I recently took a “sho’t left” journey in style, by rail…
Sho’t Left is derived from everyday South African taxi lingo when a commuter wanting a ride to a destination close by will ask the driver to sho’t left, meaning he wants to get out around the corner.
These educationals, as we call them – when we want to be spoiled a little and get away of the office – are so vitally important as they give us first hand experience which enables us consultants to sell the products with lots of confidence.
I had not been to Cape Town for a very long time – and so my wife and I took some extra days to really experience what the beautiful Mother City of Cape Town has to offer…
We stayed one night at Cape Riviera Guest House, situated in the picturesque Cape Town suburb of Oranjezicht, at the foot of Table Mountain. Cape Riviera Guest House is a good 4 star guest house, with spacious rooms and panoramic city views – and the majestic Table Mountain acts as a backdrop. It has a total of 12 rooms, with a very nice and warm feel, good for relaxation if you want peace and quiet.
We spent the second night at Abbey Manor Luxury Guest House – just to get a different experience – also in the same area, around the corner, up the road from Cape Riviera, on the slopes of Table Mountain.
Oh well, we decided to spend the second day exploring the outdoors of Cape Town, and booked ourselves on the The City Sightseeing open-top bus tour. What a marvellous way to explore and experience the beautiful city of Cape Town. This is indeed undoubtedly one of the best ways to go sightseeing in Cape Town. We combined this with the Table Mountain experience, as the bus stops at lower station and you can go to the top of Table Mountain, come back and hop on the bus again, continue to Camps Bay and all the way to the V&A Waterfront. You get a complimentary pair of earphones when you purchase your ticket and so you can enjoy recorded audio commentary of the tour…. One could also hop off at Mount Nelson Hotel, as it is very well known for its high tea.
And then the big day finally arrived for the Rovos Rail Luxury experience….
The minute you arrive at the Rovos Rail Lounge in Cape Town you start to feel like someone from a Royal family, someone very important or like a President from another country (royalty treatment). You get a very warm welcome from the friendly and professional staff – and then your wife reminds you, of who you really are..! 🙂 Here your luggage will be tagged and put onto the train and you will then be asked if this is your first trip etc. Teas/coffees with eats will be served in the lounge. The train Manager takes the podium, welcomes everyone, lays out the “rules”, the journey itself, stops, things to look out for, meal times, dress codes etc.
You are then escorted to your suite by your hostess, where all the details of how everything on board, in your suite functions. My wife almost unpacked our suitcase the minute she heard laundry was also included 🙂
And the journey begins. All you do here is sleep, eat and drink, and again and again until you have no capacity to handle more…. The staff were nothing short of perfect in their efforts to make our trip a memorable one. As we had mentioned to them we are non-alcoholics, the staff/chef would come to our table and discuss the options.
What I find really interesting is the fact that no private phone conversations in public areas are allowed. The whole idea of this trip is to disconnect to connect…. and get a chance to mingle with other passengers on board. This is supposed to be an escape from your daily routine and working lives.
We arrived in Matjiesfontein where we stopped and visited the historical village. We hopped on this old top-deck but very cool bus, toured around the little village of Matjiesfontein which also boasts the historic cricket field where the first official international match was played between South Africa and England back in 1889 – and South Africa beat England to win the trophy! There is also The Transport Museum which features a remarkable collection of vintage cars….
Back on the train, dinner is served once everyone is seated in the dining car, and make no mistake, expect gentlemen in suits and ladies in elegant dresses. A jacket and tie is a minimum requirement for gentlemen during dinner. Unfortunately my wife had forgotten to pack a tie for me, luckily enough they have these on board. I could not let this situation dent my dignity, not at this stage…. when the stakes are so high. The food on the train is so divine, you can never decline..!! And that’s end of day one.
Next morning en-route to Kimberley, breakfast is served at leisure between 07h00 and 10h00. I never thought I could sleep while the train is in motion, but as they say there’s always the first time for everything. We were rest assured, that If you wake at night imagining the train is travelling at high speed, it is the state of the track below that is creating that impression. They restrict the speed of the train to 60km/h and over the bad sections speed is reduced to as little as 20km/h. And yes sometimes it gets rocky but surely that is part of the whole experience…
We arrived in Kimberley in the afternoon, where we went to Kimberely’s Big Hole and the Kimberley Diamond Museum. Unfortunately I have a very limited knowledge when it comes to diamonds but this tour truly gives you a fair share of information about different types of diamonds etc, very informative indeed.
We went back on the train and and approximately 10 km after Kimberley we saw some amazing large flocks of flamingos.
Dinner is served and then the reality starts hitting you, one more sleep and this good life is over….!! After midnight the train stopped for us to get a good sleep, and the journey continued again at approximately 06h00 in the morning.
Time really flies when you are a having a great time. The next morning after breakfast, we arrived at Rovos Rail’s private station at Capital Park in Pretoria.
What an experience, what a way to explore our country, the beautiful landscapes, scenery….
This is indeed The Pride of Africa..!!!
SW Africa Destination Management