To pick up exactly where we left off yesterday, I was polishing off another round of sandwiches when the time came for us to board the first flight.
This was the big one, the long slog from a cold and grey London down to a warm and sunny Johannesburg. As we approached the plane we discovered it was a double decker, and (a first for both us) we were sitting in the top deck. It’s only a small thing, but it made us both quite happy.
That happiness was almost ruined for me when the grumpy old man in the seat ahead of me turned around and told me I was disturbing him by pushing my touchscreen entertainment unit too hard (apparently it was making his chair wobble). I told him I would stop using the screen for its intended purpose if he promised to stop fiddling with his chair. He didn’t stop fiddling (back and forth, all the time), so I didn’t stop pushing the screen. Two can play at that game. Peace broke out when the old man threw his blanket over his head and went to sleep. He stayed that way for most of the flight, so clearly I wasn’t disturbing him that much.
As this was a night flight across the whole of Africa, the main aim was to get comfortable quickly, and get some sleep. It took a while to settle down, not just because of Grumpy, but also because of the attendents as they ceaselessly attended people. Sure it’s their job, but when everyone is either trying to get some rest or is already unconscious, can’t they just sit down and not parade up and down the aisles? Ah well. I did get some sleep in the end, but definitely not enough.
Despite a slow start (our flight was initially delayed by some luggage stuck in the hold), we still landed in Johannesburg with enough time to recheck in our luggage, which meant we had to pick up our suitcases from the conveyor belt and march them down the corridor to another check-in desk, where they would then be loaded onto our next flight.
We were very well looked after on the second aeroplane, and they kept producing more and more breakfast for us to enjoy (though none of it was as heathy as the bowl of fruit, yoghurt, and granola that had already been eaten whilst sitting in the lounge at Johannesburg).
I couldn’t quite get over the fact that all of the land I could see below us was Africa. It was amazing to see all of the narrow vehicle tracks carved into the wild landscape.
Once again we landed without issue, we were at last at Cape Town.
We made very quick progress through baggage reclaim to get to the car hire desk, but then everything slowed down almost to a halt. The whole place was filled with trainees (at least two trainees per till point, more in some cases). They were all brand new to the job, and didn’t quite know the process, so there was a lot of umming and ahhing and checking with the supervisor.
That may explain why we drove away with a huge Mercedes C180 rather than the pokey Ford Fiesta we were expecting.
I chose not to question it. We popped the cases in the boot and hit the road.
As we all know, I am terrible with directions, I knew that to get to Stellenbosch I had to turn left out of the airport, but beyond that I wasn’t sure. Thankfully my co-pilot is an excellent navigator and we made it to our first hotel without a hitch.
After checking in and dumping our suitcases we explored Stellenbosch itself. It’s a lot smaller than I had expected and it really didn’t take us long to check out the highlights: the Village Museum (where we learned that at one point in this Dutch built town there were 1500 slaves to just over 100 slave owners!), and the Botanical Gardens (50p entry fee – bargain!) both of which were very good but having now done them I’m not sure what we will do tomorrow?
We rounded off the evening with some local delicacies: babotie (which is a minced meat and vegetable concoction), springbok, milk tart, and a delicious ice cream sundae / milkshake with Amarula called “Dom Pedro”… it was all delicious.
Feeling very full, and sleepy now.