Cape Town-Friday-2/19

Day 15, Cape Town- A cool and drizzling day when we awoke this morning. We lingered over coffee and discussed plans for post Cape Town. It will be about a 1000 miles from Cape Town to Durban on the east coast.


After researching, we have decided to stick to the southern route along the coast, with side trips to Addo Elephant Reserve, Mussel Bay and Port Elizabeth. We’ll head to Lesotho (a separate country, encapsulated by SA) from Durban, then to Kruger National Park. The itinerary will get fleshed out over the next two weeks.

Yesterday somewhere between V & A Waterfront and home, my Fitbit came off my waistband. So, we set off in a quest to find a new one, plus get some exercise. Headed down Long Street towards the harbor, then jogged over to Greenmarket Square.


The photo at the top was taken at the square and is of the booth where we found the little piece of art we like so much. Walking around the square we found a Africa mineral shop. Irresistible!



This shop has many minerals from Nambia as well as South Africa. The piece, second row from the bottom, on the left is Spirit Quartz or Cactus Amethyst and is only found in South Africa. It’s supposed to create harmony and alignment, for those into the workings of crystals.

Headed towards the train station to the underground mall. We have accidentally found a couple of these malls in our treks about town. All of the sudden the sidewalk disappears and there is a ramp leading down into a large, dark entry to the mall and pedestrian walkway. These malls follow under the sidewalks, streets and intersections. It’s possible to exit in 4 or more directions, across the street, sidewalk or the basement level of a store that rises up along the street.  Some of these malls have multiple underground levels. On a previous walk, we had seen some stores that are suppose to carry Fitbit. We struck out, but ran into some interestingly named fast food places while wandering the mall.

When we exited to street level, we were greeted by a torrential downpour. The day to that point had light rain, with intermittent sun. We were soaked and ran back to cover along with everyone else.

After the rain let up we walked to the Castle of Good Hope, where we ran into a distraught Englishman that had parked his car in a emergency vehicle spot. His car had been ‘booted’ by the police. A boot clamps the tire, so the car can’t be driven. For reasons we couldn’t understand, as he was hardly coherent, he didnt have any funds to pay the fine as his money was in the car??  Why couldn’t he unlock his car? And he was trying to find a tourist center to get help. Very angry…we pointed him to the V & A as requested. The impulse was to help him, but we just couldn’t figure out what was going on.

Started towards home we ran into a sad little flea market set up in a vacant lot. It was across the street from a magnificent building. This city has such startling contrasts between wealth and poverty. The poor are treated like they are invisible.

Speaking of contrasts, home in time for this beautiful sky. Photo courtesy of Pete.


Cape Town-Thursday-2/18

Day 14, Cape Town- I know….blogging a dentist appointment. What is she thinking? Don’t read on if you aren’t interested in medical differences between SA and the US. This was the BIG thing we did today, and from our perspective pretty interesting.

I must admit to being an absolute wimp when it comes to going to the dentist. It’s rarely a pleasant experience, throw in some nasty childhood oral surgery, 4 years of braces from hell and it’s a wonder that I go at all. So, hardly a wink of sleep last night. Pete wasn’t feeling much better about the whole thing, but we dutifully bused down to the V & A waterfront and Dr. Andrias de Nysschen.


Of course we ended up lost, wandering around trying to find The Dental Practice in the colossal maze that is the V & A Waterfront. We had to call for help with the local phone that Pete had fortuitously purchased. Coleen stayed on the phone with us until she was sure we were almost at their doorstep.

