Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh…
I wasn’t actually gonna write up this post, mainly because I don’t like interrupting the flow of my posts with other topics, but I decided to go ahead and do so because of two reasons; to let all my wonderful commenters know how helpful their comments were and due to a request I got to document my trip.
Firstly I’d like to say a huge Thank You and Jazakallah Khair to everyone who took out the time to comment and give me so many tips and recommendations. You’ll have No idea how much I appreciated it and how much it helped. I wrote down every place mentioned, addresses and all. My hubby was quite surprised by how much I seemingly knew about Durban and amused by my scholarly attitude. Unfortunately the places mentioned were so many that I’d need like a month to get through them, and time was one thing I was running short of. In the space of one week we had to squeeze in as much as we could so many of the places could not be visited, much to my disappointment. However, Durban is definitely on my list of places to visit again so I shall hoard my list safely and use it again in the future inshaAllah. I only saw some of the comments after I came back but I’ll add those places to my list as well for future reference. Once again jazakallah khair for all your help, it is much appreciated and I’m sure I won’t be the only one who will read through the comments and make use of the recommendations.
We stayed at Umhlanga Sands Resort, a beach resort on Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga. I preferred staying that side compared to one of the hotels in the centre of Durban, due to the simple reason of crowds…especially at the beaches. Durban’s main beach is packed, especially since it’s holiday season now. Not an ideal place for relaxing. Umhlanga had it’s fair share of tourists but it wasn’t as crowded and since the resort had it’s own beach there weren’t many people there. I still had to keep on my niqaab but I could relax and enjoy myself more. The resort itself is quite nice, with apartment-style rooms (the only drawback is the lack of stove, especially for people like us who like our authentic indian masala chai 😜) making it ideal for families, and a kids jungle gym/play area just off the reception area. It has a lovely pool area but as that was filled with music and people I wasn’t too keen on going there. I preferred going to the beach and my kids obviously loved playing in the sand. So that, coupled with the rapidly changing weather made it difficult for us to really embark on our mission of sightseeing. Sunny mornings were spent at the beach. Rainy days were spent in the mall because it wasn’t possible to go to outdoor places then. Bear in mind that for people like us, who live very far from the ocean, relaxing at the beach is an ideal way to spend the holiday😉
Regarding shopping, I’d say Gateway Mall in Umhlanga has it all. I really don’t know if it’s more expensive than other malls but it was definitely more convenient, being only a ten minute drive from our hotel and having all the shops under one roof. It also has a lot of halaal restaurants and a wonderful salaah room for men and women so that’s all your main needs sorted.
We ate at Adega, whose food was simply delicious, My Diner, whose food was not as noteworthy. I wasn’t too keen on their curries, though their sweet and sour chicken sizzler was delicious and their garlic naan complemented it perfectly. Jimmy’s killer prawns was a real killer, especially to a prawn lover like me😉, their lemon butter prawns were to-die-for and their prawn pizza was simply delicious!😋 Apart from that there was Krispy Kremes which have the softest doughnuts ever and the ever elusive Sugarlicious. You know when there’s ONE thing you want most in the world? In this case, in the whole of Durban…and then it so happens that that one thing becomes the most difficult to acquire? I had to exercise enormous amounts of sabr just to get my hands on those ice cream macarons, I tell ya! From the time we entered Gateway I started telling my hubby, “I want to go to Sugarlicious for ice cream macarons.” He shrugged it off as men do when their wives want something that they regard as important as a stick of bubble gum. Someone had mentioned that the shop was on Palm Boulevard, the Palm Court side. So I checked all the shops on that side, where Adega is but there was nothing. I checked the My Diner side: nothing. Then I belatedly got the brilliant idea of checking the mall plan to see exactly where it was: nothing! Which made me realise that Sugarlicious was not part of the mall after all, as I had mistakenly assumed, which meant that it must be on the opposite side of the road. Now to get hubby and kids all the way there, amidst all the other shopping we had to to and lugging our trolley and pram with us…hubby rejected the idea as a hassle and not worth it because what’s the big deal about macarons anyways? Men!!! *shakes head in frustration* anyways, I had to badger, whine, nag, butter him up, etc etc before he finally agreed. When he did agree though, we had to first go buy a couple of things we wanted, then he had to go all the way to the Lower Ground parking lot to deposit our shopping bags and get rid of the trolley and then come back all the way and go with me to Sugarlicious (which was quite a walk again) to buy my macarons, just because I said the macarons had to be our last stop because the ice cream would melt quite fast…so I forgave him after all😜 even though by the time we got them it was the night before we had to check out. I ate one then, and then was left with three with no freezer to store them in since we had already checked out. In the end, I had my coveted macarons on a bench by the beach, under the blazing sun, with my niqaab blowing all over the place and getting in my way. My kids and I gobbled them down before they melted but every bite was so, so worth it! that’s one memory that will stick with me lol…
Apart from Gateway the only other mall we went to was Galleria Mall. We hardly did any shopping there, just had lunch at Jmos which is another place with delicious food and went to the entertainment area. Galleria has an ice rink, for people who can take the risk of falling flat on their faces and making a spectacle of themselves…something I could not do *hide* , an entertaintment area which has video games, bumper cars, putt putt and bowling. There’s also a ferris wheel, a train ride and another such ride (whose name I’ve forgotten now). Basically the mall can be frequented as a family outing as well. My kids enjoyed the afternoon we spent there, and there’s a salah room there as well so no worries on that score.
