"" Writer's Wanderings: World Cruise - Cape Town, South Africa

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

World Cruise - Cape Town, South Africa

Our one day at sea after our safari and return to the ship in Durban turned into two and a half sea days when the wind kicked up so badly we couldn’t get into Port Elizabeth. For me it had little effect. I spent most of those days in bed reading or watching TV. Getting over my cold was my number one priority. I was miserable with no safaris to distract me.

The word was that the sail in to Cape Town, weather cooperating, would be spectacular so by the time we were heading around Cape of Good Hope, I was ready with my camera. Curious to see if Cape Town was as beautiful as everyone said it would be.

I could not recognize which prominent point was actually Cape of Good Hope where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic and no one was around to point it out. I could however tell exactly when we neared Cape Town. Along the coast was spread an enormous area of civilization and behind all the buildings and homes rose a huge mountain, the famous Table Top Mountain. It was breathtaking.
The Table Top Mountain was covered with a tablecloth of clouds that seemed to spill over and disappear just over the edge. I stood and watched and tried not to take too many pictures. I was still going through my safari pictures (over 500 of them). I didn’t need to add a bunch more.

Originally we had signed up for a scenic drive excursion when we discovered we would be in Cape Town a little longer than scheduled after missing our stop in Port Elizabeth. Then our tablemates told us about the price of the Hop On Hop Off and what it offered and we jumped at that opportunity and cancelled our excursion. For about $42 USD (for both of us) we could explore two different routes, one all along the peninsula and the other around the city and up to Table Top Mountain’s cable car station. In addition we could get a canal tour, a wine country tour, two historic walks, and an opportunity to watch the sunset on signal hill all within the space of two days—for one ticket! Bob got online and bought the tickets. Thankfully the internet was working well that day.

As soon as the ship was cleared and we were able to go ashore, we took the shuttle bus from our ship to the Victoria and Alfred Wharf area and walked to the Two Seas Aquarium where the beginning point was for the HOHO bus. We hopped on the first bus we saw that was doing the peninsula loop for a two and a half hour trip around the outskirts of Cape Town where several beautiful beaches and communities dot the landscape.

Once we arrived back at the start point, we decided we had time to do the canal tour. The canal is a very small waterway that was man made. It was an interesting trip that wound its way around several luxury hotels in the middle of the city. If they expand on it, it might be a good alternative to busy streets.

We found a spot along the wharf that was bustling with activity and had some refreshment and a little rest. Lots of families were enjoying the shops, the restaurants, the activities that were going on all around us. It was quite a large hub of entertainment. More importantly, with all the families around, it felt like a very safe place to relax and enjoy.

Earlier when we’d first boarded the blue tour bus for the peninsula, we had ordered a small box lunch for the sunset tour to Signal Hill. Signal Hill was once the place where there could be communication with ships at sea but now the only gun fired is at noon and is quite an attraction. We would not be there for noon but we would join others for the sunset.

Signal Hill sits next to the Lion’s Head, a rocky crag on top of another hill. I couldn’t decide why it would be named Lion’s Head until someone pointed out that Signal Hill was actually the back part of a reclining lion. Okay.

We met the bus at 5:30 PM and started out immediately for the top of Signal Hill. We and about a thousand or more other people. By the time our bus got to the top, there was little room for maneuvering because of all the cars parked there. Our dinner bag in hand, we searched for a spot on the hillside among a crowd that was obviously a lot younger than us. Ah, that’s what keeps us young—hopefully.

There was barely enough time to eat our tuna fish sandwich, chips, and juice before the sun started setting. We had been warned that the bus would leave just as soon as it set and we surely didn’t want to be left behind. We needn’t have worried. It was a traffic jam of huge proportion. Cars trying to turn in little space to head down the hill and no one there to direct traffic. No wonder the tour was said to be two to two and a half hours.

The start of the trip down was slow enough to get some good shots of the city below. The light show was spectacular. Then something strange happened about half way down. The bus behind stopped along with us and unloaded their passengers onto our bus. Then our driver said the bus was too heavy up front (it was a double decker) and all the front passengers needed to move downstairs or to the back of the bus. There were few seats left. We just watched in amazement. Our seats were in the middle and we figured we were good.

The bus must have done about 5 MPH all the way down to keep from bottoming out on the bumps. Our tour was now looking at three hours long. What time was the last shuttle back to the ship, I asked nervously? 10:30. We made it to the shuttle behind the mall at the wharf in plenty of time. The shuttles ran late that night but we warned others that if they planned the night tour they should count on taking a taxi back to the ship. The next night the shuttle quit running at 8:30.

Safely back on the ship we were sufficiently tired and ready for bed. It had been a great day. Cape Town was an exciting place to be. We looked forward to traveling up to Table Top Mountain in the morning.

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