South Africa Trip 2004 – days 1-2

This never before published section of my travel memoirs covers the trip from Nottingham to South Africa and the couple of days I spent in Johannesburg before starting my safari.  It is not very interesting (which is why it hasn’t been published before) and there are no pictures so you might want to skip on to day 4 where there are pictures and stuff.

As usual it took me ages to be satisfied that I was ready to leave home.  I had to check and re-pack my bag, a large black rucksack that I had borrowed from Liz, several times before I was satisfied that it was OK to get in the car and drive down to my parents house which is not too far from Heathrow and where I would be leaving my car while I was away.  Queue’s on the M25 made me worried I’d be late but I arrived in plenty of time to catch up with mum and dad before they gave me a lift over to the airport.  We had time for a coffee and more catching up before the check in desk opened and I could start my journey properly.

I was very nervous as I had never travelled so far before and hadn’t been abroad for years.  I’m generally a nervous traveller anyway.  Once I was on the plane though I settled down, I actually like flying and the only thing I usually get nervous about is getting on the wrong flight.  The South African Airways flight had nice comfy seats in standard class with their own TV screens in the back of the seat in front which was great as I can never sleep on planes and so spent most of the night watching movies.  I had a seat by the wing emergency exit so I had plenty of leg room but people kept coming to stand there and stretch which kept disturbing me.

We landed pretty early but by the time I had collected my baggage, Helen’s dad Andy was waiting at arrivals to collect me and drove me back to their place in Johannesburg. They have a lovely house which they were kind enough to make me feel was my own home whilst I was staying there.  My only regret was that I never got time to swim in the pool!  After a while admiring the house and surroundings, we had lunch and discussed what I planned to do during my stay and then I went to catch up on the sleep I had missed on the plane.

We went out for dinner later and then watched England play France in the Rugby in the 6 nations.  We lost the match but it was nice to spend some time getting to know Andy and discussing the game in a local bar.

The next day, after a long sleep, I went out for breakfast with Andy and spent some of the day shopping and browsing markets in Johannesburg.  We also went to the Apartheid Museum which was very interesting indeed and we did not have nearly enough time to see it properly.  It has a very in-depth history of Apartheid and the struggle against it.  I still think about going back to finish my visit today.

Tomorrow starts early at 5am to get to the start of the safari trip.

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