By Caitlin and Jed
Determined to take the train at some point though, we went to the train station on our first day in Cape Town. Naturally, the office for ticket sales had closed at 11am that day. The next morning, however, we finally secured our tickets back to Joburg! Only then did I read that the train had been out of bedding for the last few months, due to a strike of the train-bedding-providers (who knew they had a separate train-bedding provider union?!). Writing this from the cozy blankets of the train, 3 hours into the supposed 26 hour journey, I can say we are very happy that they are no longer on strike and I hope they got everything they were bargaining for. (The train has no heat and is pretty cold). We are cozy, though, entertained by mountains and vineyards out the window. It's definitely better than the Zambia to Tanzania train we will take in a few weeks, which will be almost twice as long and much less comfortable.
After many times where we stopped and Jed nervously asked "are we broken down" and I let him know this was just standard African train procedure, the train finally did break down. We were told that they were going to have to get us to Johannesburg on buses, but that we were in too remote of a place to get the buses to us, so they weren't sure what to do. We were told it would be about a 3-4 hour delay, which normally wouldn't be so bad on a 26 hour ride, but we were pretty close to our destination and after 20+ hours we were a little restless. Fortunately, they miraculously ended up fixing the train instead and we arrived only about 4 hours late in total. Surprisingly, it was overall a pretty pleasant journey and a nice change of pace from the bumpy airlines.