August 22

Leaving my stay in Zambia with the Peace Corps...Perfect timing for us, the folks at Chimfunshi had to go to Ndola the morning of the 22nd where both Mindy and I wanted to be. Four hours in the back of a pick-up? Sure!
HAD to snap this...

Four hours in the pick-up, four hours waiting in Ndola, two hour flight to Jo'burg, two hour connection, two hour flight to Cape Town.

The hostel where I'm staying sent a driver to pick up me and another guy so we had to wait a little for him, and then, Cape Town! It was late and a long day so I went immediately to sleep...
...and woke to a rainy day. I did showers in the plural, laundry, pictures, email, read some news and since breakfast is included at the hostel I really didn't have to go out until hunger drove me from my room.

Just around the corner is this restaurant, Mano's. I thought I was still sleeping, in a dream really. It was perfect.
The morning of the 24th I did a nice walk-about from where I'm staying in the V&A Waterfront district.

I guessed the V&A to be, incorrectly as it turned out, Victoria and Albert. No, it's Victoria and Alfred. Alfred? Who is Alfred? Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria.

In 1860 Prince Alfred ceremonially began construction of the harbor naming the first basin after himself and the second after his mother. The current redevelopment project began in 1988. Ownership has changed hands a few times.

The red clock tower in the middle distance is an original landmark. It's a Victorian Gothic-style structure and was the original Port Captain’s Office.
It's a very well done development I think with all the tourist-a necessities of shops, restaurants, hotels, lots of sports and sightseeing activities, and including a large indoor crafts market, and business and residential components too.
De rigueur.
What you can't see in this photo is the top of Table Mountain. It's just there, hidden by the clouds.
This is a Dutch Reformed church: "Founded by a certain Reverend Vos in 1799, the South African Missionary Society was formed in an effort to convert slaves to Christianity, and this inconspicuous structure in Long Street was built in 1804 as the first official slave church in the country. Today it houses a tiny museum depicting the history of South African missionary work."
Off Long Street was a plaza with a market of crafts imported from around Africa and not really to the standard of the selection at the Waterfront but probably less expensive too, I didn't check that.
A few of the more entertaining buildings around Long Street.

The whole time I was walking for maybe four hours I was thinking about lunch and where I would eat. I kept my eye out and after careful consideration...I went back to yesterday's place and was just as happy as a clam.
August 25

The exterior of Atlantic Point Backpackers, my home for the week and the cleanest hostel in all the history of hostels. How DO they do it?! On top of which the dorm beds have reading lights. I've been in hotel rooms without reading lights.

I signed up for a private room, shared bathroom, but they had an en suite room empty and are letting me have it at no additional cost for the first several days. Nice.
Today I went on a tour of the wine country. Really a tour of just a little patch of the wine country since it is such a large area, and with hundreds of wine producing establishments. They call them wine farms around here where they have been growing wine for more than 300 years.

First stop, Fairview, founded in 1693. It was fun, and they had a good selection of cheese to go with the wine.
They make a lot of goat cheese too. The babies stay with their moms while they are little but at some point the farm managers rather hand feed the babies formula and keep the goat milk for cheese.
Our group: A young couple from Britain, two British sisters, one guy from Austria, three guys from Germany, and another two guys from Germany. One fellow is missing from the photo. I was the oldest by 30 years which is entertaining in itself.
Next up was Solms Delta where we enjoyed, along with tasty wine, a really delicious lunch. This tour was shaping up quite nicely.
We stopped off for a 15 minute walking break at the university town of Stellenbosch, founded in 1679, the second oldest city in South Africa. From 15 short minutes I have to say it was as charming as a town needs to be.

I'm even wondering if I want to go back, if I could figure out how to get there.
Ms Wiki's pano of the Stellenbosch.
A guy was standing in front of his shop. We exchanged greetings. He invited me into his shop to look at his diamonds. I declined with thanks. So he asked if maybe I'd like to look at his owl.

It wasn't actually his owl but she had built her nest way up high in the tree in front of his shop. You can see how well she's camouflaged. Oh yes please, I'd love to look at your owl.
Our third winery was Beyerskloof, yum, and ended at Villiera Wines. There was something to like everywhere we went.

