Trip Report Continues...
The take-off was a bit bumpy, but we reached our cruising altitude and started to cross the Atlantic on our way to Dakar. The flight attendants started the beverage service and then continued with the Breakfast service. For breakfast, we had a choice of scrambled eggs with cream cheese and chives, a chicken-apple sausage and grilled tomatoes, or the Waffle with grilled Canadian bacon and maple syrup accompanied by a croissant. I chose the waffle, and it was pretty good but a little small. I meant to take a picture of it, but unfortunately by the time I remembered I had already devoured my waffle. Oh well, I'll get 'em next time.
On the Menu it also said that they would serve “light refreshments” approximately 2 hours before landing in Dakar. It turned out that the light refreshment was a Tomato and Mozzarella appetizer with a selection of hot snacks. I don’t remember if it was good or not, but I’m pretty sure I ate it. One thing I really do remember is that the smell coming from “B.O. guy” sitting behind me was making me nauseous. I was praying he would get off in Dakar, but eventually he didn’t. I couldn’t stand it anymore, I wanted to switch seats so badly but the flight was completely full. On another more pleasant note, the AVOD system on board SAA is really great, and there was a huge variety of movies, music, TV
shows, and documentaries to choose from.
My PTV in economy
The seat was pretty comfortable, but not the best seat in the world. I got out my brand new “noise-cancelling” Bose headphones which made it really easy for me to sleep later on. The flight to Dakar was estimated to be 7 hours and 53 minutes. I stayed awake for that whole flight and watched movies. The flight was pretty smooth and uneventful with friendly service and spectacular sunsets.
Reaching our cruising altitude enroute to Dakar
Beautiful sunset with the South African Wingtip
Later on into the flight, I did notice that a good number of people sitting around me were older. I got up to go to the bathroom and I saw an older woman sitting on the FA
jump seat with an oxygen tank. I felt like I was in a flying nursing home. The woman sat there with the oxygen tank for most of the flight, while her fellow “golden girls” paid her a couple of visits. We made our approach into Dakar and made a really rough landing at around 9pm local time. We parked right next to an Air France 777 getting ready to depart for Paris as well as an Iberia A320 and some other African airlines (including Air Senegal International, of course).
Dakar to Johannesburg
I said goodbye to my seatmate and she wished me luck in South Africa. The crew from Washington left the aircraft and I stood up to stretch my legs as the new crew came onboard. There was also a big ground crew team that came onboard to clean the plane and load the catering trolleys. We were on the ground for just over an hour and again, I sat down and prayed that no one would sit next to me. A younger looking woman came and took the seat of my former Christian seatmate, but she didn’t seem too eager to strike up a conversation so I just sat back and popped two Ambien pills to help me sleep. We took off and the FA
’s started the dinner service on our way to Johannesburg. I started to feel really sleepy, but I wanted to grab something to eat so I waited to fall asleep until after dinner. Dinner consisted of a chef’s salad and a choice of a Turkey Casserole with whole-grain mustard sauce, vegetable rice, buttered sweet corn, and broccoli (in case you are wondering I stole the menu). The other choice was Pan-fried grouper served with a seafood crème sauce, spinach tortellini, and buttered carrots. I chose the Turkey and it ended up tasting pretty good.
This time I was prepared! But I was so out of it that I ate part of my meal before remembering I hadn't taken the picture yet. Nonetheless, here's whats left of the turkey thing they fed me.
Bad night shot of the cabin
Soon after that, I fell asleep and woke up with about an hour and a half left. The FA
's were serving breakfast which was a choice between an Herb and Cheese omelette or French Crepe with a croissant. I chose the Omelette which I believe was pretty good. After they cleared away our trays, I filled out my immigration forms and listened to some music while we started our descent towards Johannesburg. We made a couple of turns before starting our final approach and this time made a smooth landing slightly behind schedule at Johannesburg International.
Approach towards Johannesburg International
Closer to the runway and our arrival!
We taxied to our remote stand and offloaded the plane via airstairs. I was actually very pleased with how quickly the deplaning process went, mostly due to the fact that people deplaned from the front and the back.
After arriving in Johannesburg on a chilly morning
We then got bussed to the terminal where I waited to go through immigration. The line was not too long and I passed through rather quickly. I arrived at the baggage claim area and it looked like something out of the 70’s…dark, dull, and depressing. Unfortunately, my camera was in my carry-on and I was too lazy to get it out, but who wants to see pictures of an ugly terminal anyway, right? Thankfully, my bags made it out pretty quickly and I went through customs and made my way outside of the international terminal heading towards the domestic terminal.
