9 days in Sri Lanka- Part 2: things to know before you go

(If you haven’t read part 1, you can access it by clicking here)

Before I traveled to Sri Lanka, I spoke to several people who had been prior, read blogs and researched websites to find out all I could. I went with a wealth of information and still was unprepared. I hope my thoughts, tips and suggestions will help someone going to visit after me.

Quick Facts

Sri Lanka is an island located South-East of India. Below is a picture of its’ location on a map. It is relatively cheap and easy to get to from the Middle East, just a short 5 1/2 flight from Qatar. It is a Buddhist country, but is home to many cultures, ethnicities and languages. It is famous for its production of cinnamon, rubber and tea. It is a developing country.

Once you arrive

You must obtain a visa to visit Sri Lanka. If you are not from a SAARC country, the fee to obtain a visa prior to arrival is $35 USD. You can apply here. You can also obtain a visa on arrival. Before going to the Immigration window and standing in that long line for nothing (like I did), look for a small window that says visa, go there. Show your passport and pay $40 or 15800 Sri Lankan Rupees (SLR) That’s what they charged us even though online it says $35 for a tourist visa. Note that you are required to pay in USD. The following countries and categories are exempt from the visa requirement:

The Republic of Singapore.
The Republic of Maldives.
The Republic of Seychelles
Crew members of flight / ship
Children under 12 years of age

After you get your visa and proceed through immigration (the agents are not very nice btw, sort of like the government workers in the USA), it’s probably a good idea to purchase a sim card. They are pretty reasonably priced in the airport and they will set it up for you. Mine worked very well, the entire time I was in Sri Lanka and I had great wifi.

Money

Rupees

The Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) is its’ official currency. One LKR is approximately 0.005 USD and 0.020 QR. USD can go very far there. Some places accept USD but many do not. We exchanged some QR for LKR before we went but found out very fast how very fast the money goes. To help you better understand let’s go back to the visa price above. In LKR, one visa was 15800. (In the picture above, my husband is holding 10300 LKR) Now double that for two visas, and that’s quite a lot of money to carry around and that is just for one transaction. You would have to carry around quite a lot of paper if you intend on using cash for everything. Of course, you could use credit/debit cards. We used our debit card quite a lot at the ATM and accumulated too many withdrawal fees. Every time we took money out, we were charged between 200-400 LKR or $4-$8 USD. This is a pretty big chunk and remember you can only withdrawal so much each time.

Suggestions

  • Pay for what you can in advance, before even going, eg… hotels, drivers, excursions. This way you decrease the amount of cash you have to carry.
  • Find a bank/ATM that you can withdraw large portions of LKR with a minimal ATM fee. Halfway through our vacation we found Hatton bank that allowed us to withdraw double the amount that Commercial bank did and with half the ATM fees.
  • Use credit/debit card rather than cash in as many places as possible but check your bank for international transaction fees first.
  • Carry USD to use when possible and to exchange while there because you will get more bang for your buck.

Getting Around

Sri Lanka traffic

I DO NOT recommend driving in Sri Lanka. It’s crazy. I think I only saw 3 traffic lights in the entire 9 days that we were there and we moved around quite a lot. A few times I thought, ‘this is it’, because we were almost run off the road. They also drive on the opposite side of the street of Qatar and the U.S. One day we were in Ella, Ella is very mountainous, and it rained so hard, we had to dodge mudslides.

We had a driver. His name is Rifaan. Here is his contact information: Coconuttaxitours.com, instagram: coconut_taxi_tours, #+94716285486. He was an excellent driver. He stuck with us for the entire trip, offering suggestions of places to go, where to eat and translating . He even invited us to his home to meet his family whom cooked us a wonderful Sri Lankan dinner. He booked all of our rooms, which is better as natives get better rates, and made purchases for us. I felt completely safe with him. Call him for anything Sri Lanka related. Thank me later.

Rifaan and my husband

Sites Considerations

There is many things to see and do in Sri Lanka and several things to consider. When packing keep in mind that you must be modest when entering Temples. You can not wear a head covering of any type and your shoulders and knees should be covered. When visiting mosques, your head must be covered as well as your knees and shoulders. Long comfortable pants and a scarf should be your staple. In most places, people remove their shoes.

