Tag Archives: walk

Field Notes | Walking to Strand Campus

Time: (morning rush)

8:30am – 9:30am (typical London workday is 9-5 or 10-6);shops generally open between 10 and 11am; larger chain restaurants open between 7 and 9am, smaller cafes and restaurants may not open until 10 or later)

People and Activities: (varied by area)

St Katherine’s Docks – sparsely populated, mostly men and women on their way to the Tower Hill Tube Station (business professionals) wearing suits or business-appropriate attire, assumed middle class, many taking personal calls on mobile phones, most walking alone, occasional solo runners, little interaction with others, restaurant staff setting up chairs & table settings for the day, short queue at the pop-up coffee vendor’s stall

Tower of London – largely tourists standing at rails to photograph the tower and each other; some professionals entering/leaving Tower Hill subway to access tube/train stations; generally benign, but occasionally brusque, interactions between the two as tourists stroll or stop and professionals attempt to hurry; tourists are primarily individuals, couples, or small family groups (no large, guided tours, no students); conversation primarily around the poppies for the WWI display in the Tower moat

Financial District – almost entirely business professionals streaming out of the tube station and toward their offices on the streets opposite; 2 charity canvassers attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to stop and chat with passers-by (myself included, though I too ignore them). Two men stand amidst the crowd handing out newspapers and another distributes fliers, presumably for a special taking place at the restaurant in which he works (he’s wearing a white apron); mostly white, middle class, English-speakers (those who speak at all) traveling alone or in pairs as they seem to have met up with a colleague along the way

St. Paul’s Cathedral – at this time in the morning, St. Paul’s is still rather quiet; business professionals walk by. Similar situation to St. Katherine’s Docks re:professionals and occasional runners; a few more family groups of tourists but again no large groups as it is still early

Fleet Street/Temple – greater number of young people around (whom I assume to be students) and more casually dressed business professionals; shops are beginning to open up, and tourists stand in small huddles on street corners consulting maps

General – Driving traffic is moderate, we are a bit past the morning rush by the time I enter the city; mainly cabs, buses, and personal vehicles but occasional construction trucks pass by; about two dozen cyclists pass along the way (from experience, this number would have been much greater earlier in the morning) and these seem to be young professionals, and predominantly white men (equal parts wearing jeans or cycling gear and suits; all carrying bags)


Table Mountain

“It is not your mountain until you’ve conquered it” – Dragana

I proudly claim ownership over a small piece of the domineering Table Mountain. Mark, one of my Cape Town hosts, and I scrambled the Platteklip trail to the top on my very first morning.


Phophonyane Falls


The Phophonyane Legend

Swazi legend relates the romantic tale of a beautiful
maiden and her love for a handsome warrior. For her hand he had to present her with the skin of a leopard which he had to hunt for on the rugged Gobolondlo Mountain. Misfortune befell her suitor and he was seized by witches who inhabited the mountainside and transformed into a white flower, condemned for his trespassing to bloom and die among the mountain grasses. When after many days the warrior had still not returned, the lamenting maiden sat on the river’s edge where her inexhaustible tears flowed to form the Phophonyane waterfalls, which still flow today.



Return to the Mountains

IMG_0419My return to the mountains – this time in Swaziland – began in Malalotja Nature Reserve. Hiking with Walker and talking life. What a perfect return.


Morning Hike: the Game Park edition

Kruger National Park has so much to offer a tourist. Not only will visitors enjoy a ‘real safari’ (whatever that is), but they have half a dozen options for how best to make that happen. Whether as part of a guided tour or independently, driving through the park is quite the experience and rare game sightings are frequent and likely, if not entirely guaranteed. But there is a wholly different way to approach Kruger as well – walking through the park with two trained guides.


We left at five in the morning, bleary-eyed and under-caffeinated, but stoked on our next adventure. Having already spotted an impressive three of ‘The Big Five’ the night before, this morning walk was dedicated to the lion and the critically endangered black rhinoceros. Truth be told, we were prepared to be happy for any rhinoceros. Technicalities be damned.

We began our day, therefore, with a lion devouring a hippo mid-river:


A rather disgruntled hyena:P1020858

A charging elephant:P1020863

And yes, rhinos. White ones:IMG_6442

Our guides dropped their knowledge on us regarding the local flora and fauna; touted their rifles like Rambos; cracked jokes in four languages; and made sure we each got to see the buffalos and kudu ranging through the brush.


One wants to be buried in beautiful Kruger Park.
Talk about commitment.

Searching for Sunday

It’s been a good long while since I’ve broken my routine in favour of mucking around and bushwhacking a new trail.

Some might call this ‘exploring.’ I call it ‘walking in Mokhotlong.’

Before Jenn fled westward, she had described a winter route with a built-in river crossing. Not one to miss an opportunity to hop around on large rocks that spend most of the year underwater, I finally decided to track down this trail of ‘M’e Jenn’s. I think I found part of it; I think I missed most of it.

Thence began the mucking and bushwhacking.

In short, I played around on a mostly-dry riverbed for an hour – rock-hopping to my heart’s content – before slipping into the water, at which point I napped on a massive rock slab mid-river, basking in the paradoxically warm winter sun as I waited for my socks and shoes to dry.

Somedays these Sundays are necessary.

Lourenço Marques: A walking tour of Maputo

Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, grew from a colonial settlement in the 16th century after the arrival of Portuguese explorer Lourenço Marques. The land proved largely inhospitable to Europeans – marshy, muggy, and malarial, yet still of mercantile value. Sea ports seem often to have those qualities.

The city is sometimes called City of Acacias, for the many acacia trees lining its avenues, and sometimes the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

In present-day Maputo, an eccentric expat named Jane Flood has organised an independent walking tour of the city, which we took on our last morning in town. The history of Mozambique, but especially of Maputo, is a fascinating tangle and one I wish I had known more about prior to visiting.


Under Portuguese rule, the art and architecture of Maputo grew rapidly, mimicking the styles of its European overlords. Evidence of this era remains all throughout the city and continues to influence the modern art community. Community parks and luxury hotels sprang up around town

IMG_6323Famed revolutionary and politician Samora Machel led Mozambique to independence in 1975, when he became the first president of the Républica Popular de Moçambique. Honouring his ties to the Soviet bloc, Machel quickly reclaimed all Maputo’s streets by renaming them after prominent socialist and communist figures. Needless to say, the West was unnerved by this leftist leader in the Cold War era. The politics of Mozambique must wait for another post, however.

Both my stay in Maputo and the tour prompted me to read books set in Mozambique, and for a curious novel about the city’s Red Light district, I refer you to A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankel. Not exactly the height of fiction, and not entirely about Mozambique, but a diverting read all the same.

For another perspective, watch this video tour of Maputo featuring Europeans.

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