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

We were confronted with a particularly barren landscape, not a tree in sight, just lots of scrubby looking land, it must look amazing here when the flowers are out, there were some remnants from the spring we had just missed but they were few and far between. We drove through the park to the visitor centre and car park where we began the shortish but somewhat steep ascent to the lighthouses.

The original lighthouse built in 1859 is certainly a beacon for the peninsular, built as it is high up on this imposing premonitory. Unfortunately though for passing ships, and more unfortunately for their crew, due to its position, as soon as it got a bit misty the lighthouse became very difficult, if not impossible to observe. Much like fitting headlights to your car that go off when it gets dark, well ok, not much like it, but a bit.

And when the Portuguese liner Lusitania was wrecked in 1911 it was decided, with some prescience, to build a new lighthouse further down the cliff (as fog tends to accumulate at higher altitudes), this new lighthouse is in fact the most powerful on the South African coast.

Cape Point itself, you can just see the very tip of the new lighthouse at
the end or possibly not, but it is there trust me
On returning the to the visitor centre we had rather lacklustre sandwich, but I didn’t mind a bit, the reason being it wasn’t much more expensive than getting it anywhere else. Normally it’s par for the course, the world over I think, to grossly overcharge for food in such places as they have a captive audience, but here it was incredibly reasonable. Usually in such a situation each mouthful would have been dredged in disappointment and angst over the small fortune paid in exchange for something so heartbreakingly bleak, but I was actually rather jaunty in my mastication. Yes I’m aware I may have something wrong with me, but all can I say is that I take life one small pleasure at a time.

One of the bays off the road to Cape Point
Afterwards we did think about heading down to Diaz beach, but we didn’t think about it for long as it was pretty hot and more importantly we couldn’t be bothered. Stopped by the shore a couple of places along the road out the park to get a few pictures, then headed back up the peninsular.

Some sand dunes near Cape Point 
Just before we got back into outskirts of Cape Town we made a slight detour into Camps Bay as it was well past coffee o’clock. It was pretty busy but I found a parking space on the side of the road and one of the parking/security attendants, depending what they have written on the back of their hi vis vests, helped me into the rather tight spot. For this service I didn’t mind giving him a few rand, in fact I couldn’t wait to tip him to be honest, this was the first time one of them had provided any service whatsoever, besides ‘watching’ the car.

They all seem experts at watching cars and I’m sure they are very good at it, I have no doubt that if a car was broken into they would watch up a storm. What they seem to be best at though is collecting a bit of cash from all the cars parked in their patch for no reason other than they are sat there, and they’ve bought themselves a hi vis vest of course, which has to be paid for. So I’m sure you can imagine my delight at being able to tip for a service received.

I’m aware that all sounded a bit churlish, as at the end of the day they are on the wrong side of poor and to me it’s no more than about 50p. Perhaps I should congratulate them for being enterprising, for taking an initiative and providing a service, even if that service is never very far from being notional. Perhaps I should, but I won’t.

Drove back to Cape Town with the hope of hopes that the cloud may have lifted and an early evening visit to Table Mountain might be on the cards, but it hadn’t and it wasn’t. So we spent a couple of hours at the hotel before heading out to dinner.

This time we were prepared and had booked a table at Millers Thumb the place we fancied a go at the evening before but couldn't get in. And didn’t we do well. With a starter of Springbok Carpaccio and a main comprising of various sea foods, chorizo and chilli topped with nachos and melted cheese, washed down with quite possibly one of the best wines I've ever had – Springfield Estate, Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc, It’s safe to say it was triumph.

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