Trip Start Nov 05, 2010
137Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Feels like we are back in TO as we are back to being in a first world country....or at least we thought the first few days. We spoiled ourselves - our hostel had lots of hot water available, comfy beds, and all the green salad and fruits we could eat without having to worry about where it came from or if it was washed! Our washroom even had binoculars strapped to the wall so we could admire the view of Table mountain. Capetown was a nice place to get pampered.
It's still a third world
Don't get us wrong, Capetown definitely has its differences from Canada. Lots of visible differences such as the number of security officers and houses guarded by gates, barbed wire, alarms etc. We learned lots has changed since the Apartheid but there are still many obstacles that South Africans are in the process of overcoming. Capetown, unlike Johannesburg was suppose to be one of the safest cities to visit in South Africa. To us, we always had to remember to not leave ANYTHING in cars or let go of our bag AT ALL TIMES. Even sitting outside of a grocery store, nibbling on some snacks was a safety issue. Many people would come up to us asking for a piece of bread or whatever we were eating. Some even came up to us with children. Although we gave a lot of food away, we always had to be on guard about the people around us and what was going on in our surroundings.
Safe, I think not.
We spent 10 days in Capetown and got to do and see so many things. Here are just some points of reference we made about some of the things we experienced.
On our first day we headed for Robben's Island, which was famous because that is where Nelson Mandela spent 27+ years of his life in prison. We toured the area and even got to see his cell. It was sad to hear how he was unjustly treated and how him and the inmates suffered a great deal because they believed in equality and human rights. It was definitely a must-see and a great reminder of the price that some have to pay for freedom.
A few days later, we visited Table mountain. It was rainy and windy but that didn't stop us! In a way, it worked in our favor because hardly anyone was there. No lines, no crowds, no problem. Sasha was excited to hike up the mountain but the weather made visibility impossible. To his dismay, we took the cable car up instead. Dasha enjoyed the ride up as it went very slow and her breakfast stayed in her tummy. It was cool in the sense the cable car had a rotating floor inside so wherever you stood, you would get a different view of the surroundings every second.
A drive to the Cape
It has been a long time since Sasha and Dasha been on an unorganized road trip. Unfortunately, Sasha's drivers license expired and we were looking for a way to get out of town without paying a fortune. Luckily, our hostel roommates Bea and Flo were renting a car for a day and invited us to come along. An offer we could not refuse.
Walking in Cape Town is very pleasurable during the day. The sidewalks were a bit narrow and the signal timings for pedestrians were short for Canadian standards. However, after spending so much time in Asia, Sasha was happy that he did not need to jump towards a ditch full of dung, human urine and rotting produce every time a vehicle is approaching. The rental car company was just like any rental car company in North America with two exceptions: they were closing at 2pm and the parking was fenced up from all sides. Cape Town was quite deserted after sunset when office workers left for the day and "shady types" were walking around.
Traffic in Cape Town area was never congested due to low car ownership among the colored and the black people. The white people were driving everywhere because of lack of public transit and high crime rate. The German couple that we were with, told us about an incompetent mugging attempt they faced the day before. While walking on the main entertainment street during the day a guy touched them with his index finger and whispered, “Gun, gun, I have a gun”. After pausing he said, “Joke, joke, still give me, give me”. Our friends just kept walking along.
The roads in the Western Cape province were excellent. There was no pothole in sight and driving manners were very manageable compared to Asia. Not having your own transport is very frustrating in South Africa as driving is easy and parking is abundant and cheap. On large parking lots a guy would be sitting down to watch cars and expecting a tip. Arriving at our first stop, Muizenberg, we felt like we were back in Australia. Low rise houses on cliffs overlooked a long sandy beach. Along the water people were jogging and walking their dogs and surfers in their wet suits ruled the ocean waves. There were red flags that indicated a high risk of encountering a great white shark. A sign indicated the last time a shark was spotted on that beach was three days before. Apparently, the locals were not deterred.
Our next stop was Fish Hoek, a site of famous Fish n’ Chips. Since Sasha avoids fish he could not grasp what the hype was about. The lineups were long, the service staff were rude and the eating area uncomfortable. Dasha thought the fish was okay at Kalky's eatery, but it could be better.
Next stop was the famous penguin colony. Unlike the penguins we saw in Australia on Phillip Island – the penguins at Boulders beach were easily accessible. African penguins are much larger than Little Penguins and stay on the shore all day. It not recommended to approach them because they bite. From a bridge, we were able to take pictures of the penguins in all their glory. There were LOTS of them, walking, swimming, talking, lazing around.
Finally we reached the furthest point of that day trip, the Cape of Good Hope, the South Western extremity of the African continent and a sailor’s nightmare for so many centuries. Sasha and Dasha walked to a lighthouse where Oceans converge while our friends went on a hike to the Cape. Just by the car park, we saw a family of antelopes.
The views from the Cape were stunning. We could see the endless oceans and the sun finally coming down. That was our sign to start heading back home.
Another positive CS experience
The Universe has been good to us! We were graciously invited to stay with a South African couch surfer Martin, for the last 4 days in SA. He has been an amazing host and person we would like to call a friend. He took us on a hike to Lion's head and we went to Sea point to have lunch and stroll along the boardwalk. We think we experienced so much in 10 days but it's time to move on...
There is much more to write about our time in South Africa. For now, we included our TOP 10 things to experience in SA:
10. Smell the roses at the Kirtenbosch botanical gardens
9. Swim with the penguins at Boulderīs beach
8. Eat the fish n chips at Fish Hoek
7. Hike up Table mountain and Lionīs head
6. Shop for souvenirs along the V&A Waterfront
5. Drive to the Southern most tip of Africa, Cape Point
4. Go wine and cheese tasting in Stellenbosch
3. Take a township tour to see how most South Africans really live
2. Visit one of SA Museums to learn about the country and the Apparteid
1. Sail to Robben Island and uncover Nelson Mandalaīs life on his path to freedom
We are off to Zambia. Our safari adventure awaits us!