Cape Point

The weather forecast for today indicated high winds, around 40kph in Cape Town, meaning the cable car would be shut, and there’d be no climbing allowed. Despite even higher wind speeds at the Cape of Good Hope, we decided to head down there anyway. Mark & Abi, Ryan and I drove down to Cape Point (well, yet again, Mark did all the driving), with a brief scenery stop at Hout Bay to see the Sentinel in great light. It was at this point that I contemplating trying my polarising filter, and I’m SO glad I remembered I had it. Check out these two photos of the Sentinel without and then with the filter:

Sentinel without Polariser

Sentinel with Polariser

Another brief stop over Kommetje (pronounce Komiki) Bay, to see the stunning beach in a different light. On Saturday, we saw it in the afternoon sun:

Kommetje Beach

Today, we saw it in the morning, and I used the polarising filter to enhance the colours:

Kommetje Beach

Arriving at the entrance to the Cape National Park, we suddenly realised that Ryan’s wildcard was with Lauri (they shared a partner card), and Lauri was still in Cape Town with Glen and Other Mark (something about Other Mark’s girlfriend taking a bubble bath?!). Luckily, Mark, Abi and I presented our Wild Cards, and they let our car through. Although we did smuggle Ryan into the National Park, he had actually paid for a Wild Card, so we did nothing wrong.

We grabbed a bite to eat at the shop at the foot of the Cape Point “hill”, then climbed up to the lighthouse at the summit for some spectacular views. The winds felt quite calm until we hit the very peak, where we were exposed on almost all sides, and were hit by gusts of 60kph. The views of the cliffs, False Bay, and the whole Cape Peninsula were all incredible, and we had lots of fun “flying” in the wind :)

Cape Point

We then walked down the hill, and along the coastline to the Cape of Good Hope, along an even windier and more exposed stretch of beautiful fynbos and secluded beach cove scenery, where Abi was actually blown off the boardwalk. Luckily, the wind was blowing inland, otherwise she may have been blown over the cliffs. The winds at some points must have been reaching some 100kph, it’s difficult to tell (Mark suggested to Abi that she stick her head out of the car window on the drive back to Cape Town, and at different speeds, she’d rate how similar the feeling was – Abi wasn’t too keen). At the Cape of Good Hope, we saw a small sailboat tearing along in the high winds, travelling at a great rate of knots – very brave, and also giving an insight into how the original sailors such as Bartolomeu Dias coped in their large ships.

Having had enough of our sea-spray-blasting for the day, we drove back up to Cape Town, arriving in good time for what promised to be a decent sunset. A friend of mine had given me a very strong recommendation for La Med, a bar in Camps Bay, which was backed up by one of Mark’s father’s friends. Having missed the bar’s location a few days ago, I’d since looked it up, and discovered it was part of the poorly signposted Glenn Country Club. The wind was still rather breezy here in Cape Town, but we sat outside as close to the coast as was available. We slowly watched the sun drop towards the horizon, seeing the colours in front of and behind us slowly change and become golden, and enjoying some absolutely delicious pizzas and cocktails (smoked salmon, sour cream and avocado pizza, with a Granadilla (Passion Fruit) Daiquiri – heaven)!

Pizzas and Cocktails at La Med

I headed over to the Camps Bay end of La Med to get some photos of The Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay Beach bathed in golden sunlight, even though I was being buffeted and sand-blasted (I could see the grains of sand bouncing off me, and some of the photos came out slightly blurred due to gusts of wind shaking the camera!)

Camps Bay

Back at our table, the sun was slowly dipping into the ocean, but without clouds to paint the sky with myriad colours, the sunset simply provided some beautiful hues of orange and yellow. We’d simply have to come back and do it all again :)

The Cape's East Coast and Penguins!!!

Our priority over the next few days was to climb Table Mountain, which was very weather-dependent (the wind had become rather over-powering as of today). Also, we wanted to climb Table Mountain with the yet-to-arrive Canadian, Glen. He didn’t show up at the airport when his flight came in, and there was no record of his having checked in at London either! With some of Mark’s friends (another South African called Mark, would be too confusing to go into any more detail!) searching for the missing Canadian, we headed south to explore some of the coastal towns near Cape Town.

