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Published: March 22nd 2015
Wrapping up the journey. So many lovely memories. Random photos.
South Africa is well worth visiting if you can take the long hours of flying and pay the cost of getting there. There is so much that is distinctly theirs. Food. Wildlife. Landscapes. Cities. And people. I found the actual cost of things there was very reasonable because TT$1 is worth almost R2 ( the currency is the Rand, but people call it the Dollar - not to be confused with the US$). Notably the cost of food, you can have a 3 course dinner with a glass of very good South African wine (and there are MANY) for TT$100.00 In the supermarkets I noticed food prices were often outrageously low! A bottle of honey costs TT$20.00! Bottle of Wine costs about TT$30.00! Yes, you will live!
While I was hosted at private homes of friends, so did not have to pay for accommodation most of the time, still the cost for good standard of accommodation was also quite reasonable compared with TT. There is a uniquely termed accommodation known as "Backpackers" which I saw several times on buildings in Cape Town and elsewhere. I
didn't go to view them inside but the buildings all seemed to have a special feel about them. I think they must equate budget bed and breakfast. I felt I would stay there.
Public transport by road isn't too good. But in CapeTown there is an affordable, well rated "Hop on Hop off" open air double decker bus that goes to all the tourist stops. Not sure what bus services are available elsewhere, but for Johannesburg I saw photos of a high speed underground train. And there are intercity overland trains connecting the main cities in addition to domestic air carriers and several small regional airports. Remember, this is a huge country! I didn't try to rent a car but driving is on the left, as we do.... However there are a number of other road signs that we don't have AND motorists there show regard for others, and obey the driving code. No Wild driving. You will be caught! To drive as a visitor you can use your valid national permit if it has a photo ID and is written in English.
For language, almost everyone speaks English. Or Afrikaans. And public signs
and notices are always multi lingual.
Currency in use is the Rand. Don't expect that foreign exchange will automatically be accepted anywhere. It won't! Strict controls exist! Credit cards are widely accepted but to cash foreign exchange you need a bank, and your Passport. Not just an ID but your passport. If you have a Travel Money card and remember your PIN you can get cash from the dozens of ATMs everywhere. So remember your pin.
The BA flights on the journey back home ran like clockwork. On time at every stage. At Heathrow our mini cab driver was waiting outside the Costa Coffee bar as booked.... Took a bit of finding him due to the large collection of other mini cab drivers with signs waiting for their passengers! But pre booking the mini cab was the perfect solution. Mini cabs MUST be pre booked. On arrival at Gatwick our Yemeni driver went the extra distance to get Judy to the BA help and information office. A bus driver wouldn't have done it and I couldn't have handled our luggage and found the BA DESK if he hadn't helped. Big up to "minicabit" on line booking
Leaving Gatwick the flight encountered a no show, a passenger checked in with bags... So there was a delay to find and remove the bags. Yet we kept on time, arrived St Lucia on time and were early by 15 minutes in to Piarco. Exhausted from 28 hours airport to airport non stop travel across 6 time zones and moving from south of the equator to north if it.
But this was easily one of the most memorable holidays I've ever had. I very sincerely thank everyone who made it so.
Hasta la vista.
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