Author Archives: yoonmi

About yoonmi

I love to travel, take photos, and post about it. Because a blog is a better way to store memories than my aging brain.

#thegetawayfkaCOMMIT #Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal

After brunch and a browse around the Time Out Market (mostly a food/drink market with a few boutique shops), we took a cab to the Tower of Belém, which, instead of “bell-em,” is pronounced “buh-lime.”

I kept forgetting that I had a mini Polaroid camera (actually, it’s a Fujifilm Instax) and made sure to take a group photo here. As the photo taker was carefully handing me back my camera with the film sticking out, my finger accidentally hit the button and took a second photo. A minute of time revealed a double chin, after which HyeMi suggested that when it finished developing, a third one may appear.

Christina, me, Jenn and HyeMi with Portugal’s Golden Gate Bridge, officially known as Ponte 25 de Abril. The name commemorates the Carnation Revolution in 1974 and the day that the dictatorship, Estado Novo, was overthrown without the usage of violence. During the celebration, soldiers placed carnations in the barrels of their guns.

We then came across the simplest business idea, “wine with a view” – a compact stand dispensing wine, with foldable chairs and blankets situated by the river. Very little overhead involved.

The elaborate Jerónimos Monastery (or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) and the fountain in Praça do Império in front of it. I didn’t get to check it out this time so, I’ll just have to come back again sometime soon…

Not too far from the monastery is the bakery, Pastéis de Belém, selling the pastel de Belém or pastel de nata (plural: pastéis de nata), an egg custard whose recipe came from the monastery itself. The Liberal Revolution of 1820 resulted in the shutting down of convents and monasteries and, as a result, the monks of this particular monastery sold the pastry at a nearby sugar refinery for money and survival. The same recipe is said to be used today and it’s so worth the wait. The lines can be long but they move pretty quickly and efficiently. You pay, they bag the already boxed treats, you bite into the extremely flaky and warm center treat, and you say “OMG,” all in that assembly line-esque manner. (That fish plate was in our lodging.)

Travel tip: We bought several packages (6 to a box) the day before we were flying out. Two of us put it in the fridge and 2 of us left it in a cool room temperature overnight. The pastries traveled well and after several days in the fridge at home and a slow heating in the oven, they still were fresh and crispy.

   

For dinner, we hit up a seafood restaurant that João had recommended – Cervejaria Ramiro. I knew this was the place to go to when the cab driver said “Good! Good!” with a thumbs up after I had told him where we were going. Even the cab driver for the ride back asked, “Did you girls just come from Ramiro? Very good, isn’t it?”

Jenn: “So, what do you recommend? What do most people order?”
Waiter: “Shrimp in garlic sauce, clams, tiger prawns, scarlet shrimp, rock lobster.”
Jenn: “Um, so we’ll take all of that.”
Waiter: “How many tiger prawns and scarlet shrimp?”
Us: “Um, 4 each? Is that enough food.”
Waiter: “Woooo yes…”

We should’ve known to cut it down when he made a face.

Waiter: “To drink?”
Us: “We’ll have the Sagres beer.”
Waiter: “Pidyo?? Pidyo??”
Us: “Uhhh…yes, pitcher?”
Waiter (smiles): “Pidyo!”

Me: “Uh, guys, I don’t think he said ‘pitcher.’ I remembered that ‘pidyo’ in Chinese meant ‘beer.’ He thinks we’re Chinese.”

It didn’t help that the table next to us had English-speaking Chinese (possibly Americans) who egged him on and excitedly shouted “PIDYO!!!” The waiter then came back to show us the rock lobster (pictured above) after fighting it out of the nearby tank.

Us: “Ooooo good! good!”

When we later got the bill, we saw that the rock lobster had cost us EUR 160. It didn’t occur to us that he came to show us the rock lobster not so that we could ogle at it, but to make sure we were okay with the size of it. Oops.

Travel tip: Skip the tiger prawns, but order everything else. Even the rock lobster. Also, try to make reservations. We made a 7pm reservation (which is considered early), and there was already a line of people who hadn’t made one. There were still empty tables inside but most seemed reserved.

#thegetawayfkaCOMMIT #Porto

Porto, Portugal

We were up at 6am to catch the 7am train to Porto. It’s about 3 hr each way from Lisbon and our car was luckily pretty empty so, we all got to sprawl out on the seats. Christina and HyeMi passed out immediately after ticket check and, as the guy came back around a short while later to check for new passengers, he momentarily paused to look at us and chuckle. 4 “proper” Asian girls with limbs sprawled out, 2 of us completely knocked unconscious. I’d laugh, too.

The São Bento train station featured blue-tiled artwork (also known as azulejo) depicting key events in Portugal’s history. According to a free walking tour guide, the widespread usage of tiles on buildings was for the same reason why your bathroom has them – to shield from the effects of humidity. Blue was the most accessible ink color. (Photo credit: HyeMi)

HyeMi read about a free city walking tour on someone’s blog that was to meet here in the Praça da Liberdade. We had some time to kill before meeting time so, we went to check out the historic bookstore, Livraria Lello, which JK Rowling frequented in her early days. The 4 euro entrance fee turned us away. (Apparently, you get it back if you buy a book, though.) Back at the square, we met the main guide and said our hello’s to the 3-4 other people also waiting. Then, another 50-60 people showed up and we were split into two groups of 30ish and told the tour would last 2-3 hr for the old part of the city. It was hard to hear because the group was so large. Our guide was thoroughly entertaining but, we didn’t make it past the first 15 minutes. We did manage to chat up an Aussie guy, a solo traveler in the midst of visiting friends and family, whom Jenn was initially suspicious of, whispering to us “Haven’t you ever watched Taken??”

There was a church or cathedral at the end of almost every block that the guide joked that if you ever felt the need to pray or confess, you’ll always have a church nearby to do so. Laziness could never be an excuse unless, of course, you got sucked into a Netflix hole and only left the couch to grab another bag of chips. (Pictured above: Igreja dos Clérigos. You can climb the tower there to get a panoramic view of the city.)

Up the block, the Igreja do Carmo. The planners of this city clearly played a round of Settlers of Catan with church pieces.

And, up the hill from the train station is the Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral).

The Gothic cloisters of the Sé, adorned with blue tiles galore.

The terrace in front of the cathedral gave way to this awesome view of the city. I must say, Porto has no shortage of locations that provide amazing panoramic views.

