Author Topic: Yehoshua's South Africa TR  (Read 16414 times)

Offline Yehoshua

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Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« on: July 18, 2016, 06:07:19 AM »
Planning and Routing
The planning for this trip started back in November 2015 when I decided that I wanted to go to Africa in the summer. I’d never flown any of the “Big 3” Gulf carriers, so that was the goal on this trip. I ended up booking:

For 100k AS I booked (blue on map)
7/5 LAX-DXB in EK F A380 4:45pm-7:30pm+1
7/7 DXB-JNB in EF F 777 2:20pm-8:50pm

For our domestic flight I bought cheap coach seats on Mango (orange on map):

7/13 JNB-CPT 8:10am-10:20am

For 135k AA I booked (red and brown on map)
7/17 CPT-DOH in QR J 787 1:20pm-11:50pm
7/18 DOH-AUH in QR F A320 8:25am-10:30am
7/19 AUH-JFK in EY F A380 3:35am-9:35am
7/19 JFK-LAX in AA F A321 12:30pm-3:54pm



For hotels we booked the following:

PH Dubai for 1 night for ~12k UR booked through UR
Black Rhino Game Lodge in Pilanesburg Game Reserve for ~$168 cash (redeemed for A+ credit)
Intercontinental OR Tambo (JNB airport) for 1 night for 30k IHG
Protea Sea Point hotel for 4 nights: 1 night for 15k Marriott, 3 nights for ~$67/night
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi for 1 night for ~$87

We stayed with friends of friends in Joburg for the 3 nights we were there before going to the game reserve.

For food, we brought along some instant oatmeal for breakfast in Dubai, Joburg (before our flight to CPT) and Doha. Joburg and Cape Town both have kosher restaurants, but we needed food for Pilanesburg. We could have ordered from POM, had them ship it to LA, and schlep it around the world with us, but I found another solution. Kosher World in Joburg also has travel meals for a fraction of the price. While I only asked for dairy and pareve items, the price range was from R55-81 for a 500g portion, or about $3.75-$5.50 for just over 1 lb. of food. You can’t beat that! Like POM, the meals are frozen in advance and can be heated in the microwave or oven. To contact KosherWorld, you can email them from their website. They responded to me rather quickly and we arranged everything via email.

Now on to the trip itself.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2016, 06:08:16 AM »
Tuesday, July 5, LAX-DXB: EK F
After my BIL was kind enough to drive us to the airport (so that he could use our car while we were away) we didn’t have the best ground experience upon arriving at the airport. First we had to battle the holiday traffic getting to TBIT. Once we were inside, I figured first class check-in would be a breeze, yet we had to wait 15 minutes for the 1 agent to finish with another customer who was not even traveling in F (the line was for F and Premier; they were premier). Our check-in was quick, but we got bogged down next at security. We were forced to take the security line for wheelchairs and strollers, despite the fact that 1) we had a car seat with wheels, not a stroller 2) we were in F and 3) we asked to go in the regular F lane. 30 minutes later we finally made it past security only 10 minutes before boarding leaving us without enough time to try the new Emirates lounge in LAX. Right before we got on the plane DW was quite stressed out about the whole thing, but that quickly changed once we entered the upper deck of the A380.

After we were directed left at the forward boarding door and shown our seats, DW’s mood quickly changed into one of fascination and excitement. While I had also never flown EK F before, I’d flown other F products with suites so it wasn’t as exciting for me. We both changed into our pajamas and got comfortable. We had a bassinet attached to the center divider (we were in seats 2E/F), though it took them a while to get the right bassinet to fit. Because of the positioning of the lamp, only one of the basinets work here.

The flight itself was very good. Our daughter behaved herself rather well for the whole flight. We were each able to get ~5 hours of sleep, shower and eat our rather pathetic KSMLs.

