It is the real thing. Not some plastic Disneyworld version.
After a truly gruelling flight from London....very long very cramped...but alas, a saviour, good food (see prior day's note)
we arrived on time in Johannesburg.
The turbulence over the equator was very bumpy. I've never experienced such a bumpy and frightening ride.
Pratically like a roller coaster but far longer than a minute or two. But the British Airways crew carried on as if this was nothing new.
We arrived to a cloudy day at around 7 am their time. Weather was temperate, not hot at that hour.
I put on my hiking sandals that I have been wearing around the house for 2 months and promptly got a blister walking from the luggage carousel to the parkade. Raw flesh on the heel and ripped off the dead skin. Hope it heals before our hike. I guess I had some major leg swelling from 11 hours in the air.
Our driving mates were 8 from Australia many who have made the trip quite regularly via Hong Kong.
The drive to Sun City carried us through the various townships with all kinds of levels of living standards. From houses such as our own to tin shacks with outhouses no taller than my own forehead.
The countryside is amazing. The vegetation is similar to the azores and I actually recognized many of the flowers. We passed several platinum mines. The 2 hour drive took us through mining areas into the Pilanesburg volcano site where our hotel is nestled in the edge of a former volcano on the edge of the border of Botswana.
Toll roads are being completed because they were built to accomodate crowds from the world cup soccer from the summer past. Our driver joked about how they will be completed in time for the next World Cup that is held here...(when? not determined)
The Palace Hotel is beyond anything that we have ever stayed at in our lives or ever expect to. We are clearly WAY out of our league.
See the touristy pics from the first entry.
Fernando was turned away from the restaurant for supper because he was not wearing long pants. My dress got me in to start in on the bottle of fine South African Merlot well ahead of him. Dinner was an assortment of chef chosen appetizer, main dish and then desert. Only 20 or so of us in the restaurant.
When confronted with the choice of how to start the meal, I was given an assortment of choices in an accent that I simply could not understand.
So, rather than ask the nice young man to repeat, I said "what do YOU recommend"? this is a good phrase. We used it throughout the dinner and ended up having a fine meal of wonderful varied foods from seafood to curries to a trip threat desert that I needed to pop many lactose enzyme pills for... Plus staff that seemed to dote on us. We ended up with no less than 6 people waiting on us. I wonder what that cost us. The cheque came in at just over 1150, but this in in South African Rand and we are still trying to figure it all out. thank God for plastic cards.
At the next table, we met (surprise, guess who started the cross table conversation) Hans and Anna from Germany who were vacationing for 10 days in the area. He is a purveyor of real estate and she an architect. By dessert, they had moved their table to ours and we made plans to go on Safari together on Sunday. We've invited them to come stay with us in Canada. They've invited us to come stay with them in Germany. what fun! I'm glad I made up the "business cards" with our picture and email address before we left. We're going to have a great network of people to visit in our old age.
Fernando has developed a bit of a head cold and is heading back to the room to rest....likely looking for some form of sports on the tv.
We need to wake at 4:45 am to go on an elephant back safari.
Not sure if I am tired, jetlagged or simply over stimulated. But it is time to head back to our room.