When I bought my airfare to Peking in early 2011 it really sunk in that I was going to North Korea. Once I paid for the flight, I was committed. Yesterday I booked my flight to Cape Town. I will be departing for Tristan da Cunha from Cape Town aboard the new S. A. Agulhas II research vessel, which makes its annual trip to the Gough Island meteorological station via Tristan. I could not book this flight until I knew the Agulhas shipping schedule. The schedule has not yet been posted on the official Tristan da Cunha website but because I wanted to take advantage of a cheaper flight by booking early, my contacts on the island were able to tell me the ship’s departure and arrival dates.
I arrive in Cape Town in the afternoon and the following day is the only full day I have there before the ship departs, and that is fine with me as I don’t want to do much sightseeing before I leave for Tristan. If I do, I’ll be tempted to buy stuff and I don’t want to buy anything before I visit the island, as I’ll only have to cart everything there with me. I will make it a priority to visit the harbour so I know exactly where I’m headed and how long it takes to get there from my hotel. If I should be so unfortunate to miss my boat, the next one is in 2014.
Scheduling travel time to and from Tristan is always up in the air as unfavorable ocean conditions can greatly increase one’s time aboard. If time is an issue then one should give oneself a lot of leeway when planning departure flights from Cape Town, as a delay at sea might mean missed opportunities and worse, missed flights. I have thus planned my return flight home five days after the Agulhas is scheduled to arrive in Cape Town. If I have five days to see Cape Town, great, if I only have three or four, that’s fine as well. And if I have just one, I’ll be thankful that at least I wouldn’t miss my flight home. My problem is to figure out what I’m going to do about accommodation during this time in the city as I don’t have an exact date when I’ll be there. Should I book a hotel or hostel anyway? I’ll have to pay at least one day’s deposit with my credit card up front. But what if I don’t even show up? I’m afraid I might have to just walk up to hotels and hostels once I step off the Agulhas and hope that there’s a room available somewhere.