A Travellerspoint blog

Cape Town Day 3

Robben Island and Table Mountain

sunny 17 °C
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Beautiful clear day. Down to Mandela Gateway for ferry ride across Table Bay to Robben Island. Great views back into Cape Town with the mountains as a backdrop.
Bus tour around the island with a very entertaining guide who pointed out the various historical uses for the different buildings.

Back to the high security prison for a guided tour. An ex-political prisoner was our guide. Hard to imagine how he could continue to work in the prison after being locked up there for so long. It is a very tidy, uncomplicated and highly maintained prison museum. No bells or whistles; few signs and no models or reinactments - just the stark reality of prison cells, yards and razor wire. Nelson Mandela's cell is no different to the others. At times it was difficult to understand everything the old fellow said because of his accent and some problems with his throat but the emotions were clearly not too far below the surface particularly when he talked about the limit to numbers and censorship of personal letters and the restrictions on visits by family. Political prisoners were treated more harshly than common law prisoners.

Back to the mainland and a little "situational ethics" from Timothy had us at the front of the cue for a gondola ride up Table Mountain. Spectacular 360 degree views over Cape Town and the surrounding oceans.

We returned to Albert and Victoria Waterfront to watch England get trounced. People watching completed a top day.

Posted by grobarry 05:11 Archived in South Africa Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Cape Town Day 2

Coastal Tour - Cape of Good Hope - Cape Point

semi-overcast 11 °C
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Much better start to the day after a cool night. Cool breeze but still some cloud on Table Mountain. Timothy decided it would be best to do the Cape Peninsula Tour and hope for an even better day on the mountain tomorrow.
Drove through down town and some classy surburban sections of Cape Town before our first stop at Hout Bay. Spectacular run along the coastal cliffs around Chapman's Peak. Azure blue water rolling in on sandy white beaches or crashing into sheer cliffs. The early morning sunlight casting interesting patterns on the swell as clouds moved quickly overhead.
Dropped in at Scarborough Beach so that Rob could demonstrate a "Pommie swim" to Timothy. He kept asking "You are really going to go swimming??" How poetic that there was a Scarborough Beach for his demonstration. As we had now "turned the corner" the wind was really howling in off the Atlantic and the sun was struggling to warm us up. We moved down the beach with an incredulous Tim; Rob dutifully removed his shoes, rolled up his jeans and donned his four-cornered hankie. Unfortunately he did not have a jacket an had to improvise a tie which would have completed the picture of his sartorially dressed father going for a swim at Blackpool. Never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story he walked in up to his ankles. Photos dutifully taken we returned to the car and turned up the heater to dry out his pants.
Next stop was the Cape of Good Hope. I have now been at the most south-westerly point of Australia and Africa - just leaves South America to go.........maybe 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Hopefully I can get Sue to go before then so that I can avoid more of "the beautiful game".
Timothy suggested that we might like to walk across to Cape Point. "Because, you guys like to get right into things - it is not too difficult a walk". He was correct - it wasn't that difficult or far if you stuck to the easy track!! Your intrepid explorers did get somewhat off the beaten track a couple of times - good thing the girls were not with us. Fantastic views of a most spectacular coastline.
Timothy drove around to the Point and was so concerned about us that he walked at least 100 metres down the track to look for us. More spectacular views looking out to where the two oceans come together.
After lunch we went looking for the ostrich that Robert wanted to photograph on our way to the CoGH - Tim and I said "No - its just an ostrich!" A loop back towards the Cape brought a veritable flock of ostrich. Timothy took the opportunity to demonstrate how guides can get even with annoying clients by ensuring that they do not see what they have been demanding to see. As the ostriches loomed into view on the seaward side of the road he pointed out the three impala or zebra far off on a hill on the other side of the road. We didn't see the ostrich until we had given up and agreed to continue our journey after a U-turn.
On round the other side of the peninsula to Boulder Beach for a quick look at one of the two colonies of Jackass penguins on the mainland. Not nearly as cute as emporer penguins.
Back to Stellenbosch for dinner at the Moyo restaurant. Met a South African family who invited us to join them at their table. Very pleasant evening was had by all.

Posted by grobarry 03:34 Archived in South Africa Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

