Tuesday, 3 April 2007

South African Holiday Part 3. Cape Town

Part 1 - Sydney - Saldanha
Part 2 - Saldanha - CT
Part 4 - Pretoria - Kruger
Part 5 - Kruger Park
Part 6 - Kruger - Sydney

On the morning of Tuesday 6th March my mother Sally landed in Cape Town from the Isle of Man (via Gatwick and Heathrow). On the way to the airport to fetch her we picked up my sister Kelly in Wynberg as Mom and Kelly were coming to stay with us in Fresnaye for 3 nights to maximize their “quality time” with us ;-). Back to Fresnaye for Mom to shower and change, and then off sightseeing!

We drove along the west coast of the Cape peninsula towards Cape Point, passing Clifton, Camps Bay, Hout Bay, Chapmans Peak drive (which is now a very nice toll road carved into the mountain side), Noordhoek, Kommetjie and on into the Cape Point Reserve. From the parking lot there is a funicular railway that climbs to the lookouts and lighthouse, or you can walk up. As we had Kelly with us we splurged on the lazy option! A good look around, a quick late lunch of biltong (Milord is officially addicted) and back into the car for the drive home along the eastern coast, passing Simonstown and Muizenberg and back to Fresnaye as the sun was starting to set. We were meeting my Dad for dinner in the waterfront as his ship was to sail the next day, so after a quick scrub up we were back in the car.

The Waterfront has grown rather a lot in the last four years - I used to think you could hang around there for a couple of days without needing to leave; now it may be a week! We met my Dad (he and my Mom haven’t seen each other in years - luckily they get on ok), and we all went for dinner at Morton’s. It was very pleasant, and I managed to stick to two glasses of wine as I was driving – all those years out of the country have obviously rubbed off. After dinner we dropped Dad back at the ship (driving around the docks at night is interesting but not really my thing) and crashed off to bed.

On Wednesday we wanted to go to the top of Table Mountain for a champagne breakfast – the 7th March is a special day as it is the second anniversary of Milord and me meeting. Kelly wasn’t keen, so Milord, Mom and I raced off, got to the cable station to find heaps of parking and no queue, and were patting ourselves on the back only to find that the cableway was closed because of high wind. Funny how it can be a screaming south-easter on the other side but breathless where you are! Instead we went for a champagne brunch at the waterfront and browsed around the shops for a bit. In the afternoon Mom ran some errands, Milord had a nap, and Kelly and I had a swim in our surprisingly cold pool.

Then we packed up a picnic and went down to Clifton 4th beach for sundowners. It used to be a favorite pastime of mine to sit on the sand watching the sun set with a glass of wine after work. It was a bit breezy when we arrived, but as the sun set over the sea the wind dropped and it was a stunning evening. Lyska, Alison and Mervin managed to drop by for a drink which was great. I took Milord for a paddle in the Atlantic and he was horrified at how cold it is – I got a shock myself even though I was expecting it! We left once it was dark, and Selwyn and Lizette came to see us at the flat in Fresnaye for drinks and nibbles. It is always fascinating to hear what they are up to!

On Thursday we woke to a gorgeous day, phoned the cable car to make sure it was open, and then raced off to go up the mountain. It turns out that a whole heap of people had the same idea, and the car parking was full halfway back into town and the queue looked very long! We drove up to the cable station and dropped off Mom and Kelly, then parked down the hill telling each other that we could do with the exercise! When we got back to the queue we were startled to see them standing at the entrance – a very nice lady had spotted that Kelly was going to need help and she jumped us in front of the queue and sent us up the lifts!

I haven’t been up the cable cars since they were replaced, and the new ones are brilliant. They perform a full 360 degree rotation on the way up so that you can see everything without shoving around, and took no more than 5 minutes to make the journey. I was very impressed. We spent an hour or so on the mountain - it was windless and warm and the views were amazing. Then down the cable car again and off to Kirstenbosch.

By now it was very hot, so we found Kelly a shady bench under a tree near Colonel Bird’s bath and took a slow stroll up the hill to the top edge of the gardens where the proteas are. Sadly they were mostly not flowering, but I think Milord got an idea. Then we meandered around the lawns and flowerbeds working our way downhill back to Kelly, and all went for lunch in the Kirstenbosch Silvertree restaurant with a well-earned cold glass of wine.

From Kirstenbosch we went to Muizenberg beach, and had a walk along the sand. The wind had picked up and the sun was setting so we didn’t stay too long, just long enough for Milord to dip his feet in the Indian ocean and compare its far more moderate temperature to the other side of the peninsula! On the way home we took a detour into Westlake to have a look at the house we used to live in when I was a kid – and it’s gone! They are building a housing complex on the site where it used to stand; we could recognize a few mature trees that used to be around the house but that is all. It was rather disturbing! Then back to Fresnaye one last time, and a quiet night in finishing off nibbles and wine.

On Friday morning we packed up, stuffed everything into the car and headed off to Stellenbosch. We went to the village museum which is a very interesting look into the past as you explore four houses redone in period style over the centuries since 17-something. It was a scorcher of a day and it was amazing how the thick walls and thatch of the buildings kept the heat out. Then we did a mini wine tour to two estates (Kleine Zalza and Avontuur), and met up with my aunt Jane and uncle Charles at Vergelen for lunch. Jane’s greeting to me was “You look well. Very fat, but well.” I was not amused, but it was a little better than last time when she told me I looked pregnant I suppose!

We had a lovely late lunch, then transferred Mom to Jane and Charles’ car and headed back to Cape Town to drop Kelly at home, and on to Andrew and Paula’s in Constantia for the night (and their kids Alex and Justin). Once again my mates came up trumps, as they hosted a braai and Jenny, Neville, my aunt Estelle, and Brendan came along to see us. I faded suddenly at about 10 and left Milord sitting up talking politics I believe. I didn’t notice him come to bed until he started looking for mosquito killer at 2am…

Saturday 10th March was my 35th birthday. Milord told me he’d been uninspired on the present front and was still looking, but I didn’t actually believe him until the end of the day! We had a lazy breakfast with Andrew and Paula who were gearing up to Justin’s first birthday party that afternoon, then headed off to the airport and flew to Jhb.

Part 4 - Pretoria - Kruger

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