A Walk in Cape Town
(Friday 16th November, 2018)
There was no such thing as an alarm clock today, though early in the morning there was some commotion in the hallway. Some lady screaming at a guy who kept trying to tell her to be quiet while still arguing. Kinda made you wonder a bit what kind of hotel this is, because the argument seemed to be about sleeping together and money.. Anyway, we went back to sleep and only got out of the room to go for a walk at 9:30.
We started to walk down Loop Street towards Waterfront. On the way we found a little café where we had our breakfast, and it was both cheap, good and with such smiling service. It was a delight.
We had to cross some large/busy roads and intersections on the way to the waterfront and it was very confusing with the street lights. Cars just seemed to drive whenever. Knowing this to be the case for tourists, probably, there are some official-looking people wearing neon yellow reflexive vests who will help you cross. They are not officials, though, and they will ask you for something in return for helping you out. One tried to get us to buy some crossword puzzles off of him.
In the end we made it to the area where we walked by some quaint canals with a backdrop of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. It was much nicer than expected, though certainly very American/European-seeming. We walked around the area, the little walk bridges that can open/swing, the restaurants, the shops and tour offices, the street musicians and buskers. There was a really nice group who played xylophones, maracas and drums; it was very rhythmic and made you want to dance. There’s also a food market (a la street food) and a large ferris wheel. A few malls – we went into an African shop in one and I found a few souvenirs to take home. Also got ourselves a few new pieces of clothing, since all the dust and dirt from being on the road hardly got out of our clothes despite washing.
It was by then lunch time and though much tempted by everything, we opted to go back to the food market where I had an avocado/Danish feta burger with fries for cheap money. It was delicious and filling, too. As we were walking back and away from Waterfront we ran into Mom and Dad! Such a nice surprise. If we were going to meet someone randomly somewhere, it’d most likely be by the Waterfront, though. Had a little chat and a hug and then went our separate ways.
We went to check in to our new accommodations at an apartment complex. The apartment is awesome, nicely decorated, couch area, dining table, large kitchen with equipment, washing machine/dryer, TV, large balcony with chairs and a couch, large bathroom with a large shower compartment and bath tub, and a bedroom with a double bed and lots of closet space. The couch is also a sleeping couch. I think it might be bigger than the house at home.. And the Wi-Fi is good and fast. So happy to have upgraded.
After checking in there and relaxing for a bit, we walked back to the hotel to get our stuff out and bring it over. We walked along Long Street this time and encountered a couple of persistent beggars who followed us around for a while. That wasn’t really very nice.
Got to the hotel, packed our stuff up, ordered an Uber and wanted to check out. The Uber was there shortly after but the receptionist was on the phone for a long time so we actually left without checking out. Which is okay, since we have paid to use the room for 6 days and we won’t be getting a refund anyway – the plan is to go back and check out later on.
Just after we had put our stuff in the apartment we went to the closest supermarket to get something for dinner and breakfast the coming days. We are able to cook for ourselves so it should save us a bit of money in the end. Back at the apartment we had dinner and since there was no plan for the rest of the evening/night, we just stayed in and relaxed and chilled for a bit.
Now I’m having a coffee and enjoying a peek down the harbour/water from our balcony. There’s also a pool and a gym in the building. Electronic key system. It’s really nice although some of the items here aren’t working perfectly. Life’s still good in Cape Town and I enjoy it so far, though sitting here now I do miss the social aspects of being around the truck and the others. Thinking of my next adventures. Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya? Zimbabwe, Mozambique? South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland?
Besting the Beast of Lion’s Head
(Saturday 17th November, 2018)
This morning was nice – had a good night’s sleep in the double bed. The couch wasn’t as comfortable according to T, but anyways.. He left for his sky diving appointment before I was up and out of bed. When I got up I prepared my backpack for the hike up Lion’s Head. I was considering not doing it for a little while but then I told myself to stop being lazy. I might never come back to do it over, after all.
Went downstairs to get some cash from the ATM and to find a cab. The reception at the apartment complex had a driver who took me to the starting point of the hiking trail. It was partly cloudy but a comfortable temperature at 8:15 and not too windy.