Just a side note about the KSMLs. All the other airlines I’ve flown out of LAX in a premium cabin (SQ F, LH J, AZ J) have all been catered by Emuna from LA. Their food is very good and portion sizes are generous. EK F is catered by KoshAir from NY. Both their lunch, snack and breakfast all featured the same sides: 2 small dips and a roll. Really? One of the FAs said he also ordered the KSML on that flight (he used to work in Israel and just thought he’d try it for fun) and was pretty disappointed as well. He said he’d mention it to EK in hopes they’d switch to Emuna.








KSMLs

Our flight path was nearly straight north with a slight curve west, meaning we not only crossed the date line but also had a 15-hour daytime flight. While it means I couldn't daven shachris (Rosh Chodesh) since it never got dark the day before, it also meant we could use the natural light to help adjust our bodies ahead 11 hours. We arrived in DXB slightly tired (on purpose) and passed through immigration and customs quickly.

Offline benjie1305

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2016, 06:17:23 AM »
So far, so good.
Work hard, Play harder!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2016, 06:23:45 AM »
Wednesday, July 6, A Night in Dubai
We took a cab (paid with CC) to the PH. I really should have taken Uber since they were having a 20% off 2 rides to/from DXB in celebration of the Eid holiday that started that day, but we wanted to get to the hotel asap and getting a driver would have taken longer than just hopping in a nice Lexus cab. It took us 15 minutes to get to the hotel (the driver took us on a bit of a joy ride and got no tip because of it) but the whole ride only cost ~$15.

We checked in and were upgraded to a deluxe view room, 1418, in the main building.  The room was spacious but not a suite. It overlooked the creek and had a nice view of the Dubai skyline which was visible through the haze.

PH Dubai Room:
















We dropped off our things, freshened up a bit and headed to the Dubai Mall to see the fountain show. We opted for the car service from the hotel for 40 AED since traffic was quite bad around the mall due to Eid, and the rate was fixed.

The fountain area was a zoo. We arrived just as the 10pm show was finishing, so we had to wait for the next show at 10:30pm. It took us a good 15 minutes to walk to a bridge and get to the front for good views of the show, but it was worth it. The show was really quite amazing, quite similar to the Bellagio in Vegas just larger and with different music.

Burj Khalifa and fountain show:










Fighting our way down from the bridge and into the mall was like trying to get on the NYC subway during a crowded rush hour, but we survived. Once in the mall (which in itself was super crowded) we wanted to see some of the sites. We didn’t want to stay too long, but we had time to visit the aquarium, fountain and ice rink.


Aquarium at the Dubai Mall


Fountain at the Dubai Mall


Ice rink at the Dubai Mall

We eventually took an Uber back to the hotel (it came out to 46 AED because the floating bridge by the hotel closes at 10pm so you have to go the long was around), but it beat waiting in the 100+ person line for a taxi.

We got back to our room around midnight and just went to sleep.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2016, 06:34:17 AM »
Thursday, July 7, DXB-JNB
We woke up a bit late due to the minor jetlag. Thank God our daughter was able to sleep most of the night and seems to have adjusted well to the new time zone. By the time we got ready and packed it was time to head to the airport. We might have gone back to town to see things by daylight and to visit the Burj Al Arab, Mall of the Emirates, and Burj Khalifa again, but we didn’t want to push our luck.

We took Uber to the airport (it only cost ~19 AED/~$5 thanks to the promo) and arrived with boarding passes in hand from LAX. We once again passed though immigration without any line and even made it through security with lots of bottles of water for our daughter’s bottles without so much as a secondary screening. They even let the car seat/stroller with the baby in it go through the metal detector without even searching it.

We were departing form the A gates, meaning we’d be fortunate enough to use the First Class lounge that spans the entire terminal with in-lounge boarding gates. After a quick stop so DW could get a massage at the Timeless Spa, we headed to the world’s largest F lounge where were only saw 1 other guest the entire time we were there. We had some sandwiches we’d packed from LA for lunch in one of the empty dining areas along with some fresh vegetables from the buffet.


