Part 7: Cape Town
When we arrived in Cape Town, we weren’t sure whether we’d like it. We’d spent 2 weeks travelling around Namibia on nearly deserted gravel roads and had loved it. How would we cope with the hustle and bustle of a big city of over 4 million?
Our flight from Windhoek with Air Namibia was uneventful, apart from the discovery that there were no screens on this flight at all. Thanks goodness for iPads/ Nintendos!
However it’s only a 2 hours flight, and before long we were landing in Cape Town. It was after 8 pm when we landed, so dark and we were met by our cheerful driver who happily wrangled the kids’ bags for us and was happy to stop at the airport supermarket while I forced DH to buy washing powder. The apartment we were staying at had a washer/ dryer and I was planing to make the most of them.
We were booked in to stay at a 3 bedroom Waterfront apartment on the 6th floor of this building.
Yes, it was as flash as it looked, with a lovely view of the waterways and the wharf area. But there were only three queen/king sized beds so luckily the kids don’t mind sharing yet, and we had problems with some of the lights flickering. This problem was never fully resolved and the girls got a bit spooked by this on a number of occasions. The other slight gripe was that 2 of the TV’s weren’t working- this wasn’t a huge problem though as there were three others that did.
It was the perfect place to relax a little at the end of our rather active Southern African holiday. However. doing nothing is not something we are very good at…
We stayed in Cape Town for 4 nights and flew out around 8pm of our last day there. During that time we managed to do a lot of the touristy stuff and had a great time.
We went up Table Mountain the first morning we were there, as the day dawned bright and clear.
We had breakfast in the cafe up there, went for a bit of a walk, admired the view and the kids scrambled over some rocks. We also admired the red winged starlings and rock dassies, which proved very friendly.
Once we came down, we hired a battered old minivan to take us back to the waterfront and had a lovely lunch by the wharf while we watched the boats pootle around. We saw a busy little tooting steam boat, a great big catamaran and then finally this!
A pirate ship! Of course the kids wanted to go on it, so we wandered around to the docks and to our delight there was space on the next trip out. We signed up on the spot and spent a lovely hour sailing around the harbour, out onto the open sea, dressing up as pirates/ mermaids and watching a pirate show.
I think this was the kids’ favourite day on holiday!
On our second day we took the ferry across to Robben Island, which houses the former prison where political prisoners such as Mr Nelson Mandela were incarcerated. We travelled across in an old prison boat and then were driven around the island in a bus, and shown various other aspects of the island. Robben Island has also been used as a hospital and a defence station in WWII so we saw buildings, guns and graveyards as well as various birds ( including penguins) and a couple of small antelope.
Then we were dropped off by the cell blocks that held the political prisoners and were taken around part of the prison by a former political prisoner. I found this part of the tour very moving; goodness know how it would feel for anyone from South Africa who had actually lived through the Apartheid regime. I’m not sure how much the kids took in, perhaps later when they are studying history exactly what they have seen might make more of an impact.
DD3 was rather taken aback when she was told that 40 people used to live in the room she was sitting on, although when questioned it seemed her major concern was that there were only 4 beds displayed in the cell.
Finally, we were taken and shown where Mr Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years or his 27 years on the island. He was kept in solitary confinement in this tiny space and all he had was a sleeping mat, a cup and plate and a bucket as a toilet.
It certainly made me think about how lucky we are to live in a democracy.
On our third day, we hired a car and headed down to the Cape Of Good Hope. We hired the car through Europcar, and it was a bit of a nightmare. We were supposed to pick up the car the night before and had asked for two booster seats, but they had given us a baby seat and a high backed booster. DH refused to take the car and asked for another high back booster to be provided, and said wed pick the car up the next morning.
The car was being picked up from the Westin Cape hotel, but again they had provided the wrong carseats. There was no apology from the relevant hotel staff, nor did they offer to track down the right ones for us. It was suggested we drive to the nearest proper Europcar depot, as ‘they would have the right seats there’. It wasn’t far, so we strapped the kids into the seats we did have and set off. Of course they didn’t have the right seats, we had to wait an hour or so for them to come from the airport. We were supposed to have had the car for 2 days and in the end we had it for about half a day- they bl**dy well better not charge us for more than this!
Once we finally had the car and the right seats we got underway and had a pleasant drive down the coast through Muizenberg, Fish Hoek, Simons Town and then on to the Table Mountain National Park. We stopped at Boulder’s Beach near Simon’s Town and visited some African Penguins. The kids loved running around and looking under the bushes for the smelly little birds, but eventually we found a beach that was full of them.
After we’d had enough of penguins, we drove for another 40 minutes or so until we reached Cape Point where we climbed to the top of the point and the lighthouse that sits there. There were quite a few stairs but luckily there was a funicular railway that took us part of the way up first.
Then it was off to the Cape of Good Hope for a quick photo opportunity.
Then we had to race the sun going down and make it back along the other coast over the franky quite scary Chapman’s Peak Pass. We made it just in time and dropped the car off before going out to dinner – again.
The weather was pretty kind to us for our first few days at Cape Town but on our last day, it absolutely tipped down. Luckily we had saved a visit at the Aquarium for our last day. The nemo tank was a particular favourite and we also watched the penguin and the predator tank feeding.
The aquarium proved a great way to spend a wet day in Cape Town. We followed it up with a windy ride on the Wheel Of Excellence ( Cape Town’s version of the London Eye) and a quick trip into the massive Shopping Centre nearby before nipping back to collect our bags and catch our cab to the airport.
Our holiday was over and we were homeward bound.