Monday, May 21, 2018

GPUG Amplify South Africa 2018 - Getting here

Wednesday, May 16, 2017

Living in beautiful Atlanta, I have the opportunity to live close to the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). ATL also happens to be the home of arguably, one of the world's largest airline, Delta Airlines. One of the primary benefits of this unique airport-airline combination is that Atlantans very used to direct (non-stop) flights out of ATL to just about anywhere in the world.

As such, Delta features a direct flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, non-stop! Although, this is comforting, the 15.5 hours trip is a test for anyone remotely suffering from some form of claustrophobia. A big part of overcoming the long trip is quickly engaging in some food eating, paired up with a good dosage of movies. Shortly after boarding and take off - around 6:30 PM on Tuesday, May 15 - I began watching 12 Strong, the true story of a US Special Forces tasked with taking out the Taliban in the immediate aftermath of the events of September 11. I must say that this 2 1/2-hour movie was very compelling and action packed and certainly made the first couple hours of the trip pass by pretty quick.

However, I just decided after the movie, that I would close my to try to sync up with my destination's time zone to minimize the effects of jet lag, which is rather unavoidable on these types of trips.

Flight tracker over Georgetown, Asuncion Island

Between the various cabin service passes I manage to close my eyes and fall asleep. 8 hours later, over Georgetown, the capital of the tiny Ascension Island, a British enclave between Africa and coastal Brazil and a part of the Northern Mariana Islands, I definitely felt the proximity to my final destination, Johannesburg.

One thing about the flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg is your ability to surf the internet via the Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi system. It helped to know I could update my wife in Atlanta on the progress of my flight, while maintaining communication with my friend and conference organizer, Pieter Cornelius in Johannesburg. Frankly, any little thing you can do to make the time go by on these lengthy trips is totally worth it.

4 more hours and I was over the Namib Desert in Namibia (not to be confused with the imaginary republic of Nambia 😋) which is a vast expanse running some 2000 kilometers (1200 miles) along the Atlantic coast of South Africa, Namibia and Angola. I handed my camera to the lady sitting at the window, who managed to snap this beautiful picture under clear skies.

Namib Desert
20 minutes later, I would land safe and sound at O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) at around 5:30 PM local time. I was delighted to see Microsoft Azure banners hugging the columns in the passport control area, a sign of the progress the company is making in expanding its cloud data center presence in South Africa.

Microsoft Azure Cloud banner

Passage through passport control was a breeze and exiting the customs area was uneventful. This was a much welcome experience considering I had just spent 15.5 hours in the air and I was a bit tired to say the least. I boarded a taxi cab, not wanting to wait for Uber to go to the Sunsquare Montecasino hotel. This trip was accompanied by the usual Johannesburg rush hour traffic, complicated by the fact that Lionel Messi and his FC Barcelona were in town to play a friendly against the Mamelodi Sundowns

Sunsquare Hotel
Check in was quick with my friend Pieter waiting for me in the lobby. We exchanged pleasantries, had a couple drinks at the hotel bar after I was settled in. Following a couple drinks, we went to Texas Wing Bar to get some finger food.

I had left instructions with the front desk to have my friend and fellow MVP David Musgrave, who was arriving a little later with his lovely wife Jennifer, call me upon his arrival. Once David checked in, he reached out, but by then I was burnt out and ready to call it a day.

Until next post,

Mariano Gomez, MVP

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