Food from the buffet


Lounge restaurant

While we don’t smoke or drink, the lounge was still impressive. DW made it quite clear that anything smaller than this is no longer considered a good lounge in her book. Uh oh for me.
Despite the F cabin being full and us only having 1 seat in it, we were the only ones to board from the lounge.

We boarded 10 minutes before boarding closed after all the economy passengers were already on board which was different. While I did end up in J, the purser was nice enough to ask the person seated directly behind DW to switch seats with me so we were as close as possible to each other. I even had an empty seat next to me so DW could come back and visit whenever she wanted.


My 2 J seats, EK J 777


Dubai Skyline through the haze

Our flight overall was a very nice. It was a bit turbulent most of the flight, but it really wasn’t too bad. The food was a lot better this time, as it came from Bangkok and not the US.


KSML out of Dubai

We landed a few minutes early and were the first to deplane. We walked though immigration, which was empty, and proceeded to collect our checked bag before making our way out to the rental car counter.

I rented a car with Hertz though since it’s a franchise there’s no earning points on the rental. It took forever for the agent to help me, but at least I didn’t have to wait in line like those who showed up just after me. We were given an automatic Corolla Quest, one level up from what we reserved. They were all sold out so I couldn’t have upgraded even if I’d wanted to.

The drive to Glenhazel was quick and easy. We arrived at our hosts house around 10:15pm, settled in and promptly went to sleep.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2016, 06:39:53 AM »
Friday, July 8, A Private Soweto tour
I decided to book a private half-day tour of Soweto with MoAfrika Tours for R1,700. I chose MoAfrika because of their good reviews on TA and I chose Private since for only R400 more I wouldn’t have to worry about of daughter disturbing the other passengers with non-stop crying (even though in the end she barely made a peep the entire time).

Our guide, Goodwill, was waiting outside at 8:45am, a good 15 minutes early, just in case we were running early. I had davened at 7am and eaten breakfast at our hosts house which was very nice of them. We were ready for the tour and went downstairs at about 9:15am.

The tour itself was very nice and can be broken down into thirds.

The first third was the drive to Soweto and through the different neighborhoods there. Goodwill explained the history of Soweto, the SOuth WEst TOwnship, and pointed out some sights on the way. We then drove through the fancy area of Soweto, the “Beverly Hills” as he called it, with truly expensive and fancy houses. This is the area where rich black people live who grew up in Soweto and don’t want to leave despite their fortunes. Then we drove to the middle class area of Soweto where most people lived in matchbox houses (so named because 1) they looked like matchboxes and 2) because since the roofs used to be made of asbestos people painted the inside of their houses with oil based paints to keep out the fumes from the roof, but the oil based paints made the houses super flammable that when ignited they combusted like a matchbox).


Soweto Tour


Fancy Soweto

For the second third of the tour we were handed off to a local guide to take us into the informal settlements of Soweto, where the poorest of the poor lived. In this area we were on foot and got to enter a family house there. While there was a refrigerator inside, there wasn’t enough electricity to power it, so they just used it for storage. They rely on a water tap down the road, outdoor ditches to carry water through the neighborhood, and illegal electricity tapped from nearby power lines. It was quite a unique experience seeing how those people live.


Poorest areas of Soweto


Inside a home

The last third of the tour brought us to the Hector Pieterson museum. We saw the location where the June 16, 1976 revolution began, followed by a free visit to the museum (admission was included with the tour). The museum itself was small, but it was informative and a good 20-minute stop. The tour also included a stop at a famous church, but for obvious reasons we asked our guide to skip that part.

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Nelson Mandela’s House


Outside the Hector Pieterson museum

After our guide dropped us back at our hosts house at 1:00pm, we headed out to Sosushi for lunch (all the restaurants close at 2pm on Fridays, even in the winter). We ordered the fanciest rolls they had for cheaper than a standard vegetable roll in the US. Our 3 fancy rolls came out to R280 or less than $20. We left there around 2:15pm and spent the rest of the short Friday napping and getting ready for Shabbos (at 5:15pm).




