The Mother City!
Well, we nearly didn't arrive in Cape Town, British Airways decided to cancel our flight, they couldn't find a plane (?) we were lucky enough to get onto a SAA flgiht the same night and we arrived about 9.30am. It was a bit weird to be experiencing no jetlag whatsoever, as the time difference between Cape Town and the UK is 1 hour after having got off of a 12 hour flight. We stayed at the Protea Hotel, Sea Point, which was clean, comfortable and friendly. It wasn't very busy, as most places we found, but it was the beginning of the summer season, I think we were lucky, felt like we had the place to ourselves!
Our driver from the Airport advised us to take a trip up to Table Mountain the next day, as it was going to be clear and calm. He said that we should get up the mountain on the first clear day, as it wasn't unusual to get 9 or 10 cloudy or windy days in a row, on those days they close the cableway, and you are not able to get up the mountain at all. (locals apparently have an uncanny knack of being able to forecast hte weather) So on the day after we arrived we bought ourselves a one way ticket up the mountain. (one way was 44 rand, about £4, a return is 80 rand) We thought we would hike down the mountain, it was such a lovely day. The cableway is a 6 minute ride to the top of the mountain, the floor insde the car moves round so everyone gets a good view. As we reached top even I was slightly scared at the apparent speed of the approaching rockface! The views from the top are unbelieveable, beware, you need to have a hat, sunscreen and water before you even contemplate going up the mountain, they say the South African sun is 6 times stronger than in Europe, and you will burn easily, even if you dont burn easily!
After having lunch at the top, we made our way to Platteklip Gorge (we were advised where to go down the mountain by the very helpful girl in the curio shop) We started out on the path of carefully strewn and placed rocks which formed a pathway down tha mountain. We were told it would take us around 2 hours, it took us 4, partly because we stopped several times to video/take pictures and to stand under the natural mountain spring waterfalls and cool down! another reason why it took us so long was that we went slightly the wrong way, and i have to say to Matthew " I told you so" we took the path that Matthew thought was right, I was very scared after a while, after having seen noone, and been walking on a dirt ledge with a sheer drop to my right down the side of the mountain. There was a signpost saying Lower Cable Station and another sign saying Platteklip Gorge - the Lower Cable Station Way takes you along the front of the mountain, whereas Platteklip Gorge takes you down to the road. Anyway, the view along the front of the mountain was out of this world, however my toes were numb from where i had been subconciously trying to gain more grip on the small and unsteady pathway! After an eternity we found another sign to the lower cable station. I was more than pleased after being convinced we were heading on a wild goose chase round the mountain! we were sunburnt (with factor 15 on), aching and tired, but elated in what we had both just seen and done, happy in the knowledge that we had some memories to share and seen things that a lot of people dont get the chance to even dream about!
"Tours and Excursions etc."
There are lots of tours available when you arrive in Cape Town. Hotels arrange them, or you can go to the tourism office in the Waterfront who are exptremely helpful. They have lots of info on tours/ companies etc, bit to be honest, everyone in Cape Town is so helpful, we often asked locals for recommendations. We did the Robben Island trip where were shown around by a former political prisoner. He was extremely interesting, and it was clear there were certain things he still couldnt talk about, but was happy to answer questions. You go form the Waterfront to Robben island by boat and then you are taken around the island in a bus (be aware that you are not able to get off the bus, so any pictures you want to take, like the view of Table Mountain from here, you should do while the bus stops out of the window, oh and sit on the left side of the bus, you get the best shots from there!) you are then taken to the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela was held in cell number 5 for 18 years. This tour is a true eye-opener and I recommend it.
Two Oceans Aquarium was a full day, we watched sharks being fed and Matthew actually arranged to scuba dive in the tank with them! (nutter) it was a really cool day out and only about 60 rand (£5.50).
Monday we went to Gansbaai to dive with Sharks, thats a whole story all on its own! well worth it and a truly unforgettable day out! I will never forget sitting in the 14 degrees of the Atlantic Ocean in a cage waiting for the divemaster to shout "divers in the cage Down, Down, Down" and then submerging myself under water to watch a 4 meter great white swim 2 ft from my face!!
The Cape Penninsular tour was interesting, and packed in, we got to drive to Hout bay, seal island, cape point, (where again we took the more adventurous route and went right as far as we could go before stepping off the end of South Africa!)
our shark dive and aquarium dives were both arranged over the internet before we went, the cape penninsular was with our tour operator, and the others we did ourselves. There are pleanty of helpful people and tour opportunities.
We were a bit aprehensive at first when I won this trip, as we knew nothing about Cape Town. The more we read about it, the more we liked the idea, but were slightly cautious as we were hearing terrible stories about crime etc. When British Airways first cancelled our flight at hte beginning of the holiday, a small part of me would not have been unhappy if we had cancelled the entire holiday and been able to go somewhere like Florida instead, BUT I was mistaken. Cape Town is an awe-inspiring city. it has its bad areas like most cities, but if you have an ounce of common sense you will be more than fine. We saw no evidence of any kind of crime while we were there, and it looks like they really are getting on top of it. The scenery is amazing, Camps bay and clifton beaches are paradise, the food is unbelieveable, the people are accomodating and friendly and the history of apartheid will make you cry. The people are strong and happy, and we will definately be recommending it as a destination.