Joburg, City of Gold and Diamonds

We flew one of the best airlines to Johannesburg.  The routing is a bit longer but the experience is so well worth it.  Some flew from Chicago, some from San Francisco, some economy, some Business Class but whatever the case, they all enjoyed the experience. Flying on  Emirates’ A-380 is one experience not to miss.

Our flight landed at 5:10am and as we walked off the plane there was an airport rep with a KATTRAX GROUP sign.  Our group had airside “meet and greet”.  The rep ushered us through Immigration, stayed with us to collect all luggage and handed us off to our guide, Joe Motsogi who was patiently waiting for us in the arrivals hall.  Joe has been my Joburg guide for several years.  He is a soft spoken, very knowledgeable, most humble gentleman who was part of the peaceful protest in Soweto back in 1976 when the racist police opened fire on the young students. Killing, injuring, abducting and even burying some alive.  Every time I think about the cruelty I get emotional

Most hotels don’t start check ins until 3p but we had favor this day.  Before 830a we were all in our rooms at the fabulous 5 star Michelangelo.  This is my 11 straight year coming to South Africa and The Michelangelo has always been my hotel.  It’s the perfect location; adjacent to Nelson Mandela Square and one of the largest malls, Sandton City.  It is truly a city within a city where high end shops abound as well as restaurants with fine dining.  Our welcome dinner was at Pigalle –   A 5 minute walk from the hotel within the mall.  All wines and the menu selections were selected by yours truly.  There was a choice of a  huge seafood platter filled with giant Mozambique prawns and other goodies, or duck with orange sauce, or salmon teriyaki or beef filet.  The amuse bouche, the appetizers and the decadent desserts were all on point.

The next morning we were picked up for our city tour, a stop by President Mandela’s home, then on to Soweto, the very emotional Apartheid Museum, the famous Vilikazi Street where the 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu once lived.  Our lunch was in a private room at Sukhumzi, also on Vilikazi Street and just for our group we were treated to a tribal performance of singing and dancing.

Since last year, I’ve been thinking about Wangthai Restaurant and their succulent grilled KingKlip fish with the spicy cilantro sauce so that’s where my second dining experience would be.  I was joined by Deborah, Sonya and Gloria. I can’t speak for them but I was quite satisfied,  Several others took a taxi to Moyo’s in the Melrose Arch. It’s a 7 level restaurant where all kinds of fun things pop off — face painting, cigar Lounge, and music to name a few.

Today, our last day would be spent at LESEDI CULTURAL VILLAGE.  I will be certain to share some of their photos later.   I stayed behind, took a private car to Harley Davidson for DeeDee,  picked up a few things for the kids at nearby store and do what I do…. work on future travel.  So far so good… the group loves the  Michelangelo and they are blown away by the bountiful breakfast. Just wait til they get to Cape Town at The Table Bay Hotel where they have over 243 items on the breakfast buffet. They will be totally blown away.   In the past,  the fabulous Table Bay hotel has been home to our beloved Barack Obama, Michael Jackson and Mary J.  It’s straight fabulosity, also adjacent to one of the largest malls at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

Early tomorrow morning we fly 1 hr to Hoedsprit to be guests at Thornybush Game Lodge for 2 nights, 3 days where we will search for The Big Five at KRUGER. Because of this flight , the group was cautioned on the 44 lb baggage limit and 1 carry on 11 lbs.  This group wins the prize!  There are 32 in the group and This is the first time all were in compliance.  They listened, they showed up and they showed out —– some with weights of 26 lbs.  Husbands were giving me props for instructing their wives on what they did not need to pack.  As Gwen Tabb of Michigan said, “Kat you put it where the goats could get it”.  Yes….. it’s a great group.

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