When travel plans don’t go to plan, what do you do? Fall in a heap crying with your bags on the airport floor, storm out of the airport and find a hotel to hide out in until your next flight, or change your plans completely…
This was the predicament I found myself in at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. I arrived at six in the morning, then slept on the tiles for six hours, until check in for my flight to Nigeria to opened, only to be told by the lovely woman behind the counter that I didn’t have a visa and would be unable to get on my flight. I was tired, I wanted to visit my dad and I promptly fell apart crying at the counter. The woman informed me that I could get a visa from Pretoria (an hour away from Johannesburg), but the thought of this scared me even more as I had not planned to stay in South Africa and was scared shitless about travelling anywhere within the country. Anywhere except Cape Town. My friend Kitty I had met in Peru the year before had arrived home from her own overseas adventure two days previously, so I would go to her restaurant and see if I could stay with her for a few days until I worked out a plan of what to do next.
A new plane ticket was booked and a few hours later I arrived at The Octopus’ Garden in St James, Cape Town. I was introduced to everyone in the restaurant and caught up quickly, before being whisked off to Kitty’s place where I passed out before my body had even laid down on the bed.
Phone calls to embassies and travel centres revealed that I was not going to be able to get a Nigerian visa in time to make my visit to my dad. Therefore Kitty and I were now free to explore Cape Town together. I walked along the coast line most days up to Muizenburg beach to watch the surfers or down to Kalk Bay to see the seals. We caught the ferry out to Robben Island and went on the tour to see where Nelson Mandela had been incarcerated for 18 years.
Kalk Bay Harbour
It was very surreal, seeing real pieces of history on display, through things that the prisoners made for themselves and reading their stories attached to the prison cell walls. We went to see the Penguins at Boulders Beach, a favourite place for the locals to spend time sunbaking on warm summer days. We went searching for Baboons at Cape Point and finding none, enjoyed the spectacular views instead. My last day in Cape Town was filled with visiting a bunch of local favourite hang out spots, plus a gondola ride up to Table Mountain. Kitty and I enjoyed lunch with all the beautiful people at Camps Bay, watched the surfers at Llundudno Beach, before driving along the coast line of Haut Bay and Chapman’s Peak drive. Cape Town’s coast line is a heaving mass of sea
battering giant cliff faces and rust coloured boulders, creating a raw energy that buzzes in the howling winds sweeping up from the south and breaking across the town. It was a spectacular drive and a great place to get photos of the natural beauty that is Cape Town.
After seeing as many sights as I could cram in, I was heading off on Safari in Kruger National Park the next day. The initial panic at my travel plans changing, had subsided as I began to enjoy all that Cape Town had to offer. The stories of safety in South Africa had left my mind, as it was the same with travelling in any foreign country, be sensible and you will stay safe. It really is a beautiful part of the world. I would love to go back in Summer to travel along the coast up to Durban, try my hand at surfing and photographing more of the amazing coast line.