I began my ascent at about 8:22. At first the path is a regular gravel path going sort of steeply upwards, moving up around the foot of the little mountain in a spiralling manner. Eventually it becomes more rocky and then in the last 3rd of the climb there’s a lot of regular rock climbing on the path. At some point you can choose a longer way up, or you can choose a more steep ascent, climbing up at an almost 90° angle using metal rings and chains mounted in the rocks. I went for the longer, more moderate climb on my way up, though the final ascent still involved pretty steep climbing. Reached the top and the view was splendid, of course. The coastline with the mountains and the blue water, the city center with the tall towers, Signal Hill, Table Mountain towering on the side, and the harbour, Cape Town stretching beneath your feet. Was definitely worth it. A few minutes after reaching the top I checked the clock again and it was 9:43 so the hike up took about 1 hour, 20 minutes. It wasn’t that hard or bad – sure, I broke a sweat and had to breathe through my mouth and use my leg muscles, but I didn’t pause to catch my breath or rest, though I did have to wait for other people to pass at times.
There were a lot of people around, a lot of them playing music and being in large groups. On the top there were a lot of noisy people, including Swedish girls singing some Swedish songs out loudly. Also someone having a regular picnic with a blanket and snacks + drinks. I wasn’t up there for very long, too crowded to really dwell on the sight properly. The descent was more tough, in my opinion, climbing down steep paths. I also missed the ‘easy’ path on the way down and had to climb using the metal rings and chains. Almost at the bottom by a bench I ran into a large group of people, listening to music and doing a dance choreography together; it was really funny to run into this on a hiking path.
At the bottom I checked the time again and it said 10:33 so about an hour to climb down, too. I treated myself to a cappuccino while I waited for my driver to pick me up again. He drove me back to the apartment and we had a nice chat in the car. He talked about a lot of nice places around Cape Town, places we have no time to see. Maybe some other time.
T had come back from his skydiving and was waiting for me in the lobby by the reception (we only have 1 key). He had had a very good time and showed me a video they had made, which was pretty cool. Later on he had arranged to go meet one of our friends from the Family at Waterfront, so until then we just relaxed.
Later we took an Uber down to Waterfront and walked around with our friend. Strangely enough we met Mom and Dad again! Just can’t seem to get rid of them /wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
We stopped a few times to watch the buskers (some dancers, a musician), then went for an iced coffee, went to watch a few seals in the pier, and then got roped in to a sushi restaurant by a nice daily offer. We sat there, having our sushi while overlooking the yacht marina and the table cloth on Table Mountain (clouds rolling over the top).
In the evening we had invited some more friends from the Family to the apartment for some drinks and snacks. They came over, we had a nice time and then we ended up going into town to meet with Simba and Jojo who had also made it into Cape Town for the evening. We had a good time and it was nice to be around some of the people again.
(Sunday 18th November, 2018)
Today there wasn’t much on the program in the first half of the day so we both got out of bed late at about 11:00. We wanted to go to Table Mountain by 16:00 in the afternoon. Up until then we did not do much, despite there not being much of a hangover – honestly!
We made it to the foot of Table Mountain only to find that it was extremely windy there, meaning the cable car was closed for the day. We had wanted to take the cable car up instead of hiking because of how late we were there. Instead, we went for a little walk along the road on the foot of the mountain, enjoying the view over the city. We also walked a little bit up the path that takes you up to Table Mountain but we did not commit to it.
Ultimately, we took a cab back to the apartment after 1,5 hours or so, dropped some stuff off and then decided to go back out again to grab some pizza for dinner. After getting that, we had a quiet evening just using the Wi-Fi, chatting to each other and the others and enjoying the view from the apartment.
Cape Town City Tour
(Monday 19th November, 2018)
On this fine day we got up early to get a good start on our planned city tour (with the City Tour bus that had been recommended to us by more people). We had our breakfast then went to the tourist office to get our day tickets. We also made a reservation for our Cape Point tour for tomorrow while there.
Then we walked down to the City Tour office in Long Street and waited for the bus to arrive. We got picked up at about 8:45. Today the weather was beautiful and with only light wind, so the plan was to start out by going to Table Mountain by cable car.
When we got to the base of Table Mountain there was a large line for the cable car going up. 1 hour’s wait was the official estimation. Well, we got in line anyway, waiting for a long time in the sun (though at least they had put up umbrellas every few metres for those in the queue). The cable car can take about 60 people at once so it did take us a while.
