A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: cooneys

Farewell Cape Town :(

sunny 31 °C

Thursday is our last day and after a disturbed night’s sleep caused by Mama Africa’s, and a fly buzzing at my ear in the apartment which one time caused me to hit myself, we headed for one last stroll along the front of Camps Bay and then drove to the pure white sands of Llandudno beach (which has a mini ‘Lion’s Head’ mountain as a backdrop). We chilled there for a few hours and then headed back to the apartment to reheat some of the leftover barby including ostrich burgers.
It was then time to head to the airport and after driving really carefully (didn’t want to have a prang on the way back to the car hire drop off!) we reached the airport. The departure lounge had great views of the Franschhoek mountains in the distance and we both agreed that we would love to return to South Africa one day and perhaps do a safari and then the famous Garden route from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. We boarded the plane and set off home after one of the best trips we’ve ever had...

Posted by cooneys 06:42 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Table Mountain – conquered!

sunny 27 °C

Hi all
On Wednesday morning we woke to blue skies over Table Mountain so we drove to the Taffelberg road that skirts Table Mountain and parked near the lower cable car station which is at 350 metres above sea level. Table Mountain itself is 1060 metres high so the climb was 710 metres.
After parking we walked for about 10-15 minutes to the start of the Platteklip gorge to begin our ascent.
We began before 9am but it was already hot.
While we’ve climbed higher mountains it was challenging enough due to the heat and the fact that the ascent is basically a continuous staircase of steps with no let up. Most mountain hikes there’s gentler parts, then steeper then plateau but with Table Mountain it was one giant step machine while the heat of the African sun shone down on you and all you could hear a mix of your own breathing and the distant din of the city traffic far below.
En route it was like the United Nations the nationality and numbers of hikers you meet en route. A guy whom we had most chats with during the ascent were an Indian Benedictine Priest whom we chatted with as we either passed him or he passed us.
The gorge narrowed as we approached the top and there were a couple of places where ice cold water had permeated through the rocks – here we stood underneath the rocks and enjoyed the welcome relief of dripping cold water on our heads.
One hour 40 minutes after setting off we reached the top and headed straight to the restaurant for a few cold drinks. There you couldn’t help but resent those that had arrived smiling and fresh faced after their quick cable car ascent.
The visibility was superb and we took some photos and descended via the rotating cable car.
That afternoon a bit of rest & relaxation was in order so headed to Clifton beaches (which are just round the corner from Camps Bay) for a few hours sunbathing.
That evening we had the last of our holiday wine purchases – half bottle of Graham Beck Brut (which incidentally Barack Obama toasted his election success with) and then headed down to a cafe called Paranga along the front in Camps Bay for a couple of sun downer drinks.
We then got a taxi into Long Street had a bite to eat, and then went to a few bars including Mama Africa’s where there was live African music which was really cool.

Posted by cooneys 06:39 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Table Mountain had a cloud tablecloth

sunny 22 °C

We were up early today (Tuesday) to hike up Table mountain but mother nature had other ideas.
Despite blue skies elsewhere, Table mountain was covered in a blanket of cloud (which didn't clear till 2pm) which mean we couldn't do our ascent.
1. We wouldn't have seen a thing, and 2. the cable car back down doesn't operate when it's cloudy.
So we resorted to plan b which was a drive to the north of Cape Town along the west coast of South Africa.
We saw lovely beaches and then went inland across a farming area - the difference in scenery, and colours was really nice.
On the way back to Cape Town we also stopped at Blougerstrand (in the Blauwberg area) for a nice walk and a glass of wine while looking out at Table mountain.
We then continued past miles and miles of almost deserted beaches back to our Camps Bay apartment at about 4pm where we chilled in the sun drinking wine and I cooked a braai (barby) which included bowervors sausage, ostrich burgers and a huge beef kebab which even I couldn't finish it.
I'm typing this having just watched another sunset which was at 6.30pm Cape Town time (we are an hour ahead of UK at the moment).
We have to say for anyone who is daunted by a 24 hour flight to Australia, we would really recommend South Africa.
Its a 12 hour direct flight from the UK, no jet-lag, food and drink are much cheaper than home (& def much much cheaper than Oz) and the people here are very friendly. Safety hasn't really been an issue - most places you park there are car guards who look after the cars in their areas and each driver gives them between 2-5 rand (16p - 45p) when you're leaving and say thanks - some seem to be doing better than others as Mish saw one a few days ago with an iPhone. A few really friendly ones we've given a 10 rand note to (85p). Photo included of one we met today with his dog.
Some of these car guards are places where I don't think your car would get nicked anyway but maybe 20 years ago they would have been and the guard isnt going to give up his area.
The scenery, if anything is even more spectacular - really love the mountains here and the beaches are on a par with Oz and that's saying something.
Fingers crossed we'll get up Table Mountain tomorrow.
We wish we could stay for another 3 or 4 days but alas we leave here on Thursday evening and will hopefully get back to our house in Belfast before lunchtime on Friday.
If you click 'more photos' you'll see our latest pics from today.
Talk soon!
Simon & Mish

