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East London

East London is South Africa's sixth largest city, and is situated in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Originally known as Port Rex, East London is now part of the Buffalo City Municipality. As you walk through East London's Bonanza, Brighton, Cadwallon and Quanza streets, spare a thought for the wrecks they were named after. Here's a photo of Nahoon Beach, named after a Xhosa Chief, and known for the surfing waves it produces.

Nahoon Beach in East London

A trip to East London

By Shane

So there I was enjoying a latte, as you do, when all of a sudden Jackie O (my brand new iPhone 5) tells me that I have a new Facebook message. Dear God please not another party. The Christmas mirth has left me with about five extra kilograms of Christmas girth and I can't possibly fit into anything 2013 appropriate. Jackie O informs me that I have a message from my ex. I calmly sip my latte. He is getting married. I swallow the scolding liquid without blinking. He is marrying someone more attractive than me. I remain poised as I ask the waiter to bring me a double gin and tonic. If he was shocked about my Wednesday morning breakfast choice he hid it well. I guess I had that “my confounded ex is self-actualizing faster than I am” look on my face. However dear readers that is not all my ex sent me. He also had the audacity to send me a friend request! Both Jackie O and I were simply gob smacked at this point. The way we see it is that we have three courses of action:

  1. Simply ignore the request. The only problem with this course of action is that I have always struggled with ignoring a pebble in my shoe.

  2. Accept the request and offer my congratulations. However being the bigger person goes against my genetic code.

  3. Go on a holiday I can't afford and take amazing pictures in beautiful locations, working the Facebook PR angle to the maximum. I like to think of it as passive aggressive but with a fashionable edge.

Twenty minutes later I have booked an economy class ticket to East London through South Africa Travel Online for three days and two nights of sun, style and of course revenge.

Accommodation

In my opinion where you stay is the most important part of any holiday. If I am to look drop dead gorgeous against some of the most picturesque backgrounds East London has to offer, I am going to need to be well rested and well fed every morning. When it comes to luxury accommodation, Amanda's B&B, 2 Hart Street, 5257 Gonubie, delivers style and elegance without breaking the bank. After hiring a car from East London Airport, and taking the thirty-five minute drive , the spacious guestrooms located directly on the Gonubie Beach makes you feel like you have driven to your own private paradise. Private balcony's boasting a panoramic view of the Southern Ocean, an outdoor swimming pool and lush gardens make me want to kick myself for not vising East London sooner. Did I mention the complimentary sherry? True my ex may be getting married, but I am getting tipsy in what can only be described as my own slice of Heaven. Check in was swift, the sunshine bliss and the water simply divine.  

Food

I think it was Oscar Wilde who said, “I can resist anything but temptation.” About 8.4 km from Gonubie it was I who came face to face with my culinary temptress and was forced to abandon my seven day juicing diet. This is must see restaurant, day or night.

Two Dogs Bistro Fine Dining and Wine Bar's layout is creative in everything from the choice of mood music to its vibrant colour palette of red, green and black. Offbeat yet tasteful it boasts a large open kitchen which means you can watch the chefs in action, making dining alone seem less daunting. Not That I had to worry of course, I had Jackie O with me.

We enjoyed a scrumptious Pumpkin, Thyme and Feta Tart Gnocchi with Sundried Tomato and Olive Beurre Noisette.  (Beurre Noisette, as the waiter happily explained, is a French term for hazelnut butter.). This was my first orgasm of 2013. A bottle of Longridge Cabernet Sauvignon, roughly R120, was my second.

The Beach

One of the best cures for a hangover is without a doubt fresh air. It doesn't really get much fresher than on this blue flag beach.  After a great fry up of a full English breakfast Jackie O and I were off. The 500 meter boardwalk was just another truly stunning place to take a profile picture with its clear skies and dolphins in the background. Okay I didn't actually see the dolphins myself, but the locals swear that if you stand there long enough you are able to see plenty of dolphins and whales in the distance. However the sand was calling my name so sadly I had to give the beautiful tidal pool a miss. Although attractions like that and the abundance of tiny fish swimming about the lagoon make it clear to see why this destination would be popular with families and is vehemently  considered by East Londoners as theirs. This beautiful beach town is the perfect stopover en route to Cape Town. But there is no rush. Take a moment to smell the coffee, catch some rays and spot those whales.  

Nightlife

Well what is a holiday without the infamous night on the town? Thankfully I have an old school friend living about twelve kilometers from Gonubie.  After I had explained my mission to her over the phone she replied without hesitation with these three words, “Numbers Dance Club.” It was an very upmarket night club with plenty of pretty people, pumping tunes and comfortable seating. Okay I was a little insulted that nobody asked for my ID as on a Saturday it is over 30's and I am only 27 years old, but besides that it ticked all the boxes nicely. It does what it says on the box. Plenty of booze and blondes and the perfect setting for that much needed dance floor picture. Five rounds, umpteen pictures and several request of “Please play Gangnam Style again” later I was bundled up in a cab on the way home. The taxi fare was a killer, but the night was truly immense. These East Londoners know how to show a Durbanite a good time. 