You will have to pay a fee when visiting most sites, the prices ranged from 600 to 5500 LKR. The fees for locals are way less. The Fee to climb Lion Rock is $30. The fee to climb Piturangala was only $3. That is one of the reasons we chose to climb Piturangala instead. Both offer great views but I can only speak about the climb to Piturangala. (You can read about it by clicking here) Maybe one day I’ll go back and climb the other and make comparisons. Better yet, if you’ve climbed both or either, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave them in the comments area.

If you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka and climbing one of the famous sites, be sure to pack hiking boots or good old sneakers. If you plan on hiking in the early or late hours to catch a sunrise or sunset, take a flash light with you. The paths were generally dark even though there were lightbulbs, none were on and we couldn’t see our way. Thank God for cell phones. Take some extra water too. I love to watch new days begin and end, so I like to hike during those times. It has been my experience that hiking before sunset is usually less crowded.

If you plan to see the 9 Arch Bridge try to time your visit when the train comes. Then stay after the train passes, when most tourist start to leave. After the train passed, I left and then halfway away from the Bridge, I noticed that most people had left as well and I could have taken better pictures had I waited them out.

Everyone is waiting to get a picture of 9 Arch Bridge with the train
And when the train left, so did the crowd

The train ride to Ella is a must do. From what I’ve heard, it is very difficult to get tickets, easier if you know a local that can get them for you off the black market. We were in 3rd class and we lucked up because you can sit at tables with windows in 3rd class or choose to hang out the door but you’ll still have a seat. Second class was over crowded and we met a family who was in 2nd class that had to stand for 4 hours. I can’t speak for first class. Third class also comes with friends, roaches. Right after we ate our food, they started appearing everywhere. It grossed me out, thank goodness we didn’t have far to go and our driver had our luggage in his car. Other than the roaches, it was a very delightful ride.

Hanging out the door on the train
Beautiful scenery on the train ride
Yup that’s roaches on the train
Time to get off. Ella is a very popular stop.

Accommodations

I highly suggest researching accommodations on several booking websites before actually booking rooms. Pictures can be deceiving. We stayed in a variety of places, from a couple of homestays to a shitty room, to 4 star resorts. Our driver booked our rooms and for the most part they were okay but if I go again, I will be sure to pick my own, take his thoughts into consideration, and have the final say.

The rooms in homestays are pretty big in Sri Lanka but the homes themselves lack tlc. Of course, some are better than others. But if you are on a tight budget, homestays are the way to go. Some cost as little as $10 a night and most include breakfast. Also don’t be fooled by a number of stars. I’ve learned through traveling that 5 stars around the world have different standards than the U.S.

If you stay in Sigiriya, I recommend, Hotel Sigiriya for a mid range budget. The rooms are adequate with good A.C., hot water, comfy beds and nice bathrooms. They have a good breakfast buffet, a great view of Lion Rock, a beautiful pool and is in the perfect location. You may even see an elephant walking around. You are sure to see monkeys but watch your food around the pool.

Hotel Sigiriya

For a wonderful time in Mirissa, stay at Imagine Villa Resort for a mid range budget. The rooms are large with good A.C., hot water, comfy beds, nice bathrooms, sitting area and balcony. The grounds offer a big pool, beach and pretty good cooks too.

Imagine Resort

My Reflections

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country. If you travel around, you can see rainforest, jungle, tea plantations, the beach and mountains. On the other hand, you will also see people dumping or burning their trash on the side of the road. You may see men urinating in the streets. You will see animals living very close to people, some free and roaming, others in chains. There is A LOT of bugs, from ants, small to giant roaches, to spiders and some other things that I didn’t recognize. The weather was great when I visited in late December with a fair amount of rain. The people seem genuinely nice but manners are different than what I’m used to. They do stare unapologetically. There are so many things to do and see in Sri Lanka. After 9 days, we were Templed out though; they are everywhere. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check a few out though, they are beautiful. If you are considering a trip to Sri Lanka, definitely go. If you’ve already been, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

See you next time!

When the Newness of your Host Country Wears off…

It feels like this school year should be further along than what it actually is.  Between all the packing and unpacking and repacking and re-unpacking and moving to a new school building and shifting classrooms and constant changes this school year feels infinite.  Thank God, winter break is just two weeks away.  But outside of work, it seems the flashy newness of my host country is wearing off and after two and a half years I’ve settled in.  So now what… Well I’ve started checking things off of my ‘Things to Do Before I leave Qatar’ list.  This doesn’t mean that I’m leaving tomorrow, because I have signed on for another year, but next year may be my last for several reasons unless there is a major change in my position, because a change is overdue. 

For our anniversary this year, Darryl and I stayed at the famous Torch hotel and had dinner at Restaurant 360.  It rotates so you get a full view of Doha.  The hotel is very nice.  The rooms are all powered through the Ipad and you can set the mood in the room by changing the color of the lights.  The food at the restaurant was delicious but the service was slow.  However the view was great.  

For his birthday, I took him to Nobu- a well recognized Japanese restaurant.  Although the lightening of the interior is a bit darker than my taste, the food is amazing.  I could not resist the Black Cod Yuzu Miso dish, so my fake veganism re-appeared. 

Last week we went to see Creed II in the Seven Star Novo Theatre in Souq Wakif.  It is very similar to a First Class Flight on Qatar Airways with reclining leather seats and partner pods.  You even get a blanket and satin covered pillow.  We received a welcome non alcoholic drink upon arrival and ordered some food that was bought to our seats.  Had I known, this movie theatre was so luxurious, I would have dressed better. Oh the movie wasn’t half bad either.  

A few days ago, my girlfriends and I made a visit to the beach that is literally down the street from my house.  We had a small picnic and some girl talk.  It was the first time I actually sat on this beach and I’ve been in my flat for 6months.  There was a nice amount of people there enjoying the cool weather and I decided that I’d frequent Al Wakra beach more often.  Besides, I always wanted to live near the beach. 

Over the weekend, Darryl and I along with another couple (Britney and Quahn) went Kayaking in the Mangroves of Al Khor.  I didn’t know kayaking was so much work.  But it was nice to be out on the water, and for a little while, I felt like I was on vacation. 

I don’t know how much longer I will be in Qatar; I’m thinking 1-2 additional years Max depending on the situation.  But before I leave there are still a few more things on my list that I plan to do before I go because once I leave here, I don’t plan on returning.  In the meantime, I’m off to see another part of the world.  Nine Days in Sri Lanka, coming right up.  Stay Tuned…

The Start of Year 3- Teaching Abroad

I’m back and this is how I greeted my honey!!

It was my first time flying 12.5 hours straight alone, but I arrived safely back in Qatar on August 1, giving myself enough time to readjust to the time change, and dry weather and to spend some much needed quality time with honey before I start back to work on August 12.  I also need time to adjust to my new accommodation.  Over the summer, Honey moved us again.  This time to a even smaller apartment near the beach, closer to school and a whole lot cheaper.

This is the start of year 3 of my journey of teaching overseas and year 8 in the classroom.  Last year was rough at work so I came up with a motto for this year: Don’t make waves, ride them!  My team and I agreed to start anew which is great and one member in particular even apologized for their behavior last year.  This is a great way to start the year.  Honestly though, I just want to teach and be left alone and that’s why I turned down the opportunity to be Grade Team Lead again.  Let the newbies do it.  Been there done that, I’m good.  With a new school year comes new teachers and new challenges.

This year we are starting at our brand new school and with that comes it’s own set of obstacles.  Administration set the tone for the school year telling us all to be flexible.  Since our school is still not completely ready to welcome students, their start date got pushed back a week so far.

This is what the staff meeting looked like after the announcement.  Of course, we teachers still must go but that’s fine.  Only a portion of our school has been approved by the powers that be, so we will all be uncomfortable for a little while longer as we will be squished in.  I think all of the adjustments that we will go through will make the school year go faster, I’m hoping.

I’m optimistic about this New School Year!

 

 

Eight Days on the Carnival Horizon Cruise Line

I’ve cruised before but this was my first time cruising with Carnival and here’s my observations.

On June 2, 2018, my oldest son graduated from high school and I took him on his first cruise as his gift.   I also took my niece and her girlfriend along with us as they had recently graduated college.  We boarded the huge Carnival Horizon on June 5 anticipating 8 days of fun in the open water.  The first few days of sailing were at ‘at sea’ days as we made our way to the Caribbean from New York.  These days were spent by the pool, drinking, eating, enjoying and participating in shows, partying, relaxing, walking around the ship and taking photo shoots, enjoying Zumba on the deck, late nights in the jacuzzi, watching movies on the big screen under the stars, watching sunsets and spending time together.

