South Africa Trip – May 2022 (Part 1)

We’ve been so cooped up with this whole Covid-19 pandemic. While I enjoyed all the extra time with my husband and kids, I was missing my family in South Africa and knew I had to go see them soon. My Parents were able to visit us in 2020, but with a recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis for my mom, every minute and every visit will count now more than ever before.

By March, things were finally looking better for International travel and I started looking at flight deals. I’ve already cleared it with my work and would be taking my first trip without my laptop since joining the company in 2013. I found a good deal on Turkish Airlines and booked my trip for the 20th of April, via Istanbul, to Cape Town. I had a 10 h 30-minute flight to Istanbul, a 10 h 30-minute layover, and another 10 h 30-minute flight to Cape Town.

You can read about my layovers in Istanbul here: Layovers in Istanbul And if you were considering Turkish Airlines, I will definitely recommend them. They were excellent!

Arriving in Cape Town

Trip to South Africa - Garies Girl

I had a long layover in Istanbul and the flight to Cape Town was not fully booked, so I had some room next to me. I arrived at 11 in the morning, giving me a lovely view of Table Mountain as we came in for the landing. This view is still very emotional for me and from the moment my feet touch the ground, I have that “I’m Home” feeling.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl
Table Mountain View from the Airplane

My mom and dad were there to pick me up and drive me to Paarl, where they live. Customs took a while (it always does) and I had to wait a bit for my luggage to arrive. It was so amazing to see them waiting for me. Cue the tears!!! I was so overcome with emotion.

It was such a nice drive back to Paarl. Blue skies and perfect views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards. The Winelands area is truly magnificent. We drove through town and I couldn’t stop staring at all that is familiar, but that I haven’t seen in 3 years. Dinner was at Gary and Willet’s house and I was welcomed with biltong, droëwors and Savannas (my favorite). My services as a hairdresser were also immediately needed and I did my first french braid for Nienke.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl

Coming Home

On previous trips, I usually stayed with my brother and his family in our “old” house. My parents don’t have internet at home (by choice) and since I usually work a little bit, I would need access from time to time, often early morning or late at night.

I wasn’t planning to work on this trip, so I wanted to stay with my parents. I wanted to be able to help at home and also see my mom’s condition for myself. Having me there would also give my dad a little bit of a break from his role as the primary caregiver.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl
Sushi at Oceans 9 Restaurant

Helping Out

I was able to help my mom and dad with some small tasks that needed to be done at home. They have been in their current home for 28 years and that is a long time in which they accumulated a lot of “stuff”. The dynamics at home have also changed now with my mom’s condition and my dad has more house-related responsibilities than before. Cooking, cleaning and laundry have always been my mom’s responsibility and now, even though she can still help, it has become part of my dad’s to-do lists. Throw in the normal upkeep of a house and it becomes a lot.

My mom and I were able to clean out her closet and donate all the clothing she doesn’t need or that doesn’t fit anymore. My favorite type of project and one I do here at my own house very often! My dad was preparing the house for a flooring renovation, and it involved moving some furniture around. So I was able to help with that too.

Closet Reorganization

I didn’t cook as much as I planned – we went out or visited my brother and his family for dinner – but what I did make was so appreciated and well received. We also did a little bit of shopping and my dad was able to go in one direction while my mom and I went in another. For them, shopping is mostly done together now.

COVID Measures

South Africa was still in Covid prevention mode and we had to wear our masks everywhere we went. All stores had a mask policy, with additional sanitizing done by workers as you enter. I had no problem with wearing my mask – it made me feel as safe as can be under the circumstances. Of course, masks were also mandatory on my two flights and I felt confident that I was not bringing something into my parents’ home. I also refrained from kissing family members – opting to hug instead.

Friends and Family

It was so good to see my family! And I truly felt like they were happy to see me as well. My niece and nephews are so cute and were so appreciative of the candy and toys I brought. I had so much Mike & Ikes, as well as some other candies. Of course, their parents were in charge of candy distribution…

Gifts and Candy

Our first Saturday morning was spent at the boys’ rugby game. They love having my parents come and watch and I loved seeing them play. They just recently started training and this was their second game against another team since the pandemic started.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl
Primary School Rugby Morning

Sunday was lunch at Gary’s and our friends Arnek and Karen came as well. It was so great to catch up and spend time together. Of course, drinking Savannas and snacking on biltong and droëwors made it all the more special.

My brother Gary had an event at school on Tuesday night and since the next day was a public holiday, I spent the night at their house. Willet and I got takeout, chatted and watched a movie – something we’ve done many times before. When Gary got home, the two of us had some great conversation time and caught up on each other’s stories.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl
Niece and Nephews

We took the kids for lunch at the Copper Club where we dined outside and enjoyed the sunny day and fresh air, with the special view of Paarl Mountain. Cocktails were on special and we tried a couple of different ones.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl
Lunch at Copper Club

Lunch at De Grendel Wine Estate – Plattekloof, Cape Town

I usually try and see Elmien on my trips back home (we graduated high school together) and on this trip we wanted to try a new lunch spot. I drove to Cape Town early on Thursday and after a quick visit at home, left together for our lunch reservation.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl
The View of Table Mountain from De Grendel Wine Estate

De Grendel Wine Estate is just 20 minutes from Cape Town city center and offers an amazing view of Table Mountain and Cape Town. The farm can trace its history back to 1720 when the deed to De Grendel farm was given to Claas Meyboom. The wine-making side can trace references to grape growing as far back as the 1800s. In 2000 viticulture was established on the estate. The family is passionate about conserving the natural vegetation and offers a home to rare and endangered floral species. Besides the winery and restaurant, they also offer farm tours and picnics, introducing their guests to Springbuck, Eland, Red Hartebeest and Bontebok.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl
Lunch with Elmien

Our interest was in the restaurant (open since 2012) and its 3-Course Set Menu. Our reservation was made weeks ago and we were ready to be treated. They did not disappoint. From the gin cocktails and amuse bouche, to the starters and mains, all the way to the dessert, everything was just excellent. We spent our lunch date catching up on each other’s lives and enjoying the beautiful view of Cape Town.

SA May 2022 - Garies Girl
Lunch with Elmien

As lovely lunch outings go, all too soon it was time to head back home. After coffee at Elmien’s house, I drove back to Paarl right at sunset. It was a good day 🙂

Weekend Away

Monday was another public holiday and Willet booked a friend’s home for the weekend. We were going to spend the weekend relaxing by the ocean and I was very excited indeed.

Read all about the weekend and the rest of my trip in Part 2.

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