Travel criteria from the USA to Africa includes: cheap flights, few stop overs, reputable airline, low overall travel time and decent service. This year it was tough to accommodate all of these. If fly cheaply is a must, what others are we willing to let go?
This year it definitely is travel time. Our journey begins in Dallas, Texas. A direct fourteen hour international flight takes us via Qatar Airways to Doha, Qatar. There, in the world’ fifth best airport, we endure a nine hour layover. Actually, it isn’t that bad. At least not as bad as we anticipated.
After walking around some to stretch our legs (that’s why our only carry-ons are our back packs with our electronics) we find relatively comfortable seating. Being the only ones arriving so early it is easy to secure seats next to the power outlets. Then its time to use the 30 minutes of free WiFi before settling in for some writing and reading.
About six hours into the wait it is time to get moving again. This time we ride the airport train. Really fancy and fast. After finding some hugely overpriced snacks its back to sitting.
The flight out of Doha just didn’t board! Finally, as the clock neara 2am (our departure time) around four hundred tired souls from various backgrounds shuffle to the boarding gate.
After being herded through security it is waiting time again in a much too small area. The youngsters sit along the walls and talk about everything from malaria pills to birth control pills.
Once on board our big bird things go smoothly. Soon we are in the dark night sky heading for Johannesburg eleven hours later.
After another marathon of in-flight movies (our choice this time appears to be the Star Wars series) cramped sleep and eating at the body’s off cycle times, the descent begins. Landing in Johannesburg around 9:50 in the morning doesn’t quite end our trip.
For some reason passport control is backed up. The line snakes around a Disney World ride. Plenty of time to read all the signs and the slogans on fellow travelers sweat shirts.
Then comes the most nerve-racking moments, standing there at the baggage carousel hoping that our two bags, with all our valuable travel stuff, made it. It’s always a moment to give thanks when they emerge out of the hole and thump on to the conveyor.
With all our two bags (Russ ended up not buying and bringing two new tires for our Landy) and our back packs piled on the trolley it’s off to find a SIM card. Seems like everyone else had the same idea!
Once installed with a bit of airtime and data loaded it’s time to WhatsAp our friend Sheila. “We’re here! Heading for the Gautrain.” Tickets purchased we join the crowd heading for the train station.
After two stops we gather our bags and lumber off, down in the drop off/pick up area. Sheila is waiting. It feels good to be home.
At her place, after a welcome glass of cool water, we get Landy out of storage and the next part of the saga begins. Running around Johannesburg to get much needed documents secured. Not all goes according to plan!