Sitting with Strangers and Reviewing our Itinerary:
Well, here I am sitting on a plane between two strangers. My husband l is seated many rows ahead of me, also with strangers, but at least my two teens are seated together.
Sitting between two strangers on an eleven hour flight to Zurich is not as nice as sitting with your own family! Of course it depends on the family – but at least with family members you don’t have to keep strictly to your own space. Legs and arms can touch, arm rests can be lifted, etc.
Our flight to Johannesburg from the states meant a choice of flying either to London or Zurich followed by a layover, then a flight to the O.R. Tambo Intl’ Airport near Joburg. I chose Zurich, thinking the airport would be less crowded and more efficient, although I haven’t flown to Heathrow in years so I don’t really know.
So – South Africa – I have many questions:
Will we survive the freeways and driving on the opposite side? They are supposed to drive really fast there, but not in a controlled way like on Germany’s autobahn.
Will we have a too close encounter with a bull elephant? What about a hippo in St. Lucia?
Actually, those are my only two worries, those and the marathon flights.
Here’s our basic itinerary:
1 night near the airport
5 nights in Kruger
1 night in Piet Retief (to break up the long drive)
4 nights in St. Lucia
3 nights in Port Shepstone
4 nights in Clarens
Joburg – Zurich – Home
And why did we pick South Africa?
Because my husband and I wanted to take the kids (teens, actually) to England and Ireland, but they weren’t enthusiastic. So one day I asked my son, “Where would you go if you could go anywhere?” He named about five places, one of them being an African Safari.
I thought, “No way, African safaris are really expensive. That’s something couples do when their kids are grown and the parents can afford it!” But for the hell of it, I googled “cheapest places to travel outside the US,” and guess what? South Africa came up first.
It turns out you can do self-drive safaris in Kruger and stay in their nationally-run camps for very cheap. And the dollar is strong compared to the rand. So, here we are!
Everyone asked us if we were going to Cape Town. Well, no.
First of all, June, July, and August is winter over there, and in Cape Town it is a wet and windy winter. Also, they’ve been suffering from a terrible drought and water is heavily rationed.
Second, winter on the eastern side of Africa (where we were going) is dry and mild – great for safaris and personal comfort!
Third, my daughter and I wanted a more “authentic” South African experience, which is really false reasoning because any part of South Africa is of course authentic. But I wanted to avoid the (mostly) white-only areas, the cities (way too much crime in Joburg and Durban), and see the rural areas.
Turns out I did a pretty good job choosing our various destinations as you will see in upcoming blogs.
Lesson Learned: Reserving specific airline seats online does not guarantee the airlines will honor them!