Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Postings from Pretoria #37

10 August 2010

Hello there... Rodger French here.

Photo Update Alert: http://picasaweb.google.com/rodger.french

“Cape Town/Table Mountain” “Garden Route” “Garden Route 2” “Klein Karoo”

Regular readers of these postings are doubtless aware that Anne and I will be leaving South Africa on 02 September to serve the next two years in the greater Washington, DC environs. I am shocked (and stunned) to realize that our two years in ZA have passed so quickly and that there are so many places we wanted to see but could not schedule time for.

Fortunately, A.J. was on the case, and organized (with a fair degree of assistance from moi) a final, stupendous, and awesomely grand 8-day tour of Cape Town, the Garden Route, and the Klein Karoo. Photoz are available, natch.

Day 1 – Flew to Cape Town in a fully booked 737 (“Cattle Car of the Sky”) and arrived to cool, foggy, and windy weather, typical for this time of year. We rented a car, checked into a nice apartment in the City Bowl neighborhood and set out on foot for the Natural History Museum, where we took in a fascinating exhibit about South African dinosaurs. Then we went to dinner and discussed plans for what to do in Cape Town in the fog.

Day 2 – Naturally, we awoke to no fog and calm winds. Only one thing to do: Cruise up to Table Mountain for a tram ride to the summit - along with busloads of Chinese monks, Indian families, and other assorted fellow foreigners, including Halle Berry. Really. (She’s very petite and gorgeous in person, by the way.) Anyway, the views from Table Mountain are even more magnificent than Ms. Berry, and Anne and I were thrilled that we finally made it to the top. It would have been a great regret to miss out on that.

Afterwards, we went to the waterfront, had an overpriced, but excellent sushi lunch, and visited the National Sea Rescue Institute shoppe one last time. Then off we went to the South African National Gallery to take in some art. All in all, a very full, very fine last day in Cape Town. And, at the risk of repeating myself: If you ever have a chance to visit Cape Town, GO.

Day 3 – The fog was back as we made our way up the eastern coast to Hermanus, the epicenter for watching migrating Southern Right Whales. A.J. arranged accommodation on the water near the Cliff Walk, which was ideal for whale spotting. It being the off-season, there were far fewer whales (and attendant tourists) about, but we still observed several during our walk into town, including a female and her five day-old calf. Kind of wondrous. That evening we ate supper in and slept to the sounds of the surf.

Day 4 – Up early for breakfast and another cliff walk (and another mother-calf sighting) before heading to Cape Agulhas, “The Southernmost Tip of Africa.” Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope are more spectacular (and almost as far south), but it was very pleasant to spend time in what is still basically an undiscovered place.

[Sidebar - The lighthouse at Cape Agulhas was built in 1848. According to official records, there are 124 shipwrecks within an 80 km radius, dating from 1672-1990.]

Being conscientious tourists, we toured the lighthouse museum, climbed to the top, and ate a fine seafood lunch in the tea room. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place. But we had to get up the road, so it was onward past yellow fields of canola and several long stoppages for road repair to Swellendam, where we passed an altogether uneventful night in the fog.

More soon.


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