Something cultural

Well I like to define a cultural activity as somewhere you don't often go that isn't your dentist. The kind of place you have to pay for parking, don't swear, and usually aren't required to talk too much. For my East London experience, this came in the form of The East London Aquarium. Did you know that it was opened in 1931 making it the oldest aquarium in South Africa? Neither did I! It's not just a pretty face either. They play an active role in conserving both the coastline and estuaries in the area. Money well spent I would say. Above any of this- They have penguins. Lots and lots of penguins. A fact I picked up in high school biology is that most breeds of penguins actually mate for life, thus proving correct my theory that in a past life my ex was a pig and not a penguin. 

Each year between October & February these birds shed their old plumage and don a new one. Much like myself after a break up they stuff their faces with food for about five weeks prior to the moulting period and then lose almost half their weight during the moulting process. In my case I just hit the treadmill a little hard come February. However as the announcer spoke I got to thinking about the situation with my ex. Was this excess baggage really something I needed to add onto those extra five kilograms of holiday weight? As dolphins and seals preformed adorable tricks to an adoring public, perhaps it was time I go through my own moulting process.

Refreshed and revived

With about two hours until my flight from East London to Johannesburg, I decided it was time to shed some weight of my own. My new plumage was thanks to the team at Salon Gretchen 66 11 Ave, Gonubie, East London. Friendly conversation, the latest in gossip magazines, a killer cup of coffee later and I was on my way.

That day I stepped off the airplane with more than just a new haircut. East London was the perfect setting to have my own Eat Pray Love experience and a hell of a lot less ostentatious (not to mention cheaper). The friend request was ignored and a simple “Congratulations” was issued via Facebook courtesy of Jackie O.

And in case you were wondering my profile picture, courtesy of East London Aquarium, is a holiday snap of one of those beautiful, monogamous penguins.

Geography

East London is situated on South Africa's east coast, about half-way between Cape Town and Durban. It lies between the Buffalo and Nahoon Rivers.

Distances

East London to Cape Town

1100km

East London To Durban

676km

East London to Johannesburg

990km

Climate

East London boasts a moderate climate all year round. Summers are dry and warm with relatively low humidity, while winters are mild, with year-round rainfall.

Click here to see East London's latest weather forecast.

East London Town Hall

Getting to and from East London

By air

East London Airport is not an international airport, but has a number of flights to major South African cities. To get to East London from outside South Africa, one would normally fly to Cape Town or Johannesburg and take a connecting flight to East London.

By bus

Translux, Greyhound, Intercape and the Baz Bus connect East London to the major South African cities.

By car

East London can be reached by car via the N2 highway, running from Cape Town to Durban. East London is also connected to Bloemfontein via the N6 (and Bloemfontein is connected to Johannesburg via the N1).

By train

The train station offers connections to Johannesburg as well as Port Elizabeth.

Accommodation

Click here to find accommodation in East London

History

26 June 2006

The Safmarine Agulhas runs aground after leaving the harbour.

July 1907

The Orient, a Russian vessel, runs aground on Orient Beach.

October 1905

After 2 days of heavy inland rain, East London is flooded, with a reported describing the town as "a 2nd Venice". The Helene was moved ashore and broken in two and the New Blessing was lifted out of the Buffalo River and left in the bush,

April 1902

A heavy sea raises the Buffalo river, resulting in ships breaking adrift and colliding.

14 July 1874

Five ships are lost in a storm: the Fingo, Flora, Natal Star, Nova Bella and Western Star.

1873

Sir John Molteno lays the first block for the breakwater at East London harbour.

1872

The Bismarck becomes the first steamer to cross the bar of the Buffalo River and enter its calm waters.

26 May 1872

A south-easterly gale drives 8 ships ashore: Elaine, Emma, Jane Davies, Martha, Quanza, the Queen of May, the Refuge, the Sharp

Attractions

  • Beaches - e.g. "Fully Beach". Try Batting Bridge or Gonubie riverside if you're looking for a spot with braai facilities.

  • Drive along the Buffalo River.

  • German market on Fridays and Saturdays in Buffalo Street.

  • Wild Coast Meander hiking trail.

Harbour

People sometimes refer to East London as "South Africa's only river port". The Portuguese were the first Europeans to enter the Buffalo River, followed by the Dutch.

Links

Buffalo City Municipality

Wikipedia: East London

Wikitravel: East London

 

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