Sushi from Sosushi




Sosushi menu

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2016, 06:41:01 AM »
Shabbos, July 9, Shabbos in Glenhazel
Friday night we ate at our hosts house. It was nice and quiet and we had a great time. For Shabbos day, we davened at Maharsha. It was about a 15-minute walk, but it wasn’t hot and was quite pleasant. After davening there was a nice dairy Kiddush complete with cheesecake, sushi salad, and other confections (it was extra fancy apparently in honor of someone having a new daughter).

For lunch our hosts and we went out to lunch. We stopped by Aish to say hi to some friends on the way. Lunch was also really fun. There were many people there, including the people who sponsored Kiddush. While lunch wasn't long or schleppy, people did hang around to talk for a bit afterwards. The walk back was maybe 30 minutes, and we arrived only 10 minutes before we needed to go back to shul for mincha/maariv.

It was nice meeting our host’s friends at shul and seeing how similar the Jewish community of Glenhazel is to our own neighborhood in terms of the people, davening, and what people did on Shabbos.

On Motzei Shabbos we decided to order in from a brand new restaurant that opened about 1 week ago (around July 1, 2016) called Brioche. It’s a fancy, dairy chalav yisrael restaurant located on Long Ave directly across the street from Kosher World. They have lots of salads, pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, breakfast and desserts. The prices are slightly expensive by South African standards, but our order of 1 pizza, 1 pasta dish and 1 salad came out to R245, or less than $17. The food was really, really good, too. I’d been warned that the pizza in Joburg is worth skipping especially coming from the US, but I found theirs really good. The crust was thin and it was baked in a wood-burning, brick oven giving it a really good char and taste. Another thing worth noting is the service (for pickup) was very efficient. The restaurant was crowded, but they were extremely organized. We didn’t wait longer than 2 minutes for our food and were very impressed.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2016, 07:07:10 AM »
Sunday, July 10, Driving to Pilanesburg NP
We started Sunday morning with breakfast at Jozi Blue, and not just because it was literally next door to where we were staying. We ordered 2 omlettes, a hot chocolate, a tea, and a muffin….all for R177, less than $12. The food was very tasty and filling. While the restaurant itself was a bit crowded and it took a few extra minutes to get served, it was worth the wait.

Jozi Blue food:








We packed up, made some sandwiches for the road, and headed off to Kosher World to pick up our pre-arranged “POM style” meals. I’d arranged everything via email and ordered meals for lunch and dinner that were frozen ahead of time. There really isn’t an official menu, but rather I was just given a list of options based on what I said we liked to eat. I also picked up some snacks for the road and our stay just in case we were to get hungry. For breakfast we just had cereal and milk provided by the lodge.

After putting the box full of our meals in the car we were off on the 2h30m drive to the Black Rhino Game Lodge on the north west corner of the park. The drive itself was easy and smooth sailing. While I’d downloaded the maps in case I lost data service I turned out not to have any data issues all the way to the park gates. I did however have GPS signal issues periodically requiring me to pay close attention to the directions to avoid getting lost in a few areas. BH we arrived safely with only a 10-minute pit-stop (right off the N4 on the R556).

We arrived at 2:20pm and were promptly given a tour by our host and hostess. I spoke to the chef, wrapped our meals in aluminum foil, labeled them by meal and day, and checked out the cereals to make sure they were kosher. As our Shabbos hosts assured us, all the cereals, milk and plain yogurt were kosher. It’s almost easier to find kosher food in the grocery stores in South Africa than it is in the US, mainly because the major dairies like Clover are under hashgacha (albeit not chalav yisrael).


