Thursday, August 05, 2010

Travel Thursday: South Africa Day 1

The Tuesday we left for South Africa was insane. I got up super, super early (after having stayed up super, super late to finish packing) to get to the office with the hopes of finishing up all of the little things I wanted squared away before I left for two weeks.

I somehow managed to finish everything that I wanted to and only left the office a little bit later than I had intended. It felt good to have left work feeling really prepared for two weeks away. I knew that I had done absolutely everything that I could to prepare my coworkers for my absence.

Meg and I met at home. She arrived at approximately the same time that I did – she had gone to class that morning. We rushed through the last bit of last minute stuff (like finding a place in our carry-on luggage for the Mad Men DVDs that we never ended up watching) and we were about as prepared as we could be by the time our airport shuttle – Dad – arrived home.

The airport in Detroit – well, it was the airport. We did all of the song and dance required and settled in at our gate. We took a few nerdy pictures, grabbed some food and boarded the plane to Atlanta.

Things got a little bit complicated in Atlanta due to storms that kept our plane from landing. We didn’t have much time between our flights and, with the delay and the overhead displays indicating that our flight to Johannesburg was still running on time, we ended up jogging from one gate to the next.

Meg made an executive decision upon arriving at the gate that she would haul ass to the food court to buy us burritos and for that I am eternally grateful.

We boarded right on schedule but, due to the storms and the large number of delayed flights, we ended up waiting at the gate for quite some time. Not surprisingly, all of the flights on that route were booked through the World Cup period and the airline wanted to wait to get as many stragglers on our flight as possible. There were definitely people who missed the flight (we met one later on our trip) and had to take some very long, roundabout routes to South Africa. Thankfully we weren’t one of them.

Not much to say about the flight except that it was LONG.

I only wanted to kill Meg once, when I put my head on her shoulder to get some sleep and she got all bitchy about my touching her. After I gave her the window seat. Asshole.

The guy on the other side of me must’ve taken some killer sleeping pills. We estimate that he was asleep for 15 of the 16 hour flight. I’d try to wake him up so that I could go to the bathroom and could never manage to do it. So, I’d suck it up and end up straddling him to get to the aisle. He never woke up when we were in a compromising position and for that I am grateful.

The 16 hours on the plane was spent alternating between the following activities: playing Sudoku on the seat-back screen, watching movies, trying to sleep, obsessively checking the flight map that tracked our progress and eating. It wasn't fun, but it could have been a lot worse.

We arrived in South Africa in the early evening (I think it was around 6:00 pm). Stepping off of the plane, we were immediately greeted by all sorts of fun World Cup advertising.


Meg, who was about six weeks post-op from her shoulder surgery, wore her sling on the plane so she'd be more comfortable.

We did the whole customs thing. Got our bags. Made our way to the cell phone store and bought a super cheap pay-as-you-go model to use during our trip. Found our driver. Got our match tickets from the kiosk. Headed for the hotel.

Oh, it was so good to be off of a plane. We dumped our things into our room, spent a couple minutes unpacking before giving up and going off in search of food.

We took a cab (Johannesburg isn't a walking town) to an area with lots of restaurants to choose from. Lots of packed restaurants, I should add. Everyone was out watching the South Africa/Uruguay game.

There was so much energy! South Africa was definitely the sentimental favorite of the early part of the tournament - the locals (obviously) and the vast majority of the foreign tourists loved cheering on the home team.

I was so excited to have a real meal.

And the food? So cheap. I love food. Especially when it is inexpensive and delicious, which it was. ...and was the case for our entire trip, actually.

The only hang up that night was getting back to our hotel. We tried, unsuccessfully, to call for a cab but had trouble getting through (because the South Africa game had just ended, no doubt). Cabs aren't generally just trolling about for customers, so calling is pretty much your only option. This went on for a good half-hour and I was getting a little bit worried about our ability to get back to the hotel. It was dark. We were in a strange city where we were warned, over and over and over again, to be safe. I was tired as hell.

Eventually, we snagged a cab that happened to be dropping someone off. Transportation ended up being an issue for the entire trip: not exactly convenient, not exactly fast or easy, but we always got where we needed to go.

And where we need to go that night was back to our hotel and to our bed.


Anonymous said...

Love the first post!! I can't wait to read the rest!

(this is stacey btw, blogger is not letting me comment under my wordpress name)

Mrs. Architect said...

LOVE IT! Can't wait to the rest of the trip!!!!!

k said...

Woohoo! Loved the other blog by the way and now I am excited to read again, with pictures!

Stace said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. Love the pic updates too.

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