A bit about Durban –
It has a population of 3.5 million, including neighbouring towns
It has the largest Indian population outside of India
It is the second-largest manufacturing hub in South Africa, after Johannesburg
It is the busiest port in South Africa, and in Africa
It is a major centre of tourism because of the city’s warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches
I think we had possibly taken a bit too much notice of the last fact, and not paid enough attention to the others. We were expecting some kind of Gold Coast, when in reality it’s more like Newcastle or Wollongong. The place we’re staying in is very nice, but even that was not quite what we expected. The ‘cottage’ is actually a ground floor flat, with a much larger house above it. Well-equipped, comfortable, great views of the Indian Ocean, lovely garden, helpful staff. Yep, staff. While we were out yesterday, the maid came and cleaned the ‘cottage’ and moved all our stuff around. We’re still trying to find things! I’m sure nothing has been taken, it’s all just been ‘relocated’.
We went into the city yesterday, to have a look there and to see the much-hyped ‘Golden Mile – a beachfront street with hotels, apartments and shops, with market stalls along the edge of the beachfront all selling the same stuff. We were expecting some glitz, glamor and maybe some interesting places to eat. Actually, it was all pretty tacky, with some fairly desperate-looking guys trying to eke out a living any way they can. And yeah, that includes begging, stealing and doing whatever else it takes. The main shopping streets in the city didn’t have anything interesting enough to make us want to stop and have a look, although their public buildings looked grand and well maintained.
I was keen to find Bunny Chow for lunch – curry that is served in a hollowed-out bread roll or loaf. A hotel with an outdoor dining area had a few varieties on their menu (lamb, chicken, vegetarian) and we sat down at a table overlooking the beach. A car parked on the street just below us had its car alarm keep going off, and we decided that wasn’t quite the ambience we wanted, so we left and found more Bunny Chow at a little takeaway shop further down the street. It was advertised as ‘1/4 bunny’, which turned out to be a serve of curry in a hollowed-out quarter of a loaf of white bread, with the hollowed-out piece of bread and some grated carrot served on the side. The gravy soaked into the bread and it was all delicious!
Most of the top-rated Things to do in Durban, according to Trip Advisor, were aquariums, Wet’n’Wild parks and stuff we weren’t really interested in, so we headed back to the ‘cottage’ to spend a bit more time looking at the ocean and watching the ships go by. I’m reading a book about the Oscar Pistorius trial and it’s a very interesting read.
For our last couple of days, we’re heading to a National Park north of here on the coast – Isimangaliso Wetland Park, near St Lucia. It has fairly mixed reviews on Trip Advisor, and apparently the monkeys are a big problem, so we’ll try it for a night and move on if we really can’t stand it. However, the wildlife there is abundant and I’m hoping we might see a cheetah or two.
We learnt something from our hostess last night – when Liz Taylor and Richard Burton got married for the second time, it was in Botswana in 1975, at the Chobe National Park, right up north on the border with Namibia, where we were at the beginning of this trip.