South Africa Finale

January 7, 2010 at 1:15 pm Leave a comment

I last left off after our elephant encounter. I’m currently drafting this post on my iPod Touch as I’m sitting on a plane halfway between SA and Dakar. I will do a post of pics and video in the next few days.

I also now realize that I failed to mention who was on this trip with me. The 14 Scharfs were who decided to trek to South Africa for a family vacation: Grandpa & Grandpa, my uncle and his wife and 4 kids, my aunt and her daughter, another cousin, and of course my parents and me. We had an amaaazing 2 weeks with a minimal amount of stress, fuss and worry. My family rocks!!

So anyway, back to the story: Saturday, January 2, we drove from the elephant location (Nelspruit) to Joberg so we could catch a fight the next day to Cape Town. That night I was so exhausted I fell asleep shortly after arriving at the hotel at 7pm and slept until about 4am. When I woke then, it was to find the room very hot because their was no electricity. I admit I became quite frightened, but calmed a bit when I realized the cousin I was rooming with was awake too. Then we heard two scary screams. I didn’t think I would sleep again but I did somehow.

I liked Cape Town from the beginning. We had a hotel within a ten minute drive from the waterfront. The waterfront was full of places to shop and fun restaurants. Of course the seafood was great (I even fell in love with calamari) but if you think Nebraskans know how to fix steak, you need to go to South Africa. Oh. My. Goodness. *drools* Even my 80 year old Nebraska cattle rancher grandpa claimed he had the best steak of his life! I would also recommend trying kudu which is a deer/impala/antelope like animal that is served similarly to steak.

While at Cape Town, we also went on a harbor cruise on the Jolly Roger pirate ship. This fine vessel was chosen by my 80 year old Grandma 🙂 A small dolphin pod surfed in our wake and we saw several seals cracking shells on their bellies. My dad and I are also convinced we saw two great whites beneath the waves (actually quite possible since they offerred shark cage diving not too much farther up the coast).

We left Cape Town and made the short drive to the wine country and Stellenbosch on Jan. 5. On the way we stopped at a winery that also had several hand-raised cheetahs which we were able to pet! After seeing the wild ones on the safari, it was extra cool to be up close and personal.

The main reason for visiting Stellenbosch was because one of my cousins decided to study abroad there next semester. We stayed in the oldest hotel in all of South Africa! After 2 churches burned down on that location between 1642 and 1800, the hotel opened in 1802.

The 6th was spent touring two of the maaaany wineries around Stellenbosch. The first we visited had a castle for their goats, and the next had glass blowing. The countryside was beautifully lined with rows and rows of grapes.

Today, Thursday Jan. 7, the Scharf clan trooped over to check out the University of Stellenbosch. It was a lovely campus and boasts the largest underground library in the southern hemisphere. There was also an on-campus store selling 3 things: student ID photos, flash drives…. and stun guns. Overall though we liked what we saw and are sure she will have a great time!

We departed from South Africa at 1:50pm local time. After an hour delay, we nearly missed our final flight. It was a photo finish to an amazing trip!

Tips For Future South Africa Travellers

  • The South African currency is the rand (currently about 7 rand to one dollar).
  • Meals average $6-8 fastfood and $10-15 for a great steak or seafood dinner. If you order salad, specifically say if you’d like it before your meal!
  • There doesn’t actually seem to be “fast” food. In fact, everything operates much slower than Americans are used to. Expect your food 1-2 hours after ordering.
  • Tap water is generally safe. Save a few rand and specify wanting a pitcher of tap water when at restaurants or you may get sparkling in a bottle.
  • Absolutely make sure to do a safari!
  • “Chips” usually means French Fries.
  • Make sure to drink lots of water and wear sunscreen!
  • There are many market places to barter for great take-homes.
  • You will hear musical hits from United States artists from the 70s to today, all on the same radio station and in even the most modern places.
  • Don’t be alarmed at the locals walking between cars stopped at a light. To them its a perfectly acceptable time to try to sell you goods.
  • Almost every sign is written in English so you should have little trouble navigating, although if you rent a car you may want to rent a GPS too.
  • Visit more than one location and drive between them when possible. South Africa has a rapidly changing, very beautiful landscape.

Stay tuned for the visual story!

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About the Author

Stephanie Scharf currently resides in Lincoln, NE. She attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is studying Advertising with an emphasis on graphic and web design. Her time is split between working on school and client projects, hangin' with friends, and "geeking out" by reading up on the latest in web and social media trends. For more information, please visit the About page.

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