Sunday, 18 November 2018

2018 SAOUG The Travel Blog

I flew out overnight from London arriving very early in Johannesburg. 

This was my first time in a 787 Dreamliner and I was not impressed. I paid myself for an upgrade to premium economy and although the space was OK the lack of restrooms in this cabin was a real letdown. In fact you had to walk all the way through economy to the very few shared facilities in the rear. The pilot said it was to be a smooth flight and then we roomily had 3 hours of 'fasten your seatbelt, no hot drinks will be served' and when we were finally OK the queues for the toilets was unbelievable. Then once we had landed the pilot informed us we had just been the first automatic landing, glad he didn't tell us in advance!

Once we arrived, I had to wait for Andy Haack to arrive as the conference was a 5 hour drive in Central Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal and he was going to be my driver. ( I hate driving in unknown places and I was very uneasy about SA).

Andy picked up on my nervousness and teased me a lot about it, but he was a good driver (most of the time) and it was an amazing drive for the last 2 hours as we made our way up to the mountains. We stopped overlooking a dam for lunch and had a really tasty meat curry.

When we arrived at the resort, the view that greeted up was fantastic. I had a little snooze to rest and then we met up with the organisers for dinner. But not before experiencing the first of the beautiful sunsets. South Africa is also known for its wine and it didn't disappoint!

The Sunday was a free day for me and after spending time updating my presentations whilst enjoying the resort, I noticed the staff putting out cups for tea. It turned out this was for Remembrance Day. I asked if they were having the silence at 11 and they advised there was actually a service, at their own memorial. This was run by the MOTH organisation. I am from a military family and this service was fantastic. I met lots of lovely people, with MOTHs and residents from the Tims Share part of the resort. One gentleman Sorel, asked me about the conference and asked if he could attend! Always after more attendees I was happy to invite him and he turned up to learn about chatbots. 

Sunday evening Andy and I drove uptown the national park and we did a small trail of about 5km. I was exhausted and he was in flip-flops! I love waterfalls so finding this was a real bonus. 

The first evening had a cocktail party in the exhibition area and then we all had dinner together. The second evening we had a braai or BBQ. For me it started too late and I had perhaps have enjoyed the local wine a little too much.

I tried to capture a sunset using time lapsed photography on the last night but we had a thunderstorm instead, however still happy with the video.

Sean one of the organisers gave me a lift back to the airport on Wednesday and the view if possible was even better on the way back. Sean's wife and Eric De Vos from JDE Mart were also great company. 

The flight home was an A380 and it was wonderful. Quick shower at Heathrow and into work for the day.

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