Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our 4-Day Journey to Africa

Days 1-2

Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011
Leaving Arlington, VA, headed toward Dulles airport

We flew Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Atlanta (ATL) to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB) and then a 35 min. hop, skip and jump to Gaborone, Botswana (GBE).

It was supposed to be a three-day journey:

Day 1: leave Dulles around 4:00 p.m., take a 7:00 p.m. 15-hr. overnight (and day) flight out of Atlanta to Johannesburg
Day 2: Spend a day in Johannesburg as a "rest stop"
Day 3: Take an 11:00 a.m. short flight from Johannesburg to Gaborone

Instead, it was:

Day 1: leave Dulles on a nearly 1-hour late flight, miss our flight in Atlanta
Day 2: Hang out all day in Atlanta, take the 7:00 p.m. flight to Johannesburg
Day 3: 15 hours in the air, crossing 7 time zones; arrive in Johannesburg in the evening, spend the night
Day 4: take the 11:00 a.m. short flight to Gaborone

And this is completely omitting the 2-hr. struggle I had at Dulles with the Delta ticket agents and two Delta managers just to check in at Dulles! I don't even want to talk about it right now, my blood pressure is rising thinking about it.


Luckily my mom was there to play with baby Nile while I dealt with Delta.


My parents volunteer with Travelers Aid at Dulles Airport, which provides them with employee badges -- which means they can come all the way through to the gate with us!


So after leaving Dulles on Day 1 on a flight that departed nearly an hour late; we RAN to the gate in Atlanta, only to find that our enormous plane -- the one flight a day out of Atlanta to Johannesburg -- had closed the doors but hadn't yet left the gate and was sitting there, mocking us.

Very frustrating.

Since the delay and subsequent missed flight were Delta's fault, they put us up for the night in a hotel. And then we had the whole day, until 7:00 p.m., in Atlanta. Luckily some friends of ours had told us that if we ever had time in Atlanta, we should hit up the aquarium. So we did!

This is how they wave in Atlanta, Georgia!
Yes, it may look very similar to how people wave all around the world, but don't be fooled.

The bun on top of my head is pointing to the barely legible red letters "CNN" on the building behind me. I reeeeeaaaalllly wanted to go there for the tour, but the aquarium was awesome and we ran out of time.

At the right of the picture is the Coke museum, at the left out of the frame is the aquarium, behind us is a tent hosting Peter Pan the musical and in front of us across the street is the CNN headquarters. Pretty cool block!

The World of Coca Cola behind us -- you can kind of see the giant green-glass colored Coke bottle in the tower by my forehead and the large cursive letters on the building by Neil's head.

I drank a Coke in tribute!

The aquarium was incredible.

They have FOUR whale sharks and manta rays in a tank the length of a football field, a "6.3 million gallon exhibit, the largest aquarium habitat in the world".


How did they get the whale sharks to Atlanta from Taiwan? UPS!







It proved to be too much excitement for Nile. Or maybe it's just so soothing watching fish swimming around?

This thing was one of the most beautiful things I've seen. The colors in the picture are exactly how it looked in real life. It was in a little aquarium with a circular "frame" around it, and it was just standing in the middle like this, looking very artistic:




After the aquarium we headed to the airport, this time with much more time to spare. According to the flight attendants the plane was unusually empty, so we had six seats to ourselves! Nile in her seat prior to takeoff.

Once we were in the air it was great to give Nile three seats to herself to sleep across. The plane's seat configuration was 3-3-3, and the folks in both rows you can see here beyond Nile (yes, those lumps under blankets!) had their three seats all to themselves, too. The plane was full of people sleeping like that; we were all really lucky to have so much room.

On our individual TVs there were SO many choices of shows and movies in every genre you can think of. I know this sounds crazy, but between watching a few movies and TV shows and sleeping, 15 hours passed REALLY quickly. And even more crazy is that when Neil and I were comparing what we watched, we both felt like there were shows and movies that we wanted to watch, but we ran out of time haha!

I had to get a picture with the Snuggie, a travel gift from Neil's friend, Jesse.

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