45 day safari, we made it!
Trip Start Aug 26, 2009
51Trip End Ongoing
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Our first day in Cape Town was mainly an arrival day; we ran some errands and got acquainted with the city. The next morning started off wonderfully, after a month and a half of being away, I finally got to talk to my parents. It was defiantly good to get some news from home! Then it was tour time, we headed out to the Cape of Good Hope with a tour guide that was recommended to us, Steve Bolnick
We then arrived at the Cape and climbed up to visit the lighthouse. Unfortunately for us, the weather was not great that day (rainy and cloudy) so we could not see much. Occasionally we would get a clear spot allowing us to get a glimpse of the point where the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans meet. I am sure that on a beautiful day, the view from there would be gorgeous!
From the Cape of Good Hope we went to visit Simon's Town. Simon’s town was named after one of the governors of South Africa. Simon van der Stel was the first governor to occupy the post for an extended period of time
Just outside Simon’s Town is a small beach, called Boulders Beach. It was named because of the large rocks on the seashore but it is famous because it is the home to a very large colony of African penguins. A couple of penguins came ashore there about 20 years ago (much to the dismay of many residents because they lost their rights to use the beach). Now the colony is in the hundreds and they line the beaches. The town has set up a nice boardwalk for the tourists to walk on in order to preserve the penguin habitat and keep people from disturbing them. I think by now the penguins are so used to human contact that they are not afraid in the least. Which was great for us, we really got a chance to explore these amazing creatures up close.
That night we stayed in a really interesting hotel, called Daddy Long Legs. It is a small boutique hotel that’s focus is art. If you are ever in Cape Town it is worth a stay. Each room has been decorated by a different artist (painters, photographers, musicians). We stayed in the photo booth room. The walls were lined with hundreds of tiles each with a portrait of a person. All of these tiles together also formed a portrait on the wall. It was very well done and the portraiture was amazing. The bathroom also had a really neat red door, that when the light was on in the bathroom, it looked like a dark room
The thirteenth we just had a light supper with some of our group and went to the Irish pub for some dancing and to say goodbye to a few of those who were leaving the next day. We were also accompanied by our new friend Amma, who we met at our hostel.
The 14th brought a whole new adventure. We started out right with a great REAL breakfast out. (To all my Montreal breakfast buddies, I sure miss our relaxing mornings!) The morning we then spent touring the waterfront area, visiting some shops and really just enjoying the atmosphere and the view. The afternoon brought us to a world of sea life with a visit to the Cape Town aquarium. We were lucky to arrive there when we did because we made it just in time for the ray and turtle feedings. Two divers entered the large aquarium with buckets of fish and hand fed the rays and the turtles. It was also narrated by an expert so we learned about the types of rays as well. The aquarium was very bright and colourful and we enjoyed our visit there
The 15th we decided to sample what has become a huge part of South African culture and did some wine tasting. We laughed a lot at some of the descriptions of the flavour of the wines but really enjoyed the experience. We got a tour of the production area of one of the estates and learned a bit about harvesting the grapes, the aging process, and the types of barrels. Wow, there sure is a lot that goes into making wine. We also sampled some of the best pinotage ever. I must admit I was reluctant to try is as the one that we sampled at the Highlander estates was atrocious. Longridge wineries however renewed my interest in this distinctly South African wine!
Along with the wine we got to sample some great chocolates. We visited a chocolate factory run by two brothers who learned to make chocolate in Belgium. We picked up some great chocolate as well. I must say nothing goes better with red wine than some good, dark chocolate. I tell you, I was in heaven.
The 16th we decided it was about time we got up Table Mountain. (You know, no visit to Cape Town is complete without that one)
The 17th and 18th were down time. Yes, we did have a chance to relax a bit on the trip. We ran some errands and did some emailing, I tell you, it is exhausting sometimes this travelling thing! We also went to a restaurant called the "Africa Cafe". There we got to sample many dishes from all over the continent. It was kind of neat because it is a set menu so you can try it all, then you get to order more of whichever dishes you liked. Make sure if you go there, you go hungry because there is so much food to try!
The 19th we were off again. This time to Robben Island. Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela and many of the other people who were arrested for their opposition to the Apartheid government were kept. We saw Mandela’s cell and the limestone quarries where they were all forced to work. The tour is run by a coalition of former prisoners who were held there. It was ok, but we were a bit disappointed. We felt like we were really rushed through and that the guides inside the prison were not as passionate and informative as they could have been. We were really hoping to get a better sense of the changes in South Africa and how the history has impacted the present situation there. It was an alright tour, I just think that it could have been presented much more poignantly.