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Cape Town South Africa

Sightseeing

Tuesday, April 8 2008

In the apartment we have views of the city with Table Mountain as a backdrop from one window and from another we see Lions Head Mountain; very nice indeed.

We took today very slowly. It seems we are still not completely over the effects of the trauma we suffered. We had planned to go hiking with our new friend Gail but decided against doing any more hiking in South Africa. Julia is not happy about being here. She feels unsafe here in Cape Town. I am trying to keep an open mind but I believe that caution is the better part of valor in this case. Feeling unsafe is an insidious thing; it creeps up on you slowly and always seems to lurk in the shadows. I wish we could release ourselves from its grip.

We are scheduled to move to the apartment in down town Cape Town tomorrow. I hope it is nice. Perhaps it will make us feel better living more normally. Since December 16, 2007 we have either lived in a hotel, in a tent, on a boat, or with Julia's family; the change back to a more normal life might help us both.

Terror Tour Video

Wednesday, April 9 2008

Here is a shot of what locals refer to as the "table cloth" rolling over Table Mountain.

The flat we moved into this morning is really stunning; it is on the 18th floor of a 20 story building right in down town Cape Town. The building does not look much from outside but inside it is great. It is modernly furnished and has everything we need for our 11 day stay. Plus it is very secure. You can only enter the building if you have a keycard and when you enter the lobby you are greeted by security guards; it makes us feel safe.

We quickly settled in and then went grocery shopping. Nothing is easy when you are travelling, even the simplest of activities can be complicated. So it was with our shopping experience today. We diligently perused the grocery aisles as one does and we were confronted with many unknown brands; as is to be expected in a foreign country. However, at the checkout we tried to pay with our credit card and, of course, it was denied. We were short 100 rand in cash so we had to reduce our carefully selected basket to fall below our cash limits; this was painful. When we returned to our flat I called the credit card company to find out what happened. They had indeed shut the card down as this grocery store seemed to be on their fraudulent transaction list. It is only one of South Africa's largest grocers; what a pain!

Thursday, April 10 2008

Table Mountain by night.

The walk we made today around downtown went very well; no attacks, muggings, robberies, or even a scare. We walked the park known as the Company Gardens and visited The Slave Lodge museum. This was not the most up lifting of places to visit but I did learn some things about the history here in Cape Town.

While on our walk Julia and I stopped for a coffee and on our table was a copy of the Cape Times newspaper with the front page headline of " Shoot the bastards". In the article a South African minister for security publically instructed the police to "use their guns and shoot criminals". This seemed such an outlandish directive from a high ranking member of government. But given the level of crime in this country I can relate to her frustration if not her methods. The really unusual thing about the newspaper headline is its similarity to a headline that was submitted by fellow Terror Tour tourists as we whiled away the hours on our tour bus from hell. We were playing a game to come up with a headline for an article to lead our own robbery story and "Shoot the Bastards" was suggested.

Friday, April 11 2008

Julia on the beach at Camp's Bay looking relaxed.

Today we found out that they are having a dengue fever outbreak in Rio. The city is the main place affected; but other areas of the state are also infected. They tell me it happens occasionally and this outbreak seems to be quite large; 28,000 people infected since January 2008. There is no vaccine for dengue so even our Lariam will not protect us against this virus. Speaking of Lariam, if you remember Julia and I decided to stop drinking alcohol while taking the drug as alcohol is known to make Lariam side effects worse.

Well we gave in the other day as the pressures from our trip seemed to overpower our clear thinking on the subject. I have not noticed any change in side effects as yet but this may come.

From Julia: We went out for a drive up to Table Mountain and then on to the beach at Camp's Bay today. We did not go up to the top of the mountain as the lines were too long and we did not feel like hanging around. I am feeling better about our safety, except for feeling panicky when we are driving around. I think this is due to a combination of fear of hijackers, fear of crazy drivers, and fear of reckless pedestrians who seem to step out in front of our car at every opportunity. We had a good couple of hours touring outside of our safe apartment (which David calls the Bat Cave). Cape Town is very beautiful. The food is delicious. But It's not worth being here for either, so I will be happier when we are on our way safely to Brazil and Dengue fever!

Signal Hill Video

This evening we saw Chicago the musical performed here in Cape Town. It was a better production than I had expected. We had a pleasant evening and returned to the Bat Cave without event.

Saturday, April 12 2008

Here I am with some delicious wines I bought.

We drove ourselves to the wine country today. It is the best part of a two hour drive from Cape Town on good highways and roads. However, we still had to brave the reckless and very aggressive South African drivers; which is not pleasant.

The view from the restaurant.

