TRIP T … THE NEW NAME OF THE BLOG

The original TripT  ... or should I say my personal logo ... Tilla, Tequila and Tabasco ... we can tell you wonderful tales ...

The original TripT … or should I say my personal logo … Tilla, Tequila and Tabasco … we can tell you wonderful tales …

The original name for my blog, drivebyshootings stood aside to make place for a much more exciting name that will tell you a lot more of what I’m up to and where I find myself.  From now on when you see the name tripT pop up anywhere, you will know that is me telling you something about a place I have visited.

The letter T is a big part of my life, some people  refer to me as MrsT, but there are a few things that I love in life and that is to travel, to tell tales and to enjoy a tequila and bitter lemon with Tabasco sauce in it, put them together and you will get tripT…  it can either be Tilla’s Travel Tales or sometimes it can be Tilla’s Tequila and Tabasco… From now on I will entertain you while wearing both hats.

A lot of my friends will tell you that there is a word that will describe me.  When in company and somebody referred to a “tillarism” everybody will tell you  that a Tilla’s s tale is doing the rounds again. To make a long story short, I like to entertain myself with the stories that wander unannounced through my head and then I love to share it with people.  Whether they believe me or not does not matter, I know that I make them laugh and some will walk away believing the story.  In fact I rely on you to decide for yourself.  But rest assured, on my blog I will not tell any tall tales … maybe. I will share with you what I have experienced and about all the fun we had.

So my blogs will all about my years of travels ….A kaleidoscope of photos and musings of our travels … Like the wind playing with curtains or blowing leaves around, I find myself travelling with Kallie all over the country … I will add photos from wherever I find myself through the year…  I happily share it all with you …take a while sit back and enjoy, and why not try a Tilla’s Tequila while you sit and read about my musings… the tripleT recipe is: a double shot of Tequala in a tall glass with lots of ice, dry/bitter lemon as a mix and 15 drops of Tabasco …. ok, for the faint hearts make it only 5 drops … sit back and enjoy!

From  here on-wards, you will hear about my travels and less about my personal life!

MOSI-OA-TUNYA – the Smoke that Thunders … The Victoria Falls in the Zambezi River …

MOSI-OA-TUNYA – the Smoke that Thunders … The Victoria Falls in the Zambezi River …

The birth of a new trip ...

The birth of a new trip …

There is no word that can describe the anticipation and preparation before you go on a new expedition where you haven’t been before. ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or “the Smoke that Thunders” sounds so beautifully mysterious that it actually started to become my mantra for our trip to the falls.

‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or “the Smoke that Thunders”

‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ or “the Smoke that Thunders”

VICTORIA FALLS … Described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as “the Smoke that Thunders” and in more modern terms as “the greatest known curtain of falling water”, the Victoria Falls are a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur and should be a “must see” and visit on everybody’s bucket list.

To go to Vic Falls has always been one of the things on our To-Do list. In July I told him about a new airline that was going to start flying between O R Tambo and Victoria Falls International Airport in Zimbabwe at a ridiculous ticket price of R99 one way. We started to look differently at going there and the next thing there was this fabulous package to go there for 3 nights, and then we were planning our trip. We knew we were going to stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel the minute we planned our trip to Zimbabwe. It is an institution and it certainly lived up to its name. We also decided to first get to our destination and then decide what kind of activities we would like to do, although I wrote all the activities that you can do there and more in my journal.

flyAfroca took to the air in the beginning of August and we were part of the first passengers who flew to Vicotria Falls

flyAfrica took to the air in the beginning of August and we were among the first passengers who flew to Victoria Falls

Let the planning start ...

Let the planning start …

While searching for information the notice came through on Facebook that FlyAfrica picked up problems with Zimbabwe and their starter flights were postponed to August. A nail-biting time for me, because as per usual, I started to worry that the trip would not take place. Another limitation was that we were only allowed one suitcase of 15kg which immediately made me go into another flutter because where would I put all my shoes!! Fortunately you can cheaply buy place for another suitcase, so that problem was solved quickly and I was packed and ready to go days before the due date, always at the ready as if I had to be ready to go to the maternity ward. So the reading and planning started with that niggling idea in the back of my head, of maybe we will not go …

