Cape Town – Woodstock

The area now known as Woodstock was inhabited by the Khoi San until the arrival of the Dutch in the 1600’s.  By the middle of the 19th century it had become a fashionable seaside resort.  This changed in the 1950’s when the beach was destroyed due to land reclamation to enlarge the foreshore.

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St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church at 1 Station Road, Woodstock.

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Woodstock is a suburb of Cape Town and is about one kilometre from the city centre.  Many of the buildings are being renovated.

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Some are still neglected.

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Street artists are trying to make the area colourful.

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Many older houses are being restored.

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This circa 1903 building is one of many in Albert Road that has been restored.

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Every Saturday morning a market is held in The Old Biscuit Mill in Albert Road where artists and craftsmen display and sell their goods.

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The changing of Woodstock into a ‘trendy’ area has had a negative effect on the local residents who are been forced out by high rentals.

Simonstown and Cape Point

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Our next day trip was from Cape Town to Cape Point, via Simonstown and Miller’s Point.  Simonstown is now the headquarters of the South African Navy and is a town of much naval history, both South African  and British.  We parked next to the Jubilee Square waterfront park above the  Simonstown harbour.  This was known as Market Square  until 1935 when it was renamed Jubilee Square to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George  and Queen Mary. If you visit this historic town make sure to see the bronze statue of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a dog that famously adopted the British naval seamen  during WWII.

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He was the only dog to ever be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy.  This Great Dane served in the Royal Navy between 1939 and 1944 in Simonstown.

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We enjoyed a lunch of traditional Cape Malay bobotie at Quarters Restaurant overlooking Simonstown harbour.

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After an early lunch, we strolled around the waterfront park where many arts and crafts are on display.

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This is the Queen Victoria Jubilee Fountain in Simonstown’s Jubilee Square in the waterfront park.  This Fountain was imported from England to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.  It was used to provide drinking water in the square.

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This photo shows detail and the date on the Victoria Jubilee Fountain.

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One of South Africa ‘s worst military disasters occurred when the steamship SS  Mendi sank in the English Channel on 21 February 1917.  On 16 January  1917, during WWI,  the SS Mendi sailed from Cape Town en route to Le Havre in France to take part in the war against Germany. The ship was accidentally rammed by the SS Darro.   A total of 616 South Africans died, including 607 black troops serving in the South African Native Labour Contingent.

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We had to leave Simonstown to continue our trip to Cape Point,  but promised ourselves that we would set aside a whole day to explore this historic naval town.  We continued around the beautiful coast to our next stop, Miller’s Point,  well known fishing spot.  This photo shows the outlook back towards False Bay.

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Miller’s Point was a bustling hive of activity.

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Many small fishing boats were lining up at the slipway to come ashore with their catch.

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Fishermen were selling their  catches of snoek to buyers waiting to fill their bakkies  or small trucks. They were receiving around ZAR 60 per snoek.

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The gulls were flying around waiting for scraps of fish.  There was a buzz of excitement in the air.  It was wonderful to see these people  looking so happy with the bounty from the Indian Ocean.   Their families would be fed well for a good while from the proceeds of this day at sea.

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No sooner was one boat pulled up the slipway,  than the next would be cranked ashore. 

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The seagulls were screaming and whirling around the boats, diving down for titbits as the whirling propellers churned up scraps of fish.

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Reluctantly we left the excitement at Miller’s Point and continued on our way to the Nature Reserve at Cape Point.

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If you are a South African citizen in possession of a Wild Card, entrance into the South African reserves is free.

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On the way into the Nature Reserve we passed this small fisherman’s cottage.

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This turnoff led to wonderful views of False Bay.  The reserve is neat and clearly signposted.

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Many of the fynbos plants were flowering.   In the distance is the newer of the two lighthouses at Cape Point.   The older one at the Point is no longer used.

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The view site is at the edge of steep cliffs.  There were divers in the waters at the bottom of the cliffs.

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False Bay got its name about three hundred years ago as sailors confused it with Table Bay to the north.  It is on the warmer Indian Ocean side of Cape Point.

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Some tourists from Malaysia were having their photos taken at the Cape of Good Hope, the most south westerly point of Africa.   Many people think that this is the most southerly point of Africa, however that is incorrect.   Cape Agulhas,  170 km south east of Cape Town holds that record.

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Our next stop was to visit the Cape Point, where the waters of the Indian Ocean mingle with the colder waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

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You can ride up the steep point on a funicular or the more energetic can climb up. 

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Even if you go up with the funicular,  there is still a steep climb to the old historic lighthouse.

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Theoretically the warmer Indian Ocean is to the left of the point and the colder Atlantic Ocean is to the right.  There have been at least 28 shipwrecks near Cape Point.   There is a ‘shipwreck trail’ showing the many wrecks and places where ships were wrecked over the last centuries. These waters are wild and the rocks very dangerous.   The old lighthouse was often covered in mist and could not be seen by the sailors. For this reason it was taken out of service and a new one built lower down,  below the mist belt.

