In To Africa, South Africa And Beyond

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Oct 28th, 2011, 04:40 PM
  #1
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In To Africa, South Africa And Beyond

I have read and heard so many wonderful and exciting things about this continent that now is time for me to experience apart of it for myself. My experience begins in South Africa and will explore whereever else my sense of adventure and credit cards lead me.
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Oct 28th, 2011, 04:47 PM
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ARRIVING JOHANNESBURG


It is a rough ride as we prepare to arrive at OR Tambo International Airport. We have been told that temperatures are in the 80's with the forecast for local heavy showers this evening. I think this is just a part of the local weather pattern here this time of the year.

Other than the bumps on arrival my 14 hour and 42 minute flight from Atlanta was pleasant and uneventful. I am sure been able to sleep most of the way was helpful.

In planning my trip to South Africa, one of the things I considered was a side trip to Victoria Falls (Zambia) as a part of my self-drive experience. As the crow flies it is only about 800 miles from Johannesburg.

I have calculated that this would require about two days to complete one way. However, I am told by locals at the airport that it is at least 8 hours to reach the Zimbabwe border and then who knows how long from there. Also, the road conditions outside of South Africa can be questionable.

Apparently,the crows fly a little differently here.

Using that good bit of local intel like a CIA operative, I move onto my next option, a flight to Livingstone, Zambia. With just one flight available but not until tomorrow morning, I head to the City Lodge Hotel for the night. Located on the airport property it is less than a ten minute walk from the terminal.

For about $100 I'll delay my self-drive a few days and be able to get a good night's sleep.
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Oct 28th, 2011, 06:07 PM
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MY FIRST NIGHT


The promised evening rain is feverishly tap dancing on the roof of the walkway as I make my way to the City Lodge Hotel. Through glass windows I can see the lights of buildings and cars reflected on the now wet shiny surfaces below me.

It just about 7pm and while checking into City Lodge I am served a delightful glass of sherry. Even with the rain falling I am not ready to retire for the evening as I am excited to see and experience more of South Africa than O.R Tambo or City Lodge. A trip to Nelson Mandela Square is recommended and it sounds like a nice place to have dinner.

A half hour later I am back at the airport to board a train for Standon. A R$115 fare and I am about twenty minutes away from my destination. Leaving the train station for the short walk to the Michelangelo Mall a light rain is still falling but the heavy thunder and flashes of lighting has passed.

On the lower level of the mall I walk out to an open square. Here, I am standing next to a man whose struggle help to shape what South Africa has become today. I say a silent thank you to a man that is a hero to me and a symbol of hope for many, Nelson Mandela. Like many others that have sacrificed to make their countries and the world a better place, I hope he and others are never forgotten.

From my position, I can see a lot of dining options but so far none of them strike my fancy. I'm in search of a South African culinary experience not Italian, Brazilian or Thai. Finding a mall security guard, I pose a question and hope the answer will point me in the right direction.

Where do you eat, I ask. His response, “KFC”. I have to smile. Rephrasing the question, I get pointed in the right direction and end up at Lekgotla, a South African restaurant. Lekgotla offers a regular dinner menu along with a buffet style dining. The manager gives me a personal tour of the buffet and after just seeing the first few items I know my taste buds will be pleased.

Besides, having a great food selection, I am seated at a candle lit front table where a local jazz band with a great vocalist is performing. It is a nice comfortable dining atmosphere where I almost feel a sense of romance in the air. It is not long before that feeling moves to my stomach as I am delighted in the flavors of the food.

A carrot, bean and zucchini dish seasoned with exotic spices, a smoky flavored type humus, grilled shrimp, venison sushi then some type of white corn couscous type dish, tasty breads along with various pot stews. All of this followed by desert and I am convinced that if the way to a man's heart is through his stomach then I am going to need a bigger heart and a bigger stomach.

With my first South African experience over, I must now roll my way back to City Lodge Hotel. Unfortunately, the last train from Standon to the airport leaves at 8:15pm which leaves a taxi as my only alternative. Extending more South African hospitality, the manager of Lekgotla walks me to taxi cab area while sharing with me a little about South Africa.

It is a R$400 fare back to City Lodge compared to R$115 for the train but the difference was well worth the experience for my first night in a country that has a world to offer.




Video:
http://youtu.be/vaLqDEGi1Gk
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Oct 28th, 2011, 09:16 PM
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Thanks for sharing your memories DMBTraveler!

