I watched the puddles form in the uneven slopes of the tar, as I sipped my ice cold water. I rarely wear my hoodie, even though it’s one of my favorite clothing items. I silently congratulated myself as I watched the clouds pile on top of each other.
I was standing in the Tourism KZN office, waiting to leave for our next Tourism Educational Tour on the #WeDoTourism Campaign. This time we are heading inland, and exploring Newcastle.
Iv never actually been to Newcastle as a destination, so I will be experiencing everything with fresh eyes and an unbiased view. Were checking into the Vulintaba Hotel which being who I am, I’ve done my research on and am very excited to explore the property.
Finally we were all in attendance and we left the offices at 14h45. A little behind schedule but Newcastle will still be there when we get there. As these trips make you very aware of Tourism, your home, your surroundings. I found myself experiencing a vast amount of emotions in rapid succession.
Town was dirty, the streets were littered with trash, signage on business was old, rusted, faded; and flats are on top of each other. It saddened me.
We stopped at a robot and a guy in a wheelchair was begging for money. Something about him struck me quiet hard. He was just starring at our bus, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Hes eyes were empty. And as I stared at him I wondered:
- How did he end up on the streets?
- When last did he have a bath
- Are his eyes dead from a lack of faith and hope or exhaustion from leading the life he does daily?
- Where does he sleep?
- Are his eyes dead because his on drugs?
Those were my honest and pure thoughts in the short time we spent waiting for the robot to change.
Next we passed the Rivertown District, The ICC, and the Iconic Hilton Hotel. I thought to myself:
- Wow the Rivertown area is looking lovely. Clean and a me lick of streetart.
- Aaah the Hilton, I should visit time. I’ve never actually spent a night in one of Durbans most iconic skyline features.
- The ICC, Durban I set to host The Essence Festival again, that will be busy.
Do you see the contrasts in emotions and thoughts, in those two observations I made as we left Durban city.
As we neared Pietermaritzburg the fog had moved in, the roads were wet, it was raining lightly and my soul said, LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL PROVINCE. My heart filled with joy and pride at our countryside.
I do not know of another province so diverse in terrain, and culture. From the center of Durban, you can travel 3-4 hours in ANY direction and end up in a competely different world.
- Head North and you can explore and experience one of the most famous and pioneering Game Reserves in the world. The Hluhluwe Umfolozi.
- Head South and you can live the life of a surfer along the coast. River cruises, action activities with Wild 5 Adventures. The South Coast is one of my favorite places to sneak away too.
- Head inland and you can go experience the Karlkloof Canopy Tours, wood fires at Granny Mouse Country House.
- Or simply head 10 minutes to the beach in Durban and swim all through winter in our famed ocean front.
Our bus was filled with a great team of people who instantly hit it off and the conversation flowed.
Travel Journalists, Travel Bloggers, Radio Presenters, Photographers, Media Houses etc. To say the conversation flowed may be an understatement. It was thick with content and topics, as soon as one finished another would start. Everything from festivals, events, bra sizes, entrepreneurship, social media and a million other things.
Driving through Escort, I was in awe of the rolling hills of Aloes. Thousands of Aloes covered the area, it was a little dark by the time we passed them, I can only imagine their splendor in the sun. Speaking of which, the sunset was second to none. A big ball of raging fire of red, pink, and orange sat against the dusk in the sky.
As we entered Newcastle town, a cheer arose from the group, most of us discussing how it was out first time in Newcastle.
Finally we arrived at the prestigious Vulintaba Hotel, where we will be spending our weekend. High ceilings, white walls covered in art and white crystal chanderliers hung from the roofs.
Check in was a breeze and we all made our ways to our rooms. I was pleasantly surprised to find my room had the perfect morning sunrise view.
The rooms themselves I’ll be telling you more about a bit later.
What a great start to our #WeDoTourism Tour, with hashtags like #NotMyBus already etched in my mind, under fond memories.
And As Always….