Wine tasting on a tour is definitely the way to go. It's fun, educational, tasty, and you don't have to drive.
Wow, that mountain looks like a table...
August 26

It was raining in the morning but cleared by noon and I walked back to the V&A Waterfront where the Robben Island tour starts. Sorry, all sold out, so I've got a ticket for tomorrow.

From the Waterfront, this guy looks like a lego-man but is actually made out of coke crates. I have yet to find his story.
Here is coke-man again looking over Nobel Square made to honour South Africa's four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates:

Albert Lithuli (1960); Desmond Tutu (1984); FW de Klerk (1993); Nelson Mandela (1993)
Then I walked back into town with the idea to visit the Bo-Kaap Museum of the history of the early Muslim settlers. I took an unexpected detour in my walk and ended up in an amazing neighborhood of Muslim people known as the Cape Malay.

What Ms Wiki has to say, abridged:

The Cape Malay community derives its name from the Western Cape of South Africa and the people originally from Maritime Southeast Asia. The community's earliest members were enslaved Javanese transported by the Dutch East India Company followed by slaves from other Southeast Asian regions. Starting in 1654 those who opposed the Dutch presence in what is now Indonesia were exiled in South Africa by the Dutch East India Company that had founded and used what is now Cape Town as a resupply station for ships traveling between Europe and Asia. They were the group that first introduced Islam to South Africa."
I had a little conversation with a guy and his daughter who were out on the street visiting with neighbors.

I asked him what language they spoke on this street and he said a special combination of Malay and Afrikaans but all the people his daughter's age spoke only English.
My second question was, man, what about these colors? He said around 10 years ago one person painted his house a bright color, and then another person, and then in relatively short order the whole street was done, just one by one, by the owners because they liked it.

I asked three people at the museum about it and none of them had a story at all. I'm standing in front of museum for this shot.
Then I hopped a mini-bus to Sea Point. The mini-buses here are quite lovely - similar vehicles as in Zambia but new instead of old and seat 12 instead of 18.

Sea Point is a neighborhood with a promenade that runs along the sea faced with handsome housing blocks and a commercial street two blocks inland.
And art.
We had bright sunshine, cool fresh sea breezes, folks out for a constitutional - a little like home.
August 27

Made up from internet pictures, this is Robben Island where political prisoners were detained during the Apartheid era, and its relationship to Cape Town there in the distance.

The most well-known detainee of course was Nelson Mandela. He was kept here for the first 18 of his 27 years of confinement. After 18 years at Robben Island he was moved to a few other facilities around South Africa.

Firstly it was much bigger than I expected. I was thinking Alcatraz which is (wiki fact here) less than .1 square kilometer. Robben Island is about 5 square kilometers.
Table Mountain dominates the view.
The lime pit where the prisoners worked, the cave, and the pile of rocks are all part of the story.
Another view of Cape Town and Table Mountain.
The obligatory tour. I tried to do the tour yesterday but it was sold out which is why I did a couple things that I hadn't thought to do.

Three times a day a boat from the Waterfront brings about 200 people over who are then distributed to buses and taken around the island for story and photo ops.

The last stop is the prison block where an ex-political prisoner does the tour. It is all well organized, they've done it thousands of times, but also chaotic with so many people.

It seems the goal of the narrators was to get through it with the least possible aggravation. Our group was very aggravating to the guides (and me too!). We had two different translators traveling with their own groups who where both shouting over the guides as they spoke, one having a group from Brazil speaking Portuguese and the other a group from Spain speaking Spanish. Yikes.
On the boat ride back.

Then my plan was to go to Table Mountain but because it was so windy the cable cars were closed so I just enjoyed a long lunch and a nap, which I needed because the previous night some kids were Party Hearty until the wee wee hours, a risk you take when you stay in hostels.
August 28

Long day today, for me anyway, out at 8:30a back at 6:30p after a ride down to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope and back.

