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.

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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. 

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 – 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.