And, yes, more building facades, a lot of which had laundry hanging off the railings. I often wondered if there was a community rule that every occupant must do laundry and hang them out to dry at peak tourist photo-taking times. I suppose the dryer market would never progress here.

Travel tip: We had planned to visit the Palácio da Bolsa but, it was closed for a bit due to private events being held there. So, make sure it’s open before you go.

Heading towards the Cais da Riberia.

We booked a 6 Bridges River Douro boat cruise at a nearby tourism office and had time to grab a quick bite to eat by the Cais da Ribeira. Knowing that “quick bite” isn’t really a well-known thing in Portugal, we came upon a cafe by the river with a maître d’ who had the look and attitude of a Real Housewife of New Jersey. We stressed to her that we had a 1:30pm boat cruise and only about 30-40 minutes to eat. She said “okay, okay, okay,” ushered us inside and sent a waiter to bring menus almost immediately. She then rushed us to choose what we wanted to order and even came by to check on us later on to make sure we had everything in good time. This is a woman who gets shit done. No doubt.

We took one of these babies out to see the 6 bridges, one of which is the Ponte de Dom Luís I (pictured above), a bridge designed by Théophile Seyrig, a partner of Gustave Eiffel. You may know Gustave from something called the Eiffel Tower.

The white Lego block at the very top is the Episcopal Palace.

The neighboring Ponte Maria Pia was also designed and built by Seyrig & Eiffel.

After the cruise, we took a funicular to the top level of the Ponte de Dom Luís I which is for the tram and pedestrians to cross. On the walk to the funicular, we passed a sign advertising bike rentals and featuring photos of bike paths without any city views.

Me: “Nice of them to include several photos of the actual paths and views of nothing scenic.”
Jenn (pointing to one photo): “And, here, you can ride a bike on the road…to nowhere.”

Bike rental company, I hope you fired the intern that put this together.

After the sky went back and forth between sun and clouds, the sun finally won its spotlight. Yep, delightful.

From the bridge, we took a cab to Graham’s Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia for lunch and a Port tasting (well, we only had time for one, haha).

Vila Nova de Gaia

Cheers to us!

Travel tip: Also, go for the Port tastings by the river (Taylor’s, Espaço Porto Cruz).

#thegetawayfkaCOMMIT #Sintra

Sintra, Portugal

We went on a day trip with Inside Lisbon which was great because we didn’t have to worry about renting a car and it was great having a guide take us through. After about a 1-2 hr drive, we reached Palácio da Pena at the top of the mountain. The gardens around the palace were really peaceful to walk through but, only because all the groups of tourists opted to take a very short bus ride up, completely bypassing the gardens.

Guide: “Olá, my name is Jeaux-oww-ohh but, you can call me John.”

Me: “What was our guide’s name again?”
Jenn: “Jo-ah? J-o-a-o.”
Me: “Sounds like 좋아.*”

*좋아 means “good” or it indicates “I like it” in Korean.

On the top of the entrance archway is a sculpted hand (not pictured), signaling that all are welcome. If only I could’ve taken that stone hand and slapped the current POTUS in the face with it several times…

The palace was built as an expression of Romanticism with domes inspired by Indian architecture and tiles by the Moors. The colors gave it a Disney World feel and I almost expected to find candy-making machines operating inside. Instead, we found most of the stucco work and frescoes to actually be drawn onto the walls in 2D and painted in such a way to give it a 3D feel. The restoration almost had me fooled.

Above another archway lies a triton who’s half-man and half-fish with land above him and the sea beneath, making this the “Allegoric Gate To The Creation Of The World.”

Definitely tile scenery worthy of a palace.

From the back of the palace, we could see Castelo dos Mouros and the view beyond. We walked along the edge of one of the turrets to get a better view and to see parts of the old monastery (destroyed by lightning and the 1755 earthquake) on which the palace was built.

João: “This part is a little bit more complicated because it’s narrower and it’s higher, okay? So, stick to your right [by the wall], okay?”
HyeMi: “Oh, Jenn, it’s not bad.”
João: “It gets worse, okay?”
HyeMi: “Don’t say that!”
João: “No, sorry! I’m being honest! Just for you to expect it.”

It really wasn’t scary (for anyone who gets vertigo or is slightly afraid of heights). But, we just found João’s responses and demeanor to be so endearing. Perhaps it’s the accent and his chill vibe.

We walked through the interior for about 30 min through a chapel, bedrooms and an entertainment room. But, of course, our favorite room of all was the…

…medieval Ina Garten-style kitchen. You could tell that we’ve reached our 30s when we talk excitedly about real estate, home decor, and kitchen goals.

We then headed into town where we were allotted about an hour to meander along the alleyways to souvenir shop and eat.

João: “Over there is Piriquita. It’s one of the oldest bakeries which King Carlos I visited many times. ‘Piriquita’ means ‘parakeet.'”
Us: “Awww.”
João: “Well, it was the nickname the king gave to the baker because she was short.”
Us: “Oh.”
João: “Yea. But, when you go there, order the ‘pillow’ and the ‘cheese.'”
Us: “What?”
João: “Well, if I say it in Portuguese, you won’t get it. Travesseiro and Queijada.”

He was right. Portuguese does not sound like how it looks sometimes. Add a bit of Spanish, add a bit of Russian flair, hold your nose for a nasally touch, and you’ve got it. Kind of.

#squadgoals

The white cone things on the left are chimneys for the Palácio Nacional de Sintra. Nearby this viewpoint, we stopped at an empty outdoor cafe for a quick bite and a cheeky glass of wine. We still had about 40 min and we thought ordering sandwiches would take little time. But, in true Iberian Peninsula fashion, it took 10-15 min for us to get our drinks and the full 40 min to get the sandwiches. It was literally cheese, ham, and sliced bread, toasted. The only technical aspect, I suppose, would be the toasting. Thirty minutes in, the cafe had filled up some more and the waiter became frantic.

Us: “We’ll just take the sandwiches to go.”

The waiter nodded his head ambiguously. Ten more minutes passed and we really needed to go. João was parked in a zone that only allotted an hour. So, we split up to conquer duties. HyeMi and Christina headed off to Piriquita to grab some pillows and cheeses, while Jenn and I confronted the waiter and paid the bill.

Jenn: “Um, we really need to go.”
Waiter: “Why didn’t you tell me before?”

