I was meaning to blog earlier, but the schedule of our trip has been so tight that every hour of the days was accounted for. Then the internet connection was not very good, most hotels connected to the internet with satellite and can be temperamental at times.
I arrived in Cape Town on the morning of the 10th. The decent over the Cape was spectacular. Justing peninsula shimmering in the sun,surrounded by a azure blue Atlantic.
The Cape emerges like a mystery lowering under the shimmering , and revealing itself tantalisingly , it is a beautiful sight ,
As it was only 10 in the morning, our tour guide decided to take us to a city centre tour, a shopping mall, named after Queen Victoria,all marble and glitter, but none of us were in the mood or the condition to either shop or loiter.We found the first restaurant and sat with a cool drink. The temperature though was very pleasant , something between 20-21C with a breeze.
We were due to visit the Table mountain that afternoon, but the mountain is closed to the public, if the wind exceeds a certain speed, and it was that day. so it has to be postponed for anther day.
We were treated to a local talent show in the evening, none of us were in a position to appreciate it though.
The next day we visited the Boulders beach,Simon’s Town,Fish Hoek to see the Penguins. I felt as if we were intruding in their lives as they sat there playing, feeding and generally gong about their business.
Loveable creatures ,perhaps exasperated by the hordes of German, Japanese ,and us constantly clicking cameras!
We also visited the Botanical gardens that afternoon, I would have liked more time there! In fact I would have liked to spend each day there! The variety of plants is staggering, some are exclusive the Cape,and here are plants from every corner of the world.
I particularly like this version of the bird of Paradise, this one has been especially cultivated to commemorate the life of Nelson Mandela. I still prefer the original though,not just because I grow them but because Ithink the orange and white is more spectacular than this yellow one, which looks a bit ordinary.Here are some more images from the gardens.
Every colour and shape of ever species of flowers is there,several varieties of the same genus.
There are some fifty varieties of Protea alone, there are even a tree vaieity.
South Africa is very rich in natural beauty, we travelled from Cape Town to Johannesburg,via Port Elizabeth, from Cape Peninsula ,via Lesotho to Kruger National Park,and from there to J’burg.
Robbin Island where Mandela was prisoned, his cell has been turned into a museum, and the tour is conducted by an former inmate of the prison. We also visited Mandela’s house, which also is a museum.It is said that the Mandelas buried the umbilical cords of their children in the front garden,under the trees, that garden also now has a plaque for TATA(father) Mandela, with his date of birth and death,and R.I.P. in this case, we were told means “return if possible”.
We visited Soweto, and the other black townships. Te poor black people live there for free, they do not pay for their housing, water or electricity or schooling for their children. Still the area is really run down and poor. The guide who came to talk about the townships boasted of this fact, I was a tad uncomfortable with this notion, giving handouts takes away ambition and the ability work hard I feel.Though they are very enterprising people. We met a family who have turned their home into a restaurant, and coach load of tourists arrive there for lunch, and it was very nice too.
We visited the Stellenbosch valley,rich with its vineyards.Miles and miles of grape vines and huge wine factories, we got to taste some excellent wines.Cape Town nestles between the harbour and the Table mountain,the city is in a natural amphitheatre,we went on a walking tour,and the area where the Malay people live, they were brought to the city as slaves,they have preserved their own traditions. We were given lunch in a family home. The food to me tasted very much like Indian cuisine. with the spices taken out!
We visited some places of stunning natural beauty.Like the Lagoon cruise to the Featherbed nature reserve,an area of un spoilt beauty on the South African garden route. After crossing to the Lagoon by ferry,we drove up to the headland in a four wheel drive.A steep climb ,lined with most beautiful plants. Teeming with birds and butterflies and slow moving tortoises.Lined on both sides by the Indian ocean,turquoise and sapphire,with white foam and rocks which were orange and brown. Natures absolute masterpiece. Monet, eat your heart out!
There was such peace and tranquility there, I felt I have died and gone to heaven.
We took the Panorama route to J’burg.It meanders its way though some of the most stunning scenery of the south Africa.The rainforest of “God’s Window”,Bourke’s Luck Pot holes and the Blyde Canyon. The scenery is breathtaking. We also visited the Cango caves,said to be billions of year old and full of limestone caverns and Stalactites and Stalagmites.
The highlight of the end of the tour was the stay around and the visit to the famous Kruger National park. Though we have to get up at 3Am to go on the game drive,it was great to see the “Big Five” the “small five’ and the ‘Ugly five” in their natural habitat. Some brave souls went on a Bush walk too,but by now I was (and most of the others) were feeling our age,hours of coach travel and staying just overnight in hotels was taking its toll,so we opted for a free day,the day before we travelled. It is all very well trying to cram in everything,but how much of it do we remember in the end? At least I have written it down for posterity!
The flight back home was in a A380 Air bus. A gigantic bird. With a wing span which seemed to extend a mile. The enormous body of the plane though i divided into upstairs and downstairs! On the top is first class with all mod cons, then there is business, Club and premium economy! The economy class though seemed the same ,even a tad smaller, considering we are all getting larger,there is very little room between the seats. We flew constantly about 41-42,000 feet,and I have got the mother of a jet lag!
Though the time difference is only one hour from England(now two hours ahead as we are in winter time), the Southern hemisphere is so different.Their north is warmer and South is cooler,their West is where our east is, and vice versa! I used to find it strange ,watching the sun goes down,what for us will be the east> And the water in the plug hole was fascinating,as it swirled the “wrong ” way!
So though am dead tired,but I saw so much natural beauty that I can die a happy woman!
Here are some more of my favourite things. Enjoy.