Sadly, our trip to Johannesburg wrapped up on Monday. When we were planning our trip, two weeks seemed like such a luxuriously long time to spend on vacation! But, I swear, we blinked and it was time to go home.
After we returned to the hotel following the Argentina/Mexico match on Sunday night, we finished a good portion of our packing. I had a lot more to pack than Lauren, who had been rather disciplined about packing away her souvenirs and dirty clothes over the course of our stay, instead of waiting until the last day.
I’ve learned my lesson.
Following breakfast and showers and the last of our packing, Lauren and I caught a cab into Rosebank for one final shopping expedition. There were a few special items left on our list that we wanted to pick up and we wanted to squeeze in one last meal before we left South Africa.
The shopping trip, I am pleased to report, went swimmingly. We knocked everything off of our list in record time and even found a few spare minutes to browse the mall. …and buy a few other things that weren’t on our list as a result.
To be fair, even though it wasn’t on the list, I totally needed the official World Cup album. And now my life is complete.
The most interesting part of our shopping trip came when we visited the biltong store. Biltong is, essentially, South Africa’s version of beef jerky. People go wild for it. Everyone told us about how good it was, how much better it tasted than American beef jerky. So, of course we had to try it. I had actually bought a bag at Soccer City when we were there for the Germany/Ghana match and, well, I wasn’t crazy about it. And Lauren was even less crazy about it.
But would Dad like it? Yes. And that is how we ended up at the biltong store: in our quest to buy our dad a uniquely South African gift.
The biltong store was set up a little bit like a bulk food store. Bins of biltong of all different varieties: ostrich biltong, springbok biltong, beef biltong. All shredded up and ready for the taking (once you put on the proper rubber gloves, of course). So we grab a few handfuls of biltong and shove it into a bag.
And then I get the great idea of buying one of the ginormous slabs of beef that is just hanging off of a shelf like it’s a pair of socks. Why not? Anything in the name of an authentic South African delicacy for our daddy!
We have our slab of beef shredded and then the staff vacuum sealed up all of the biltong so that we could bring it into the country. All right in the middle of a shopping mall. Completely natural! We were getting so good at being South African. It was a shame that we had to leave.
We had seafood for our final meal in South Africa at a restaurant called Ocean Basket. Ocean Basket has all of these platter meals on the menu, which consist of several types of seafood in enormous quantities. We split the Princess Platter, which had princess prawns, fish, some salty fried cheese concoction, calamari, fries, …and maybe something else?
When we ordered the meal, we asked the waiter if it would be enough for us to share. “Oh, it depends, he said. Did you eat breakfast?”
Yes, we had breakfast. And, no, neither of us could have even made a dent in a Princess Platter even if we hadn’t.
Something crazy happened, you guys. We couldn’t eat it all. Me and Lauren! I am not even kidding. The world may stop spinning.
So, with very full bellies and an armful of shopping bags, we took our final cab ride back to our hotel. We squeezed our goodies into our suitcases, turned on the Netherlands/Slovakia Round of 16 match and waited for our beloved shuttle driver, Thierry, to take us to the airport.
And then Lauren fell asleep on our bed, which I unsuccessfully tried to prevent her from doing. We were about to embark on 22 hours of travel and that’s a really good place to catch up on your sleep, right?!
Of course, she slept way better on the plane than I did.
That’s what I get for interfering with someone’s nap.