A Little More London

 

IMG_4164For my last day in London, I got to play the role of directionally challenged tour guide to my cousin Josh. He is studying abroad in Estonia for a year, and has an excellent habit  of meeting up with family wherever they happen to be in the world. I was looking forward to his visit, because any time spent with Josh is guaranteed to be interesting.

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February Flowers at Kew Gardens

 

 

IMG_3940 (1).jpgSometimes when traveling I make silly decisions. Like the other week, when I had a day on my own in London and decided to visit Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. I had heard wonderful things about the gardens, and they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But I forgot to account for the fact that it was February, not a time for flower viewing. Plus it was freezing outside, and the gardens are, as I should have suspected, mostly outdoors. Continue reading “February Flowers at Kew Gardens”

Maritime and Mean Time in Greenwich

 

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On my second day in London, I met up with good friend to check out Greenwich.  The village of Greenwich is on the south bank of the Thames, just a short train journey from the city center, but it feels like a world apart.  It is known for it’s rich maritime history, as well as being the home of the Prime Meridian, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Orienteering

Today marked my official foray into the sport of orienteering. A couple weeks ago during my orientation weeks at Wits, I was looking for the football and futsal club tables to sign up. Unexpectedly, a booth caught my eye because of the large map displayed behind a bored-looking student. I reached the booth to find it was the Wits Orienteering Club, and was greeted with enthusiasm by the student as if I had finally broken the monotony of her post. I heard of Orienteering before but let her know I was new to the sport. I enjoy hiking and enjoy maps, so it didn’t take much for her to sell me on joining the club.
The basic premise of orienteering is that the participant is given a map of a defined area – a farm, park, neighborhood, etc. – and the goal is to navigate through the map based on a predetermined route marked by waypoints. The key is that each waypoint must be reached in a particular order, and if you accidentally break that order and tag in to the wrong waypoint, you’re disqualified. The most popular players of this sport are in the UK and Europe, where there is a professional league with events across the continent. After seeing a promotional video during my first club meeting, it seems the pros all have one thing in common: lankiness. I don’t know if that’s a coincidence or just a result of the sport essentially being a long-distance running competition with the added wrinkle of navigation.

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London, the Heroic City

London has always been one of my favorite cities.  It has such a unique energy, and it always strikes my imagination in a special way when I am here. It is so culturally rich, so diverse, and always exciting.  The city, built over and again on the remains of its previous self across two millennia, teems with history.  I get the sense that Roman London, Medieval London, Victorian London, and Wartime London were all alive with this same vibrancy.

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Tuesday Night Lights

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Bidvest Wits 0 – 1 Kaizer Chiefs

As Cici boarded her 777 for an overnight journey to London, I left my computer lab tutorial just after 8 pm and walked about 200 yards down Yale Road to enter modest Bidvest Stadium, home of South Africa Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) Bidvest Wits.  The place was rocking.  Tuesday evening’s league match was against the Kaizer Chiefs, arguably the biggest brand name in South African club football.  I was first introduced to the Kaizer Chiefs in 2010 when visiting for the Fifa World Cup with friends.  Their mustard-yellow and black jerseys were ubiquitous among local sports fans in Joburg, and they played in the largest Stadium in South Africa: Soccer City (now branded as FNB Stadium).  The Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates, the area’s second biggest team, both have roots in Soweto, where allegiances are split between the two clubs.  Their fierce rivalry dates back to 1970, when the Kaizer Chiefs, 33 years younger than the Pirates, were founded.

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1,031 Things To Do Before I Die

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A couple of years back, I set myself the goal to visit 40 countries by the age of 30. I am already at 35, and thanks to this yearlong adventure I am on, I think I will hit 40 within the year. So, that means I am going to need a new goal!

Now that I have dedicated myself to a year of travel, simply racking up countries no longer seems like challenge enough, nor is it quite in the spirit of truly experiencing the world. Counting that I’ve been to Mexico, when I’ve really only spent a few days in Tijuana kind of feels like cheating. I want to challenge myself to see and experience the most beautiful, most impactful, and most culturally important sites of this great planet.

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Cuddling with Cheetahs

 

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South Africa is probably best known for its wildlife. People travel for thousands of miles just to catch a glimpse of the elusive Big Five: Elephants, Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Lions, and Leopards. But in the nearly 4 weeks I’ve been here, the most wildlife I’ve seen is a few zebras and bush bucks. This past week, I had the chance to get much more intimate with African animals.

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Wild Coast

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The beach is my happy place.  The sun on my skin, the smell and sound of the ocean, and the relaxed pace of life are some of my favorite things.  I could spend days doing nothing but laying on the sand with a good book in hand.  Spencer much prefers more active pursuits when on holiday, such as hiking and swimming.  As we discovered this week, the little-known Wild Coast of South Africa had everything we could both want out of a vacation.

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BRB

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We are currently backpacking up the Wild Coast, along the Indian Ocean.  It’s beautiful, pristine, and if I ever decide to come back to real life I promise to write all about it here.  Hold tight.