Tallinn and Stockholm are probably the most popular destinations for weekend getaways from Finland – close and easy. But for a change we decided to head to Poland, to Gdansk, for a long weekend with J. It’s surprisingly fast and cheap: Wizzair flies there from Turku in a bit over an hour. Flights + 3 nights in a hotel with breakfast was only 150 euros per person so the price tag isn’t bad either.
I’ve been in Gdansk once before, so I had seen the most important sights. Relaxing, eating good food and doing fun things were now on the top of my to-do-list. Poland is a cheap destination for a Finn so to get the most out of it, we decided to visit an Escape room – those are relatively expensive in Finland. Visit to the European Solidarity Centre made sure our hunger for culture was fulfilled.
Btw, I’m starting to think getting a mini-SLR was one of the best purchases I did last year! It’s so light, really saves energy and space when traveling. The pictures don’t turn out quite as good, but good enough – for holidays shots anyway! 🙂
I was thinking of doing a “normal” looking back the year 2016 -post, but when I’m thinking back what has happened, I couldn’t think of anything to say. I can’t put my 2016 into any category. And I don’t know if I really believe in years. I mean, it feels kind of stupid to say that this year was bad, okay or good, and hoping the next one would be better. Because it’s not really about the years, is it? It’s about the life that happens and one year can be both good and bad — or just bland and mellow.
So instead, I’m just posting about South Africa again. I know! But I feel like that country has so many great things I’d like to share, but I just don’t have enough time to post about them all. So here are the highlights from my travel cam. I had both of my cameras with me on the trip, the big one and the small one. And the small one I carried with me whenever we weren’t heading to the “most important sights”. Still, it ended capturing some pretty great places though!
A safari was a must for me in South Africa. We traveled over 700 kilometres by a bus from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth to visit the Addo Elephant National Park. It was a clear choice because it was much more closer than the famous Krueger near Johannesburg, and it has the possibbility to see the big 7 instead of “just” big 5. And that’s what we did! It means that besides lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos you might be able to spot two more from the ocean: southern right whales and great white sharks. Even though – for my disappointment – I learned that great white sharks are hardly ever seen on the safari. So if you really want to see great white sharks I guess cage diving with them would be the best option, but that’s something I would never want to experience. I would have wanted to see one from a safe distance! 😀
Addo is the 3rd largest National Park in South Africa and the biggest, where you don’t have to worry about malaria – which is a big plus for travelers! We did our Big 7 with Alan Tours, I had heard lot of positive feed back from them and wasn’t disappointed. You can also drive to Addo by yourself, but I believe we wouldn’t have spotted as many animals without our guide, as most of my knowledge about the wildlife in Africa was based on the Lion King. 😉 And if you want to do the big 7 you need to book the marine tour anyway… You can read more about Alan Tours and our safari here. We didn’t see all of the big 7 seven, but I was still positively surprised that we saw so many animals. And not catching all of them on the first time just leaves more a reason to go on a safari again…. 😉
This was the first time I saw whale(s)! And we were told this Bryde’s whale is a really hard one to catch!
We went snorkeling with these cute cape fur seals in Cape Town, but I could’t tag my camera along to the water, so it was nice to see one on the safari too.
Easiest way to get around South Africa is by car, but as we didn’t want to rent one, we had to figure other ways to move around. Luckily taxes are relatively cheap and one day we took a taxi to Boulder’s Beach (more about those penguins in a later post), Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.
We visited Cape Point before Cape of Good Hope, and I must say that it was so impressive, that Cape of Good Hope didn’t feel like much after that. I don’t how to describe it, but the view was somehow magical. But don’t get me wrong, as a schoolchild I was intrigued by all the famous explorers, so it was also nice to see the Cape of Good Hope and stand by the seas even Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama have sailed.
Oh, and seeing Ostrich and Baboons is a nice plus when you visit the Cape. The pictures are in the order we visited the places, first Cape Point then Cape of Good Hope.
Table Mountain is definitely that cherry on top of Cape Town’s beauty. It plays a big part in forming the City Bowl (as they call it) with Signal Hill and Lion’s Head, and it makes the views in the city so much more spectacular. I also like how the mountain looks so different in different weather…
After reading a couple of blog posts about hiking to the top of the Table Mountain, we were actually going to do it – sounded pretty easy and fun. But as I researched it more and more, I realized it’s better to leave the hiking for pros… It turns out, the weather can change in seconds making the path dangerous. And even it would be sunny, the heat would be a lot to take for a Finn. I learned that more people die at Table Mountain in a year than on Mount Everest! Most likely because they underestimate the climb or aren’t well prepared. So even though you might have to stand in line for some time to get to the cable car, I really recommend it instead of hiking if you really don’t know what you are doing.
But we did hike around the top: to the highest point Maclear’s Beacon and back. And in that heat even that was enough. The hike isn’t that long, but as we stopped for photos all the time, for us it took over 2 hours to go around and get back to the cableway.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, the views were really something!