What better way to ring in the new year than by being able to look back & reminisce on an epic trip that was taken literally on the other side of the world! It all started out back on December 30, 2016 when my really good friend Candace (from Candace Nicole Photography) & I were talking about checking out spots around the world when we came across super cheap airline tickets to South Africa for only $750! Quick background on Candace: she is a super cool gal who is a STUPID talented portrait & wedding photographer. Her work reflects her amazing trips & outgoing personality and you need to do yourself a favor and check out her work today! We actually had only met one other time before going onto this trip together. That's how well we connected our very first time meeting each other!
Okay, back on track haha! Fast forwarding one year later & here we are about to get on this first plane of our adventure. We booked with Virgin Atlantic & had immediately released we made the right choice with our airline selection. Talk about sweet! They complimented us with free blankets & pillows, movies & games, and entire lunch/dinner meals. We would both recommend flying with this company! Our first leg of the trip brought us to London as we sat through an 11 hour layover. You say "What!? 11 hours though. That is way too long for me!" But trust me, we had a game plane. We booked such a long layover 1) because it was cheaper & 2) it literally gave us all day to explore London!
It was SO cold when we walked out into the city & I was the ONLY one wearing shorts! LOL I was legit getting hardcore stares from everyone but oh well *insert sass emoji here* Candace & I were basically your average tourist and checked out London by getting on those "Hop On, Hop Off Tour" buses. I even persuaded Candace to ride the London Eye with me. Although she's not the biggest fan of heights, she took it like a champ & crossed it off her list, even if I made her do it or not! Haha We saw all of the major spots in the city & as much as I was EXCITED to see Big Ben in all of it's fame & glory, the dang thing was under CONSTRUCTION! What the heck! Talk about bad timing. Guess I'll just have to return!
Once we finished up in London, we hopped back on our next flight & flew for a good 10 hours to Johannesburg, South Africa. Thankfully we were able to get a little bit of rest on this flight, allowing it to go by somewhat quicker than anticipating. Our second round of flying brought us into the Johannesburg Airport around 7am the next day, giving us enough time to get through Customs & taxi to our AirBNB. Here is the AirBNB we stayed while in Johannesburg: Johannesburg, SA - AirBNB. Super convenient & super affordable! We were also able to leave our bags with security while our apartment was still be cleaned & we decided to check out the surrounding area. Of course, we couldn't start off the day without a good breakfast & we found ourselves grabbing bagels & omelettes at a super chic, small cafe right next to our AirBNB! Lots of restaurants & hang-out areas up & down our entire street so it was really nice to know we had several options to chose from. Also another reason why our AirBNB was a great choice!
From breakfast, we wanted to check out the Apartheid Museum outside the city. It was incredible to know just how much deep history has happened there & how Nelson Mandela helped shaped the country it is today. Definitely a surreal feeling knowing we were able to stand in such an iconic place! After checking out the museum, we still had a full day (mind you it was still around 9am here & we are literally running on zero sleep from two flights & an 11 layover!) We decided to get on ANOTHER "Hop On, Hop Off Tour" bus & check out downtown Johannesburg. And let's just say at that point, we were READY for sleep! We called it an early night after the tour & grabbed a quick dinner from one of the restaurants, hitting the beds shortly after!
Day 2 in Johannesburg woke Candace & I up bright and early to head out to Pilanesburg National Park for a real African SAFARI!! We were so excited to get to experience this & we were even luckier when we found out it was just going to be three of us on the tour, including a super sweet lady from Sweden named Linda. We had the open-window Jeep all to ourselves & words can't describe how amazing it was! We saw everything from elephants, to rhinos, to zebra, to even small birds named Weavers! HA! Now that's a great name if I say so myself. Plus our tour guide Ross was spot on awesome! He was telling us all kinds of stories about the park, the animals living inside & even let us try out the super zoomed binoculars he had. Those things were sweet!
Day 3 (the last day before we headed down to Cape Town) had us checking out local markets around the city & even on our own building rooftop. As Candace & I walked outside to go to the main market spot on our agenda, we stopped in our tracks to find out that our very OWN building had it's own rooftop market. We knew we had to check that one out first without even blinking! It was awesome! There was live music, local restaurants selling food & people just enjoying the warm sunshine. Fun fact about this trip (and side note): In case you were wanting to know more about the weather situation while we were there: it was COLD our entire trip to South Africa. It was either cold, windy, or windy AND cold! UGH. All I packed were shorts & even my bathing suit and we couldn't even enjoy the ocean because it was so freezing. It's pretty iconic to have my black North Face windbreaker with me on trips & I am so glad I brought it with me! It was crazy how the temperatures were NOT what Candace and I were expecting, especially since we were traveling down during their summer season. South Africa should mean hot, dusty weather, NOT cold, windy temperatures!
Back to reality, afterwards, we headed down to one of the more famous street markets called Neighbor Goods (clever name) & this place was POPPIN y'all! No lie. There was live music, street performers, HUNDREDS of local vendors & restaurants serving up all kinds of foods & treats, and a huge bar serving up cold brews & mixed drinks. Candace even scored herself not one, not two BUT THREE pairs of sunglasses! She was in heaven at that point haha! Our third day, summed up, was very lazy & we basically just took the opportunity to soak up the things people loved to do around the area. We called it an early night after taking in the beautiful sunset atop of our apartment & grabbing dinner. It was the perfect way to prepare ourselves for the best part of the trip: Cape Town!