Thursday 19 June 2014

Cape Town


How can we start? It's been an amazing time back here in the Mother City - and it was great to almost feel at home as this was the first time we'd been to a place where I'd lived in almost a year!

We sort of put our tourist-hat on and "did" a bunch of mandated tourist things - like the Robben Island trip - but at the same time it was personal since we were always staying with friends and off the "trail".

So much stuff done- almost begs to be bullet-pointed, but that kind of detracts from each.  But whatever... here goes!

  • Visiting the old lodge I used to manage in Long Street - and seeing some old residents still there!
  • Walked up Table mountain - all the way from the Castle of Good Hope at sea level.  And that's not a minor qualifier - just over 1000m of up - as opposed to about 500m from the usual trail head...
  • Calculated our exact distance from the noon gun by timing the sound delay from the puff of smoke to the boom - verified by GPS. (thus helping me maintain a modicum of confidence in my ability to teach Physics!)
  • Lion's head for full moon moonrise/sunset.  Nice!
  • Kirstenbosch Gardens and Camps Bay for sunset with Kim - just beautiful!
  • Hout bay for fish and chips and down to cape point for the lowering sun.  Had to rush out of the park (pausing for a few road-going ostriches) to avoid a post-sunset overstay fine - but made it!
  • A full day of 4wd trails in the Worcester area with Kim - steep tracks and beautiful fynbos
  • Great White Shark diving in Gaansbaai - I'd hummed and hawed about the ethics of this for over 15 years... but we decided to go for it - an it's pretty cool.  The sharks don't seem too bothered about the divers - which is good!
  • Just good times taking it easy with good people.  Nice!
Despite arriving in winter and 6 degrees, on the whole we were pretty lucky with the weather in Cape Town. Also fortunate to have friends to hang out with and share some great experiences. The food in CT is amazing and I discovered the best burger and chips I have ever had, Ocean Basket (a chain) which we visited several times, and we had excellent sushi on the harbour front after visiting Robben Island. 

It was great to do some hiking again, after super leisurely days on the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of the walk up Table Mountain. The rocks were a great place to sit and take in the incredible views and to cool you down from the exertion. In the words of Ludo from the film Labyrinth 'Rocks. Friends.'

Although it was winter we still got to see some stunning wildlife including sun birds, ostriches, cape sugar birds, dassies, sea lions and the magnificent great white sharks. Winter is the best time to see the great whites and the water is also slightly warmer. 

On the boat I started to feel particularly nervous when I looked across the water to see a fin circling another shark dive boat. Then the sharks stared to circle our boat... 

'The head was only a few feet from the cage when the fish turned and began to pass casually as if in proud display of its incalculable mass and power. The snout passed first and then the jaw, slack and smiling, armed with row upon row of serrate triangles.The gills rippled, bloodless wounds in the steely skin.' Extract from 'Jaws'- Peter Bechley

Ty was all excitement and wanted to be in the first group. I procrasinated! All I could think of was the numerous stories I had read or heard recently about shark attacks especially the old lady in Cape Town who went swimming everyday and was eaten whole by a shark, the only thing left was her red swimming hat!! Despite the initial fear we did go in the first group and it was AWESOME! The sharks are incredibly majestic and fascinating to watch.

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