Black Rhino Lodge, main gate

We were helped to our room where we settled down for a few minutes before getting ready for our first game drive. We arranged for the lodge to provide a babysitter (for R50, $3.25/hour), and she came to our room while we headed out to the lodge for tea. We couldn’t eat any of the tea snacks provided, so we just waited a few minutes for people to start making their ways outside. We were introduced to our guide, Philip, and were sharing a tour with 2 other Australian couples, one our age and one older.

Black Rhino Lodge Room pics:












Main Lodge (dining room) pics:








The game drive itself was really cool. We were super lucky and spotted cheetahs within the first 30 minutes or so. We say lots of impalas (no, not the car; the animals) and even a group of baboons in the distance. We stopped just before sunset at a small overlook where our guide took out a cooler with drinks and snacks (he even had bags of kosher Lays potato chips for us in really interesting flavors). We got to watch a picture-perfect African sunset before heading back in the vehicles for our drive back to the lodge.


Cheeta


Baboons


Impala


Sunset

However, as we were driving back Philip heard over the radio about a rare animal sighting. By that time it was pitch black outside, but one of the other vehicles spotted it crossing the road. It’s called a pangolin, which is kind of like an armadillo but with larger scales. Apparently they’re so rare that it was Philip’s 2nd time ever seeing one in his life. Most people never get to see such an animal, and it was the first time for 2 of the other 3 guides as well. Since I’d never heard of it in the first place I wasn’t to impressed, but it was cool seeing an animal rarer than a leopard or lion.


Pangolin

We arrived back at the lodge and made our way to the dining room for our first heated dinner (in a 220C oven for 45 min from frozen, not written on the packaging) with a pit stop at our room to collect our daughter from the sitter. We ate in the dining room by candlelight using plastic spoons we’d brought, since we forgot to bring forks and knives. While the lodge doesn’t have any disposable anything, they were very accommodating by allowing me to kasher some silverware the next day for lunch. We just took the silverware at the end of the meal and reused it for the remaining meals.

Dinner was really good. I’ve never had POM meals, but I believe they’re just as good. They came out of the oven hot but not burning hot, and nice and moist without being watery.

Dinner:








It’d been a busy day traveling, so after dinner we just unpacked, relaxed a bit and hit the sack early. Without in-room wifi there’s not much to do but relax and watch TV or read a book.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2016, 07:33:12 AM »
Monday, July 11, Pilanesburg NP
For the day game drives we decided to split up, with me going on Monday and DW going on Tuesday so that we could watch our daughter ourselves. While the sitter was nice, she did cry a lot and we didn’t want it to be super traumatic for her.

Everyone meets in the lodge at 6am for tea and coffee and departs at 6:30 or when everyone’s ready. Since misheyakir was at 6:10am and we’d be cutting it close getting back by zman tefila, I davened before going to the lodge, finishing at 6:10 and then saying brachos on talis/tefillin. I dashed over to the lodge in the freezing cold (~37F) where I was the 2nd to last person to arrive. As the last guest joined us we were off by 6:15.

The day drives are a lot longer than the night ones. They go deeper in to the park and a you have an opportunity to see a lot more animals. However, as I’d been warned, it’s FREEZING! The drive is in an open vehicle travelling at 30-40km/h (~19-25mph) and often the windshield is down. They provide a poncho-style jacket to use if you’d like, but other than that you have to bring your own coats, hats and jackets.

Sunrise was at 6:55, so for the first 40 minutes or so it was pretty dark out. We did see quite a few animals along the way, some closer and some farther from us. Like with the night drive, we stopped for a break at around 8am in an enclosure for hot tea, coffe, hot chocolate and kosher cookies. While the drinks were served in metal cups (so I couldn’t have any), I did have a cookie to tide me over until breakfast. As we arrived back at the lodge someone was there to meet us with hot, damp towels to wash our faces with. It’s always appreciated when it’s so cold outside.


