Wednesday, January 7


The Taal Monument on Paarl Rock is a unique memorial.  It commemorates Afrikaans, a South African language with origins in Dutch, Malay, Portuguese, French, German and indigenous Khoi and African languages. Locals claims its the world's only monument that's dedicated to a language.

It sits on a hillside overlooking the town of Paarl.  Built entirely of sculptured concrete, its highest column soars more than 57 metres into the air.  This column's curving form represents Afrikaan's growth as a language over time. A series of smaller columns and domes surround the complex, each representing languages from which Afrikaans is derived.

Mum and I spent almost an hour exploring the monument.  Perhaps its most delightful element is the highest column.  Much to our surprise we discovered that it's actually hollow inside while the very tip is a narrow skylight that opens to the sky.  We had the monument almost to ourselves during our entire visit.

It had been raining heavily earlier in the morning right up until our arrival.  The damp conditions had clearly discouraged all but the most committed tourists. Fortunately as we arrived the weather began to clear. The change pleased us no end as the view from the Taalmonument's main podium is stunning.  Visitors enjoy a panoramic view across the city of Paarl and the nearby Hottentots Holland mountains are breath-taking.

We took a scenic drive up the mountains later in the day just to experience the opposite view. We were rewarded for our efforts by a stunning vista.  However, for Mum, the highlight of our drive was a family of baboons we encountered on the roadside as the road began to climb.  Mum thought the newborn baby was delightful. The poor wee thing took a couple of steps as we watched before losing its balance and sprawling face down in the dust.

Mum and I had already braved the rain before checking out of our hotel in Cape Town.  We caught the hotel's complimentary shuttle bus across to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront complex, affectionately called the V&A by locals. The complex was once the city's bustling harbour. In more recent years, visiting ships have been located to a larger, more modern port. The original buildings have been subsequently converted into trendy shops, cafes and hotels.

The V&A is usually teeming with life. However, the morning's foul weather had cleared the area. However, Mum and I made the most of our time including a damp visit to Noble Square where the nation's four Nobel Peace Prize recipients are honored by series of rather clever cartoon like statues.

We finished our day with a wander through the streets of Franschhoek.  This is a quaint village nestled in the shadow of towering granite mountains.  It's also the centre of South Africa's wine industry. Many of the village's historical buildings have been lovingly restored. We're basing ourselves here for the next two days.

Our hotel is also a real treat.  It's far more luxurious than I'd expected.  We've been given a room on the first floor which looks out over a courtyard of flowering gardens, verdant lawns and an enticing pool.  Our window scene (see above) was given a final polish late this afternoon by a burst of sunshine.  Ah bliss!

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