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Day 12: Cape Peninsula

penguins and lighthouses

all seasons in one day

We lived on the bus today. It is a huge modern bus, so it's pretty comfortable with sixteen women occupying fifty seats. First they drove us around the town and pointed out some of the important buildings. This city is even more impressive than I thought. When we hit the waterfront we turned left and began a long drive around the bottom of Africa. White beach after white beach greeted us as we drove along a lovely tree lined boulevard. It was a bit early on a Sunday morning so the families were not out, but the joggers and the dog owners were. It promises to be a beautiful day - a bit cooler than yesterday, with a high of 75.

Once out of the main part of town, the boulevard becomes a two lane coastal highway hugging the side of a mountain. The views of the ocean and the city behind us were gorgeous. There are several towns (suburbs?) that are obviously home to the wealthy. In fact living along there is the goal of the rich and famous.

If you drive south long enough, you reach the bottom of the country, the bottom of the continent. Everyone refers to that southernmost point as the Cape of Good Hope, but actually there is another point on the continent that is slightly farther south. Details, details. Anyway, way down there is where the cold Atlantic meets the warm Indian ocean. Our guide says that some days you can see them meet, they appear to be different colors. We made several stops along the way, including a very nice restaurant where I enjoyed trout for lunch (oh, and wine, I'm not driving). Outside the restaurant is the entrance to the funicular that took us to the top of the hill, upon which sits a lighthouse that can be reached by a short, but steep hike up a path. I didn't get all the way up there. Up is no problem, down is beginning to tax my knees. (I see another joint surgery in my future.) The view was spectacular, as you can imagine. We were very lucky to have such beautiful, clear, warm weather. It won't last. There's a storm brewing.

Next stop is Boulders Beach where African penguins hang out. To get to their part of the beach, you walk past an area where families spend a sunny day like today. Strangely, there are lots of palm trees growing there. It's strange to be walking through palm trees to visit penguins. Then you walk through a whole lot of street venders who depend on this particular tourist trap for their livelihood. Then you pay to get to the area of the beach where penguins live. They are indeed very cute, and it's neat to see them in their natural habitat (tourist trap or not).

By now, that storm that is brewing is showing itself with thick dark clouds blowing our way. We have one last stop and the guide is intent upon getting us there before the storm hits. We're going to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which is acres and acres of flora indigenous to S. Africa. Very beautifully landscaped with sculpture, paths, a small concert area, and an amazing bridge. Unfortunately, the winds of the storm had hit and were strong enough to almost blow you over. As beautiful as it was, I couldn't wait to get back to the bus.

This evening most of us dined at a very upscale restaurant located outside of the city proper, inside some sort of gated country club. The cab ride was kind of interesting because the cabbie really had no idea where he was going and at one point pulled over to get his "spectacles" out of the trunk. (hello? you need glasses to drive and you aren't wearing them?) We did finally get there and had a wonderful dinner. But I do have to say that 12 tourists around the table of a gourmet restaurant is a bit chaotic. I love crowds at cocktail parties, but not at the dinner table. Just understanding the menu was a stretch goal. In the end, it was fine but I was never sure it would be.

Back at the hotel, enjoying a quiet glass of an excellent chard, and enjoying a bit of solitude. Just me and my electronics.

Posted by Follow Carol 00:37 Archived in South Africa

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Looks like everything is going smoothly and I love your blogs. So do the girls

by Jane Gallagher

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