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- Category: South Africa and Swaziland (2006, world trip)
|Cables disappearing into the clouds covering Table Mountain|
|But they parted for The Mother of All Views|
|Colourful roadside craft vendors|
Today we woke up to yet another cloudy start for this the last full day of our trip. Fortunately the clouds soon cleared up to reveal bright start to the day making the prospect of making it up to Table Mountain a realistic one. We pottered about for a while in the morning, enjoying the luxury of the space and comfort of our flat before heading out.
Even though the sun was out the top of the mountain was still shrouded in cloud so we were really pleased to see the sign declaring that it was open. We bought our tickets and went to wait for our ascent. The cable car was large enough to take about 60 people at a time and unusually it was round. Even though it wasn’t full there was a bit of gentle jostling for position so that those who wanted it could get a good spot by a window. It all turned out to be for nothing. As the “driver” got on board he welcomed us to the cable car and asked us all to not hold onto the rail around the windows. The reason soon became clear as the floor slowly started to rotate ensuring that everyone benefited from the views all around the car. It’s the first round cable car I have ever been in and the first where the floor moved!
The climb up is pretty steep and soon we could make out below us the path that the more energetic contingent were following to walk their way up to the top. It seems to follow the contour lines and climbs comparatively gently upwards and there were young kids as well as experienced hikers on the trail. Soon though we were heading almost vertically up and our views out and over Cape Town were quickly stolen from us as we entered into the low flying cloud cover we had seen from below.
At the top we had clear and sunny views out over Cape Town which minutes later were snatched away from us and the clouds rolled in. Minutes later the clear views were back again and this was a game we continued to play during our time on the top of the mountain. They tell you on the way up that if you hear the sirens blast out on the top to make your way back as quickly as possible to the car as it means high winds are on their way and the cable car will be closing. We fully anticipated hearing the blast as we wandered around but it was not to be.
Trails have been laid around the top of the mountain and lookouts have information about what you can see around you. The views are amazing and you can see for miles in all directions, clouds allowing! It is a really magical and mystical place to be, a feeling that was probably added to by the ever approaching and retreating cloud cover. In some places you could see the clouds rolling vertically up the side of the mountain spilling out over onto the top. We had brought a “picnic” of leftover wine and cheese with us to say a farewell to Cape Town and to mark the ending of our trip. I’d expected to feel sad at reaching the end of our trip but we have enjoyed and experienced so much that I think we are both ready to head home and see family and friends for a while.
With a few hours left and the sun still shining we decided to head back down to Chapman’s Peak, the coast road further south, so that we could watch the sunset over the bay. The closer we got the cloudier it got and by the time we’d pulled in to our chosen parking spot what had been a clear blue sky was now leaden and grey full of rain clouds. We sat and watched the storm get ever closer while following the progress of small yacht that was sailing hard to reach port before the really bad weather set in. Some hardy people were out surfing in the bay below us but we soon got cold and headed back to the comparative warmth of our flat.
- Category: South Africa and Swaziland (2006, world trip)
|Boys singing in the Company Gardens|
|On our way home|
|World Travellers, that's us|
|I can see our house!|
Today really was our last day as this evening we headed home on our flight to Heathrow. It was a strange day for us both with the only constant really being the Cape Town weather, yet again it was a wet, cloudy and miserable day. We spent the day packing up our stuff amazed at how much crap you can accumulate in a relatively short space of time. We ran a final load of washing through, repacked our packs and then tried to work out how best to get back the left over wine and bits and pieces we have carried with us from Namibia that are likely to fail a customs check if they stop us. Our cool box provided the answer and it was probably rammed more full today that it has been throughout our time in Africa.
We had a last stroll up to Company’s Gardens, stoping for a bite of lunch on the way and taking in the usual smell of people smoking dodgy tobacco quite openly in the grounds. Our attempt to get into Parliament was blocked by a friendly guard who even though it was our last half an hour still refused to let us in without the proper permit. Ah well. With the rental money stuffed into the coffee jar as agreed with Maryke we loaded up the car and said our farewells to Cape Town.
On our way to the airport we again passed a huge shanty town, this one right next to the road and stretching for a good few miles. It still shocks me to see this even though it has been a regular occurrence in a number of places we have been to. Surely it can’t be that expensive in the overall scheme of things to lay on running water and electricity to at least improve some of the basic aspects of life.
At the airport we opted to have our picnic box and walking sticks security sealed for the trip. Ironically it cost us more to have our sticks wrapped up than they cost us in the first place but at least we could now check them in rather than having the hassle of keeping us with them on the flight. Having not been able to reconfirm our seats on line, we got to the airport early and joined a few other people waiting for check in to open. We needn’t have panicked as our seats had been pre-allocated so we were simply left with a longish wait at the airport. They are soulless places in the main and we were surprised at just how small Cape Town airport was. There were only two or three international flights that night, our being the last to leave, and as we joined the queue to board all the shops shut up for the night and the staff went off home.
The flight was about par for the course and again we both remarked at how British Airways are now a little behind some of their competitors in terms of comfort and the quality of the overall flight experience. We both managed to sleep pretty well though and awoke to sunrise streaming through the windows as we crossed the Mediterranean on the last leg back to London.
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