A Travellerspoint blog

November 2010

1. Up in the Air

a 15 hour flight...


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Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

At Kansas City International Airport two hours early--a good international traveler knows that this is completely silly but shows up early anyway to minimize the wrath of an airline employee who might be having a rough day--I checked in and made my way to the gate only to find an earlier Atlanta flight just leaving. Traveling with carry-on luggage only, I was able to jump on. Never pass up an opportunity to leave early, say I. There is a nice Crown Room (club) at Terminal E at Hartsfield Airport so I holed up there for a few hours before boarding my Delta 777 to Johannesburg. The 6:45pm flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg lands at 5:05pm the next day...gate to gate it is fifteen hours and twenty minutes. Not a problem when you've got a seat like mine: 7A. It is almost as big as my condo and just as comfortable. It is a Business Elite Suite seat, has a small closet and a bit of extra table space compared to the rest of Business Class--which is why I chose it. The closet provides privacy from the aisle and shields light and noise from the galley. It is one of forty-three 76" long fully flat bed seats and has a work station and a television. There are 233 coach seats behind me. This is the way to fly over the ocean for fifteen hours; believe me.52d74020-240b-11ea-80be-ef85444d5ad7.jpg

At Jo-Burg, I have just under two hours between flights to clear customs and immigration, I keep going to Cape Town, a flight of two hours and ten minutes more. British Airways does a nice job. they, unlike American carriers, serve a hot meal and smile while they are doing it.

Kathy Sudeikis, world's greatest travel agent, member of the Travel Agents Hall of Fame, past presented of just about every travel agent professional organization there is, cover girl of Travel Agent Magazine and all around great person has an agent waiting for me to help get me to The Portswood Hotel. This is all very smooth. She put the whole thing together for me...something most travel agents couldn't do.

Southern Africa is eight hours ahead of Kansas City. Think of it this way: When the Kansas City workday is beginning, the South African work day has just ended. When Kansas Citians are headed to bed, South Africans are getting up. For a traveler, the trick is to get on local time as soon as possible. Otherwise, you are tired when you're supposed to be energized and energized when you are supposed to be sleeping. Usually, I am very good at these transitions. We shall see. A successful travel day means I head to bed and sleep soundly for eight hours or so and wake up ready to get down to business. I will turn off the light at the PortsWood Hotel momentarily and see if sleep comes easily. It is rainy here; we'll see if that persists into tomorrow morning. It is 11:00pm on 11/11 here; 3:00pm on 11/11 in Kansas City.

I have a lot of beverage operations to observe while I am here...let's see if DPS Campus, Pepsi Campus or BeerCampus subscribers can learn anything from these guys.

Posted by paulej4 08:03 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

2. South Africans Friendly Folks


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Cape Town, South Africa
Friday, November 12, 2010

After a night of fitful sleep (no doubt due to an eight hour time zone change) I was up at six only to discover that my computer battery had died overnight. It seems that my charger plug is malfunctioning. I borrowed another one from the hotel but had to do a makeshift rigging to get it to work. So far, so good.

Breakfast was fine and Brian from Thompson's Africa Tours arrived right on time to pick me up for a half-day Cape Town City Tour including a trip up the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, a flattop mountain overlooking the city. We also tour "The Company's Garden" (nice), the Malay Quarter where brightly colored houses predominate, the "Castle"--which is the oldest European building in Southern Africa and the scene of the South African version of "The Changing of the Guards," and a trip bar cable car to the top of the fabulous Table Mountain. The top of the mountain was partially enveloped by a cloud making it surreal. In the afternoon, we headed for Stellenbosch (wine country) with stops at Vergenoegd Wine Estate and Neethlingshof Winery. Vergenoegd won out with its lovely Pinotage and a delightful Cabernet while both did well with Sauvignon Blancs.

In the afternoon, I was accompanied by a lovely couple from the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City, Mona and Eric, and an equally lovely couple from Edinborough, Scotland, UK, Matt and Donna. They adopted me as a surrogate papa and a good time was had by all.

large_8d24f150-2feb-11ea-86e7-3f1d5cba98a5.jpglarge_8d193180-2feb-11ea-b714-c915d9c20102.jpglarge_8d2f78a0-2feb-11ea-b889-1f2fcd691c22.jpglarge_8d0422e0-2feb-11ea-b889-1f2fcd691c22.jpglarge_8c8703a0-2feb-11ea-b889-1f2fcd691c22.jpgThe people are marvelous. The scenery is on a par with New Zealand (and that's saying something) and the wine is excellent. I saw a lot of SAB Miller activity and Coke predominates. There is no apparent evidence of Pepsi in Cape Town although I am told that they are a factor in Johannesburg. I didn't see any Dr Pepper Snapple brands but I am certain that 7Up is here; I just haven't seen it. Budweiser is not to be found...at least by me. One gets the impression that spirits and beer volumes are negatively impacted by wine consumption.

I had lunch at the Clock Tower in Cape Town and dinner at Caffe Balducci. I tried to dine at Baia (a recommendation of Kathy Sudeikis) but they wouldn't let me eat at the bar which meant I would have had to look like a loser at a table for two for one. I don't do that so they don't get my money. Balducci was very nice.

