Sunday, 12 September 2010

View from the V & A Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa

The republic of South Africa has to be one of my favourite places in the world! Theres a lot of negative publicity about it being a violent society but after coming here for more than eight years I can honestly say its just not true. As with everywhere else in the world if you wander around the wrong places waving your money around then someone is going to try to take it off you!
The people here are friendly, kind and helpful if you dont act like an idiot you will have a great time here.

I've just spent the last week travelling from Johannesberg to Durban, Port Elizabeth and I'm now in Cape Town. Working as we go (I wont bore you with the details of my work). First thing that you will find here is the great food, South Africans expect a high standard and they get it.

Just finishing a wonderful weekend in the beautiful surroundings of Cape Town, it is simply quite stuningly beautiful here!
As I look out of my hotel room window the magnificent Table Mountain is in front of me, its simply beautiful!
Had breakfast this morning then walked to the breakwater and watched the whales in the bay as they start to gather in this leg of their migration. Mothers and their young, and individual males all gathering along the coast here from now until the end of October. Often they come within a few feet of the shore if the water is deep whilst others further out perform spectacular leaps out of the water. To see a full grown whale leap from the water just yards form you is something to cherish forever......

More later when I get home once I have had time to absorb all that has happened in my latest trip to this wonderful country!


Sunday, 5 September 2010

Getting ready to go

The big problem with being single and travelling a lot is there is no one else to check everything and make sure you've not cocked up! Even after all these years I still wander around the house several times checking everything in the few hours before I'm due to leave, checking I've got my passport etc etc. Its not too bad when just going for a few days but when its a two week or more trip the paranoia can really set in!
I also like to come back to everything being clean and tidy at home so there is manic cleaning of the house and washing of the few things in the laundry before I go.
I think I do this mostly due to boredom rather than some obsessive organisation thing? (maybe my friends would tell you differently?). I find the time between finishing packing and setting off like some kind of limbo. So I now pack later and later and much prefer those early morning flights where I can roll out of bed, get a shower and go!
Whilst this may make it sound as though I worry too much, I actually don't, as long as I've got my passport, credit cards and some cash everything else can be sorted.
This trip (I leave this evening) is to South Africa for 11 days then I'm home for three before I go on holiday for a couple of weeks. So I've been a bit more organised to try and ensure the few days at home don't mean too much frantic washing and ironing clothes for my holiday.
Next job is to call Mum my sister and my two children (grown up) before I set off, they get most upset if I don't, which is understandable but its not as if we don't talk all the time when I'm away.
Then its into travelling mode, this is where I relax and let it just flow, I see so many people getting stressed at airports but what they have to realise is, once your checked in that's it and you have handed yourself over to the airline for the duration and they are in charge. Sure things go wrong, flights get delayed but the airlines don't do it on purpose and one thing for certain is that getting wound up and angry is not going to help you at all.
The secret to stress free flying is to plan, be at the airport in good time (why not, what else were you going to do?). When you book flights think about the departure and arrival times are they really sensible for you? If you have connecting flights aim to have three hours between connections as a minimum, why? Because if your first flight is only slightly delayed that usually adds a minimum of an hour delay to flight. When you get to the change airport how long will it take you to get from your arrival gate to the next? 30 minutes? In many big airports it will take at least that and if you have to go through another security check then it will take at least an hour if its busy. Take the stress out of it all by giving yourself time, it soon passes and your not really hanging about that long.
There is one other good reason for having a longer connection time, your check in luggage! Want to minimise the risk of it not arriving at your destination with you? Then have a reasonable stop over between flights and it gives your cases chance to get on the same plane as you! If your having to run from one flight to the next what are the odds  that some under paid airport worker in a foreign country is going to put as much effort into getting your cases there? Zip, Zero, Zilch!
Whilst I'm in advice mode one more tip about luggage, most luggage that is lost forever has no means of identifying it (which is why it got lost in the first place!). So what does that tell you? The system the airlines use to label your luggage goes wrong sometimes! Mostly because the big long tag they put on at the check in gets ripped off your bag by the machines that move it around the airport therefore don't rely on it. Buy some proper luggage tags which are held on by a secure strap (not string or sticky tape). Put your name and a phone number on it (preferably your mobile) and do put the international code for your phone number on otherwise how else are they going to call you as your name is no great indicator of where you are from? Don't put your home address on (if you want to put an address on use your work address). Then put some identification inside your case, again a card with your name and number on is enough. Do these few things and the odds of  you getting your luggage back are greatly increased.
Right I'd better go and make those calls! Later!

Friday, 3 September 2010

First time up

I've been thinking about writing a diary or blog about my life and travels for years but I've never got around to it until now.
I've been a world traveller for about 8 years now, mostly on business for the company I work for but some for pleasure too. Its a strange life, hundreds of hours on planes and hanging around in airports mostly by oneself.
Most people would envy what I do and the places I go, that is until they realise what you have to give up and miss out on at home, but I'm not going to complain because even if I'm the only person that ever reads this I don't want it to sound as though I'm ungrateful for the opportunity that I have had. In fact its been pretty damn good much of the time and I've met wonderful people, seen some fantastic places and had a lot of laughs on the way!
So there it is, I will maybe write about some of my past adventures as I go along but for now will update from time to time as I travel.
The next trip is to South Africa, one of my favourite places so I'm looking forward to it.
As always it will be a mixture of hard work, hotel hoping and general madness but probably with a lot of laughs on the way.
Until next time.......