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This sign next to the historic lighthouse is very popular and often  photographed by visiting tourists.

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You can read on the Internet about the many shipwrecks at Cape Point.  If you have time the are 28 shipwreck sites to see around Cape Point.

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During  both World Wars, Cape Point was of great strategic importance to the British.

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The shop next to the funicular station has some lovely maritime momentos.

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Our travels now took us to Kommetjie as we were heading back to Cape Town via the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive.   The windsurfers were making the most of the steady breeze.

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While in Kommetjie we visited the Slangkop lighthouse which is situated inside this part of the Table Mountain Nature Reserve.

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Slangkop (meaning ‘snake head’) lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere.   It is 34 metres tall and has been operating since 1919 (some references say since 1914).

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After leaving the village of Kommetjie we travelled towards Camps Bay via the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive. Beautiful cloud formations hung over The Twelve Apostles as these mountains are known.

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The world famous Twelve Apostles Hotel began as a hunting lodge in 1836. It is now an award winning Five Star Hotel over looking the Atlantic Ocean near Camps Bay. 

The West Coast – Yzerfontien and Blaauwberg

Yzerfontien is a small fishing village situated on the west coast, washed by the cold Atlantic Ocean, it is approximately one hour’s drive from Cape Town.

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This village has approximately 10 000 permanent residents.  In holiday season there are are thousands more visitors, drawn by the beautiful beaches and fishing.  Up until 1937 Yzerfontien was still a farm. In 1989 it was given a Local Council and became a town.

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The views of the Atlantic Ocean are breathtaking.

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This small harbour serves the local fishermen as well as tourists .

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We enjoyed a last view of the Yzerfontien coastline and then travelled back towards Blaauwberg for lunch.

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Table Mountain was clearly visible across Table Bay.   This part of the coast near Blaauwberg has been declared a Nature Reserve.

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We strolled along the dunes that formed part of the Nature Reserve.

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Families were enjoying paddling in amongst the rock pools.

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Big Bay is well known amongst locals and visitors.

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We stopped for lunch at Ons Huisie,  a popular restaurant run from a restored fisherman’s cottage.

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Wellington and the Paarl Valley

Monday saw us travelling from Cape Town,  via Durbanville, to Wellington and the beautiful Paarl Valley.

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Durbanville is a busy and bustling centre.

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After leaving Durbanville we passed many vineyards and olive groves.

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Many of the farms in this area dates back to 1692 when freehold land was given to farmers.

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In among the vineyards are fields of wheat.

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Olive groves near Wellington.

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We reached the historic town of Wellington which was founded in 1837.   This town marked the limit of the settler expansion from the Cape and was first called ‘Limiet Vallei’. This area was also known as Val Du Charron or ‘Valley of the Wagonmaker ‘ from the early 17th century when the French Hugenots settled there.  It was later named after the Duke of Wellington.

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The historic buildings have been beautifully preserved. The Huguenot Seminary, the first teachers’ training college, founded by the Rev Andrew Murray, is found in Wellington.

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We left Wellington and travelled into the valley below Bainskloof and Paarl.

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We were on our way to a wine farm called Doolhof.

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We reached our destination.

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Doolhof has wine tasting every day of the week.

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Beautiful cannas greeted us.

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We left the gardens and went into the historic wine cellar.

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Inside we were treated to a selection of their best wines.

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We bought a selection of wine.

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Doolhof has won many awards for their wine.

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We stopped to admire the hydrangeas before leaving the lovely wine farm.

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We briefly stopped at Welvanpas,  the birthplace of Piet Retief,  the famous Voortrekker leader.

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This is where Retief was born.

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The Retief family still owns and works on the farm.

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We admired the detail on this Bridge next to the Retief farm.

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We travelled back towards Wellington to visit another wine estate.

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Clouds were building over the Hottetot Holland Mountains in the distance.

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We reached the wine farm of Under Oaks.

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We were greeted by the local herd.

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Old wine vats on display.

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Unfortunately the cellar and restaurant were closed on Mondays.

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We travelled further into the valley to The Spice Route.

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There we had lunch under the trees and visited the artisan chocolate factory.

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The chocolates are handmade in the small factory.

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There are many different types of chocolate on display.

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The are many flavours of drinking chocolate to choose from.

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We also visited the brewery where they make craft beer.

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Hermanus

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Hermanus is a small village 90 minutes drive from the city of Cape Town.  It was founded by a teacher, Hermanus Pieters,  in 1815.  It was originally a place where farmers used to graze their cattle in summer as well as a fishing spot.

imageDoctors from Harley  Street in London recommended Hermanus for its ‘champagne air’ and this led to people visiting for holidays and to recuperation from illness.

 

Some of the old fishermen’s cottages have been preserved.

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This old cottage now houses an Art Gallery.

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Visitors can wander around the local shops and markets.

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There are plenty of shops and art galleries to explore.

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The shop is a bookworm’s dream.

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Books that are out of print can be found here.