On our second day at sea we got some unfortunate news.  One of the passengers suffered a heart attack and we had to turn back and sail toward North Carolina to meet the Coast Guard to air lift the passenger to land.  Due to this, we lost a day of traveling and had to miss one our port of calls- Turks and Caicos.  This was very disappointing because I had never been to Turks and Caicos and was really looking forward to it.  Even worse is the fact that Carnival did not give us anything in its place except a 20% discount voucher to cruise with them again.  So we made the best of our extra day at sea by exploring the ship.  Zamir rode the sky ride that I chickened out of at the last minute after seeing another lady having to be rescued once she got scared after starting the ride.  I was not about to be embarrassed like here.

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We did make it to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Zamir and I decided to explore on our own.  We happened upon a beach and spent some time there.  Then we enjoyed a tasty treat and walked around the cobblestoned streets of San Juan where we took some fab pictures and purchased souvenirs.

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Our last port of call was Dominican Republic.  This was the highlight of our cruise.  We did the Big 3 excursion: Thrill bus ride, zip line, and beach.  The zip lining was amazing and so much fun.  There was the possibility that I would have a panic attack and chicken out but I was not about to do that.  I’ve wanted to zip line for a long time, so I just thought about the fun I was going to have and went for it.  As I climbed higher up the steps toward the first zip line, my heart began to beat so loudly, I thought others in the line would hear.  I was not quiet about being nervous and everyone was cheering me on, so I strapped on, watched my son zip across the trees, leaned back and went for it.  As my heart dropped a little, I allowed myself to enjoy the ride.  I opened my eyes and felt the wind breeze over my body.  Then it was over.  I DID IT and it was fun.  I was ready for the next one and even more excited for the bigger zip line straight across the ocean.   The last time I let go of fear and enjoyed a thrill was last year on my cruise with my husband to Cuba.  We jet-skiied in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.  I’m beginning to see a pattern here.  Anyway after the 3rd zip line, we did a sky course (obstacle course in the sky)- this was very fun too- then the last two zip lines were back over the ocean and over the trees to the beach.  I had a stiff drink after that and enjoyed some time by the ocean.  I’m still upset that we didn’t get a picture on the actual zip line but here are some pictures of the zip line itself and of D.R.

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We met some lovely friends on this excursion and partied with them for the remainder of the cruise

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After zip lining, I was feeling extra pumped so when we got back to the cruise, I decided to go all in and ride the skyride.   I literally pedaled a bike on the edge of a cruise ship over the ocean.  I chuckled just thinking about it.  Then we conquered the ships sky course (obstacle course high above the cruise).

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My son and I really enjoyed the cruise and did some bonding.  We went clubbing together and I saw him intoxicated smh.  We played some adult games together with a team and even won a small trophy at a trivia game.  We weren’t ready to return home.

I’ve cruised before but this was my first time cruising with Carnival and here’s my observations.  Carnival is a party cruise line.  There is always something to do for everyone.  However, their customer service does not even compare to Norwegian.  I had several problems with my meals including waiting over an hour on several days in the main dining hall to eat and finding a bug in my food.  Carnival nickel and dimes you.  There were so many extra charges for this and that, it was kind of ridiculous.  By the time the cruise was over, I had spend an additional 600+ for my son and I.  My suggestions, if you plan on going on the Carnival Horizon: pay attention to the fine print, plan for additional fees including a service and tax fee at the end of the cruise for 120+ pp, don’t expect too much from the food service, get to know the managers on board, make friends early (for several reasons), indulge in the activities, and shows, wear knee length shorts or pants if you plan to zip line, be sure to participate in the Carnival Quest game (18 years old and up) and go to the lip sync battle.  The Carnival Quest game is a must do! And by all means, have fun, try something new, YOLO!!

Here is some video footage of some of the shows we enjoyed..

