Monday, 27 February 2017

Goodbye Africa

Our days in  Africa came to a close with a quiet beachside sundowner meal close to where we have been staying.   We were facing two very long flights, 12 hours to Istanbul, a nine hour stop over, then 11 hours to Toronto.

Our African experience had been so wonderful we were sad to leave. This trip would go down as one of the best...from the Gorillas to Table Mountain we had seen and learned so much about this wonderfully diverse continent!

We bid it all goodbye and turned our thoughts to the delights of home.

Last a days in South South Africa

Our time in South Africa was coming to a close.  We were starting to wind  down and to focus  on the logistics of leaving.   This included packing our  cases with our purchases tucked away to ensure that zippers would still close, confirming flights and doing a bit of laundry.

We checked our to-do list and found that there remained one museum that we wanted to see so we jumped on the bus for the last time and made our way downtown.

We walked through the company gardens and enjoyed the cool shade offered by the trees.  As it was Sunday the church bells were peeling and the sun was shinning.

We made our way to the South African museum.  Among many other exhibits, this museum houses excellent examples of rock art and cave paintings.

We took our last bus ride back to the apartment and I noticed walls in the bus station, normally obscured by passengers, which showed the downtown buildings of the city.

When we returned to the apartment we were able to catch the ending of a beautiful eclipsing sun as it was setting.

The following day we visited with Marcelle Arnold, Paul's sister-in-law.  She is from South Africa and explained that she is a Cape Coloured person.  She was able to recount many of her experiences growing up in Cape Town under the Apartheid regime.  awe spent a lively time with her walking on the beach with the beautiful table mountain as a backdrop.  She taught us that lekker  means good/excellent and explained that she was having a lekker day remembering her late husband, Paul's brother.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Signal Hill

With our time fast coming to a close we have but a few activities left on our to-do list.  One was to visit some shops in the downtown core.  We took advantage of the bus and when we returned to our apartment there was  a bush fire  raging not far away.  We watched with interest  from our vantage point on the ninth floor as the fire was extinguished.  

Another of our outstanding to-dos  was to visit Signal Hill and to see the sunset over the city and the ocean.  Unfortunately,  we decided to go on one of the busiest nights...a Saturday.  We had not anticipated the popularity of this spot, especially with the younger generation who were interested in  isolation with their dates and in partying.  Also, other tourists had similar ideas, with two hop-on/hop-off buses also  visiting.  The road up is narrow, parked cars along the roadside made it a one lane narrow road, and bus traffic,  taxis, cars and people on foot were all trying to go both up and down the single road to the top!  It was harrowing, and Paul negotiated the way in with great expertise while I cringed in the passenger seat!

We watched the sunset and saw the city lights come to life at our feet, and at the foot of the mountain.  It was a beautiful sight.


Tucked along the slopes of one of the many faces of a Table Mountain is a large botanical garden named Kirstenbosch.   It is a lovely spot where one can go and relax in this tranquil spot in an otherwise bustling city.  It is really lovely!  As soon as we entered we were struck with a magnificent view of the "other" side of the mountain to the face we usually see from our apartment.  

The gardens are laid out right against its slopes so we were surprised to see the unimpeded view of the slopes above.  (For those hearty souls who climb the mountain to its top, this is one of many starting points).  A walkway has been built through the canopy of  mature trees and  it gives beautiful views of part of the city.

The gardens are filled with examples of indigenous plants,  with the inevitable fynbos playing a large role.

There is one area which is lined with Canfour Trees...very beautiful and mercifully shady on an otherwise hot day.
We stayed until the park was closing and thus avoided traffic.

As this had been a light activity day we opted to go to a movie...and chose The Wall, a fictional account taking place on The Great Wall of China which we had visited during our China adventure the previous October.  It felt like we had gone full circle...

Cape Agulhas

We left Hermanus and made our way further to the west heading to Cape Agulhas which is the actual most southerly tip of the continent.  It is the point at which the two oceans, the cold Atlantic and the warmer Indian meet.  Again we were hoping for good swimming conditions.

We arrived to find a fairly unremarkable spot marked by a plaque and a lighthouse.

We climbed to the top of the lighthouse to see the view.

We found a beautiful beach on the Indian Ocean side, but alas the water may have been jelly fish were everywhere!  We gave up on the swimming and turned back for Capetown.

