Now that I’ve recovered from my jet lag, I can tell you all about the little “world tour” we recently embarked on. Our journey started off in New York City for 3 days which we won from my husbands’ work. It exceeded my expectations and more! We stayed on the 42nd floor in a beautiful hotel overlooking Times Square. In the 3 days we squeezed in as much as we possibly could, including tons of shopping, riding the subway, seeing all the sights, attending the gala dinner and finally a sunset dinner cruise past the Statue of Liberty, which ended off with a surprise fireworks display! This is definitely a city I would love to visit again soon (even if it’s just for the shopping). With limited time, we only got to do and see half of what we had planned – there is just so much to see there! The people are also really friendly and helpful, at one stage we actually had people fighting over who is going to give us directions!
Next it was a 4hr train ride to Washington DC. We were greeted by my American friend, Alana, who took us into her home and showed us her beautiful city for 2 days. My other friend, Sam, also joined in on the fun. (I actually met both of these friends, who were Peace Corps volunteers, when they were living in South Africa and now we were reunited again in their home country!)
We got to see the city from a locals point of view, instead of just doing all the touristy things, it makes a big difference having friends there to show you around! You get to see all the best things and eat at the best places you might not find being a tourist. Again, we crammed in as much as we possibly could, and feel like we need to go back there to see everything we missed! Seeing things like the White House, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument was so unreal, I kept thinking, “this is just like in the movies!” This was another friendly city, where you can simply walk or take public transport to any place you need. We were really sad to leave our friends but we had to move on to our next location.
Our next spot was Aruba. Or as the locals call it, “one happy island!” Aruba is a tiny Dutch island situated just above Venezuela. Though surrounded by some dangerous islands, Aruba is extremely safe. It’s the kind of place where people can walk around in the streets any time of the day and night and feel absolutely safe and where you leave your front door wide open. The only thing is, there are lots of car accidents! (despite there only being one main road.) As for the weather, it is constantly 30 degrees Celsius day and night, 20 knots day and night and the water is bluer than you can imagine. The shades of blue actually get more exotic as you venture further out into the sea, it is truly magical!
We were to call this paradise our home for 1 week. We decided to skip the high rise hotels and stay in a smaller kind of accommodation right on the beach. It turned out to be the best choice! The place was called Sunset Beach Studios, and we had a small flat with a Jacuzzi, gas barbecue and swimming pool all to ourselves! We had lots of space to store our kitesurfing gear and the owners themselves are kitesurfers so they were very helpful in telling us all about the different spots. Just before we left for our trip, we found out that we actually have a friend that we know from South Africa that is now living in Aruba! Which of course made the trip just that much better.
The currency is in dollars, so it was an easy transition from the USA. The people are also really friendly, happy and helpful. English is spoken all around but there is also a lot of Dutch and the local language, Papiamento. Though the island is so incredibly small, it has everything. Like different types of restaurants, clubs, beach and water sports, a mixture of local and high-end shopping and a huge upmarket supermarket called Superfoods. This island has everything! (besides things like rain and cold weather, which is just fine with me)
As for the kitesurfing itself, I will write a new dedicated blog all about that, because it is just so good!
Our last stop was a quick visit to Miami. We stayed one night in a hotel in South Beach. And my oh my, is Miami one crazy place! It has all the best things in really high concentrates, maybe too highly concentrated! It was hot. But not just hot, humid. Like all the make-up runs down your face the second you step outside. They have amazing cocktails everywhere. But not just cocktails, goldfish bowl sized drinks that are not made for sharing! Every restaurant along the beach has loud pumping music non stop and everyone there looks like they are on holiday of their lives. Think dancing in the streets and drinking on the beach. Needless to say, we were sightly overwhelmed! But soon enough we started to see the beauty of it all. We rented bikes from one of the many bike stands along the beach and rode all around, discovering hidden gems and beautiful sights. Of course we also went to the beach and swam in the clear warm waters. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip!
The last 3 days were just travelling. An evening flight from Miami to London. 12 hrs layover in London. A flight from London to Johannesburg and then finally Johannesburg to Cape Town!
Now despite having Starbucks withdrawal symptoms and missing the warm weather, we are happy to be home! (Though I kind of feel like the travel bug might bite again soon..)
Look out for my next blog about kitesurfing in Aruba.