January 20th, 2018♥♥♥
If our adventures living in Africa began the day we arrived in Cape Town, you could say our adventures in getting to Africa began at the consulate in Los Angeles, the day we discovered our visas were to be approved an entire month before expected.
With jaws dropped, and squeals of excitement (from me of course, not Dave as he wishes to make clear) we sprang into action, frantically scouring the web for the best deals on last minute flights to South Africa. As you all will soon discover when you research your own flights to Cape Town, the journey can be a bit long from the states. You can choose to power through in a single shot, or you can take the “scenic route” breaking it up with some fun stops along the way. Since we had a little time before Dave had to start work we opted for that latter. And of course it doesn’t hurt to add another notch to the countries visited list… ;)
DAY 1: Stockholm, Sweden
We arrived on December 28th to a stereotypically moody Scandinavian afternoon. It was 4pm, the sun had set, and it was dark and drizzly, but we didn’t mind! The cozy weather was a welcome change of pace as we knew we were chasing an endless summer once we arrived in Africa.
Our hotel was absolutely charming. Candlelit vibe, hushed voices of swanky Swedish pub goers emanating from the back. The décor was very “nautical” (but in a cozy, quaint way, not a cheesy I-wanna-throw-up-way)!
We immediately dropped our bags off and headed straight to the pub. After a glass of vino among the locals, we set off to explore the town. Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm, feels stolen from a Harry Potter novel. Cobblestone streets, winding alleyways, beautiful old architecture, idyllic storefronts…it’s just dreamy. We had been to Stockholm before in late Summer when the town was filled with tourists and a hustle-bustle energy to it. Now, in the dead of Winter we had the streets practically to ourselves.
In the absence of tourist hordes we joined the locals heading to dinner or grabbing a beer with friends. It was quiet, cozy, calm and exactly what we needed after a 10 hour flight. Dinner was spent at Fem Sma Hus, an intimate 17th century cellar restaurant.
We arrived a bit early so spent some time chatting with the bartender, who incidentally just spent some time in NYC working on his art. Traveling always seems to remind you that the world is in fact so very small. Our meal was amazing. Dave had “the best steak of his life” and I had the biggest, tastiest cauliflower of my life! We roamed some more post dinner, and then tried to get just a few hopeful hours of sleep before jetting off to our next stop – Doha, Qatar!
DAY 2: Stockholm to Doha, Qatar
Stay: Souq Waqif Resort
A quick 6 hour flight via the amazing Qatar Airways and we arrived in Doha, Qatar on December 29th. We had exactly 8 hours to explore the city so as soon as we landed we hopped in an Uber (yes there’s Uber everywhere!) and headed off to the 200 year old Souq Waqif.
We immediately noticed how beautifully paved the streets are, the landscaping impeccably kept up, and how contemporary the downtown city skyline was in the distance. Dave has travelled to Dubai numerous times and expected this much, but I think I expected something more old-wordly, which seemed to not be the case…until we got to the Souq!
Souq Waqif has a mystical feeling to it, looking like something pulled straight from the movie Aladin. We wandered the maze of twisting alleyways, where you’ll find anything from live parrots to iPhone accessories, and eventually found ourselves at a picturesque outdoor restaurant off the souq’s main thoroughfare.
After dinner, we found a Shisha lounge to sip coffee and smoke hookah while we did some of the best people watching in the world. Migrant workers from the Philippines and India, local women in burkas, wealthy Arab men in thobes all made up a crowd from a dozen or more cultures around the world. We were the only Westerners in our little shisha lounge but as the robed men settled in the seats around us, it didn’t take more than 2 minutes for them to whip out their smartphones and begin streaming a soccer match, browsing social media or firing off texts. Again- we’re all so much more alike than not.
After the explorations, we headed back to our hotel to cap off the evening with a quick soak in the jacuzzi and a massage. Then headed right back to Doha Airport!