At last 3 August 2014 arrived and we got to O R Tambo quite early because we were going to fly off to Zimbabwe at 7 o’ clock. A bit of a flutter happened because we were not sure where to book in and nobody knew what we were asking about when we referred to this new airline. Eventually, we found them and what a relief it was when we saw them at the desk waiting for their first official passengers to fly with them to Vic Falls. It as a breeze from there on, everything went smooth. I actually also realized why their tickets were so cheap, we walked a third of the way in departures hall, then drove another third of the way in the bus to the plane… we kept on driving which felt to me as if we were already at the border post by the time we reached the plane. In my mind I convinced myself that all will be real once we were in the air, so the trip with the bus took ages! And then we took off at 7:20 on our new impromptu adventure into Africa!

At last we got to the end the departures building ..

At last we got to the end the departures building ..

A welcome sign that assured me we were on our way  ...Passenger nuber 1 and 2 were leaving for Victoria Falls ...

A welcome sign that assured me we were on our way …Passenger number 1 and 2 were leaving for Victoria Falls …

The bus were not full ... I was still a bit weary will we take of or what?

The bus was not full … I was still a bit weary will we take of or what?

I thought we drove to the end of the world, passing all the planes at the airport ...

I thought we drove to the end of the world, passing all the planes at the airport …

And there stood Fly Africa, waiting for us to board ..

And there stood Fly Africa, waiting for us to board ..

Telling us about the safety rules ...

Telling us about the safety rules …

Not doing a selfie, just checking out who sits where in the plane ...

Not doing a selfie, just checking out who sits where in the plane ..

A pity we did not fly far... there were enough space to lie down and sleep

A pity we did not fly far… there was enough space to lie down and sleep

We flew out and one of the first new things I saw was. For some reason I did not know we were going to fly across Botswana, like the crow would fly, I thought we follow and fly along the N1 that also takes you to Zim. I did not understand why we would fly across a pan that I never heard before exists in Zimbabwe, never thinking it might be another country we were passing over. A short while before we landed the pilot told us where to look to have our first glimpse of the falls and we did see a lot of mist rising from the ground into the air and then reality hit me and I realized we are nearly at our destination.

the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana

From the air ...In the distance we could see the mist of Victoria Falls

From the air …In the distance we could see the mist of Victoria Falls

We arrived at the airport in Victoria Falls Airport at about 10:15 in the middle of their rush-hour. Not bigger than the international airport of Zanzibar but much more efficient …we got through customs without any trouble and quite quickly, were met by our driver and everybody who was on the same flight and made used of the same package deal drove together to our different destinations.

Coming in for landing at Victoria Falls International Airport

Coming in for landing at Victoria Falls International Airport

Welcome To Victoria Falls Airport ...

Welcome to Victoria Falls Airport …

I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw around me …. My first impressions of the area and environment were immediately as if we were in Limpopo province in SA but it was much neater and no rubble or rubbish or old used plastic bags were lying about in the veld. The town reminded me of the Naboomspruit of my youth, lots of activity and signs of tourism and people walking around and yet the streets were exceptionally tidy and the people very friendly.

Waiting for everybody that made use of the same travel agent, we all got together on the bus and dropped off at our hotels

Waiting for everybody that made use of the same travel agent, we all got together on the bus and dropped off at our hotels

While waiting ...

The man in action while waiting …

I rhought for a while we were driving around in Limpopo, so much the same ...

It was not Ngunis, but for a while we were driving around in Limpopo …

The streets were very tidy and clean

The streets were very tidy and clean

A street scene in South Africa maybe? no ... rong ... this is Zimbabwe

A street scene in South Africa maybe? no … wrong … this is Zimbabwe

Our first glimpse of the Victoria Hotel entrance

Our first glimpse of the Victoria Hotel entrance

When arriving at the hotel, I could easily have gone into a trance with the charm of that “olde worlde” lady. Such a beautiful old hotel, buzzing with tourist arrivals and departures, taxis and buses dropping and picking people up for their day’s events but the guy who see to it that all vehicles park properly did it with such ease.

The welcoming party, Mr Congierce some proters and other staff members

The welcoming party, Mr Concierge some porters and other front of house staff members

Such olde worlde charm ... I would've love to hear the stories of all the medals ...

Such olde worlde charm … I would’ve love to hear the stories of all the medals …

We were met at the hotel by a concierge properly dressed according to the late 1800’s style, well decorated with lots of medals and a pith helmet…. We received freshly squashed fruit juice and a warm face cloth to wipe the dust of our travels from our faces. The friendly receptionist explained that the room would only be ready by 2 o clock and that we were welcome to go and enjoy something to drink at the Stanley’s Terrace Restaurant …. At the terrace that looked out on the gardens, the most beautiful big old tree and, of course, the bridge and the falls. It was arranged that an events planner will come and see us to book the things we would like to do and a porter saw to our luggage.

Our first sight outsie on the terrrace of the hotel ..

Our first sight outside on the terrace of the hotel ..

... and then we looked a bit further ...

… and then we looked a bit further …

Took my breath away ...WOW!

Took my breath away …WOW!

We walked through and suddenly our breath was taken away by the sights we saw, Wow! What a fantastic view. You cannot explain to anybody and do the view justice at all when you first lay eyes on the mist, huge rainbows and the bridge that arched across the from Zim to Zambia, it is not just a WOW moment, you cannot utter a word, it is so fantastic! We stood there without words, too lame initially to take any photos and just stared. Once the view in front of us settled in, we franticly started to take photos and also realized that there is a constant noise in the air of the water tumbling down the cliffs … it sounded as if we were standing there listening to waves breaking on the beach, a sound that is nonstop at the falls. We were listening for the first time to “Mosi-oa-Tunya”.

We went back to the Stanley Terrance Restaurant from where you can sit and watch the Zambezi River gorge and the mist from Victoria Falls. Stunning views of the bridge, which spans the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, and the mist rising from the Falls. We ordered a light lunch, or what we thought was light. It arrived as enormous sandwiches with chunks of cheese and chips.

Kallie hardly said a word, he just sat there and stare at the brige and the mist ...

Kallie hardly said a word, he just sat there and stared at the bridge and the mist …

I was like a Jack in the Box ... did not know which camera to use to take photos of all the beauty that surrounded us

I was like a Jack in the Box … did not know which camera to use to take photos of all the beauty that surrounded us

I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich but got half a loaf of bread and a block of cheese .. fresh and yummy ...

I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich but got half a loaf of bread and a block of cheese .. fresh and yummy …

The events manager arrived, what a friendly girl Clarissa was, and so efficient. Quickly everything was sorted, and paid for and by then we also could go to the room. We would start off with a Falls tour in the afternoon and end our first day at the Boma Restaurant in the evening, a buffet restaurant where we would be entertained by African dances, music and more.

Clarissa, our events planner who came to help us select our different activies

Clarissa, our events planner who came to help us select our different activies

Our room was on the first floor and while I ascended the flight of stairs the first time to get to the room, I thought to myself that this is yet another of those hurdles that I have to face because I am not really so fit to do it at a fast pace, it might become an enemy as we start our planned activities. The room was a nice surprise… roomy and big with a proper bath and shower with lots of space. We each received a wi-fi code that we could use nonstop and while we waited for our first trip to the falls, we settled in and relaxed after being up and about long before sunrise. As per usual, I did not sleep the previous night because I feared that we might not hear the alarm going off, oversleep and more …. My usual fears before we go away on a new travel adventure.

My introduction to the flight of stairs to our bedroom.  I knew immediately that  I met my nemesis while we were staying at the hotel ...

My introduction to the flight of stairs to our bedroom. I knew immediately that I met my nemesis while we were staying at the hotel … at least 45 steps to get to the room …

A bit of relaxation before we went on our first falls experience ....

A bit of relaxation before we went on our first falls experience ….

There is so much to tell about our stay, that I will rather do it up in different sections, from telling you about the hotel itself, the falls, our dinners and more … much more to come!

A beauiful water llily from the frog pond ... but that is another story

A beauiful water llily from the frog pond … but that is another story

WHEREVER YOU GO, GO WITH HOUR HEART

ZANZIBAR AND THE TOWN OF STONE

‘When the flute is played in Zanzibar, all Africa east of the lakes must dance’

– Old Arab Proverb

Stone Town ... a typical street scene.

Stone Town … a typical street scene.