Face palm. By the time we got the food, the waiter looked like he needed a cigarette break.

Cabo da Roca

On the drive to Cabo da Roca, Jenn, HyeMi and Christina all fell asleep and João kept peeking at his rearview mirror to make sure that there was at least one person still awake listening to him talk. Everyone awoke by the time we reached this westernmost point of Europe.

I title this piece, “Christine by the Lighthouse,” a composition by Jenn, the artist formerly known as JYP.

The area was covered in succulents, the most comfortable “grass” you could ever lay on. No lie.

Cascais

We ended the day at Cascais (pronounced Cas-kah-eesh) where we situated ourselves along the beach with seafood and beer. Oh, and ice cream at Santini.

We all passed out on the ride back to Lisbon, leaving João by himself with his thoughts.

#thegetawayfkaCOMMIT Portugal ed.

Some time in 2015, my friend Jenn had heard about an idea that her friend had been doing for a few years now. It was a trip with some close girlfriends planned entirely in secret by one chosen girl. The time of year, number of days, and budget were all agreed upon in advance and the location was not to be revealed until arrival at the airport. They called it The Great Escape.

So, after our Iceland trip, Jenn, Christina, HyeMi and I agreed to do the same. But, after having already stolen the idea, we couldn’t also steal the great name. Our placeholder became COMMIT, written in all caps. It sounded ridiculous but, it may have pushed us all the more to do just that. Commit, in all its abruptness and command. After a year, we finally settled on the more appealing The Getaway with the appendage “fka COMMIT” so that we would never forget.

Jenn, as the first planner of the trip, handed us wrapped packages in the cab en route to Newark. We ripped it open to reveal a passport holder and guide book to…[cue in squealing]

Lisbon (Lisboa), Portugal

Our 7 hr flight, 5 hours forward in time, and almost 2 hr waiting at passport control were justified by the beautiful 60°F degree weather. We were lucky to get an early check-in at our “hotel” and opened the door to find our dream apartment, complete with dream balconies and dream views. For anyone staying in Lisbon for a few days, I highly recommend staying at Edifício Ex Libris which is like a glorified Airbnb since someone comes in everyday and cleans the apartment.

The view from our front balcony started our love affair with building facades and our hobby of taking photos of it. I know, super exciting times.

Exhibit B.

A Streetcar Named “F.U.”

Lisbon reminded me a lot of Madrid, except smaller with trams, more modern, and almost everyone spoke English without making you feel guilty for not knowing Portuguese. Passing through certain neighborhoods or alleyways easily gave me flashbacks of specific areas in Madrid. The fact that some Spanish friends messaged me while I was here even confused me as to which year it really was. Unfortunately, it really is 2017 and Trump is actually president. To the other girls, Lisbon was like San Francisco. Lots of hills, trams, warm yet sometimes chilly weather, and a bridge reminiscent of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We took Tram No. 28 from Praça Luís de Camões, got off too early, and stumbled upon Miradouro de Santa Luzia, a viewpoint in Alfama that revealed amazing views of the city that only got better which each subsequent place we visited. There was also beautiful tile work that depicted Praça do Comércio before the earthquake of 1755.

Travel tip: We were able to pay on the tram. It was about EUR 2.90 per person.

Further up was another viewpoint at Largo das Portas do Sol.

Voila! From here, Jenn was able to negotiate a tuk tuk ride to Elevador de Santa Justa from EUR 5 pp to EUR 4 pp. The guy didn’t put up much of a fight. He then gave us somewhat of a tour as he drove us to the elevator, and even suggested that he drive us to the top where we can access the viewpoint via a walking bridge, thereby bypassing the elevator ride and skipping the likely long lines at the bottom. Perhaps he deserved the extra euro per person.

From the walking bridge, we paid EUR 1.50 pp to walk up some stairs towards this view of the city with Castelo de São Jorge in the distance and River Tagus (Tejo) to the right.

And, a view of Igreja do Carmo (or what’s remaining of the church after the earthquake) and Praça Dom Pedro IV, also known as Rossio Square.

We overloaded on textiles, soaps (had no idea this was a thing here), cans of pâté, and pine cone ceramics, all in one store – A Vida Portuguesa. Then we took a band album photo while eating candied walnuts by the storefront.

Later, we chilled at our apartment before heading out to dinner which we had around 7pm every night. (And, by the way, at 7pm, we pretty much opened up every restaurant because 10pm appears to be standard dinner time.) We debated on a good hashtag to use for all “The Getaway” trips and also one to use for each individual trip. Given that all we could think of for a whole year for a trip name was COMMIT, our creativity with hashtags was no different.

Me: “So, let’s use #TheGetawayfkaCOMMIT for the main hashtag and…#PortuGals” for this trip?”

[Immediate scoffing.]

HyeMi: “How about…#TheGetaway2017 or #TheGetawayPortugal?”
Me: “Nooo, we need to be more creative. Although, didn’t we use #NYUgnomes for our Iceland trip? Should we just use that to group all the trip photos together into one hashtag?”
Jenn: “No. That one’s done and dusted.”
HyeMi: “#PortugueseGnomes? #Portugal2017?”
Me: “Wait, did you say ‘done and dusted’ or ‘dumb and dusted’ because both of those work.”

[HyeMi tries to use #dumbanddusted. It survives only one post.]

HyeMi: “Let me see what ‘getaway’ translates into in Portuguese. It says ‘cai fora.’ So, #CaiFora2017? Wait a minute…’cai fora’ actually means ‘get out!’ Ugh, I’m just going to translate ‘vacation’ into Portuguese. #ferias2017.”

That, too, survived only one post. In the end, we just went with #TheGetawayPortugal. Whomp whomp.

And, exhibit C.

Travel tip: Grab breakfast at Tartine, lunch with a view at Pharmacia and/or IBO Restaurant (Mozambique fusion), and dinner at Cervejaria Ramiro (make reservations in advance) and anything owned by José Avillez (Mini Bar Teatro, Cantinho do Avillez, Bairro do Avillez). At Mini Bar, try the secret “Epic Menu.” The cocktails (similar across the restaurants) were probably the best I ever had, particularly the Primo Basilico.

OOO-WEE!

Lake Malawi, Malawi

Our time in Malawi was probably the most chill time we had in the 54 days. We camped 2 nights at Kande Beach which, for whatever reason, had the best wifi signal ever. You can be assured that we took full advantage of that.

