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What a trip! #GhanaMeetSouthAfrica, my most eventful travel yet?

Follow @eventlabgh < My recent trip to South Africa surely was one of a kind; from the manner I set...

By Eventlabgh , in Celebrity Entertainment News , at November 3, 2016


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My recent trip to South Africa surely was one of a kind; from the manner I set off from Ghana to the events that followed the moment I arrived in South Africa, there was never a dull moment!

My flight was for 9.15am Tuesday morning and as at Monday evening, I had not received my visa yet. In fact, I ruled out travelling in the morning, hoping that I could travel later once my visa was available. My hosts, South Africa Tourism were in touch with the South Africa High Commission to speed up my visa, and South Africa Airways were partners for the trip so a change in flight wouldn’t have been much of an issue. But looking at the fun-packed activities lined up for the weeklong trip, in my heart of hearts I wanted to fly on Tuesday morning so I wouldn’t miss out on a thing!!!

Around 6 am on Tuesday morning, I received a call from DHL that my passport was ready and they would deliver to be later in the day. Since the call came in just before 7 am I said to myself that I could make the trip if I got my passport on time. I gave my location to the DHL dispatch rider but according to him he could only make it to my area around 11 am because he had to make some deliveries first. I asked him to make mine priority since I needed my passport to travel in a few hours time. He then made me speak to another dispatch rider who is responsible for another route. I managed to convince that guy to meet me at the airport with my passport by 8 am.

I immediately started to do some quick packing because I hadn’t packed anything at all for the journey, and yes I did not even have my bath that morning. But at least I did brush my teeth. I dressed up and rushed towards the airport, counting down the hour hand in the morning rush hour.

Because of the heavy traffic I called the dispatch guy to set off and rather wait for me at the airport so that the moment I arrived, I would find him and make it on time for check-in. Like an action movie, I managed to get to the airport in good time to collect my passport and check-in. of course I had to tip the dispatch guy because I felt he did me a favour.

I then moved straight to the departure hall. I removed my passport from the DHL package right at the South Africa Airways counter. I wonder what the expression on my face would have been, if there was no visa in my passport.

Wamukelekile… an eventful arrival in South Africa

Anyway I boarded the flight with my colleagues Jackie Appiah and Mamavi – Team Ghana! When we arrived in South Africa, our driver Steve picked us up so we could head towards Sun City. All this while I had been under the impression that Sun City was in Johannesburg, little did it know it was some few hours’ drive outside, in the North-West Province.

According to Steve, since he was expecting 4 people from Ghana he came for us in a bigger van. But to save him from rushing back to use the big bus for another group the next morning, he pleaded with use to allow him to go and switch the van for smaller one. We agreed and left to the office for the transport company he works with so he could make the switch.

After the switch we were ready for Sun City and started making our way there. However we were hungry so asked Steve to find stop somewhere for a quick grab. We went to Nando’s and KFC to order some food but in the process, Steve realized that he had left his phone at the office so he rushed back for it while we waited for our orders.

By the time our orders were ready, Steve was not back so we decided to eat at Nandos while we waited for him. The staff at Nando’s soon recognized Jackie Appiah when she came over from KFC, and before long everyone stopped working in order to have a photo with the superstar. That kept us entertained while we ate and waited for Steve. The Nando’s staff even gave us some special treats – yes extra Peri Peri Sauce.

Steve soon returned and we immediately headed towards North West. Boy it seemed a long journey, and the day wasn’t over being eventful yet. We met a tollbooth on the way, and it appeared the car Steve switched to didn’t have money on the e-tag card. So we couldn’t pass through. Steve moved to the non e-tag lane and tried to find out from the attendant why he wasn’t being let through because he wasn’t aware that there was no credit on his tag. In fact the next person behind us had to pay for both his car and ours just so we would move. But at the next booth, Steve had come to the realization that he needed to use his petrol card to pay for the toll, so it was smoother this time around.

Mamavi and Jackie soon fell asleep so I engaged Steve in some questions to familiarize myself with the North West Province. After some few rain showers, listening to Steve’s favourite gospel music album for several hours, and the long lonely road, we arrived at the breath-taking Sun City, which offers a completely stunning view at night.

 

I was tired and needed some rest, because we had an early morning the following day. So after getting the key to my room in the Cascades Hotel, I went straight up to shower, yes finally I had my shower before sleeping.

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The loud Nigerians!

After breakfast in the morning, it was time to meet the other guests from Nigeria. Although this was my third time being hosted by South Africa Tourism, it was the first time I was together with the Nigerians, and goodness gracious, they can’t go anywhere without getting noticed. But of course I already knew that!

 

One Nigerian comedian once explained that Nigerians are loud because they grew up in homes with noisy generators. So, they have to shout in order to be heard above the noisy generator. As funny as that joke was, I am starting to think it could in deed be fact.

 

The Nigerian group on the trip was largely loud and they knew it. In fact sometimes they would ask me “ are we loud?” They like to make an impression – whether good or bad, consciously or unconsciously… Naija simply no dey carry last!

