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Day 2 : Saturday 4th December 2004

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Johannesburg

I arrived at about 10am in Cape Town, and would obviously miss my 10am departure to Johannesburg. One of the reasons I had booked the internal flights with BA was precisely for this reason, so that if I was delayed, I could expect a more sympathetic hearing (I had booked restricted tickets and they were on a different itinerary from the London flights.

At CPT you have to pick up your luggage and clear immigration and customs before you can make an internal connection. Indeed, you have to walk over to the Domestic terminal, although this is only a 5 min walk. As I had missed my connection, due to the late incoming flight from London, I approached the ticket desk.

BA6436 Cape Town Intl (CPT) - Johannesburg Intl (JNB)

Outside my friends were waiting and we set off to see their new house in my friend’s brand new Mazda coupe (very nice!). Although I had just had a long flight and a connection, I felt reasonably fresh, mainly I think due to the lack of time difference (+2 hours is nothing really) and the fact that I slept so well on the London – Cape Town leg. My friends had bought some typically South African meat products, some Biltong, which is a dry cured beef and some Boerewors, which is dry cured sausage. Both are very cheap and extremely tasty , I’m sure you can buy them in London, but I don’t know where (if you know, please let me know!).

My friends have just bought a lovely house in the Melville area of Johannesburg. As we drove there from the airport, it was interesting to note the houses with their relatively extreme (by Western standards) security measures. Almost every house was like a mini-fortress with high walls, barbed wire, electric fences and locked gates. As my friends explained, this was typical of Johannesburg and quite necessary, they had had one of their cars stolen not 2 months prior to my visit .

After arriving at their house, dumping my stuff and freshening up, we had a quick bite to eat and then ventured out to Nelson Mandela Square (formerly Sandton Square), basically one of the new large shopping centres that dominates the Sandton area. Once I arrived at the square, it quickly became obvious why it had been renamed, as at one end of the square there was a frankly ridiculously sized statue of Nelson Mandela (see below). It looked quite bizarre. The shopping centre was as interesting as shopping centres get, but I was glad to just relax and get acclimatised to being in a new country, in fact a new continent for me (this was my first time in Africa).

We then drove out of Sandton and located a pub near to Melville where we could watch a bit of rugby (Ba-Ba’s v New Zealand) and catch up further with my friends over a few beers. As we returned to the car, I had my first true experience of what life is like in Africa. A street guy approached us and asked for some money for “watching” (i.e. protecting) our car. At first I thought I had been magically transported to Liverpool, but I was quite surprised when my friends pulled out R5 and paid the guy. Apparently this type of thing is entirely common and accepted part of life, and the guys do actually watch your car – they know that they won’t get paid if anything happens to it!

We went out for a lovely evening meal at a local Steakhouse – I was very keen to try some proper South African steaks and I was not disappointed, they were delicious! After that we headed home for a fairly early night, as all the travelling eventually got the better of me and we had a relatively early start the next morning.