Today we woke to a beautiful sunrise on our last day in South Africa.
We ate yet another delicious breakfast outside by the pool before finishing our packing and getting ready to leave. Checkout was at 12 and our flight was at 2.50pm so we left at about 11.30
We got to the airport and left the car at the rental drop-off within about half an hour. We had a little white Hyundai i20 which was a lovely car. Not much power up hills but really comfortable, easy to drive, and a hard little worker.
After that we checked in quickly and had plenty of time to have coffee and a wander around beforehand. Cape Town International airport is tiny compared to OR Tambo International in Johannesburg but it is the third busiest airport in Africa, after OR Tambo and Cairo International. I bought some South African magazines and gifts to use up the last of my change, and we boarded at about 2.30pm.
The flight was long (about 6.5 hours) and economy is always a tight squeeze, but the plane was only about one-third full so we had an empty seat in our row we could put our things on, which was nice. I read my magazines and watched Tomb Raider.
When we arrived at Bole Internationally Airport in Ethiopia we had about an hour. I went wandering around the shops which are always endlessly interesting – second hand shoes, sofas, huge bottles of booze, blankets, Vaseline and cotton buds. They had some leather bags of amazing quality and at very low prices, as well as gorgeous sterling silver rings.
Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has never been colonised, it has its own calendar (the days start at 6am), the alphabet is Amharic and the currency is Birr so unless the shop owners at the airport speak some English and give prices in dollars, there is a lot of guesswork involved.
Our flight was a late one – 11.50pm – and we had already spent more than 6 hours on a plane, so we waited in the lounge as long as possible.
When we finally presented at the gate we were almost the last passengers and they asked for both our tickets before fiddling on the computer for ages. I said to my partner that they had probably overbooked and were going to ask us to wait until tomorrow. In the end I asked if there was a problem. Guess what they said?
‘No, not a problem. We are upgrading you to business class’. We both started jumping around and hugging, delighted we would not be spending the next 7 hours cramped like cattle in economy.
Oh it was wonderful. Champagne, hot towels, beds you could lay down on, lovely blankets, china and silverware, little toiletry packs, huge screens, printed menus, a long wine list, free magazines, …the list is endless. I would normally have gone to sleep as soon as I got on the plane to escape the torture that is cattle class – sorry, economy class. Today I stayed awake as long as I could to enjoy every moment then slept so deeply that no one could wake me for breakfast. I opened my eyes as they told us to put our seats upright for landing.
This was the best ending to a holiday ever. And as holidays go, it was amazing!