Kings Nov 25th (Port Elizabeth) and Cheetahs Dec 1st 2018 (Bloemfontein)

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4 months 3 weeks ago #62200 by pinky
Three week break before this so handy for the team to acclimatise and creates the possibility for fans to go out a week or two earlier without missing any other games. Weather should be a bit better than at home :-)
Plenty of flight options - need to get my head around them.

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"We haven’t liked the wind and rain for about four years now" - John Muldoon 1/1/2015
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4 months 3 weeks ago #62204 by mahick
Keller Travel is up and running with a package on offer already:

www.kellertravel.ie/project/south-africa...our-from-only-e2195/

..... but when you’ve 9,000 crazy western people shouting at you,
it’ll give you that couple of percent that you need....John Muldoon

-Clan Committee Member
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4 months 3 weeks ago #62205 by connemara man
If the challenge cup match is the weekend after a holiday could stretch to take that in on the way

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4 months 2 weeks ago #62207 by pinky

connemara man wrote: If the challenge cup match is the weekend after a holiday could stretch to take that in on the way


Yeah, I was thinking that. A stopover in London or Paris could potentially be worked in assuming the round 3 game is away.

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4 months 2 weeks ago - 4 months 2 weeks ago #62278 by biffo77
Some thoughts, based on experiences from March trip.

Bloemfontein
1) There's not much to do in Bloemfontein, apart from Cheetah experience and the Boar war museum, and the ANC monument, ANC was founded in Bloemfontein, in 1912. The cheetah experience is the highlight.
2) The Southern Sun hotel, is probably the handiest place to stay in, it's got a link to the shopping mall beside it, and decent enough pool. Was the team hotel, and seems to have been the team hotel for all visiting teams, even in Super Rugby days. There's other options, some cheaper, and most cheaper, though. Try stay on the same side of town, as the ground, and Greys College.
3) Bloemfontein airport, is called international but it isn't. It's very small. Taxi rank is outside airport, but it's not well marked out.
4) Renting a car can be cheaper than taxi's, over a few days. Car hire is about 20e/day. Free parking at hotel.
5) Stadium has non drinking areas, the entire stand on the dugout side, is non drinking,and center of other side stand. The security staff will check you.
6) Good atmosphere in the stands, even if not full. They like their rugby. They allow, and almost encourage people to go onto the pitch post game, to greet the players. Get to ground early, and organize a secure way back to hotel or nightclub/pub. It was impossible to get a taxi after the game, and we needed a local to help organize with security, taxi's for us. There was beer and chats after the game, in bar behind one of the stands.
7) Food and drink, is cheap. South Africa does good steak and other cooked meats. Price is amazingly cheap compared to home.
8 ) Nightclubs : Route66 was recommended by locals. Only the team,and one brave member of the travelling clan made it there. We got back to hotel from ground, c. 1am, and had early enough flights out of town.
Restaurants. LongHorn Grill was great, both travelling clan and team ate there, there's a prize for eating a certain sized steak.
For general lunch etc, the food court in the shopping center is good, much better than expected.
9) Don't forget to tip
10) Flights to JNB, are pretty much useless for connections to home flights, first flight is at 10, next flight isn't till 5pm or so, which can leave it tight for connections. Kellers are offering bus, but one way car hire is an option for independent travellers.

