This was once in a lifetime kinda trip with my brother for a long overdue bonding vacation. The destination was his idea because he is really into wildlife. After a month long planning I left JFK
on Jan 10th, the same day he left IST
, to meet in JNB
. It was a beautiful evening at JFK
Terminal 4 with the sun almost setting:
My plane was just arriving when I entered the terminal. By the time I got to the gate it was there. My first time at terminal 4 and I found to be very spacious and European like. My check in at the KLM counter was about two minutes. They had some e-ticket kiosks and nice NorthWest employee helped me, she just scanned my passport, and within a minute she printed a tag for my one piece of luggage and put in my miles for the trip to my account and off I went into the terminal.
Above is the KLM 777-200ER at gate A6
-BQC CHICHEN-ITZA CN29397
merely two years old and waiting for me.
This the flight 642 JFK
leaving at 6:25pm
Here is a close up of the front:
The plane left the gate right on time, and at 6:45pm we took off at a speed of 190mph. The flight is full, but I loved the engines on this plane, the whole plane shakes when they come on and after lift off, about 1-2 min. into flight the captain eases off the power and it is all quiet and we continue to climb effortlessly. Also I really like the Dutch pilots giving information and their superb English. My first time with the IFE and it takes a bit to figure out the buttons but eventually really enjoyed it, tons of movies to watch from start and stop and SA
)">FF or RW
whenever, music, games, trivia games with other passengers, ability to SMS and email, documentaries and all. I was really amazed with the choices. The FA
's were efficient, and that's it.
The first meal is an uninspired pasta, salad, brown dessert:
Second meal is a bunch of plastic wrapped brown food:
The first hour of the flight is bumpy but when we start crossing the Atlantic it is smooth sailing all the way. Strong tail winds make this a 6 hour 7 min. trip, I love it. We land at AMS
6:57am local time at 200kmph. Transfer at Schipol is a breeze, just a short walk from F4 to SA
)">F9 gate. I have been to AMS
before and I really like it especially the "comfort seats" on the second floor. Early in the morning the airport is actually chilly, and smells like cigarettes.
Our 747-400 "City of Lima" PH
is already at the gate waiting for us:
Another full flight leaves the gate 3 min. late and at 10:20am takes off at a speed of 300kmph. I am sitting at 30-D and the seats seem to be a bit smaller than the 777, and the age of this 747 (15 years old) shows in places.
Our first meal is chicken, and a tasty smoked salmon on a bed of cucumber salad:
Our second meal was some microwave bread, salad, orange slices and pudding. At this point I knew that I had enough plane food for one day.
It is still fun to be on a 747-400, the queen of the skies, the way it flies is I think magestic. You know you are on a big plane and it feels like that. All those exit row windows becomes a public space in this 10 hour flight, mostly for some lite yoga. But amongs all that I get a glimps of my first African desert sighting somewhere over Chad and I forget about the food and cramped seating and all, it is very inspring:
We land 9:25pm at 290kmph through some thunderstorms which is I think common for this time of the year, but still very smooth. And I haven't heard this much applause for the longest time upon landing.
As expected JNB
arrivals is a mess and there were only two officers at immigration for all the foreigners, and a single one for the SA
citizens. Good thing there was only us landing at the time.
Since there is construction between the domestic and the international airport there is a hike between the two, and ran into some locals coming back from Hajj which had a great idea:
I also had a flight JNB
but nothing to report about; both ways it was full even though there are many flights between the two by SAA and some LCC's. I have to say on SAA's 319 and 738's the legroom was great, and to my surprise they served alcohol free of charge, being a domestic flight.
But I include some bonus pictures from the trip. I found SA
to be a wonderful destination, and now it is on the top of my list.
Just minutes after takeoff from CPT
on our way to JNB
, nice winglest on the 737-800's.
Zebra with some birds on it:
Tablemountain in CPT
Sunset at Langbai:
Gone shark diving:
But it is more fun to watch them at the Aquarium, you don't get seasick
Tourists and penguins
Beautiful sunset at Madikwe Game Reserve
5 giraffes at sunset:
Sunset at Gecko Creek Lodge at Cedarberg:
Camps Bay near CPT
Lunch table at Mosethla Bush Camp
Giraffe and the bird:
[Edited 2006-01-24 00:54:36]