First stop – Muizenberg, a once-popular seaside resort nicknamed “Jewzenberg”, it had fallen into dis-repair, but was undergoing re-development (as evidenced by the construction work we witnessed). Nevertheless, the town had plenty of character, especially the brightly-coloured huts along the beach.

Beach Huts

Next stop on our tour around the Cape Peninsula was Kalk Bay, a picturesque fishing village. We wandered along the harbour wall, spied some seals playing the choppy waters, and passed by fishermen fixing their lines. Colourful boats, fresh fish being sold, and seagulls – just what you’d expect from a fishing harbour. Our appetites whetted by the sight of freshly caught fish (and its being around noon), we had some delicious fish and chips at Kalky’s, which proudly promised to serve the best “Feeesh und Cheeeps” in Cape Town :) And it probably was.

Kalk Bay Harbour

Our hunger sorted, we headed on to the main attraction (for me at least) – Boulders Beach, and the colony of African Penguins. The car park by the beach had these amusing warning signs:

Penguin Warning Sign

Walking from the car park to the main tourist beach (Foxy Beach), we saw several penguins lazing around in the shrubs and dirt just behind a fence, a good hundred metres or so up and along from the beach. How and why they ended up here we weren’t quite sure. At the entrance (the beach is a National Park), we purchased our Wild Cards (to be used for Cape Point National Park and the Kruger Park), which was considerably more expensive for non-nationals. Ah, don’t you love tourism? There were two boardwalks down to Foxy Beach, which brought us quite close to the masses of penguins resting on the beach, or entering/exiting the water. Needless to say, I lingered as long as possible and took as many photos as possible, until my friends dragged me away!

We then returned towards the car park and headed down to the Beach (which we later found out was the actual Boulders Beach). It was a small golden sandy beach, with far fewer people were than at the boardwalks – only a few families with children paddling in the water. Of course, there were big boulders, so the Three Musketeers proceeded to climb them, get wedged between them, and lose their shorts. (It was only on returning to the car that we discovered a spare pair of swimming trunks, AND a sign telling us not to climb on the rocks – oops x2). While the rest were taking a welcome climbing and swimming break (the East Coast waters of the Indian Ocean are a few degrees warmer than the Atlantic Ocean on the West Coast), Lauri and I were entertaining ourselves watching the penguins lazing on the nearby boulders. I became very friendly with one penguin in particular, and was even kind enough to pose for many many photos, with me, and on his own. A model in the making…


Penguin and Claude

Penguined-, rocked- and swam-out, we headed back to Cape Town to enjoy our first fine sunset, from Signal Hill. Howling winds did little to dampen my spirits as I snapped away at the beautiful golden light shining on the side of Table Mountain, and got the first of many great sunset photos.

Table Mountain lit by the setting sun

Sunset from Signal Hill

Beach & Botanic Gardens

With 30 degree heat, and a light breeze, we headed for the beach, knowing full well that the water temperature (at Clifton Four, on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape Peninsula) was only about 15 degrees. While some of the braver ones (i.e. Ryan, Mark & Abi) went for a proper swim, Lauri and I were happy to dip our feet and throw a Frisbee around. As was to become quite a regular occurrence, the Three Musketeers climbed the rather large rocks at Clifton 1st Beach, while I was happy snapping away at waves, sand, boulders, and crazy people climbing rocks.

Abi, Mark and Ryan climbing rocks

In the afternoon, we headed up to Kirstenbosch, Cape Town’s impressive Botanic Gardens. The weather can be rather variable at different points around Table Mountain, and the Botanic Gardens (on the other side of Table Mountain from the beach) were shrouded in low cloud. We enjoyed a picnic on the lawn, with some nice guinea fowl (running around, not for lunch!). We wandered around the gardens, which are beatiful on their own, but enhanced by the omnipresent Table Mountain hanging over it.

Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens

We chose this Sunday to visit the gardens as it was the last summer concert. The low-lying cloud turned into drizzle as I was wandering through the sculptures in the gardens, but stopped just as The Rudimentals took to the stage, with their reggae- and message-filled music (use a condom, don’t get AIDS). Hundreds of people enjoyed picnics on the hill, as the young fans jumped and waved in front of the stage. Oh, and the bassist sported the longest dreads I’ve ever seen.

Kirstenbosch Summer Concert

On the way home at night, we drove up to the Table Mountain cable-car station to admire the Cape Town nightscape. Back at the apartment, we watched Armageddon (most people hadn’t seen it yet, made for great entertainment), and had an air-time paper plane competition (from our 7th floor balcony). FinnAir beat South African Airways, with BA crashing rather dismally.

Die Strandloper Beach Restaurant

Mark’s parents had made a reservation for lunch at a great seafood restaurant. Called “Die Strandloper” (the Beach Walker), tt’s an hour’s drive north of Cape Town at Langebaan, and there’s normally a several week wait for a table. One the way there, we stopped at Bloubergstrand (Blue Mountain Beach) for the oft-photographed, postcard-perfect view of Table Mountain and Cape Town.

Table Mountain

The rest of the drive was through vast swathes of the Cape’s infamous Fynbos, and passing the occasional ostrich. The restaurant far exceeded my expectations – I’d been told that it was a great seafood restaurant, but I wasn’t prepared for what I found – completely open to the air, driftwood benches and tables, fishing boats and nets and buoys all around, and an incredible view over the boulders out to sea. There was no menu, no waiters, no cutlery – just several friendly staff preparing fresh bread, and multitudes of fish, and mussel shells with which to scoop and cut. They prepared over half a dozen different fish, and mussels and crayfish, one after another, all cooked to perfection on an open fire. I wouldn’t normally consider myself a fish fanatic, but every fish tasted different and amazing. To accompany the fish were warm farm-bread loaves and various jams. Any bones were to be thrown on the rocks for the seagulls to devour (in seconds).

Die Strandloper

Die Strandloper

Die Strandloper

In the late afternoon (after we’d eaten our fill and could walk again), we returned to Cape Town to drive along the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive, along the rocky Cape Town coastline, with stunning views of bays and cliffs.

Flying to Cape Town

Not being one to do things by half, I wasn’t going to let the little matter of travelling to the other side of the world stop me having some last minute fun. Having packed my (19kg) suitcase and treble-checked that I had all the necessary documents and travel items, I made my way to the ADC to enjoy Nick Mohammed’s excellent one-man-show “The Forer Factor” with some friends. They then kept me company (or vice versa) until I had to catch my coach at 1:30am.
With the coach due to arrive at Heathrow Terminal 4 at 4am, I lay down at the back of the coach for some much-needed sleep. The next thing I heard was “Anyone else for Terminal 4?” being called at 3:30. Oops, almost missed my stop. KLM’s check-in didn’t open ’til 5am, so I did a little more (conscious) resting before my daytime flight. Clear weather and a half-full plane allowed me to get some great photos of the French Alps and the Sahara desert (photos below, more on CantabPhotos). The sun set somewhere over the Equator, and with nothing more to see out of the window, I settled back into my 3rd film of the flight (The Weather Man, Aeon Flux, Crash).
Upon exiting customs, I was surprised to find a driver waiting to take me to the nearby hotel I’d checked into (the rest of the my friends were arriving the following morning). He was called Arnold, and was an entertaining introduction to Cape Town :)

The Alps

Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert

More aerial photos on CantabPhotos

Crocus Photos

Spring is almost here! Despite the freezing cold (it was -5 degrees earlier this week, it’s hard to believe that the frosty photos below were only taken 2 days before these summery photos), the croci are doing their best to cheer things up. Here are a few pics I snapped today and last weekend.

Crocus Photo

Crocus Photo

Crocus Photo

Crocus Photo

Crocus Photo

Frosty Morning Photos

Despite the croci appearing and spring being just around the corner, temperatures dipped to -5 degrees this morning. I managed to snap a few plants in my work car park with my compact digital.

Frost Photo

Frost Photo

Frost Photo

Frost Photo

Frost Photo

Frost Photo