Friendship is Like a Tree…

…It is not measured by how tall it could be, but by how deep the roots have grown.

Life is cruel sometimes, sucker-punching you in the gut and heart. I refrain from saying ‘when you least expect it’ because nobody expects to have their heart broken. This past Friday, as has become custom, I went to visit my friends Sharon and Pete, for a weekly catch-up over supper, after which we’d watch Survivor Australia (debating who we think should go – both Pete and I were rooting for George), followed by Voetspore. Throughout, we’d chat about all sorts of things, laughing and joking, delighting in the wonderful joy of friendship.

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#FamilyCruise Aboard Vessel #MSCOrchestra 7-11 April 2023: Day 4

Day 4, April 10th, Sea Day

Jack Frost’s icy breath followed us from Walvis Bay. So much so, that I put on my body warmer, which didn’t mean much because I didn’t have long-sleeved clothes with me. Peeps, pack at least one long-sleeved item, because when the wind blows, it leaves you with gooseflesh and aching bones. I tried to smile for a photo, but my teeth literally hurt from the cold.

Having had zero luck at winning at Trivia, I decided to try my hand at something different, a fun game called Name that Tune, which involves a person recognizing the intro of a song, running to a chair, naming the song and then having to bust out their best dance moves. I won a lanyard playing the first time (on Deck 13 in the blustery weather), and a MSC cap when I played again in the afternoon in the Savannah Bar. I also tried my hand at ring toss and the sushi game. That former is exactly what the name suggests, the latter involves picking up a golf ball with two putters and carrying it a certain distance without dropping it. #easiersaidthandone The thing about all these quick activities is that they generate interaction between guests who otherwise may never have struck up a conversation with each other, and of course, the laughter that resounds across the ship because people are having oodles of fun. I’ll let you in on a little secret: The intro to The Final Countdown and Blind Lights sound almost identical.

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch at Shanghai.

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#FamilyCruise Aboard Vessel #MSCOrchestra 7-11 April 2023: Day 3

Day 3, Shore Day: Walvis Bay & Swakopmund

The day started out with a quick breakfast at the buffet as we sailed into the working port of Walvis Bay, which according to The Toppie, has been expanded quite a bit. The dining area was packed, understandably so, as many people wanted to get off the ship for the day, but a kind gentleman allowed us to join his table.

Guys ‘n dolls, do yourselves a favour and try the doughnuts for breakfast. They’re fresh, warm, and delectably delicious. Really. I don’t know who the person is that makes them, but (s)he deserves a medal!

After breakfast we went out on to the deck, but the weather was soooooo unpleasant. The sun was shining, but it meant nothing because the wind not only battered the best out of us, but its icy grip also quickly drove us back indoors.

I stopped for a cappuccino at the Savannah Bar to warm myself up. I swear, if a sherry-serving bar had been open at that time, I would have chugged one down. I haven’t got so cold since my school days in Potchefstroom!

Even though I had quite some time to spare, I headed into the theatre to wait for my excursion bus. There I met an amazing staff member named Preantha Chellan, an Excursions hostess. I took a photo of her, but it blurred 😦 I blame the ship rolling at the exact point I pushed the button to capture the image. We got chatting and the time flew. She has travelled the world, first working on an airline, and now on the cruise ship. What a warm-hearted, genuine lady. We really connected in a short time and promised to stay in touch in the future.

Finally, my bus (16) was called to begin the trip to Swakopmund so I could explore the town on my own. The walk to the transport was a cha-cha of sorts. Taking a step forward, with the wind pushing me back five more. Eventually I got to the pick-up spot.

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#FamilyCruise Aboard Vessel #MSCOrchestra 7-11 April 2023: Day 2

April 8th – Sea Day

It seldom happens that I wake up before The Toppie. But I did on Day 2 of our cruise AND I went upstairs to the buffet to get coffee for us to enjoy in the room. Despite booking the Fantastica experience (which allowed for breakfast in our cabin), we never got any forms to fill in for the benefit. It would have been nice to have had breakfast in the cabin even if it was just once.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was determined to see the sunrise, and I was not disappointed! There is something magical about first light, especially when it is combined with the swish-swash of the waters as the ship cuts through them.

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#FamilyCruise Aboard Vessel #MSCOrchestra 7-11 April 2023

I haven’t cruised with any other line other than MSC, nor have I cruised anywhere but in Southern African waters. My first cruise experience was aboard the MSC Melody, which at the time, was the largest vessel in the fleet. MSC Cruises has grown exponentially, with each new ship adding something bigger and better to the cruising menu.

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Family Holiday: Overnighting in Cape Town before our Cruise

We hit the road around 09h30 on Thursday, hoping to miss the Easter Weekend traffic. For the most part, it worked – except between Mossel Bay and Riversdale, which was virtually bumper to bumper with every size, make, shape, and model of vehicle available. What is it with trucks that just refuse to give way?

