Nov 142011

This is probably a good time to explain why we chose Mozambique in the first place. Yes, we’d heard it was pretty cool with a decent amount to see, was pretty easy to get to from Swaziland but most importantly….there was a daytime flight to Europe from Maputo! We actively try and avoid redeye flights as much as possible, and there was a daytime flight to Lisbon that would not only get us there in time for dinner but also…had a really good fare! Sold!

We got up early, since upon asking the night before the hotel had told us that breakfast started at 630am. Only one small problem: that was for weekdays…it was 7am on weekends! The buffet staff was great, however, and let us in at 630 for some coffee and pastries – more than enough to hold us over until the airport. We were determined to get in as many pastéis de nata (portuguese cream tarts) as possible when in lusophone countries, so it was a good thing!

Hotel arranged a taxi to the airport which was completely reasonable and put it on the room. At this point, I need to gripe. We stayed at the hotel Cardoso, and were quoted our room price in dollars. Upon checkout, it was converted back to Metecais before being billed. They used a rate which was around 5% disadvantageous to us…I absolutely detest when hotels in developing countries pull this scam. We asked to pay in US$ cash at the quoted rate, and they refused. GRRR! Another thing…we had asked to borrow an outlet converter since Mozambique uses strange non-standard plugs. It appeared on our bill at a rate of over $30. These things can be bought in local markets for $3, and it was a battle getting them to take it off even though borrowed had been made very clear. Staff at the Cardoso were friendly, rooms were cool and clean, and no complaints other than the feeling they were trying to fleece you at every turn.

Got to the airport, and here’s where things went tits-up a bit. Despite being in business class, the check-in agent refused to let us carry on our rolling bags because they were over 8kg each which was the limit. No amount of arguing would help. Fortunately, they were just filled with clothes and replaceable things, so it wasn’t a big deal if they went missing (which they didn’t.) Passport control and the lounge were completely uneventful, and soon it was time to board.

TAP Portugal Flight 264
Maputo, Mozambique to Lisbon, Portugal
Depart 8:50, Arrive 19:00, Flight time 11:10
Airbus A340-300, Registration CS-TOA
Seats 1H and 1J

I’m not going to comment a whole lot about this flight because, well, it was pretty much exactly as expected. A few thoughts:

The seats: They were old-style business class seats, but perfectly comfortable for a daytime flight. They went flat or nearly so, were the shell-type, and in the bulkhead just fine. No complaints at all about the seats. They had power adapters, movies were adequate, so overall…nothing special.

The crew: Unfortunately, they were of US-standard and seemed to be doing the absolute minimum…except with the non-rev passengers. There were clearly several TAP employees on board, and they were plenty chatty with them. They also seemed to warm up more to the other Portuguese-speaking passengers…and it wasn’t a language issue. Their English was fantastic, but they just seemed cold and bothered towards us. Even requests for water or a diet coke seemed a chore for them most of the time.

Now…the food. All in all, it was a pretty standard business class meal, although I found the portions rather smaller than one would normally expect…even when compared to United or Delta which are the ones I’m most familiar with.

First, there was an amuse-bouche…a nice start, since you never see this in US business class any more:

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Nov 132011

We were up early, for what I would consider our first proper day of wandering through a major African city. Yes, South Africa is Africa, but it’s kinda Africa-lite in some ways. Walking through a major city like Maputo was going to be a bit of an adventure. Out the door, and down Vladimir Lenin Avenue, and soon we were at the Museum of Natural History.

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Nov 102011

First off apologies that this will be mainly a text post. I don’t know why I didn’t take more pictures on this leg…but just didn’t.

Got up pretty early to catch an early breakfast at the hotel in Swaziland, which was fascinating on its own. The buffet area was small – a dozen tables or so at the Mountain Inn – and most will filled with large South African tour groups. Regardless, we got a good breakfast, and got ready to head on our way. We’d planned to head out of Swaziland on the northern side via Pigg’s Peak, but there was very very thick fog, and the front desk advised us this route would not only be dangerous, but we were unlikely to see anything at all. Oh well – can’t control the weather!

Headed out via the west, and it was still very foggy. We had to get to Nelspruit, South Africa where we were due to catch a Greyhound bus to Mozambique. The drive was slow and quite foggy, but we still made it in plenty of time. Dropped off the car at the airport, and caught a way overpriced taxi back to the bus terminal. No problems at all – which in and of itself was quite surprising. Bus was even on time!

The bus was half full at most (and a double decker) and in less than two hours we were at the Mozambique border. We had purchased our visas in advance, so the border was a complete nonevent. We even had time for a couple pictures:

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