South Africa – Cape Town
We got to Cape Town after a 2-hour flight with South African Express, a very good airline company, even if a little expensive.
We took our luggage and then went to Budget to pick up our rented car, a Toyota Corolla. Driving on the left was not a problem and the roads that take to the city center are wide and fine!|
We had booked a room at Protea Breakwater Lodge, even if the feedbacks on Tripadvisor are not so good, but it is 5 minutes from the city centre.
To tell you the truth, this is the only positive thing of this hotel: the room is too small, wifi doesn’t work, and the staff at the reception was rather inefficient.
The young girl who welcomed us wasn’t even able to use a normal credit card! And moreover, breakfast was served in another building, as far as we understood, it is a part of the university campus; breakfast is good, but getting there is a little complicated!
But Cape Town… what a wonder! The Table Mountain that overlooks the city, the clean streets, the orderly traffic… it doesn’t even seem you are in Africa, but in some modern European or American city!
After having a shower, we went out to explore the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront: it reminded me the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. There are lots of shops, restaurants and bars everywhere; we visited some of the shops, especially the ones that offered typical local items: animal skins, horns of every kind, ostrich eggs… everything seems so special, we were completed charmed by what we saw!
There are also a couple of huge department stores, where you can find almost everything. clothes, electonics, food shops… but before visiting them, we decided to have a very good meal in one of the restaurants on the sea. And it was there we realized food in South Africa is really very cheap, and it is very good, too! Only the service was a little slow, so our dinner lasted more than we thought (we found the same problems even in other places!). We ended our day wandering around and buying a couple of souvenirs!
The day after, we discovered another aspect odf Cape Town, far less European and much less attractive!
That’s what happened:we badly wanted to visit Robben Island, the island in front of Cape Town where there is the prison where Mandela was kept for 27 years. We hadn’t been able to find the tickets on the Internet, everything was sold out. In the hotel they told us the only one possibility to go there was to book a tour with a local agency that would grant us the tickets… and so we did!
The tour was very different from what we expected: instead of showing us the most famous landmarks in Cape Town, Sam (our guide-driver) took us for a visit to the townships around the city, explaining us a lot of interesting things about the government politics and the situation at the time of apartheid.
Honestly, I must say that I loved this tour, we had the chance to see how less lucky people live, to see with our own eyes how many social contraddictions there are still in South Africa. Extreme poverty lives side by side with luxury and modernity, and even if racial segregation has been abolished, it has certaily left heavy traces.
Then Sam took us to the Waterfront, where we boarded to Robben Island. The trip on the boat was great, the view of the city from the sea is amazing, every now and then we also saw some seals among the waves!
Firts of all, we had a tour of the island by bus, then we went to the prison where a former prisoner ( a rather elderly man) was our guide. He explained us the living conditions of political prisoners and of common criminals.
The most famous “guest” of the prison was certainly Nelson Mandela; our guide kept calling him “our father Mandela”, and this made us understand how much he is loved in his country!
Seeing the cell where he was imprisoned for so many years moved me, as it always happen when I am in front of places where so “great” persons have lived.
We came back to our hotel, rather burnt by the sun but really satisfied, and then again to the Waterfront… we had another wonderful dinner in a very crowded but perfect restaurant, the Quai Four, our meal was excellent and we could enjoy live music and the harbour view!
Cape of Good Hope
The next day, we had planned to go up and visit the Table Mountain, but the weather was ugly, it was very cloudy and every now and then it rained… so, what should we do? It’s easy, we changed our program and we went to visit the Cape of Good Hope natural reserve.
With our car, we drove on a coastline road, stopping every now and then to admire the landscape and take pictures.
The park is very wide, at the entrance the rangers gave us a map with all the roads and paths that lead to the most interesting places.
We decided to go to Cape Point, where we stop for a while and then we take a cable car called “The Flying Dutchman”, that takes us just on the top, where there is the lighthouse.
If you go there, you will see there are a lot of cardboards that warn you against baboons, because they are aggressive and dangerous; it is absolutely forbidden giving them food, nay it’s even better not to eat in their presence because they can try to bite you to steal your food. We saw a couple, but in the distance, so we had no problems at all. From the lighthouse, the landscape is exciting, I cannot say how many photos we took, but the place was really wonderful!
When we got down, we had lunch (a very good lunch) in a restaurant called Two Oceans; it offers very good dishes, mainly fish, and a very nice view over the ocean.
The last place we saw was Boulder Beach, that is famous because a colony of penguins lives there. There are some footbridges that allow you to walk among the penguins; of course you cannot touch them, but it is so funny to see them walking with their funny gait. It is one of the things we liked a lot…. but, in reality, was there something we did not like?
Last night in Cape Town, another dinner at the Waterfront, a walk in this nice place, then we go to sleep… and the adventure goes on tomorrow!