#5 Cape Town – South Africa

We arrived in Cape Town on the 4th of February 2011 we would be here overnight and leave on the following afternoon, After most of the passengers disembarked a few friends and I went out to see the city. As this was our first time here we decided that we would take one of the red tourist busses, that way we could see what we wanted and still have time to get to the top of Table Mountain which was high on my list of must see places while in Cape town. While still onboard our ship we had been able to exchange a very small amount of our US dollars to Rand’s, which was the local currency enough to get us through the day, we were hoping to be able to get some more Rand exchanged outside somewhere.

We headed off to the shuttle bus outside the port, which dropped us into the waterfront area and we were able to pay for and jump onboard a red tourist bus the kind that you will find in most city’s and start our journey through the city, Traveling in this way allows you to safely see some areas that you would not necessarily have made the effort to go to.  We went to so many places throughout the city as well as going to some of the outer suburbs.

We went to Mouille Point which is one of the nicest suburb areas with a lot of money being spent in this area, our driver pointed out so many places and areas  that I can only remember a few of them. There was Robben Island a former penitentiary island 10-kilometres from the city, where many famous political prisoners were held for years.

And in one of the most famous moments marking the end of apartheid, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech in decades on 11th of February 1990 from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall only hours after being released.

All of this was explained to us by the driver as we drove around. Now you can get off and on these busses whenever you want at any designated stop.

Although we had two days here I had given my second day here away to one of my casino staff that had to stay onboard on the first day, just because I am kind hearted and the good-natured person I am of course.

After we toured throughout the town looking at the forts and city in general we headed to our main destination which was Table Mountain.

As we got closer it was possible to see the cable car which was the way we would get to the top of the mountain.

Table Mountain aerial cable car was established in 1929, takes visitors to the top in one of two cable cars, each with rotating floors and huge windows to ensuring everyone a view, cable cars depart around every 10 to 15 minutes.

The more energetic souls, if you are one of those can climb up to the top using paths that are clearly marked and the really adventurous of those can also do some real climbing. There are many experienced guides here you only have to go on the web before you come here to find a guide who will be able to sign you up and get you on your way.

The trip in the Cable car costs around $180 Rand about $20 – $25 US dollars for a round trip although you can purchase a one way and walk back down or walk up and catch the cable car down if you are so inclined.

Due to only having a limited amount of time here today to see the town and table mountain we opted for the there and back option.

Going up was superb with everyone getting a chance near the windows as the cable car ascended the floor rotated, I myself was able to photograph many aspects of the trip up the mountain, arriving at the top of the cableway we first saw that there was a gift shop and a cafe, so before we started exploring we all had a cup of cappuccino and just sat in the cafe looking out onto the stunning views that surrounded you, this gave you some idea of what was to come. Suitably refreshed we went exploring.

Now Table Mountain when you look at it from below gives the impression that someone took the top off the mountain with a giant meat cleaver, leaving the flat top that they called Table Mountain today. As the day progressed I found that the many views I saw of the mountain, from diferent angles provided the basis of the reason it is called table mountain the locals state that the table-cloth is the mist, when the weather is right a blanket of mist falls onto the mountain creating the impression of a table set for dinner.

Anyway back to the top of the mountain it is not as flat as you would think although for a mountain top it certainly is flat.

We decided after walking around half of the mountain that once you had seen one part it all seemed very similar, although if we had more time we would have explored more.

One of my favorite authors is Wilbur Smith and in many of his books he refers to Table Mountain as a place visited by politicians, prime ministers, and many famous people and I felt that having visited this mountain I was in good company.

I was told there are animals on this mountain, one of them the Dassie or rock hyrax can be seen sometimes by tourists, although I never saw one in the whole time I was there.

Heres one of those small useless facts that will stay in your mind, there used to be all sort of animals here the last lion was killed on the mountain in 1802. Apart from these you can find porcupines, mongooses, snakes and tortoises.

We strolled around looking at the stunning views available as well as traversing through the many trails that crisscross the flat to of the mountain, when we had enough we headed back to the red bus pickup point to continue our tour.

Back on the bus we went over the saddle of the mountain to Camps bay which is a thriving beach area with lots of cafe’s and a lively beach scene,

We got of the bus for a while and went for a stroll through the downtown area and onto the beach.

I was  regretting not having my board shorts because  I felt like a swim.

We got back onto the bus and it took us past the football stadium made famous for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and onto the waterfront where we started the trip.

We walked down to the area called Victoria & Alfred waterfront or the V&A as the locals called it, walking past some boutique shops selling everything you might feel you need or not whatever the case may be. We went up to the markets near the aquarium and while strolling through the markets I bought some small knickknacks and my friends Andy and Sasha bought a small drum made with stretched skin over a wooden hourglass frame. It was at this time we found out that due to it being a holiday the money changers were closed and the small amount of Rand we had been able to change on the ship was almost used up. When we finally found one that was open they wouldn’t change money without a passport and all of ours were back on the ship. So not being able to change anymore money we decided on one of the few restaurants that we could afford, well I personally couldn’t afford it so Andy paid. It was a fish and chips shop and the food though reasonably cheap was excellent. We then wandered around the V&A complex and on through the many areas found here, we stumbled onto one of the strangest statues I have seen in a while, it was made using Coke a Cola crates.

Here are some facts about the V&A waterfront area. There are over 400 stores and 45 different Waterfront Cape Town restaurants and bars for people to choose from.  it is also where you can find some of the trendy Cape Town clubs, There are also many places to buy African artifacts although most of them were much more expensive than I would have liked to pay.

after walking around for a while,we caught the shuttle back to the ship, I gave one of my staff the opportunity to go out that night and to be able to get out the next day and to enjoy this fabulous place as much as I had.

You have to understand that when working on the ships, sometimes you might only have a few hours to see a place and you make the best of it.

There are many people who work onboard who do not even have the time to go out at all so I consider myself lucky enough to visit these places even for a day.

If you are very fortunate you could end up going back to the same ports and be able to see so much more. Yet there are times that you only get one chance and its up to you to live life to the fullest seeing as much as you can in the short time that you have.

I hope you have enjoyed this little piece of Cape Town as we sail away to our next port.

Durban in South Africa.