We stayed 2 nights in Kande Beach and had the option of horseback riding, going on a village walk, snorkeling, among other things. Half the group opted to get laundry done, do some admin, and sunbathe on the sand with ciders in hand. In the afternoon, I opted out of snorkeling to the small island 800m away. The thought of swimming out there seemed too tiring and having seen Viv almost drown in the semi-treacherous waves with Alex, a former lifeguard, helping her back to shore, then seeing Courtney trail behind with someone’s missing goggle or flipper, I was glad to have made that choice. People actually warned that it would be tiring and that the normal option was to take a canoe out and then snorkel by the island. They totally disclaimered all of it when everyone rented out their snorkel gear and decided to swim instead.

At our next campsite at Chitimba Beach, we declared this our chilly bin/cooler punch night. Connor even managed to find a random ice vendor who sold us a box of ice. And, by “box,” I mean a box-sized cube of ice, a full-on rectangular prism probably the size of my head.

One part clean large cooler, many parts orange and apple, and an assortment of fruit juice, vodka, and gin. You know, your typical house party punch. The night ended with us lying on the beach in pitch black, with nothing but the light of the stars and the sound of the waves.

Mostly hungover, we opted out of the Livingstonia walking tour the next morning. Instead, several of us went on a easy village walk that began with a visit to a nearby school where we were cajoled into making donations, and ended at a fortune teller/witch doctor who dressed in a costume that could’ve been made by a third grader. He chewed off the glowing embers from a piece of wood that had been in a fire, then engaged in a dance that made his body do all sorts of vibrations.

While we asked him questions that were communicated via his translator, he kept shouting a truly guttural OOOO-WEE! I can only imagine that it was the power of whatever spirit that helped him to predict our very generic futures (“Your family misses you; You’ll have x number of kids”). I wish I had just stayed at the campsite and napped.

At the end of the day, we girls got our hair braided like badasses. (Photo credit: Alex)

Note: We were later told that it’s better to donate through our G CEO or a foundation. The direct donations into their cash box may be misdirected, if you catch my drift.

Visa tip: Malawi visas are known to be tough to get at the border but, we were able to get them at our border crossing without any issues. The cost at the time of this trip was $75.

Ain’t no one.

Livingstone, Zambia

We crossed this bridge to get from Zambia to Zimbabwe. (It’s also where we met up with everyone else later on to cheer on the bungy jumpers and zip liners.)

Travel/visa tip: Try to book Devil’s Pool tickets more than a week in advance. Because of limited spots, we were split into 3 groups – the morning group with breakfast included, the lunch group, and the afternoon tea group. H, Rachel and I already decided on afternoon tea but, splitting the other 2 groups became an unnecessary nightmare. As for visas, we were able to get them upon arrival at all the border crossings on this trip. Just make sure that you have relatively crisp USD issued from 2006 and on, and try to have exact change. They tend to give you a hard time about getting change back. As of Aug 2016, the Zambia visa for U.S. citizens was $80 and Zimbabwe $30 or 35. Carry a pen with you.

Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya), Zimbabwe

The afternoon tea group (minus the Canadians since the Zim visas were double the price for some reason) decided to hit up the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls in the early morning to avoid long lines at the border. We began at the David Livingstone statue by Devil’s Cataract and made our way to Main Falls, Horseshoe Falls and Rainbow Falls at a leisurely pace. We didn’t go chasin’ them.

There was literally no railing at the edge, and a simple trip could have you free-falling, then floating down the Zambezi below. Hand clamminess level: high.

Interesting that they would call this Rainbow Falls. Can someone tell me why?

History tidbit: The indigenous name for these falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya or, translated, “The Smoke That Thunders.” David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary and explorer who supported the abolition of slavery, named the falls in honor of Queen Victoria. Because Britain.

Armchair Falls and the Eastern Cataract towards the end of the trail. Rafters below were beginning to set off into the river on the right.

After reaching the end of the trail, we circled back and spotted the breakfast group chilling out in Devil’s Pool on the Zambia side. If you can’t see them…

…here’s a closeup, (They’re in the top, middle in the zoomed out photo.) That’s where we were going for the afternoon. YAY.

Devil’s Pool / VIctoria Falls, Zambia

Before our scheduled departure, we grabbed a delightful lunch at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, a place so out of our league that they had their own giraffes and zebras roaming around their privately-owned premises. From here, we took a boat ride to Livingstone Island, the access point to the Devil’s Pool and, of course, hors d’oeuvres, scones, tea and beer.

The backsides of Alex, Rachel, H, me, Mandy and Isabelle as we all leaned against the naturally formed rock enclosure. Rachel’s extremely nervous, hysterical laughter was definitely a highlight to the experience. What weren’t highlights were the asshole little fish in the pool that nipped at our legs.

A view to the left, to the left.

And, the view to the incredibly ominous-looking right.

Yup, we swam around somewhere along the edge back there. Hell yea.

Livingstone

Our cozy campsite was on grounds that were adequately fenced off to keep out the cool animals that could kill us. If you look closely to the right, you will see our laundry tree. We felt pretty genius about it because the branches were sturdier than the clothesline. Then we later found out that there was a nice ant colony that also very much liked the tree and, later, our clothes. Quite literally, we ended up with ants in our pants. Monkeys also later made their way to the trees and it became a legitimate concern over the safety of my banana shirt. But, unlike some U.S. citizens, they know when something is fake.

Our group for the second leg: George, Hayley, Erin, Chris, Courtney, Tanja, Ashley, Mandy, Viv, Connor, Isabelle, Kate, Hayden, Robyn, Nadine, me, Shani, Taryn, Alex, Rachel, Casey (?) and Whitney. We then said goodbye to 11 and hello to 9 new people.

Our Zambezi River whitewater rafting group was split into 2 rafts and the guide taught us some basic skills at the very beginning. Before entering the rapids, we were to stop paddling on his signal, duck into the raft, and hold onto our paddles against the “oh shit” line (rope handles). But, I have Trump hands and it’s damn difficult to hold onto a rope and a paddle simultaneously while going through thrashing water. The bumps of the raft against the rocks easily dislodged me and the guide kept yelling at me to hold on. I don’t handle people yelling at me well, especially when I’m trying my best to follow directions. Sorry that I’m not anatomically equipped to handle whitewater rafting. Even my childhood piano teacher yelled at me when I struggled to play octaves. But, I can damn well properly wash the bottoms of small jars.

