Saturday, June 12

Paula: We took the morning to catch up on our sleep, orient ourselves to the city and rent a small minivan. Steve bravely accepted the responsibility of driving once again on the left. For some reason, all the cars have manual transmission, meaning that shifting is also done with the left hand. Cape Town doesn't have much of a public transportation system, so renting a car is a must - there's really no choice.

The weather today was perfect. We know that Cape Town's winters are normally rainy and cool, so we took advantage of the nice day to head to the top of Table Mountain. The mountain dominates Cape Town's skyline, and on clear days the views are spectacular.

Table Mountain looms over Cape Town and consists of sedimentary sandstone carved by erosion to resemble a flat table top. Trails lead to the summit but we didn't have time for these given our late start, so we took an ultra modern cable car complete with a revolving floor (Steve really loved the revolving floor - not).

The view from the top is amazing. As we walked the loop trails at the summit, we could see 360 degrees and gained an immediate appreciation for the beauty of the peninsula. Rugged rocks gave way to white sandy beaches and blue ocean in all directions. On one side we looked down on the city of Cape Town and its large harbor. Small, cute animals called dassies scurried around the rocks. Like the hyrax we saw in Tanzania, they are related to elephants. From the top it was possible to see many of the surrounding mountains with interesting names like the Twelve Apostles and Lion's Head. But most amazing was simply the realization that here we were standing on the tip of the African continent!

As we prepared to head down, clouds began to roll in. We had been warned that the weather here changes rapidly and is unpredictable. We enjoyed watching as the clouds literally ran into Table Mountain and then slowly enveloped the city. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the immediate shoreline on the northern slopes of Table Mountain. Camp Bay and Hout Bay include coastal villages and white sandy beaches and palm trees.

It was great to be on the seashore again and we enjoyed walking along Mariner's Wharf in Hout Bay before dinner. Women sat filleting large fish on the wharf and we enjoyed watching them throw scraps to waiting seals in the harbor while jealous seagulls looked for a chance to steal bites. We also had a wonderful seafood dinner on the pier at Mariner's Wharf Restaurant. We devoured clam chowder (a red, spicy version), large oysters on the half shell, mussels and fresh blue fish smothered in garlic butter. It had been much too long since our last real coastal feast and we are all looking forward to this becoming a part of our regular diet again when we return to New England. Interestingly, the restaurant displayed menus from eight famous seafood restaurants around the world and two were from Boston!

It was dusk as we headed back toward Cape Town and hit unexpected traffic near Table Mountain. David had noticed earlier in the afternoon an advertisement indicating that the Olympic torch would be in Cape Town today and we wondered if the traffic was related to the event. We pulled our car to the side of the road to find out and within a few minutes, runners with the torch passed within feet of our car. We all sat there a bit stunned by our good fortune. The kids were excited that we had seen the Olympic Stadium being built in Athens and now the torch all the way in Cape Town. By the time we arrived back to our hotel, the fireworks celebrating the event had started and we had a fabulous view from our 12th floor windows. It was a great ending to the day.

Tomorrow we plan to explore the center of the city (called the City Bowl) and possibly the waterfront. We will also be visiting a friend of a friend who lives here in the city.












Next Day
Prior Day