Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Travel Observations

1. In all of my years since leaving Cape Town and navigating the globe, I have never lived as far away from the city as I do now. The trip here (with connections and transfers) topped 40 hours. Take such travel on at your own peril and seek advice from a mental health care professional before embarking on such a journey; I do not recommend it.

2. South African Airways is still one of the best airlines out there. True, they need to update their London - Cape Town direct aircraft with on-demand personal seat video, but the service from the flight crew is (and always has been) top-notch. If you connect through J'burg on the way to Cape Town then you will get on-demand video but that stop adds time to your itinerary and if you're already topping 40 hours, well ...

3. London Heathrow Terminal 4 is a dump. I know, I know, it's a dump in transition, but at the moment it's a dump.

4. The current dump that is Heathrow Terminal 4 allowed for me to experience some things that I have never experienced before (and likely never will again): being the only person on the terminal transfer bus to 4 and then being the only person walking through the entire terminal (which was actually pretty creepy) and then -- saving the best for last --being the only person in queue (which I suppose means that there wasn't a queue at all) for passing through customs!

5. The Hilton at Heathrow 4? Meh. Hit and miss. Probably not up to Hilton standards. I only stayed for 4 hours in an extreme jet-lagged/travel exhausted state, though, so mine may not be the best review.
6. South Africa can indeed be a very frightening country to navigate. What the international press is reporting more frequently these days is true: the crime problems of the rest of the country have well and truly made it south to Cape Town.

I do not feel as safe here as I once did and I once lived here for 7 years, so I consider myself quite Cape Town savvy. Alas, there have already been times during my current travels when I have been absolutely terrified and wishing that I could click my Dorothy shoes together.

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