Foiled ! Day 2 of the BBA -V4 - Cape Town

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May 26th 2019
Published: May 27th 2019
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The day dawned again as a fine one with just a little more dense high cloud than yesterday and no wind. But it is going to be a day that we can’t solve two important mysteries for ourselves.

The plan is to take the city hop on hop off bus for the day with the first stop being the cableway station to take us up to the top of Table Mountain to take in the views and tick it off our bucket list.

We strolled along the road to find somewhere for breakfast and came across a tiny, rather ecletic, French café flying a giant French flag ourside.It wasn’t being staffed by Frenchmen however, rather a local South African waiter and cook.

The coffee was just as strong as we have had any day since we arrived in this city and the croissant filled with scrambled egg and bacon and Gretchen’s full breakfast of eggs, tomato and bacon were both delicious, filling us and making us ready for another busy day of sightseeing.

We fixed the mobile problem we have been having by ditching the overseas Sim card we have used before as we have been able to access data which will be vital once we hit the road to head east tomorrow. In replacement we took a 30 day package with Orcon, our internet and Mobile provider back home at a very reasonable price, in fact it will probably work out cheaper than the Travel Sim and at least more reliable.

Then we were off back down the road to the nearby V&A and the Hop on and Hop off stop #1.

We validated our online booking and as we did also noticed that the Cableway to the top of Table Mountain had been closed due to adverse weather. What adverse weather !!! OK, the cloud was a little thicker than yesterday but we could see the whole of the mountain from down at the waterfront and there was absolutely no wind, again.

Apparently there was more wind up on the mountain at 1000 metres than we were experiencing down at sea level and it was also supposed to rain. And the assistant validating our tickets the cableway would also be closed tomorrow too, not that that made any difference to us as we were moving on further east.

So we had been foiled, thawted in our desire to get to the top of the mountain and the problem in not getting there on the day we arrived really has hit home.However, there is nothing that we can do about it so we made do with taking the bus on a mini peninsula tour which take us through to lunchtime. After that we shall see how we feel and perhaps take another route for the afternoon.

The buses are equipped with a 10 language commentary so you would be fairly unlucky if you couldn’t find a language you could understand.

We were on board before anyone else at stop #1 and took the front seats upstairs giving us a great view even if the window wasn’t as clean as we would have liked as we had the idea we would take photos during our journey.

The trip took us downtown and into Long Street, the traditional main street of Cape Town although today it looks like any downtown are in a world city where shopping was no longer the main feature.

There is a real mix of architecture in the downtown area with the most notable on Long Street being a mix of Cape Dutch and Victorian with wrought iron around balconies making it stand out against the tall concrete buildings constructed in more recent times.

The bus filled up at the principal downtown stop and then it was off to Kirstenbosch Gardens named as one of the 7 best botanical gardens in the world having been around for well over 200 years. We were tempted to get off and take a stroll through the vast gardens but time would have been against us and we wouldn’t have got to see the whole circuit.

It was just before we got to Kirstenbosch that we got some understanding as to why the cableway was closed and just how local the weather can be in various parts of this city as we passed through a section of the road where strong eddy’s of wind were occurring just past Devils Peak at one end of Table Mountain.

The bus carried on through Constantia Nek where there are a number of wineries and there was another opportunity to leave the bus to take in local wines at several wineries in close proximity. Again we were tempted but resisted getting off the bus.

Now one of the enigmas of this country is how very rich and very poor people live alongside each other given that we would have thought that the demise of the apartheid system nearly 30 years ago should have bought a little more prosperity to those living in extreme poverty.

An example of this not working at all is as we drove towards Hout Bay where in a valley, on one side, there are numerous vast estates all protected by solid looking gates with guards and the outer perimeter by walls with electrified fencing..While on the other side squeezed into a tiny area of hillside is the shanty settlement of Imizamo Yethu established in the early 1990’s as apartheid was coming to an end.

Living conditions are appalling with little running water and virtually no sanity to speak of and structures that do not look strong enough to hold out against the weather yet some 34,000 people live in a miniscule 0.5sq km area.

This really takes a lot for an outsider to get their head around in an area that is so prosperous in every other sense.

Again there was a stop here and you can take a tour with a local with proceeds of a small fee going to the local people. We could not bring ourselves to go and look at someone else’s extreme poverty even if the small fee might have been of some benefit to the locals who live there.

It just seems there is not enough will amongst the administrators of South Africa to rectify this extreme poverty amongst its people.

The ride took us on from the Hout Bay stop through the coastal suburbs of Camps Bay and Clifton with the towering Twelve Apostles peaks to our right. The homes in both of these bays were very exclusive and we were told amongst the most expensive in the country. Unfortunately the bus didn’t stop to be able to get pictures or video of the impressive peaks and the angle from our front seats wasn’t quite what we needed to get a recording of them. We may have to take this route when we head away from Cape Town tomorrow.

Further bays such as Bantry and Sea Point passed by all with expensive looking apartment buildings taking the prime spots until finally after over 2 hours of travel we reached Green Point with our destination back at Stop #1 at the V&A.

We were ready for a bite to eat and a drink. We sat down outside with huge muffins, way too big to finish in one sitting, next to the bronze statues of Mandela,F W de Clerk and a couple of others whose names escape me from the end of the apartheid era and contemplated the enigma of why the end of that awful period of history still 30 years later had not seen the end of the extreme poverty we had seen today in 2019.

Refreshed it was back on the bus but this time the red line to take us for a stroll through the city on Long Street while we attempt to find the historical Bo Kaap district well known for its multi coloured painted houses.

We had earlier spotted a market just off Long Street in an open square and walked through after we got off the bus. There was almost anything with an African theme that you might want to be available to purchase. There was even another group of girls dancing as we saw yesterday at the penguins. This seems that it will be something we are going to experience more as we travel on through the country.

We found the road leading up the hill past the Hilton Hotel to where the painted pastel shade houses were. It is an area that may soon be under attack from city developers as it is prime real estate so close to the CBD.There were notices scattered around getting support to save the area the way it is. Given that eventually big business with the money wins out we are pleased they haven’t won yet and demolished this lovely little bit of history.

The aid of the mobile phone is wonderous! and Gretchen plotted our course home on foot via The High Level road which luckily ran across the hillside above Boundary Rd where our apartment is located.

It had been another big day out with lots of scenery covered, except for the closed cableway !

Putting ones feet up can have the result of your eyes closing and we both had a solid hour and half nap.

Rather than eating out tonight we strolled down to the Woolwoths mini supermarket and bought a freshly made meat pie and a package of healthy vegetables in a white sauce that just needed heating in the microwave and we had dinner sorted.

We even managed a bit of BBC news until the Euro election coverage got boring and ended up watching some Natgeo Wild until bedtime called.

Tomorrow is our first day driving in South Africa and both the driver and co pilot need to be well alert !


28th May 2019

Highs and Lows of travel.
That was disappointing for you not being able to get to the top of Table Mountain but sounds like you covered a fair area with your bus trip and like you I've always been horrified about the living conditions of the poor and opulence of the rich lifestyles.

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