Our first night passed uneventfully, though a combination of jet lag and excitement ensured that we were both up very early the next morning. I stepped out onto our balcony to be greeted by a lovely sunrise and the view of several ships lined up along the horizon. Durban is one of the busiest seaports in southern Africa and a steady stream of ships could be seen entering and leaving the port at all hours. We sat on the balcony sipping coffee and black tea (something new for us) and delighting in the sounds of sunrise.
This was the view of Durban’s Golden Mile from our hotel. It was a beautiful sunny day and we couldn’t wait to go out exploring.
We walked by a skateboard/bike park where several children were hanging out. The place was covered in graffiti, some of it very well done.
We also browsed through several of the stalls used by street vendors. Most were selling the same items we would see in stalls all along our trip, but this was our first experience trying to barter with street vendors for nic-nacs and souvenirs. Unfortunately, it was also our first encounter with a very agressive panhandler. This fellow simply wouldn’t take no for an answer and, at some point, starting shouting at me. We crossed the street to enter into another shop (and to break-off our interaction with the panhandler). When we came out of the shop, we approached a security officer for directions and he promptly advised me to “put away the camera”. I hadn’t realized it, but virtually no one was carrying a camera – and apparently for good reason. My camera had made me a target. So no more pictures of the Golden Mile from here.
We walked back to the hotel and enjoyed a mid-afternoon break – cold beer to take away the heat of the day. Later, we asked for recommendations for dinner and were told the very best places were found on Florida Road, a short cab ride from the hotel. The hotel staff called us a cab (Mozzie – highly recommend them if you are ever in Durban) and off we went.
We ultimately settled on a little place called Europa, which had a wonderful deck that allowed us to enjoy the afternoon breeze. We had agreed before going on the trip to always look for new or interesting food selections when eating out.
This was our choice – chicken liver in peri-peri sauce. It was delicious – but very spicy. I generally don’t go for really spicy foods, but I couldn’t get enough of this dish. There was something about the spice – it wasn’t just “hot”, but there was lots of flavor hidden under the heat.
After enjoying a leasurely dinner, we headed back to the hotel and met our tour guides. We learned that our group would consist of ten travelers – six Australians, a couple from the UK, and us. Our guides were South African – but more about them later. We settled in for the evening but I really couldn’t sleep. The anticipation of the trip was too much for me and I lay awake most of the night waiting for our adventure to begin in earnest.
Next – Drakensberg Mountains or, simply put, ‘the Berg’