End of the road in Cape Town

Saturday 19 to Wednesday 23 November

It was a short drive from Stellenbosch to Cape Town. We were welcomed by hosts Lea and Shane who insisted they give us all the necessary information for our stay. They promised us we would be very, very safe walking in this area of Cape Town.

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront was a short walk and promised good restaurants. It was there that we understood the meaning of Table Mountain and its tablecloth. A white cloud was sitting on top and cascading over the edge. It was stunning.

The restaurants didn’t disappoint and we were particularly impressed by the prices. A  generous meal with beer and wine was costing around $AUD80.

We took the hop-on hop-off bus making stops at the New Parliament House and the Cathedral Church of St George where Desmond Tutu was Archbishop. We came across a troupe of young African dancers – they were having a lot of fun.

We made a lunch break at The Dutch East India Company’s Gardens. They were commenced in 1652 to grow vegetables and fruit. Over the next 130 years the gardens developed in to a world famous botanical garden with exotic plants shrubs and trees. Only a small portion of it remains today, but it is a pleasant oasis in the middle of the business district.

We stopped at the Jewish Museum. Entry was complicated, we had to show some identity. The history was also complex. 

Many Jewish immigrants sought refuge in South Africa. The museum traces the cultural history of Jews, Jewish life and Judaism in general. It was particularly interesting to learn that teh Jewish community supported the Africans to dismantle the apartheid system – in particular taking on the legal arguments.

There is also a rather interesting exhibition of Netsuke (Japanese miniature art). Not what you’d expect in a Jewish Museum.

We continued on to the Green Point Lighthouse. Built at Table Bay, a treacherous lee shore and maritime graveyard. The lighthouse was an expensive project with construction interrupted by a severe storm in 1822. It began operation in 1824. It turned out to be less than ideal as many ships came too close and ended up on the rocks.

A second lighthouse was constructed 1.5km to the east at Mouille Point. It was also less than ideal as ships continued to flounder. A new taller lighthouse was built in its place and finally demolished in 1908. Meanwhile the Green Point Lighthouse was upgraded in 1865.

I liked the remaining lighthouse – square with its red and white stripes.

We used up our access to the hop-on hop-off bus by taking their blue route along the beautiful coastal road to Hout Bay, allowing us to see Table Mountain from many angles.

We took the obligatory boat tour to Robben Island and learnt its history. There is an added page for that story.

By our final day Table Mountain’s tablecloth had lifted, the winds had subsided and the aerial cableway was reopened after a week of inclement weather.

Our hosts quickly booked tickets for us online. Shane had suggested we take the walk to Maclear’s Beacon on the northern side of the mount and return on the south side overlooking Cape Town.

Maclear’s Beacon was constructed by Sir Thomas Maclear (1794-1879) as a beacon to re-measure the meridian arc. Maclear was a medical doctor and an avid amateur astronomer who relocated to Cape Town to survey the southern skies.

The walk was fantastic, and in true style, longer than suggested as I stopped to admire and photograph the many flowers. There were times when the path was on the edge of a steep drop, so a little caution was required.

This was the last day for our fantastic Spanish-African tour and the day was not to be wasted. After we descended Table Mountain we drove down to the Table Mountain National Park and the Cape of Good Hope where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.

It turned out to be a popular destination with the main attraction a sign showing the GPS coordinates of the most south-western point of the African continent.

We climbed up to the lighthouse. The climb would not have been difficult if it were not for the gale force winds that tried to lift you off the ground – perhaps the fiercest wind I have ever known.

We returned to Cape Town and for the fourth and last night headed back to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront for a dinner and a farewell to this magical journey.