Of all the places we went on this trip, Capetown was the biggest revelation. We had always heard that it was a cool town but we had no idea how beautiful it was. Its spectacular. It is most definitely in my top three most beautiful cities I have been to (Rio, Capetown, San Francisco). Along with the stunning location, the city has a great vibe and we had exceptional weather. It was a great place to spend 4 days recovering from the bush and readying ourselves for the northern hemisphere. We arrived dirty and tired and ready for a little luxury. We checked into a very reasonably priced and luxurious three bedroom apartment located in Waterfront area. The kids were ecstatic about their improved TV situation and I wanted to kiss the washer and dryer. We had Internet and we had a ton of good restaurants to pick from. You think we had been lost at sea for a year considering how happy all this civilization was making us.
We saw a lot in our time in Capetown and the surrrounding area. We make the trip up Table Mountain that was really cool. We had a nice 3 hour walk around the huge mesa that makes up the mountain where we had amazing 360 degree views of Capetown, its impressive bays, the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape of Good Horn. We spent an afternoon at Camp’s Bay. Had a great lunch and walked around, did a little shopping and endlessly remarked how it was a more stunning version of Manhattan Beach.
The next day we made the trip to Robben Island. Robben Island has a long history of being the place to put people they wanted out of the way. It has had several incarnations as a prison and was a leper colony for many years. Its is most infamous for having housed Nelson Mandela for 18 of the 27 years he was in jail as a political prisoner. Located only 9 km from the main wharf, and with spectacular views of the town and Table Mountain, it’s a shame it has been used for such bad stuff. It’s a pretty organized tour starting with a 30 minute ferry ride over with 300 other people. They show video on the way over explaining the history of how the island had been utilized over the last 300 years. Once on the island you are shuttled in buses around the island for 45 minutes visiting a limestone quarry where prisoners labored, the dogs kennels, and the house where Robert Sobukwe was held in isolation for 7 years despite having been sentenced to only 3 years for incitement. The rest of our time on the Island was spent in the prison itself. In the early 60’s the prison transitioned from being a prison for common criminals to a prison of mostly political prisoners. Our guide for the tour was an ex-inmate. He was a gentleman we guessed who was in his early to mid fifties who spent 5 years on Robben Island for participating in the Soweto Uprising. He was articulate, passionate and had a great voice. He was a stirring speaker who, along with a narrative of what life was like in prison talked about what life was like under apartheid. There were two themes to everything he said. First he was so so grateful to countries like Britain and the US for putting pressure on the S.African white leaders to make the fundamental change of abolishing apartheid. It couldn’t have happened with out this international pressure, as the government had been very effective of removing the organized influences of the anti-apartheid movement. The other thing that he talked about was the importance of reconciliation and not vengeance. Moving on without retaliation and if it had not been for Mandela, South Africa would look more like its neighbors. It was a moving several hours, it made the kids quiet. I think they got it.
We spent another day driving around the coast. It was beautiful, didn’t hurt that the weather was great. We had bright sunshine, a bit of of breeze but fresh, not cold. We drove south of town towards Simon’s Town. It’s a pretty little coastal town, within commuting distance, but looked more seasonal and not too touristy. After a coffee/ hot chocolate breaks (there was inordinate amount of hot chocolate consumed by the kids this holiday) we headed further south to the Cape of Good Hope, which while is not technically where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean, its close enough and there are all sorts of signs indicating you are at the end of the earth. We had a great lunch in one of the most beautiful places on earth. This is the view from our table, you are looking along the coast and across a hug bay. The sunlight on the misty coastline was beautiful.
After lunch we headed up to the lighthouse for a final look out to the oceans. We then drove to the official signage for a Christmas card photo. Not sure there was a good one of us, but GM took a ton of photos of other people taking photos. We drove back to the Capetown along the Indian Ocean Coast and were really impressed by the beauty of pretty, not overly developed beach towns. We definitely would like to make it back someday.
Our last day was spent eating more good food, doing more laundry and watching more bad cable TV. You think our kids hadn’t watch TV in 7 ½ years. Boarder Patrol (Australian edition) and Wife Swap (English version) seem to be favorites. We headed to the airport for our longest flight, Capetown to London and had time to hang in the airport lounge, charging up electronics and having more hot chocolate.