There’s not much wrong with calling Cape Town home – except trying to travel – maybe there’s a message in that! Whenever we find an exotic destination, the handbrake is always that we have to travel VIA somewhere… often Joburg, sometimes the middle east hubs of Doha or Dubai – always feels like a irritating and unnecessary extra step in an already long journey…
2 new options – both of which we will try this year – lets see if Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines) or Luanda (Air Angola) helps to make the journeys easier – perhaps quicker AND cheaper – bringing more welcome visitors to the Cape.
As we strolled down the sky bridge – there was something exotic and reassuring about “Mother Teresa Dreamliner” and the beautiful indecipherable script that gave it it’s name in Ethiopian. The boarding staff at the gate were dressed in traditional kit and we were welcomed to a very empty and quiet cabin – it was great for us but we hope that in time it will get busier to make this route worth while.
If you don’t turn left toward Business and First Class (and we don’t) – long distance travel is seldom fun! Ethiopian is clean, comfortable and friendly. An added benefit is that Addis Ababa (pronounced something like “Uddis-ububbu” by the man who does the messages on board – quite exotic sounding) – is not as far north or east as the middle east hubs – making for 2 x 7 hr journeys with only 3 hrs in between to get to London… or many, many other destination around Europe, North America and the East!
Another tiny thing that made us smile – the food looked “industrial” at best – OK – standard airline meal… but when we asked if there was perhaps some cheese and wine… we were each brought a little platter of biscuits, cream cheeses and a little dinky of wine. There even remembered a knife and serviette on a little plate – not gourmet but adequate as a snack!
To be honest, it feels like the very efficient airline has outgrown it’s “mother hub”. The airport was crowded, queues impossibly slow, food places full … but hey, traveling at the back of the bus was never meant to be romantic – sometimes the hard work getting there makes the “getting there” more special? People on the plane with us from CT were headed for Brussels, Oslo and beyond – all finding this new hub a quick and easy option.
Loved the little food market at the airport where I picked up some of the legendary Ethiopian coffee grounds – well grounded it seems – like we were!
The route onward to London was very full – again confirming how this is now becoming a major hub. Our empty flight filled with people from around the world – some who had been visiting Africa – others just passing through.
The one great thing an airline is able to offer to a country is new foot traffic – having never thought of visiting the ancient Christian Coptic Crypts or the Simien Mountains to trek to find the monkeys and other exotic wildlife… suddenly it may be on our “to do” list. Also quite keen to go snorkeling off the coast of Eritrea – also a mere hop from Addis.
Last huge added bonus – apart from the 2 easy 7 hr flights, making “time” a win – was the price – pretty much a bargain – around R9000 each – all in! And… forgive us our Johannesburg friends – but it kind of means that Cape Town is a direct hop to more places and we can save going to Jbg for work and not fun!