Sunday, June 15th, 2014
I wake up early to pack, then research tours in Cape Town before checkout at 10am. I book my wine tour in Cape Town with Wine Flies for Thursday, June 19th. I get picked up at 11am by Bushtracks for transfer to the Victoria Falls Airport. The vehicle is a mini bus that I’ve transferred on before but the driver insists on putting me in the front passenger seat. Previously, I’ve transferred to the floor then to the seat. I need some help to the passenger seat by the driver. The drive to the airport is about 25 minutes. Lydia and Oana are also on this transfer bus but they are heading back to Germany. They were in Cape Town for 5 days before they went on safari. I have about a 2 hour wait in the airport for the flight leaving at 1:55pm through Johannesburg. I spend most of this time talking with Lydia and Oana. My flight from Joburg to Cape Town departs at 6pm with a 2-1/2 hour layover. I get carried up the steps to the airplane in my chair by 4 grounds crew, each holding on parts of the frame on my chair. At the top of the steps I transfer to the aisle chair and get helped back to my seat. Upon arriving at the Joburg airport I get helped off the plane by Daniel and Madaba from iHelp, the same guys who helped on my arrival May 30th. I’m escorted through immigration to the assisted passenger waiting area. After 1 hour 10 minute wait I’m escorted to the transfer bus for my flight to Cape Town. I get on the plane as previous for the 2 hour 10 minute flight to Cape Town; we arrive at 8:10pm. Before leaving America, I emailed the Protea Breakwater Lodge Hotel asking if they had an airport shuttle. My response was “yes, for $300 rand” (about $28 USA). I assumed the shuttle made frequent trips from the airport to the hotel. I stop by airport information to have them call the hotel to check on the shuttle. This is not the case you have to schedule the transfer in advance. I schedule the transfer and it will take about 30 minutes for them to get to the airport. 40 minutes later I call to check and the driver went to the hotel, not the airport. I end up waiting 1 hour 10 minutes for the shuttle to get to the airport. The vehicle is a 4 door cab where I can transfer to the passenger seat and take my chair apart to put in the trunk. It’s about a 30 minute ride to the hotel where the driver tries to change me $320 rand. I say “no, I was quoted $300 rand and that’s what I’m paying”. He then gives me his cell number to call him for any transportation I need when I’m in Cape Town. There’s no way I’m using him after trying to charge me more. I check in and I’m in bed by 11:45pm after a long day of traveling.
Monday, June 16th, 2014
With nothing planned today, I’m just going to wheel down to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. It’s only a 1/3 mile from the hotel to the waterfront. Most of the wheel down the sidewalk on Portswood Road is easy until you get to Dock Road where there are no curb cutouts. The crosswalk is raised but still has a 2” – 4” curb to get to the crosswalk. I wheel down by Breakwater Blvd to view Table Bay. The wood deck is very accessible until you get to the crushed red stones that are very uneven and difficult to wheel on. It’s a very cloudy, cool day with no view of Table Mountain.
I continue wheeling around to the V & A Waterfront, which is accessible. There are a few ramps that are steep but I was able to wheel up. The ramp to Quay Four Restaurant deck is very steep. I wheel to The Nelson Mandela Gateway to get information on the accessibility of The Robben Island Tour. I will need help on/off the boat and they do have one bus on the island with a lift. I schedule the tour for Wednesday at 11am. There is one very steep ramp in the museum that I can make up but it’s a struggle. I take about 45 minutes to tour The Robben Island Museum. They do have an elevator to all levels. I wheel around the waterfront for another hour then make a stop at Mitchell’s Brewery.
There’s a big curb that’s rounded to the outside seating area that’s not too difficult to get up. The bathroom is very tight and most wheelchairs will not fit. I quickly meet a recent Indiana University graduate, Alejandro who’s doing some traveling since graduating. We talk for a few hours then make plans to meet at Mitchell’s to watch the USA World Cup match at midnight. We talked about my injury, travels and website. He is impressed with what I’m doing. We make plans to visit Table Mountain Tuesday, he’s going to join me on the Robben Island Tour Wednesday and he might do the Shark cage trip Sunday. Alejandro leaves but I stay at Mitchell’s meeting several more people watching the first two World Cup matches. He returns around 11pm to watch USA beat Ghana 2-1. Alejandro walks back to my hotel with me then takes a cab to his lodging. I make it back around 3am. Yes, there was beer drinking through out my evening at Mitchell’s.