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Day 92: Cape Town and Other Things. (Part 1)

April 30, 2012

So as some of you may be aware, Jasmine and I had been back from Botswana barely a day before we decided that a trip to Cape Town would be a good idea! We just got back a little while ago, and this is what we did:

First of all, getting there. We originally wanted to take the train down – Cape Town isn’t exactly close. The bus takes 20 hours, and while the train takes 27 hours, Jas and I thought the train would be more comfortable, especially if we got a sleeper compartment. Plus, train is cheaper too. But stupidly (meanly?) the train people never answered our multiple enquiry emails, and calling them results in an automated message telling you to email them. And since their office is in Joburg, it’s too far to go just to make a booking, so we booked a bus ticket instead.

That was a mistake. I mean, yay, we got there, but still. It started ok – Jas and I had the back row of seats to ourselves, all five of them, so we could stretch out in relative comfort. And they played movies – Gulliver’s Travels (which we watched) and The Bodyguard (which we didn’t), and the bus stopped every few hours to refuel, meaning we got to stretch our legs and get some food if we wanted. But then, at about midnight, after 13 hours of boredom and napping, a lady got on and took one of the back row seats. And then another one. And then a third. So Jas and I were stuck trying to sleep in the middle of the night all squished up with this lady taking up three seats. It wasn’t too bad for Jas, but for me, the seats were really uncomfortable to sit in, let alone sleep in. I think I’m just a little too tall. Plus, the back seats didn’t recline as far as the other ones.

So 8 hours of trying-to-sleep-but-failing later (the bus was running late), we get off the bus. And have no idea where we are. Sure, we know it’s Cape Town, but we aren’t sure where it is in relation to our accommodation. After a slow breakfast (we arrived several hours before we could check in to our accommodation), we took a taxi from the rank outside the station. Lucky us, no metre, but we told the driver we were willing to pay R70 (10R/km, and we knew how far away the accommodation was thanks to Google Maps). So he dropped us off outside African HeART – a backpackers in Observatory. It was nice enough, but as we found out later that day, about an hours walk into the CBD. We had a quick look around, and relaxed a bit after the horrible bus trip. Made dinner (not our usual healthy veggie-filled meal, but instant noodles. =P) and then had a chat with the people we were sharing the dorm with. It was Jas and I, with 4 other people, and the 4 other people had already formed their own clique – they were volunteers and worked together/did tours together and stuff. Anyway, we didn’t find them particularly welcoming. Plus they went to bed super early. 9:30pm. Really? This was annoying because that night we planned to go to see a Jazz band that Jasmine found listed on a Cape Town swing dancing Facebook group, and she’d hoped there would be dancing. There wasn’t. But the music was ok. Anyway, we got back and tried to be really quiet, and all the other people in the dorm were asleep, even though it was only about 11pm.

The next day it was raining. I’d heard that Cape Town weather was similar to Melbourne weather, and that day proved it right. We didn’t quite have the hail-to-sunshine-to-wind-to-rain that Melbourne has, but it was very temperamental. Finally cleared up around afternoon, so we went for a walk – picked a direction and just went that way. The main thing we noticed was that all the parks – playgrounds, playing fields, patches of grass – were all fenced off! Apparently they don’t like having people on grass in Cape Town. It was weird. We managed to (without looking at a map or anything) do a circuit of the area, and come back to the backpackers without any odd detours, via a supermarket. A quiet night of reading and watching Warehouse 13.

The next morning we were due to move to a new backpackers – we organised a booking and packed and left, but this was made slightly more difficult by the fact that I was feeling quite unwell (i.e., standing up made me feel faint. Jas had to walk with me because she was afraid I would topple over and die or something). So anyway, we took a combi to Long St, and walked the rest of the way to Long St Backpackers. It is very close to the centre of Cape Town, and right after we moved in (to a double room), we met the people staying in the dorm next to our room. We actually had to walk through the dorm to get to our room. Anyway, the people there were Steffen (a German Keanu Reeves look alike), Tony (a British/Irish man who had spent quite a while travelling around Africa), Fabio (a quiet Italian guy), and Charles (a South African from Durban who was staying there until his place in Cape Town was ready for him to move into). Jasmine and I got on very well with Tony and Steffen, and we all chatted for a few hours before bed. The next morning, Jasmine, Tony, Steffen and I all headed out and had breakfast, then went back to the backpackers for a few games of pool (the first game was close, but Tony and Steffen won, and in the second game, Jasmine and I lost quite badly). Then, because it was a lovely day, we went for a walk to the waterfront.

That’s Table Mountain in the background. The whole day, there were no clouds in the sky, except for the one clinging to the mountain like frosting on a cake. Anyway, we walked around, looked at a few different places on the waterfront. There was a craft market in a giant shed, which has apparently gone upmarket since Tony was last in Cape Town. There were a few interesting things that we saw, including jellyfish, seals, and coke-man…

This is Steffen with coke-man. Coke-man is made out of Coca-Cola crates. I was so tempted to try and climb it, but I thought that would be a bad idea… We also stopped by the ferry to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), where they displayed this creepy thing:

Like I said. Creepy.

After our lovely walk through the waterfront, Steffen drove us to Signal Hill, where we got a nice view of Cape Town.

And here is a photo of all of us at the top of the hill.

Tony is the one on the left, and Steffen is the one giving Jasmine and I bunny ears. And again with Table Mountain in the background and the cloud. That cloud was there all day! So after we’d finished at Signal Hill, we went down to one of the Cape Town beaches. It was really windy, and the sand hit us hard enough to sting. Though to be honest, the best part of the beach was the rocks. We started a trend – when we got there, all the photo-taking tourists were on the sand, but we decided to climb on the rocks. By the time we left, all the tourists were climbing over the rocks too.

They were fun rocks to climb on! After our nice beach walk (and Steffen being continually harassed by people trying to sell things), we stopped for some coffee. Well, the others got coffee, I had a strawberry-ice drink. It was delicious.

The wind kept getting stronger, and when it looked like the umbrellas were about to kill us, or at least squash us, we went back to the car and back to the backpackers. Did not much for a while, then Jasmine and I went to an Ethiopian restaurant, it was amazingly delicious, while Tony and Steffen went to an Irish pub. Jasmine and I joined them when we had finished eating, and we enjoyed the rest of our night. We were very tired by bed-time though!

(More stuff did happen, but because the internet is being so difficult about me writing blogs, I’m going to get this one up, and then hopefully another one in the very near future, but I’ll be much more relieved when this is up and there is no chance of it being spontaneously deleted. It’s happened before. It sucked.)

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