Table Mountain

 

Let me introduce you to this beautiful place.

Let me introduce you to this beautiful place.

I’m on top of the world! Those few words explain the feeling of reaching the top of Table Mountain. Now don’t think I’m all tough and hiked the entire mountain, because to be honest I just took the cable car (a small price to pay for saving loads of time).

The “aerial cableway” can take as many as 65 people at a time and has rotating floors – so if you thought being flown in a little cable car hanging from a wire going almost 3,500 feet into the atmosphere was frightening add a lot of people and a constantly moving floor to it. Let’s just say it is not the most relaxing ride, but the views make up for it. Looking out on my way up the mountain completely took my breathe away; I was utterly speechless until I got back on the ground. Immediately below the cable car is the vibrant city of Cape Town and to the left are some of the most stunning beaches in the world like Camps Bay and Clifton.

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Into The “Wild”

Yesterday I had the incredible opportunity to visit Kwantu Elephant Sanctuary, which is part of the larger game reserve, about 30 minutes outside of Grahamstown, South Africa. The reserve is home to 21 elephants (or 5 – the website said 5, but our tour guide said 21) who have almost 15,000 acres of land to spread out on, along with many other animals. Despite the terrain remaining true to what their usual habitat would be like, they are still fenced in and trained – hence the use of quotation marks around “wild”.

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Exploring Grahamstown & Rhodes University

Grahamstown is composed a few main streets flaunting several mouth-watering restaurants and bumpin’ pubs. It’s a college town so although during the day the streets are filled with locals doing their shopping and selling items on the street, at night it is much of a party town especially on Fridays. For some reason, which is unbeknownst to me, Wednesdays (but not Saturdays) are also a huge party night.

Getting to know Grahamstown requires a map or someone who knows where their going because it does have a moderately puzzling street composition. The scenery can change quite rapidly if you’re not paying attention, and although I enjoy seeing all aspects of life in Grahamstown, a mirage of “ay-bay-bay” or “hey sista, coins?” following me to KFC is not my favorite thing.

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First Impressions of Grahamstown

 

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Grahamstown, South Africa is what students call a “bubble” – drastically different from the rest of South Africa and more like a Western college town than anything else. But go a couple blocks away from the main town center and you’ll see the deep disparities between the so-called haves and have-nots. I learned this while getting lost – classic Emma. I also learned that just because most people speak English, slang and accents can sometimes make it utterly impossible to understand even the most basic phrases.

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Unilingual & Still Traveling

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. – Nelson Mandela

I stopped letting my language skills get in the way of traveling a long time ago as I discovered that, as horribly touristy I feel when I stumble through even a basic greeting, it’s worth it to see the world. When I decide on a new place to travel to I always tell myself that I’m going to magically learn the language before I go, at least to the point where I can order food at a local establishment or tell a taxi driver where I’m going, but that never happens. Studying a language in a country through immersion and really the best way to learn a language so never let language barriers hinder travel.

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Earth Day Post – Tanzania’s National Parks

Making your way to Tanzania’s National Parks like the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire is a journey filled with carsickness and dust that clings to your pores like a green tea face mask. It’s a dirty and long adventure, but the end result is nature that has been (mostly) unaffected by technology and pollution, one that looks more like a dream than real life. Six hours worth of hang-banging, gut-wrenching unpaved and unmanaged roads is worth the opportunity to see the Lion King in person, with a front row seat.

Rainy Day in DC

I hate the rain. Especially when I have to travel in it and even more when I have to drive over the terrifyingly high and narrow bay bridge during a storm. But I’ve got to say there’s something to say about DC in the rain. It looks majestic and the glamorous government building glimmer in the rain. Raindrops dance down the outside of windows the size of my house. It’s almost like the city needs a nice bath every once in a while to wash away the inevitable dirt left from politics.

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The capital hidden in the fog.

As a political science major there’s no surprise in saying that I love this city. I love feeling like I’m not the only one speed-walking and motivated in everything I do. On the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in many places I travel to there’s a slower pace to life. That’s not to say that people aren’t motivated, because that is so not the case (with everyone), but there’s essentially no sense of urgency – a sense that runs deep in my blood.

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Toronto In A Day

I went to Niagara Falls for what my boyfriend and I hoped would be a romantic weekend – turns out we hated everything about Niagara Falls, except the beautiful falls itself. To escape the commercial sentiment of the most artificial city I have every seen we headed Northeast to Toronto.

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Seeing Toronto in one day is a challenge. It’s a huge city, that has spread out into the far reaching corners of the city limits. We started our adventure at a motel by the airport, far away from the action. This was the best we could find for two 20 year olds, traveling on a tight budget, waiting until the night before to book a hotel. Booking a room the night before was stress-inducing to say the least and I don’t recommend it, but it worked out for us as we ended up at a quaint Quality Inn.

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Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden

Pearl Fryar’s Topiary Garden is in the middle of nowhere South Carolina in a small town called Bishopville in Pearl’s lawn (as well as the local Waffle House). It took Pearl almost three decades to complete his masterpiece, which now draws tourists from all over. Every morning he is still hacking away at his beautiful topiaries transforming them into his own form of art. I went and saw his garden for Thanksgiving weekend, last November and was blown away, although I do recommend going in the spring or summer instead of in the early winter as everything was starting to turn grey.

Interested in learning more? Check out Pearl’s documentary here.

Planning Way Way Ahead

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

Traveling alone is exhilarating, scary, and necessary. Never knowing what to expect is part of the fun and part of the fear. I’m a talker, once you get me going you wish you could get me to stop. I have a tendency to go on unmapped rants that run around in circles until someone changes the topic or just walks away. Luckily that makes traveling by myself easy because I’m not scared of making friends along the way. Even with that being say I still prefer traveling with friends, but I still try to take time to explore places by myself.

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