I always tell people I am from Durban as it is easier than explaining where Hillcrest is, but I actually grew up in Hillcrest, which is about half an hour from Durban. Last year I went home to Hillcrest for the first time in 10 years! I hadn't been back since my dad passed away, always opting to go to Cape Town when I visited South Africa rather than facing the past! I finally decided it was time, and I'm so glad I did. I got to catch up with some really special friends and see Hillcrest and Durban with fresh eyes. Some of it was painful, but it was mostly special and beautiful!
I spent most of my time seeing people, having meals and catching up. But I managed to fit in a few things like waking up at 5am to go to the Shongweni farmers market for breakfast. This market is AMAZING! If you don't get there at 6:30am you will sit in about 5km of traffic waiting to get in! We walked around to see all the stalls and had a lovely hearty breakfast! It was weird walking around and bumping into old school friends, but good to see familiar faces and be surrounded by South African accents, home cooked food, biltong stalls, buckets of proteas and amazing crafts. Getting up that early also means you are totally rewarded with beautiful sunrises and stunning misty views.
I visited the Makaranga gardens. Oh my goodness, they were so beautiful! Actually better than the botanical gardens in Durban! We just walked around for about an hour exploring the amazing gardens with it's incredible indigenous and exotic plants and trees, Japanese garden, ponds, birds and sculptures. We went for a nice cold Savannah in the restaurant to cool down afterwards!
I went for a drive and lunch with a friend in the valley of a thousand hills with its stunning views! I can't believe we used to live a 10 minute drive from here. You can stop and see the halfway point for the 98km Comrades Marathon and all of the plaques commemorating people who have completed the marathon 10 or 20 times. There is the Umgeni steam train that you can catch (we used to go and watch it come in with my dad! :-) or you can check out the little shops at the arts and crafts village. There are also lots of really good restaurants and cafes with views of the hills...
Obviously I am biased, but this really is a beautiful part of the world!