Cape Town, with a population of more than 4 ½ million people, is the second most populous urban area of South Africa after Johannesburg. The Dutch first settled this area in the 1600’s and there are still many Dutch names and buildings that look like they could be in Amsterdam. Later in the early 1800’s, the British drove the Dutch further north, (later to become the Boers), and settled this area as a stopover point for India.
Nelson Mandela is a huge hero here, with monuments to mark his capture site and tours to Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for more than 20 years. Robben Island is now closed as a prison and is a national park (similar to Alcatraz).
Our morning tour today took us to Table Mountain, a 3000+ foot plateau behind the city. A cable car ride to the summit produced lovely views of the ocean and surrounding areas. There was some cloud cover on one side, so the views here were minimal while we were on top. The cable cars do not operate on windy days, so we were fortunate that we were even able to make it to the summit. Some friends of ours said that they had been in Cape Town 5 times and only got to Table Mountain only once. We had an hour to explore the summit trails and see many view points and rock formations. We also observed some dassies, cute little guinea pig-type mammals that live on the mountain. After a little city tour, we returned to the ship about noontime, just in time to hear the cannons on Signal Mountain shoot at noon. This is how folks here set their clocks, a faithful noontime sound.
After lunch and greeting a few new folks onboard, Mac and I decided to walk to the nearby waterfront shopping area. It was large and very impressive. Being a Saturday, many of the locals and families were also here shopping, eating, and playing. We did find more African souvenirs and we roamed around for several hours before returning. We crossed the swinging foot-bridge toward the old Clock Tower, somewhat fashioned after Big Ben in London but much smaller and red, and saw the famous Harbor Seals resting on the pier.
After a few hours of down time, we headed out for our evening tour of Cape Town. We stopped at Camps Bay beach for some late sunset photos and lights from the town. After dark, we went to Signal Hill to get photos of city lights. Mac got some good ones. We got back to the ship at 8:30, ordered a bit of room service for supper, and will try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. We need to get up at 5:30 for a 6:30 AM excursion to the Cape of Good Hope tomorrow.
Yours in travel,
Pat & Mac