Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Gautrain Inaugural Breakfast

Wow but yesterday was a looong day for me.

I did still go to SCM Dinner on Monday night, but left around 9pm, so that I could drag myself out of bed at 4am to get up and ready for The Gautrain Inaugural Breakfast Run. Getting up so early was surprisingly easy. I met Maroon, benguela and Bengis Khan at the office at 4:40am and we headed off to Sandton station.

Considering we'd seen maybe five other cars on the road during the drive there, the entrance to the station could be described as a traffic jam. It was definitely where everyone was heading! And they seemed to have a problem with their entry booms, which is actually what I think was causing the delay.

We got in quite easily coming from the opposite direction than most others and found a parking easily. I will say that the parking resembles Benmore's new lower parking (near the post office boxes) a little too much for my liking (you know, pillars and oddly shaped bays all over the place), but perhaps it's still just under construction. And then we walked around to the entrance and down the (first set of) escalators and joined the crowd queuing to get a ticket.

The ticketing process was probably the most frustrating part of our journey. We were told the parking only opened at 5am and the first train left at 05h27. And after arriving we discovered that the ticketing machines actually only go online at 05h15 ... bad planning if you ask me! So we stood there queuing, looking at 2 working machines of the 5. The machines seemed to hang fairly often (clearly this *was* their load-testing!) but they seemed to keep at least 2 up and running quite consistently. It did mean missing the first train out of Sandton station tho :(

I've got my Gautrain Launch Edition Card now :) Which we loaded up with 200 rond and swiped ourselves thru the tube-station-like gates. and then it was down down down into the bowels of Sandton (seriously folks, it's like 5 stories under ground!).

The whole experience was unbelievably first-world. It's clean (well it is brand new still, but let's hope it stays this way!) and efficient. They have boards announcing the arrival time of the next train (every 12 mins) and one of those speaker-voices who floods the air with the same information over and over and over again.

After about 10mins our train arrived (the 3rd one of the morning to leave Sandton station) and we climbed aboard. It's just as lovely and clean and brand-spanking new inside (obviously, I know, but still, what a pleasure!). And then we were off, zooming thru the tunnel to Marlboro station. We couldn't see any of the country-side between Marlboro and Rhodesfield, it was still too dark, but it was slowly getting lighter as we headed between Rhodesfield and OR Tambo.

Arriving at OR Tambo was quite amazing (sadly we didn't spy any arriving soccer teams tho). The airport is looking gorgeous too these days. and we settled in to enjoy breakfast at Mugg&Bean and gush over the experience and what an awesome job had been done!

And then it was off again, back to Sandton, this time in the morning light, enjoying the view. It's kinda surreal to be honest, reminded me a lot of the trip from Heathrow in London (although I was last there in 2007!). You pass industrial areas and then vast open spaces, with hay bales and rivers.

I loved it, I think it's truly awesome and I reckon even if you don't have any flights planned in the near future, you should at very least take a trip on it, just for the fun of it.

Yay, another thing added to my "Trying New Things at Thirty" List :)

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1 comment:

Tamara said...

I can't wait to try the Gautrain!

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