Thursday, 31 March 2011

Sandton - the place for cheap fine dining!

Sandton is an interesting town... I knew it was upper class just by getting to my hotel the first night as we passed the Aston Martin dealership about 2 blocks away. Last night we found a greek restaurant, Mythos, and next to it was this posh place for tapas and cocktails.. It was called Prive' and it was packed with people on a Wednesday night. Well tonight we found a place that topped that shopping center. I don't know what the shopping center was called but on facing Rivonia Rd it had a Pick and Pay, a Mornightside pharmacy, a great bookstore, and a bunch of restaurants. We ate at Green Peppercorn and it was AMAZING! I was also very impressed to see the value of cars in the packed parking lot. I would say +60% of the cars were either Mercedes or BMW.
TBContinued.. need to get to sleepSan

Monday, 28 March 2011

The sky and the stars

When I feel lonely I walk outside and stare at the sky... whether it's daylight or nighttime, the sky always looks familiar no matter where you are. I yearn to share that with someone.. be it a stranger, friend or my partner-in-crime. I love looking into the stars and letting all my worries dissipate (or at least quiet for a few minutes). 

As for weekend excersions, this is my motto and I'm sticking to it!
'You sleep when you're dead!'

Whine/Wine Monday

No one likes Mondays... but especially when project logistics shit gets dumped on your plate and there's nothing you can do but to just eat it or push it to the other side.. It's kind of like what's going on with this project right now. I am THOUSANDS of miles away from home and then on top of that, forced to conform with certain 'mandates'... well I can tell you that if you want me to be efficient and effective in my work, these accommodations are not suiting. I am diamond VIP at Hilton and I expect to be treated like near royalty!

On a completely random note [please keep in mind this whole post was written while having consumed 5 glasses of wine], the gas station / slash / rest stop has a place called Mugg & Bean... well, the one on the way back to Jo-burg has one of the best looking guys so far... I'm not going to lie, I think my standards might have fallen a BIT since being back in Chicago or FL, but prime real estate is hard to find here! I'm definitely going back to my Mugg&Bean man every day if his macchiato stand up to my Hilton executive lounge boys
[To be continued...]

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Durban... full of underage surfers and dangerous black ghettos

We went to Durban this weekend.. it's known to be a surfer city but the waves weren't very big.. We had quite a cultural experience during the day AND getting back to the hotel after dinner. I think I could count on my hands how many white people we saw ALL day. We stayed at Southern Sun Elangeni hotel and it was very nice; great view of the Indian Ocean from our 19th floor room. A block or so away is Nino's (halal) and we ended up going there for lunch Saturday and breakfast Sunday because it was so good! Saturday afternoon we got to experience real Africa when we went to the Indian market to buy some souvenirs! Megan and I bought elephant hair bracelets (elephants are NOT harmed during the harvesting of their hair) and I got a beaded necklace. We walked around some and stopped for Bunny Chow, an Indian curry stew in a bread bowl. It was spicy but VERY tasty! Then we went to the Embankment and the pier where my future boyfriend stores his yachts. We took a tourist boat out into the open sea and saw a great view of Durban, including the big stadium and a beatiful sunset. After dinner and drinks (a John Deere drink is amazing; rum-ish liquor and creme soda, YUM) at the pier, then called our cabby, Peter to come get us. When we asked him for a place to buy liquor for pre-gaming, he had one place in mind and of course it had to be in the MOST dangerous part of Durban Centre. We were seriously scared for our lives but made it out with some beer and vodka, all thanks to the owners' amazing daughter, Benazir (named after the late Prime Minister of Pakastan).

We pre-gamed and got ready to go out and then got a recommendation from the young bellman to go to 'Florida St' for Saturday night and it was ALL kids! The drinking age here is 18 and we saw 2 girls with '18th birthday' pins... I swear it was worse than college bars; the average age was definitely under 21... We stayed at one bar for about 30 minutes, just enough time to chug our beers before leaving for a less high school crowd.. We went next door to sit down at Chill to have some gourmet pizza, beers and chips (fries). We had a great patio table perfect for people watching... I think I stared at this one guy's butt for the entire time it was in my view (about 10-15 minutes). Some amazing views but the girls were tiny and YOUNG and the guys were equally young and immature. We felt soo old but it was still a blast!

Before getting back on the road, we drove North a bit to Umhlanga and got to see the 'Umhlanga Rocks'.. the beaches aren't as swimmable because of them, but it was quite beautiful. It was also a much higher class area and I think next time if we go to Durban, we'll stay in Umhlanga instead and just drive 15 minutes to visit Durban.

2 hours into our 7.5 hour drive, we go to Kwazulu-Natal Midlands... it was a very scenic and beautiful drive into the Midlands to Nottingham Road area for a wine tasting at The Stables. Then on the way back to the highway, we stopped at the cutest store, Piggly Wiggly. They had amazing local foods, produce, treats, and not to mention the 'Best Cappuccino in all of Africa'. I had the Cappuccino Choco Creme which had chocolate mousse on top of the cappuccino and it was HEAVENLY! I also got some cheeses, ice cream, biltong (beef jerky) and some macadamia nuts to bring home to my Mom. Amazing foods and the staff was so kind!

Now back in Sandton and it's past my bedtime.. we have an hour drive to the Plant in Heidelberg in the morning.

Initial opinions of South Africa/Joburg

Layover weekend in Amsterdam. Some of the highlights: All the canals, Red light district, Anne Frank House, coffee shops, signs for internet versus wifi (they don't mean the same thing!), Arendsnest Bar (350 Dutch beers and amazing bartenders!), I AMsterdam sign

Driving without GPS from OR Tambo Airport to the hotel in Sandto, harder than it seems when all you're able to use is a crappy Hertz map.. we had to stop at KFC and ask the security guard if were going in the right direction.

Hotel Hospitality - South African hotels have about twice the staff as American hotels and half the quality of hospitality. If it weren't for my Diamond VIP status, I don't know what I would do without the Executive Lounge access.

Restaurant service- prepare for LONG sit down meals and not very knowledgeable waitstaff. Also ask them to repeat back your order to confirm they have your order correct.

Car watchers - there are people everywhere that will 'watch your car' for your while you are in a shop or somewhere... most of the time it is pointless but they are persistent in getting some sort of tip from you.

[to be updated soon]