Sunday, 30 April 2017

A week in Durban: Cocktails, coffee & bunny chows

Having spent over half of our year long trip in South Africa, it was becoming quite the excuse-ridden explanation on why exactly we hadn't got our ass' to Durban yet so, with the clock ticking, it was finally time.

Admittedly, our time in Durban started both sweatily and stressfully. After spending five days in Johannesburg, it was time to say another farewell and board the bus, with a particular sad (and soggy) Wimpy's bag in tow, ready and set for a six hour long journey to Durban. Having set off an hour late with no explanation, I feel like whoever is up there looking down upon us was either getting us prepared for what would turn out to be a hellish few hours or were simply punishing us for our sins of a past like because oh boy, it didn't get better.

Whizzing down small, narrow roads and steaming past lorries, trucks and pretty much any vehicle you could wish to list, the coach driver was in a real hurry to get to the destination quickly...or die, either or, take your pick. As the hours passed, the driver really had no qualms about road safety and apparently, didn't understand the idea of a large group of people in a confined space in a hot country because he also, in his bid to become the most hated man on the route from Johannesburg to Durban, turned the air conditioning off.

Just turned it off, no reason why, just thought 'hey, I'm a little cool and quite a large imbecile so...let's just turn it off for the crack'. I kid you not, as people were squabbling with their loved ones over who drank the last drop of water, a mother actually held her child up in the air, like Simba off the Lion King, to the pitiful air coming out of the ceiling as the father shouted down the aisle 'please give us some cold air, we're dying back here'.

I like to think I'm the most dramatic person around but unfortunately, this guy beat me. Kudos.

We all made it, hot but alive, to Durban and so of course, we can now relax, get to the hostel and enjoy, right? Mmmm, maybe for normal, organised people but what Rosie and I like to do is just add in a pinch of stress so of course, our phone has almost no data to book an Uber and we realise that neither of us even thought to find out the address of the hostel.

Imagine being us.

As the megabytes dwindled quickly, I bashed in the hostel name on Uber and begged for a Toyota to come and save us but of course, I'd stupidly allowed the app to guess my location instead of typing it in and just as I data ran out. Just fabulous.

Next step? We jump in an outrageously overpriced taxi, repeat the name of the hostel a few times and apologise for the stupidity of not knowing the address and sigh with relief when the driver knew exactly where we wanted to go. Yay! Woo! Score!

The relief was sighed until he stopped the car outside of the embassy and turned round expecting payment.

*Cue British people in a sticky situation*

'...Sorry, hi there, so sorry, sorry, but this is, sorry the embassy? Sorry, but we actually said Curiocity? You know, sorry, the hostel, called Curiocity? It's a, erm, big pink building, sorry...'


'You don't want to go to the embassy?'

'Hi sorry, no sorry, not the embassy, sorry.'

The three of us all look at each other for a few moments, unsure of our next steps until the driver (who I'm sure at this point wonders why he agreed to take these two idiots anywhere) decides to drive us to his friend parked up on the next street to see if he has a clue where this mystical place is.

We sit and wait for a few minutes as he chats to his friend outside the vehicle and suddenly, he jumps back in, screeching with laughter, exclaiming that of course he knows where that building is, why didn't we just say?

Moments later, the pink building is in sight and I've honestly never been happier to see bricks and mortar in my life. As we pay and tip the driver, all of us laughing because apparently this is what happens when deliriousness sets in, we grab our bags and practically run into the hostel...

And so our Durban adventures begin...


If you've happened to read my Johannesburg posts, you will know that we love staying at Curiocity Backpackers and so when last year we found out they were expanding to Durban, we knew we had to go and check it out.

Curiocity Durban is a sleek and chic 'poshtel' which has the look and feel of a luxurious hotel without the painful price tag. With a calm, relaxed atmosphere, it's the perfect place to chill out after a day of exploring the city or sunbathing on the beach, particularly with it's fabulous central location.

In terms of the hostel itself, the facilities are perhaps some of the best I've stayed in on this entire year long trip, with incredible showers, modern kitchen appliances and both charging stations and lamps next to each bed. The bar is sleek and stylish and whilst it certainly has a different vibe to that of its' Joburg sibling, it's certainly putting Durban on the backpacking map.

If, like me, you're living a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget, Curiocity Durban is definitely the place for you.

The braai nights are also fabulous!

Durban is renowned for it's culinary wonders, and in particular its Indian cuisine and oh boy, people are not lying when they tell you how fabulous it is. At first, I was a little dubious at how much, in reality, I would really even begin to fancy a curry in such hot and humid temperatures but let me tell you, I somehow managed to pull through and pretty much eat one a day, if not more, so fear not, it is possible...

We ate A LOT of great food in Durban, like a lot, so I'm not going to bore you with the details of every single one (although that sounds like my idea of heaven but whatever) so I'll just indulge in a few highlights.

Of course, because we were on a strict budget, we somehow ended up at the number one rated the city...of Durban. Mali's Indian Restaurant is an unassuming and quaint little place and to say it's the top rated restaurant in the whole city, it's staggeringly affordable with main meals from as little as R70. The staff are so knowledgeable (my friend has a nut allergy and they were great about everything) and the food is in-bloody-credible - get the butter chicken and please do not hesitate to holla at me when you've devoured it and fallen in love.

Speaking of chicken, if you really aren't fancying a curry, Afro's Chicken is the best place to be for daytime lunching. Whether you're a strips and fries kinda person or feeling like your body is a temple with a chicken salad, you can't be disappointed this place, particularly when looking out onto the stunning seafront.

It may seek like all we seemingly did in Durban was eat, drink and then eat a little more, and you may be somewhat correct however after almost a week in Durban, I hadn't tried one single bunny chow and if you know, you know - it is not at all possible to leave this city without trying one. A bunny chow is basically a hollowed out load of bread with your curry dish of choice filled inside and yes, it is as delicious as it sounds. Accompanied with an ice cold beer, House of Curries really did a grand job with my first ever one and I highly recommend a trip.

Durban is not the easiest city to navigate around when finding the best places to eat, drink and socialise however there are some pretty amazing bars and restaurants outside and if there's anything Rosie and I know what to source, it's alcohol.

There really is only one place to head for sundowners and that is Moyo Ushaka, a bar with floor to ceiling windows situated at the end of the pier. Drinking Cosmopolitans whilst watching the sun set over the city is a pretty perfect set up, and for the Sex & the City lovers out there, one sure make you feel like part of the sassy gang.

For a classy night of fizz and jazz in a bar rich in ambience, you must head to The Chairman in the city centre. To enter, there is a R150 charge per person however this is then used to pay for any drinks or food you buy so really, it's just what you'll spend throughout the night and it's so worth it. The environment is stunning, the vibe is really chilled and the service is absolutely world class - get dressed up and go!

As coffee addicts, we searched high and low in this city for a cup of the good stuff and after scrolling and scrolling, we found nothing... until we were walking aimlessly along a street in Morningside and happened upon Antique Cafe. Set back from the street in a quiet, leafy setting, this little, vintage cafe offers great quality coffee in an environment perfect for catching up with friends, working through your emails or grabbing a quick snack.

Whilst Durban didn't treat us particularly well with the weather, it's safe to say our tummies left the city extremely happily. It's perhaps not a city I'd rush back too however next time I visit, I would definitely hire a car as some of the gems of the Eastern Cape can only be found with your own wheels...

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  1. Great post! Sounds very chaotic getting there but an amazing experience. The curry in the roll sounds incredible! Gotta try that at home

    1. Slightly chaotic but worth it all the same! The food was amazing - everyone needs to try a bunny chow! x


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