We finally arrived at our home for the night. Formerly known as ‘The New Tulbagh Hotel, the Innscape Classic 3-star rated hotel is situated in the CBD in Tulbagh Square. The reason I opted to make use of this hotel for our stay is that they offered a family room for my folks and me at a superb rate. I booked the room in November last year, so I paid a little over R1200 for the night for the three of us. I kept an eye on the rates, and as our arrival date drew closer, the rates shot up to over R3400 for the same room. I did make use of, so we didn’t get breakfast included, but with the location of the hotel being what it is, we popped over the square to a small local superette for snacks and water. They also had a lovely display at the reception desk to celebrate the upcoming Easter weekend.

Charne and Roche met us at reception, pouring us a sherry to welcome us. I chugged it down in two short swallows, not thinking that it would cause me to overheat even more than usual. Did I mention that Cape Town was as hot as Hell’s boiling point? The friendly porter, Arnold, used one of the two available lifts to take our luggage to our room which was located on the first floor. The building clearly is an old one that has been revamped to give it the modern feel it has now. The lifts in the building are tiny – they can only take two people at a time. Cue claustrophobia!

The room itself was comfortably furnished with four single beds. A nice personal touch was a marshmallow Easter egg on each bed for us. I had our family friend, who is my honourary older sister, Clarissa, uber to the hotel to surprise The Bean and The Toppie. It worked! Clarissa also kept our car at her place for the duration of our cruise, because parking at the cruise terminal cost more than I was willing to pay. After all, I could spend that money in a much better way, right? We also got to me Clarissa’s beautiful granddaughter, Caroline. Hashtag Cutie Pie, that one. Clarissa stayed with us for about two hours before heading home.

I hopped in the shower, which was hot enough to soothe aching muscles, but which didn’t drain quickly. A few minutes into my shower, I was ankle-deep in soapy run-off, so I shut off the tap, and put on my ‘regular’ pajamas (I bought new ‘cruise’ ones). We made some cups of coffee using the facilities available in the room but had to call three times for extra milk. We wanted to order coffee for the room at 08h30 the following morning, but the service isn’t offered at the hotel. The Manager on Duty brought extra instant coffee sachets and milk, which we were grateful for.

Sleep came relatively easily for all of us; we were extremely tired after the long drive. The road was busy and the sun was beating down on us in the car, which wasn’t running as well as we’d hoped.

The next morning we woke early, showered, dressed, and waited downstairs in the lobby for our Uber.

All in all, we had a good experience staying at Innscape Classic.

Location: 4/5 In the CBD, a literal stone-throw from the Thibault Square Miciti Bus Stop. The entrance is not well sign-boarded, which meant we drove around the block three times trying to find it. Apparently, the street sign depicting a large white H in a red circle indicates ‘Hotel’. When I wrote my learner’s license a hundred years ago, that sign indicated ‘Hospital’. There are many restaurants close by to visit for a meal, or even order in. I would not recommend walking to any eateries at night though, as the CBD is not always safe.

Staff: 4.5/5 Friendly, well-presented and knowledgeable about the hotel and its offerings. Had it not been for the delay in getting the extra coffee and milk to our room, I would have given them full marks.

Amenities: 4/5 The room has air conditioning, coffee-making facilities, large bathrooms (ours had only a shower), and a decent amount of storage space. There is good wifi throughout the hotel, at no additional charge to guests. The amenities are listed as having ‘Satellite TV’. This was not the case. The only channels available on the TV in our room (which is far from the beds) were SABC 2 and the E-TV Channels. It was fine for one night, but for longer stays, the local TV drivel would drive me nuts.

I would recommend this hotel to anyone needing a comfortable stay within the CBD of Cape Town. It is close to the CTICC and Thibault Square Miciti Bus Routes and parking is available (at a fee of R15 an hour or R140 overnight).

Dark, Light, Fight, Flight

Pounding head, racing heart
Anxiety, fear, continued concerns
What more will be expected of me?
Will I be able to get everything done properly?

Wracked sobs, swollen eyes
Exhaustion, sadness, depressive despair
Why is everything so damn hard?
When will something just go right for a change?

Black fog clouds my mind
The cataclysmic abyss calls
The deafening silence of the Void
Hails a ceremonious welcome

Video call, smiling faces
Happiness, joy, loving warmth
I wish I could slow time
Just to see the longer and talk some more

Hot bath, snowy bubbles
Calm, tender, relaxation
This feels like therapy
A reflective moment of me-time

Light filters into my thoughts
The awful shadows hide
The challenging heaviness lingers, clinging
But hope springs eternal

© Priscilla Anne Fick – Reflections of a Misfit

Find Something Good in Every Day

Today this rings extra true for me. I try to find something good in every day, and most days, I am successful. Moving has been stressful. Seriously, if it is ever within my ability to do so, the next place I move to is going to be a place of my own (even if it means paying a bond for 23-30 years). Parting with many of my things made my heart ache because as much as I understand it not being practical to hold on to the shirt half the school signed on my last day of Matric in 1997 (yes, I’m that old!), but I have happy memories of that day, and many others of my high school career. For the record, I ended up keeping the shirt, even though I don’t remember half the people who signed it. It’s the only example I could think of.

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