A few pictures from today : my hotel is right across from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange; Use only what you need exhorts Eskom the national electric utility; and since the hotel shuttle from the airport was pretty expensive I had to go and do a test run on the new Gautrain. The Sandton station is just around the block from the hotel and the airport is three stops away. The system is set up the same way as in Seattle and Hong Kong : buy a magnetic card for a nominal fee, and top it up at any station’s ticketing machines. Tap the turnstile reader with the card to register your departure point and tap the exit turnstile reader at the arrival station. The fare is calculated and deducted from the card. A one-way fare from Sandton Square to the airport is R100 (US$15) : not cheap by South African standards, but a cab ride to the hotel will cost at least US$ 50 – and besides, if you intend to fly for transport* you can definitely afford a $15 train fare! The train’s inside is very nicely appointed in a gold, blue and cream color scheme and the seats are very comfortable. The train hits 160 km/h (100 mph) for short stretches between the stations and runs very smoothly. Very nice! The last picture is a view of the old rail track from the elevated Rhodesfield station.
*which reminds me of my experience this morning at British Airways’ security check point at Cape Town this morning. I only had to take out my notebook computer and my Blackberry. Didn’t have to take my shoes off, nor take the bag of liquids out of my computer bag. Walked through the metal detector, the bleep + red light went off, but I was just waved through by the attendant. On top of all that I unintentionally smuggled in a 1/2 bottled water tucked into the side of my backpack that I was not called on either .. whoah !