October 26, 2008 – Sunday – Pretoria (near Johannesburg), South Africa

There is a lagoon, pool & patio in front of the Protea Waterfront Hotel I am staying at for two nights. The hotel is adjacent to the Centurian Mall – which is a typical mall with lots of shops.

This evening at 7pm our tour group of 40 people meet downstairs in the hotel. Most of the group are British, with some Dutch and other Europeans mixed in as well. Our tour leader Craig Olivier introduces himself, gives us an overview of the tour, and answers questions. Craig also discusses the optional excursions that will be available as we travel along the route. I have pre-booked and prepaid most of the excursions I want, so I simply give Craig my coupons and I’m done. My radar normally goes up when tour companies offer add-ons, but in this case, these excursions offer excellent value and allow me to fully appreciate the South African experience.

I have Ostrich medallions in garlic sauce and a glass of local red wine for dinner in the hotel restaurant. I ask for the Ostrich to be done medium, but it is very rare, so I don’t eat all of it. It is very lean red meat, and tastes similar to beef. The following morning I have the breakfast buffet, which is a full European breakfast at reasonable cost. Buffets are common in South Africa, but they don’t use sneeze guards, unlike North American restaurants.

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