Just to elaborate a bit more, my previous whitewater rafting experience was in the Delaware Water Gap. “Whitewater” in Delaware is a loosely used word. “Whitewater” in the Zambezi, on the other hand, is fucking terrifying. I was under the impression that we’d want to avoid raft flippage. Our guide promised not more than two. TWO. And, both times, the raft ended up flipping on top of me, once on the bottom flat side where there are no air gaps to help you out. I had to inverse crawl my way out. Then, when I finally freed myself, I gasped for air only to have the whitewater constantly splashing in my face. It’s hard not to panic. (That is me in the yellow helmet about to be pummeled by the raft in the above photo, by the way.)

There was another guide, though, who was a real beast. He sat on a wooden platform within the raft with 2 oars attached and paddled the shit out of the Level 5 (6 is the highest) rapids. He even went through the “Washing Machine” like it was still bathwater. That is exactly how it sounds like.

Mfuwe / South Luangwa National Park

This campsite had a small pool but, by the time we arrived, it had become a very pretty shade of green. “Pretty,” in this case, did not look sanitary. So, we chilled on the loungers and watched the sunset instead. I went to bed early since I opted for the morning game drive and fell asleep to the sound of Patrick and Catherine’s pronunciation of “mayor” in a very thick Irish accent. Then, I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of elephants and/or hippos roaming in between our tents. I’d say that it was an interesting night of sleep.

Road blockage en route to our morning game drive.

We indiscreetly followed this elephant around and he was obviously annoyed by it. He abruptly stopped walking to turn around and shout WTF with this facial expression.

LEOPARD. Marking its territory. When I see its cute tail and paws, I momentarily forget that it’s not just a cat. Then, I realize that it would rip me to shreds if I, let’s say, walked up to it and hugged it or something.

I didn’t even have to zoom that much for this photo. It was right in front of our 4×4 and the driver had to tell us to carefully sit back down or else it would think we were threatening it. Oh, okay.

Boulders in the water? No.

Hippos. Why do they look so damn cute from afar? Another animal I want to hug but clearly won’t.

Reflection after sunset.

We weren’t able to catch a kill but, we saw the aftermath of one during a night drive. After watching the leopard go through many unsuccessful attempts at dragging the carcass up the tree, it was getting pretty late and we had to go before closing time. It was a little disappointing that we couldn’t stay longer. But, on the way back, we stopped abruptly to let a hippo family cross the road in the pitch black with nothing but the headlights to illuminate them. A baby hippo trailed behind in complete cuteness. “Ain’t no one fucks with tiny hippo. Ain’t no one.”

While falling asleep in the 4×4, I got whacked in the face on 2 separate occasions by a low-lying tree branch. That shit had thorns.

Bee-yoo-tee-ful Botswana

Ghanzi, Botswana

George was always on top of his game as CEO. He let us know the daily itinerary and made sure we knew each time we entered a different time zone. And, by the time we all woke up, washed up, packed our stuff and rolled up our tents, he always had the breakfast table set up, sometimes with eggs and bacon already sizzling on the pan. So, when we arrived to an empty table this morning, all of us scratched our heads. Did we all miss something? Luckily, by now, we became familiar with where things were packed and figured out on a whim how to turn on the makeshift stove to make tea and coffee. Turning on the stove was a collective moment of sheer pride. Yes, we were able to turn on the gas and light a match! You get a coffee; you get a coffee; everybodyyyy getssss a coooofffffeeeeee! (Or, tea.)

By the time we were washing the dishes, George stumbled in looking all alarmed and disheveled. He had forgotten to set his watch forward one hour.

Because of our awesomeness, we made it in time for our morning walking tour with the Kalahari Bushmen (the San people) who then demonstrated their hunting techniques and survival skills. Badass.

Maun / Okavango Delta

H, Rachel and I have been discussing this flight for about a year and here it finally was! It was a true test of Rachel’s stomach and the power of Dramamine.

The Okavango Delta is a huge wetland, all swampy and marshy, that is flooded seasonally by the Okavango River. I highly recommend watching all of Planet Earth II. The Okavango is featured in Episode 5: Grasslands and if the amazingness of the visuals and the dramatic orchestral music aren’t enough, you also have David Attenborough narrating in complete majesty.

Yup, amazing.

The reflection of our Cessna on the blades of grass. By now, all of us were still beaming with smiles while Rachel had her head down in silent meditation, “safety” bag in hand.

We finally completed our Big 5 bingo when we spotted some buffalo, the other four being the lion, elephant (pictured above), leopard, and rhino which we first saw in Etosha National Park. Apparently, there was a croc in the midst that I completely missed. Doh.

The next day, we packed smaller bags and took mekoro (plural of mokoro, a dug-out canoe) out into the delta to a spot where we were going to camp out for the night. We later tried out steering the mokoro ourselves and when I thought I was getting the hang of it, I began going in a circle, several times. Then flies began to devour my ankles as I was trying to maintain balance. I wanted to swat them away so badly but, apparently, there are leeches in the water and the thought of possibly falling in and having them latch onto unwelcome places resulted in me getting swollen, incredibly itchy ankles instead.

We had the afternoon to ourselves before our sunset walk. Connor, Viv and Hayley had the right idea of how to spend it.

Hippos lurking in the water. I really think they have the best life. They are land animals who spend their days in the cool water and are also scary as hell. They’re in the top 3 list of creatures in Africa responsible for human deaths. Also in that mix are mosquitoes and snakes. Combine all 3 and you have a nice party. Of death.

We ran into a herd of (I think) lechwe antelope, zebras, elephants and warthogs. The usual suspects.

It appeared that this turtle was attacked and eaten by a lion. Seeing that he was not too far from the water…

H: “Aww, he almost made it!”

But, s/he didn’t. What are you gonna do.

Uh huh, sunset. We also had a sunrise walk the next morning. It never gets old.

