I put the fun in funicular

Trip Start May 12, 2009
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Trip End May 24, 2009


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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Monday, May 18, 2009

They say Cape Town has 4 seasons all in one day.  The morning is their spring where it starts off cloudy and rainy.  Then around 11 the clouds lift and it is summer for the day.  Then around sundown it starts to cool down a bit for autumn.  Finally all night long is a cold winter weather.  So as expected, we looked out the window and it was raining.  We decided to just skip the attempt to go to Robben Island today and instead go on the Cape Point Drive.  We spoke to another American on Table Mountain yesterday who told us that the weather south can sometimes be completely different than in Cape Town.  So we took our chances.  Once again we stock up on breakfast to last us throughout the day.  

Our first stop on the drive was at Kristenbosch Botanical Gardens.  Guess we weren't far enough south yet as the rains started to really come down.  This was unfortunate as almost all of the gardens were outside.  We were the only people in the entire place and walked around for about an hour checking out all the plants and flowers (for a bunch of pictures show all thumbnails above).  I was hoping to get some colorful pics, but the gardens were mostly just green being that we were in Cape Town during their winter months.  

We then proceeded to Constantia which is another wine region near Cape Town.  We decide to stop at Groot Constantia which is supposed to be the nicest winery.  We were seasoned pros at wine tasting by this point, so we knew exactly which wines to choose (once again 5 selections out of the 10 or so choices available).  The wines were good, but I already reached my 4 bottle limit for the trip.  The weather was clearing up now as we traveled further south and it was around 11:00.  

The tour continued towards the Indian Ocean and we decided to stop in Kalk Bay for some lunch.  The South African Frommer's guide (which Amy was proudly using to direct us along the drive) recommended a deli in Kalk Bay.  We drove around for a while looking for it, but perhaps we had an old edition of the book and the restaurant had closed.  Another recommended restaurant was Kalky's which was right on the water and supposedly has the best fish and chips south of the equator (I just made this up).  You knew this place was good as it was a total locals hangout.  All walks of life were dining in this shack, and the lady working the counter was putting on a show.  There were numerous fishes to choose from, but the hake was the most popular (and at $3 for the meal it is hard to go wrong).  Since I am not the biggest fan of fish and chips, I decided to go with crayfish and chips.  It took a while for them to either catch or cook the crayfish, but the time passed quickly watching the lady at the counter.  She was going around the restaurant goosing everyone she could (including 2 policemen).  I was not lucky enough to be goosed, but Lindsey was.  The food came and it was great.  I tried some of Amy's hake (I had to wrestle it away from her), and it was fantastic as well. 

Further down the road was boulders beach.  Yet another tourist trap, boulders beach is a rocky area where hundreds of penguins live.  The people who live in the area are upset with the penguins, as their beach is now gone, but at least they get to charge 5 rand to every tourist that wants to look at some penguins.  These penguins are called African penguins, but are also known as jackass penguins (I have now met my quota for the use of the word "penguins" in a paragraph).  It started to rain again, so we did not stay too long before continuing on. 

Our next stop was Cape Point (which is different than the Cape of Good Hope).  Cape Point is the tip of South Africa where the lighthouse is located.  It has quite a high elevation, so we took the funicular to the top.  There are 2 signs on the glass window of the funicular.  One says no smoking, which I guess is understandable.  But if you can't wait the 2 minute ride to enjoy a fag (and by that I mean the British word for cigarette), then you have bigger problems.  The other sign was no ice cream.  Now I am not sure if this is a problem that Cape Point often has.  Do people really try to sneak ice cream onto the funicular?  Aren't there other foods that are more harmful?  Anyway, for those reading this who plan to visit South Africa, please do not bring ice cream on the funicular to the top of Cape Point.

Once up there we had to hike a few more steps to the top where the lighthouse is located.  Once we got up there, JB and I noticed that there was an even further spot where the old lighthouse still stands.  The lighthouse had to be moved higher because the old one was not enough warning for the sailors.  So we decided to hike to the very tip.  Amy and Lindsey stayed behind to watch us and make sure we didn't fall off the trail.  Apparently there were some Asian tourists that were quite fiesty with the girls in order to see what they were looking at.  The hike was pretty easy, mostly downhill, but there were numerous signs warning about baboons.  I had to be prepared at any moment to wrestle a baboon on the side of a cliff.  I was more scared of the possibility of a snake (not JB's trouser snake, although that would be a scary sight as well).  We made it to the very end and felt quite proud of ourselves until we had to turn back and I realized how much food I had actually eaten on this trip so far.  The hike up was much more difficult.  

We now proceeded to the Cape of Good Hope which had a much lower elevation right on the water.  Down the road we spotted our first wild animal of the trip (not including those jackass penguins).  Finally a baboon.  Just eating on the side of the road, we stopped for some pics.  But as we continued along he decided to chase us running at speeds up to 25 kmph.  He finally stopped when we reached a group of ostriches.  At this point JB decided to stop the car and exclaimed "I am going to ride one of them."  Lindsey screamed, but I jumped out of the car in order to get a video of his death.  He didn't quite reach the ostrich, but it was good fun nonetheless.  We finally arrived at the Cape of Good Hope which is the most South-Western part of Africa.  I don't really know what this means as it is not the furthest west, nor the furthest south. But regardless we decided to take a picture at the sign.

The next stop on the tour was an ostrich farm, but we had seen enough of those, so we just took a few pics of the babies and left.  The farm was closing soon anyway since it was now 5:00 and we also didn't want to drive the dangerous Chapman's Peak in the dark.  Chapman's Peak is a scenic drive on the cliff of a mountain.  JB seemed quite confident though considering he has successfully driven the Amalfi Coast, the Hana Highway, and the cliffs in Greece, but as we approached, the weather had worsened and with the darkness, Chapman's Peak road was closed.  There was no other way to get to Hout Bay except going all the way around back to Costantia and then take the road over to Hout Bay.

It was now dark which ruined part of the fun of Hout Bay, enjoying some dinner while watching the sunset.  And the rain was still coming down hard.  So the question was whether to proceed to Hout Bay, or head straight home to get ready for Ginja.  We decide to screw Ginja since they did the same to us, and we went to Hout Bay for the some dinner.  Although it was dark, the town was very quaint and we dined at the restaurant in the Chapman's Peak Hotel.  The restaurant is known for the best calamari in the world, Lindsey, JB, and Amy certainly agreed.  I decided to have some soup since I was cold and wet from the day.  It was tom yum soup which was good although there were no other thai food items on the menu.  I also got the piri piri chicken which was great.  Piri piri is a pepper which they make a sauce out of in Mozambique.  We are very tempted at this point to book a hotel room and stay for the night as we are exhausted from the day's drive, but we headed back to our hotel in Cape Town.  Close to the hotel, there are a few speed bumps (or speed humps as they are known there).  Throughout the trip, I would say "hump" whenever we approached one for fair warning.  However, as I said hump this time, JB was not slowing down.  I tried to say hump a few more times, but tired from the day, JB starts to increase speed a little.  Of course Amy is sleeping, and Lindsey is popping some cipro, so no one else noticed as we hit the hump at full speed.  I think Charlene might have gotten a few inches off the ground.  It woke us all up long enough to make it back to the hotel and call it a night. 
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