The Dental Hygienist, Nazeel (Naz), was very thorough and super nice with tips about where to go and what to do. She is a rock climber and avid hiker, so gave us the best route to climb Table Mountain. They have screens mounted in the ceilings above the treatment chairs showing African wildlife in action. The lions, hippos, snakes, crocodiles and hyenas were very distracting from the treatment. They were all eating each other or other animals, which strangely wasn’t distressing while sitting in the dentist chair. Dr. de Nysschen was a big departure from the US dentists I’ve seen. He actually sat down and wanted to know about my expectations and concerns. He took X-rays and had me sit with him while he went over them, showing me why certain teeth need attention. The best part is he put together a treatment plan that was emailed with a line item, cost estimate. Two crown replacements and a filling replacement for less than $1200 USD. Pete’s work is more involved and will take 3 appointments and his estimate is under $2000 USD. What a huge savings over the $1600-$2000/ crown in the US.

We celebrated our survival of the dentist with a late lunch, early dinner, we refer to as dunch. Then it was just wandering  around shopping and taking in the sites.


African agate necklace, a gift from Pete. Love the colors and size of the stones. These agates are typical for South Africa.


Found a street that has been converted to a pedestrian mall. Juice/smoothly bars and cafes are very popular here. Even regular restaurants will offer smoothies on their menus. Pete and I have found them to be very refreshing in the heat. We enjoyed this little cafe, sitting outside with coffees and watching all the people go by.


Walking near our apartment we found this novel use of shipping containers. The lower containers are a pedestrian walkway for the adjacent construction. Not sure about the use of the upper containers, maybe construction storage?

Looking forward to tomorrow, only two weeks left in western SA. There’s still so much to see and do.

Cape Town-Wednesday-2/17

Day 13, Cape Town- Rudo from Zimbabwe came this morning to do some cleaning up. She works for Christiaan and Trevor the owners and hosts of our apartment.  They have encouraged us to use her services. Although they pay her wages, we leave a tip to supplement her income.  There is a concerted effort to create work for people wherever possible. For instance, almost every block in the city has a parking marshal. The marshal’s collect the parking fees and watch the cars. There are no parking meters.

We were walking down to quiz the car rental places on rates, drop off fees, etc. when we saw the delivery truck above, stopped for a red light.  We both got a big smile out of “Cool Bananas, Vegologists” and “Driving like a monkey, contact 083444….”. The locals are always referring to Veg, as in vegetables.  We had a very interesting conversation with PJ, the executive chef/owner (?) of Euro Haus, our favorite neighborhood restaurant. He hand harvests organic veg or buys them at the waterfront farm vendors. He makes his own duck prosciutto, which is out of this world and was happy to fill us in on the local food scene and where to get the best deals on most anything. He also let us know that Cape Town has a First Thursday when restaurants and art galleries stay open late.

We reserved a car today for the second half of our trip, we will be traveling along the Garden route (southern, coastal) to Durban on the east coast, then up to Kruger National Park (over 6 million acres) for a photo safari. We also reserved it for the end of next week to drive down the Peninsula to the southern most tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, and up into Wine Country, a whole 20 minutes out of Cape Town.

Unfortunately tomorrow is the dentist. We’re not sure how we are going to feel after that. So with that in mind, I thought I’d cheer myself up. It was 95 F today when we hoofed it down to the flower market to pick up some blooms.  The flower market has been run by Malay, Muslim women for 150 years.

We went out this evening to the Labia theater named after Princess Ida Labia. She founded the theater in 1949 for live performances. Her husband Count Natale Labia, founded the South African National Gallery. The theater is now a indie movie house and we very much enjoyed seeing “The Dressmaker”.  A very tragic, and laugh out loud, funny movie. A rare combination…

Last, when we got home this evening there was a baritone opera singer cutting loose below our balcony. A most satisfactory day!

Cape Town-Tuesday-2/16

Day 12, Cape Town- The weather warmed up into the 80’s today. It didn’t feel that hot because the wind was gusting 25 to 35 mph.

Sneaky Pete was toasting his audience while I was practicing taking selfies. Check out Pete’s nose! It got fried, even with sunscreen and a hat. Think some zinc oxide might be in order.

So the plan for today got shot all to smithereens by the high winds. Our 1 pm tickets to Ferry to Robben Island were cancelled and we will need to reschedule. We traveled down to the waterfront early so we could locate the correct pier with time to spare. Since we were so early, we decided to take in the Aquarium. Here are some local denizens of the deep.