After dinner, we huddled around a campfire and the locals sang and danced for us. The main song that stuck with us:

Bee-yoo-tee-ful ___________! ( ___________ )
Bee-yoo-tee-ful ___________! ( ___________ )
I shallllllll never for-gettttttt
Bee-yoo-tee-ful ___________! ( ___________ )

The blanks changed with each repeat of the full song – Botswana, animals, tourists, toilet, etc. To be fair, the toilet was a freshly dug out hole. Not quite beautiful but, it wasn’t the worst one we’ve had. And, on that topic, we were told to buddy up should one of us have to use the toilet in the middle of the night. We were in the wild and hippos were known to roam the premises at night. Most of us tried to stop drinking liquids after dinner and we all agreed that there was no shame in peeing by your tent. Because shame is determined by the presence (or lack thereof) of majority agreement. Sure enough, around 3am, I heard grunts and snorts so loud, I felt like the hippos were only a few feet away. COOL. (Scary.)

Back in Maun, Lando Bloom needed a kick starter and we all hauled ass. Well, except for Connor. Guess which one he is.

Kasane / Chobe National Park

Before heading to Chobe National Park, we camped out one night at a place in Gweta with baobab trees and an awesome pool. The camp was aptly named Planet Baobab. After cooking duties, I participated in a game of “Who Could Fold Down The Top Portion of Every Camp Chair The Quickest Without Knocking Them Over,” an awesome adult game possibly invented by Chris and Ashley. This may sound like a simple task but, with a few beers in your system, it becomes quite the challenge and ignites a heightened sense of competitiveness. I forgot who won but, it sure wasn’t me.

We took a BYOB (and BYO-Biltong & BYO-Pringles) river cruise where we saw crocodiles, elephants, hippos, buffalo, and a variety of birds, some of which were getting free rides on top of hippos and buffalo. One younger elephant, however, was limping with a white puffed gash in its leg that looked infected. It was probably attacked as prey and the guide told us it was likely that the park officials had already been alerted about it. The likelihood of it being saved, though, didn’t seem great 🙁

Boats, elephants, sunset.

And, then, we hit the lioness jackpot during a morning game drive.

It is, indeed, a bee-yoo-tee-ful Botswana. So beautiful that Alex had a, and I quote, “chubby for Chobe.” [Shivers.]

Damaraland

For some reason, the second I step out of a plane and onto foreign soil, I develop a ravenous craving for Pringles and it suddenly becomes my mission to try every local flavor offering. The most unique one so far has been cream of mushroom soup in Hong Kong. Africa seemed to cater more to tourists – salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion, cheddar cheese, and BBQ. You know, just in case any of you were wondering. Now that I’m back in the U.S., Pringles hasn’t entered my mind a single time until now. Curious.

Spitzkoppe, Namibia

As soon as we arrived and set up camp, the majority of us went for a hike while some decided to chill out on the rocks and drink beer. I went for the best of both worlds. One of the girls was geocaching and we all excitedly followed along. A lot of us weren’t wearing our hiking shoes, though, because we thought they’d be simple hills. Wrong. The rock face was too smooth for our Chucks and while most of us made it up halfway, the way back down was scary AF (yes, I’m actually using this acronym). Phil, probably the nicest guy ever, had to help each one of us down. (Photo credit: H)

Due to the lack of scary animals, we were allowed to drag our mattresses and sleeping bags out onto the rock and sleep there for the night. The sky was slightly cloudy around 11pm but when I awoke around 3-4am to go pee, it was beautifully clear and sparkly. I tried to stay awake to stare at it but blinked my eyes to suddenly find the sun on its way up.

We visited the Damaraland Living Museum where we learned the ways of life of the Damaras, only to later find out that they go back to wearing shirts and pants and live in a less primitive looking setup somewhere else. (We also met some Himba people selling handmade jewelry on the way here.) The Damara men demonstrated how to start a fire by repeatedly turning a stick left and right against a stone which most of our guys failed at doing. The locals have been egging Chris and Ashley on for not being “man enough” to try out their other demonstrations, so Chris decided to shut all of them down by being the only guy to successfully start a fire. Booyah!

Twyfelfontein is the site where thousands of rock engravings were found. The exact origin is unknown but one thing I can tell you is that these drawings may be better than mine. [Hides animal rock garden.]

The guide then began to explain the different animals when she was interrupted by a misunderstanding.

Tanja: “Oryx lay eggs?”

Nope, ostriches do. But, thanks for a quote that we will be repeating almost everyday for the remainder of the trip. Note: oryx are a species of antelope.

Etosha National Park

I must say, we got pretty damn lucky with all of our game drives. We spotted a lion napping in the shade of a bush on our very first day. SQUEAL.

Impala, springbok, and other kinds of antelope became so common that we’d excitedly spot an animal only to disappointingly say “Oh, just another springbok.” But, at this point, they were still quite exciting. We even saw one springing (or stotting, pronking) which was a treat until we realized it was most likely a warning sign to scare us off.

At night, we camped ourselves by the watering hole with our cameras and beer. First show on prime time was just a casual herd of elephants following a casual sunset.

Then came the giraffes and black rhino. Still casual.

Then, two male elephants engaged in a full showdown of manhood, with their manhoods later fully erect as if to finally settle the matter. It always comes down to that, doesn’t it?

And, as if the male springbok caught onto the idea, we encountered this the next morning. The females were probably somewhere getting actual life done.

I was later chased by a giraffe into the horizon of nothingness. Chyea right. This is the most exercise I got during the 54 days and it was for the purpose of posing for a photo. It really was the middle of nowhere, though, and this is all you could see for miles.

Beautiful creatures and the unfortunate mascot for Fruit Stripe gum. Google it if you don’t know what it is. That zebra’s name is Yipes, as in “Yipes, the flavor has disappeared after the first chew.” I’m starting to feel like Sean Spicer and his rant against Dippin’ Dots. Anyway, ignore all that commentary and look at the magnificent grazing zebras in the wild.

Oryx out, wildebeests in! And, okay, you too, springboks.

Wonder what the gossip is like around this water cooler. Hm, a lot of grunting. Must be about current politics.

“Damn, Zeb took my headrest.”

This was Chris’ paradise. He was the ultimate lover of giraffes and every time we saw one, we’d shout “Chris!”

The male giraffe kept trying to get it on but I think the presence of our vehicle ruined the romantic moment. The female kept inching forward every time the male tried to enter.

George: “Okay, guys, it’s time to go.”
Phil (in his German accent): “Nooo, we cannot leave until the male is inside the female!”

10 minutes pass, and still no luck.

George: “Okay, let’s go. Are you guys ready?”
Chris: “No, I’m not listening to you!”