What was your itinerary?
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Oct 29th, 2011, 02:41 AM
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Cool video food looks great!
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Oct 29th, 2011, 11:33 PM
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We also ate at Lekgotia in Sandton (not Standon)last week, meal was quite good, had grilled springbok & Ethiopian style steak (marinated in coffee) but the best IMO was opposite at the Butchers Shop and at the Balalaika Hotel- the Bull Run. Its not on the square though but a short walk towards Village Walk. The Thai on the square is OK actually, just not very authentic.
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Oct 30th, 2011, 09:17 AM
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KathBC ...

My itinerary is in progress until Nov14th .. In Kambia but internet is sloooooow... so will post later about it.

qwovadis,

You are right and I think Odin seconds my opinion.


Odin,

Thanks for the spell-check I thought about the Butchers Shop but it did not strike me from a distance as African. If I get back there, on your recommendation will give it a try

In Livingstone, Zambia and think I'll give a croc burger a try tonight for dinner. Apparently, it's a Zambian thing!
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Oct 30th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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woohoo you're there now, reporting live!!

Have an absolute blast & I'll be checking in frequently for updates.
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Oct 30th, 2011, 02:54 PM
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TO LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA

Although I typically travel with just a carry-on backpack and camera bag, my trip to South Africa is a little different. My concern for malaria prevention has me traveling with two bonus size (Get 30% More!) cans of a 25% DEET product which requires me to check my backpack.

It is my first time flying South African Airways and I arrive back at airport in plenty of time to check in for my 10:40am flight. Our flight leaves the gate on time and it is not long before I am airborne with about fifty of my closest friends for Zambia.

Looking out my window after landing, I am delighted to see a truck with a set of stairs following us as the airplane is being maneuvered towards the terminal building. I like flying in and out of these types of airports as they give me an Air Force One, Presidential kind of feeling. Of course, minus the Red Carpet treatment and extra security detail.

Leaving the comfort of the airplane it feels as if I have been hit in the face with a blow torch as I begin to descend the stairs towards the tarmac. It is hotter than a “Bubba Firecracker” in the Arizona desert during July. I imagine the temperature is at least in the mid 200's.

Walking to the terminal many of us pose for pictures as our bags are being unloaded in the background. A quick glance at the unloaded baggage and I get a sinking feeling. With only about fifty passengers there is only a small amounts of bags. However, my bright red backpack does not stand out among them.

A quick processing by a friendly Immigration official and my anxiety is beginning to grow. Are you sure all the bags have been unloaded I ask an airport employee. Before he speaks, I already know the answer. My next step, a trip to the BRP (Baggage Recovery Police). Fortunately, in all of my traveling it will only be my second visit.

What color is the suspected bag? Can you pick it out of a line up? OK, I see how this is going to go. Don't call us we'll call you.

Changing some rands for local currency, I leave the airport a bit frustrated while shelling out $40,000 for a cab ride (OK, it's only US$8) to my accommodations for the next few nights. So far, my time in Zambia is not off to a good start. However, it is not long before I remember from my childhood a phrase which I believe is African. It is then that I know exactly what I need to do.

Hakuna matata, it's time to go shopping, Zambian style!
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Nov 1st, 2011, 01:22 AM
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JOLLYBOYS AND SHOPPING


My check in at Jollyboys www.backpackzambia.com is straightforward and simple especially since I do not have any luggage. For US$12 per night I will be sharing a quad bed dorm style room. Jollyboy is a comfortable and safe facility with a restaurant, bar, pool and lots of areas to lounge around and relax.

It is located just behind the Livingstone Museum and is a short walk from most of downtown Livingstone activities.

Having made reservations for a Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River (US$55 including snacks and an open bar), with a simple map in hand, I set out to do some shopping. For me it is still bright and hot as I walk on dusty sidewalks and streets to a strip mall.

At the local department store, “PEP”, I find a few clothing items on sale. Shorts for $19,000 and toiletries varying from $4000 - $6000. In looking for sandals, I discover that at PEP, Zambian men shoes only go up to a size 8. Ummmmm. So I'll have to keep wearing the same shoes.

For about $82,000 (kwacha), I have all the items I think I will need to last me a day or two until hopefully my missing backpack shows up. One purchase that I am excited about is a ¾ length powder blue pants that matches the color of the local taxi cabs.

I just may have a Zambian modeling career ahead of me.
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FODOR'S VIDEO

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