 

 

My First Experience Traveling Solo- Copenhagen

Since I would be traveling alone back to Philly, I was looking for an in-between place to stop to break up that 12.5 hour straight flight.  This was my first time traveling alone internationally and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.  Is it safe?  What if I got lost?  Would it be fun?  What if…? What if…?  Then I remembered a quote:

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So I started thinking about the positives that would come out of this.  I could eat all the vegan food I wanted without compromise or hearing complaints.  I could go where and when I wanted.  If I felt like doing nothing, I could, because it was only me.  Finally, when was the last time I was alone?

It was when I stumbled across a picture of the little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen that I decided this would be my stopover.  The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney movie of all time.  My connection to the movie has a lot to do with my sheltered child hood and how I longed to be a part of ‘their world’.  I felt everything Ariel did when she sang that song, Part of Your World. 

My plan of what I would do there started by researching what the city is known for: World’s Oldest Amusement Park – Bakken, Cycling, Shopping Avenues and Beautiful Gardens.  That’s nice but I wanted to see my statue (of course), some pretty scenery (overdue from Qatar), Christiania (something different) and whatever else I stumbled across.  Oh, let me not forget, EAT!  Before I went, I purchased a Hop On Hop Off Pass and a Copenhagen Card.  With these two purchases, I could tour the city, have transportation to major areas and have free admissions to a variety of places.  I booked my hotel room at Wakeup Copenhagen, a budget hotel in central Copenhagen close to popular sights.   I made sure I had ‘The Happy Cow’ app downloaded (for vegan restaurants), as well as ‘google maps’, and ‘From Rome to Rio’ for getting around and ‘Unit Converter’ to check on my spending.  I was ready.

The Hop on Hop off bus Pass was the best choice for Copenhagen.  With it, I was able to basically travel all over and since they don’t have uber it was perfect.  I found Copenhagen to be a great city for solo travelers.   I felt very safe and there is a lot to see and do, even for vegans.

They have this thing called brunch for vegans. I enjoyed the brunch at each of these three vegan restaurants: 42º Raw, SimpleRaw and Souls.  Their apple ginger shots are amazing.

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There are several castles there.  I even took a 40 minute train ride to see Hamlet’s castle.  It’s the last castle in the pictures below and my favorite.  It was worth it to take the train ride in the rain alone.

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Amalienborg- The Queen’s residence

 

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The Guards

 

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Rosenberg Castle- Royal Museum

 

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Kronberg/Hamlet’s Castle

It’s a pretty city too and they are big on sustainability as evident in their green roofs and bikes.  There are more bikes in Copenhagen than cars.

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I put out a bat signal on Nomadness travel group to see if anyone was in Copenhagen and wanted to show me around.  A fellow group member named Michael was kind enough to meet up with me.  He even accompanied me to FreeTown Christiania before it was raided and pusher street got closed.  In fact, the police showed up while we were there.  It was a very interesting experience.  I recommend you stop by there if you’re ever in Copenhagen.

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Michael even took me to and shared the background on the ‘I Am Queen Mary‘ statue.

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And during my travels all around Copenhagen I managed to find these gems, which made this trip dear to my heart and one of my favorite trips ever.

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The famous Little Mermaid Statue

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The Little Mermaid’s sister- Voluptuous, just a few feet away

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Another mermaid that I discovered in front of The Black Diamond

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I stumbled across this lonely chap looking for his mermaid at the pier of Hamlet’s castle

There were a few things that I didn’t get to do like Tivoli Gardens and shopping due to a flight delay that threw a monkey wrench in my plans, caused me to stay an additional day in Copenhagen some place else and cost me unexpected money.  It also rained a lot but I didn’t mind that since I haven’t seen rain in almost a year.  Besides these, I really enjoyed Copenhagen and solo travel.

Highlights: Kronberg and Rosenburg castles, The Lock Bridge Nyhavn, ginger shots, Ride a bike around town, vegan eating, Freetown, The Queen Mary statue and background, canal tour, People waiting for the traffic lights even when there are no cars in sight, Karlsberg beer, Mermaids

Year 2 Rewind

**Written on May 25, 2018**

It’s hard to believe I just completed my second year of teaching abroad.   My original contract term is satisfied and outside of student loans I am completely without debt in the U.S.  I still owe Qatar some money so I’ll be there at least another year but I have accomplished a big goal of mine and it feels AMAZING! As I am typing away I am trying to distract myself from the turbulence of this plane ride.  The plane that will prayerfully take me to the first stop of my summer vacation.  (More on that later)

So how was year two?  Let’s take a look in the rear view:

This year was sort of low-key.  It was the first time hubby and I were empty nesters so we spent a lot of time indoors.  We worked out and even took an Arabic course together. His support is without words.  I can’t recall one meal that I cooked, one load that I washed, one room that I cleaned.   He never complained about my bitching and whining when I came home from work.  Me coming home with my stories was his favorite part of his day, at least he pretended it was anyway.  He has not been able to find work but that has not stopped him from searching and applying constantly.  I am hopeful that something will come through soon or we may have to re-evaluate our situation.