Domestic flight Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth
South African Airways flight #411
Depart: Johannesburg 10:15 AM
Arrive: Port Elizabeth 12:00 PM
Equipment: Boeing 737-800 with winglets!
After the long walk to the domestic terminal hauling my two big suitcases and my carry-on, I finally made it. The domestic terminal seemed very nice and modern. I approached the counter only to find a massive line awaiting me. I got nervous because my flight to Port Elizabeth was scheduled to depart at 10:15 am, and it was already 9:40am! Thankfully the line moved quickly and I got my boarding pass from the friendly check-in agent and made my way towards security. The security line was also long, but it went by rather quickly thanks to the efficiency of the man telling people where to go. One thing I noticed that seemed strange was that when you go through security, they just check your boarding pass but don’t ask for any form of ID
. I assumed that to get on the plane they would ask for my ID
or Passport, but it never happened. So much for security…
I made my way to gate D8
, where my flight was waiting for me. Boarding had already commenced so I stood in line and handed the agent my boarding pass.
Blurry picture of the domestic terminal...sorry, I was in a hurry!
My ride to Port Elizabeth
I walked down the jetway and was greeted by the friendly crew that took my ticket and directed me towards my seat. I was seated in 24 C, so I couldn’t take many pictures or video of my flight to Port Elizabeth. There wasn’t too much to write home about on this flight, but it was my first domestic flight on SAA so I decided to include it in the report.
Our 737 waiting to depart for PE
...check out that winglet!
My legroom on the 737. For some reason I thought it was roomier than the 747 I came on, but it was probably all just in my head...
We left on time and taxied to our departure runway, taking off behind a Nationwide Airlines 737-200. The seatbelt sign was turned off and I got up to use the Lav so, of course, as soon as I make it to the bathroom the plane starts moving pretty violently and threw me against the walls. Thankfully I wasn’t peeing yet otherwise it would have gotten pretty ugly in there!
When I got back to my seat the FA
’s had started the drink and snack service so I asked for a “Coke Light” and they gave me the can along with a chicken mayonnaise sandwich. It wasn’t the best sandwich in the world but it wasn’t horrible either. The flight went by pretty quickly and we began our descent towards Port Elizabeth.
Cabin shot enroute to PE
View from my seat
The weather was beautiful, without a cloud in the sky. We flew our approach over the Indian Ocean and came in for a pretty rough landing at Port Elizabeth Airport. For some reason the pilots use the brakes pretty heavily each time I landed there, I guess it’s a pretty short runway. We deplaned via airstairs and I made my way to the baggage claim area. PE
airport is small enough that we can just walk from the plane to the terminal without buses, which is great (I'll include some pictures of the PE
airport in my return trip report part 2). My bags came out pretty quickly and I couldn’t believe I was finally in Africa! I made my way outside and saw my friends there waiting for me. Two months of work and play in South Africa, few things could be better than that!
Here are a few pictures of my stay in that great country. I have to say I have been all over the world by myself and with family, and South Africa is one of my of top favorite destinations.
My home for two months...the Villa Tuscana
All of us at the Pumba lodge for our day trip game drive
My best friend and I at the Pumba Lodge
Beautiful Zebras in the distance
A giraffe...what an amazing animal
Amazingly rare white Lions
A small town we stopped at on our way to Kruger in northern South Africa near Mozambique
Me with some of the local women
Gin and Tonics at sunset on our real Kruger safari...I highly recommend drunken game watching at night
Our Gin and Tonic stop
Beautiful Sunsets in the bush
Some Hippos in the distance
A giraffe eating from a thorn tree
Our walking safari
A family of baboons
Some big rhinos
My personal lookout deck in my lodge
My friend at "God's Window"...on clear days you can see Mozambique...a spectacular view
Taken from a restaurant in Port Elizabeth
Springboks vs Scotland Rugby game!
More Port Elizabeth
I’m glad I could share my amazing experience with all of you, it was really a dream come true for me. I hope you enjoyed my report, and please feel free to write some comments or criticisms, I'm a big boy my feelings won't get hurt! The return part of my trip will be posted soon too with more pictures, so keep an eye out!
[Edited 2006-09-11 02:09:54]
Prepare for take-off.