Cape Town Bound │ Traveling Separately
Our recent trip down to Cape Town was nothing short of A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! We have tons of fun stories to share with you – but as you know, blogging has been slllllloooow lately. This week we will be posting a few Cape Town adventures, and next week we will return to the New Zealand posts. Instead of trying to work through it all at once, I have found that alternating on a weekly basis will probably be less confusing (for me). Since we are done blogging through all of the incredible 15 country Europe Road Trip, we will be focusing on New Zealand and South Africa until our next trip. Next up we will be heading to the Philippines for a warm winter break. Hopefully by then, we will have all of stories caught up, but you never know… haha!
Onto the South Africa trip…
This year our summer break was a little different. We were moving from the school that we had been for almost 5 years, to an International School. Due to the difference in vacation timing, Justin had a really short summer this year. The Chinese school ended in the first week of July. In fact, they “surprised us” and let everyone out a week earlier! This may sound like a great surprise, but when you have booked your flights, and you are excited to see family and friends, it is HIGHLY annoying to sit home for an extra week when you could be flying home. Changing flights can be very costly, so the lack of organization in the Chinese school calendar is very frustrating. With the international school, we already had our schedule for the ENTIRE YEAR by July (ie. two months before the school even started).
As you all know, we LOVE summer! Giving up a summer vacation is unheard of for us. For years though, we knew that we would want to spend this summer down in the Southern Hemisphere. I am never able to be with my dad on his birthday, so I wasn’t about to miss his 60th birthday! We waited to surprise him with the news on Skype, and when we did, he was so moved. He will say he didn’t cry, so we will just leave it at that! ?
Justin had to be back in Qingdao before August 1st, for the start of the International School Year. My father’s birthday party was on July 29th. In order to be at the party, and also back in China before the 1st, we had to take a more expensive (ie. shorter route) ticket for Justin. Since El and I were staying an extra two weeks in Cape Town, we didn’t see any point in buying three expensive flights just so that we could fly one way together.
We all left Qingdao on the same day, but Justin left the apartment a few hours before us. He flew via Hong Kong, and we were going to fly via Beijing. We were basically flying, to the same destination, via opposite sides of the globe!
If you follow either/ both of us on Intagram, then you would have seen a whole lot of this…
Very Excited to Get on a Pwane
He has been to 22 countries, but I don’t think I have ever seen him this excited to get on a plane. I think, despite all of the traveling, he is now old enough to understand what is going on. Or perhaps, old enough to appreciate that we are getting onto a massive version of one of this toys!
Such a Good Traveller
This is such a good age for traveling. Eli sat nicely, read books, watched shows, and munched on snacks. He used to want to stand up, and crawl over me, while we flew, but not anymore. Some people were shocked that I was okay traveling alone with him, but honestly, I have done it a number of times now, and it doesn’t bother me at all. The ONLY PROBLEM is that he gets the same baggage allowance as me, but he can’t carry it… so that leaves me having to move baggage for two, plus Eli when he is done walking.
Oh, The Delays!
We have lived in China for a number years now, so we know that delays are almost inevitable. The problem though is that there is ZERO communication during these delays. Justin landed in Hong Kong, and left as planned, but Eli and I got stranded in Beijing for hours and hours. We couldn’t find water – seriously, no drinking water – and we were getting no updates from the airline. Thankfully we were full of patience, and Eli was happy. It really was just a matter of pushing through the wait, and about six hours after we should have left… we were finally in the air.
Of course, I knew that this meant we would probably miss our connecting flight in Johannesburg!
Poor service, crappy handmade signs, and massive delays…
I was really questioning whether the cheaper flights were worth the saving!
Our long flight went well, and Eli slept quite a bit. We were in a row that has two seats on the side panels, so thankfully we were alone in our section of the row. I don’t mind not having extra seats as long as long as I don’t have to sit with my arm up against a stranger for 13 hours.
Catching Another Flight
It was sooooo exiting to touch down in Johannesburg, and because there was a small layover between our second and third flight, I thought perhaps we could make the original last leg. Eli was alseep so I had to carry him and all of our hand luggage – which FYI was WAYYYYY too much for me – but I moved as quickly as my legs would allow.
My baggage was supposed to be checked all the way through to Cape Town, but due to the delays, I had to pick it up. There were, however, no conveyer belts that we could walk on. There was also no Air China counter, and none of the other airlines knew what I was talking about. I ran around for over an hour, trying to figure out what the heck to do next. By then, I realized that I was definitely not making my third flight. The wifi in the airport wasn’t working, so I wasn’t able to contact Justin or my parents. Since they knew about the delay in Beijing, I knew that they would be watching the flights; but how would they know WHICH flight I ended up getting??
The kind man in the about left image helped Eli find our way. He got us through the airline staff security line, and he carried our bags all the way. Honestly, he was like a heaven-sent angel! Even when we got to the gate for the flight Eli and I were put on, he wouldn’t leave our side. As we walked out to the bus, which would take us to the plane, he stood waving goodbye to us.
He’ll probably never know – but he made my heart so happy.
Thank you kind stranger! You were such a help!
Our faces when we realized that we had been put onto the next available domestic flight to Cape Town…
… And Justin’s face while him and my folks drove BACK to the airport to pick us up.
Originally, we were going to arrive within a couple of hours of each other. My parents ended up having to pick Justin up, and then go back home to wait for news on when we would arrive. In the end, the delays don’t matter because everyone is just so happy for the impeding reunion!
Those Familiar Arrival Gates
We know these doors VERY WELL. Whenever we fly home, these are the arrival doors that we come through! I have waited here for Justin a couple of times, and many times, family and friends have waited here for me. I love these doors! The departure side of Cape Town International, ummm… not so much love for that side. For some, that part of the airport means VACATION, but us it means goodbye!
This part though, I really love it…
When I told Eli that Oupie and Daddy were at the end of this corridor, behind the doors, he started running!
Oh my heart!
You know those moments in life that stay in your mind forever.. Yup, this is one of them. Their faces, the love, the joy. It all just makes me heart swelling with happiness!
To take you back 2.5 years, here is the same moment. Eli meeting Oumie and Oupie for the first time…
I love how my dad’s face has the same joy!
Happy to Be Reunited
Of course, even though we were only separated for a day and a half: We were happy to be together. I love our little unit! Although it was winter, it didn’t feel too cold at all. In fact, I thought that coming from summer would mean we were cold when we arrived, but it was quite the opposite. Everyone kept saying it was freezing, but Justin and I were looking at each other and giggling. The weather was AMAZING!
So Many Gifts
Eli got boxes and boxes of Duplo Lego from Oumie and Oupie. In fact, they bought him so many boxes that we only need to give him a box every couple of days. I love that about this kid – he opens one gift and then wants to play with only that. Of course, this makes gift-opening a lengthy process, so we have learned to let him take it slow.
My folks even got Eli a little table and chair to play and eat at. They placed it in the living room, and he left all of his Lego right next to the table. This was his little play-area while we were home. He sure did get some good play time in!
Every afternoon, the fire place was lit up, the dogs were all snuggled up in their balnkies, and we were happy as could be to be back in Cape Town. This was Justin’s first winter in South Africa, and my first in almost a decade.
Eli and I slept in, really late, the next morning. The delays had resulted in us feeling exhausted. It was amazing to cuddle my little man, and get some good sleep, knowing that when we got up, the rest of the family would be waiting for us.
We have lots of Cape Town stories coming your way in the next few weeks!