Do you know the way to Zimbabwe?

Trip Start Nov 10, 2010
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Trip End Nov 26, 2010


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Flag of Zimbabwe  ,
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Airport hotels are much the same the world over. The "Airport Grand" at Johannesburg's International Airport is no exception. Oh, wait. There is one feature of note. I asked the front desk to show me the way to what my literature says: “the hotel has a health club.” I have a strong need to get on a treadmill for an hour because I haven’t been getting my four-miles-per-day walk/jog in. Getting up at 5:00am to be ready for a 5:30am game drive and arriving home at dark meant no road work. You’re not supposed to be out at night in Africa near Kruger; too many predators about. Anyway, they’ve closed the health club here so they could install a business center. My alternative is to “wait until dawn and walk circles around the building.” The front desk, oops, sorry, “reception” person told me that “walk circles” with a great smile and I took him up on it. I needed a walk. But, the parking lot is not a health club. Having said that however, had I needed it, the new business center looks very nice.

The hotel has, to redeem itself, complimentary 24-hour in-room WiFi for internet connections. That is worth more than a business center, health club and room service combined...for me, at least. I highly value my connection with the world when I am away from it.

Today, I am off for Victoria Falls. I fly to Zimbabwe from South Africa. Yesterday’s Johannesburg newspaper, The Star, has this news story on Zimbabwe:

(President) Mugabe planning to tighten grip on the media: The Zimbabwean government is planning to block public access to state information like court judgments, legislation, official notices and public registers, a press freedom watchdog warned yesterday.

Everything I write here about my three nights in Zimbabwe will be an unofficial notice.

After watching Fox News for a bit, I’ll bet the Obama Administration wishes it could pull a Mugabe on Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, Fred Phelps and Karl Rove; I’d love to never hear from any of the three again but I must and I will. None of them will sway me much, however.

The British Airways flight was routine. The landing, however, was only successful on the third bounce. The first thing one notices about Zimbabwe is that it could use a management consultant. The line for obtaining a visa could be improved slightly to save each traveler an hour or so. Or more.

It is so nice, in a third world country, to be greeted after you are through immigration and customs by someone with a sign with your name on it. Carl had my sign. The Matthews were the last ones through the visa line so I got a chance to assess the cola wars. Coke is winning but at least Pepsi is in the game.

The Kingdom Hotel is a ten minute walk from Victoria Falls. Even though I am scheduled for a full-blown tour tomorrow, I cannot resist. Off I go. Thirty dollars later (the “park” entry costs extra if you are from the U.S.) I see what all the fuss is about. This is pretty amazing. Again, a management consultant would help. If they would trim a bush here and there, even the most untalented tourist could take an award winning photograph. However, trim they don’t so many fabulous vistas are blocked.

As I write this, the electricity in the Kingdom Hotel just went off.

As I returned from the Falls to my Kingdom, I was satisfied that I had just seen one of the seven wonders of the natural world and even with poor management, it is pretty special.

I am off to dinner; soon if the power doesn’t come back on, later if it does.

And, in case you are reading the newspapers, no, I am not in nor am I going to Madagascar. I had wanted to but it wouldn't work out right with flights, happily.
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