The Start of Our Adventure

Today, we embark on our great adventure to parts unknown. I have been having a lot of anxiety over this trip since the plans have changed so often. It is really costing us much more than we had anticipated since we originally bought airline tickets to Johannesburg and returning from Cape Town. The additional airline tickets were not in the plan. The bright side is that when booked tour was cancelled, we received almost $2,000 in refund from Go2Africa for the second trip we booked to replace it. That was a pleasant surprise. Gellé our agent at Go2Africa has been great all along, answering innumerable questions as they come up and sometimes a list of ten at a time. She has been so very patient with us while assuring us we will have a splendid time. We are hoping to get together for a coffee when we return to Cape Town. Caring $1,700 in cash is giving me heart palpitations, but we need to give $350 each to the tour guide as land usage fees for Botswana. The rest is back-up if we don’t find bank machines along the way. The wad of bills is so thick it will barely fit in the money pocket I bought and it is too bulky to keep inside my pants as intended. I would look like I had a tumor. The bills had to be smaller than 100s, but I had misread the note and thought they had to be smaller than 50s. They also have to be issued after 1996 so they have the large heads of the presidents on them. Getting these here in Budapest has been a challenge, but we did it. Why they will not accept Euros is anyone’s guess. Gellé was not sure, but knew they would not. We received taxi vouchers from Chris and Mark for Christmas, so we don’t have to take the shuttle to the airport. The taxi has been sitting outside waiting for us patiently, though early, we rush to let the driver know we do want to make this trip. Checklist: Passports? Check!, E-Tickets? Check!, Vouchers for the trip? Check! Small, soft sided luggage under 20 kgs restricted by the tour company? Check! Cash? Check! Pills for anxiety for carrying so much cash? Opps! Forgot that.
With more than two hours before the flight, we are now at the airport. It is the usual hurry up and wait syndrome of flying these days. There was no line at check-in; we were the first. It was the same with Passport Control, almost having to wake the officer to check our passport. Security was empty; no questions about liquids in our hand luggage, just waving us through without removing my laptop from the bag. The waiting area is deserted, not a soul around. until finally we found at least one. This is an airport, isn’t it? The plane should be quite empty if this is any indication. We were the only patrons at the airport restaurant. Like a sunrise, slowly appearing on the horizon, the lobby unhurriedly turned into the bustle of a busy day. So much for the thoughts of empty seats on the plane for a good stretch. The flight on Lufthansa from Budapest to Frankfurt was uneventful, but it was only an hour and 10 minutes. Surprisingly for such a short flight, they had a snack service and two drink services. We bee lined to the Diners Club lounge once in Frankfurt, only a “10” minute walk, but in reality, more like 20 when uncertain about knowing where you are going. We had to buzz to get in and it took some time for the attendant to work herself to the door to let us in. It is a no smoking lounge so we had to go outside to the smoking area buzzing to get in and out each time. This annoyed the attendant, but we were the only ones there, so she could put forth some effort. We only had about 40 minutes before our next flight. The plane from Frankfurt to Johannesburg was a 3-4-3 configuration. We had seats at number 46 on the right side of a very full plane. There was only one monitor in each aisle, none overhead or on the seatbacks making it difficult to see. For those further back, it would be impossible to see the screens. The movies were Flicker and You, Me and Dupree, neither worth staying awake for. I slept most of the flight, awakened only by meals and drink services. We had flown Lufthansa in the past and were very impressed with the service, but this did not add to their reputation. It seems to have been greatly reduced since our last experience. This flight is 10 hours plus. I should have taken a sleeping pill, but was concerned about being groggy when we landed.