In the past few days, I have visited more churches than in the last 3 years combined. Most churches in Rome were built to bring a sense of awe – a job well done! But as with most awe-inspiring things, if you look closer, you find touching, interesting and funny details to bring them close.
Rome is city with over 900 churhes, 200 flavors of gelato and 3000 years of art. It’s a city where a city gate designed by Bernini isn’t necessarily even mentioned in the guidebook. It is hot, crowded, expensive and chaotic. It is breathtaking.
Unlike Venice or even Paris, Rome has the feel of everyday life everywhere. Even in the most touristy center, tucked in the narrow lane between two monuments is someone’s laundry drying from the window, and someone’s grandmother keeping a careful eye of the comings and goings on her street. The pulse of real Rome.
People of Mpumalanga don’t suffer from undue modesty – or how else do you explain a place called ‘God’s Window’. But I have to admit, the views are phenomenal. Along the winding mountain roads are little villages with crafts, great restaurant, whisky and – naturally – curios to all tastes.
One of the places we visited was Pilgrim’s Rest – a little village with number of houses restored to their ‘previous glory’. My favourite spot is the old BP Garage and it’s famous car that has been left to ‘Rust in Peace’.
Sunday was cold. Because we were travelling with Merlin, restaurants did not let us inside, so brunch was a chilly – if tasty – affair. However, a walk to a Bridal Veil waterfall warmed us right up – and made both Merlin and myself comfortably snoozy for the drive back home. Luckily, Stuart is made of stronger stuff.
I’ve been to Mpumalanga three times before, and twice I was unable to see much further than my own hand due to heavy mist, and thus unable to enjoy the famous views from the Panorama Route. The third time I was white water rafting in Blyde River and never got high enough to enjoy the views. Fourth time lucky.
This Friday was a public holiday in South Africa (Youth Day). Both Stuart and I have been so busy we only realised this on Tuesday – and decided it was too late to book a trip somewhere. In the Friday morning we promptly regretted the decision, and book a cottage in Mpumalanga anyway. Only 3h drive away from Joburg, it is a beautiful mountainous area. There is a lot of coal mining in the area, which explains the rail tracks in the middle of nowhere.
When I was a kid, I used to dabble with paints and drawing. One day my mum brought me these amazingly beautiful water colours from China. One set was black, and the other with all the different colours. My fingers have been itching for more than a decade now to use them, but I just can’t. They are way too beautiful to use.