Cape of Good Hope

Today was a day of significance and firsts.

The significant bit is I got to the southern most part of the African continent today! I feel like such an explorer. The Cape of Good Hope is right at the tip of the continent and is spectacular to behold. It is characterised by furry, green hills on one side with ostriches and Elands. On the other side, it is bedazzled by the sea with crashing waves to boot. Jutting into the waters are layered rock formations.

In terms of firsts, I saw Ostriches. They are as intimidating as they seem on screens. Tall, nonchalant and feathered to a T!

Though not a first, it is worth commenting on. I witnessed a Baboon, with a baby Baboon on its back, wrestle some sort of cardboard object from a woman’s hands. It had attempted, and failed, to steal the woman’s handbag but succeeded in snatching the cardboard object instead. The theatrics of it all, amidst the dramatic beauty of the Cape of Good Hope, added a magical tone to the unfortunate incident.

30 Days in South Africa

It’s absolutely atrocious that my last post was in 2020!

I have missed the pleasure of writing (almost) everyday.

However, I have had more reasons to put pen to paper than before (not that one needs a reason to soliloquise on paper!).

One of those reasons is Cape Town. This city is absolutely stunning and my window, fortunately, overlooks the back of Table Mountain. How can I not be inspired! And, rather unusual for me, I will be here for a long time. The longest I have been away from home since 2013.

A glimpse of outside my window

I am in the perfect location for capturing thoughts, musings and philosophisings.

A water fountain and it’s mountain companion

I am a bit rusty with this writing thing but I want to give it a go again and hope you’ll journey with me.

30 Days in South Africa

Vienna, Austria – The Enchanting City

Now Austria is my first venture to a non Mediterranean European country, asides the UK of course. Vienna has absolutely exquisite architecture dating from ages past. I was only in the city for a couple of days but I was in awe of the sculptures and grand opulent buildings from time gone by. It felt like I was in another era, another time, a time were the rich were extremely, grand , luxurious and ostentatious – at least I assume this from the effort, time and expertise that obviously went into these structures. In that sense, Vienna felt truly European. I remember going into a fashion retail store which looked more like a 15th Century Nobles closet than a regular clothes store in the 21st century. The elevator in the store was the most elaborate elevator I have ever been in, it looked so beautiful and intricate I could hardly believe it actually worked. 

I remember seeing a particular dark, imposing cathedral, with an eerie dome on my way back to the airport after my visit. The memory of this particular building has stayed with me.I regrettably, do not know what it is called or where it is located but the way I felt as I stared at it from my cab truly encapsulates how powerful the emotions these beautiful static buildings from another time can evoke.

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Exquisite elevator


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Hofburg Palace

My favorite sculptural piece was the Pestsaule, which is a bit morbid as it is a memorial of the plague epidemic of 1679 that ravaged the city. As I wondered round inner city Vienna, the structure grabbed my attention quite a ways away and of course I floated right towards it. The most enchanting thing about the sculpture were the clouds, I have never seen sculptural clouds. I mean making clouds, something so airy, puffy and weightless look so real using such concrete material is truly genius.

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Pestsaule

So, I was at Vienna at Christmas time and of course I went to the Christmas market located at the Rathaus (town hall) . It was buzzing with life and Christmas cheer. There was loads of food and I ate this delicious bratwurst hot dog. It was pretty cold but the joy and Christmas spirit concentrated at this market made the cold bearable! I love Christmas and visiting the Christmas market really made Christmas that year extra special.

I discovered I lived only a few minutes walk from the Sigmund Freud museum so I visited. It was really informative and engaging. The museum used to be Freuds offices and home in Vienna so I got to see his space and some of his personal effects.

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Sigmund Freud Museum, staring into Freud’s mirror

Interestingly, I also visited this Nigerian restaurant called Wazobia in Webergasse, Vienna. The food was delicious and authentic, although the restaurant itself is not stunning and is located in a basement with bad lighting. If you don’t mind a below average ambiance, you will enjoy good Nigerian food. The owner is also really pleasant.

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Wazobia restaurant, Webergasse

I should add Vienna is super easy to navigate, I was able to get around easily without my friend solely using a combination of google maps and an app called qando Vienna, which is also a GPS navigation platform.

Vienna was quite diverse in a European sense, I met people from Turkey, France, Poland, the UK, Ukraine and USA. It did feel very vibrant and also seemed to have an interesting arts scene. However, it is not diverse in a more international, global sense. I saw very few Black people (not that I expected Black people to be in abundance or Black people need to be in abundance EVERYWHERE) but I did not get many stares like I have in some other places. On one random occasion, a semi-drunk guy shouted “black girls” at my friend and I and kept staggering away. As a Black tourist, Vienna was definitely welcoming. 

Vienna is a charming city. I would love to visit more places in the city and also go to more rural parts of the country, as I know Austria also offers beautiful natural environments.

 

 

 

Few things to expect when travelling as a Black Woman

Now these points are going to touch on travelling to places where Black people are extremely in the minority based on my experience.

  1. You will be stared at and possibly pointed at; it’s completely unavoidable. You will get lots of stares from lots of people. This could be off-putting especially if you weren’t expecting it. However, after a while you do get used to it and choose to focus more on enjoying yourself . The amount of attention you get also greatly depends on which part of the country you are in and if they are used to getting tourists. As a note, I have found most stares to be harmless in the sense that it’s pure curiosity and perhaps shock, and though it might seem antagonistic I haven’t found it to be so. I say this because when I do have to communicate with the locals, which in my case is often, they are usually friendly. Of course, I try to be sensible when picking who to talk to. I have heard of people touching people’s faces in awe of all the melanin, but that has never happened to me before (thank God!)
  2. Sadly, again depending on the country and region of country, you may get creepy men paying you attention – more than usual at least. This is the worst part for me as I suspect this is often based on prejudices and sick stereotypes they might have about Black women. This could also be scary if you are on your own. Solo female travelers in general need to be careful. The best tip I can give is to just ignore, as you normally would at home, and keep it moving. Also, its always great to have someone you can contact in the country if in trouble. I also try to make sure I know the numbers to dial for emergency services in the country I’m in.
  3. You will not find your foundation/powder shade so make sure you don’t run out! It’s hard enough finding a shade that matches you exactly in diverse places like London so don’t dream of finding a variety of dark shades in places where there aren’t many black people. The reason is obvious, the market is little, the demand is not significant enough for wide ranges to be stocked.
  4. People might think you are a celebrity, even though you look nothing like said celebrity (sadly lol). You might get called Naomi Campbell or Beyoncé, do enjoy the moment of fame.

All in all, travelling for me has been great and I haven’t experienced any racism or damaging reactions from people. People have been super kind and hospitable.  I do think this is the case for most Black female travelers. People will be curious but its usually harmless.

The color of your skin should not affect places you can travel to, yes you have to be wise and having a local or a group of friends is always helpful. Having said that, if locals advise you to steer clear of some areas, it’s often smart to do so. I know for the super adventurous that could be annoying though, but its important to consider local advise.

p.s. – Some might consider this bad advise or contradictory to last paragraph above but I think its worth saying.  Never let people’s opinions of a particular culture and place completely put you off going to a place. Sometimes its scaremongering, sometimes its legit, its up to you to research and know for yourself if the trip is worth it and how you can make it as safe as possible. The News makes some countries sound like a cesspit of violence but sometimes it’s just regions of said places. Do your research and make your decision.

After all “you’ll never know until you go”