Fortunately, most of my travel experiences have been issue-free. This time, though, Cape Town looked me in the eyes and said ‘not this time, sweetie’. I’d been to Cape Town once before, although it was just a 3-day stint squeezed into the middle of a trip to Johannesburg. A return trip was necessary, and having promised my friend Naomi I’d go with her I booked my flights for a winter week in SA.
I had a grand plan of all the things I would get to do once I was there, and truthfully I was able to do it all; I saw my favourite animals on safari, cooed over the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, nailed my Bo-Kaap shots for the gram and hiked Table Mountain. Best of all, I made a new friend in Naomi’s bestie, Kim, and I also got to catch up with some family while I was there. Amongst all the highs, however, were a couple of lows intertwined that had me on edge throughout my stay:
- My Flight Was Delayed
Yes, flights are delayed all the time, and to be honest even though I lost out on a full day in South Africa this ended up being great for me; my flight was so delayed that I essentially got my flights for free after claiming back compensation. However, I’ll never forget the horrendous hotel Qatar Airways put me in, with moulding walls and dirty furniture. It’s easier to stomach now that my bank account is replenished, I suppose!
- I Couldn’t Completely Relax
South Africa’s history with apartheid is well documented and travelling in the context of post-apartheid is one thing most would consider and prepare for. However, travelling to SA at the start of active protests due to several incidences of unpunished cases of violence against women plus reports of xenophobic attacks unfolding was super unsettling. My stranger danger was sky high, which thankfully meant that I was unsuccessfully pick-pocketed on our first night out.
Every time I leave home for my holidays I expect to escape. I realised in Cape Town that I can’t actually expect the local issues to be neatly hidden away for my benefit. That being said, London isn’t without its faults in the slightest and is constantly in the headlines for worrying issues such as knife crime. The context of our Cape Town trip, prevented me from being able to truly relax, but I’m grateful for everyone at home who checked in on me whilst I was away.
- My Phone Failed Me
For someone so obsessed with her tech, you would think I would be the kind of person who regularly backs up their phone. You know, just in case it decides to spontaneously malfunction? Well, I’m disappointed to report that I got caught out. My most recent back up was in May 2018, which meant all of 2019’s travels up to that point – Iceland, Porto, Oslo, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C and Nuremberg (plus the first few days from Cape Town for good measure) were lost from my camera roll forever. If not for a slightly more recent WhatsApp back up, I wouldn’t have been able to recover anything at all!
- The Apartment Key Got Lost
With each trip, I realise that I truly am ‘The Responsible One’. I can be trusted to drive the rental car safely, navigate new cities and plot the directions, complete the itinerary and hold all the important details together in one place. I can be trusted to keep the key for the accommodation. In Cape Town I decided I wanted to take one night off from responsibility, and handed the key over to Naomi. We left for our night out at 10pm, and this was the last time I saw the key with my own eyes. By 5am in our fourth bar of the night I was falling asleep and ready to go back home… to a place we found out we no longer had a key for. After a whole bunch of back and forth with the property owner, we eventually got back into our apartment at 4pm, shattered and unwashed from the previous night’s shenanigans. We laugh about it now, but at the time I was without a doubt the least fun person to be around! I’ll be keeping hold of the keys from now on.
- We Fell Out with Our New Friends
During “The Night of the Missing Key”, we befriended a pair of SA boys who were lovely… at first. By the morning we realised that their party habits were wildly different to ours. Whilst waiting for news of a spare key, we jumped into an Uber to get breakfast. The boys’ general conversation was full of f-ing and blinding and this made the driver so uncomfortable that he threatened to end our journey midway. Responsible me, I pleaded with them to just keep quiet until we got to our destination. They complied for a short time, until the bad vibes jumped out and they, yet again, did the very thing the driver asked them not to do. At this point with my Uber rating on the edge, no apartment to return to, belly empty and sleep deprived I lost my rag. I told them when the Uber drops us off, they need to find their own way somewhere else because I was done with their presence. Shouting and tearful on holiday! This was not the best of Holiday Lu at all, but my only regret was not telling them to clear off earlier.
It was safe to say I needed an additional holiday after this holiday, but this isn’t a ‘don’t go to Cape Town’ post in the slightest. The things that went wrong can happen anywhere and I admit the things that went wrong could have been heaps worse. I’m grateful for coming back safe, wiser and sharper. I made lovely memories with Naomi and Kim and I can’t wait to travel with them again! We also made friends with two Londoners in Cape Town, and the five of us have become a little travel family – continuing our friendship back home and hoping to make more travel plans together in the future!
I hope more people will share their ‘what went wrong’ stories, because as fun as travelling is not every trip is a walk in the park. So here is the whole picture and not just the parts that look good on Instagram.
Has anything ever gone wrong on your travels? How did you overcome it? Let us know!