Cape Town: Getting There
I went to Cape Town early April. The reason was to run my first 21km and get a little vacation time. I ended up getting a ride from Swaziland to Nelspruit from a friend and then hopped onto a khumbi to Johannesburg. I had been advised to go to a grocery store and get some food for the ride but standing some 15 people from the front of a line to use the parcel counter did not fit into my sched.
As it was, I just managed to get the last seat on a sprinter bus to Johannesburg. I shelled out the cash and we were off. It went really well and I was even able to get some shut eye until we got into Jo’burg. Then there was an explosion. The kid next to me had a 2L orange soda which he had been sipping. I don’t know how but as we were driving around, in what seemed like a circular route, his bottle top shot off and orange pop sprayed all over as the bottle tipped and rolled around. I quickly reached down and somehow found the cap and twisted it on. Both my bags were among the casualties and I noticed that everyone now had their luggage on their laps. Yay.
Not going to lie, I felt scared at the bus rank. Not necessarily scared for my life or anything just that I felt that I really did not belong there and that I wanted to get out as soon as possible. I pretty much ran to a neighboring KFC and hid in there while I tried to figure out where to go without having to pay someone to show me. I ended up buying some chicken and hanging with a little sisi and their giant bags of purchases while her mum stood in line for their food. For some reason I had believed I needed a 5-piece and a side of fries. After eating a few I realized that my stomach had no business trying to finish it and gave the rest to the little girl. You can do that here. It was good to make a friend. I was pretty uneasy in this bus rank.
I wandered, though tried to make it look like I knew exactly where I was going, through the bus terminal in search of a bathroom. Found one and but it was closed. Walked hurriedly to the opposite end and found another. Closed. Finally I asked one of the 10000 security persons in sight and she pointed me to the one and only open men’s restroom. It was a terrible experience and I would suggest not relying on public restrooms in the Jo’burg bus terminal. No tp, no toilet seat, floor was covered in…stuff. Good thing I had brought travel wipes and strong quads.
During my random roamings in a quest for the facilities I found the Intercape terminal where I would depart. I had over an hour before I would need to get in line so I sat down on the immaculate floor (seriously there were always at least 3 people in sight who were cleaning the floors at any given moment) and read a little. At 5:15 I got up and walked to the line which had already formed at the gate. For some reason we remained there for nearly an hour and a half. It was strange. I was the only one who was not getting upset about what was happening. During a discussion with another passenger I mentioned that I was traveling from Swaziland and that I considered this to be quite normal. Many thers started chain smoking as soon as we got out the door.
The bus was pretty nice. It was a double decker and the seats were able to open up an advertised 150 degrees! I sat down, passed out, and didn’t leave my seat for the first 16 of a total 20 hours. I felt kinda bad about that because after I had boarded, the lady next to me said she would be right back. I figured she was using the onboard facilities but when I woke up later she wasn’t there. After our first stop she came back to her seat. I asked her if she had changed seats, though she had left her bags, and she said that she had gone inside the terminal and when she came back the bus was gone. Luckily there were two.
I originally booked the bus because I figured it would be cool to see the SA countryside since I would be crossing so much of the country. Around 11am the next day, and a little after 16 hours of sitting in my seat, I woke up as we pulled in for a pit stop. So much for seeing the countryside. Actually, the ride reminded me a lot of riding through the central Midwest. In other words, not too interesting. A couple hours out of Cape Town became more interesting. We hit some mountains and in a valley there was a bit of wine country. There was even a really long tunnel thrown in there. Fun stuff.
Cape Town is pretty big. It took quite a while to get through it to the terminal. It felt pretty weird to see all the businesses, hotels, and touristy sites along the way. We arrived around 3pm and the place was packed. One thing I noticed was all the White people. That may not be the most politically correct thing to say but it is true and part of a different discussion.
If you stay in Cape Town and you do not have a lot of money, around 20USD will get you a bed at The Backpack. Go there, it’s GREAT