Author: mem Australia
Date of Trip: May 2010
I organized a 14 day trip from Melbourne, Australia, to South Africa and Victoria Falls plus another 14 days in Israel, before returning to Melbourne, stopping in Bangkok, Thailand on the way. The flights were with Swiss Air to and from Israel, which involved transiting in Switzerland. My husband and I, plus 3 lady friends stopped in Sun City for 4 nights, some 90 minutes by road from Johannesburg. From there we took day trips to Pilanesberg National Park for game viewing, to Pretoria and a diamond mine and generally enjoyed the surroundings in this beautiful resort playground with the 2 golf courses and hotel spas made famous by Arnold Palmer. Complete with a casino, wave-pool with sandy beach, exotic gardens, various monkeys and birds, it was a delightful setting for our middle-aged group to relax without worrying about the dangerous street-scene of Johannesburg.
We then flew to Cape Town for a women’s Conference, where the menfolk were treated to various sightseeing tours while we women were busy conferencing. We still managed to do some touring as well and Cape Town is a beautiful city with loads of natural beauty spots, such as Table Mountain, the wine growing regions and the coastal areas right down to the Cape. After Cape Town we returned to Johannesburg, stayed the night at an airport hotel, left our major pieces of luggage and with just hand luggage flew to Livingstone to stay at the gorgeous Zambesi Sun Hotel for 2 nights and 2 days,- taking a sunset cruise on the Zambesi River to view the animals, walked to the Victoria Falls where one gets drenched by the spray which is often covered by rainbows, had to watch over our possessions not to be pinched by the monkeys,- or the young hawkers harrassing us to buy their trinkets! Returning to Johannesburg on a Saturday evening, we just had time to go by taxi (but got stuck in a terrible traffic jam on the highway) to Monte Casino,- a complete reproduction of the Italian mountain village by that name! A real casino in this huge complex of cobblestone streets, with shops and restaurants, music in the square, it was a memorable finish to our South African visit.
Our Israel story was was a continuation of my husband’s and my holiday only. We spent a week travelling from Haifa to the Galilee, on the most beautiful and efficient road system, right up to the ancient cities of Rosh Pina and Safed in the Galilee Hills. There are some beautiful artists’ colonies, ancient cities and Jewish Holy sites, too numerous to mention,- alongside new developments and modern shopping malls. Returning to thje coast along another road we made a detour to one of the old Arab villages which have been modernised and it was beautiful to see the high standard of living of its inhabitants.
The interesting coastal town of ancient Acre/Akko where we stopped for lunch at a restaurant on the city walls overlooking the water, was another memorable experience to cherish. With our rental car, off we drove into the centre of the country on newly-built through-toll way to Rehovot, then down to Beer Sheva in the South, before moving on to Jerusalem where one can spend a month on its own and still not see all the museums and and everything that ancient city has to offer,- old and new! We only had time for a short walking tour and a hop-on-hop-off bus tour around the city. But the best walking tour we were able to take was in Tel Aviv,- from the Southern beach-side area known as ‘the opera’ centre,- this free guided walking tour is a must for all visitors,- even the local friends who joined us, loved it and learned from it. Australia being so far away down-under from the Northern hemisphere and the other continenets,- once we leave its shores, we make the most of it!