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Monday, May 26, 2014

African Adventure 2014 - Victoria Falls Hotel Day 1

When we arrived at the Victoria Falls Hotel, we were immediately taken aback by the character, history, beauty and hospitality. This was in stark contrast to Chobe Safari Lodge. Lemonades and warm, minty, moist towels were brought to us during the check-in process, to help make it more comfortable. Our porter helped us take our bags to our room, stopping in the courtyard and on the terrace to show us some of the features of the hotel and the grounds. He also shared some of the history of the hotel during the walk to the room. We learned it is one of the oldest hotels near Victoria Falls.

Once in the room, our porter showed us the features to our room, even making sure Ben's adapter worked before leaving. He was fantastic! Kari instantly fell in love with the room. We were even fortunate enough to have a view of the bridge connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia over the "Boiling Pot" of the Falls. It is an incredible room with an incredible view. After getting settled, we walked down to the terrace to have lunch. The menu confirmed our suspicions that Zimbabwe was going to be more expensive than Botswana. Instead of our typical $10-$15 lunch for the two of us, at the Victoria Falls Hotel, lunch of similar size cost $50. Yikes! Oh well. Thankfully, we are not staying here long, since it is not the greatest value for the money.

Following lunch, we set off to explore the grounds a bit before walking off to the village. With some small bills in hand, we left the confines of the hotel to see what was beyond. Immediately, we were greeted by people selling their wares on the street. We were able to shake them to get to some of the shops. Making use of some of Ben's bartering skills, we were able to get pretty good prices for a few pieces. Then we began our walk back. We were hounded the whole way. Ben ended up purchasing a few more items after bartering the prices down, feeling pretty good about his score and knowing more family gifts were collected. Kari, meanwhile, was a wreck. Bartering is not something she likes or is comfortable with, wanting to learn more about people and help everyone. She felt like a horrible person by the time we returned to the hotel.

Back in the room, Kari grabbed the bottle of Amarula to ease her mental and emotional pains from the bartering system. We then got cleaned up and ready for our sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, the 4th largest river in Africa at over 2700km. On the way to the transfer to the boat, we ran into Christine and Debbie, friends from Chapungu. It was nice seeing friendly faces and sharing about our experiences since we last saw each other. The sunset cruise was nice. We saw more hippos, crocodiles, and various birds while our boat drifted along the Zambezi River. Complimentary drinks and snacks were served during our voyage. Despite the initial cloud coverage, the sunset turned out to be beautiful.

After admiring the sunset for a while, the boat headed back to the hotel. Since we were not overly hungry, we opted to just get dessert from the terrace. It was quite tasty. Well, at least Ben's was. Kari's adventurous eating got the best of her. She was thankful to have her strawberry daiquiri to make it all better.

Back in the room, we noticed that we had yet another royal treatment. The mosquito netting was pulled around the bed with slippers placed for us to use as we exited the bed. Spectacular service! In these first few hours, we could tell that we are going to enjoy our brief stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel.

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