Sunday, December 4, 2011

11th Posting - Stellenbosch and the City.... and Farewell.

This is the last posting on this blog and we have all gone our separate ways.
Both South African tours went exceedingly well and everyone went home with lots of wonderful impressions of this country and a lot of new understandings.
Next November, 2012, I plan on doing two more trips, but the second one will be in German for a Swiss group. There are only a few spots left on the first one, so anyone wanting to go in 2012 should contact me right away!

Saturday morning we visited the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, on the other side of Table Mountain from the city. The area was first planted with vineyards, flowers, and fruit trees, back in the late 1600's and it has been an official botanical garden for just over 100 years. The variety and spacing of the native trees and plants is delightful, and always with the backdrop of Table Mountain.

Leora poses with a baboon in the Gardens.

Underneath a giant fern tree

a near perfect bird-of-paradise (strelizia)

Protea Flowers

Pincushion Protea

Protea and Watsonia

The Camphor Trees along Camphor Avenue

From Kirstenbosch we headed out into the wine region to Stellenbosch and Middelvlei Winery. It was a beautiful day out there and the vineyards with the mountains in the distance are picture perfect.

Elliot cooks up our 'Boerebraai' - farmers Barbecue. We ate royally!

After lunch we visited the town of Stellenbosch, the second-oldest town in South Africa (after Cape Town).
It is renowned for its Cape Dutch architecture, with beautiful white-washed walls, ornate gables, and steep thatched roofs. Much of the style comes from Europe originally, adapted to South Africa. It's interesting they kept the steep roofs, which are to help shed snow, when it rarely gets below 50 degrees here on the coldest winter days!

Saturday evening we took our leftovers and snacks and headed up Signal Hill for a sunset picnic.
Joyce and Shirley are here, high above Sea Point, waiting for the sun to set.

The 'Twelve Apostles' glow in the evening light.

Spread out for our picnic on the grass on Signal Hill

Sunset over the Atlantic

Cape Town and Table Mountain glow with the last evening light and the first city lights.

The Lion's Head catches the last light.

Sunday morning dawned gloriously sunny, warm, and CALM!

The Bo Kap district of Cape Town is the historic area of the Malay and Indonesian people, who were originally brought to South Africa as slaves and servants. They now have the most colorful and lively area of Cape Town.

This is a group of Iranian tourists, posing for a shot in front of the colorful houses.

We got the 'Happy Boys' to stop just long enough to snap a photo.

Company Gardens in the city center is the original gardens dating to 1652 to raise fruit and vegetables to supply the ships going from Europe to the Orient. Now it is a beautiful city park in the heart of Cape Town.

Ellen poses in front of the big rubber tree (ficus).


St. George Avenue is a long, pedestrian street cutting right through the middle of the city.

St. George's Cathedral, the Mother Church, and the center of the peace movement, begun in 1989.
We visited the exhibit on the peace movement, which overcame apartheid, and were fortunate to have Lynette explain the pictures and history of the amazing transition from apartheid to democracy.

Maxine was invited to light a peace candle, which was a fitting way to cap off our fantastic trip to this wonderful country. Afterwards we had lunch in the center before heading out to the airport for flights home.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

10th Posting - Table Mountain and the Glorious Cape

There are a lot of photos on this posting, but Friday was an incredible day.
After a blustery arrival Thursday evening in Cape Town, Friday dawned clear and relatively calm with just a bit of 'Table Cloth' on Table Mountain. The forecast was for a lot more wind, so we made a beeline for Table Mountain and took the rotating Aerial Tram to the top of the 3500' Landmark. It was beautiful on top with stupendous views down over the city, the beaches, the Table Bay, the Lion's Head and the Atlantic ocean.
Our Cable Car to the Upper Station

Looking down over the Lion's Head, Cape Town, and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.

As we are on the mountain the famous table cloth starts creeping in around us.

Our whole group high above the Atlantic Ocean

Baby Rock Dassies warm themselves in the sunshine.

The temperature drops as the table cloth moves over us, but here we still get a view of the Cape Town 'City Bowl' with the group before it becomes completely foggy. After taking this photo the cloud moved over completely and the winds picked up. As we arrived back at the lower station they announced the closure of the tramway due to high winds! Good call going right away!
The following poem was written by our host at the Sleep Eezy Cottages, where we stayed at the beginning of our trip. It seems fitting to insert it here.

Table Mountain
Lawrence Duggan (Sleep Eezy Cottages)

The orange cloud when the late sun sets
is a sight to see when you first get
to view that marvelous mountain sight,
the ‘table cloth’ serene at night.

Surrounded by oceans and forests and hills,
emerald green countryside, vineyards, and stills,
trees waving frantically, blown by the wind,
incandescence on water seems quietly to sing.

It blends a great backdrop to the Waterfront scene
lending majesty, permanence, after you’ve been
to the top where it’s flat, or didn’t you know?
Take a ride up the Cable.... be filled with a glow.

Most other great vistas have nothing on this.
Where else do two oceans come together in bliss?
You can see the Blue Mountains stretching into the nether,
Where once climbed the horses and carts of Voortrekkers.

The sights and the scenery making up this fair Cape
give the feeling of entering through heaven’s great gate.
The days go so quickly and time passes fast,
But this great Table Mountain will be here till the last!

The 'Twelve Apostles' have their own table cloth today.

The four sisters at Chapman's Peak Road on Hout Bay

Monkey Valley Resort and Nordhoek Beach

Penguins! There are lots of penguins at Boulder's Beach near Simonstown. These are indigenous African Penguins, formerly known as Jackass Penguins because they sound like braying donkeys.

They are beautiful birds but are especially funny when they walk (waddle!).

They look good with a rock and sea background.

Down on the Cape Peninsula the wildflowers are very different to what we know. Most of the vegetation is Fynbos (fine bush), and among them are several hundred varieties of protea flowers. These sand daises look like straw flowers and are prolific in certain areas.

Leora gives perspective to the size of the flowers.

Protea buttons

WOW!! Maxine leaps high above the Cape Peninsula. What athleticism!

The Cape of Good Hope

An ostrich and a buntebok at the Atlantic Ocean at the Cape of Good Hope

We all pose to prove we were there!

Perhaps I have never been to the Cape at low tide before, but we wandered out on the boulders in the water and were rewarded with the most beautiful tidal pools and sea life. The water was clear and calm and we could have spent hours just looking at all the variety of plants and creatures and rocks. Gorgeous!

As we were leaving the Cape we were treated to another small herd of zebra. How appropriate.