Thursday was leaving day. I had a lot of mixed feelings about leaving. I had never been outside of the U.S. so it was nerve wracking. I left the Green Bay airport pretty excited- without really thinking of the 20 hours of plane time ahead of me. Note: prior to this trip, the longest I had spent in a plane was 4 hours, so I was about to have a rude awakening.
Flight one: Green Bay to Chicago
This flight was super short (1 hour) and just got me more excited. After getting past security at Green Bay I was very excited. I couldn’t wait for what was in store, regardless of the old man in front of me on the plane farting and the man behind me talking to himself. You never know what you will find in Green Bay.
Flight two: Chicago to London
Best advice to give and take when traveling across seas- SLEEP ON THE PLANE. That flight was super unsuccessful for sleep. I was uncomfortable and way too excited to sleep. So my 7.5 hour flight ended in maybe 1 hour of sleep.
We had about a 9 hour layover in London so we took advantage of it and did a walking tour of London. I finally got to check off riding in a double decker bus off of my bucket list. We visited Trafalgar Square and Leadenhall Market and ate dinner at a restaurant called Prezzo as well. The architecture of London absolutely blew my mind. It is so pretty. We walked a good couple miles that day and somehow were still awake enough to get on the last flight.
Flight three: London to Johannesburg, South Africa
The longest flight. 10.5 hours. This flight seemed as if it would never end. I tried to sleep but only got a couple hours between my movie watching. The flight dinners were fairly good, but I could tell my stomach and my body were taking tolls from the time in the air, and the pressure changes due to elevation. I was ready to be landed in Johannesburg.
Landing in Johannesburg was amazing. We landed when the temperatures were around 85F or so. It felt so good to be in warm weather in the middle of January. I couldn’t believe I was finally halfway across the world ready to take on South Africa. We were picked up at the airport by our tour guide/wildlife expert Andy. We got to exchange some money at the airport for goodies and food. Note: Those of you traveling in the future, use ATMs at gas stations (petrol stations) and at the airport. The exchange rate and interest rate at the businesses within the airport are a lot more expensive!
Outside of the airport it was still very much visible that apartheid still affects South Africa. The roads of Johannesburg were recently done as well as many buildings. However, mansions and huge houses were visible next to shacks that were standing only by small pieces of metal and plywood stacked together. It was a really sad sight to see that in their country, you were either very rich or very poor.
We definitely weren’t in America anymore as there were hundreds of people walking along the roads, all hitch hiking for a ride. There aren’t many cars within the city, it is mainly taxis. Their taxis are vans that hold around 14 people, but many of them carry 30 people at a time. We drove to lunch at a restaurant called Wimpy, which is somewhat similar to a McDonalds, except you sit and order from your table. I ordered a grilled cheese (cheese sandwich) and chips (french fries). I barely ate any of my food, my stomach was still trying to realize that we had finally landed!
We drove for a couple of hours in our van and finally reached our destination for the night- the Karula Hotel in White River. This hotel was so cute with little cottage-like rooms. I got WiFi here and was able to reach out to some people and let them know where we were. Dinner was served shortly after. Note: Their meals are more spread out in terms of time. Breakfast is served around 7/8, lunch is usually around 1/2 and dinner isn’t served until 7/8 normally. This was quite the adjustment, but my stomach didn’t know what time it was or when I should be eating anyways. Dinner at the Karula is a five course meal, and all the food there was amazing!
The meal for the first night was: potato and leak soup, baked hake fish with lemon, roasted beef with roasted potatoes and carrots and peas. The fourth course was apple crumble with hot custard on top (I think I gained 5 pounds just by smelling it!). The final course for the night was cheese and crackers, meant to clean the palate after dinner. After all the food and travel, I was ready for bed. The first night there it stormed really bad and I struggled to sleep but got enough to get by.