Saturday, 25 February 2017


We had heard a lot about a little holiday village on False Bay which is frequented by Capetowners who are looking for a retreat from the city.  In addition, Paul was hoping for a place where he could finally swim.This has proven difficult due to water temperature, but the locals swim in and around Hermanus, or so we had been told.  We packed up the car and went off for an overnight stay and a bit of exploring.

We took the coastal route which gave us beautiful views of the Bay and of the Cape of Good Hope which was but a smudge on the distant horizon.  We stopped along  the way to see a few sights...once again seeing penguins in Betty's Bay, a whaling station in the past.  We discovered that today this area is well known for its whale watching, although this was not the season for it.  The whales apparently come to this area as the water is warmer for them and they come to calve and to raise their young.  Our hopes of swimming seemed to be destined for success!

We stopped at one winnery along the way.  There have been many wineries in thee various area we have visites, the climate being perfect for grape production, but we had resisted until this point....because this winnery also offered handcrafted gin!  I went in for a taste and came out with a bottle of gin...and some Shiraz.   After sipping gin, and then trying wine, thoughts of how to get these purchases into our overstuffed luggage, and then making the declaration at the border did not cross ones mind!

We arrived in Hermanus and had a bit of an exploration of the village and discovered tgat we had sprung a leak in one of our tires.  we went to "Supaquick" where they fixed the tire in situ for $7.00.

Then it was off to find a beautiful beach where Paul could finally swim.  He donned his suit and approached the water.  His usual way to enter the water is a headlong I was surprised to see him step in with trepidation.   After 10 minutes he finally submerged and then beat a hasty retreat!  He claimed it was the coldest flipping swim he had ever had. least it was beautiful!

During our time here we have seen and learned a lot about the fynbos biosphere.  We had learned that fynbos is a broad class of plants that are found in few places on earth, the tip  of Africa being the largest area, hence being called a biosphere.  From a distance it appears to be green scrub, low to the ground and unremarkable, but up close it is lush and houses many animals, insects and birds.  When in bloom it is very beautiful, but we were not to see this as it is not the right season.  Hermanus is covered in this vegetation, and a sea cliff walk leads through parts of thenlush green proteas, sugar bush and other species.  There are more than 4,000 species in this area alone.  We took a walk on the seacliff path and enjoyed these plants.

Penguins, The Cape Of Good Hope and Baboons

The next day we took advantage of having the car and went for a drive down the coast.  We started on the east side of the penninsula and drove through the touristy towns on False Bay.  We took our time, having coffee and doing some shoppjng in the trendy boutuques along the way.  The fishing boats  of course were  nestled in their harbours, having brought in the  catch already.

We stopped at boulders bay to view one of two shore based schools of the endangered south African penguins.  It is one of the few colonies whose population is increasing.  We could get so close to these docile creatures it was just astounding.

Then we pressed on to the Cape of Good Hope, which we were both interested in as it has so much maritime history.

We drove throuh Table Mountain National Park which stretches the 71 km length of the peninsula and could just imagine the early explorers  arriving to this treeless landscape.  It is deceivingly barren, as it is covered in low shrubs and other vegetation.  It is dry but supports life, insect, zebra, baboons, oryx and ostrich to name a few.  The coast is rugged and there is a flat plane between the mountain ends and the cape.

When we arrived at the cape itself at the bitter end of the peninsula, we parked and as I was opening my door Paul told me, in his commanding voice, to "Shut the door"  I demanded why in my biligerent "don't give me commands" tone of voice and Paul replied "because there is a flipping baboon on the roof!"  Sure enough...there were two who sauntered over  the front window and the  hood of the car having a quick look in to see if there were any food.  These animals are everywhere, looking for food and walking down the street.  The park has baboon chaser-offers, and we saw a couple of altercations which showed us just how mean these little creatures can get if provoked.

We made our way to the viewpoint for the cape and then took the funicular up to the lighthouse, which is at the highest point.  The view was spectacular and the wind blowing unrelentlesly!  Luckily for me I have an invincible Tilly hat which usually stays on, despite the wind!

As we were leaving we explored a bit and we saw some wildlife, as well as some beutiful views.

We took the road over the mountains towards the western side of the cape and discovered Chapman's Peak Drive...a beautiful drive over a mountain with outstanding views of the coast.  We were there just as the sun was starting to we found a beach to watch it sink below the horizon.