Sir Francis Drake called it the ‘Fairest Cape in the circumference of the World’, which makes me suspect that Sir Francis was a very verbose person. Could he not call it just “The Fairest Cape”? Readers would have understood that it exists on our very own Earth and not on Moon or some other planet or satellite.
The word ‘circumference’ is impressive but totally superfluous but was perhaps intended to highlight that fact the he was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Earth, some fifty-odd years AFTER Magellan’s expedition did it.
(However, I have now discovered that verbosity was the least of his faults. He was also a pirate and a slave-trader.)
His verbosity might irk but his veracity is not in question regarding this statement. The Western Cape is certainly a very beautiful cape and the Cape Town is a jewel in it. With its backdrop of Table Mountain and the adjoining, lion-shaped Signal Hill and the two oceans washing its shores, it cannot help but being beautiful.
It may be a very beautiful cape but it is also highly treacherous. A whopping big number of 2700 shipwrecks lie in and around
Cape Town’ waters, justifying a more mundane name, ‘Cape of Storms’. “Cape of Good Hope” also seems to be an apt name as the sailors HAD to hope and pray for a safe passage along the cape.
I hadn’t found a ‘Shipwreck Tour’ in the travel agents’ ‘conducted tours’. Otherwise, we would have taken it.
I had booked only the ‘Cape Peninsula Tour’, which took us to the Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.
Contrary to the popular conception, the Cape Point is NOT the southernmost point of Africa.
When out driver/tour guide fielded the question at us ‘Which is the southernmost point of Africa?’ I was the only person in the tour to give correct answer “Cape Agulhas”. (I wouldn’t have known it six months back, but this was part of my preparation for SA tour.)
Impressed, he quizzed us further.
“OK, which is the southernmost point of USA?”
I dug deep in my memory for some faintly remembered article in National Geographic and ventured, “One of the Florida Keys. Either Key Largo or Key West.”
He was flabbergasted. “Mrs. K, you scare me. It IS Key West.” He
said. “I ask these questions in every tour and nobody has given me correct answers so far. You deserve a chocolate.” And with a flourish, he gave me one.
Sometimes, my ability to instantly recall ‘trivia’, (This is Avi’s take) pays.
In turn, I wanted to ask him “Which is the southernmost point of India?” I know that it is NOT Cape Comorin (Kanya Kumari). I also knew that it was the Indira Point in the Andaman-Nicobar Islands.
However, post-2004 Boxing Day-Tsunami, I do not know whether the Indira Point still exists or it is washed off the face of the Earth.
This tour of Cape Peninsula was highly enjoyable because the driver/guide gave us a lot of information. (like what are the exports of South Africa. Apart from the Gold, Diamond and Wine, SA also exports cars.) He pointed out various wild animals. He had also booked our tickets to the Duiker Island for seal-viewing on his own initiative and he took us to a beach where we could get very near the ‘African Penguins’.
See the above video to see how a seal pup is trained to swim by its mother.
The Cape Point should be named ‘The Cape of Wind’. As we were climbing the steps to the Lighthouse, we could feel the strong wind. At the top, the wind was so strong that I feared it may blow us off. We had to hold onto the steel bars for dear life.
Avi had great difficulty in taking pictures because you require both hands to hold onto the bars. Somehow, he managed.
A famous Marathi actor had claimed that his wife met her death in Africa by being blown off from a mountain-top by strong winds and crashing on the rocks below, but everyone suspected that he had murdered her by pushing. Nobody could believe in such strong winds.
I too had suspected him, but now I wonder – maybe, perhaps he was innocent and it was an accidental death.
The Lighthouse at the top was useless even when it was new. Now it is defunct. If they pull down the Lighthouse and make a Wind Farm at the top, the whole of Cape Town could be supplied with electricity.
The next day, we took a taxi to the Signal Hill and afterward to
Writing this sentence took just a few moments, but to actually take the cable-car to the top, we had to wait almost two and a half hours in the queue.
The Signal Hill along with Lion’s Head DOES look like a lion.
It is funny that that the Signal Hill is a ‘hill’ because its height is less than 1000 meters above sea-level, whereas the Table Mountain is a ‘mountain’ because its height is slightly more than 1000 meters. This is American nomenclature.
By the same reckoning, Pratapgad in our Sahyadri range is a ‘mountain’ while Raigad is just a ‘hill’.
The waiting in the queue was tiring but once we were on the top of the Table Mountain, we were exhilarated by the scenic views all around us.
The Table Mountain reminded us of the Table Land of Panchgani, which is a bit higher than the Table Mountain.
The views of Cape Town and the surrounding oceans from the Table Mountain are absolutely breathtaking.
The Robben Island looks like a giant turtle resting on the Atlantic Ocean’s surface.
asked us why we had no plans to visit the Robben Island.
Well, it is an idiosyncrasy of mine that I did not want to be reminded of the painful history of Apartheid and get depressed while on a holiday. So, even though I have great respect for Nelson Mandela, we gave the Robben Island a miss because he was jailed there for many years.
(If I ever visit Andaman Nicobar Islands, I would NOT go to see the Cellular Jail, because it would really make me unhappy.)
The view of the Robben Island nestling in the waves from Table Mountain gladdened us. Had we visited it, it would have saddened us.
We had done all the ‘touristy’ things in Cape Town and the next day we just took a ‘hop-on-hop-off’ bus to leisurely see the highlights of Cape Town.
When the bus visited the Lower Station of the Table Mountain Cableway, we could see that there no queue and people were just buying their tickets and boarding the cable-car. How unfair! It was SO overcrowded the previous day.
We had ‘slushies’ at the V & A Waterfront and boarded an evening flight to
The Internet has removed the stumbling bloke, the Editor, to publishing. So now we, i.e. Charu and Avi run freely, if erratically, like in a three-legged race. Our wanderlust has taken us all over the world and I would like others to see this beautiful world of ours through our eyes.... full info
After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) trekked north to found their own republics. The discovery of diamonds (1867) and gold (1886) spurred wealth and immigration and intensified the subjug...more info