Wandering and Wondering

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cape Town

Well, I've finally arrived in Africa! My first impression of Cape Town wasn't all that good. Upon leaving the airport feeling rather jetlagged after 20 hours of flying and stop-overs, the first thing I was greeted with as the shuttle bus drove towards the city was a sprawling shanty town. The next thing I noticed was all of the razor wire covering most of the fences and buildings to stop intruders. After getting a good sleep, however, the next day I took the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain. Upon reaching the top I was greeted with some of the most amazing views I've ever seen. Looking north, the city was spread out below with fog covering the harbour:

Fog in the bay

Looking south I could view the 12 Apostles shrouded in mist:

Misty Mountains

And looking west over the Atlantic ocean was a sea of clouds instead of water:

View over the clouds

The next day I headed into an area of the city known as the V&A Waterfront (funnily enough because it is on the waterfront). This is probably the most up-market area of the city, with fancy shopping malls and waterfront restaurants. I was planning on doing a tour to Robben Island, which is where Nelson Mandella spent many years as a political prisoner under the apartheit regime. Unfortunately the tours were all booked out for several days, so I had to miss out. Instead, I wandered around the waterfront and watched all of the street performers and musicians:

Song and dance

African beats

After the rather dismal weather during my stay in London, the weather so far in Cape Town had been fantastic, with mostly bright blue skies and lots of sunshine. The next day I decided to do a day tour to visit the Cape Peninsular national park. In the morning, the clouds started to roll in over the mountains:

Clouds rolling over the mountain

By the time we reached the Cape Peninsular national park to do some cycling, it started to drizzle. When we finally reached the peninsular, it was pouring down, so we decided to forgoe the hike up to the lighthouse in favour of hot chocolates in the restaurant at the bottom. We then proceeded on to the Cape of Good Hope, and the rain stopped just long enough to get this photo:

Cape of Good Hope

Even with the rain, it was still quite an enjoyable day trip. Our tour guide gave a very interesting commentry on the history of the country and how things are beginning to change after the end of apartheit. As we drove along, he would point out towns or parts of towns that were designated as either "white only", "brown only" or "black only". Today, people are free to live where they like, but change doesn't happen overnight, so many of these areas are still inhabbited by 99% of their original populations. It will take many years before whites and blacks are truly living side by side.

After a not so good first impression, I've come to really like Cape Town, and wish I could stay a few more days as there is so much to see and do here. Today I met up with the rest of my tour group, some of whom I'll be spending the next 8 weeks with. Tomorrow we say goodbye to Cape Town and head up the west coast towards Namibia.

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