Part of the adventure of travel is getting to your destination. Yes, South Africa is a “long haul” destination but, honestly, surviving the flight to South Africa was not bad – even fun!
Our team from South African Airways Vacations took South African Airways’ (SAA) 10:40 a.m. flight from New York JFK to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. Yes, the flight was 14 hours but we were able to pass the time comfortably and ready to hit the ground running when we arrived in Jo-burg.
To help avoid jet lag, as soon as we got on the plane we adjusted our watches to South Africa time and adjusted our schedules to match it. We had a nice dinner about an hour into the flight, complete with some lovely wine choices and a variety of cocktails. Our plan was to work, read, watch a movie, etc. for the first few hours of the flight, then try to get a good night’s sleep. And actually, we were able to follow that plan and get some rest. We found the legroom and pitch of our reclining seats to be better than most airlines. Plus, SAA has individual entertainment consoles for each seat so we were all entertained watching and listening to what interested each of us – and there was certainly variety in our choices.
A couple of hours before the flight landed we were served breakfast, which was another good cue for our body clocks to adjust to the new schedule. We got South African SIM cards for our smart phones before we left the airport so we could remain connected during our journey – the process was pretty easy and fairly inexpensive. We paid about $30 U.S. dollars for five gigabytes of data.
After we were squared away, we took a trip into Jo-burg to see a few sites before our flight to Cape Town at 5 p.m. We were able to freshen up at the Peermont D’Oreale Grand Emperors Palace Hotel – they have a fantastic spa area – before visiting the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch and the African Pride Melrose Arch. Then we took a tour of Soweto, including a walk down Vilakazi Street, which was once home to President Nelson Mandela AND Desmond Tutu – the only street in the world that’s produced two Nobel Peace Prize winners. We stopped at a local shebeen for a beer and picked up some toasted chicken mayo sandwiches and Boerwors rolls to go; we had a flight to Cape Town to catch at 5 p.m.
We flew on Kulula airlines from Lanseria International Airport to Cape Town and were transported to the Taj Cape Town, a beautiful hotel just down the street from the South African parliament.
Stay tuned, next up we explore Cape Town!