Sunday, July 5, 2015

Transiting Through Africa--From Victoria Falls through Johannesburg to Cape Town

Sunday, July 5, 2015: Victoria Falls-Johannesburg-Cape Town:

            Today was a day spent in transit en route from Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls to South Africa’s Cape Town via the capital city of Johannesburg.

            Since our flight was not until 1. 15 pm with a pick up from our hotel scheduled for 11.00 am, we had the luxury of a lovely lie-in—all the way until 8.00 am before we decided to get down for breakfast to Jungle Junction, the shack-like restaurant past the pool on the premises of our hotel. We made sure that we completed the bulk of our packing before we left for breakfast as check-out time was 10.00 am. If the porter brought our luggage down to the lobby by 10.00 am, we’d have an hour to kill in the hotel’s beautiful premises before our departure.

 Buffet Breakfast in the Jungle Junction:

            Having eaten a Bush Breakfast yesterday in the Bush following our Elephant Back Safari, we were introduced to the sumptuous buffet breakfast on the sun-drenched terrace of our hotel overlooking the Zambesi Gorge, the Rainbow Bridge and the rising spray that appeared like smoke from the Falls just behind the canyon. We ordered custom-made omlettes filled with ham, cheese and mushrooms which we then enjoyed with bacon, sausages, baked beans and grilled tomatoes. A small muesli cup filled with yoghurt, fresh strawberry puree and granola followed and we finally ended our meal with fresh fruit including the tropical pawpaw or papaya that I love. All this was washed down with guava juice and fresh coffee.  Service was simply awesome and we appreciated the attention to detail as well as the graciousness of the wait staff as they brought us our every desire. Truly, we could get used to this five-star lifestyle!

            In the hour that we had to kill before our airport pick-up, we wandered down to the Zambesi Gorge to take more pictures. We fell into conversation with a couple from Cape Town on a short holiday in Zimbabwe and they proved to be a mine of information about tourist sight seeing activity in their city. But an hour later, we were off and away feeling actually a bit sorry to leave such a fabulous hotel that was steeped in so much colonial history.

 Departure for Cape Town:

            Once again, we discovered upon arrival at Victoria Falls airport that ours was not a direct flight to Cape Town as there are none that exist currently. Later this year, once the new terminal that is currently under construction is complete, passengers can travel directly. But not only did the check-in queue move at snail’s pace  at Zimbabwe airport, but by the time we reached the counter, the flight was full. There was a possibility that we would be off-loaded. Naturally, we were not happy campers as we had a connecting flight at Johannesburg. After keeping us guessing for a few hairy minutes, the Manager at the South African Airlines counter gave us the good news that we had been upgraded to Club Class! Boy! Were we relieved! And thrilled to bits. We were proving to have amazing luck on our flights and we hoped not to jinx our successful journeys.

            We did take off a little after schedule. Needless to day, we enjoyed the pampering in Club Class with the sparkling white wine that I ordered and the local South African Cabernet that Llew sipped. Our lunch was equally delicious and we felt well-fortified to undertake the next leg of our journey.

At Johannesburg, we had to clear Immigration and Customs and take our baggage to the Domestic Departures section for an on-going flight to Cape Town. Here too, the Immigration line was a mess with most passengers moving sluggishly and several cutting the queue. Long story short, we managed to make our connecting flight to Cape Town with no further incident but we are slowly getting accustomed to the absolute tardiness and lack of efficiency which seems to be a cultural trait.

            We were on board our onward flight that departed from Johannesburg at 5 pm with a scheduled arrival time of 7. 10 pm in Cape Town. We were ready for the left segment of our travels in Africa in a city about which everyone eulogizes.      

            A tour representative was waiting to take us to our hotel, The Victoria and Alfred Hotel—yes, you read that correctly: it is the V and A Hotel but Victoria’s beloved Alfred is not the consort after which this hotel has been named. I shall have to do some research to find out where the Alfred comes from! Be that as it may, we had a very smooth drive to the hotel in Cape Town. It was 8.00 pm and so completely dark—we could see little but what we did see was impressive. This could be a First World City—first impressions were very positive indeed.

            Out hotel is just as lovely as the one in Zimbabwe—except that it is much more modern. It is on the lovely V&A Waterfront and the view from our window reveals the lights of the pier. There is a massive ferris wheel—similar to the London Eye—outside our window but we were simply too tired to go out and explore tonight.

            All sightseeing will have to wait until tomorrow. We showered, relaxed with a beer and a wine and munched on trail mix and then it was time to catch up with some TV and relax.

            Until tomorrow, cheerio!            

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