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Published: February 16th 2016
Up early and after a scrummy, samey breakfast onto the coach ready for our tour of the Cape peninsula. The route was southerly down the western side toward the Cape of Good Hope, around Cape Point, and back northerly up the eastern side back to Cape Town. To begin we were on our way to the Seal Colony in Hout Bay to see the Cape fur seals and the cormorants.
We passed some very exclusive properties set into the mountains with car parking on the roofs of the buildings. We passed through a town with pastel coloured buildings - blue, purple, lime green, pink, etc. Amos pointed out Camps Bay beach with its beautiful clean beaches. Every few meters all the way on the beach road were green rubbish bins. It was a Sunday morning and the cycle lanes along the Victoria Road were very busy.
Suddenly in the background was a very incongruous sight - the Lichtenstein Castle. This is owned by a German man who built a castle based on the castles he saw on a Rhine River cruise. Totally out of place. How do you build a medieval castle with modern materials?!
We kept driving along the coast road and Chapman’s Peak Road. This is a toll road. There is a turnaround space for anybody who doesn’t want to continue around the Peak. It is a good job we didn’t change our minds as the turnaround space was not big enough for our coach to reverse. Why Chapman’s Peak Road? Well it could have been named after Mr Chapman but local legend says that when the Dutch landed the Hottentots called them Cap Man.
We arrived at the pier in Hout Bay and got onto the Nauticat boat out to the Seal Colony. There were thousands of Cape fur seals
who share their island with the cormorants. It was lovely to see them basking in the sun and teaching their young to swim and fish. I think that the birds we saw were Cape cormorants
but I could be wrong.
On and on past Sentinel Rock where we noticed the precautions that had been taken to prevent rocks from falling on the road. Strong pillars were installed to hold up parts of the rock hill where rockslides had previously occurred. The roadway goes under (!)
the hillside where the pillars hold it up.
We passed Snake Head lighthouse, the most western lighthouse in South Africa. Nearby we saw Long Beach where the movie “Ryan’s Daughter” was filmed.
Continuing south we reached the Cape Point tourist zone. The sign at the ticket entrance announced this as the "Cape of Good Hope in Table Mountain National Park." We had not realised that the entire area in the middle of the Cape peninsula from Cape Town down to Cape Point was all one big national park.
We took the "Flying Dutchman" funicular to ascend a couple hundred meters up Cape Point. We saw the old lighthouse erected in 1859. In 1911 a mist came down and obscured the view of the light and as a result the Portuguese ocean liner Lusitania hit the rocks and sank. Afterward a new lighthouse was built lower down and closer to the sea. From the upper funicular stop, Don went up a large number of steps to the old lighthouse, but I decided that the climb was too much for me.
Wandering around on Cape Point we saw another ostrich
- they seem to
After looking around from the upper level of Cape Point, we decided to walk down the path back to the coach instead of using the funicular again. It was not too onerous.
Then drive over to the eastern bay side of the Cape peninsula to see the African penguins
. Nando parked the coach and we walked the long path to the Boulders Penguin Colony. We weren’t allowed to drive down to the penguins directly as the local people who lived along the road to the colony had got fed up with hundreds of cars and tourists day in day out, so the car park was located away from the residents. This meant walking through some drifted sand, which I hate getting into my shoes.
The penguins stood stock still and we honestly thought we were looking at statues but we soon saw evidence that they were real. Some were walking around others were swimming - they were quite sweet.
Then back on the coach and we went to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The botanical gardens are on the estate of John Cecil Rhodes and we also passed his estate residence.
He left all of his land and estate to the state. He died at the young age of 49 and had never married and so had no heirs. When the President of South Africa is staying in Cape Town he stays at Groote Schuur, also part of the enormous Rhodes estate. We also drove past Cape Town University - yet another part of the estate. This area is also famous for the hospital where Dr Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant.
The botanical gardens are beautifully laid out and are stunning in their hilly Cape setting. We spent a short time there and then it was back on the coach to go to Avrons again for dinner.
We went back to the hotel with the news that bags had to be outside the door by 10:30 pm and we were leaving at 4:15 am. This caused moans from our moaning population that to pack in just an hour was impossible. Still I suppose for those who have such a huge amount of baggage it will be difficult, but easy for us.
Don and I were doing well - we packed, had our showers and
were in bed by 10:15 pm. Suddenly there was a pop and all of the lights went out. We thought it was a power shortage - we are used to them here in Israel. Then we heard a siren and voices outside. We were just beginning to get curious when there was a banging on our door - it was Miriam urging us to leave the room as there was an electrical fire in the kitchen. The hotel kitchen was in the main block, not the annex where our room was located.. No alarms had gone off in the annex. We hurried up and took our time and got dressed. Don insisted on opening the safe otherwise we would not be able to get our passports and valuables. Eventually we crawled downstairs and found Fireman Sam and his friends walking in and out of the building. The other hotel guests were sitting around downstairs. We hung around there for about an hour when we were allowed to go back to our rooms but we were told that there would be no electricity. Good thing we had the well-charged iPad for our alarm clock.
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