Mag and I were off to Durban (Cassie and her sister Moira decided to join us). The first drama was finding someone to take us to the airport. Cassie's niece and friend showed up in a small car which we all piled into including our luggage. Our flight was at 1:30, we left the house at 11:30 am but apparently there was some kind of protest which consisted of a slow down of traffic on the highway to the airport, hence a 25 minute journey turned into an hour and 15 minutes. It was almost 1pm when we arrived at the checkin desk, and were informed they did not have our flight reservation??? Apparently our confirmation had two times 6am and 1:30 pm - we were actually listed on the 6am flight. Well Cassie talked to the airline rep and said they needed to hold the plane until this was sorted. Outcome - we boarded the 1:30 flight at 1:30 - Mag and I could not believe they actually held the plane for us.
I booked a rental car in Durban online. - when I arrived at the desk to pick up the car they wanted a copy of the car rental voucher I had been emailed - looking at it on my computer was not sufficient and of course they did not have wireless. So we had to run around the airport to find wireless and email the car company the voucher. Once this was all done and we had the keys to the car we loaded our luggage in the car and I did a quick check around the car only to find we had a flat tire - they upgraded us!
I drove to our accommodation which had a most spectacular view of the promenade and beach. Mag and I were able to go for long morning walks and the weather was beautiful and warm. However just one street from the beach is another story and not as comfortable to walk. This area was once a bustling beach resort and although during the day it is busy, once night falls, the promenade is empty.
This weekend Durban hosts the famous commrades marathon! So there were an additional 50,000 visitors in the area.
The Comrades Marathon is an ultramarathon of approximately 89 km (approx. 56 miles) which is run annually in the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is the world's largest and oldest ultramarathon race. The direction of the race alternates each year between the "up" run (87 km) starting from Durban and the "down" run (89 km) starting from Pietermaritzburg. Runners over the age of 20 qualify when they are able to complete an officially recognised marathon (42.2 km) in under five hours. During the event an athlete must also reach five cut-off points in specified times to complete the race.
Durban (Zulu for bay or lagoon) is the third largest city in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches. The municipality, which includes neighbouring towns, has a population of almost 3.5 million, making the combined municipality the biggest city on the east coast of the African continent. The metropolitan land area of 2,292 square kilometres (885 sq mi) is comparatively larger than other South African cities, resulting in a somewhat lower population density.
We drove through the city centre and it was very scary as people pay no attention to traffic signals, so you are constantly dodging traffic and pedestrians - I need a Valium - and I am not even driving!!!!!!! Apparently this is not a safe area for white people to walk - hence car doors locked, bags out of sight!
Next we drove to Umhlanga a residential, commercial and resort town north of Durban on the coast. Commonly and erroneously pronounced Umshlanga the name means "place of reeds" in Zulu. Umhlanga is named after the Ohlanga River, which reaches the Indian Ocean three kilometres north of the town.
The town's first hotel was established in 1920, followed by a shop, a lighthouse, the Natal Anti Shark Measures Board (today called the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board) and further hotel developments. In the 1980s, development expanded inland.
Umhlanga, specifically the former sugarcane fields of Umhlanga Ridge, has become the focus of development in the greater Durban area with many businesses relocating offices from central Durban , a move that has been criticized for "fragmenting the urban fabric" and furthering "economic apartheid" in Durban. In 2010, Durban International Airport was moved to La Mercy, near Umhlanga, and reopened as King Shaka International Airport.
Umhlanga has numerous lovely restaurants and bars. It is very clean and enjoyable to walk along the promenade where you can view the most luxurious condos!
Off to Ballito which use to be a small holiday town but today it has grown into a suburban paradise: drawing many young couples and families to start a new life here. Ballito is situated roughly 40 kilometres north of Durban. Dolphins are common on this stretch of the North Coast shoreline, hence the nickname Dolphin Coast. Very picturesque area.
The Sunday Tribune printed in 1954 an advert for Ballito Bay inviting potential investors to the North Coast with prices of land from R790.00 (Approx $79 US). A brochure with the first marketing pictures of Ballito, was put out to attract the holiday makers to invest in the area with the slogan: "Buy, Build & Play at Ballito Bay, The Caribbean of the North Coast - Natal". Ballito, Salt Rock and Shakas Rock are favourite holiday destinations for local South Africans and also foreign tourists on their way up toZululand
After three days in Durban it was back to Johannesburg where Mag and I caught a flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.