Sunday, 20 December 2009

A brief encounter with Johannesburg

My encounter with Jo’burg is one that I shall bury deep in the recesses of my brain. It was not a particularly pleasant experience and one which began as our propeller plane dipped out of the sky in preparation to land. Never have I felt a pilot fight with a plane so much. As a cross wind caught us, tipping us from side to side the pilot’s struggle to stay in control was palpable. Fortunately, we made and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Next, my hostel transfer, that I’d arranged the night before, failed to make an appearance in arrivals. A swift phone call to the hostel and I was told to wait at the information desk and that my transfer would arrive in due course. An hour and a half later and still no transfer so I rang again; this time I was told by the guy at the other end that he’d been unable to arrange a transfer so I would have to grab a cab. This would have been fine had the hostel not been situated on the opposite side of Jo’burg. I was quoted 400 rand (just under 40 quid); with traffic and roadworks it cost me £50.

Just getting to the hostel made Sleek Backpackers the most expensive hostel I’ve stayed in. Unfortunately, I got little return on my investment. After kicking up a stink (something that I’m quite good at!) I was offered an upgrade to an ensuite and the room on the house. Well, it wasn’t exactly an upgrade. A quick check of the bed linen and it was all too clear that the sheets weren’t clean, then there was the condom (fortunately still in its packet) under my bed and when I went to get in the shower, I was greeted by a clump of hair. You may think that was bad, but there was more to come! I went to the loo and the flush didn’t work (bearing in mind there was only a curtain between the ‘bathroom’ and the rest of the room) and then, when I decided to escape the pit that was my room, I couldn’t lock the door.

My room looked out over a common which a few suspicious characters had obviously decided to call home so there was no way I wasn’t locking the door. Fortunately, the guy from the front desk was walking by so I explained my door lock issues. I then had to wait whilst the handyman attempted to fix the lock. After three attempts and numerous dismantlings, the handyman finally fixed the lock.

The following morning I was heading straight back to Jo’burg airport to fly to Cape Town so I arranged my transfer (at an additional cost of £12) and then stayed out of my room for as long as possible. When I did finally return to the pit I used my pillow case and slept on top of the duvet.

A few hours of crap sleep later and I was heading back to the airport with a £62 hole in my wallet to grab a plane to Cape Town.

The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth and left me with a grim view of Jo’burg. Whilst I’m sure the city has plenty that’s positive to offer, I shall have to re-vist minus my Hostel World booking for Sleek Backpackers to fully appreciate it.

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