We passed another 4×4 from which a man shouted in 3 syllables, “Le-o-pard!” It made me think of Bugs Bunny as the conductor, Leopold. And, sure enough, there the leopard was, quietly napping in the camouflage of the grass. Can you spot (ha ha) him? (Psst. Bottom, middle.)

To top that off, Joseph spotted a honey badger with his hawk eyes. A sole honey badger, a lone ranger more badass than Chuck Norris.

George: “How many of you are going on the night drive?”
Tanja: “What is a night drive?”
Robyn: “It’s a drive…at night.”

But, a drive at night that involved awesomeness in the form of jackals, a lion, lioness and her 3 cubs.

Windhoek

This is probably the only time we went “glamping.” The tents were “permanent,” meaning they set up nice individually standing rooms and put a tent-like structure around each of them to give it a camping feel. We still had to use communal bathrooms, so I suppose that counts? But, anyway, here is where the first leg of our trip ended and we said goodbye to Kristina, Phil and Rukshana…and then added 3 new people.

History tidbit: We didn’t find out until later (after we left the country) that there was a forgotten genocide of the Herero and Nama people during the German colonial rule (early 1900s) of what is now Namibia. Apparently, the methods used here in Namibia were the first experiments of what would later be used during the Holocaust. The officials in Germany didn’t even acknowledge it as a genocide until mid-2015, over a century later, and the remaining descendants of the Herero and Nama are still seeking reparation payments.

Happy Days – Cape Town to Swakopmund

Cape Town, South Africa

I always thought Africa would be something I’d do in way older age. It seemed daunting in terms of time and cost. But then, I realized that by camping and cooking your own food everyday (well, helping to cook), costs can be kept relatively low. And, I had time. So, I joined my 11th trip with G Adventures. Can you tell I like this company? No, I don’t get paid to say any of this. This blog barely gets visitors anyway.

54 days, 10 countries, many hours spent on the road. There were 21 of us to start (+ the G CEO and the driver, George and Joseph, respectively), and only 7 of us were going the entire distance.

Travel tip: Visas were not required for up to 90 days for U.S. citizens in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

Trawal/Cederberg

Our first stop was a wine farm and camping site called Highlanders. There was a pool here but, it was getting late in the day and we all opted for the wine tasting instead. Here, George taught us how to put our tents up and take it down, something we’d be doing almost everyday to the point of it becoming an automatic, involuntary action. Like coffee in the morning. Or morning poo.

At night, we all sat around the campfire and went through several rounds of Would You Rather. Among the dirty ones, there were some serious questions, like “Would you rather be the only one to transform into a T-rex or be the only human living amongst them?” Well, what if you were a homeowner? Would you still retain the deed if you became a T-rex? Is estate planning necessary? Are you still covered under the Constitution? I know, serious.

We camped our last night in South Africa by the Orange River, where we could see Namibia just on the other side.

And, the next morning, we went canoeing for about 2 hr in the river. I agreed to partner up with someone without realizing what I was getting myself into.

“Ah, this is nice.”

(10 minutes in…)

“So, how long more do we have to go? I’m tired.”

She then proceeded to stop rowing. Just like with Trump’s presidency, I was exhausted within minutes. I seem to have bad luck with canoeing/kayaking partners [Re: Odda, Norway].

Fish River Canyon, Namibia

Fish River Canyon is Africa’s largest canyon and a magnificent beast to watch a sunset over. We didn’t have permits to hike down into it (apparently, it’s a 5-day hike that you need to book in advance).

Rachel taking photos that I won’t get to see for another decade (hehe).

As we were walking towards our dinner spot, “someone” needed to relieve himself but the only coverage available in this vast canyon was this one tree (and luckily the darkening sky). But, as he tried to do his business, strong winds began going in the wrong direction and ultimately prevented him from doing so. Nature didn’t want his nature. Nor did he want his nature on his nature. Savvy?

Namibia’s night sky was incredible. We cooked and ate dinner against this backdrop and George treated us to boxed wine. Not a bad capture for a point and shoot, right?

Namib Desert / Namib-Naukluft Park

En route to our next campsite, Sossus Oasis Campsite, we stopped for lunch by the only tree that we could see for miles. It provided adequate shade and pleasantness as long as you didn’t inadvertently walk into one of the low lying thorny branches.

Desert for miiiiiiles. We had to cover our noses and mouths every time an occasional car or truck passed by. No matter how frequently you washed your clothes, there was always sand and dust embedded in the fibers.

According to this Evolution of Man, I clearly haven’t progressed much (I am second from the left). I’m also wearing my banana shirt so, I guess that’s fitting.

The campsite where we were staying made a poor choice of fencing off areas with a thin metal wire not too far up from the ground, about mid-calf level. It was easy to forget to step over it, especially when going to grab your 3rd or 4th beer. I tripped and face-planted onto the sand in said scenario and slightly damaged the camera I had slung over my arm. So, yea, I really haven’t progressed much in life after all. Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, half asleep with a head torch, proved to be a serious challenge and others have tripped and fallen also. Just not in front of everyone else like I had. Whomp whomp.

Dune 45, nature’s Thighmaster.

We made it just after sunrise and the red hue was on full blast. We sat here in complete wonderment…before we littered the undisturbed sand with our footprints as we ran almost uncontrollably down the slope.

By the time we reached the bottom, I had grown a sand dune inside each shoe. Hayley was smart to have taken off her shoes and walked barefoot.

We then took 4×4’s to Sossusvlei, a salt and clay pan, where we then embarked on another thigh-mastering journey into…

…what appeared to be a Dali painting, minus the melting pocket watches. Officially, Deadvlei.

Me: “I walked halfway up the dune where you can get a more panoramic view.”
Courtney: “You mean, you walked a quarter of the way up…”

She was right. But, my legs felt otherwise.

At our next campsite, the guy running the camp took us on a walk to show us the desert and talk about how the Bushmen survive. Various desert plants can remain dormant for a long time while dry and sprout again with water, an adaptation clearly useful with unpredictable rainfall. The surrounding sand contained black iron which can be maneuvered around with a magnet. Beetles are able to hydrate by collecting condensation on their backs in the wee hours of the morning. And, there are hideout spots within the sand where spiders hide. I have no idea how he spotted them but he stopped at a seemingly random spot, kneeled down to reveal the teeniest tiniest hole in the ground, opened up a small flap with a blade of grass to reveal a slightly larger hole, dug into the hole with his hands until he reached a white ball, then provoked that white ball enough until the legs popped out of it to reveal a highly alert creepy ass white spider. GAHHHH. Quite loudly.