Eventually, we got into the boarding area and were soon able to step on board. The cable car is sort of round and, as it turns out, it has a rotating floor that starts upon departure, so you get the full view while it – steeply – ascends to the Upper Cable Station at a pretty decent speed. It felt very odd to move in different directions at once, and the ascent went fast enough that you could feel the pressure change in your ears. It think it was a sort of experience in itself, though hiking might have been more fun. Maybe another time.
When we got up this very pretty landscape of rocks and plants unfolded before us. They had done a great job of making the pathways – marked but still looked and felt like natural rock ground. Table Mountain is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the world and the plant diversity here is surprisingly high. You sort of expect a barren top but no. Flowers, shrubs and plants. The weather was perfect for the mountain this day, so we enjoyed the great views as walked the long way around the edge of the top. At the end we had a drink in the café up there before we got in line for the cable car going down. The queue to go down ‘only’ took maybe 15 minutes. But we learned that the morning is the ‘worst’ time of day to go to Table Mountain because that’s when most people go. On the other hand, the wind and cloudiness tends to pick up later in the day so going in the afternoon might be a gamble.
Next we got on the first bus to come and drove on a scenic route down to Camp’s Bay where we jumped off again. Camp’s Bay is a small bay with a pretty beach with nice-looking water and Table Mountains/The 12 Apostles as a backdrop. There are also a lot of restaurants. We walked on the beach which wasn’t too busy but still had some people, mainly sunbathing. Locals trying to sell you things. We dipped our toes into the waves crashing up the shore but learned that the water was, indeed, quite cold. Maybe that’s why so few people were actually swimming.
Then we saw a seafood restaurant and decided to have lunch there. We ordered a sea food platter for 2 to share with mussels, fish, 2 kinds of calamari, fries, sauces and king prawns. There was a lot of food, it was tasty and it only cost 300 Rand! Impossible to find that at home. So yeah, we enjoyed this lunch very much.
Boarding the bus again, we had another scenic drive along the coast to Green Point. This is an area on the coast front with a promenade, green areas, mini golfing and a fun-looking playground. Information on the bus said that it’s a favourite hang-out spot for locals. There really wasn’t that much to see, nor that many people, but we enjoyed a walk along the promenade, watching the waves crash in and make a splash on the rocks. We made our way down to a blue statue of 2 women connected by their hair. Then we made our way back towards the bus stop, wanting to switch from the red to the blue line to go around the other side of Table Mountain and visit World of Birds.
Out of sheer luck the next bus that arrived was a blue line one. We jumped on, but because it was already about 16:00 we decided to go to Kirstenbosch botanical gardens instead of World of Birds. This botanical garden is one of Cape Town’s main attractions and they said it’s ranked no. 7 botanical garden in the world. As we drove towards it on the other side of Table Mountain it became a lot more foresty and a lot less urban, which was nice to see. The bus dropped us off at the entrance – however, the last bus of the day would leave in another 20 minutes. We decided to get off anyway, and then just take an Uber back whenever we were done, because the gardens wouldn’t close until 19:00.
We paid about 70 Rand each and went for a walk inside. It’s located on the mountain side and is very hilly so we got some leg exercise walking up the hill. It was some beautiful gardens with some great views of the mountains. There are also hiking trails going up into the mountains starting from within the botanical gardens, for instance ‘Skeleton Gorge’ hike. We just enjoyed the weather and scenery walking around, and it’s quite a spectacular area to walk around in. In the end we managed to find the Tree Canopy Walk, suspended in the tree tops. Was a cool albeit short little walk and we got to see a pretty male double-crested sunbird flying around. I’m sure we didn’t see that much of the total botanical gardens, though.
We got the Uber back around 18:30 and only had time to drop some stuff off before we went to meet our friends in Waterfront. From Waterfront we walked towards the park outside the stadium built for the soccer World Cup in in 2010. Here we sat as the weather was getting cooler, and we saw fog start to creep in from the sea. We had a nice time but as the fog started to encroach on the city and catching up to us it became a little too cold to continue. Therefore, we split up and ended the night back in our apartment.
This is nearing its end and it doesn’t feel particularly good. But all good things come to an end, they say.
