AAR: The Western Cape, South Africa, June 2017 (Part 1)
Greetings, Fellow Travelers!
BLUF: This six-part AAR covers the journey, the destination, and activities of our trip to South Africa (our second!) while stationed in Germany. This trip focused almost exclusively on wine and food. While far from almost everywhere, the Winelands outside Cape Town have one of the largest concentration of wine estates for both seasoned and novice wine drinkers. It’s much more affordable than France and has better mountain views than Germany.
Today’s AAR takes us to the Western Province of the Republic of South Africa.
Part 1: Getting there.
When stationed in Europe, quick one-to-two hour flights on low cost carriers (LCCs) are the bread and butter of seeing European hotspots. A weekend excursion to London, Paris, or Berlin cost little in both time and money. However, another benefit of European living is the ability to fly due south into Africa and remain, relatively speaking, in the same time zone. This means no jet lag and no delays to starting your adventure.
Even though this AAR takes us back to 2017, the trip’s inspiration reaches back into summer 2016 and our trip to Oslo, Norway. Briefly, Oslo is a great city—lots to see and do in the summer. However, inarguably, Norway is the most expensive country we’ve ever visited. Restaurants, tourist sites, the exchange rate of the Krone against the USD and EUR, and the overall cost of living are NOT in your favor. Still, it was a great trip.
When we got home, I turned to my travel partner, Joey, and said, “We need to go back to South Africa to save some money!” That’s right, fellow travelers, in my twisted, frequent traveler mind, the best way to counter the high cost of traipsing around Norway is to book another trip and head south…to Africa!
For the journey to Cape Town, Lufthansa (LH) provided the best routes. Out of Stuttgart, LH offers two options: 1) flights to FRA and MUC or 2) Deutsche Bahn (DB) trains from the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to the FRA Fernbahnhof (long-distance train station). From the LH site, I booked a roundtrip from ZWS (“airport” code for Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof) to FRA and onward to CPT. Of note, I almost always purchase my tickets directly from airlines rather than online travel agencies (OTAs)—coming soon, a TTP on this very subject!
While I could’ve booked the FRA-CPT flights and DB trains separately, buying the full itinerary was slightly cheaper. The 1h:17m train rides were on a DB ICE train in First Class, complete with roving train attendants taking drink orders. The direct, 12-hour flights were in LH A340-300 Business Class. Total price for the full ticket: $2200/per person—coming soon, an ALL HANDS on when I buy and when I use miles!
After passport control and security, we headed to the LH Senator Lounge in the Z Gates. We accessed the Senator Lounge with our Star Alliance Gold status derived from our United Airlines 1K status. As mentioned, our long-haul flights were in Business Class on a 2-2-2 configured A340. We selected 4D and 4G in the center section as we prefer to be closer to the front for faster drink and meal service.
The entertainment system has plenty of content for our 12-hour flight, and screens were large and moved out and inward for better viewing. LH also provides good-enough noise-cancelling headphones. Both flights in and out of CPT were overnight flights, so the A340 was our hotel.
In sum, LH Business Class is very comfortable, and the catering is pretty good, too. It’s a very comfortable place to spend 12-hours on a plane. Soon, we would make our way to the Winelands and the city of Franschhoek.
Next, Part 2: Beds and Breakfasts.
Albert Guerrero, USAF (ret.)
Follow my travels on Instagram: @albert_traveler