It ain't easy to summarize 14 days of adventure, but I've tried! I decided to post it in one or two day increments, but I'm going to post in chronological order, so, just make sure you follow the numbers in the titles. This one starts with Day -1 because our vacation actually didn't start until the day after we left. :)
Anyway, I present to you, our great South African Adventure!
- We left on a Saturday, but didn’t arrive until Sunday evening. My dad was kind enough to drive us to the airport, which made life SO MUCH EASIER. Thanks again, dad.
- Our flight from ATL to Johannesburg was delayed for a couple of hours—probably because no flight out of Atlanta except the one you only have 15 minutes to catch can ever depart on time. Once we got on the plane, we sat there for another hour + because, as we later discovered, there was some issue with someone touching someone else’s leg and one of those people got kicked off the plane. Was dying to know if it was the toucher or touchee, but didn’t feel right asking.
- Arrived in Jo’burg several hours late, but that was alright. Had just enough time to eat and go to bed. Dinner at the hotel was tasty and we discovered that restaurant prices are about 50-75% of what they are in the US. Nice.
- Met our guide, Linda, a South African guy from outside of Johannesburg. His family lives in the city but keeps ties to their tribal roots, so he was a wealth of knowledge and insight about black South African culture and history.
- Since we were in a tour group, we knew we’d be traveling with others, but didn’t know who they’d be. We met them Monday morning—two Irish girls on holiday together, Lorraine and Susan, and an Englishman doing the trip on his own, Chris. We were grateful that we got along very well with all of them, and they managed to not pick on us too much even though we’re American.
- Quick drive through Pretoria, the capital city. Stopped for photos at the parliament building, that was about it.
- Headed northeast en route to Pilgrim’s Rest, where we would stay for the night. Encountered so much fog that I had to close my eyes because not being able to see more than 3-5 ft in front of the van was freaking me the hell out. Thank God Linda knew where he was going.
- Arrived in Pilgrim’s Rest with enough time to walk around and check out this quaint village. The town was founded way back in the gold rush days for the miners, and they’ve kept that feel to it.
- Got shit on by a bird. Had to “shower” in a tub with only a shower head, no standing shower or shower curtain, because our hotel, The Royal Hotel, is intent on its authentic Victorian styling. Did not enjoy being shit on OR sitting in the tub that I was rinsing the bird shit into. “Showered” several times in a row until I was sure that pigeon poop was all gone. *shudder*
- A nice normal dinner of steak and some awesome dessert, then joined our traveling companions in the bar at the hotel. Supposedly it was formerly a church and the actual bar was formerly an altar, but we didn’t see it.
- Met JT, a native of Pilgrim’s Rest, in the bar. Apparently his dad Johnny owns the OTHER pub in town, and he came to our bar after he finished his bartending shift. JT looked a lot like Brendan Fraser (the actor), only he was huge. JT bought us several (many) shots to show us what “locals” drink, and a jolly good time was had by all.