As lovely and peaceful as Umhlanga was, it was filled with tourists and blasting music at many places. For that reason when I finally went to Overport and walked into Caminettos I felt like I had come home😜 the place was filled with niqaab and abaya clad indian women and Zain Bhikha nasheeds were playing softly in the background. The play area was great, my kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves, the food was delicious and the atmosphere was peaceful and nice. That’s a place I’d definitely visit again inshaAllah.
In Overport we went to Al-Shazia which sells lovely abayas and scarves, and IG Hoosen which is really a one-stop shop if you want anything islamic. Those two are a must. We also went to the Kitchenary which sells nice kitchen stuff and Chohans for authentic indian spices (which we obviously can’t do without. Gosh I sound like a typical indian aunty now. Help!) I really wanted to go to Al-Ansaar to see the books there but we couldn’t find the shop and we ran out of time so that’s another mental tick for next time…
On our way back we passed a sign for Morningside. I really tried to persuade my hubby to take a turn there since it was lunch time and we could have a meal at one of the restaurants mentioned by you’ll, even rattled off the names I’d memorised, but my hubby unfortunately does not share the same love of food and adventure that I do *sigh* and said we can just have lunch at our next stop. So yet again, another mental tick for next time. My mental ticks surely are adding up!
Moving on to the sightseeing places that we did manage to go visit, there was Mac Banana, which is right on the south coast…quite a drive from Durban but it was worth it. Unfortunately we couldn’t go see the banana plantation which is the main thing about the place, since the paths were muddy and we were pushing a buggy along. However, there was putt putt which we played (hubby is a golf freak and an expert in that so while I was losing sorely in the beginning I managed to draw even with him towards the end and in the end it was a draw, which to me was a great accomplishment, yayy!!! Hahaha), an obstacle course, zip lines and all (which I was dying to try out, especially since it made me remember the one I wrote about in the blog, but we didn’t have anyone to leave the kids by and I wasn’t sure if I’d manage without tripping up in my abaya and niqaab so then we just left it. Yet another mental tick?? Most definitely!), pony rides, a play area for kids, trampoline, a barnyard area where we could view different animals, paintball, etc… it was nice, we enjoyed ourselves and for anyone who goes there…taste the bananas! Not sure if they’re available by themselves but we had them in fruit salad and they’re simply divine!!! Nothing like any of the bananas I’ve tasted before.
Ushaka Marine World had been at the top of my bucket list for ages now so obviously we couldn’t miss that out. We went through the ancient ship-turned-aquarium, went to Wet n Wild and Kids world. The kids loved the jungle gym which is apparently the largest one in Africa and my older one loves water so he had a blast in the pool. Unfortunately it started raining while he was still in the pool so that cut his swim short but it was still a wonderful trip. I was so wishing to try out the water slides since I also love water but being a niqaabi comes with its own challenges. There’s a lot of things we can’t do, especially water-related stuff, but that’s all part of the test, right. We can go for holidays and enjoy ourselves but we cannot forget that we are muslims first and foremost, and that the Allah we worship at home is the same Allah who is with us wherever we go, so we always need to concentrate on pleasing Him first. Which at times is very difficult to do but therein lies our test.
I had planned on going to Midland Meander for so long, since I’d read the comment regarding it. Reading about the belgian choc experience had my mouth watering and Piggly Wiggly sounds so exotic in a cartoony way…if that makes sense😂 I had planned on going to Moses Mabhida stadium, and loads of other places but time was against us. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came back happy and relaxed, and yet, there’s a sense of unaccomplishment lingering at the back of my mind. The feeling that I still have so much left to do, that I haven’t even made a dent on my list of things-to-do. So to Durban, the warm, friendly, seaside city, I shall be back soon inshaAllah!
Until we meet again
P.S. To people in niqaab who would love to put up their niqaabs and enjoy the beachside in peace, and to all the people wanting quiet, private beaches, there’s loads of them along the south coast. We spent a bit of time along the south coast and it was awesome! Some of the beaches were completely deserted and that was a wonderful, unique experience for me because I could kick off my shoes, hike up my abaya, whip off my niqaab and splash along! You get the picture😜 the weather got in our way sometimes, the dreaded rain that couldn’t stop once it had started, but those beaches are beautiful alhamdulillah.
P.P.S. I wanted to cram everything in one post and yet I didn’t wanna leave anything out so you’ll got a looooong post in return. I hope I haven’t bored you’ll and you managed to read everything😜
P.P.P.S. I haven’t written the next post, haven’t even started it yet. I hope to get it up by the end of the week inshaAllah. If not then next week but hopefully that won’t happen inshaAllah. My mind’s still in holiday mood 😉