Cape Town
1) Getting a hotel, in or near, the waterfront is best, it's a secure area for evenings out.
2) book in advance for Robin Island
3) car hire is cheaper than the transfers offered by various attractions, paid secure parking but it's cheap enough, at hotels.
4) Table Mountain may close randomly due to cloud or wind.
5) Open top bus tour around to table mountain,and around coastal is nice. Good restaurants in Camps bay area, which is a stop on the tour. Buy a multi day pass.
6) Do travel to outlying towns if you have time, Simonstown (and it's penguins), Wine country Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, you'd think it was a different country than Cape Town.
7) Cape Town still has water restrictions.
8 ) Cape of Good Hope is worth a visit, bus tour also visits Simonstown and Boulder Beach and the penguins.
9) Avoid walking after dark, if you're not in the waterfront area.
10) Southern Sun shuttle bus to the waterfront is handy, and free.
11) loads of shops, bars and restaurants, inc fast food, in the Waterfront area.
12) Don't forget your shoes at the Den Anker bar\restaurant.
13) Good food and cheap cocktails and beer, with music, at Ferrymans Tavern. Free entry.
14) We visited Aquila wildlife reserve, it's 75e or so for a 3 hour tour, with some wine and snacks
15) We also visited some smaller wildlife rescues places, they're cheaper but worth while, near Parle and Drakenstein. Feeding giraffes is cool.
16) Make sure you get an official taxi. Some unofficial ones patrol looking for fares.
17) It cost about 27e including tip, for a chauffeur driven Merc car from Southern Sun to Airport, as cheap as a taxi, but much nicer.
18) Airport shuttle to hotels, are about 22e per person, without pre-booking. Taxi's are roughly the same cost.
19) The staff in the various hotels, shopping malls, etc. are really friendly, and helpful
20) Don't forget to tip

Hotels
Keller Travel are using Southern Sun in Bloem. and Cape Towns,
these hotels offer free wifi of 500mb per day, I'm not joking. But if you sign up to their free rewards scheme, you'll get 2GB free. You can sign up before you go, some staff will enroll you at check-in, but they don't have to. All super sport channels were on the in room TV's. Your key card will stop working at 11 am on the day you check out, even if you're not left your room, be prepared. If you do get caught out of your room, the reception staff will issue you a new card. The hotel in Cape Town feels very secure, there's security in the area outside the door, 24hrs a day, and in the lobby there's always some security guys around. There's also a guy at the lifts, making sure only guests go up. The concierge desk in Cape Town, can organize rides to airport, and various tours. Bloem doesn't have a separate desk, but Niki at reception organized taxis and mini buses for us, when we needed. There's 24hr security on the gate in Bloem, and there's some some one at the door until early morning.

Food : Breakfast is included in the bill. Wide selection of breads, meats and cheeses, and eggs are cooked to order, fried, poached, boiled and omelettes available. It's a self serve buffet, but staff take coffee/tea orders. You can set yourself up for a long day sightseeing with the breakfast. Evening meals, while available, are not good value in Cape Town and just ok value in Bloemfontein, unless you've arrived late and tired, you're better off having a meal off site. If you ask the bar staff in Cape Town,while you're having a few pre-drinks or an easy night in hotel bar, they can organize bar food, chips, currys etc. Those were good value, and tasty, but avoid the restaurant.

Drink : the bar in Bloem hadn't a great selection of beers, and in both hotels, the bars closed around 11/11:30

Tipping
Wages are pretty rubbish for the average hospitality worker, and even worse for parking attendants, etc. Food/Drink/Parking is cheap, so do tip the workers.

ATMs and Credit Cards
There's ATM's pretty much everywhere, and all of the bar's will take credit card. Smaller wildlife rescues are cash only.

Flights
Airport security, will allow liquids through the scanners, they may ask for ipads etc to be removed.
In JNB airport, you'll need to show ID or boarding card, to get to the boarding gates. I found security to be quick and painless. There's reasonable amount of shops and food options after security.
There's a viewing deck area, before security, if you have time to spare and just want to watch planes.
Nothing after security in Bloem
Lots of shops and food options, after and before Security in Cape Town.
Last edit: 4 months 2 weeks ago by biffo77. Reason: eight became a emoticon
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4 months 2 weeks ago #62279 by merchantdon
Very good points biffo, I’d personally add these few.

SA generally

Very poor beer selection in 90% of places, different in the waterfront in Capetown. We mainly drank castle. The people are brilliant but you better get used to “African time”. When you order something you might get it in 10 minutes or 40 minutes or it could be forgotten all together, even in the 5 star places. No point complaining either it won’t make a difference, not that you would anyway because you’ll see how nice people are but also how poor they are.


Bloemfontein

1 - if you want to see the real SA you’ll see it here. Cape town is excellent but it is very touristy. I would have spent a bit more time in Bloemfontein if I was going this time. There is also an armor museum which is actually in the city center rather than in the north of the city where google says its.

