Being frugal has its limits. Girl, please.

My girlfriends and I went on a theater trip to New York City a couple of years ago. As many of you know, I love to take the subway and trains when I’m traveling. Kelley and I were out for a day of sight-seeing and I was navigating the subway system just fine… until rush hour. Humanity started packing itself into the subway and people started being too close. I looked at Kelley and said those four words she was dying to hear, “Let’s get a taxi.”

Kelley replied, “I was wondering how long this was going to last.” Tallahassee has clearly spoiled us. So I found myself in a similar situation this weekend. Unfortunately, I could not quite extricate myself from the super crowded Guatrain from the Johannesburg airport this weekend. My paperwork in Swaziland is not quite right… We do not want to be deported. No we don’t. So I had to leave the country on my tourist visa… It was an opportune time to buy some parmesan  cheese, strawberries, tortillas, salsa, and a couple of other things I just cannot find in Swaziland.

I booked a hotel in a different neighborhood than I had previously stayed because it was close to The Orbit, a jazz club which was having Funk Night. Getting off the uncrowded, very air conditioned train in Sandton (a posh suburb of Johannesburg) and getting on the train to Park Station, I should have just exited the station and hailed a taxi there. BUT NO. I was riding the train! I didn’t realized the magnitude of my error.

I jammed onto the train, being pushed from all sides, trying to keep my luggage with me. I ended up standing in the middle of an aisle between two people with no personal space limitations. Nobody got off the hot packed train at the first stop. I needed a Sam’s sized box of TicTacs and deodorant to distribute to my very close, standing, breathing down my neck train neighbors. When the train stopped at Park station, people started crowding to get off the train and onto the escalator. I reached back and physically removed someone from tailgating in my behind and told myself, Annette please. Sometimes you go to far.

But it didn’t end there. That hotel, in the neighborhood near the jazz spot is a Marriott property with beautiful rooms. And, I didn’t book this particular hotel to be cheap. I booked it for the location. Howandsoever, it is a social experiment that will not be repeated. I must remind myself that Joburg is a big city. Booking a hotel here is like booking one in any other big city. There are parts of the city that we DO NOT WANT TO SEE. Next time, book at a hotel in a familiar neighborhood. Take a taxi to the attractions, Annette. Sheesh.

For you travel buffs:

The first hotel nearest the jazz clubs was the Protea (Marriott chain) Parktonian. It was okay inside my room, I guess. I checked out after one night and ended up staying at the Radisson Blu Sandton. It was a nice hotel BUT the food was bad and expensive by S. African standards. I actually spent my evening wind-down time down the street at the Radisson Blu Gautrain, which is directly out of the front door of the train station. Live music on Fridays. Nice rooftop pool deck, full service. Food was great. All of the hotels were about $85 per night.  Find a deal on TripAdvisor or somewhere if you find higher prices.


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