Cape Point with a Surprise
(Tuesday 20th November, 2018)
Today we were doing our Cape Point tour. We had been told we’d be picked up at the apartment between 8-8:45 so we were ready by 8:00 and waiting downstairs in the lounge. My stomach had been acting up this morning, and the funny thing is that I had been the one cooking dinner for us yesterday. A reminder to everyone to not let me near the kitchen..
Anyway, the guy who picked us up was the helping guide, and he seemed very open, friendly and talkative. He took us out around the corner to the minibus – which had a trailer with bikes attached?? – and we met our driver/main guide. Turns out our main guide knows what seems to be everything about the Cape Town area. There were also 4 other women in the bus, 2 from France and 2 from North America.
As we drove out of Cape Town centre, they explained us about the day, which sounded great, but they also said they’d drop us off at some point to bike into Cape Point. It was news to me and T who hadn’t expected or booked a cycling tour (but clearly the tourist office lady made the wrong booking). Everyone else said they were very keen on biking for longer, and they had also shown up wearing sports wear opposed to us. So yeah, might as well go with the flow, right?
I was a little “hell nah” to begin with but then of course you will join in on the activity in the end. But at first we drove through Cliffton and Camp’s Bay. The weather was rainy and drab and the forecast had it pegged like that all day.
Our first actual stop was Hout Bay, which is a working harbour from which you can sail out to see a fur seal colony. Very picturesque area. The weather also began to clear up here, granting better visibility. T and I decided to book the boat trip out to the seals, which lasted about 45 minutes. They said the water was calm today but you could surely feel the waves pushing the boat around. Seeing the seal colony was nice, just a large rock with them lying about – the scenery was great, sort of a bit like Isle of Skye in Scotland. On the way back to the harbour we caught a few glimpses of a Southern Right Whale whale coming up for air, but it was very shy and didn’t show itself fully or for long.
There were a lot of people/tour buses at Hout Bay, especially many Asians. As a result, there were small stalls with craft works, a band, some local ‘crazies’ feeding their ‘pet seals’ fish with their mouth and then demanding money for it. It was cool enough, though, and the seal colony trip only cost us 80 Rand.
Next we drove up to Chapman’s Peak + road, which is a road on the mountainside, offering excellent panorama views over Hout Bay area. We stopped for some photos, watching the bay entrance mountain, The Sentinel, stand guard. The road is also partly carved into the rock at places, and was initially meant to be mainly a scenic drive for weekends and picnics. However, now it is also one of the regular ways for villagers outside Cape Town to get into the city and so it had to be reinforced to accommodate the extra traffic.
On our way we drove past Chapman’s Bay which is a popular surf spot. Located on the cliff overlooking the bay there is an official shark spotter, so if he sees anything that resembles danger he signals the surfers below. There are a good amount of Great White’s around these waters. It was a bit interesting to see.
We then drove through the smaller town of Noordhoek, which started out as farmland. This place was interesting to me because it is home to the horse/horse riding community in the region, and there were lots of horses and related facilities around. The valley is also home to the Leopard Toad – only home; it is now endangered because of the increased amount of roads and traffic and they get run over so easily. They town council now have whole campaigns in the area to drive carefully, especially on rainy evenings and nights.
Our next stop was a toilet break at a small shop called African Arts. This was also where we’d begin our cycling towards Cape Point entrance. They provided us with mountain bikes with back and front gears, helmets and water + water bottles. T had tried it before, but on this first stretch I didn’t really understand the concept of the gears, which made it a little harder than necessary for me. We had to go uphill, downhill, flat, against headwind, cycling on the main road. The helping guide was cycling with us and our main guide was driving the bus to the next meeting point.
It was a little tough and I did think like “What did I get myself into?” – but I wasn’t the last one at the meeting point. The 2 girls from America were lagging behind a lot, giving the rest of us a good break when we got to the meeting point (where you turn into the Cape Point National Park and pay the entry fee). When they finally caught up we decided to bike in because there was quite a line for cars to get in.
As I was cycling up – others being ahead – the left pedal just fell off. As a result, I had to walk with the bike up to the entrance. There, the others biked off ahead into the national park while the helping guide fetched me another bike. There I was, all alone and waiting.