June 24 - 25

Cape Town

overcast 19 °C
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Long day on the road from Kruger area back to Jo'burg yesterday. Had a quiet farewell to our travelling companions over a meal and a few drinks while watching "another game" on the big screen at our hotel. Even so it was after 11.00 pm before we hit the sack and hardly slept at all as we waited for our 4 am wake up call. Smooth transition through the airport and caught some Zs on the flight to Cape Town. Looked like a glorious day as we headed toward the coast. Countryside so green and lots of water in dams and streams. Unfortunately there was thick fog covering Cape Town and it didn't burn off until late afternoon. Our transfer driver/personal guide met us at the airport in a Mercedes van. Because it was too early to check into the hotel he changed our itinerary and we did a tour of the Stellenbosch town and vineyards. Stellenbosch is a very attractive town retaining it's Dutch architectural heritage. All buildings new and old are painted white and have thatched roofs. It is also a university town so the human demographic and the commercial establishments are quite different.
Visited the Spiers vineyard, restaurant, picnic area and "zoo". Had a wine tasting - quite enjoyed the Pinotage which is apparently unique to SA and is a cultivar from Pinot and Hermitage grapes. Sits somewhere between Cab Sav and Shiraz. They also have 11 cheetahs which they use similarly to the Walking with Lions group to raise the awareness of the threat to this animals existence. They are promoting the use of Anatolian Shephard dogs to protect sheep flocks from attack by cheetahs. They also have a great collection of raptors which have predominantly been brought in injured as a result of accident or maltreatment. Where possible they are supposedly released back into the wild. Have a photo of Rob with a big black eagle on his arm. The look on his face is classic.
Our hotel in Cape Town is not new but we have a unit with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge/TV room and kitchenette. We look out our windows over a balcony to Table Mountain which looks about 5 Km away. The waterfront area is bit beyond walking distance but they provide a shuttle bus so we should be able to do any last minute shopping. Cape Town is living up to it's reputation so far.
Too weary to visit Fanfest for the Portugal - Brazil game so sat in our room and watched both games and Leyton's win. Don't think I will need much rocking tonight.

Posted by grobarry 09:23 Archived in South Africa Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

End of the dream

Socceroos campaign over

sunny 7 °C
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Big game against Serbia was not enough to get the boys into the finals. Most experts here recognized that our boys do not really have the fine ball skills of the better teams but in soccer a lot can be achieved with teamwork persistence and constant hard work on the field. That's what we saw from the Aussies last night. If only we had had that team on the field against Germany. Unfortunately "we" still believe that there is an official FIFA policy to fix games and that Aus is always on the receiving end. Time for the soccer fanatics to grow up and recognize the limitations of our players. The kiwis demonstrated what can be done with unsung heroes and hard work.

We have discovered we are to suffer at the hands of bad Sportsnet organisation. Had we been informed we could have flown from Nelspruit to Cape Town this morning. Instead we will sit on the coach for six hours today to get back to Joburg and then fly out early tomorrow morning.

Posted by grobarry 22:48 Archived in South Africa Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Days 12 & 13 - Mpalunga

Big Game Hunting - Kruger National Park

sunny 5 °C
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Enjoyed the Kiwis showing just how competitive Australasian teams can be when the coach and the players get it right. Again a real shamozzle getting out of the ground at Nelspruit but finally arrived at our very nice lodgings for the next four nights.
We were booked for two full day game drives in Kruger NP. Not much time for sleep on the first night as we had a 05:30 start. Very chilly ride in the open landrovers as we are about 50 mm from the nearest entrance. Had been encouraged to consider a night drive as this was supposedly the best chance of seeing big cats on the prowl. Our guide Stefan Kruger (distant relative of Paul Kruger who gazzetted the park in about 1897) was a real character with the broadest Afrikaaner accent also encouraged us to follow up after a fairly disappointing first morning. It was very much a case of "You should have been here 15 mins ago" as we raced around trying to keep up with reported sightings. Nothing like National Geographic. I had to change my mind set to that of the fisherman - sometimes you get a good one but most times there is a lot of casts between bites. On e in that frame of mind I began to enjoy the thrill of each new discovery. By the end of the second day we had good sightings of giraffe, buffalo, rhino, leopard, elephant, hyena, hippo, some rare birds and reptiles and lots of the Macca varieties (I
impala, kudu, wildebeast) but the nearest we got to the king of the jungle wasthe flick of a tail as a pride moved off behind a distant mound of dirt. Determined to change this we dutifully paid out an additional 570 Rnd for the night drive in Sabi Sabi private reserve. For the record after two hours of off-road trekking with our tracker perched on the mudguard of the rover sweeping the scrub with a powerful spotlight we managed to find four rabbits or perhaps it was the same "fierce" rabbit four times. Stefan was most apologetic. All we could was laugh about it - somewhat hysterically I must admit. It was enjoyable overall but I would not recommend Kruger as a place to see wildlife particularly at this time of year.
Today is crunch day for the Socceroos - they need to win convincingly and have Ghana trounce Germany to go thru to the next round. Appears most unlikely but soccer is a strange game. I still can't accept the "beautiful game" definition there is just too much deliberate cheating going on for me. Our tour guides have been working hard to help us enjoy it. After the schemozzle of the departure the other nite, they have somehow arranged for our coach to be included in the official Fifa cavalcade this afternoon. For an additional 100 Rand we will go early to the hospitality area a meal and drink, watch the earlier game on the big screen and then proceed to the ground with the official coaches. Sounds too good to be true but here's hoping.

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