CNN called it The Coolest City in South Africa You’ve Never Seen. The New York Times named it seventh on their list of 52 Places to Go in 2015. After reading these headlines, I couldn’t help but wonder if they been to the same place I'd been to.
When I first visited Durban in 2012, something felt off. The hotel and condo properties lining the Golden Mile, nicknamed for it’s beautiful beaches and sunrise views over the Indian Ocean, felt dated and sad. It was one of the first places in South Africa I had ever felt unsafe when walking alone. While I did enjoy sampling African and Indian influenced dishes, like spicy curries and bunny chow, I left South Africa’s third largest city with no urge to return. This was not only the first time I had felt this way about a place in South Africa, but the first time I'd felt this way about any place.
Experienced travelers will tell you, one of the most important things you can take on a journey is an open mind. As I depart for Durban today, I am willing to give this city a second chance. After staying at Southern Sun Maharani Tower on "the Mile" during INDABA, I’ll be spending a few days at the The Oyster Box, a luxury property in Umhlanga, a suburb just 10 minutes north of Durban. I’ll visit the Valley of a Thousand Hills, Nelson Mandela’s capture site, and shop for handicrafts at local markets. I also have little free time, and can’t wait to check out new restaurants like Afro’s (with Legendairy SA for dessert!), Moyo, and The Corner Cafe.
Have you ever given a destination a second chance? Leave a comment and share your story.