Before dinner and after our wine country tour, Mona, Eric, Matt, Donna and I stopped for a sunset bottle of wine at the Pepper Club on the Beach. Again, take note: wine and spirits predominate with beer on draught being rare to unavailable.

I recommend Cape Town; it is quite nice in every way.

Posted by paulej4 14:10 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

4. Ostrich and Baboon and Penguin; Oh My


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Cape Of Good Hope, Western Cape, South Africa
Saturday, November 13, 2010

The rain stopped and the cloudy mist cleared as we drove south to the Cape of Good Hope, "The SouthWestern Most Spot in Africa." Still on the Atlantic but mixed with waters from the far edge of the Indian Ocean, warm and cold waters collide here. The area is full to brimming with flowers, birds, and occasional varieties of larger critters such as ostrich, baboon and penguin. A lone Southern Right Whale remained behind off the coast, his (or her) brethern having already left (last week, they say) for Antarctica. There are seals in abundance and lighthouses to which the energetic may hike.

large_246be6e0-2fec-11ea-b714-c915d9c20102.jpglarge_246222e0-2fec-11ea-86e7-3f1d5cba98a5.jpglarge_24633450-2fec-11ea-b889-1f2fcd691c22.jpglarge_24437750-2fec-11ea-86e7-3f1d5cba98a5.jpglarge_243f0a80-2fec-11ea-b889-1f2fcd691c22.jpgI was joined on my organized tour by a lady from Connecticut, a couple from Alberta and a couple from Dubai. Once again, Brian was my guide; he greeted me as if I were an old friend.

I am tired this afternoon as I write this back in my hotel. A nap is in order. I've no fancy plan for dinner other than to once again browse the Waterfront. Tomorrow, the other side of South Africa reveals itself as I move into safari mode.

I'll keep you posted.

Posted by paulej4 14:10 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

3. Winery Musings


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At least one Stellenbosch winery refuses to make much use of pesticides, instead relying on a vast flock of ducks to eat both insects and snails.

For the first time, I must listen for hooters.

It is raining on the morning of November 13 in Cape Town. I don't know for how long.

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Posted by paulej4 14:10 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

5. Game for a Drive


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Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Sunday, November 14, 2010

Picked up at 8:00 from the PortsWood and driven to the Cape Town Nelspruit Airport, I was quickly checked in for my 10:00am flight to Kruger Mpumala Airport. My two seatmates were from Angola. "Not quite ready for tourists," they said as they told me to wait a few years before visiting there. My friends from Friday afternoon, Mona and Eric (New York) and Matt and Donna (Edinborough) were on the same flight. Unfortunately, they were headed for different places once we arrived at Kruger at 12:25pm.

I was picked up at the Kruger airport by James and shuttled to Kruger Park Lodge. I wouldn't recommend this lodge to you unless you are driving your own car and enjoy solitude. My “chalet,” which is very nice, is a long, long walk from reception. There is no internet in the “chalets” and they have no electric adapters for loan so you can’t charge up your computer and camera batteries. The almost empty dining room is tiny, perhaps because the “chalets” are kitchenettes for the time share owners and there are few other guests. There is a bar but it is hard to find and deserted; I had the chicken. So far, there hasn’t been a salt shaker anywhere in South Africa that works. The Kruger Park Lodge is dead, spread out and ill equipped. They do, however, offer laundry service at a flat rate for however much you can cram into their bag. I’ve plenty to cram.

Chadrack was my afternoon game drive guide. Here, they use modified Toyotas, built up in the rear with three, open sided, elevated rows of seats. Each vehicle would handle nine tourists; I had this one all to myself. It’s a bit of a haul to get into Kruger Park from the Kruger Park Lodge which is not inside the park as its name would imply. As soon as one enters the park, great numbers of impala offer a greeting and, soon after, zebra and giraffe welcome you as well. We spotted a white rhino, elephant and, later on, a mating pair of lions (sorry if the photo is R rated). The terrain here is unlike what I had previously experienced on safari in Kenya and Tanzania. Scrub brush predominates in the areas of the park where we visited; not the clear savannah type environment I had seen before. For that reason, animals are not to be seen at a distance, instead becoming visible only once you are upon them. The afternoon was heavily overcast so the light was flat and it began to lightly rain late on my drive. The temperature is probably around seventy degrees which is nice. The wind chill in a moving open vehicle makes things chilly, however. It was cold in that truck; I am glad I brought both a jacket and a rain slicker along. We were out of the park by 6:00pm, a good thing because it was pitch dark just minutes later.large_63235a30-2fec-11ea-86e7-3f1d5cba98a5.jpglarge_6323f670-2fec-11ea-b714-c915d9c20102.jpglarge_62ffa590-2fec-11ea-86e7-3f1d5cba98a5.jpglarge_62fe9420-2fec-11ea-b714-c915d9c20102.jpglarge_62dfc180-2fec-11ea-b714-c915d9c20102.jpg

Tomorrow, I am to be picked up at 5:30am for an all-day game drive hosted by Alfred as Chadrack is not working. South Africans continue to amaze me with their near universal warm and welcoming attitude. In this post-apartheid time, I am encountering many more blacks than whites. They do have a fascinating accent but I am used to it because my favorite client, Larry, has not only acclimated me to it, it was his enthusiasm that brought me here.

Posted by paulej4 14:10 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)