Typically, 5:45 am is not my favorite time to wake up. I’m just completing three hours of sleep when my iPhone alarm goes off and I force my eyes open. I stretch for a second and turn to see my packed suitcase just a few feet from the door. This only means one thing… it’s travel day.
As I’m driving to my parent’s house, my boyfriend, Brandon, and I are pretty quiet. First of all, it is 6:15 am. Secondly, I don’t even know what to say. There are so many thoughts going through my head. What is Cape Town like? How close am I going to get to a lion? Ugh, a 14 hour flight followed by another two hour flight. My mind rambles as much as it can for having only three hours of rest.
“Have the bestest time ever!” my mom yells in my ear as I’m getting set to board the bus to depart for John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. I hug and kiss her goodbye and tell her, “I love you.” I do the same to Brandon and step on the bus to begin my adventure.
The hustle of JFK Airport starts to fuel my excitement. Everyone is scattering to find where they have to check-in. Everyone is rummaging through their bags for their boarding passes and passports. Everyone is going somewhere different in this gigantic world.
I double check that my ACIS Educational Tours luggage tag is fastened to my suitcase before putting it on the scale to be weighed. Yes! It’s not overweight! I scurry over to Wendy Way, my travel guru and tour leader, after I’ve completely checked-in. She tells me that the flight is delayed two hours. Oh well, South Africa isn’t going anywhere.
The whole group successfully makes it through security and to the gate. We have some time, so we disperse to find a snack before we embark on 17 hour expedition to Cape Town, South Africa. As time creeps closer to boarding time, I feel the grip of excitement around my heart getting tighter and tighter. It isn’t until the flight attendant says, “thank you, enjoy your flight,” after I hand her my boarding pass that I feel the relief in my chest – I’m on my way to South Africa!
With two flights down, one connection complete, and 17 hours since we took off from John F. Kennedy Airport, we have finally made it to Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town, South Africa.
A huge weight is lifted from my shoulder as I see my suitcase turn the corner of the carousel. I use all of the energy I have remaining after the long travel to pick it up and wheel it away from the crowd. I open it, grab a change of clothes along with my contacts, and run to the bathroom. After the change, I feel refreshed and recharged. I’m ready to start exploring Cape Town, South Africa.
Our first stop, Table Top Aerial cableway to the top of Table Top Mountain (one of the new seven wonders of the world). Our whole group crowds into one car (34 people plus other adventurers trying to get to the top of Table Top Mountain). The five minute journey embarks. To my surprise, about 30 seconds into the trip, the floor begins to rotate! As we climb up the 1,089 meter mountain, the car makes a 360 degree rotation. My breathe is sucked out of me as we reach the top and I can see various mountains and waters surrounding the beautiful town of Cape Town.
I wish I could put the feeling of exploring Table Top Mountain into words better. After breathing recycled air in the airplane for so many hours, my lungs open widely when I inhale as I looked out into the Atlantic Ocean. My chest became lighter and I felt so small.
After the ride to the bottom of the mountain and a short bus ride, we were finally at Meloncino. YES! A meal that wasn’t airplane food… finally. My friend and I (we’re both 21 years old) shared a bottle of Pinotage with our incredible dinner. I had Yellow Tail fish over rice. Amazing.
As dinner came to a close, I found my mind beginning to fog. At this point, it had been many hours of restless flying and exploring. I was beat. We all piled back onto the bus and fought to stay awake until we arrived at the Sunsquare Cape Town Hotel. We got our keys after a slight speed bump in rooming assignments and off to bed I went. Until tomorrow, Cape Town, South Africa.
To see the highlight video of the day, click here!
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