So our time here in South Africa has come to an end. We are all excited and sad having to leave what has been a great place to grow and live for the last 2 years.
Our amazing travel agent arranged and assisted us getting from South Africa back to Bahrain via OR Thambo International Airport and Dubai International Airport.
It all happened rather quickly once things got going actually. With little information available I had early on (and luckely) got all the children’s travel and school paperwork sorted. I had every single piece of paperwork stamped and authorised just to be sure that there was nothing a miss. So when it came to the week before our departure and the ‘superhero’ travel lady told me there are flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, I grabbed it with both hands.
We were confirmed to travel from King Shaka International Airport to OR Thambo International Airport on Saturday, sleep at an airport Hotel and then leave on Emirates Sunday. Sunday being my son’s 14th birthday.
Oh the amasing excitement, happiness, nerves, sadness, a total onslaught of uncertainty and emotional and mental overload. I must confess I planned and read up on everything and more, trying to prepare myself for whatever might come up on this trip. We have travelled many times but with this pandemic, things were very very different than before. I am enormously grateful that my children were absolute stars. They were calm and just took everything as it came.
It was with great anxiety and excitement that we said good buy to our wonderful hosts, the family that took us in and shared their home and lives with us over this strange 3 months. My sister, her husband and their two daughters were a blessing in a time that brought the whole world into a surreal strange movie style life. Managing things as they unfold.
For now we had to say our farewells untill we would see each other again. When that might be, well we dont know as yet.
We were not sure what to expect on the trip, but did know that we needed to be prepared for anything. So we boarded the first flight of our trip.
It was strange, there was an eery, quite, calm atmosphere at the airport, and jet you could feel a certain amount of tension looming as well. People, travellers and airport staff alike, had this strange calmness about them. I got the feeling that everyone was nervous and unsure, but instead of acting like we would expect, with anger and defense, it was almost like everyone had decided to stay calm and just focus on getting through this whole travel experience as best and as tranquil as they could. It brought some calm to me, knowing that we would be traveling with people that also only want to make it through this experience with the best possible memories.
The flight to OR Thambo was uneventful and was over rather quick. We arrived at the aiport hotel, having gone through scans and checks and relieved to be in the hotelroom. We ordered room service, put some movies on from netflix and relaxed. We were pretty exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally.
We wokeup the next morning well rested, ordered some breakfast and coffee, two coffees for me, and got ready for our next flight.
We got our things together, booked out of the hotel and made our way to the airport international departure terminal.
Everything took time, we spent a lot of time waiting, but it was a good wait all around. All the staff throughout our travel was calm, friendly and kept us well informed of everything going on and happening.
We got our bag checked in and breezed through imigration and all the control points along the way. We arrived at the gate with another coffee in hand and ready to board our long flight to Dubai International Airport.
Once we started the flight, everything seemed like a normal flight. The staff, the meals, the general flight experience was that of all the Emirates flights we have ever been on, the only difference was that this was an all Emirates flight, no coach share.
Before we knew it we arrived at Dubai Airport. We made our way through the check points again, it took some time but it was all well organised and clearly marked.
It was a happy feeling, a satisfying feeling going up the familiar escalator to enter the platform, but what was once a bustling platform of tourists transitting and spending their time and money at the duty free shops, now was a ghostly bare empty space of shops, manned by the assistants hoping to make any kind of sale.
We, as per tradition, made our way through the shops, bought a few things, got our Starbuck, and then moved up to the lounge area where we spent the next couple of hours waiting for our final flight home. This too, was a very different experience, as the lounge was bare and quite. The food and beverages available was only for ordering. No buffets, no array of food or drinks. The food was served as boxed meals and the drinks were brough to you by a lounge assistant. It was still great quality and good food, regardless of the change.
It was comforting to know we were mere hours away from home.
This wait seemed a bit more tiring, almost tense. It could be described as that feeling you get as a child the night before your birthday, Easter or Christmas.
Then, we were off to the boarding gate, ready and anxious to board the flight to Bahrain. The flight was comfortable and well staffed, a quick flight after the hours already travelling.
Having boarded the final flight we were more excited than every. The flight was over fast, and as we arrived at the Bahrain Airport, the feeling of relief washed over us, having made the long overdue trip, and having made it with no issues at all.
We disembarked and boarded, what we fondly always smile about, the welcoming Cobus bus (Cobus is the big branded sign on the bus). Cobus took us on a slow but steady trip more than halfway around the airport to a tented area where we were tested and given our tracking bracelets.
Again, I was astounded by and greatful for the friendly efficient manner that everyone at this facility was handeling all the travellers, even the very unhappy little children. It was rather late in the evening and the younger generation can be a bit trying, especially after long flights. It was another check point and another waiting period we had to make through, but because of the attitude and atmosfere the time was not spent in anger, by anyone at all.
We again got picked up by Cobus at the tents. Cobus made the trip around the airport facility to the airport arrrival terminal at a steady pace, arriving so that the passangers could go through customs and collect their bags.
It was a long two days, but it was definately worth it, and it was one of the best flights we have had. I have again learned to appreciate everyone involved in making travel possible.
We got through the aiport facilies and made it to the outside of the airport, and there in the parking lot stood Zane, awaiting our long overdue arrival, back at home, back to the normal chaos of family life.
The Bahrain skyline and sounds welcoming us with the hot breeze serenading the memory of the heated seasons from years before.
Next is the settling in part and quarintine waiting for us, but much less of a hassle than a welcome thought and adventure awaiting for us.
Keep safe and healthy all