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.

Cape Town – V&A Waterfront and surrounds

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We walked to the Waterfront towards midday.  Lunch was a plate of fresh mussels from the west coast.

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We watched yachts taking tourists around the harbour and out into Table Bay.

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This little train takes visitors and children around the Waterfront.  The man with the flag controls the speed and stops the train to allow pedestrians to pass.

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These life size statues are of South Africans who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.  From left to right: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.

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Watching over the statues of our famous leaders, is Table Mountain.

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We walked back to the Marina admiring the gardens and the views.

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Later we went with friends, to a local Greek restaurant which was having a special wine tasting event.

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This part of the city has lovely Edwardian homes.

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The wine farmer gave a talk about his wines from the farm called Groote Post.  It was a dairy farm before they planted  vineyards.

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Each course was matched with a wine from Groote Post.

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Greek food and South African wine go well together.

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After much food and wine we took an Uber taxi back to the Marina and a good night’s sleep.

Cape Town – Exploring False Bay

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St James beach is a small, but very popular beach. The railway line passes right next to the beach.

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We stopped at Kalk Bay for a walk and a cup of tea. The Kalk Bay harbour is very busy with fishermen selling their catches.

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There is a very interesting China shop in Kalk Bay.

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China of all descriptions. Imagine dusting all of this!

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We left Kalk Bay early as we didn’t want to get stuck in the traffic caused by the roadworks. We travelled towards the beautiful Hottetots Holland mountains. We were on our way to Gordon’s Bay harbour for lunch.

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We had calamari at the Thirsty Oyster which is inside the harbour.

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After lunch we drove along the coastal road around False Bay.

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The views are incredible.

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We went past places with fascinating  names like Hangklip,  Rooi Els, Koggelbaai and the Steenbras River mouth.  We went as far as Betty’s Bay.

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On the way back we stopped at Koggelbaai to admire the long white beach.

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We travelled back to Cape Town after having spent a day exploring False Bay.

Cape Town – Simonstown and Fish Hoek

We awoke to find the temperature had dropped overnight and that a fine mist had settled . Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate.  It rains in winter and the summers are dry, warm and sunny.   The weather is influenced by the cold Benguella current in the Atlantic Ocean.  This current brings plankton and thus fish, to its west coast.  The warmer Indian Ocean washes its southern coast.

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This is a photo of Table Mountain, taken from the V&A Waterfront.  The famous landmark was completely covered by mist.

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We enjoyed breakfast at one of the many venues at the Waterfront.

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The seagulls were resting, waiting for scraps of fish from the many fishing boats that continually move in and out of the harbour.

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After breakfast we travelled by car to Hout Bay, where we started our trip around the beautiful Chapman ‘s Peak Drive.  This spectacular drive takes one from Hout Bay,  around the Peninsula to Noordhoek.

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We stopped to take some photos of Hout Bay.  To the left of the photo is the famous surfing spot known as The Dungeons. The surf here is very dangerous as the waves are very large. 

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The tops of the mountain were still shrouded in mist.

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We were impressed with the engineering required to build this famous drive along the coast.

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This drive is as beautiful as the one along the Amalphi coast in Italy.

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We arrived at the historic naval base of Simonstown.

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Today Simonstown town is well known amongst tourists for its penguin colony at Boulders Beach.

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On our way to Boulders Beach we stopped to enjoy the view of False Bay.

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After going along the raised boardwalk, we reached Boulders Beach, which is famous for its colony of African penguins.

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One can swim or sunbathe with the penguins. 

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We left the penguins and drove to the fishing village of Fish Hoek.  There we had lunch at a small restaurant on the beachfront .  We enjoyed yellowtail which was freshly caught that day.

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After lunch we strolled along Fish Hoek beach to where the local fishermen were pulling in their catch.  This traditional fishing method is called ‘trek’ fishing.  ‘Trek’ is Dutch for pull and refers to the way that the fishermen pull in the nets.

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The fishermen were getting ready to take the nets out into the bay. 

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None of the boats have motors.  The fishermen row out with the heavy nets and lay them down in a big loop.

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In the 19th century Fish Hoek used to be one of the many places in the Cape  where whales were hunted for their blubber.  Fortunately this practice was banned.  In winter whales can be seen in this bay.

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The nets are then very slowly and gently pulled to shore.   The fishermen told us that they had caught about two to three hundred yellowtail that day.   They sometimes catch ‘harder’,  another popular eating fish.

We left the fishermen tidying their nets and travelled back to the Mother City of Cape Town.

Cape Town – V&A Waterfront and Blaauwberg

Staying on the Marina behind the V&A Waterfront is to be right in the hub of one of the main tourist attractions in Cape Town.  From here one can visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades.  Visitors don’t need a motorcar and can call an Uber taxi if we they need transport.

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This is the view of the famous Table Mountain from the Marina.

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The Waterfront is part of the working harbour of Cape Town.

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Enjoy breakfast while watching the harbour activities.

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We later went to Blaauwberg from where you get wonderful views of Table Mountain across Table Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

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The small village of Blaauwberg has lovely restaurants with magnificent views.

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The beautiful turquoise waters are typical of the Atlantic Coast.

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This artistic display was outside one of the local restaurants.

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Views across Table Bay from Tableview  towards Table Mountain.

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That evening we went to Grand Beach Cafe near the V&A Waterfront for sundowners and a light meal. The sea was calm and there wasn’t a breath of wind.

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People on board this yacht were enjoying the calm evening.

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Drinking South African wine while watching the sun set is a local tradition in Cape Town.

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A last boat sailed into the light craft harbour, which is quite near the main Cape Town harbour.

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We had a lovely meal with our toes in the golden sand at the Grand Beach Cafe.

Matjiesfontein, a Victorian Village in the Karoo

 

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We awoke to find ourselves meandering through the beautiful Karoo.

Rovos Rail staff served a wonderful South African breakfast.

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We passed the small Karoo town of Laingsburg which was devastated by a flood in January 1981. All the rivers in this part of the Karoo converged and flooded the town.  Some abandoned vehicles can be seen on the dry riverbed. They were probably carried there by the floodwaters.

Some of the intrepid passengers disembarked and walked the last few kilometres to the Victorian village of Matjiesfontein.

Matjiesfontein was founded in 1884 by a Scottish railwayman, James Douglas Logan.  He also built the famous Lord Milner Hotel. We visited  the Transport Museum.  Olive Schreiner loved Matjiesfontein and is buried on a koppie overlooking the town.

We got back on board the Rovos Rail and were treated to a traditional South African four course meal. Each course was accompanied by a South African wine.

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While we were enjoying lunch we reached the Hex River Tunnels. The longest tunnel is 14 kms long.

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After leaving the tunnels we entered the Hex River Valley.  There was a dramatic change of scenery.  Gone was the dry Karoo.  Now we saw the lush winelands of the Western Cape.  There were also many hectares of olive groves.

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The staff on the Rovos are friendly and efficient.

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We passed the golden wheat fields near Worcester.

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In the distance we saw Table Mountain and knrw that we were nearly at Cape Town,  our final destination.   Rohan Vos was there to meet all the guests.  He flew from Pretoria to Cape Town for this purpose.  What an amazing man and what an incredible world class service he and his team provide to locals and tourists alike!  It made us very proud to be South Africans.