Friday, December 30, 2011

South Africa Day 3 - Cape Point

Woke up to a sky chock full of low, grey cloud. My Table Mountain dreams were being slowly yet inexorably crushed before my very own unbelieving eyes. I was beginning to think that my assumption; that I would visit those regal heights, would turn out to be nothing but cruel folly. Why on my first day had I simply presupposed that the view would be mine for the taking whenever I wished it? I had underestimated Mother Nature. Not for the first time and nor, I’d wager, for the last, had we locked horns in such a contest of wills.

So through clenched teeth, as I tried to bend the world to my meteorological ideal by the power of furious thought alone, did I consume my sausage eggs and bacon, which as you can probably imagine, is quite difficult to do. I spotted the proprietor as he strolled by, he noticed me, looked out the window, then at me again, with a glance I thought contained the type of pity and disapproval usually reserved for a destructive puppy, who’s short but energetic future predominantly features a sack, some bricks and a rarely frequented canal.

Today we decided to drive down the Cape Peninsular as far as it goes, all the way to Cape Point. As we left Cape Town behind, those grey clouds started to break and before long it was glorious sunshine, which was how it stayed for the rest of the live long day.

Drove back along Chapman’s Peak Drive, which was as enjoyable as it was the other day, luckily the views had not changed in our absence, which was gratifying to know. And we carried on driving down, all the way down, down to the ground, or to Cape Point as it’s otherwise known, located in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park.

A view of Diaz Beach, Sarah is on the lookout point giving a wave to someone. And yes the water really 
was that amazing colour

Thursday, December 29, 2011

South Africa Day 2 - Kirstenbosch & Constantia Valley

Up bright and early in the hope that we could head up to the mountain of tables, to make up for our foolishness the day before, but it was not to be. The Mountain was comprehensively covered by the infamous Tablecloth, the roofing of cloud that gives the mountain its rather pleasingly bouffant hairdo.

Headed down to breakfast where the hotel manager cheerfully enquired how our trip up the mountain the previous day had gone. We had to admit with our heads hung low, that we’d slept through the entire show, to be fair he kept as neutral and courteous a face as possible given the circumstances, but even with my eyes almost full to the brim with bitter tears at the thought we had missed our chance, I could tell he believed we were either fatuous cretins or deranged imbeciles, either way we were far beyond his kindly help.

Accepting our lot, we saddled up our silver steed and headed through Cape Town and onwards to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.

This most impressive of gardens, is the largest Botanical Garden in South Africa and also the only one in the world to be part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain it affords spectacular views of the iconic plateau and also Devil’s Peak.

The Tablecloth in full splendor, Table Mountain is on the far right, well what you can see of it

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

South Africa Day 1 - Cape Town

So, many, many weeks after booking this trip via the never reliable Thomas Cook, my erstwhile travelling companion, Sarah, and I finally arrived in South Africa early on a Saturday morning, only to be greeted by the frankly ridiculous temperature of 37 degrees.

We faced that age old problem, the problem that everyone from the UK faces when travelling to pretty much any country that isn’t located on or within a reasonable distance of the Arctic poles, namely, we were a tad overdressed when we arrived.

Jeans and jackets were swiftly removed, in the privacy of the bathrooms of course, and replaced with t shirts and shorts. I say swiftly removed, but that does give a certain sense of immediacy about it, whereas in reality we had to wait until we had been dealt with by immigration, and they are pretty thorough. By thorough of course, I mean hair growingly ponderous.

Once passage had been negotiated through immigration and customs, with questions about the purpose of the visit being answered and documentation proving those answers had been proffered, and answers to the negative about whether I was transporting alcohol, cigarettes or medicine in my case, which was true, as I’m pretty sure ketamine isn’t classed as medication, except for horses, so I thought I was on fairly safe ground there, we were through and at large in South Africa herself.

Well, at large in the hire car section of the airport in South Africa herself. These things take time.

We picked up our shining chariot, a Toyota Corolla no less, and no more as it turned out. It had plenty of space for the bags and air-con which was a must, but it has to be said, this was offset by the fact it had about as much power as a lawnmower with bird flu, 6 gears of disappointment in a shiny silver assemblage.

But it was a hire car, and it came with all the benefits that hire cars have, i.e. I don't have to worry about getting it through a service, or what those high screaming revs are doing to the engine long term, or what state the undercarriage will be in after inflicting rocky/sandy/muddy roads on it. Basically I can do what I like with it for two glorious weeks and then give it back for someone else to deal with. If only all cars had that freedom from responsibility behind them I’m sure the roads would be a safer place for all.