Zanzibar, Zanj-el-Bar, and exotic sounding land of the Zijn, a far-away place whose name captured a romantic image in my head. The mythical Town of Stone and Spices, where you get disoriented just walking the streets, you get dizzy from the sounds and aromas, and people greeting you with friendly “Jambo”.  You hear Jambo all over the place, from very busy street vendors trying to lure you into their shops and touts that do not understand NO!  It brings out images of old-world Arabian stories of Ali Baba and the forty thieves, or Aladdin and the 1001 Arabian Nights and of Sherazade who told her stories to the Sultan to capture his heart and other exotic mysteries.  Sherazade also whispered her stories through the allies to capture my heart and stole my soul.

First sighting of  Stone Town from the air.

First sighting of Stone Town from the air.

Through the window …

Azure blue sea welcoming us ...

Azure blue sea welcoming us …

On all our trips to Zanzibar we are always absolutely in awe.  As  you fly over Dar-es-Salaam the reaction in the cabin is always the same, there is a happy buzz and cameras are hauled out while everyone oohed and aahed, you look down and over an unbelievable aquamarine blue ocean scattered with small coral islands and with dhow’s, returning home after the day’s fishing.  The first time we went, as the airplane came in to land, the tall coconut palms bent their heads in the wind and in my head I thought that they were waving a warm welcome to us all.

The palm trees waved at us ...

The palm trees waved at us …

Zanzibar International Airport, yes, I expected a huge airport, but you have to be there to appreciate it! When they opened the doors the heat and the humidity hit us like a huge wave, it was so hot and humid, you immediately start to sweat and by the time you reach the building you’re one big wet mess.  You are met at the entrance by a lot of very unfriendly people. The first time I thought they might just be very hungry, it was in the middle of Ramadan, but the second time I was proven wrong, the airport staff is just unfriendly! Before you can reclaim your bags, you must first fill in the very same form that you already filled in on the airplane, then to internal affairs to show that you’ve got a valid passport, Yellow Fever card and visa.  Although Zanzibar is part of mainland Tanzania, the person behind the counter forcefully stamp your passport with a Zanzibar stamp to show you that they still are proud of their autonomy as a separate entity. Then to a counter where they slam down your bags, all done manually and before you can get outside you get inspected by Fauna and Flora.  The first time Kallie must have look like somebody bringing in some illegal contraband, Mr. Checkpoint Charlie grabbed a piece of chalk, drew a big cross on his bag and shouted Open!  He had to open it for the custom people!  I find it really funny, they would have much more fun with my bag! How do you explain 16 panties in your luggage, still in their original packaging, unless you want to sell it on the black market somewhere on the island? Will they believe me when I try to explain that I always make sure that I have enough of everything with me and always extra! All this activity happens in a space not much bigger to what we will refer to as a big school hall!

Zanzibar International Airport

Abandoned airport building

Abandoned airport building

Vodacom - our link to the outside world ...

Vodacom – our link to the outside world …

Welcome to Zanzibar International Airport

Welcome to Zanzibar International Airport

Outside we were swarmed and mobbed by taxi drivers and touts for hotels and everything else.   Fortunately we always have somebody to fetch and to take us to the hotel.

A small piece of advice that need to be said here. Do not try and use the toilets at the airport unless in dire need, adapting to Tanzanian toilets takes a while and it is always a very interesting experience.  If it is your first time you visit anywhere in Africa, all that I will say is “Good Luck”   The toilets at the airport is in fact glorified holes in the ground over which you have to squat and use hand showers to do the rest, if you need toilet paper, carry it with you. In fact always make sure you have toilet paper with you, it can get worse!  A couple of years ago the SABS withdrew their support from some toilet paper factories because these factories produced below standard toilet paper. I asked myself what happened to all of these millions and millions rolls of toilet paper?  I think all of it was send to East Africa and that the factories still produce and deliver to these countries, once you find yourself in a toilet in East Africa, and there is some paper by change, you will see what I mean!

The Town of Stone ... the place that stole my heart and captured my soul.

The Town of Stone … the place that stole my heart and captured my soul.

For now, I will let you wonder why I am so in love with Stone Town … watch this space I will tell you soon …

Jambo, jambo bwana Habari gani Mzuri sana Wagena, Wakaribishwa

Jambo, jambo bwana Habari gani Mzuri sana Wagena, Wakaribishwa