Category Archives: Johannesburg

Heading West and By the Numbers

A four hour train ride took us from Pamplona to Madrid.  We got lost in the mesmerizing landscape grinning every time a small village with white stone buildings entered the scene.  Lush were the hillsides and fields of agriculture.

We walked by the Atocha Station a couple of times while in Madrid but discovered a lush garden inside after departing the train.It was an easy listless day – train and then a taxi to the hotel near the airport for our flight back to the USA the following morning.

It was an eight and a half hour flight to Newark where we were to have a quick layover and be one our way to Charlotte.  Upon landing lightening crashed in around us and the plane stood still on the tarmac as the airport closed.  An omen.  A half hour later the plane was cleared to head to the gate.

Unbeknownst to us the airline industry and particularly United was in melt down mode.  It was utter chaos. Cancelled flights and stranded people.  Our connecting flight to Charlotte a victim.

It was 5:00 pm.  A United agent told us it would be days before any  seats would be available. “Check online.” The internet confirmed the worst.

We had places to be!  The following day was our grandson’s first birthday and our son had taken time off of work – we didn’t have days…. who has days???

Quick change of plans – we rented a car and headed to Charlotte driving until dark.  It was 1:30 am Madrid time by the time we stopped for the night somewhere in Maryland.

We arrived at our destination 21 hours late but in time to celebrate.

We visited family, broke bread, raced cars and played with our grand babies. 

United continued its melt down and we feared we’d not make it home to Nevada as scheduled.  It all worked out – both flights harmoniously were delayed and we made it home.Now we shift through months of mail, dust off the house and get ready for summer.  We head out again in 8 days.

Our trip by the numbers:

13 flights, 1 cruise ship, a few boat rides, multiple trains, lots of car rides,  one tram – 34 beds and 18 Countries: South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, French Comoros, Seychelles, Omán, EAU, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Spain.

I wore everything that I packed, left one shirt (on purpose) and threw out 2 that I ruined.  I way overpacked even though we just had carry on.  Another lesson learned (again).  Way less is even more!

Thanks for following along!


Sawubona from Johannesburg

It was a balmy 83 degrees when we landed. Paradise.

The evening brought a stunning show of thunder, lightning and heavy rains.

Delta Airlines out of Atlanta got us to Johannesburg in 15 hours. It was our first lengthy international flight on a domestic carrier. We were pleased.

The drive from the airport to the hotel was lined with big beautiful homes behind tall concrete fences with 18” of electrical wiring at the top.

Unbeknownst to us our hotel was located in Melrose Arch – a new walkable urban development that has hotels, shops, restaurants/bars and condo living. It’s all completely fenced with lots of security guards wandering about. It didn’t feel like the “real” Johannesburg but allowed us to walk around feeling safer.  We ventured out to explore during the day.

Unfortunately my camera stayed in the hotel room as we explored the city. I got disciplined twice by a hotel worker in Rosebank for having my cellphone out. The second warning came with his head turning tisk tisk for being so careless. Clearly he didn’t understand that I needed to use Uber.

Like all big cities around the world Johannesburg aka Joburg, Jozi and the City of Gold is bustling. Sidewalks are lined with people on the move and gridlock traffic is a nuisance.

It’s a new city – started only a 137 years ago by the discovery of gold. Once the top gold producer in the world and currently it holds the honor of having the deepest gold mine extending 2.5 miles underground. Some sister love to our home state of Nevada which produces 78% of all gold mined in the United States.

Joburg also has the honor of having the largest “urban” man made forest in the world with over 10 million trees! It’s remarkable.

Strange are the number of abandoned buildings. We were told that redevelopment plans were halted by covid but it looks like any hope of anything stopped long ago.

Mostly abandoned buildings.

Nelson Mandela is revered by the world but his presence here was palpable. We toured his home in Soweto. Bullet holes pock mark the siding and the remants of an interior wall built by Winnie to shield their children speak of the dangerous time.

There is so much to learn and absorb in this place so terribly victimized by apartheid, poverty and crime. It is all very heart wrenching.

Exploring lends to curiosity, which lends to investigating, which lends to learning, which broadens my knowledge.

The privilege of meeting locals makes it all so worthwhile.