I only took one trip this school year but it was a big one.  Cape town was absolutely beautiful and fun.  You can click here to read all about my travels there.  I may not have taken many trips, but I did take multiple vacations.

Work relationships were difficult this year.  I started to write a whole paragraph on this but no.  The school year is over for me and I will not dwell on the past.  I need to start next year with a new plan.  If any of you guys reading have tips for coping with team members that you don’t particularly mesh with, I’m all ears… As far as my students go, they turned out to be an okay group of kids.  There were some doozies but I really enjoyed teaching them.   I found ways to teach what I believe in my heart they needed to learn along with the required curriculum and it worked out.  If I can’t teach my students so that we can see progress, what’s the point?  I’m enjoying teaching the PYP framework too.  It’s new for me but PYP along with some time to teach foundational skills is pretty damn good.  PYP exposes students to subjects and skills that will help them to develop background knowledge that they may otherwise be lacking.  I’m looking forward to our school becoming PYP Accredited so that I can add it to my CV.   Next year, we are also supposed to be moving to a brand new school building with top of the line amenities.   That gives me something to look forward to.

This year was filled with confidence boosters on a personal level.  I did photo shoots, interviews, was a subject of college assignments, and even modeled, all while bald.  Most of these events were to bring awareness to Alopecia.  I felt like I was doing my part to help other women with alopecia feel comfortable or to at least let them know that they are not alone.  My alopecia group grew to over 100 members.  In a small way, I am doing something to help the world.

Something else that I am proud of this year, is that I was able to eliminate my high cholesterol without medicine.  With the right diet and exercise, you really can be healthy.  (If you need tips on this let me know)  But unfortunately, I am vitamin D deficient now.   This came as a surprise to me being as though I live in the dessert.  But it makes sense because it is often so hot, that we stay indoors out of the sun and when we are outdoors, we are required to dress modestly and cover our shoulders and knees.  And the only way to truly fix this, is sun exposure and or Vitamin D supplements.  So now I have to take a pill a week for 8 weeks but the good thing is, it’s summer and I’m out of the desert.  Time to get some sun! (This is something to consider if you are thinking of moving to the Middle East)

So what about the next school year?  I will be in Qatar.  I am taking it year by year.   I am moving, again, to a new apartment, to be closer to the new school and to have more expendable money.  I have moved every year that I’ve been in Qatar.  That’s funny to me.  It’s kind of like my life, if something doesn’t fit my needs, I move on.   I have decided that starting now, I will try to be in the ‘NOW’!  I want to enjoy the moment, not always looking for tomorrow.  If I can find some joy in every moment, I believe I will be a better person.

Don’t forget to leave your suggestions in the comment section, on ways to cope with a team that you don’t mesh with.

 

Vegan Eating in Cape Town

My group of 6 that I traveled to Cape Town with included 2 vegetarians, 3 carnivores and me, a veganere (yeah I just made that up) who sometimes cheats with seafood.  Finding places to eat where we all could enjoy our meals may seem tiresome but we made it work.  In this post, I will highlight a few places where we ate, some vegan, some mixed, and my review of them.

Before I get into to these reviews, I need to first recommend an app my girlfriend put me on on to: Happy Cow.  Make sure to download this app when you are traveling to find local vegan spots and restaurants that offer vegan and vegetarian options.  It will come in handy.  Although, I had done some research on some places to eat vegan in Cape Town, the app proved extremely helpful to finding spots that were close to wherever I was located.  Okay, on to the good stuff.

Restaurant: Hungry Herbivore– it is a bit unfair to start with this one because in my opinion it is the best but it was also the first restaurant we visited in Cape Town.   We went for an early dinner.

