Day 11 in South Africa: Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth, and travel back to the USA

May 2, 2016

We got up early and packed everything up.  We met up with my sister for a quick brunch and hot drinks, then said goodbye.  I likely won’t see her in the next two years, so it was a tough goodbye.  We then drove to the airport in Port Elizabeth, a 1 1/2 hour drive.  We returned our rental car and made our way through checking baggage and such.  It was definitely a bit weird to think our trip was already over.  The flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg was about two hours long.  In Jo-burg, we had a pretty long layover, so we spent a lot of time checking out all of the shops and restaurants.  We had to go through a bunch of extra security at our gate because of US regulations- every single person was frisked, and they looked through our carry-on luggage.  I read on the plane for several hours, then slept until about 3:30.  I read for the remainder of the flight, and was able to finish a book (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society– a really good book!) just before we landed.

We arrived at JFK the following morning.  It took a couple of hours to go through customs and such.  We then had a 3-hour drive home from there, that took more like 4 hours due to traffic.  After over 24 hours of travel, we were very thankful to be home and to be able to stretch our legs out again!

We had a very wonderful trip.  South Africa is a beautiful country.  I was surprised by how much the landscape changed throughout the country (and we only really saw the southern part of the country- I imagine it changes a lot more in the north as well), from stunning coast line, to rolling hills, to steep mountains.  I was also surprised by how much remote country there was.  In the United States, towns are scattered pretty close together.  In South Africa, you would drive between large cities- for maybe 2 hours- and not see a single smaller town in between.  It was definitely an amazing trip for us.

Travel to and Day 1 in South Africa: Cape Town and Fish Hoek

Rainy drive to Fish Hoek
Rainy drive to Fish Hoek

April 21, 2016

We departed from our house around 3:30 AM, which was not particularly fun.  We have about a three-hour drive from our house to New York City (and the airport).  We arrived at JFK airport with plenty of time, but as is typical, it took quite a while to get through security and such.  We still had about three hours to hang out at our gate.  I read a bit, and we also grabbed a bite to eat.  The flight from JFK to Johannesburg airport is LONG- over 15 hours.  I wanted two movies on the plane- “Joy” and “Silver Linings Playbook”, and attempted to sleep, as it was an overnight flight.  I don’t think I really slept at all, though.  There was a baby that was not having a fun time at all on the plane.  I’m pretty sure she cried almost the entire flight (poor thing!).

April 22, 2016

We arrived in South Africa the following morning.  Johannesburg is a huge airport, but we didn’t have too much trouble figuring out where to go and such.  We didn’t have a ton of time in between landing and our domestic flight to Cape Town, maybe half an hour or so after getting our baggage, re-checking it, and going through security.  Our second flight, from Jo-berg to Cape Town, was much more enjoyable.  It was my first time loading a plane from outside (up stairs to the plane), which was kind of cool.  I slept most of the flight (yay!).  When we arrived in Cape Town, it was extremely windy (it hit over 100 km/hr winds shortly after we landed).  We disembarked outside, got our baggage, and got our rental car.  We then headed to our airbnb apartment in Fish Hoek (pronounced “hook”), south of Cape Town.  We got pretty lost trying to get there, so we ended up going through some of the poorest sections of Cape Town.  We eventually found our way, only to get stuck standing still for over an hour due to construction.  We finally made it to our apartment around 4:30 PM.  We were very relieved to get there, as well as to take showers and nap a bit.  We headed back towards Cape Town for dinner, but not very far.  We ate at a restaurant called The Annex in Kalk Bay.  Because it was rainy and windy, we had the entire, fancy restaurant to ourselves!  The food and service was excellent.  After dinner, we headed back to our apartment and promptly went to sleep- we were tired!