Why oh why did we buy that damn duty free gin and vodka ?!We are now starting to realise what a millstone it is around our neck getting on and off aeroplanes and hauling it around airport lounges, resting up between flights and then getting back on again.OK.so it was mainly the 5 hours wait in damn uncomfortable seats at Singapore airport that is bringing this nightmare to the surface. And all for a saving of a couple of bucks on each bottle. And now we have to drink it before we get to the safari stage of the BBA V4 as you are not supposed to take your own booze. Secretly though we are stockpiling, well 2 any way, 1 litre tonic bottles for whatever we have left of the gin and vodka by then. After all both the spirits are clear and so is tonic so who would know.
With the flight from Auckland getting in early to Singapore we had extra time to kill and with the lack of comfortable seats to lounge back in and have a snooze to make up for the missed sleep in the first leg we did it hard on equally hard
seats outside the boarding lounge for where the next flight to South Africa would leave from at 1.25am.
And just when we were both sort of drifting off for a quick snooze a group of youthful Chinese travellers decided to sit next to us and talk at the top of their voices. Naturally they got the hard look from Gretchen and a couple of ‘shoozes” before they took notice and wandered away to annoy someone other sleepy soul waiting for their next flight.
At a time when we thought it would be OK to go through the electronic scanner we headed to complete the exercise only to be turned around because we were too early. And the seats in the departure lounge looked so much more comfortable than where we had been for the previous 4 hours.
We returned outside of the departure lounge to watch for the sign to show our boarding time had arrived and didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes before we got through the bag and body scanner.
On board the A350 there were no spare rows of seats as there were from Auckland so we had to make do
with what had been allocated for us. This time we had aisle row seats nowhere near the galley so we couldn’t have done much better.
There was a quick round of food served up and then the lights went out quite quickly as the A350 headed southwest into the vast Indian Ocean with the next landfall to be Madagascar some 10 hours away and 4 hours short of Johannesburg where there was to be a brief stop of an hour for passengers booked there and a quick clean of the aircraft.
The flight was uneventful for a few minutes of fairly heavy turbulence that had the pilot taking the aircraft up 100 metres or so and also producing a wicked looking dog leg on the map to avoid whatever was going on outside the aircraft in the pitch black dark.
That little episode put a halt to me sleeping any more on this sector although Gretchen did sleep on through the little episode.
The aircraft emptied by half at Johannesburg with each of the departing passengers having to produce their boarding pass to prove they were entitled to be getting off. Then along with the cleaners
came two officials to check off the rest of us and to make sure we were on the flight ready to depart to Cape Town. There seems to be a very serious check going on to make sure we are supposed to be here in South Africa as this was the third time we have been queried about our Visa or boarding passes since we passed through Customs in Auckland. Perhaps this is just a bit of paranoia on our part; we shall see what happens when we present ourselves to Customs in Cape Town.
It was a short and smooth flight onto Cape Town and our habit of arriving early continued with the flight being 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
We have travelled fairly extensively over the past 20 years and visited many airports but never have we had the need to be picked up at an airport by a man, or lady for that matter, with a sign bearing our name. We have seen this so many times over the years and now it was out turn as we had read a personal transfer from the airport to our accommodation would be the best option to
avoid getting ripped off by a taxi driver. So would the person with our name on a card be there?
Getting through Customs was a breeze. As usual there were two queues, one for locals and one for foreigners and both were about the same length. And with our flight being the only international one arriving at 9am, 30 minutes early there were just the 100 odd people queued up.
We got to our turn to front the unsmiling customs lady and sure enough she wanted to know when we would be leaving the Republic. I was tempted to remind her that our Visa was for 35 days and she could work out the date but I thought better and gave her the date of our homeward bound flight from Johannesburg. This satisfied her and a couple of stamps and a little hand written note on the edge of the Visa and we were on our way to pick up our suitcases and meet the person with our name on a card at the arrivals halll.
Not so or at least he wasn’t there because the flight was too early! A quick phone call to the company
and we sat in the arrivals area to await Vincent’s arrival. Even the 3 or 4 local taxi drivers left us alone after one attempt to offer to transport us to the city.
Cape Town boasts being the best International airport in South Africa more times than anywhere else. Sadly though the very large and what was maybe quite grand building 30 years ago is looking a bit worse for wear. Perhaps the money the authorities are making from tourism just isn’t going back to smarten the #1 airport up a bit.
Vincent duly arrived with his sign with our name on it and we did get a flash of it as he made sure who we were before escorting us to his vehicle.
He was a cheerful guy and we discussed rugby and the South African highways and what to watch for when we were driving ourselves as several shanty towns on the outskirts of the city passed by at our sedate 80kph on the 120kph highway passed by. What we noticed with the shanty towns was that every structure seemed to have a satellite dish. So perhaps they did have some comforts despite the structures
looking rather makeshift.
Now we have always believed that Tauranga has a rather striking harbour entrance with the Mount at 200 odd metres being the feature poking up from the blue water of the harbour entrance. Forget it, Cape Town has Table Mountain! This feature commands your sight as the sun shone off the vast wall of grey, quartz sandstone rock soaring to just over 1000 metres. There will be more to say about this striking feature in the days to come.
George, the security guard helped us into the Air BnB apartment we are staying in for the next 3 nights as the owner hadn’t responded to our last update with an arrival time. The apartment looked just like the pictures on the website and will suit us very nicely as we explore the city and surrounding area.
Table Mountain had been such a dramatic introduction to the city to us that we decided to make the most of the fine day (no clouds) and get ourselves up on the cableway to enjoy the views from the top.
Best way to cover the 6.5kms from the apartment to the cableway start was of course Uber.And so it would have been had Gretchen’s phone been set up with a roaming Sim card we carry.
After 3 attempts, each time leaving the apartment to have ourselves at the roadside for the pickup, we gave up. Getting an Uber account open while the roaming card wasn’t playing ball was just too frustrating. And anyway the weather is supposed to stay fine for next 3 days anyway.
So instead, with our body clocks giving mixed messages about what time it seemed to us after 30 odd hours of travel including 24 hours flying we decided to head down to the waterfront, grab a meal(was it lunchtime or dinnertime?)do a bit of sightseeing and get back home for an early night.
It was an interesting 1.7km walk down to the V&A Waterfront which has a heap of shopping and more restaurants than you would care to count. We passed by a couple of grand old mansions, an old jail now turned into a hospital and several converted old structures that were now flashy hotels such as the Marriot.
We strolled through the shopping mall and found Willoughby’s Seafood restaurant and had a delicious late lunch (local time) of fish washed down with an ice cold local beer.Tanda was such a pleasant chap and served us well we upped the tip to 15% and I got a big hug as he flashed his white teeth and gave us a big, happy smile while he handed our credit card back.
Strolling along the waterfront Table Mountain continued to dominate the view in the background.
The area was once the port for the city and I was able to look at the structure of the old wharf walls and speculate if this was where my father had stepped ashore when he used Cape Town as an arrival point in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s when he was a timber trader in the Congo.
We retraced our steps back to the apartment only taking one wrong turn requiring some back tracking(yes, Gretchen was right on the route we should have taken).
A sit in the sun on the terrace with views over part of the V&A and also the peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope, with a gin and tonic (we have to get a good part of this drunk in the next week).
Tiredness quickly started to consume us and as the sun was starting to set we thought bed was a good option to try and catch up on missed sleep during the two flights.
Tomorrow we have an 8 hour trip to the Cape of Good Hope booked and we are sure we will be in good condition to last out the day after a long sleep.
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