Location: They have two locations.  We visited the one located at 11 Orphan Street.

Ambiance: It’s a intimate restaurant with table and bar seating.

Service: The service is good.  Servers bring you menus and explain them while also offering their preferences.

Food (click food to see the menu): Amazing.  Go more than once and try everything.  Personally I recommend the fries, loaded or regular, Oh Sweet Kim Burger, french toast and The Cleanse- fresh juice (best green drink I ever had).  My only regret is that I was too full for dessert.

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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Restaurant: Royale Eatery– a burger joint that offers carnivore, vegetarian and vegan options.  We went for lunch while shopping on Long Street.

Location: 273 Long Street

Ambiance: Inside has a diner feel with booths and regular seating.

Service: The service was good but my husband ordered a salad and it took the longest.  Our waitress was nice and when we told her we ate at the Hungry Herbivore, her face cringed.  I guess they are in competition for the best vegan burgers.  Sorry Royale Eatery, the Hungry Herbivore has you beat.

Food: The food was good.  I must compliment them on their extensive menu and variety of burgers.

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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Hungover or not, we've got your Saturday covered. Our kitchen opens at 12 noon so come through for a burger feast!

Restaurant: The Old Biscuit Mill. While this is not really a restaurant it is more of a collection of restaurants.  It gets honorable mention because all of us were able to get good food here and it is not to be missed on your trip to Cape Town.

Location: 375 Albert Road, Woodstock Cape Town

Ambiance: It is outside but with tent coverings and stores to go into, you can escape the heat.  There is live music and wonderful people everywhere.  There are clothing and art shops.  There is food for everyone as well as drinks.

Service: Well it’s pretty crowded but we never waited in line for more than 10 minutes to get anything.

Food: There is all kinds of food, from bison to sushi.  I enjoyed a vegan edo wrap which was very delicious and some Sangria which was also so delicious I went back for seconds.  I purchased some vegan desserts to take back to our Airbnb but they were not good.  I wish I remembered the name of the restaurant, so I could tell you not to go there.

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (The distasteful vegan dessert made me take away a heart but the Old Biscuit Mill really deserves 5)

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Restaurant: Tasha’s– contemporary, urban, boutique café.  Everyone that I spoke to prior to going to Cape Town talked about this Butternut Squash Salad that I just had to get at Tashas.

Location: Several locations around the world, from Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi.  We visited the one at the Shop 7117, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town.

Ambiance: Warm and welcoming with flower pots hanging from the ceiling and plants around.  You can sit inside or out.

Service: The service was slow at first but then it picked up.

Food: Of course I had the Butternut Squash salad.  That’s the featured image above.  The salad did not disappoint.  I’ve never tasted butternut squash semi charred, sweet and delicate.  It was a nice addend to a salad.   I also had some beer-battered cauliflower which was yummy.  I would definitely return to Tasha’s for more.

Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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Restaurant: We went to Jarryds, Espresso Bar and Eatery.  A restaurant that boast a commitment to sourcing locally produced and seasonal produce.

Location: 90 Regent Rd, Sea Point, Cape Town

Ambiance: The restaurant reminded me of a train station stop, glass encased and airy, tall vaulted ceilings and seating for large groups.

Service: The service was great with several people attending to us.

Food: I was disappointed that the only true vegan item on the menu for breakfast that I wanted to order was no longer available- The Vegan ‘Nice’ Cream Slice.  Instead I ordered The Summer Quinoa Breakfast bowl without the poached egg.  The breakfast bowl was great and my husband’s potatoes were too.  Everyone enjoyed their meal and wished we had come sooner because we were leaving Cape Town that day.

Afterwards, we met Jarryd and he was sorry about the breakfast item.  He assured me that next time, I could request to speak with the chef or himself and they would make accommodations to suit my preference.

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Hearts: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (normally I would take a heart due to not having what I wanted but because everything else was so good and they were so nice, 5 hearts)

We visited other restaurants but I didn’t feel like they deserved to be discussed in detail.  I really wish we had an authentic African dining experience.  We visited an Ethiopian restaurant, Addis in Cape, but I was disappointed as outside of salads there wasn’t any options for me.  Cape Town is a real gamey eating city, so carnivores will love it and can experience something new and different.  We vegans have a little bit of a tougher time as usual.