Sunday, January 4

Beverly does Cape Town

Mum and I have arrived in Cape Town for the start of our Southern Africa adventure.  We reached our hotel shortly before 9:00pm last night after a full day of flying.  Mum caught her first flight from Auckland at 6:10am.  I then joined her in the lounge at Sydney airport where we boarded our 14 hour flight across the Southern Ocean to Johannesburg.  After passing through customs and immigration we then transferred for our final flight south to Cape Town.

We woke to a light fog over the city this morning. However, by 10am the Summer sun had burnt its way through the haze.  The rest of day was spent soaking up blue skies and sunshine.  Our tourist stop was the city's iconic Table Mountain. Its distinct flat top summit rises more than 1084 metres over the city.  It forms the backdrop of almost every Cape Town image you'll ever see. 

The summit is reached by a frightening steep cable car.  At this time of year the queue is a nightmare. However, we struck it lucky.  The day's misty start had deterred the usual crowd.  As a result we found ourselves ushered onto the first available gondola. We reached the summit just as the last of the morning's haze disappeared.

The view from Table Mountain is a real treat.  We spent more than hour soaking up spectacular views of Cape Town and Table Bay to the north; and the rugged, rocky ridges of the Cape Peninsular to the south.  We were also treated to some of the mountain's unique weather. It's height and coastal location generate a unique, localized weather. At times the mountain's summit can shrouded in cloud even as the rest of the Cape Region is surrounded by clear blue sky.

We were mesmerized by the sight of clouds materializing before us, sweeping across the summit plateau and vanishing as swiftly as they'd appeared. The mountain's unique flora and fauna was also on display. The red-winged starlings were a delight to watch.  They're jet black bird with vivid red-orange wing-tip feathers. We even spotted a Dassie running fearlessly along the cliff edge. These are giant hamster-like rodents that can be found throughout Cape region.

Our next stop was Signal Hill, a more modest bump that sits in front of Table Mountain.  It offers a more intimate view across the inner city and its picturesque waterfront.  The view is dominated by the Green Point Stadium built for 2010 Football World Cup.  The paragliders were out in force today.  We watched them taking turns to swoop over our heads and along the hillside.

I then drove Mum past the stadium and out to the coast.  Waves were pounding the shoreline creating a refreshing spray mist.  We took a quick walk around the Green Point lighthouse.  It's an iconic red and white striped tower that's been standing watch here since 1824.

From here it was on to the Rhodes Memorial nestled on the eastern flank of Table Mountain.  The steps of the neo-classical colonnaded monument offers some of the city's best views across False Bay and the city's sprawling suburbs.  We took down the coast to Kalk Bay for a late lunch at the Brass Bell.  This restaurant is a local institution.  It clings to the coastline, nestled on the edge of a popular tidal swimming pool. 

As we approached Kalk Bay the traffic literally ground to a halt.  The final two kilometres took us a painfully slow 40 minutes to traverse. At one point as a scenic vantage point approached I encouraged Mum to get out of the car, take a few photos and rejoin me again a few metres down the road.  However, our patience was rewarded.  As we crawled up to the restaurant's main entrance a car pulled out leaving behind the perfect parking spot.

We finished our city orientation tour with brief stop at Groot Constantia.  This is the nation's oldest vineyard.  They've been making wine here for almost four hundred years.  Many of its colonial buildings have been lovingly restored.  Visitors are greeted by a picture perfect setting of dazzling whitewashed Cape Dutch architecture, verdant vines and Oak shaded paths.  The perfect way to finish our first full day in Africa.

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