2 - 100% stay on the stadium side of the city. We were driving from the boer war museum to the airport and took the google direct route.... driving through a shanty town will open your eyes and other parts!

3 - boer war museum is excellent

4 - driving around Bloemfontein and SA in general is easy and a lot safer than some taxis, just don’t stop for anyone except official police. I would advise people to read up on taxi wars in SA

Capetown

All of what biffo said plus.

1 - again, car hire is cheap and give you flexibility

2 - don’t pack to much into one day, you’ll pay for it in the long run.

3 - waterfront area is safe but you still have to be on your guard, where possible travel in packs.

4 - the naval museum in simons town is worth a visit and its on the way to the penguins

5 - kirstinbosch gardens a good too if your into that.

6 - to add to what biffo said, the southern suns shuttle to the waterfront doesn’t actually check if your staying in the hotel so if your in one near you can still use it.

7 - personally I would prefer the smaller animal parks, the giraffe house and especially drakenstien which is a lion sanctuary for rescued lions.

8 - Stellenbosch is brilliant, very safe an excellent restaurants. Well worth a night or two.

I loved every minute of the South Africa trip and we will do it again in the future. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
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4 months 1 week ago #62281 by Rex
Great posts lads, really good pointers there

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4 months 1 week ago #62283 by merchantdon
with regards to internet, if you are familiar with Skyroam www.skyroam.com/ it works brilliantly, its what we used on our trip and is a lot easier than constantly looking for Wifi. In fact didn't bother with any of the hotel Wifi's i just used the Skyroam.
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4 months 1 week ago #62285 by Betty Swallocks
Won't the Kings game be in Port Elizabeth?

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4 months 1 week ago #62287 by biffo77

Betty Swallocks wrote: Won't the Kings game be in Port Elizabeth?


Yes, but I haven’t been there, so can’t talk about it, and tbh, most people will spend the time between matches in Cape Town, neither Bloem or Port Elizabeth, from what I’ve heard, have enough to entertain for the 6 days between games.

I think @horsebox has been to PE, for a lions tour?

When I went through immigration in JNB on my way, the guy asked where I was going, I said Bloemfontein, and he asked why would I go there, I replied for rugby, he’s exact words were ‘thats the only reason anyone goes there’ !

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4 months 1 week ago #62288 by biffo77

merchantdon wrote: with regards to internet, if you are familiar with Skyroam www.skyroam.com/ it works brilliantly, its what we used on our trip and is a lot easier than constantly looking for Wifi. In fact didn't bother with any of the hotel Wifi's i just used the Skyroam.


I brought a skyroam with me, thanks Megan, and while they’re great when out, it’s easier to plug it into charge and use the wifi.

Oh, and you can use the skyroam as a battery pack for phone/camera, etc.

Btw, I think there’s a referal code offer, if anyone want to buy one!

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4 months 1 week ago #62295 by pinky
Cape Town not really on the way from PE to Bloem. I would have thought the best route would be CT-PE-Bloem-JNB with an open jaw flight. But I suppose If you are on a tight schedule and only have the week and want to see Cape Town, something similar to the Keller itinerary would make sense.

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4 months 1 week ago #62297 by Betty Swallocks
Thanks biffo

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4 months 1 week ago #62301 by biffo77

pinky wrote: Cape Town not really on the way from PE to Bloem. I would have thought the best route would be CT-PE-Bloem-JNB with an open jaw flight. But I suppose If you are on a tight schedule and only have the week and want to see Cape Town, something similar to the Keller itinerary would make sense.


Hi Pinky,
That'd make sense if there was enough touristy things in either PE or BFN, for a week. While there's some touristy stuff around PE, BFN can be done in < 2 days. CPT-PE-BFN-JNB, only makes sense, if there was a couple of days between the games. Arrival Airport - PE - CPT - BFN - Outgoing airport, is the best way to optimize your time in SA, imho.

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4 months 1 week ago #62302 by pinky
Depends how long you are staying there really, and what you're into.

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4 months 1 week ago #62306 by biffo77

pinky wrote: Depends how long you are staying there really, and what you're into.


Not really, you're going to do something other than hang around PE or BFN, Cape Town or Kruger are the most popular
doubt many will commute for the 2 games.

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