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Pole to Pole

Day 127: Johannesburg to Cape Town

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThere are ninety-two people in seventeen coaches - as opposed to 4000 in eighteen on the Nile Valley Express. No one is allowed to travel on the roof. On Zambian Railways the restaurant-car was out of food altogether; on the Blue Train I count thirteen pieces of cutlery in front of me at lunchtime. Terrine of kingclip (a local fish) and Cape salmon are served as we move across the wide, flat expanse of the High Veldt. Grain and gold country. Far in the distance the mountains are temporarily obscured by a thunderstorm.

The Johannesburg Star carries more evidence of the rapid emergence of the country from the years of isolation. South Africa is to be allowed to take part in the Olympics for the first time in thirty years. There is an advert for the resumption of South African Airways services to New York and a report that Richard Branson hopes to bring Virgin Airlines into Johannesburg by 1993. Meanwhile uniformed attendants move discreetly along the carpeted corridors collecting clothes to be pressed. Muzak lightly dusts the tranquil atmosphere, occasionally interrupted by train announcements.

'You can look out for some rhinos now on the compartment side.'

We search unsuccessfully for rhinos. All I can see are telegraph poles.

'Well, we don't seem to be in luck today.' Fade up Strauss waltzes.

But they don't give up easily. Fade down the Strauss waltzes.

'Ladies and gentlemen, you can now look out for flamingoes on the corridor side.'
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 127
  • Country/sea: South Africa
  • Place: Johannesburg
  • Book page no: 288

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