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Published: April 19th 2015
TABLE MOUNTAIN, CAPETOWN
The views are stupendous
East London, South Africa was a new port of call for us and we were going to be there for only about 5 hours. So we had to organize something where we could get a good overview of the place quickly. Fortunately Karolyn and Steve knew Rob Prentis who was a teacher in East London and is now a tour operator who also lectures on ships. So we arranged for him to take us on a whirlwind tour of his hometown. Rob loves Africa and has great hopes for its future.First Rob took us to his friend's house on the Nahoon River for a boat ride. The river is one of the largest ones in South Africa. Gary has a nice runabout and we all piled into the boat and cruised out to the mouth of the river where it empties into the Indian Ocean. Rob pointed out one of the mansions sitting on the cliffs which form the river valley. This house was owned by an Italian man who became very wealthy on a skin-whitening cream he developed and marketed. Mr Soffiantini eventually went crazy and was sure there were submarines in the river below getting ready to attack Soffiantini’s
Lecturer who knows and loves South Africa
Castle, as it is known locally. We saw the mangroves and the heron colony nesting site on the cliffs. Rob is a great storyteller and he provided us with a running narrative on life in East London. He told us about the white flight out of South Africa after apartheid ended. "Packing for Perth" became the slogan for those leaving their homeland out of fear.
We went to the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve where the world's oldest footprints were found in 1964 by several municipal workers who were taking shelter in a cave by the ocean. These 200,000 years old fossilized footprints are now on display in the city's museum. This tiny museum also has the only intact egg of the now extinct dodo bird. Try that one in your next trivia game!
Rob got us back to the ship before last call and he and his wife Carol boarded. The six of us had dinner that night and he continued to relate more fascinating tales of Africa. He gave two lectures on board and was well received by a most appreciative audience. There is nothing like local knowledge.
After rounding the Cape of Good Hope we
Strange things happened here
arrived in Cape Town at sunrise on a windy morning and were greeted by a stunning rainbow hanging over the city. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan places in the world. Its setting at the southern tip of the African continent where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet made it the central connection between Europe and Asia prior to the opening of the Suez Canal.
The Crystal Serenity was docked just in front of our ship. We were guests of John and Brooks, our cruising friends from Southern California. It was like a family reunion when we boarded the ship because there were so many former Regent world cruisers on board. Peggy and Elaine, Peter and Nancy, Joan and Charlie, Jim and Maryann, Terry and Cornelius, Bob and Kathy are all enjoying world cruising on Crystal. We also met the Cruise Specialists hosts Lynn and Buddy along with our good friend Ann whom we had recently spent a lovely evening with in Perth. We played table tennis and cards with John and Brooks and enjoyed a nice lunch on the Serenity. We have sailed a lot with John and Brooks and hope to be with
them again in the future.
Kevin went with Larry on a tour around Cape Town up to Signal Hill and around the trendy Bo Kaap district with its boutiques and pastel houses. They saw the Slave Lodge where slaves were held in appalling conditions. Our lecturer mentioned that each night the lodge was opened to all comers for one hour to do as they pleased with the captives. Such is slavery.
We spent a day in Stellenbosch which is a replica of Napa Valley. This quaint area is filled with wineries, art galleries and souvenir shops. We went to BlaauwKlippen Wine Estate for a tasting. After phylloxera decimated the Cape vineyards, grape root stock was imported from Napa and it fared well in the South African climate. The Cape Dutch style architecture stands out beautifully against the dark cliffs of the Jonkershoek Mountains.
Next stop is Namibia, one of our favorite countries in Africa.
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