White Rhinos




Giraffe


Warthogs


Zebras


Lion foot prints


Tsetsebe nursing


Poisonous “menorah” (candelabra) plant

My wife and daughter were waiting for me in the lodge waiting until I came back to have breakfast (it was just after 10am). They had a great assortment of cereals that we were able to partake of without an issue, even the juices were kosher!

After breakfast we had a relaxing morning. We hung around the lodge a bit and were surprised by a heard of zebras coming to the watering hole for a quick drink. We both took advantage of the wifi there and caught up with the world for a bit before DW went back to the room to nap.


Zebras at the lodge’s watering hole after breakfast

Since we had such a late breakfast we didn’t eat lunch until 2pm. The kitchen was really great about heating up our meals on time. I was going to ask them at 1:00 to put our food in at 1:30, and I was told it was already in the oven and would be kept hot until we wanted to eat. Needless to say the lunch food was just good as the dinner food from the night before.

Lunch:
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After lunch we hung around in the room a bit, enjoyed the private patio, and got ready for the night drive when another sitter would be coming to watch our daughter.

Well the babysitter came all right, but our daughter refused to stop crying whenever we handed her to the sitter, so in the end my wife decided just to stay back and watch her herself. There was no way of knowing that it would be the best game drive of our entire stay.

On one drive we ended up not only seeing more zebras and rhinos close up, but a ton of elephants (including a baby elephant), a pair of male lions, a brown hyena and even a leopard. We were so busy seeing animals that we didn’t go into the private enclosure we’d gone into the night before rather we just stopped in the middle of the reserve, got out and tailgated from the back of the truck.


Zebras


Rhino and baby rhino






Elephants at the watering hole










Lions


I forgot the name of this one


Rhinos crossing the road


More zebras

While DW was obviously disappointed by the tremendous sights she missed, she did have a morning drive the next day while I stayed behind to watch our daughter. We had dinner together, another great meal, and went to bed early.

Dinner:



« Last Edit: July 18, 2016, 10:23:46 AM by Yehoshua »

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2016, 08:07:02 AM »
Tuesday, July 12, Pilanesburg NP and last day in Joburg
DW got up early to go on the last game drive of our stay. I stayed back and watched our daughter who was very well behaved I might add. When DW game back at only 9am instead of 10am like we had the day before, I was curious as to why. She explained that as they were driving out, a male elephant in musth (like PMS for guys; google it) was trumpeting loudly and blocking the road. One truck snuck by, but the others were all stopped. He really wasn’t interested in letting anyone through. Unfortunately, that meant a shorter drive and not being able to see anything cooler than a male elephant in musth.

After breakfast we finished packing up and left the lodge shortly after the 11am check out to drive back to Joburg. We had the lodge heat up our last meal for lunch before we left so we could eat it on the way back. We stopped at the same gas station as on the way there to eat and still warm meals.


Breakfast buffet

Lunch:




We then headed to Sandton City and Nelson Mandela Square. While both of these were just on, they were nice malls and did have supermarkets in them which I always like looking at, especially in a country like South Africa with its high concentration of kosher products.




Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton

It was just a short drive from Sandton City to Melrose Arch, our next stop. While it was in theory nicer since it’s outside and really pretty, it was just more shops that we didn’t end up going in since it was after 5pm at this point and a lot of them were already closed.




Melrose Arch

From there it was back to Ohr Someyach for mincha/maariv followed by an amazing dinner at Brioche. Not only was the dinner food we ordered amazing, but the really show-stopper was the gorgeously presented and tasting dessert. This was seriously the prettiest and one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten at a kosher restaurant. We also picked up some croissants and brioche rolls from their bakery section for breakfast the next day.

Brioche Menu:






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Dinner at Brioche:














By this time it was right around 7:45pm, so I filled up the car and headed back to the airport for our 1 night at the Intercontinental OR Tambo Airport.