These hefty guys are Galjoens, the national fish of South Africa. Do we even have a national fish? Anyway, they aren’t pretty, but they are only found off the coast here. Evidently they are tasty, because they were being over fished. The SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative…whew) has limited catches and doesn’t allow the sale of fish.

The little penguin featured at the top of the page is a South African Black Footed Penquin.  We are planning on driving (eek!) down the peninsula to see these cuties in the wild. I have refused to drive on the left side of the road. We can barely cross the street without getting run over, because the reflex is to look the wrong way.  We are getting better and Pete has agreed to drive, which leaves me to navigate. Yay….

Had fun wandering around the harbor, checking out the yachts and historic clock tower.  The tower was the original Port Captain’s Office built in 1882.

Cape Town-Monday-2/15

Day 11, Cape Town- a perfect day in the low to mid 70’s. The view in the photo is towards our church and there is just a peek of our apartment to the left of the spire.

We had talked about getting some Dental work done while in Cape Town, so this morning I called and made appointments for both of us. South Africa has up to date medical care at a fraction of the cost in the US. For example, a Crown is $468 USD. Quite a bargain compared to the home. And since my dentist retired rather suddenly due to health issues, I decided to go ahead and finish up the work needed here.

It’s been a day of exploring around town, shopping and beard trimming.  We are feeling very settled into the city and are more comfortable everyday.

Had to ask the barbershop owner about the poster on the right. It’s from the 70’s and says, “I’d walk for miles for some curls”.

Below left is the lighthouse that was built to guide ships entering the original harbor. It wasn’t enough….The photo to the right is of the back of Lionshead Mountain. Pete has been showing me pictures of trails, trying to convince me its an easy climb. Hmmmm…not sure I believe it.

Tomorrow we ferry out to Robbens Island where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 of his 27 years in prison.


Cape Town-Sunday-2/14

Day 10, Cape Town-We decided to do what any good Capetonian would do on Sunday and head to the beach. Caught the bus out of town and down the coast along the ocean promenade towards Sea Point.

When Cape Town was settled and commerce was growing, Lloyds of London refused to insure ships and their cargo that had to navigate treacherous Cape Town harbor. As a result the English were forced to build a new harbor and the city flourished.

Womderful old Art Deco condos looking towards the ocean and promenade.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated here, but isn’t as big a deal as in the US. Pete went in search of a card and wasn’t able to find any specifically for Valentines. He ended up giving me a card in Africaans, in which he had written sweet valentines greetings. So, of course I had to find the translation for the printed greeting “Jy maak die gewoon, buitengewoon! Lekker Verjaar”, which is “You make the ordinary, extraordinary! Happy Birthday”.  We got a good laugh out of that!  Most everyone here speaks Africanns (western Germanic descended from Dutch) and English.

Dinner reservations were made before leaving home for the Kloof Street House, great food and ambiance, plus very close to our apartment. We asked to be seated in their beautiful garden.


Cape Town-Saturday-2/13

Day 9, Cape Town-Couldn’t even see Table Montain today for all the dark clouds. Had some rain at 72 degrees. It was a relief to be able to wear jeans and a long sleeve shirt.

A very quiet day. We decided to take it easy and relax today. I spent most of the day nursing my cold. We decided since it’s Saturday that we would go out in the evening since everything would be hopping.

One of the restaurants that I had read about before leaving Portland was Fork. A tapas restaurant that has stellar reviews. We took our chances and walked down without a reservation.  We were able to get a small table near the bar.

We had the Rocket lettuce, fig and Macadamia nut salad with a Pomegranate Vinaigrette.


We also ordered Ostrich, risotto and lamb plates. Game meat is the big thing here with Springbok, Ostrich, Water Buffalo, and Crocodile common on any menu.  These animals are raised on farms like cattle in USA.


Walked up Long Street, which is party central most nights towards our apartment.