Posted by cooneys 09:39 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Newlands Forest, Muizenberg, St James & Kalk Bay

sunny 21 °C

Hi all
This is just a quick note to say we've added some photos from our road trip and coastal walk today, Easter Monday.
Today the weather was much nicer and we drove through the southern suburbs to Newlands forest for a walk. During the walk you could look down onto Cape Town's rugby and cricket grounds were South Africa national teams often play.
We then headed to Muizenberg which was full of hundreds of surfers enjoying the waves.
We then walked the coastal walk to St James with it's colourful beach huts and on to Kalk bay.
Kalk Bay was really nice - had lots of art & antique shops and some nice restaurants.
We went to one which had a braai (bar-b-q) and I got an unexpectedly huge portion of ribs - there were 3 racks!
Mish got calamari which was also a huge portion & very tasty. We then made our way back on the coastal walk to Muizenberg and then drove via the nearby Constantia wine-lands & then coastal route back to our Camps Bay apartment where we enjoyed a lovely sunset.
This evening we took it easier and went out for a cocktail & a beer (still stuffed from earlier!) and I'm typing this watching the Chelsea match on the tv in the apartment.
Tomorrow the forecast is also good so we plan to get up early and do the Platteklip Gorge route up to the top of Table Mountain.
A pic of this route is shown on a photo - wish us luck!.
Talk soon!

Posted by cooneys 08:33 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Robben Island & The Aquarium

all seasons in one day 17 °C

Today the weather was changeable so we headed down to the V&A Waterfront and managed to get tickets to Robben Island - where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years.
The 30 minute catamaran to the island was rough to say the least - Mish lost her tan temporarily but soon recovered when we arrived.
We first went on a bus tour around the edge of the rugged island which included a lime quarry where Nelson and other prisoners had to dig for hours a day in searing heat - as a result Mandela has eye problems (due to the glare of the sun on the lime) and respiratory problems (caused by the dust).
In fact we were informed that flash photography by journalists is banned at Mandela news conferences as it is very painful to his eyes.
Beside the quarry was a pile of stones - it was here after release that Mandela suddenly set down one stone and the other former prisoners followed creating a stack which has been untouched ever since.
There we were given an insiders tour from a former political prisoner who spent over 10 years there. It was really interesting to hear someone talking with real passion about the place and what went on.
The apartheid regime tried to cause divisions with prisoners by giving Asian prisoners shoes, long trousers, shirts etc and giving very little to the black prisoners but the black prisoners under Mandela's guidance could see that the plan was divide and conquer.
They also had a one teacher one learner set up whereby someone who was educated and politically minded would be allocated someone who wasn't to educate them as they felt that one day the black people would gain equality and they needed to be educated if they ever hoped to play a role in government.
The former prisoner said that the rest of the world are owed a lot of thanks for their part in bringing down the regime through sanctions & boycotts.
He also said that Mandela taught them that you must forgive those who have wronged you and not do onto them what they have done on you so he was happy to go into partnership with the Afrikaners so everyone would have a better future.
It was really touching how forgiving both the prisoner and Mandela were - especially when you consider how tiny the cells were that they spent so many years in.
When we got the (now calmer) boat back to the Waterfront we headed to the Aquarium which was really impressive - you can see a few of the photos for yourself.
We then headed out to Hussar Grill which is only about 50 yards away from us and had some of the best steaks ever washed down by 2 bottles of South African wine. While there I had biltong for starters which is dried cured meat, while Mish had carpaccio of Springbok which was also tasty.
We then went back to the apartment stuffed and slightly merry!

Posted by cooneys 07:41 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

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