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The main street takes you back to the beach and cliffs.

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Whale watching is a popular pastime from June to December.  Whales come to calve in this sheltered bay.

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Marine Drive has lots of restaurants where one can stop for a meal while enjoying the magnificent views of the sea and mountains.

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On the day we visited there was mist hanging over the mountains behind Hermanus.

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The beaches are sheltered.

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The famous Grotto Beach.

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We reluctantly left Hermanus and travelled back to Cape Town.

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The road to Cape Town goes past olive groves and vineyards and winds along mountain passes.

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After 90 minutes we saw Devil’s Peak which was covered in cloud.  We were back in the Mother City.

Cape Town – Table Mountain

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Table mountain as seen from the V&A Waterfront.

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It was a clear and windless day. We decided to take the cableway up Table Mountain.

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We were advised to leave our car in the car park at the base of Table Mountain.   From there we took a free shuttle bus to the cableway.

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There was safe parking and we happily boarded the bus.

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We were about half way up the mountain at the ticket office.

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We bought our tickets and waited to board the cableway.  More than 24 million people have travelled on the cableway.

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Table Mountain was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2011.

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The cable car rotates while travelling up the mountain so we had a 360 degree view of our surroundings.

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As we got closer to the top we saw the solid rock that the mountain is made of.

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A beach viewed from Table Mountain.

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These wild flowers could be seen all over the mountain.

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The Cape Floral Kingdom has over 8500 species.

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The views are breathtaking.

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This is looking over the Twelve Apostles towards Cape Point.

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A rich diversity of plants and animals are found on Table Mountain.

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That is Robben Island in the distance.

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We left the mountain and caught the shuttle bus back to the car park.

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We drove back to the V&A Waterfront for lunch.

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Bridal couple having photos taken at the Waterfront.

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Baby Kabeljou cooked whole.

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What a treat to watch the harbour while enjoying a meal.

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We finished the meal with Pavlova.

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We strolled through the shopping centre admiring the Christmas decorations.

Cape Town – Bo Kaap

The Bo Kaap is colourful suburb dating back to the 1700’s.  It is on the slopes of Signal Hill.  It was previously known as the Malay Quarter. Some of the streets still have the original cobblestones.     

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  In 1658 the first Muslim people were brought to the Cape as slaves of the Dutch East India Company.  Slaves were mainly brought from Malaysia and Indonesia.  They brought Islam as well as some exotic foods and traditions to the Cape Colony. Bobotie, a well known South African dish (see Recipes on this blog), was one of the many dishes that the Malay slaves brought from the far east to South Africa.

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The only holiday that the slaves were allowed was on 2 January each year. 

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Today carnivals are still held in Cape Town on 2 January each year to commemorate this.

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We visited the Bo Kaap Museum at 71 Wale Street.  This is the oldest house in the Bo Kaap that is still in its original state.  The people from the Orient  brought many skills with them.  They were builders, tailors etc.  Many of the freed slaves started small businesses.

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The Malay slaves brought Islam to the Cape Colony.  

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Christians and Muslims lived happily together.

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These local Muslims readily gave me permission to photograph them resting in the cool shade of their kramat (local mosque or shrine).

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The colours and intricate designs on the buildings of the Bo Kaap
are fascinating. 

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Many of the buildings have an Orient  flavour because so many of the builders were from the far east.

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Some have been beautifully restored.  Houses in Cape Town from the 1700’s to 1900’s are a mixture of Cape Dutch, Georgian (the British invaded in 1795) and the Orient.

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Devil’s Peak is one of the mountains viewed from Bo Kaap.  It can be seen behind these colourful houses.

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Local residents go about their daily business while tourists happily take photos.

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This building is proudly Arabian and circa 1893.

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Some of these homes have been turned into B&B’s to help accommodate the many tourists that visit Cape Town.

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Some buildings accommodate small businesses.

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We left the colourful Bo Kaap and drove towards the city centre.

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We saw some beautiful churches around the city.

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It was nearly lunch time.  We wanted to enjoy lunch at an historic venue.

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We decided to visit the famous Mount Nelson Hotel which has a fascinating history.

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Named after Lord Horatio Nelson who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, this was the first hotel in South Africa to have both hot and cold running water.

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The Mount Nelson has always been known for its wonderful gardens

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These hydrangeas flower in December and are nicknamed ‘Christmas Flowers’.

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Royal visitors have stayed at the Mount Nelson over the years.  In 1925 the Prince of Wales, later The Duke of Windsor, stayed at the Nelson.

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Tea at the Mount Nelson is a stylish affair.

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HRH Princess Alice also stayed at the Mount Nelson.

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The hotel is full of South African flowers.  These proteas were beautifully displayed.

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We left the historic Mount Nelson Hotel and travelled to Camps Bay. We stopped above Camps Bay to photograph the mist creeping into the bay.

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Camps Bay is a popular tourist spot.  Watching the sun set over the turquoise Atlantic Ocean in the evening is a popular local tradition.  The beach is lined with restaurants and bars.