Cape Town-Friday-2/12

Day 8, Cape Town- Pete got a shot of the hop on hop off sightseeing bus as it passed under our balcony this morning.

That was some cold Pete had. He’s on the tail end, hopefully. My version is on day 2 and I’ve definitely had a low energy day, so we walked around the Company’s Garden, people watched and hit the African Museum. The museum is a natural history museum, which Pete and I both enjoy. It’s an incredibly well thought out, modern museum on the interior. As you can see, the historic exterior really gives no clue as to the modernization that awaits within.

Multiple levels have been created around a vast, hanging whale exhibit.


The Petroglyphs were especially well preserved. This Petroglyph was saved from a road construction project. The oldest Petroglyph in the museum has been dated as 80,000 years old.



We spent the whole afternoon looking at exhibits and stopped at the Company’s Garden cafe on our way home to relax in the garden and enjoy a glass of South African wine


Cape Town-Thursday-2/11

Day 7, Cape Town-As you can see, it’s a very hazy day in Cape Town. The church in the featured photo is right across the street from our apartment. We are standing behind it waiting at the bus stop.

Was awake until the early hours developing a mild version of Pete’s cold symptoms. We were careful, but I’m sure that hand washing dishes wasn’t enough to sanitize. Took some of what little cold/flu medicine we had left and decided reinforcements were in order. Plus we needed a few kitchen items and I had forgotten to pack another over the counter medicine. Searching online to see if I could find what I wanted, it looked like success was to be had at Dis-Chem pharmacy. The only problem is they are located in the suburbs. Getting a white knuckle grip on our bus pass cards Christiaan generously provided, we decided to take public transportation. It was hard to judge distance on the bus route map, but Century City, is about the same distance from downtown Cape Town as Beaverton is from Portland.

Three transfers and a lot of help from the super kind, friendly bus employees and riders, we made it to Century City. A mixed use development that has industry, golf courses, newer high end housing and upscale malls.

Getting out of the downtown area was an eye opener. First the number of whites to Africans and Colored (their term, not mine) is very small. The term “Colored” doesn’t have the same negative connotation here that it has in the US and other western countries.  The mixed race descendants of the Cape slaves are proud to be colored.  Although our connotations of “colored” are beginning to have an impact here. As declared by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and elaborated upon by Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison, this is truly a rainbow nation.  The other thing we noticed leaving the city is how quiet it is…no honking horns, endless chatter and competing music.

We found all the items on our list and celebrated by having lunch at Magnifico, a locally owned bistro. The lamb burgers were great, but what was really interesting was the glass enclosed smoking section. It had a huge ventilation system and although it was almost full of people, there was no smoke to be seen.


Good grief…look how clean that glass is! Not a whiff of cigarette smoke either and we weren’t that far away. Oh, the bar to the left serves alcohol, milkshakes, soft drinks, tea, smoothies and juice. Really covers all the food groups.


The church and star from our Juliette balcony.

Cape Town-Wednesday -2/10

Day 6 Cape Town- A long hot night, it was 94 degrees F yesterday. We opted for the lesser of two evils and left the windows open to the street noise in order to get a breeze. There is no mandated closing time for bars here, so the party goes on until about 4 am when things get quiet.

High 80’s today, we decided to walk up to the Bo-Kaap, Muslim community whose residents are descended from the original Cape slaves. The original natives (Khoikhoi) refused to serve the white settlers. Unlike the rest of Africa the Cape administration was forbidden by the Dutch East India Company from enslaving the indigenous people, so slaves were imported to work from East Africa, Madagascar, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The residents of Bo-Kaap are known as “Cape Malays” even though fewer than 1% of slaves were from Malaysia. The Muslim neighborhood has had a very harmonious relationship with Christian and other religions on the Cape.


The Muslim community is celebrating 300 years in Cape Town.


We enjoyed a Tapas lunch that was delicious. Lunch was $20 for two. With the 16/1 exchange rate it has been a very economical stay so far.