The new bike I got was so much better, though, and suddenly cycling was a lot less hard and just more enjoyable. I also now was told how to use the gears more properly. Breezy. The first thing was to drive up a hill. On the top, at the view point, I saw the 2 American women, having put their bikes down and now sitting. I just continued down the long hill, catching up speed – it was fun! On the whole, cycling was very nice, especially in the national park as the landscape was pretty interesting.
Our next meeting point was at the visitor centre where our main guide was preparing lunch for us. He informed us that we’d been biking about 18 kilometres in total, which seemed unbelievable; certainly hadn’t felt like that long at all. I think, though unexpected, this cycling tour just added a little bit oomph to the excursion and ultimately I’m very happy with it. No regrets.
Lunch was magnificent too; green salad with eggs and olives, juice, water, pasta salad, tzatziki, 3 different types of bread, oranges, bananas, apples, ham, chicken, watermelon and finally, cookies. Hadn’t expected an included lunch, even, so that was a pleasant surprise.
We drove down to the parking lot in front of the light house (in the bus). From here we would walk up to the Cape Point old lighthouse. It’s a 200 or so metres climb on a gravel/rock path with stairs in between. On the top you had the lighthouse, a large rock and a pole with road signs + no. of kms in distance. You also had a view over the bay and over to the ‘real’ most southern point of Africa, Cape Agulhas. Cape Point is the most southwestern point and apparently also a lot more interesting, since Agulhas is more or less just a desert. There were a lot of people and it was quite windy, but still worth a visit.
When we had all walked down from the Cape Point old lighthouse we gathered up. There’s a well-marked path going along the cliff side from the bottom of Cape Point over to the top of Good Hope. We walked along this path and enjoyed some nice views over the cliffs and the beach down below. It was still very windy and borderline cold on Good Hope, but it was such an enjoyable view, also down to the stirring sea below.
Then we walked down to the parking lot at the foot of Good Hope. There is a sign here that states ‘Good Hope’ and the coordinates, but there are so many people looking to take their photo with it that you have to stand in line for a clear shot. Sometimes, arguments or fights even happen about whose turn it is, we were told, which seems a bit ridiculous. Did not bother with that.
It kind of started raining a bit as we made it down, so we got into the bus and started the trip back over Simon’s Town. On our way there we drove through the mountains, but because of the rain we couldn’t actually see that much. It was still raining a fair bit as we arrived at Simon’s Town, Boulder’s Beach, where the African penguin colony is.
Here you can opt to pay 152 Rand to enter their reserve and go down on the beach where you can observe, allegedly, 400-600 penguins together at once. You can also pay nothing and take a walk on the constructed board walk following the beach where you can also observe penguins (though much fewer).
T and I went for the free walk. Saw a female sunbird, penguins, and on our way back there was a dassie right next to us on the handrail. It even ran after us once, it was almost begging to be photographed! It also started raining more heavily as we made our way back to the bus, which would now take us back to Cape Town.
Our main guide talked the whole way back, the other women sleeping in the back of the bus. He had a lot of interesting things to share, though, and I think we learned a lot about the Cape Town area.
We were the last ones to be dropped off, and we didn’t have much time before we were to meet our friends from the Nomad tour for our last dinner together. We only just dropped off our day packs before we had to leave to be at the restaurant by 19:00. We had decided on an Italian restaurant, which turned out to be pretty good although a bit noisy. We had a good dinner and enjoyed each other’s company for the last time. 3 of us went to have a drink at Beer House in Long Street, which has many fun/cool beers on tap. We didn’t stay very long before we said our final goodbyes, though.
People disappearing through your fingers, like sand in an hourglass. I did most of the dishes, then prepared some more for our leaving tomorrow and then went to bed. The prospect of ending the adventure doesn’t exactly thrill me.
Ending the Dream
(Wednesday 21st November, 2018)
Today is truly the beginning of the end of this amazing African adventure we’ve been lucky enough to have. It’s the day that we begin the journey of flying back to little, cold Denmark again. There, 5 degrees, bad weather and parents + pets awaits us. The morning was a little quiet with a contemplative atmosphere.
We packed the last things, cleaned up some stuff in the apartment and then by 11:00 we were in the reception per check-out time. Bye bye apartment. We decided to just go to the airport right away even though our plane wasn’t going to depart before 18:15. We figured there wasn’t something we’d like to do for a few hours in the city at this time. I think, also, that the mood is a little down and that being in the airport functions a bit like mental preparation.