We then took a drive around the desert to see zebras galloping among the neighboring oryx with the African sun setting in the distance. There are sunsets, and then there are African sunsets. Ahhh.

This campsite also had a watering hole that animals frequented late at night. So, after dinner, we grabbed beers and chairs and sat silently a good distance away for almost an hour. A group of zebras finally came by. They were like little kids fighting for the water fountain after their gym period. Then came the farting, as if water was the last component to add in their bodies to cause a chemical reaction. It was a whole chorus of the flattest, thinnest sounding passing of gas. If sound can be described as 2-D, this was it. It took a whole ab workout for all of us to keep our laughter silent. Whatever our age, farting noises are always hiiiiilariousssss.

First came the Arctic Circle. Then came the Tropic of Capricorn. HRC (standing as CRH), crossing imaginary latitudes, one by one.

Our amazing group, standing by our overland adventure vehicle, lovingly named Lando Bloom. Because it’s not a truck, it’s a Lando. And if I heard this line one more time, I would’ve exploded.

Left to right: George (CEO), Rukshana, Rachel, Isabelle, Hayley, me, Kristina, Hayden, Ashley, Chris, Phil, Joseph (our driver), Courtney, Connor, Kate, Robyn, Viv, Erin, Mandy, Shani, Nadine, Alex and Tanja.

Flamingoes!

Swakopmund

We took a break from our tents and slept in actual beds for 2 nights. Except, 15 of us girls were stuffed into one room stacked with bunk beds, while the 6 guys enjoyed a more sprawled out space. Something seemed unfair. At least we were able to catch a part of the Olympics on TV and watch a replay of Usain Bolt’s win! We also tried oryx, kudu and zebra for dinner. That was creepily delicious. Although it’s not really different from eating beef, I still felt some guilt while eating it.

Now in the city of adventures, we did everything from skydiving to quad biking to sand boarding. Being on a budget limited me to just sand boarding and I almoooostttt landed that jump. Almost. If I hadn’t said anything, I could’ve just had you believe that I did. Hm.

Then, we did the other kind of sand boarding. Remember to keep your elbows and feet up. Oh, and your mouth closed :T (Photo credit: H)

On the way to our next campsite, we stopped for lunch by the Skeleton Coast, a graveyard for ships that were unaware of its craziness. It was also endearingly dubbed The Sands of Hell by early Portuguese sailors. The Bushmen called it The Land God Made in Anger. I will name it The Gentle Giant…Who Will Then Rip You To Shreds.

August 7 – September 29, 2016: Ultimate Africa

Good Hope

Cape Town, South Africa

We officially made it to Nelson Mandela, Elon Musk and Trevor Noah country.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – we grabbed lunch at the Tea Room before taking a stroll through the gardens. The day was very golden and much deserved after laying over at Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Bole International Airport for a second time.

We got used to it being forbidden to lie on the grass in the public parks in China that being able to lay on this was such a delight. Yes, a delight. Now go get me biscuits for my Earl Grey, love.

Magical trees from another world, a world where Obama was still president.

Travel tip: It’s not really safe walking out in Cape Town when it’s dark. Uber was really easy to use and actually pretty cheap throughout the city. We even used it to get into the city center from the airport.

Next morning, we took an Uber to the cable car entrance of Table Mountain which was under its annual construction the week we were there. So, we began our hike up from there. Everything was great until we reached the midpoint, when my mind/body decided that I didn’t want to do it anymore. Just like that. I still completed the hike, though, just with cement blocks for legs.

As expected, it was totally worth it. It was so damn windy up there that at times, the entire top would be covered in clouds, aptly called the “tablecloth.” Oh, and I also ate a really juicy pear up here.

The view of Lion’s Head, Sea Point and Green Point out yonder. If you have a day to spare, take a leisurely stroll along the promenade from Green Point to Sea Point.

Stellenbosch

And, the best part? Well, the best part was probably the combo of Table Mountain suffering + the chateaubriand I ate later that night as a reward. But, the next best part? WINE TOUR. We booked with Wine Flies and visited 5 wine estates in the Stellenbosch area. The first two we visited were Lovane Boutique Wine Estate (above) and Annandale Wine Estate, which is owned by ex-Springbok player Hempies du Toit. We were given a sampling of chocolates in the first and not enough bowls of biltong (best meat jerky ever) in the second.

The next two were Middelvlei Wine Estate (pictured) and Villiera Wines. At Middelvlei, we were served a farmhouse lunch that, while being mass produced for the throngs of tourists strolling in and out, somehow managed to taste like it was especially made for us. A true homecooked meal that made you feel all cozy inside. Grilled meats, grilled sandwiches, a nice small soup and a salad.

Last stop – Remhoogte Wine Estate. By then, everyone else on our bus was utilizing the spit bucket. My spit bucket was called my esophagus.

CHEEEEESE, Gromit.

And, if you haven’t guessed it already, I passed out on the ride back to our hostel back in Cape Town.

V&A Waterfront, where we caught a ferry to Robben Island (try to book this in advance!).

This is Nelson Mandela’s tiny cell, with nothing but a bucket, a small table and a floor mat to sleep on. As if being imprisoned wasn’t bad enough, black prisoners were given only shorts to wear, even in the harsh winter season, and very little rations to eat. White prisoners were given way better nutrition. Communication with the outside world was highly censored and book privileges were limited. Mandela had to write his book in secret in the middle of the night with the help of three other inmates. Persistence and perseverance. I suppose those two are taught for a reason, huh?

Our tour guide was a former prisoner who, in retelling his stories of the cells’ horrible conditions, found redemption and the will to forgive and become friends with the very guards who had tortured him. Now that’s very in the spirit of Mandela.

And, then, ROAD TRIP!

Around the Cape of Good Hope.

H&C now became the trio HRC, in full support of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The original cast of Jackass on location at Boulders Beach. (They’re called Jackass penguins or, African penguins.)

Travel tip: Check out the market at The Old Biscuit Mill and grab a cortado there at Espresso Lab Microroasters. Order a steak at Hussar Grill, a burger at Royale Eatery, seafood at Codfather, breakfast and flat whites at Jason Bakery & Origin Coffee Roasting, beers and app’s at Bootlegger, and, yes, go get that cheeky Nando’s!