, and very low fare. We only had a few hours in Joburg, just enough time to pick up my cell phone which I had pre-ordered online and grab a muffin.
Up in the air one last time for the shortest leg of our journey, a little over 2 hours to Cape Town. Finally we had arrived! All of our stuff came safe and sound too, so we headed out to get our rental car. We knew what we were getting into before we left, but it took both of us paying 100% attention to stay on the right… er left side of the road. Backseat driving much appreciated! (to this moment, he has only entered the wrong side once)
We made it safely to our Hostel, African Soul Surfer in Muizenburg (outside of Cape Town) and immediately felt very welcome. We also have the best room in the place, with the most incredible view. That evening we went for a walk down the boardwalk and enjoyed watching the waves crash against the rocks. That was all it took and we were beat… falling asleep at about 5:30pm local time.
Next thing I know, I am tossin and turning, stomach lurching. Am I going to vomit? No way, I haven’t done that in years. I am never sick. Then the cold sweats happened and I knew I needed to move fast. No time for shoes, no time for anything, running through a lounge full of people and sliding in to hit right on target. As I mentioned before, this continued for the entire night until I was empty and then some. The next day was completely lost.
But it wasn’t all that bad. If you are going to be sick anywhere, you should at least be somewhere you can gaze out at the ocean, mountains and continuous surf entertainment.
Today was much better, we actually got up and I stuffed a blueberry muffin in my face, food! At last, I could fathom the thought of eating. We headed downstairs for our first surf lesson and squeezed into wetsuits.
Our teacher Doug, took us out to the beach and through some stretches and a brief jog as a warmup (I might mention, the day we arrived was 16C) before some practice pop-ups in the sand on our boards. Then it was out to the water! It was cold at first, but we warmed up quickly as the trapped water in the wetsuits heated up. The waves were huge! (for our standards) but very choppy. There were not a lot of surfers out there. Doug helped us with the timing “Paddle paddle paddle… up!” I nearly got up on my first try but my balance was a bit to one side. The second try i stayed righted but only came up as far as my knee. Several tries later and I was exhausted. I had expected that I wouldn’t make it through the whole lesson (the most tiring part was fighting the choppy waves to get back out) and I told Lee “Last one and I am going in”. Well wouldn’t you know, I managed to get a full stand in, for only a micro second, then the wave ended and it was much harder to balance. So I jumped back in and waded back to the beach, I was happy with that. Not a moment too soon too, because as soon as my board hit the sand and I lay down on it, the spins set in and I lost consciousness momentarily. Yup, thats 2 days worth of lost food for ya! I came to quickly and watched Lee finish his lesson. He managed to catch a wave and surf for several seconds and had to be a good 30m (way longer than you think!). So proud! I think next time we will see if Doug will hold our gopro for us!
In the afternoon we drove up to Somerset West to the Cheetah Outreach, where they have ambassador animals who they allow the public to interact with. We visited with the cheetah first and learned a few things about them – apparently they only like lean cuts of meat so they can keep their svelte figures – us chubby north american tourists can pet without worry 🙂 We also visited the meerkat, who was a glutton for snuggles, and if you stopped scratching his chin or head, would stand up and start barking at you until you started back up again – no rest for the wicked.
We finished the day with a long walk on the beach at sunset, which you cant really see from here as its behind the mountain, but made for beautiful photos.
Tomorrow we have a tour booked for a cage dive with the great white sharks. I will be sure to bring home some video to share!