Lauren and I were able to cross a few things off our bucket list over the past few months. Lauren was going to a training in Pretoria, South Africa last November, so we decided to make a vacation out of it!
While Pretoria was less than thrilling we really really enjoyed our stay there. While Lauren was in training everyday for the first week, I was able to walk about, enjoy cafes, peruse the local shops and visit the Natural History Museum. It felt like we were back in DC! Although there are few museums that compare to the Smithsonian, it was really nice to see the displays of all African megafauna up close. It was a great introduction to the wildlife of Southern Africa (to which I’ll say more in a later post). There was also an amazing exhibit on proto-human and human evolution. Although the information and setup of the museum seemed top notch, you could tell that the museum suffered from a lack of funding. Some of the taxidermy was starting to show the years, and could probably use a cleaning. After visiting the museum, I took the train back to the hotel. Yes, that’s right, I said “train” and it felt like I was back in Sweden. Except for the fact it looked like this!
After Lauren’s training was finished, we went to a spa for the weekend. The location was amazing, the grounds were super pretty, and the food was to die for. However, it was probably one of the worst massages I’ve ever had. Oh well. Still worth it. This is what it looked like:
We drove around a lot! It was easy to rent a car, and Lauren’s a pro at driving on the wrong side of the road per our Irish adventures. In general the roads were very good, but there was a lack of signage about. We were able to find our destination, after a bit of a run around, but it turns out it was closing soon (we were trying to go to some game park, I forget the name). So we opted to go to the Lion Park in Johannesburg. It was cool. Lauren was bitten by a lion cub. Don’t worry, it didn’t break her skin. We both got to pet them, and I got some really nice pictures of many different animals. Like these:
The spa was amazing, but it was a short lived experience, and the lion park was cool (also, kind of sad) but we had to get to the main attraction. So we flew to Nespruit and drove just north to the town of Hazy View. While we were in Hazy View, we toured around the Blythe River Canyon: the 3rd longest canyon in the world, and longest vegetated canyon. I thought it was absolutely incredible, but Lauren seemed unmoved and many times told me I need to go to the Grand Canyon. Obvi. Here’s what it looked like:
After the brief stop in Hazy View, oh we also went ‘white water’ rafting, which was more like a leisurely gallivant on a lazy river. It was entertaining though, as there was a gaggle of teenage girls that couldn’t steer the inflatable canoes, and kept causing log-jams of canoes. To be honest, we knew it wasn’t going to be fantastic cause it was the end of the dry season, and who goes rafting at the end of the dry season? I was surprised that there was as much water as there was. It was entertaining none the less. After that we went to Thornybush Game Reserve (see next post).