Travel Diary, January 14th-21st

First of all, let me apologize for not updating my diary in the past week. I have been very busy planning my upcoming trips and still am. Below is my diary of the past week.

January 14th

To my luck, Matemwe had a car going back to the airport and they were kind enough to drop me off at Stonetown, fromwhere I could catch a bus going to The Palms. The bus ride was quite comfortable by African standards and was priced at only 2,000TZS or 1,2 American dollars. The bus passed right through The Palms and I couldn’t be more happy. A taxi from Stonetown would easily have cost me $40 dollars or €55 euros with a hotel car. Lucky me. The Palms is a beautiful 6-room property with personalized service, local themed villas and a great beach. All guests are on all-inclusive (picture) and it was great to experience again. Last time, I was on all-inclusive was in the Maldives last summer. As there was nothing to experience in the area, I spend the day relaxing, eating and planning my travels.

January 15th

Enjoyed The Palms, had a great breakfast and lunch before having a site inspection at their sister resort, Breezes. I was the only guest at The Palm when I checked out and it was nice to have the beach all to myself (picture) I took the bus back to Stonetown and walked for 20 minutes, before I found my hotel, Kisiwa House. Its a nice authentic hotel with a 5 star rating and very different from Zanzibar’s beach resorts.

January 16th

I experienced Stonetown in the morning, before finding a 300 TZS(0,186 American dollars)-bus to the airport. Stonetown (picture) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and certainly worth a visit on a day trip from your beach holiday in Zanzibar. I arrived in Dar es Salaam, walked 3 kilometres to the main road, found a bus into the city, fromwhere I walked another 2 kilometres to The Serena Hotel. I am a big  fan of Serena hotels, having stayed with them in Kabul, Kampala (both properties), Kigali and Nairobi in the past. I also  stayed in their Rwandan resort near the DRC border last year. I experienced a bit of Dar es Salaam, before planning my trips  further. It ended up being a bit difficult as the internet – to my surprise – was really slow at The Serena. A business hotel must have fast internet, but this is Africa and its really hit and miss.

January 17th

The day started with an impressive breakfast buffet and travel planning before exploring more of Dar es Salaam. I lost track of time, couldn’t find the airport bus and certainly got worried if I could make it in time for check-in. I had no choice, but to negotiate a ride with a tuk tuk-driver very quickly. 10.000 TZS (6,19 dollars), I could probably have done it cheaper, but I was in quite a rush. I made it in time for checkin and I was on the way to Johannesburg with my sponsor Fastjet (picture).

The flight did not feel like a budget airline as the comfort was great and I hope Fastjet will be a big succes, so that more travellers can experience more of Africa. Immigration in Johannesburg was super easy as always. 10 seconds, a stamp and I’m in. I did not even need to fill an immigration form. African Rock Hotel picked me up and 15 minutes later I arrived at their beautiful property to a warm welcome. I experienced their property and did my daily travel planning before having a good dinner at their property.

January 18th

The GM of African Rock Hotel took me to 54 on Bath (picture), a stunning property, formerly known as Grace in Rosebank. The Rosebank location is safe and I enjoying the atmosphere, which was a bit like Sandton or even Cape Town. Johannesburg can be quite safe, as long as you know where to go. I meet a few locals and had a great time.

January 19th

I met up with a friend of mine, I knew from Cape Town, 3 years ago. We had a good breakfast at 54 on Bath, before exploring Johannesburg by car. We went to a local food market in Central Johannesburg, Top of Africa (picture) (tallest building in Africa) with great views and the casino at South Africas largest theme park, as he is quite a gambler. I don’t gamble anymore as I simply can’t afford it, if I have to complete this project without too much debt. We also went to Sandton for lunch and I feel very lucky having good friends all over the world. The afternoon ended with a drop off at Ashdown House, a small 5 star property in a quiet residential area.

January 20th

The breakast at Ashdown was simple, but very good. I did my travel planning in the morning, before heading out on a real adventure. I was trying to find a bus going to Sandton, fromwhere I could walk 4 kilometres to The Saxon (picture), one of the worlds finest hotels.

The problem was, there was no buses, no taxis. You would have to call for one, but that would cost at least 25 dollars, more than twice my daily travel budget. Instead, I asked lots of locals what to do, but no one was going to Sandton. Instead I asked if I could hitchhike. To my surprise, people told me it was quite safe so I decided to give it a try. The first car, a while woman in her 40s, stopped and took me to the nearest town. From here, I catched a bus going into Sandton. The bus driver knew Saxon to my surprise and I went off the bus just outside Sandton fromwhere I planned to walk to The Saxon. I couldn’t really find it and many locals didn’t knew exactly where it was. It was pretty hard to explain as it was in a quite residential area. I walked though two gates and tried to stop a car to ask for directions. A friendly local told me, he was going though The Saxon and I was welcome to go with him. In this project, he had a good 5 minute conversation about South Africa and his work as a teacher before I was dropped at The Saxon.

The arrival experience was awesome. They pick you up in at the main gate, before you arrive to a warm welcome. It is without a doubt a world class hotel and one of the world’s bests, but you pay for it. Rates here stats at $1.000 dollars pr. night. If you have the money, don’t hesitate and if you don’t, consider saving up. I spend the rest of the day exploring the property with all its beautiful art work and gardens. Finally, I went to their beautiful spa to relax as its complimentary for all guests to use the facilities, but I was the only one there.

January 21st

This day started really terribly. The night butler at Saxon woke me up at 05:30 as he by mistake tried to enter my room. I woke up, called the reception and they deeply apologized for the mistake. I went back to sleep and at 07:40, the exact same thing happened again. Again, was the room mistaken. This is one of the best hotels in the world, but really annoying mistakes. It was time for me to get up and do the daily work.

Following the travel planning, I probably had the best breakfast I’ve ever had (picture). Saxon does everything over the top. Oysters, champagne, sushi, anything you can think of and its all included in their room rates. An impressive way to end a great stay. I checked out of the hotel and Saxon took me to the Gautrain, which is for sure the most luxurious train for public transport in Africa.

I went to Midrand Station, fromwhere Tintswalo at Waterfall Hotel picked me up. After a short ride, I arrived at this beautiful property with a unique design. I really like it. I spend the afternoon exploring the property, did my travel work before going out in the evening. I walked 2 kilometres to a nearby shopping center, got a $2 dollar pizza (as dinner wasn’t included at Tintswalo) and walked back again. South Africa is the only country in the world, where I can have a great pizza for $2 dollars and I can highly recommend Romans- and Debonairs Pizza.

January 22nd

Just woke up, had breakfast (picture) and updated my diary for my readers. Now, looking into todays challenges. I apologize for any errors. I write my diary quite fast without editing. There simply isn’t enough time in my schedule to do that.