 

In spite of the loudness and sometimes overbearing strong personalities, there was hardly ever a dull moment with the Nigerians. In fact almost everyone in the group had a way to make me laugh. And here I was thinking AY was the only comedian on the trip.

Anyway, enough of the Nigerians and to more highlights and firsts for me!

Magnificent Sun City

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As I already hinted, this was my first time visiting Sun City, a luxury resort about two hours’ drive from Johannesburg, near the city of Rustenburg. Sun City was developed by the hotel magnate Sol Kerzner as part of his Sun International group of properties. It was officially opened in 1979.

 

The resort has four hotels namely Sun City Hotel (Main); Cascades Hotel, where we stayed; the Cabanas; and the glorious Palace of the Lost City.

 

Our tour of the Palace of the Lost City included the presidential suite, which has hosted the likes of Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey. We even got the chance to be treated to a mini concert by Nigerian singer, Praiz who just couldn’t stay away from the temptation of playing the grand piano in the suite.

In addition to the four hotels, the resort includes The Sun City Vacation Club, which is a popular self-catering facility. Sun City also has two international-standard 18-hole golf courses, the Gary Player Country Club and the Lost City Golf Course.

 

The resort has hosted various concerts and events, including the Miss South Africa pageant. In fact, the finalists for the 2016 competition stayed in the same hotel with us, and I had breakfast with them, at least from across my table.

There’s a first time for everything …Quad Biking

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One of the many cool activities we did in Sun City in addition to exploring the jungle of the lost city, and visiting The Brew Monkey was going Quad biking around the African bush at the Letsatsing private Game Park. It is located near Sun City and the Pilanesberg National Park.

I was once driven in a sidecar through Cape Town and for some reason; I thought the quad bike would be a similar experience – that is, being driven on a bike through the bushes by a professional driver or biker. But soon I realized that we were going to ride the bikes ourselves!quad-biking

 

I immediately opted out but the chief instructor convinced me to try it. Since I don’t drive back home, I didn’t want to embarrass myself and slow the fun for everyone else. Well, I gave in to the adrenaline rush and went for it. It took me some time to learn how to power the bike, and after getting caught some twigs and hedges a few times, I mastered the course like a pro…wink. Of course the guides were patients and always available to make sure everyone was safe. It was a lovely ride as we encountered wildlife including impala, giraffes, and some wildebeests.

 

I totally enjoyed it, next stop Grand Prix!!!!

 

Hamba Kahle Sun City…time for the wild

 

All too soon our stay in the magnificent Sun City was over. And we bid farewell to the resort with a dinner at Legends restaurant. With cleaver use of spaces and a chic décor, the restaurant pays tribute to the many famous stars, personalities, guests and icons that have graced Sun City over the past three decades.

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Aside the trendy grill house style food and diverse drink menu, we also enjoyed a night of music as the stage came alive with cover performances by a local musician (yes I forgot his name). Okiemute, winner of Project Fame West Africa, who was with us on the trip joined the fun to showcase her talent while, blogger Sisi Yemmie got a surprise birthday cake and performance.

 

After breakfast we said goodbye to Sun City and hit the road for a journey to Pretoria. On our way, we stopped at the Monkey and elephant sanctuary in Hartbeespoort, where we spent some time with the elephants.

 

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Again this was something I was doing for the first time, and it was amazing seeing how the elephants were domesticated to understand instructions from their trainers. We got the chance to feed the elephants, take them for a walk and some lucky ladies even got wet elephant kisses.
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From the sanctuary, we made our way to the Lion and Safari Park in Broederstroom. It was my first time seeing lions up-close but since lions are a nocturnal bunch, there wasn’t much excitement because they were mostly asleep, as were the wild dogs. In fact the only animals that were awake during the safari were the wildebeests and blisboks.

After the safari we had lunch and headed off to Pretoria.

 

Lumela Pretoria…a city of blossoming Jakaranda and great history

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We finally arrived in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa where we checked into the simple and stylish Protea Fire & Ice Hotel. A trendy and urban hotel, with minimalist interior design that simply left me with ideas for my future home..wink.

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Known as “Jacaranda City” for its numerous jacaranda trees, the city is also known for its universities and government buildings. During our stay and touring of the city, we visited the semicircular Union Buildings, which encompasses the president’s offices. Also nearby is the massive Voortrekker Monument, honoring 19th-century Afrikaans settlers from the Cape Colony.

 

We also got to experience some nightlife in Pretoria. I didn’t join the group for the nightlife activities as I linked up with South Africa-based Ghanaian model and actor, Attah Junior to catch up on business and to have a more easy experience of the city.

 

Of course I’m not much of a clubbing person but whenever I travel, I try to get a taste of the nightlife as much as possible. We first went Cubana for some drinks. So now I can say I have partied at Cubana in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria. Hurrah I’m such a party animal!

 

After one round of drinks we got an Uber and hopped to the next club, The Blue Room. Over there, it was a few more bottles, and some body movements from me (yes it is very easy to pretend to be dancing to South African house music), and then back to the hotel to rest for the following day.

 

Lost in Pretoria

 

Just before I move to our stay in Johannesburg, there was one more eventful adventure in Pretoria. Some of us left Pretoria for Johannesburg in order to attend the MTV Africa Music Awards press briefing. So our tour operator got a smaller bus for us to use for that purpose. And boy what an adventure it turned out to be!

