I am not big on travel, but have been to several places in my life, both in my youth and my adult life. Let me take you on a trip to my favorite places — places that hold different kinds of memories for me.
Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
This is my place of birth, and in total I have lived there for 9 years. In my first year, my parents moved to Uïs in Namibia, but stayed there for less than a year before they returned to Vanderbijlpark. My grandparents — parents of year mom — lived there, and I have fond memories of sleeping over on many Saturdays and then going to church with my grandparents the next day.
The last time I’d been to my place of birth was at the end of 1977. In the beginning of 2021, my father made a trip there for the first time in many, many years. Strangely enough, when he did, and when he shared many memories of back then, and photos of the houses where we had lived, it frightened me. I wondered if he was saying his goodbyes to this world.
Three months later, he passed away.
Windhoek and Swakopmund, Namibia
We moved to Windhoek at the end of 1977 and lived there for 4 years. I always say those years were the best of my childhood; the happiest. Walking barefoot in the street, in the streaming rain, discovering my sexuality, falling in love for the first time, and not to forget our holidays to the wonderful place in the Namib desert, Swakopmund.
Fun thing is I am in contact again with neighbors from my childhood — the five year older boy from the house on the corner, and the two year older girl from the house on the other side of ours.
Bloemfontein and Carletonville, South Africa
From Namibia, we moved to Bloemfontein, at the end of 1981. That first year in Bloemfontein was my best ever in school — both for academics and sports. The year after that, my daughter was born.
Four years after that, I got married and moved to Carletonville with my first husband, and my son was born there.
Cape Town and Pretoria, South Africa
I always say, if ever there was a paradise on earth, it must’ve been Cape Town. That place is stunningly beautiful. From driving along the coast from Muizenberg via Kalk Bay to Simon’s Town, to taking the road over the mountain from Fish Hoek to Hout Bay. Then there’s Bloubergstrand, which gives you the most beautiful view of Table Mountain.
Also, walking on top of Table Mountain after taking the cable car up — stunning views.
I joined the army in Cape Town, and after three and a half years, transferred to headquarters in Pretoria. The first year there was good. The second horrible, and at the end of that year I left my country of birth and moved to The Netherlands.
Trips to the USA
I had the privilege of making three trips to the United States of America, and each of those trips had a unique character.
The first happened in September 2001, a week after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Our trip was to Mason City in Iowa — friends invited us (my second husband and I) to visit them. They took us on a trip to Minneapolis, to the Mall of America, and we drove to Ontario, Canada, where we stayed in a log cabin for a week. The trip was brilliant!
Even better was two years later. By then I was divorced, and I traveled to Las Vegas all by myself. That was bliss, and the moment I got off the plane, it was as if I had entered a fantasy world. I was there because of the same friend whom we had visited in Iowa, because he and I went to a conference about pheromones. I remember nothing of the conference, but everything of our visits to different casinos, to Freemont Street, to Calico ghost town, and, of course, to an all-naked strip club!
My last trip to the USA was in December 2009. Mom had won a Christmas shopping trip for two to New York at the casino and invited me along. New York is stunning. Those four days there were amazing. Friendly people, wonderful day trips, and a blizzard. It was cold, and the blizzard was fierce, but we sailed on a party boat on the Hudson to see the Lady of Liberty. This is a city I would love to return to, but then with Master T army side.
London and Bristol, United Kingdom
We made three trips to Bristol and always stayed in the Radisson. The second year we returned felt like coming home, and even more so the third year. We visited cathedrals, the suspension bridge and the viewpoint close to that, and took a walk up the hill, taking many pictures of the beautiful buildings, before returning to the hotel lobby for a well-deserved drink. Both of us would love to return to the city.
Then of course there’s London. This is a place I love to bits. If possible, I would have traveled there at least once a month. I don’t need to spend the day with anyone in London. Just me, my camera, and the beautiful views around me, will give me the best London experience!
London is and always will remain my second favorite in the world, and the only reason it’s not in the first spot is because it’s so far away.
The Netherlands, my home
Almost 27 years ago, on the 13th of December 1994, I adopted The Netherlands as my new home, and never looked back. Where I live now, I have lived for the past seventeen years, the longest I have ever lived in one place in my entire life!
In my years here, I’ve been to many places. From the north to the south; the east to the west. And in those years, three cities have become part of my favorites.
Amsterdam is a tourist city, but still I love to go there and walk the streets of the city center, especially, but not only, the Red Light District.
Utrecht is in the middle of the country, and a place where I hosted my writing group from 2012 to 2017. The city center of Utrecht has a different vibe than Amsterdam, and one I like more, especially at Christmas time. It’s cozy and friendly and filled with old, historical buildings.
My most favorite city in the whole wide world is Rotterdam. Opposed to Amsterdam, Rotterdam is seen as the ‘workers city’. The vibe is so different from Amsterdam. More to the point. Less relaxed but not uptight. Straight forward people. Beautiful bridges, lovely shopping streets.
Our favorite spot is Kop van Zuid, where we have stayed in Hotel New York several times, and did a Scavenger Hunt walk for our ten-year wedding anniversary. If you give me a choice among these three Dutch cities, Rotterdam will always win. And… it’s only a 20-minute drive from where we live!
My trip, my places
Thank you for reading to this point, and taking this trip around my world with me. I loved the memories it evoked, and sharing some of those with you!
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay