Friday January 16 ~ Cape Town, South Africa
It is not an easy trip to get all the way from Los Angeles to Cape Town. We left our place of business at 3:15 pm on Wednesday to head for the airport and arrived in South Africa at 11:15 Friday morning (local times). After clearing customs, we were greeted by a local driver who drove us to our hotel, finally collapsing in our room about 1:30 pm. With time zone changes, it took us two days to get here!
Just a side note: The driver was arranged for us by Gate 1, as part of our tour package. Four of us were picked up in a private Mercedes SUV and were provided with a bottle of cold water. Just coming off of these long flights and feeling dehydrated, that was a nice thoughtful touch.
We arranged our flights through Gate 1 Travel which allows us some flexibility. Often we choose to arrive at our destination one to three days early so we have time to get acclimated to the local time zone. This time we did not arrive early and it may have been a big mistake.
We instead added on two plus weeks to the back-end, which allowed us to join up with Ben and Yulia and their group for the second part of our travels – through Zimbabwe.
The flights themselves were OK, just long. Our first leg was on Delta, a non-stop from LAX to London (Heathrow) which is 11 hours and 20 minutes. Then we patiently waited through an almost six-hour lay over at the airport.
We make good use of our Priority Pass, that we get through American Express, which allows us access to the private airline clubs. The clubs do vary quite a bit, but we can usually get complimentary snacks and often a hot meal, drinks, a quiet place to relax, and internet access. With the high cost of food at most airports, this part alone makes the club membership a wonderful deal.
If you have a Platinum American Express Credit Card, you can sign up for the Priority Pass here. It is one of the perks!
The club we used in London (No. 1 Heathrow) was quite nice (not the Australia meaning) and had some lovely perks available including massage and other spa treatments, a sleeping room, showers, a movie room and a full bar.
The last leg was on Virgin Atlantic, again non-stop from London to Cape Town. That section was 12 hours and 5 minutes. Those are the times shown on our itinerary, but in both cases, we actually arrived a bit early which chopped a little time, but after that long in the air, it seemed minute.
We are booked into the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction for the next four nights. It is near the waterfront and we got a good first impression.
The smart thing would have been to stay up, walk down to the harbor and get some fresh air, have a light dinner and then go to bed in the evening which would have helped us get acclimated. But, noooooo, we were just too tired and after a quick shower we climbed into a very comfortable bed and promptly went to sleep.
Up again at 7:00 pm we went for a short walk, found an ATM to get some local currency, picked up some water at a grocery store, and then a light dinner at the hotel.
It is now 11:00 pm.
Tim is sawing logs and I am wide awake…
We have a full big day of sightseeing with our group tomorrow, so I will sign off for now, and hopefully update you with a much more exciting post tomorrow.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for safe travels. And boy-o-boy was I thankful for that nice hot shower and clean, comfortable bed upon our arrival!