Known for good surf, warm water and spicy curries, Durban is the gem of SA's east coast. We felt like we were in Miami in the 80s as we rode bikes along the golden mile with the Indian Ocean on our right and pastel Art Deco buildings to our left. The monkeys running along the tops of fences reminded us that we were still in Africa.
After exploring the golden mile strip, which is actually six kilometers of sandy beach, we ventured into the heart of the city looking for - what else - authentic Durban curry.
Inspired by a recent article in The New York Times, we went to Oriental, an unassuming spot with barely any signage located within The Workshop shopping mall. They're known for their authentic Durban Indian dishes like curry, roti, breyani and bunny chow. We split beef roti and chicken curry and it was delicious. We scarfed it all down in about ten minutes (forgetting to take a photo first - sorry!!) and I felt the after-tingle on my lips for the next hour.
To round out the one-day-in-Durban extravaganza, we went on a walking tour throughout the oriental area of Durban, starting at the old Durban Station building where Ghandi boarded the train to Cape Town and winding through packed streets and markets. Among the markets we saw were the meat and fish market - NOT recommended for vegans, vegetarians or anyone in danger of becoming one - and Victoria market, full of fragrant spices and African artwork. We also saw the Juma Musjid mosque, the second largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
The most interesting part for us was a strip within the Traditional Zulu Multi Market where sangomas go to buy and trade medicinal herbs, animal bones, and other crazy things. Vials of liquids of all colors and woven baskets full of animal parts spill out into the already narrow passageways. Luckily for you, the smells are impossible to describe.
In fact, the Zulu market was full-on sensory overload, with pungent smells good and bad wafting and mixing so fast it was hard to tell where they were coming from. Vendors blared music from small stereos, as if competing with vendors mere meters away for bandwith. People wearing furs brushed up against us as our eyes darted around them, trying to take it all in and also keeping an eye on our backpacks.
Twenty minutes in an African market ends up feeling like an hour workout. We won't soon forget it.