We visited such interesting places as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek; and passed through many other unpronounceable places along the way. We made a quick stop for some wine tasting at Zorgvliet Wineries which was not unlike many wineries in the Napa Valley. The wine was very good particularly the Pinot Noir and the Viognier.

From the winery we drove to lunch at La Petite Ferme, in Franschhoek. This was recommended to us by a friend and we really had a great lunch here. The food was good and very reasonable priced, plus the view was to die for; which is always the risk when travelling in South Africa.

Franschhoek Video

We made a quick stop at a butterfly farm on our way back to Cape Town and the safety of the Bat Cave.

Sunday, April 13 2008

Today was a quiet day at the apartment cooking food and watching videos; very relaxing.

Monday, April 14 2008

Julia checking out her muscles after our gym workout; not really.

We fired ourselves up this morning and used the gym facilities in the apartment building. The exercise made us feel good as our, self inflicted, ban on hiking here in South Africa has rather reduced our normal exercise options.

Then we did a bit of shopping in down town Cape Town. But it was mainly another relaxing day. We are both beginning to feel very comfortable with traveling once again; thank Darwin.

It seems South Africa is plagued with problems when it comes to tourists. Today we read in the paper that a freak wave hit a shark-dive boat causing it to capsize and drowning three tourists. Julia and I visited the aquarium at the waterfront the other day and saw advertising for this shark-dive tour, I even considered doing it, until Julia told me she would not participate given South Africa's safety record with us so far. It seems Julia's spider sense was right again.

Tuesday, April 15 2008

People relaxing on a Cape Town beach; it looks peaceful doesn't it?

This was another quiet day at the apartment just relaxing. While at the gym in the morning we did strike up a conversation with a trainer there. We, of course, told him our story of South Africa and he, of course, had his own personal horror story.

From Julia: There is an outdoor mall just one block from the "Bat Cave" that has the added benefit of being patrolled by police on horseback. We went there this morning to sit outside, drink cappuccinos, and watch the world go by. We feel relatively safe there because of the police presence; although we hope they aren"t going to shoot at suspected criminals in case we get hit in the crossfire. Foolishly, we bought a local paper, the Cape Argus, and the first thing that caught David's eye was a crime article. It stated that a man was shot in the head at 10am yesterday morning; he was the second person in 12 hours to have been shot in the head in a hijacking attack in the Cape Town area. My response was to say, "Why leave the "Bat Cave"? Who cares about seeing Table Mountain? I just want to lock myself inside until I can leave the country." David is sensible and braver than I am and he still feels up for driving to Table Mountain. I just hope that I can feel back to normal next week when we are in South America!

It's terrible to think about the future of South Africa. Will it be able to improve for its people, or will it become like Zimbabwe? Probably, ignorance is bliss and I shouldn"t have looked at the newspaper today.

Wednesday, April 16 2008

Here I am at the top of Table Mountain on my 51st birthday.

Today is the anniversary of my 51st year on this planet in this life. Please, I am not suggesting with that statement that there is life on other planets or even an afterlife; it just sounds moving. I have been here for over half a century now; this also sounds striking.

If my age was my individual cricket batting score I would be doing OK in a game. If it was my Australian Rules football team's half time score it would be quite a decent one. If it was the number of yards I had run in a game of American football during one reception it would be fantastic. If it was my Baseball batting average (changed to .51 of course) it would be unbelievable; and unprecedented. So given all of these analogies I should be happy with it, and I am. Let's face it what else can you be?

I had a great birthday. First we pushed through our fears and went up to the top of Table Mountain on the cable car. Once at the top the view was excellent and we were able to hike the mountain paths for a bit. What's more we were not robbed or mugged.

Table Mountain Video

After this we went back to Camp's Bay and our favorite restaurant where we enjoyed wonderful food and wine in the glorious sunshine. Then later in the afternoon Julia booked us into the Mount Nelson Hotel for tea and surprised me with a birthday cake. What an excellent way to spend my birthday.

Thursday, April 17 2008

A parting view of Cape Town.

We ate breakfast, worked out, did a bit of shopping, ate lunch, drank some lovely wine, watched trashy TV, and packed our bags in anticipation of leaving Cape Town tomorrow, yippee! Other than that is was a quiet day.

Friday, April 18 2008

Hooray!

We finally left Cape Town and started our journey to leave deepest darkest Africa for the wild Amazon rain forest. The Amazon seems like going to a safe haven compared with South Africa; I guess only time will tell if this is true.

A signpost at Cape Point pointing us to our next destination, Brazil.

The flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg was the best part of two hours but uneventful. We are staying in a hotel that is right at the airport for two reasons: the first is we want nothing at all to do with Johannesburg city or its outer laying areas and second is our flight leaves very early tomorrow so we can sleep in a bit before our 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo.

Brazil Plan Video

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