October 15, 2011
It’s our day to bid farewell to Africa but first we need to get to the airport. Shouldn’t be a problem…drive to the Botswana border, go through their “customs”, board a small boat to cross the Chobe River, meet up with our driver on the Zambian side, clear their “customs”, drive the hour to the Livingstone airport and board our flight – simple!
Or is would be if our driver from the Chobe River Lodge wasn’t late. Our guides and drivers are never late, they are always early. So as we watch several other people get picked up and we wait and wait, our anxiety builds and builds. We ask at the front desk and they phone to see where our driver is. We’re told not to worry; our driver is on his way. Fifteen minutes later, we still have no driver and no one can tell us when he is coming. Our concern is that we have been missed in the planning and whether our driver on the Zambia side will now actually be there.
However, our concerns were for not as our very apologetic driver shows up claiming that the customs office was very busy and the people he had to pick up first were delayed. He radios his dispatch to ensure our Zambia driver is waiting on the other side and off we go. Long story short, there are no problems at either border, our driver is waiting for us and after purchasing a few trinkets and things from the street vendors on the Zambia border, we are off to the Livingstone airport.
The very small airport is clearly not well equipped for the departure of the 737 British Airways flight and we barely get through security and our flight is being called. However, it is a smooth flight to Johannesburg where we will have to wait some 6 hours before our next flight. The Jo’burg airport is a wonderful facility, very modern, clean and passenger friendly with lots of shops. This is appealing because we have had severe weight and luggage restrictions on our intra Africa flights meaning we could not buy much along the way. We purchased a few souvenirs and headed for the British Airways lounge.
We are flying First Class on British Airways (BA) from Jo’burg to Toronto via London. This was accomplished by converting some of our Avion points to BA points several months ago when they had a promotion on giving us 1.5 BA points for every 1 Avion point. So, this allowed us to book in First Class for the roughly the same amount of points it would normally have cost for economy…it was a great deal. This allows us access to their lounges, fast track through security avoiding all the line ups and we board first…very spoiled.
The wait in Jo’burg goes quickly and we board our BA 747. Wow, the first class cabin is very nice with wonderful, comfortable lay flat beds. The service is fantastic as they offer great onboard services like an upscale wine list, fabulous menu and get this, duvet service. When we are ready to sleep, they come with pajamas for us and “make or bed” with a pad on the seat and these very soft and comfortable duvet’s. Talk about spoiled…really the best flights we have ever been on.
The 10 hour flight goes quickly and I actually slept 5 – 6 hours. I had forgotten how much I like the 747. It has been quite a while since we flew on one. Arrival in London is very smooth and because we are in First Class, we are invited to go the BA Concorde Room, exclusively for their First Class passengers. The best airline lounge we have ever experienced. A full and complimentary bar service, a restaurant, shower facilities, massage and spa and even cabana’s (unfortunately you have to book these well in advance and we were not able to use one.)
We have nine hours in London but that goes by quickly as we enjoy the restaurant for both breakfast and lunch, have our complimentary 15 minute massage, have a shower and lose ourselves in our books. Next stop…Toronto.
We enjoy another great flight to Canada. We thought we would be bagged after the long trip from Botswana to Canada, so we decided to overnight in Toronto and for convenience, stayed at the Sheraton right at the airport. Great to be back in Canada but a bit shocking with our bill for breakfast…30 bucks and we split the Eggs Benedict…yikes. Anyway, a relatively short flight and we are finally home and even though we had an amazing Africa Adventure, as Dorothy
said…”there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”.
For those that have been following our blog, thanks for sharing in our adventure!