|South Africa!! While the journey here is a pain, it's been well worth it in just the short time we've been here....
Our flight from Atlanta to Jo'burg was much better than all anticipated. The storms in Atlanta delayed and cancelled many flights, so ours was pretty empty. The Flemings and us each had our own row, which was amazing. So even though we were in coach, it was perfectly fine. A million movies, they fed us 3 times and it there were good places that you could just stand around. Our connection into Cape Town went smooth - our travel agent had arranged an escort that whisked us through customs, rechecked us in, and brought us through the crew/employee security line. The SA Air flight here was a blink in comparison (about 2 hours) but so less comfortable!!
We arrive at our hotel, the Victoria and Alfred, late last night (South Africa is 6 hours ahead of EST). It's a beautiful hotel on the waterfront and we have views of Table Mountain from our room.
Speaking of Table Mountain....our goal this morning was to get up and go up the cable car to the top as soon as it opened. Foiled! Our driver last night told us the cable car was closed for its annual maintenance!! We were so bummed! So instead we did the city bus tour which took us to Signal Hill, with amazing views of Table Mountain and the rest of the city. After that tour we had lunch and then went to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. It's about a 30 minute ferry ride from the mainland. Once you get there you took about a 20 minute bus tour around the grounds - one of the most interesting things is that some of the old prisoners and wardens still live there. I cannot imagine being a political prisoner for so long and then staying in that same place - all the guides there are ex-prisoners. Our guide said that the reason they live there is to prove that they do not hold a grudge - they were imprisoned for fighting for peace, and it wasn't in their nature to be angry at the system that put them there. He said that they and the wardens that live there are friends now.
After the bus ride we went to one of the 4 prisons on the island - the maximum security prison. What I found ironic was that the political prisoners were held in the maximum security prison and the criminal prisoners were in the minimum security prison. We saw Mandela's cell (of course) and the garden where he hid his copy of "The Long Walk to Freedom".
Now we sit at the bar at the V&A updating our journals before we head to dinner. It's been a wonderful first day!