Durban

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October 31, 2008 - Friday - St. Lucia to Durban

Not long after we leave Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve for Durban, we start seeing the Indian Ocean coastline.  The communities north of Durban appear to be quite affluent, with lots of big houses situated either right on the coast, or having a water view.  The bus pulls into Gateway Shopping Mall - a supersized destination mall with four levels, a wave machine, skating, IMAX theatre, and a huge number of shops and restaurants.  This mall caters to a very affluent clientele - including us of course!

Gateway Shopping Mall main entrance
Gateway Shopping Mall main entrance
Gateway Shopping Mall interior
Gateway Shopping Mall main entrance
Gateway Shopping Mall sports theme
Gateway Shopping Mall sports theme
Gateway Shopping Mall wave machine
Gateway Shopping Mall wave machine

After looking around for awhile, I end up at Sam Brown's for lunch.  I have a good cappuccino, however the roast chicken sandwich is only mediocre.  After an hour or so, we re-board the bus and carry on to Durban.  Before we check into our hotel, the bus drops us off at the Botanical Garden.  There are some spectacular orchids in the Orchid House, and I have  some very nice tea and a scone at the tea house.  We also stop at the Indian Market, which is a fun place to waste some time.  Downtown Durban is a chaotic mess.  There are taxi vans picking up people everywhere, the traffic seems to go in six directions at once, and just to add insult to injury, the street names are all being changed so there are two different signs for most streets!

Pink Orchid in the Botanical Gardens Orchid House
Pink Orchid in the Botanical Gardens
Orchid House
Pink Orchid in the Botanical Gardens Orchid House
Pink Orchid in the Botanical Gardens
Orchid House
White Orchid in the Botanical Gardens Orchid House
White Orchid in the Botanical Gardens
Orchid House
Egyptian Goose, Botanical Gardens
Egyptian Goose, Botanical Gardens
Sunken Garden, Botanical Gardens
Sunken Garden, Botanical Gardens
Cat on the wall by the Sunken Garden, Botanical Garden
Cat on the wall by the Sunken Garden,
Botanical Garden
New street names & signs for Durban
New street names & signs for Durban
Taxi vans picking up passengers in a Durban traffic jam
Taxi vans picking up passengers in a
Durban traffic jam
Durban beachfront and harbour entrance
Durban beachfront and harbour entrance
Joe's Curios at the Indian Market
Joe's Curios at the Indian Market
Spices in the Indian Market
Spices in the Indian Market
Traffic & shops outside the Indian Market
Traffic & shops outside the Indian Market

We are staying at the Tropicana Hotel, which is located right on the beach downtown. The room is nothing special but it's clean.  Craig tells us we shouldn't walk the beach area due to a "bad element".  He certainly is correct about that - I see lots of action going on across the street which I would rather not be part of!  This evening we have a group dinner at RJ's restaurant - which is about a 20 minute drive across the city. The restaurant isn't prepared to serve 40 people at once, but the staff does their best. The food is mediocre, but everyone in our group stays good humoured about it.  After returning to our hotel, I'm kept up most of the night from noisy street parties happening all around us.  I work on my computer sorting photos and video until the parties stop a few hours before dawn, so I only get a couple of hour's sleep before our early wake up call.

From the limited exposure I had to Durban, I was not impressed.

November 1, 2008 - Saturday - Durban to Drakensberg

We are up at 5am, and on the bus by 5:30am.  The hotel doesn't have coffee for us, and the breakfast in a box they prepared is dreadful. Combined with my lack of sleep, I'm not a happy traveler  this morning.  It can only get better from here, and it does.  Our first rest stop this morning has a good coffee bar, so I have a cappuccino and start to feel better.  I ditch the breakfast in a box before reboarding the bus, and tuck into some snacks and water I bought at the rest stop.  My attitude is starting to improve as we spot the Drakensberg mountains rolling by.

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