Our time in Johannesburg was short, barely two days, so we had to allocate our time wisely. We decided that we should spend our first day visiting Lion Country Safari. After all, how many times does one get the chance to do this?

We had landed in Johannesburg at 6 a.m., got to our hotel, checked in, ate, then rested for an hour or two. At noon our tour guide came to pick us up.

He told us his name in his native tongue and frankly, we could not repeat it. It did however begin with the letter T, so he said we could call him Mr. T, or just T. So be it!

We had a 40 minute drive to the lion park. The cars in South Africa drive on the left side of the road, the opposite of what we in the USA are accustomed to. This shattered an urban legend I had heard that the only places where cars drive on the left are islands (Ireland, the United Kingdom, etc.). So I guess I can stop telling people that one. :-)

As we drove to the park, we asked T about all the buildings we saw with the high walls and fences around them. He explained that was due to the high crime rate and added that personal and building security was the number one growth industry in the nation. We stopped at one intersection and saw a large sign posted by the provincial government, “Warning, you are entering a high crime area.” Even with that, we never felt threatened or in danger in the short time we were in the country.

We eventually arrived at the park.

The entrance to the lion park.

The entrance to the lion park.

The park had a bit of a touristy feel to it, but I was glad to see that it was well regarded.

The park had a bit of a touristy feel to it, but I was glad to see that it was well regarded.

The souvenir shop was our first stop. Many of the itmes were nice, but jwould look very much out of place in my home or office.

The souvenir shop was our first stop. Many of the items were nice, but would look very much out of place in my home or office.

The Nelson Mandela t-shirt: this would not be the last time we saw his image.

The Nelson Mandela t-shirt: this would not be the last time we saw his image.

After the souvenir shop we had our fist chance to see the animals: these were not particularly wild, they were behind a fence that we could walk up to.

I can check this off the bucket list: I had the chance to pet a group of lion cubs. They had jsut eatten and wanted to nap. Obviously, mama was not around.

I can check this off the bucket list: I had the chance to pet a group of lion cubs. They had just eaten and wanted to nap. Obviously, mama was not around.

Many people stopped to pet this baby giraffe. Although just a baby, he was still almost 10 feet tall.

Many people stopped to pet and feed  this baby giraffe. Although just a baby, he was still almost 10 feet tall.

What a strikingly beautiful face! This leopard cub had just eaten and was about to fall asleep.

What a strikingly beautiful face! This cheetah cub had just eaten and was about to fall asleep.

I've joked that this was my first car. It's an impala.

I’ve joked that this was my first car. It’s an impala. Explanation for those who do not live in North America: Chevrolet makes a car called the Impala and it was the first car I owned.

Several zebras were feeding, but the pattern on this one struck me with its elaborate detail.

Several zebras were feeding, but the pattern on this one struck me with its elaborate detail.

After seeing these animals up close, it was time for us to get in the car and have T drive us out to the area where the lions roamed.

I was very happy at this time that I had bought a new camera, the Fuji SL1000. The 50X optical zoom would come in handy as we drove by, but not very close to, the large cats.

Our first view of the lions. These females had just eaten and were resting in the shade of a large tree.

Our first view of the lions. These females had just eaten and were resting in the shade of a large tree.

While the other females were dozing off, this one seemed to remain on guard for any problems.

While the other females were dozing off, this one seemed to remain on guard for any problems.

This female While Lion was eating lunch. When we asked T what she was eating he replied "leg of horse.: Oh, okay.

This female While Lion was eating lunch. When we asked T what she was eating he replied “leg of horse.” Oh, okay.

Over the years, there have been many times when my dog was alseep and a loud noise would cause it to waek up. Usually, it would have a goofy "what just happened" look on its face. That's what happened to this male White Lion. He was sound alseep until a flock of birds flew overhead and woke him up. He still has that "Huh, what's going on?" look on his face.

Over the years, there have been many times when my dog was asleep and a loud noise would cause him to wake up. Usually, he’d have a goofy “What just happened?” look on his face. That’s what happened to this male White Lion. He was sound asleep until a flock of birds flew overhead and woke him up. He still has that “Huh, what’s going on?” look on his face.

Much better now, he has spotted the birds and knows what is going on.

Much better now, he has spotted the birds and knows what is going on.

We had to stop to let this female walk by. So many vehicles drive through every day that the lions don't pay any attention to them.

We had to stop to let this female walk by. So many vehicles drive through every day that the lions don’t pay any attention to them.

Two females resting under a shade tree.

Two females resting under a shade tree.

This male was eating lunch. I decried to not ask what was  being served.

This male was eating lunch. I decried to not ask what was being served.

A cheetah, sound asleep.

A cheetah, sound asleep.

T drove us around the rest of the park, we saw more lions, some wild dogs, and some more lions. By now the day was starting to catch up with us, it was Sunday afternoon and we had been on the go since we left Austin on Friday evening, so we were very glad to hear T say that we had seen the entire park. After another quick stop at the souvenir shop, he drove us back to the hotel.

We had dinner and then called it a night. I looked forward to sleeping in a bed for the first time since Thursday night. Suffice to say, we slept very well.

Day two in Johannesburg

We slept fairly late, then went to the hotel dining room for a wonderful breakfast; we again sat on the outdoor veranda and enjoyed the mild weather.

My friend loves to drink iced tea, even with breakfast; when he ordered it, the server had no idea what he meant. Eventually he figured out the best thing to do was to order a pot of hot tea with two large glasses of ice. That worked.

One of the things the staff had to watch for ws these small yellow birds that immediately started to eat from a plate after the customer left the table.

One of the things the staff had to watch for was these small yellow birds that immediately started to eat from a plate after the customer left the table.

We were still tired from the previous day and decided to take it easy, we’d walk over to Mandela Square, located just a few blocks from our hotel.

The entrance to Nelson Mandela Square.

The entrance to Nelson Mandela Square.

Nelson Mandela Square is not an outdoor square like Times Square in New York, you can’t drive by and see it. Rather, it is the interior courtyard of a large group of buildings that include an upscale hotel, a shopping mall, a library, many restaurants, and offices. It seemed fairly obvious to me that its construction was not only a tribute to the great man, but also part of the economic development of the Sandton area of Johannesburg.

We had to walk through the shopping mall to get to the famous Mandela Statue, it was worth the effort.

As you walk out of the building into the couryard, you come across a massive statue of Madnela with a giant poster of his face across the way.

As you walk out of the building into the courtyard, you come across a massive statue of Mandela with a giant poster of his face across the way.

It's a wonderful statue of the man, but it sure is tall.

It’s a wonderful statue of the man, but it sure is tall.

One of the problems of a very tall statue is that no one can tell its you when you stand next to it. At least I am as tall as his kneecap. :-)

One of the problems of a very tall statue is that no one can tell it’s you when you stand next to it. At least I am as tall as his kneecap.

Mandela's visage looks down upon the square from the side of the Sandton Library.

Mandela’s visage looks down upon the square from the side of the Sandton Library.

Looking back across the square at the staute, some of the many restaurants, and the fountain in the center of the square.

Looking back across the square at the statue, some of the many restaurants, and the fountain in the center of the square.

We shopped at some of the local craft shops located next to the library, then ate lunch at a restaurant in the square. By now it was past noon, so we walked back to the hotel, packed our bags and checked out.

The hotel had a shuttle bus that took us to the Gautrain station. We took that, and went to O.R. Tambo International Airport, went to the British Airways counter to check-in, and that is where one of my most fouled up trips ever began. I’ll share that story in the next article.