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Published: April 12th 2011
Tuesday April 12th, 2011
Atlantic Ocean off the Western Cape of South Africa
Latitude 33 degrees 38 minutes’ south- Longitude 18 degrees 07 minutes’ east
We have left Cape Town and what a glorious two days we have experienced. The scenic beauty of this city is rivaled only by places like Vancouver, San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro. Table Mountain forms a stunning backdrop for this protected harbor. The surrounding landscape is an intoxicating mix of brilliant white sand beaches, winding mountain roads, panoramic vistas and upscale waterfront communities. The downtown central harbor front has been completely redeveloped into a pedestrian-friendly entertainment complex filled with restaurants, cafes and hotels. Now, there are still plenty of commercial and industrial concerns in the surrounding greater harbor area, but it makes for an interesting mix of fishing boats, cargo ships and grain elevators with a giant Ferris wheel in the middle.
The first day of our visit we rode the cable car to the top of Table Mountain for marvelous views of the city and all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope itself. Others who were along on the ride up mentioned that they had been to Cape
Town twice before and it had never been clear enough to see anything from the top. The mountain is usually shrouded in cloud, “covered by a tablecloth” as the locals call it. The hike around the flat top plateau included viewing the multitude of funny furry creatures who live in the many cracks and fissures. Known as Dassies they are about the size of cats, but look more like guinea pigs. Their closest animal relative is supposedly the elephant. The afternoon was filled with a scenic drive through the forest covered and mansion-filled hills of the nearby wine country. Historic estates and rows of grapes are wedged in between large stands of fragrant pine and blue gum trees. It was a treat to sample wines from the oldest vineyard in Africa where they have been making great vintages since the 1700s.
The second day we were treated to a narrated driving tour of the entire area all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope by a local couple. George and Venetia Eglinton live in Simon’s Town, a seaside artist’s community about 30 kilometers south of Cape Town. They have been on the cruise with us since Sidney, Australia
and we have become friends. George’s offer of a private tour was heartily accepted by Jane and I. We saw all the wonderful sights, from brilliant seascapes along the dramatic coast to indigenous wildlife like zebras, ostriches, baboons and penguins. We lunched at the False Bay Yacht Club and visited their home overlooking the harbor. I bought one of George’s paintings and we had a very pleasant and relaxing day. George drove us back to the ship and we sailed out of the harbor just as a cold wind blew in from the North and pulled the tablecloth over the mountain. Our time in Cape Town was short, but genuinely rewarding. Of course, I must temper my enthusiasm by mentioning the fact that as we toured the entire Cape Town area we always saw a certain level of security. Gates, fences with razor wire and burglar bars are the norm. Everything in the Cape is not as perfect as the geography.
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