In Cape Town

Sunrise at Cape Town International reflected on the 747 just arrived from London

Our plane touched down on schedule after the 11 1/2 hour flight.  The scenery is stunning during the descent and landing, especially on such a beautiful day with clear views of mountains, the city and the ocean.

The passport and customs officials were friendly and efficient.  I was taken to one side for extra questioning by a customs officer who, on finding out I was headed for St Helena to work as a doctor, asked what medical equipment I was taking with me.  I started to give her a full description of the equipment and what it was for but it was obviously TMI as she quickly interrupted and did not want to take the enquiry any deeper.

Ridvan, the driver from Blackheath Lodge, met me and gave me a brief guided tour along the road from the airport to the guest house.  He was very happy to tell me that he had been in London for three days to attend, by personal invitation, the Hyde Park concert to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday.  Some time earlier, he and a small group of rugby supporters had driven to Mandela’s home to personally thank him for supporting South African rugby.  As a result of this, he has joined the extensive circle of friends of this amazing man.

First glimpse of Table Mountain

Blackheath Lodge

After a warm welcome and a restorative cup of tea on the terrace of Blackheath Lodge, a restored Victorian home now run as a guest house, I settled in to the lovely, comfortable room and made plans for the rest of the day.

A thirty minute walk, or a short bus ride, along the ocean side leads to the famous Waterfront area, full of shops and restaurants – and boats, of course..  I decided to walk rather than take a bus having been couped up in a confined space since yesterday.  The area is reputed to be very safe to walk in, though the number of notices about security guards and other burglary deterrents including window bars and high tension electric wiring did make me wonder..  Even Blackheath Lodge has a little guard booth outside.   However, I was out in the middle of the day and felt no insecurity about walking alone.

The Atlantic Seaboard

Two minutes after setting out I was gazing far into the Atlantic Ocean.  The coast at this point is very rocky with swirling kelp forests adding interest to the wave patterns.

Surreal looking (non)-rocking horses on the sea front

 Dotted around the large grassy parkland between the shore road and the promenade were solitary men lying on the grass, mums or home helpers with young children, and dog walkers (from this short sample bull mastiffs seem to be a favourite breed here).  There were children playing on the rocks and small sandy area.  A man in a trilby type hat was entertaining other children by showing them how to offer titbits of bread to the squawking large gulls circling closely over his head.

Cape Town Waterfront

Even in the middle of winter, the Waterfront is busy enough.  Street entertainment comprised a youth group playing popular music on percussion instruments including marimbas and drums, and a group of men singing a la Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  After wandering around, I found a quiet restaurant serving traditional Cape Malay food.  The fish beryani was not like the biryani it must be based on – but more a spicy fish risotto.  It was tasty enough, especially with the addition of the raw carrot, onion and hot pepper chutney.

Then it was time to catch the Red tour bus for a circuit around the town and up Table Mountain to the cable car base station.  It will not surprise my family to know that I struggled to keep my eyes open on the bus..  I did get off once, at the highest point of the route by the cable car departure point and took a shot of the panoramic view of Cape Town using the photosynthesis app on my Ipod Touch.

The view from halfway up Table Mountain

I jumped on the next red bus and continued the rest of the tour, down past the exclusive beaches along the peninsula where the rich and famous can be spotted according to the audio guide.  I didn’t recognise anyone today!  I was able to alight just ten minutes walk from Blackheath Lodge, buy some supper provisions from Woolworths Food (Woollies is doing well in S.A. and has a M&S type feel to it) and head up the hill to another cup of tea.
Tomorrow, I join the RMS St Helena and may not be able to post anything until I’ve arrived on the island of St Helena next Wednesday.  Seabands and Stugeron are at the ready!
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10 Responses to In Cape Town

  1. Doreen says:

    Fabulous. I could almost smell the things you mentioned. Enjoy. xx D

  2. runjeva says:

    Just lovely: write, write, write….. xxx

  3. morveniona says:

    Oh do keep this blog up when you arrive on St Helena!! Great to join you on the journey.

    • marypacker says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Morven. I’ll do my best to keep posting though am a wee bit apprehensive about what awaits me. I wish I could have family and friends physically with me on this journey. It’s a tiny bit lonely to be going on this voyage of discovery on my own. Love to you and all the family xxx

  4. teepee says:

    Hello! Great to hear about your travels so far – I guess you are on a boat somewhere in the Atlantic now though… Baby and AL say hello too… I like the pic. of the plane/sunset. Apparently there are albatrosses on St. Helena??

  5. Morley Sewell says:

    We have just seen your last two blogs and do not suppose that you will read this until you jet to St. Helena. Whatever, we very much hope you are having/will have had an enjoyable sea voyage. Would love to have been with you in Capetown – what a pity about the need for security but its much the same all over Africa and was even in our day. The weather looked beautiful – not like the tropical storm that hit Edinburgh and especially Mormingside yesterday – Cynthia drove is home from the cafe through it in crawling traffic. Have a good time in St. Helena and we, together with all your other friends will look forward to reading all about it and seeing the pictures especially if they are as food as that iPod panorama! Ellie and Alan are calling in this afternoon on their way back from York shire to collect is Mollie
    Love
    Mum and Dad

  6. Martin Eyre says:

    Sounds like your enjoying your trip

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