Day 41: Capetown (18 October 2009) we’re finally here!
Well…our luck got better! Eleven hours later we arrived safely in Capetown only to find out that the visa we thought we had to buy at the airport didn’t exist (well, it did but they gave it to you), our luggage was there quickly and there was a nice man with a sign with our names on it as we came out of passport control who helped us with our luggage and then into the car! Already I love Capetown! I was seriously jumping for joy and doing a dance so happy to be in South Africa! It’s been on the top of my travel list for so very long and we’re actually here…I just can’t believe it!
The driver, a nice young man, talked to us a bit on our way into the city and took us to our hotel, the Saasveld Lodge on Kloof Street after giving us some suggestions of things to do in town while we’re here. Our hotel is directly across the street from a shopping center with a Woolworth’s supermarket, a bookstore, an ATM, an internet café, a wellness center and a café and right next to a pizza place and a burger joint! The staff at the hotel have been incredibly nice and friendly and we left our luggage in their conference room, changed and headed for the waterfront-as you have noticed a trend in almost every new city we go to see!
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront took about twenty minutes to walk to and as it’s a Sunday, many stores were closed and streets deserted. We passed some markets filled with handicrafts and artwork (which of course I already fell in love with) and many surf shops, too. We found the waterfront and tons of shops all completely active! We kept walking and I kept smiling and looking in awe at where we were! Capetown, South Africa, I can’t begin to tell you for how long I’ve wanted to be here! It’s like a dream come true! Robben’s Island (where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner) was right out off of the waterfront staring at us as we wandered through the shops. We looked and looked knowing full well that we’ll need more bags to go home and that we have got to go back to these shops in the next few days and then we stopped for lunch in the food court…SUBWAY (also never disappoints) and caught a taxi back to the hotel. We had a voucher for a half-day city tour and we were being picked up at 1:30 (and we landed at 8am and have been on the move ever since) so we had to get back to the hotel to check in a get ready to go.
Phillip (the tour driver) picked us up at the hotel with four other passengers in the car (two from the US and two from Sierra Leone-that was cool). We tried, but sadly failed to be able to go up the cable car to Table Mountain but it was too windy and the mountain wasn’t open today. Apparently there is an unwritten rule in Capetown; if the mountain is open when you get to the airport you don’t even check in to the hotel, drop your luggage, rearrange your tours and do the mountain! So, we’ll do the best we can to get it in sometime in our Capetown visit. Phillip took us to many places for the afternoon. The first is an area called the Malay Quarter where the houses were tiny and brightly colored and very close together. This is the neighborhood of a closeknit community who were slaves in South Africa’s beginning. Today it is a lower income neighborhood of Blacks and Muslims. The government told the people of the village that they could buy their homes if they were renovated, but they would have to pay for the cost of the renovation themselves. Alas, some were able to do just that while many weren’t. It turns out that South Africa has the largest dichotomy in the world of the GAP between the rich and the poor. Although a lower income neighborhood, this is known throughout the country for their spectacular Malay cuisine.
Next we went to one of the Company gardens where we saw the Parliamentary buildings, where the President stays when he’s in town, the location of the Jewish museum and the Holocaust museum and many aloe and rubber trees. We stopped at a diamond store to see some gorgeous jewelry of diamonds, diamonds and more diamonds (none of which we could afford and Dennis wouldn’t be happy if we bought it from a store anyway)! We then headed to the beach to see our friend the Atlantic Ocean! It was freezing cold water and windy air but boy did it feel good to smell that odor and feel the spray off of the waves on my frozen toes that drifted in and out of the white caps as they rushed at the sand. Amidst the wind in your face and Table Mountain’s beauty at your back; standing on the beach without shoes on your toes as the water splashed at your pants was just magical! Talk about pure soul rejuventation! I’ve known for awhile that I miss that sound, smell and rush of the ocean, but, I’m not sure I knew just how much until I stood in it today!
We left the beach and drove to a few lookout points on Table Mountain and Lion’s Head as it was still too windy for the cable car to be active. We saw amazing views of Capetown and you could also see the new stadium that the city is building for the FIFA World Cup in 2010. Phillip drove us back to the hotel and we said goodbye to our new friends. We did find out that the girl from Sierra Leone works for the US government and was just in Madagasgar doing an audit; that was cool! We ran to Woolworths for some water and snacks and then decided to go to the Hudson’s Burger Joint next door for dinner. Aside from the smoke from the indoor grill rising and filling the restaurant to just the right level to burn your eyes, the food was really good and did manage to get me my French fries in South Africa on our very first evening. We walked the fifteen steps from the restaurant back to the hotel for some relaxation and blog updating, put some pictures up on the computer for safe keeping and got ourselves ready for tomorrow. The next adventure…The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point’s Peninsula!