I dropped DW and DD off at the hotel and then swung around to drop of the car. I got an invoice stating I returned the car full and wouldn’t be charged for fuel. I walked to the hotel and checked in.

Unfortunately, this is where things went from great to really bad. First the hotel didn’t have a deluxe room with 2 beds which I specifically requested. They thought that when I requested a crib and two beds that I just wanted a bed for the baby, so since they gave me a crib I wouldn’t need 2 beds, despite saying there were two adults on the reservation. The only thing they had available was a standard room. OK, fine, not the biggest deal. Then they offered a welcome amenity for being a Platinum member. All options were food and not kosher, but when I asked for any non-food options they said there weren’t any. OK, again not a huge deal, so I settled for a bottle for sparkling water.

The manager felt bad treating a platinum guest this way and offered a whole-fruit platter which I also accepted. The room itself was nice, but had a few things wrong with it. The light fixture above the chair flickered and the bathroom door didn’t slide in properly. I was going to call maintenance, but right then I got another email confirmation from Hertz saying they were charging me for fuel after all.

At this point all the small things added up to me getting quite upset at the whole situation. I marched back to the Hertz counter, explained that it was impossible to fill up and avoid fuel surcharges if they don’t have a gas station right where you drop off the car. (I’ve seen airports that require a receipt from within 10 miles of the airport, but never a location still charge for fuel if you did fill up). I was told the manager had just left for the night but I could email her if I wanted to. I emailed her saying it’s wrong to give me an invoice and then add fuel surcharges onto it after saying they won’t be charged. She was very nice when she responded the next day and said she won’t charge me for the fuel. She then did point out that there is a gas station in the airport, and if I used that one I wouldn’t be charged. That’s news to me.

Anyway, the hotel itself was super comfortable, and we all slept quite well.

Intercontinental OR Tambo Room Pics:

















« Last Edit: July 18, 2016, 10:25:26 AM by Yehoshua »

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2016, 08:29:21 AM »
Wednesday, July 13, JNB-CPT and Table Mountain
The best thing about staying across from the terminal is our commute to the airport for our 8am flight took 30 seconds from the hotel door to the terminal door. We arrived at 7:00am (bag drop closed at 7:10am), dropped off all 3 of our suitcases free of charge (Mango allows 20kg/person free, but only 7kg for carry-ons). We got through security again without removing liquids from our bags (but to be fair no one warned us and there were no signs either about liquid rules). Since I know DW hates being “schlepped” to lounges when we don’t have enough time to visit, I dropped her off at our gate which was probably the worst gate I’ve seen in a commercial airport. It was a windowless, metal corridor with a couple seats. No shops, restaurants, nothing. Now it was a short walk from the lounges and the nicer parts of the terminal, but even after seeing that DW still decided to stay there.

I went off in search of the 2 Priority Pass lounges. One was upstairs with lovely views of the check-in area and security and the other was in a basement with no views whatsoever.  They did have lots of kosher food included some kosher camembert and blue cheeses. I snagged some of those to help complement our breakfast and went back to the gate to going DW. We had our croissants and brioche rolls with cheese finished everything before boarding was called.


Kosher cheese in the lounge


View of security from the lounge


Gate area

I asked the gate agent if people traveling with small children can board first and was told they could. People had started queueing up, but the agent said she’d make an announcement for us to skip the line. No such announcement came, so we just boarded with everyone else. There was no empty seat between us like I’d hoped (there was only an exit row seat left), and when we asked the FA if the person between us can sit in the exit row so we could put our Doona on a seat, the purser said we couldn’t put it on the seat even if it were empty because we didn’t purchase a seat for our daughter and it was also too big.

All righty then. We gate checked the Doona and had short flight to CPT that got us in on time despite the 20-minute delay in our departure for unknown reasons.

This time when I rented with Hertz I told them what just happened with Hertz in JNB and they warned me that I must fill up at the BP by the airport in order to avoid the fuel surcharges. At least gas prices are set by the government so airport locations can’t charge more.

