Cape Town

Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
Trip End May 21, 2013

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Where I stayed

Flag of South Africa  ,
Sunday, April 7, 2013

We ended up staying in a very cute boutique hotel that was just off of Kloof Street, a very popular street that had a lot of stores and restaurants on it. Oddly, we were given a key to cut through a school yard to get over to Kloof, but that never turned out to be a problem. The hotel was very comfortable for us with a recently renovated bathroom, a hot breakfast each morning, and a television that played nothing but obscure American movies starring A-list celebrities. It was literally movie after movie that we had never heard of starring people like Tom Cruise, Kevin Costner, Liam Neeson, and Meryl Streep.

Since the weather was nice, we spent our first full day walking around the city and just exploring. We walked through the Company Gardens which reminded us a lot of Central Park in New York City. There were wide pedestrian paths, rose gardens, herb gardens (which were completely out of control, much like the herb garden I had at home last year), and various museums. Here we also saw one of the original pear trees that was originally brought from Europe by the Dutch East India Trading Company in the 1600's. Apparently it still bears fruit that is eaten by the locals each year.

We eventually made our way down to the waterfront area (after taking the long way around a set of high end condos, oops). The waterfront area has a bunch of restaurants, tourist activities, and a mall where we found some very tasty macaroons. We ended up having lunch outside where we got our first taste of the pace of South Africa... Every aspect of food service is slow compared to the US and they often seemed to ignore or forget requests. Then at the end of the meal, they just forget about you completely. No bill, no more eye contact, no nothing. It took us almost 15 minutes to find somebody that was mildly interested in having us pay for our meal. This turned out to be the norm and we got good at asking for the bill at any opportunity that presented itself.

The next day we took one of the Hop On, Hop Off bus tours so that we could see some of the sights that weren't within walking distance. We visited the botanical gardens (third largest in the world) and it was incredible. The gardens stretched on as far as the eye could see and was made up completely of indigenous species. Walking up the hillside a bit gave way to breathtaking views of the gardens below. It then started pouring rain which ended our walk as we took cover in the café.

Our next stop was a bird and monkey sanctuary which was started by a single man back in the 70's. It now contains over 4000 birds and 400 monkeys, with more being dropped off every day. The sanctuary itself was pretty run down since they don't seem to have sufficient funding to keep it up. The animals all looked healthy though and all seemed to be well cared for. In the end, we couldn't decide if we should feel bad for the animals since it was run down or happy since none of these animals would have survived without the sanctuary.

Finally, we stopped at the oldest vineyard in South Africa. Not being very big wine drinkers, we walked around the area, got some nice pictures and were on our way. On the way back to the city we saw some amazing houses built right on the cliffs leading to the ocean where the wealthiest people live. Their driveways are actually on their roofs (which were on the same level as the road) and they would then take beautiful glass elevators down to their homes.

On our last full day in Cape town, we walked up to the cable cars that bring you to the top of Table Mountain, the plateau that surrounds Cape town. After a couple ride up, we were at the top where it was about 30 degrees colder and very windy. It was definitely worth it as the views from the top are spectacular. You can see all of Cape town and all of the nearby bays and harbors, even as far as Robbens Island where Nelson Mandela was held. Sandy stayed away from the sides for the most part, but did venture closer a couple times so that we could get some pictures. I think she was happiest when we finally reached the bottom again.

The next day we spent 18 hours in the air flying from Cape town, to Johannesburg, to Dubai, and finally to Amsterdam. The flight was as miserable as it sounds and we were happy when we finally made it to Amsterdam. 
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