This map is in Afrikaans but the names are obvious and it shows all the places I've been including Stellenbosch in the wine country and Robben Island north of Cape Town.
The scenes off the road were quite gorgeous with handsome (read rich) holiday towns, picturesque beaches, and fabulous topography.

This is the luxury community of Camps Bay backed by the 12 Apostles mountain range.
Our first activity was a stop in Hout Bay to take a 45 minute boat ride out to see a seal colony.
There they are.

I stood up-top with the driver and had a good chat. Ever since my first trip on a cruise ship I've especially enjoyed riding on 'the bridge' ship, harbor tour, it's good.
We then did a view stop where you can look back and see the very teeny seal island there at the far left.
There is a yearly professional bicycle race along this route and being Sunday the road was often taken with folks out for a training run.

Isn't this all looking a lot like driving the PCH down from San Simeon?
The Cape of Good Hope. Man oh MAN it was windy. And not just a big steady blow but also added to the blow were these huge gale-force gusts that lifted you off your feet.
This whole Cape Peninsula, including Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, is an area important in the history of exploration, conquest, and commerce.

[the lighthouse story will go here but maybe much later...]
From the group, these three are living in Dubai for the last few years, originally from India... from Gujarat... from Rupa and Anil's exact town! They were SO surprised to hear I had been there.

We also had a business man from Pakistan and an engineer from France.
We stopped at Simons Town, Boulders Beach to have a look at the African Penguins, the second smallest type of penguin in the world. We don't see any penguins on the beach but...
...some of them are here, nesting by the boardwalk.
Heading back we pass through more nice towns along the way.
A very long beach.
Last stop, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site, quoted from their website, the Cape Floral Region is the:

"...serial site in the Western Cape, made up of eight protected areas, covering 553,000-ha. The Cape Floral Region is one of the richest areas for plants in the world. It represents less than 0.5% of the area of Africa but is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora.

"The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the richest areas for plants than for any similar sized area in the world. The number of species per genus within the region (9:1) and per family (52) are among the highest given for various species-rich regions in the world. The species density in the Cape Floral Region is also amongst the highest in the world. It displays the highest levels of endemism at 31.9 % and it has been identified as one of the world’s 18 biodiversity hot spots."
We had one hour to stroll. It was pretty and felt good to just walk, and then we took the short ride back.
August 29

My last full day in Africa, and a beauty it was. The weather was perfect for a Red Bus City Tour that included transport to Table Mountain.

Another view of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles.
From the balcony of the old City Hall, only hours after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech promoting peace and reconciliation.
The tram ride up to the top of Table Mountain. Excellent!
Once up to the top there are what seem like, but probably aren't, miles and miles of trails. It was a fantastic walk and I'm so glad I didn't even Think about walking up.

At the hostel where I'm staying many many have done the 4-5 hour trek up and down. It was a project but they loved it. While I was walking around I could totally tell who had walked up by the sweat on their shirt and the red in their face.
Cape Town.
A view toward Cape Point.
A view toward Cape Point with the coast in sight.
I got plenty of walking...
Continuing the city tour.
The new soccer stadium from the 2010 World Cup and I also visited the new stadium in Durban.

Getting the World Cup is a huge deal. You have to have many world class stadiums in cities large enough to handle all the visitors. South Africa spent a fortune. They built five new stadiums and played in nine cities total.

Brazil will have it in 2014 and Russia in 2018. Now I see more clearly why all the controversy surrounding Qatar winning for 2022. They'll need to accommodate hundreds of thousands of visitors, the temperatures during the tournament are highs always over 100 and lows in the 80s, what about the infrastructure of airports, roads, etc. It'll be interesting.
Yesterday's tour guide said the only truly local crafts in South Africa are the ostrich egg creations. Everything else comes from other African nations.
Good night!

Tomorrow I'll fly Cape Town-Johannesburg-Atlanta-LA. Between flight times and connection waits I'll be traveling for 35 hours. Then add in the morning wait on the 30th in Cape Town and that I'll want to stay awake until 9p in LA on the 31st...Africa is far far away, and a fantastic adventure.
HomeMiddle East and Africa • South Africa • '11 Aug: South Africa, mostly Cape Town

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