We first drove to our hotel, the Protea Sea Point, to drop off our bags. Since it was only around noon by this point and our room wasn’t yet ready, they held our luggage for us while we went off to Coffee Time for lunch.

It was really nice driving over the mountain to the Gardens area where Coffee Time is located. It kind of reminded me of the canyons we have in LA, specifically Laurel Canyon since it had 2 lanes on one side of the mountain just like Laurel.

Lunch was amazing. Sure enough they are still doing their Wednesday lunch buffet for R99.99 and boy was it a spread. I tasted a little bit of everything and had a bit extra of some of the things I liked best. We also got a huge chocolate mocha muffin for dessert that wasn’t included. I should point out that when we arrived we were lucky to get a table. With schools being on winter break the week we were in Cape Town all the tables were booked with us getting the last one available. If you decide to go for the buffet (which I highly recommend), make a reservation first.

Lunch at Coffee Time:
















After lunch we headed up to the cable car to the top of Table Mountain.  The weather was really cooperating at that point. It was 75 degrees and sunny, not bad for a cold and rainy Cape Town winter day.

There are two lines for the cable car: one for purchasing tickets and one for pre-purchased tickets, with the pre-purchased line being significantly shorter. Not a big deal: as we waited I just went online on my phone and purchased 2 tickets and got the bar codes right away. We changed lines and saved ourselves about 30 minutes. Beats me why no one else was doing it. I can’t imagine not one person had data or only had cash to pay with.


View of Cape Town from the lower station


Cable car


View from the cable car


View from the top

It was super windy on top, but we still took the 30-minute loop around the top. We had great clear views of Cape Town, Camps Bay and Sea Point. There were a few high clouds but nothing disrupting the view. Since the weather was so nice the place was also packed. We finally left after waiting for a bit in line to go down. I say a bit because if you have crying kids or need to get down asap you have a good chance at getting moved to the head of the line.

We drove back to the hotel, checked into our room and once settled I went off to mincha at Morasha just down the road.

Protea Sea Point Room pics:








For dinner I walked to Checkers (a supermarket) about a 7-minute walk from the hotel. They have a huge kosher section of prepared foods from a fully kosher bakery to meat and pareve foods. They also have prepared meals (dairy and meat) that can be heated in a microwave or oven. I got two dairy meals for dinner as well as some eggplant salad from the pareve area. I also got some more croissants, scones, a muffin, juice and yougurt for breakfast as well as some cheese and rolls for lunch the next day. The grand total for 3 meals with high quality food: R259.17, or ~$18.




Breakfast from Checkers

The hotel was kind enough to let me double wrap the meals and heat them it their microwave. We ate in our room, relaxed a bit and went to bed.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2016, 10:28:35 AM by Yehoshua »

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2016, 08:50:00 AM »
Umm are you kidding me!? You wrote so much of it already!? Will begin reading now. Sheeeeeesh

Offline TimT

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2016, 09:48:37 AM »
Umm are you kidding me!? You wrote so much of it already!? Will begin reading now. Sheeeeeesh
Every time I'm about to comment there's another post to read through. :)
Great write up Yehoshua! Thanks

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2016, 09:50:26 AM »
Umm are you kidding me!? You wrote so much of it already!? Will begin reading now. Sheeeeeesh
It's actually written up to now, but I took a break choosing pics. It's really tiring after 4 hours.
Every time I'm about to comment there's another post to read through. :)
Great write up Yehoshua! Thanks
Thanks!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's South Africa TR
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2016, 09:52:37 AM »
Umm are you kidding me!? You wrote so much of it already!? Will begin reading now. Sheeeeeesh
It's actually written up to now, but I took a break choosing pics. It's really tiring after 4 hours.
Every time I'm about to comment there's another post to read through. :)
Great write up Yehoshua! Thanks
Thanks!