Getting to South Africa was no quick trip, and that’s probably a huge understatement…ha ha! There is a lot to consider when you are flying internationally. You have to look at all of your options. For starters, we didn’t even fly out of Salt Lake to get to Cape Town. We booked a completely separate flight out of Salt Lake to San Francisco Saturday afternoon, stayed a night in San Francisco and then flew out of San Francisco Sunday night; the reason being, the price we were looking for was not available on the dates we were looking at flying out of Salt Lake. So we actually flew further West before we began our journey to our final destination! Sounds pretty ridiculous right!? But it was worth it for us to get the best price. We almost never book flights with money. We always fly with miles or points.
Another thing we were considering was where the layovers would be during the flight. We wanted to get out and spend a few hours in one the cities that we would be flying through on our way to Cape Town. We had looked at a flight that had a connection through the London, with a 9 hour layover, which we were strongly considering, but when we got back on-line a day or two later to book it, those flights were gone. We were bummed, because neither of us had been to Stonehenge and we thought that would have been just enough time to get to Stonehenge and back to the airport. We will just have to visit Stonehenge some other time, and I know we will!
Our first flight was about 10 hours from San Francisco to Zurich, Switzerland. We were delayed about 35 minute on take-off. We had a 6 1/2 hour layover in Zurich and we were not about to spend those precious hours in the airport when we could be out exploring the streets of Switzerland! Due to the amount of luggage we packed, and after hauling all of our bags to the airport, I think we DEFINITELY over packed! We checked 3 bags (one of which was exactly 50 lbs…phew) and each had 2 carry-ons. I had a hefty bulging backpack and a shoulder bag (did I mention we may have over packed:}). Rob had a backpacking backpack and a smaller backpack, which he preferred to carry in his hand, showing off his bicep muscles, that was probably the weight of a portly child.
We thought about renting a storage locker to stash our bags at the Flughafen Airport in Zurich while we explored the city, but after some debate, didn’t think it worth the price or the hassle for the short time we were there. The lockers were about 9 Swiss Francs for 24 hours.
We took the train to downtown Zurich. The train was very busy and it was difficult to understand the woman over the loud speaker; combined with our fatigue and disorientation caused us to miss our stop on the first train. We spent an extra half hour getting back to downtown Zurich.
Although we were prepared for cold, having just come from the heart of a Utah winter, we were not prepared for Switzerland cold. This was the kind of cold that cuts straight through your clothes and seeps into your bones, but to be honest, I was so delighted to be walking through the streets of Switzerland, I couldn’t have been happier to be there! I almost didn’t notice the cold. We walked all along the waterfront. I loved all of the lights and the old cathedrals and beautiful arch bridges. The streets were almost entirely deserted, it was peaceful and quiet. The city was shut down for the night. Too cold to be out! My poor husband was frozen solid by the time we found a McDonalds, the only thing open, and bought some warm fries called roti fries. They looked like sausage fingers, and they were mighty tasty!
We had wanted to get some Swiss chocolate while we were in the city, but since nothing was open we resorted to Swiss chocolate from the airport. And golly day, it did no disappoint!! We bought four different chocolates made by a company named Sprungli. Absolutely fantastic! We loved the milk chocolate with nougat and the salted caramel. Holy cacao! Swiss chocolate is good chocolate! With happy hearts and tummies, we boarded our next 10-hour flight to Johannesburg.
We were seated in economy, which some of you may be familiar with. This was a full flight. We both slept remarkably well, all things considered; although, when I saw myself in the bathroom mirror at the Joburg Airport, I thought, Gooooooo (this very meaningful word coined by my best girl friend Jacquelyn is a story for another time)! Hide your kids, hide your wife, cause somebody is going to have nightmares tonight if they see this sleepless wonder! Maybe I hadn’t slept as well as I thought. 😉 Rob woke up about 4 hours before we landed and was wide-awake. He was a little like an adorably energetic puppy. He didn’t crash again until just before we landed.
We retrieved our bags and then re-checked them after we got through customs. We got to take a wonderful shower in the Johannesburg Airport – desperately needed! Spent an hour or so eating some lunch and then boarded our last plane to our final destination. We both fell asleep within a few minutes of takeoff and didn’t wake up until the captain was announcing our final decent into Cape Town. Then both of us were bright eyed and bushy tailed as we landed in the city of our new home!
After two full days of traveling, we finally arrived in Cape Town on Tuesday, January 17th around 4:00pm South Africa Time! There is actually a sign in Cape Town that says 16,690 Km to San Francisco – insane to think we are so far away from home. Our African adventure has begun! We are so excited to learn everything we can about this new place: the culture, the people, the food, everything! Life is an adventure!
“To live will be an awfully big adventure.” -Peterpan