 

When we entered Johannesburg, the driver was pulled over by the Metro Police. After some minutes back and forth, he was given a ticket because some documentation to his car had expired. Finally the police let him leave and we rushed to the venue for the press conference, only to find out that we were given the wrong venue. We managed to find our way to the correct venue in time for the highlights of the press briefing.

 

After the briefing we headed back to Pretoria, or at least we thought we did! The bus picked us up from the restaurant where we had lunch and so the driver didn’t know his way to our hotel and he was relying on Google Maps to locate Protea Fire & Ice. After some minutes into the journey he realized he was moving about in circles so he asked me if I could help him with the maps.

 

After a few more wrong turns, I took another look at the address on the map and realized he had keyed in Protea Fire & Ice but the one in Johannesburg. At this stage our unforgiving Nigerian friends were ready to have the driver’s head, as we were hungry and tired.

 

Anyway after keying in the right address this time, we made our way safely to the hotel.

 

Golf Reef City and Soweto, welcome to Jozi

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Finally it was time to move to Johannesburg for the last part of our hosting. We made our grand entry into Joburg by first visiting Gold Reef City, Gauteng’s premium theme park. As someone who grew up on M-net channels, Gold Reef City has always been one of the places I saw and wanted to visit. But for some reasons, I never had the chance to do so even when I visit South Africa. So it was great to finally visit it. There was not much time so we were only able to do the golden loop, which was an exhilarating rollercoaster ride! Phew!!!

 

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From Gold Reef City, we moved into Soweto where we visited the popular ‘Mandela House’ on Vilakazi street, Orlando West. This was my second time, but it felt different especially with the dancing and singing in front of the house. The last time I was there, I could only remember a singing ice-cream vendor.

 

We also had the chance to visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum before making our way to our hotel.

The African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel is a uniquely urban hotel with an outstanding combination of 5-star luxury, world-class service and distinctive design. And I simply loved my room, although I didn’t spend enough time in it.

 

Hello MAMAs, the superstars are in town!!!

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The 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards was hosted at the Ticket Pro Dome. And we attended the event in grand style, a pimped out stretched limousine. Unlike last years’ event in Durban, this year I made an attempt to dress up for the evening. So yes I wore a suit (currently the only suit in my wardrobe).

 

I went prepared for the red carpet but after struggling to find out the entrance for our VIP tickets, we didn’t have the energy to look for the official red carpet, because the venue was big and the ladies were tired of walking. So we just had some cocktails, waiting for the event to kick off.

 

Well, there were no wins for Ghana at the MAMAs this year, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. Plus, the ceremony is produced in a manner to excite TV audiences, so I did feel a little detached from the excitement, watching from the auditorium; maybe my seat was just too far from the action… I don’t know!

 

Vintage cars, sky rides and cruises

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Just before bringing our stay to an end, there was one more chance for fun activities in the great outdoors! After a surprise ride in vintage mustangs and dodges back to North West, we went sky-high in an Aerial Cableway – a fun ride in the sky which offered a panoramic view of the beautiful Magaliesberg, Hartbeespoort Dam and surrounding areas.

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After the aerial thrill, it was time for the infamous Sunday lunch boat cruise. After lunch, we were treated to a relaxing boat ride gently cruising along the waters of the Hartbeesport Dam at the foot of the Magaliesberg Mountains. There was also the option of speedboat but I guess I wanted one ‘sea-adventure’ at a time. Sometimes you have to save some experiences for the future – near or very…very…very far future!!!

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Farewell to Jozi

The last day of our hosting was open for leisure, and most of us decided to go shopping. I went to the Sandton City Mall to buy some stuff for myself, and folks back home. Each time I’m in that mall it feel different, and I never get enough time to look around for what I want.

 

I got back to the hotel to try and rest a bit before heading out for our last dinner. We were treated to dinner at the Saxon Boutique Hotel, which is mentioned in Nelson Mandela’s autobiography as his sanctuary for completing his award-winning book, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.

 

The magnificent Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa is a luxurious oasis on Johannesburg’s neighborhood of Sandhurst, known for its quiet tree-lined avenues. And if there was anytime I felt underdressed for anything during our stay, it was this dinner!

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The dinner was as sophisticated and tasty as the hotel, and the conversations with our host and other guests were all as memorable. We even had goody bags to take with us back home. I got a colourful bowtie from Kisua (known for clothing Beyonce in African print) and assorted handcrafted Saxon hotel chocolates.

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After dinner I went back to the hotel to sleep. In the morning, I did my final packing, had a light breakfast before saying final goodbyes. We made our way to the airport this time with no major events, or was it?

 

Well apart from not being able to collect our tax refunds at the airport everything was smooth and we had a smooth flight back home. Well, almost a smooth flight. We were delayed for about an hour because a passenger with special needs refused to get off the plane after the crew discovered that she had requirements for a device, which was not available on our flight. She finally agreed to get on another flight and we were able to fly home peacefully!

 

Phew…what a trip right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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