Uh..there’s really no contest in trying to even bother following up to the last post; a post that describes a place where I watched the sun rise over the world’s oldest desert, or where I took some of my favorite photos at the most surreal landscapes I’ve ever laid eyes upon.
But, obligations are obligations as the group parts ways today in Windhoek after traveling 16 days together through 13 countries in Africa.
Following up on yesterday’s trip to Sossusvlei: At 12:30pm we began to drive back to the capital city of Windhoek, stopping a few times to push our vehicle out of a sand dune, and of course, ice cream. We arrived at around 8pm and had one last dinner again at Joe’s Beerhouse (the only place open for groups on a late Sunday night). Afterwards, we turned in early as half the group would be getting up at 4am for their 6am flight back to the USA.
As for the 3 of us left over — Duncan, Kel and myself — we got up later at around 9am and decided to head early to the airport to check into our flights, but not before doing some brief sightseeing around Windhoek.
While Windhoek has been mainly viewed as a home base for desert safaris, it also can be regarded as a lovely, developed, walkable capital city that can otherwise resemble a nice suburban town in upstate New York.
And so before heading to the airport, we first stopped at the nearby Train Station, which doubles as a transit museum featuring one of the first German locomotives to traverse the barren deserts of Namibia:
We then drove by Zoo Park, notable for it being the site of a 5,000 year old elephant hunt; elephant fossils and rudimentary hunting equipment of our early ancestors were unearthed here.
Then we drove up to Windhoek’s unofficial landmark and symbol, the Lutheran Christus Church.
Across the street from Christus Church is the Titenpalast (behind that giant building, which I think is more impressive) now known as the Parliament of Namibia. It’s remarkable for using only indigenous materials in its construction.
Finally, there was this early 20th century Heinitzburg Castle that’s now an expensive hotel. Yeah, ok.
That’s it — Off to the airport! I have a 2 hour flight to Johannesburg followed by a 3 hour layover, then an 8 hour flight to Dubai followed by a 7 hour layover, and then finally a 13 hour flight to NYC.
Thank you Sydney for your company, your sense of humor, and for being so patient driving us around the past 3 days!
…but when I thought the adventure would end here, I would be so wrong once I got to my layover in Dubai!
So usually if anyone, ANYONE, makes me check in my bag on a flight, I fight them (at some points it can border on whining) and win. Although Windhoek and Johannesburg have more liberal carry-on allowances, any flight leaving Dubai’s airports cannot carry anything more than a 7kg bag/case on the plane. So even though my main backpack would have fit in the overhead bin and my smaller backpack would have been my personal item under my set, the airport staff at Dubai still refused me to go back through security unless I checked in my larger bag.
Despite moving stuff around between the bags, no dice; the 7kg maximum at Dubai is strictly enforced. So I then trudged back (and it’s a big airport!) to the front of the airport and proceeded to check in my bag. But out of curiosity, I asked about whether anyone cancelled so I could move my seat more to the front (I was in the back in economy).
Their response? No problem; not only would I be moved up, I would also be upgraded to the plane’s business class for free (FYI, I don’t have any status with Emirates!), located in the upper floor of the fuselage.
So in my moment of irony I want to personally thank the staff that stopped me at security and refused to let me get onboard without checking in my bag. Thank you thank you thank you. My lesson has been learned.
So with dedicated and expedited boarding gates, security, and departure bridges reserves just for business and first class passengers, this oasis greeted me when I boarded:
My seat upon arrival:
My seat decked out as a bed with provided mattresses, duvet, and pillows:
First person POV:
They give you this beautiful brown leather bag filled with free upscale (think BVLGARI) single-use amenities, and a plastic bag with standard airplane socks and eyemask.
The windows themselves are a hi-tech shade/blinders that can be controlled remotely by the iPad/tablet next to you or directly.
And then there is the bar in the back (where the bathrooms are) that opens up after take-off and is staffed throughout the 13-hour flight with free food, chocolates, coffee/espresso, and a semi-full bar available anytime.
The bathrooms are pretty standard, save for the BVLGARI cologne and perfume and the window that looks outside while I peed.
And although the food tasted pretty standard, it was wonderfully plated with frequent utensil changes and condiment refills.
After 13 hours and nearly 8 movies (the best of which was my second viewing of the Bollywood film, 3 Idiots), we began to land at JFK airport, while being treated to the gorgeous thunderstorms outside.
So sad to leave this little island of paradise:
Not a bad way to end a crazy trip. Until the next monsoon…
– At time of posting in Windhoek, Namibia, it was 80.6 °F – Humidity: 19% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy