Feeling a little Hogwarts-y right now.
I’m taking the Premiere Class train to Johannesburg, which must be either somewhat new or really poorly advertised because I have to keep explaining to everyone that, no, it isn’t the fancy Blue Line train but yes, it’s plenty safe and a little bit fancy. At this point in the conversation South Africans look skeptical and let the conversation die, (as they assume I am going to); tourists just look confused.
Premier Classe train: runs once a week between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Is an “all-inclusive sleeper train”: all your food and drink are included, not alcohol, and you’re in a cabin with its own little bed, and sink and window. At each station you’re in your own lounge for waiting, and they treat you a bit like royalty. The trip takes a little over 24hrs and costs 312CAD. More expensive than a flight, but also more of an experience. And, if you were staying in hotels that cost 100+CAD a night then it might not be cheaper than a flight, if you factor in one night’s accommodation and meals.
Booking a ticket isn’t the EASIEST, but it’s entirely doable with a little perseverance. Use the African Sun Travel website, and jump through a bunch of forms and several emails later you will find yourself down R3120 and up one train voucher.
Speaking of, there are a few websites I use repeatedly while travelling:
– everything you ever wanted to know about taking any train anywhere, logistics and safety commentary
– every possible way how to get from one place to another, has only let me down on my most obscure queries
– Nicole tipped me off about this one, it is excellent, both in ease of use, reliability and functionality. Offline searching for restaurants! Bus stations! With reviews! Not your Grandma’s mapping app, that’s for sure.
In addition to these staples, once I have a skeleton of a plan, I wander around cameo websites from google, and of course visit with the people around me, to flesh out my ideas.
First day was lovely, has inspired me to investigate multi-day train trips around the world.
Second day was a show. A very bad show. The wire that gives the train power was stolen about four hours out of Johannesburg, there was a mix up (the people involved just didn’t care is what) between the cable repair people and the Diesel engine that had been sent to drag us to a functioning part of the track and so they needed to transport us by van to Johannesburg. It was done slowly, haphazardly, poorly. I ended up spending five hours in the back of a van with no aircon, watching my driver dick around on his phone. Irritating to say the least. Oh, and just we arrived the fuel line burst open and poured gasoline all over the cement. All in all, not worth the 312CAD spent.
Highlight: I met the woman, Meghan, from Victoria Falls for supper. Well, she picked me up from Johannesburg Train Station, (she is a Saint), and took me to Pretoria and we went out of supper. We went to a DELICIOUS *triple underline* Italian restaurant called Alfie’s. There are not words for how good this pasta was. Highly recommend.