Monday, October 12, 2009

the last leg ...






After moving to Longs Street backpackers, and still being happy to have a bed (even though I had to share the room with 5 others) I decided to explore Cape Town to its fullest. City tour, table mountain, SA national Gallery, Greenmarket Square, Long Street shopping, water front, planetarium, district six museum ...

A must was a Township Tour trough the Cape Flats:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Township_%28South_Africa%29
"In South Africa, the term township usually refers to the (often underdeveloped) urban living areas that, under Apartheid, were reserved for non-whites (principally black Africans and Coloureds, but also working class Indians). Townships were usually built on the periphery of towns and cities"

During the Apartheid Era blacks were evicted from properties that were in areas designated as "white only" and forced to move into townships

In fact, for the majority of the Capetonians, home is in one of the poverty-stricken townships sprawling across the shifting sands of the Cape Flats. Supposedly a tour is the safest way travelling here. Still shocking to see in what poverty the people live out here, even though things have seemingly improved since the end of Apartheid in 1994.

During my stay in Cape town I also met up with Cecil - i South African guy who was travelling with a rugby team through New Zealand in March ... and had promised me ticket for a game while visiting his country :)) In fact I was offered tickets to the huge South Africa vs. New Zealand game, but decided it was too far to travel to in the few days I had left (10 -12 hour bus ride in the middle of the country)

I got lucky however, since his team had a game right the week i was still in Capetown! Donuts and hot chocolate kept Lauren and I warm during the outdoor game: ) ... the views from the second row, right behind the goal helped to keep the adrenaline high enough to disregard the numbness in my feet. Dispite a loss we went for drinks ; )

The week had been lined with amazing food and good byes ... the weekend was time for one last adventure. So I decided to rent a car to explore a bit more of South Africa on my own. My first trip: the peninsular.
Since it was cheaper to rent a stick shift (and more adventorous), the choice was clear. Jaspal, my tent buddy from East Africa, and Hanna, one of my roommates at long street, plus some other bird whoes name i can not remember, went on a Penninsular road trip with me ...

Randomly I navigated us down the west coast of the peninsular, stopping above Hout Bay. Shortly after Hanna mentioned she would love to see some whales before she leaves .... they appeared. Two of them. Right underneath our cliff. Unbelievable and amazing. They went down for air a couple of times, but brought us joy each time they re-appeared. Not as crazy as the Hump backs we saw in Mozambique ... my guess is, that these two were seniors on their Sunday swim : D

By now I didn't even hit curbs anymore when turning left ; ) ... and we headed smoothly to Simons Town - visiting the penguins ... and further down the east coast of the peninsular.
We arrived at the Cape of Good hope Nature Reserve in the late afternoon. Climbing the tower for 360 views and having dinner overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Amazing sunset as we were driving up the east coast again. After dropping the guys off in Simonstown i headed to Muizenberg on my own. In the "international hostel" where I spend my night as the only guest talking away with D., the 73 year old manager and I discussed world & life views until 1 am in the morning. Very cool.

The next morning I started the journey along the coast - which is simply gorgeous and worth many stops along the way - to eventually arrive in Hermanus - apparently the best place in the world to watch whales from a city, since it sits on cliffs overlooking the Indian ocean. Indeed during my lunch I enjoyed the view of a whale having fun in the distance ... my only whale sighting in hermanus though.

The next days I drove through the heart of the western cape, Stellenbosch, Frankschhok, Wellington, Darling, up the west coast highway to St. Helena Bay. I ended up in Paternoster instead (one wrong turn :)) enjoyed a wonderful coast village, that reminded me of Greece with all the white, little homes right on the beach. On the way back to Cape Town I stayed one more night in Yzerfontein. A beautiful, little beach village, where i could watch the sun set into the Atlantic ocean one more time :))

Back in Cape Town I quenched my final thirst for cultural experience with the Robben Island tour (http://www.robben-island.org.za/) and a visit to the Holocaust Museum. Both very educational and moving.

.... soon thereafter I was sitting in a cap to the airport. Ready to head home....

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