The Sandton Station is on the South-West Corner of Rivonia and West Streets, with the entrance in West Street. There is a large multi-storied Parkade right next to it in West Street, and the most convenient level on which to park is B3 as you can then walk straight into the ticket area. Every passenger needs their own Gold Card as this opens the barriers onto and from the platforms, as well as the boom at the exit from the Parkade. You may load as much as you like onto the card at the machines, which is useful if you are a frequent user. As this was just an exploratory journey we opted for the pre-loaded cards.
We queued for about 10 minutes, but this was on the Sunday a week after the opening when very large numbers of residents and visitors seemed to have the same idea. Once at the counter the service was very good and efficient. In fact all of the Gautrain staff with whom we came into contact were well trained, sure of their roles and pleasant to deal with.
Armed with our Gold Cards we took the lift to B9 and emerged right onto the platform, just in time to board a train on the point of leaving. Having settled into our very comfortable seats, in the new and attractive carriages, we were whisked smoothly away into the darkness of the tunnel. After surfacing there was a brief stop at Marlborough before the train sped onwards towards O.R.Tambo. Another short stop at Rhodesfield, which is the link with Metro Rail, and then we glided effortlessly into the airport approximately 15 minutes after leaving Sandton. It was very quick and relaxed, and with some interesting views. On the return journey the train carried more people which resulted in quite a few having to stand, but this was not really a problem.
From immediately off the platform escalators took us down into the airport itself, just short of Terminal A for international arrivals. The new facilities are remarkable and rank with world airports. Both they and the train have made a huge impression on people entering the country for the first time. A short walk took us to the Food Court area which has a number of well known restaurants, most with open seating. There was a queue at Mugg and Bean, but we managed to find a table that had just been vacated at Fournos. Notwithstanding the crowds the service was excellent and the food hot and well-prepared. I enjoyed a delicious omelette and chips, whilst the others chose and enjoyed the breakfast buffet. All around us were men and women of all ages, from many different countries, and sporting the colours of their World Cup teams – some on their faces! The vibe was exhilarating, and only one or two vuvuzelas could be heard!
The Gautrain is not cheap. The journey costs R100 per person each way, and parking is R29. However, we enjoyed the whole experience thoroughly and the new airport with its facilities added to the value. Trains run every 12 minutes in peak periods, every 20 minutes in off-peak periods, and every 30 minutes on Weekends and Public Holidays. Try it and support it – it is good, and shows what we can do.
The more we achieve, the more potential there is
Looking for something that the whole family can enjoy? Maropeng and the Origins Centre , at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, are currently displaying the remains of the almost two-million-year-old Australopithecus sediba, the new species of hominid discovered in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. “Karabo” is currently on view at the Origins Centre , while the adult female will be displayed at the Maropeng Visitor Centre.
Joburg readers can win entrance for a family of four to BOTH of these viewing areas. To enter the draw, email Shaun with your contact details. One entry per person. Entries close on Friday, 2nd July 2010.
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