We took an Uber to the airport. The traffic out of the city was a little dense and we ended in a slow ‘jam’ on the highway. There had been an accident and there was also road work, meaning traffic had to be bottlenecked. But of course we had enough time, anyway, so it wasn’t an issue.
We got dropped off there and the check-in wasn’t open for our departure yet. We went downstairs to sit and wait, and a bit before noon we decided to just go get some food. By 14:00 we were able to check in and go past security and passport control. There was still lots of time to kill, of course, so we went browsing in the Africa themed shop, where we found some gifts to bring back home. We also went into duty-free to get 1 litre of Amarula each (it’s just too good!).
Then we went to sit by the gate, overlooking the runway and the mountains in the background, waiting for the Emirates plane to take us out of the dream for good. Something really cool about this plane was that after we flew away from the sunset and into the night and the lights turned off, they had a starry sky on the hallway ceiling. Such a simple thing, yet it had an excellent effect on setting a nice vibe and good atmosphere.
Reflections on Cape Town:
When we first drove into Cape Town on Keith, I didn’t think it was seeming that nice – sort of San Francisco-esque. But spending time there, doing things and walking around, I came to like and appreciate the place. It is like a bustling, large city where there’s always something to do, with nice beaches around and corner, amazing natural scenery and even nature and natural experiences right there at your fingertips.
The surroundings are great and I even liked Waterfront because despite it being touristy, it was also just so well done and organised and didn’t feel altogether like ‘too much’. Some of the less good things are the poor people who will follow you around, begging, the fake public security, the homeless people and the lack of public transport (i.e. a lot! of cars and traffic congestion). It doesn’t feel unsafe to walk around the centre, but it isn’t all that safe either, especially at night, and it does seem you run the chance of getting conned/scammed.
There are so many things to do in the area and we didn’t do them all in our 6 days so you could easily come back if you wanted, or stay there even longer. Otherwise, you just have to be choosy. A lot of the things are even free or costs only little money.
From Dubai to Denmark
(Thursday 22nd November, 2018)
The flight from Cape Town to Dubai was without much turbulence and without many nerves as a result. Quite okay. We flew into Dubai early morning, in the dark, at about 05:00. At this time of the day there really wasn’t much to see out of the window, though a full, orange moon hung prettily above the city.
At the airport we had to take a shuttle bus to another terminal. Large airport for sure but there seems to be nothing special about terminal C and A. When we got to our gate we still had to wait about 1.5 hours before boarding commenced. There were no chairs outside our gate so everyone sat on the floor until they opened it up. Was a bit weird for the expectations we had had for this airport.
When we were let into the waiting area we got to see our plane for the Dubai – Copenhagen stretch. We were seated on row 81 so we knew that the plane must be big, but it was even bigger than expected – a full double decker. Seemed a bit unnecessary going to little Denmark and it also wasn’t even remotely full once everyone had boarded. We had a row of 3 for ourselves so that was nice, though. It was a nice plane, and I actually enjoyed the ride for once – there even was enough leg space plus much larger entertainment screens.
Reflections on the trip:
The trip as a whole is probably one of, if not the, best things that have happened in my life. Despite a few ‘hiccups’ here and there I loved everything about it so much. So many experiences, special ones, intense ones, bad, good, etc. I wouldn’t change it for anything. The group was great, I wasn’t annoyed with the nature of the trip as I suspected I could be, and I never felt pressured to not be who I am. I even felt like I was a better person during this trip than I am normally; more focused outwardly, living much more in the moment and just being overall happy, joyful and not feeling any pressure to say or do or be or look like certain things.
It feels sort of like going back to remembering the basic values that make life great, reconnecting with nature and other people in a situation and manner that does not revolve around achievements, race for recognition, goals or standards. Just about enjoyment, the present moment, learning and life; living it to its fullest.
With me I have many beautiful memories and no regrets. I’ve learned things about myself, about life, about other people, about Africa, about its peoples, its cultures, nature and way of life. I’m so happy I have been on this journey and I can’t wait for the next fun things that I’ll set out to do.
The top picture is Good Hope seen from the old lighthouse on Cape Point.
Last updated 3rd January, 2019.