Sunday, 21 February 2010

Day 13: Nelspruit and Home

Saturday 8th August 2009

In the time-honoured tradition of those returning home, the hearty travellers ate a condemned breakfast.  Our last "full monty" of the trip was provided by the owner of the Hawkshead Holiday Camp, who happened to be English.  Breakfast was eaten surrounded by her menagerie of dogs who looked longingly at our bacon and toast.  We had plenty of time to kill, so I wandered around the gardens in warm winter sunshine taking pictures.  Nespruit is in the Low Veld, so the vegetation was rather different to that around Sabie.  There were bananas growing in the garden, and vast amounts of mother-in-law's tongue.

Having observed the finer points of Nelspruit the previous evening (it didn't take long) we looked for somewhere quiet to go while waiting for our flight.  The Botanic Gardens had just been revamped, so we decided to visit them to kill a couple of hours.

The waterfall was an impressive feature, and the photographs were taken from a bridge which went over it.  According to a notice, the bridge was placed there - and at a specific height - so as to avoid blocking the route of hippos which frequent the river.

Being the middle of winter there weren't many flowers in bloom.  Some were, though, and being too hot, I sat on a bench in the shade for half an hour looking at them.  I really must be getting old if I can sit somewhere and enjoy looking at flowers...

As always when killing time, it has a habit of appearing to stand still.  Around mid-day we decided to leave the Botanic Gardens and head towards Kruger Mpumalanga airport.  Before we left the gardens, though, I couldn't resist photographing a couple of the signs there.  I particularly liked the idea of visitors going into a "steep decline", and feel a great deal of sympathy for those who can only last for 230 metres before needing to relieve themselves!

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, returned the hire car and then went to have our luggage shrink-wrapped.  The latter is essential when travelling through Johannesburg as it's the pilfering capital of the known universe.  Important items (camera, laptop etc.) were carried as hand-luggage, although with only a 6kg per person allowance this can prove reasonably challenging.  It was a short flight to Jo'burg, which thankfully was on time for this leg of the journey.  Our final hours in South Africa were spent having something to eat and spending any spare Rands we could find in our pockets.

The journey home was pretty uneventful, and we duly met up at Heathrow with my sister-in-law and neice who had also been travelling from Jo'burg on a parallel flight.  There was a final sting in the tail, however: when we got back to the car it's battery was flat.  So, after a journey of almost 24 hours we had to sit in the car park waiting for the AA man to turn up!