Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cape Town, baby!

Last Friday, A and I took off for Cape Town, our LAST big trip of the year. We met up with A's friends J and B, who were still on their marathon adventure through Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa!

We also met up with their friends J and C, who were wonderful hosts during our week in Cape Town. The very first thing we did Saturday morning was climb Table Mountain, which we kind of underestimated as being no big deal.

Actually, it was so hard that I was forced to wear this extremely dorky visor to protect myself from the sun. I can't believe I wore this visor for any amount of time. It might look good on someone lithe and athletic but it made me look like a soccer mom.

The views from the top were nice. Above you can see Lion's Head in the distance and closer, some people rappelling. And there was a really well-air-conditioned restaurant at the top, too. It was nice to look at Table Mountain all week and be like, I have conquered you.

Sunday was wine day! We headed out to Stellenbosch, one of the wine towns. On the way out, we passed a lot of townships. It was a really strange contrast--the city, which is sort of glitzy and LA-like and these third-world remnants. Not to mention us, zipping along in a private bus on our way to spend an entire day drinking wine.

Luckily, nothing wipes away white guilt like drinking at 10am!

(Don't I look romantic?)

We visited four vineyards throughout the day, plus a fifth one where we had lunch. The scenery was beautiful, and the wine was delicious. We had a lot of fun hanging out with friends of friends and seeing all the different styles of wineries. My favorite was the really old one covered in cobwebs and spiders. Now I want to do this again in Northern California! Of course, the difference is that these tastings were either $3.50 or free, whereas in NorCal they'd probably be a lot more.

(He cut off the top of the champagne bottle with a sword. Whatevs.)

By the third winery, A and I were wine-d out. So we did a chocolate and brandy pairing at the third place, and then skipped the tasting at the fourth place and went for a romantic walk under the trees. Who would have thought wineries are so romantic?

That night, we headed out for a kosher dinner, as we hadn't had any meat since November. I have to say, those chicken kebabs were the most succulent, perfectly seasoned, amazing things I have ever eaten in my entire life. Omigoodness, my mouth is watering. When did I turn into such a carnivore?

The following day we paid penance for our luxurious wine day by visiting Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other members of the resistance movement were held during apartheid.

(Leaving Cape Town's charming waterfront)

The trip to Robben Island required an especially nauseating ferry ride. As we sped away from Cape Town, it disappeared into the fog, until you could just barely make out the top of Table Mountain. I conquered you, I thought, trying not to vomit.

Once we had our land legs back, we made our way onto a tour bus. The first part of the trip is a narrated bus tour of the island, and we had an awesome tour guide. While he was never held at Robben Island, like most tour guides there, he was a big player in the anti-apartheid movement and he was also a really dramatic and funny host and performer. (I can't remember if he was IKP or PAC. Does anyone who was there remember?)

(Adam looked great on Robben Island.)

After touring the island, which has been used variously as a leper colony, military base, and prison, we headed back to the 20th century prison that was used for political prisoners under apartheid. But not before passing a revolting rotting whale carcass on the beach. This evoked by far the most dramatic response from the passengers on our bus, who all jumped up to take photos of it.

Our guide at the prison was a former prisoner who spent five years living there. I could not get over how new all the buildings were, like wait a minute, you guys JUST did this? You're kidding me.

(I think if I was ever imprisoned I'd be really claustrophobic, because I was claustrophobic just touring this prison, even though we were allowed to leave.)

As we were frequently reminded, the reason so many former prisoners work as tour guides is Not because they want to hang out there more, but because it's a steady job at a time when South Africa is experiencing high unemployment.

This sign was in the bathroom on the ferry. Don't ask me why they felt the need to specifically warn against flushing g-strings. Perhaps the intense emotional impact of a visit to Robben Island causes people to want to rip off their clothing and make love to the next person--white, black, or coloured--that they see, in a orgiastic celebration of racial diversity?

I don't know why they can't just take their g-strings with them afterward, though.

After our morning at Robben Island, we headed to downtown Cape Town, where we experienced the wood-oven-baked pizza and ethnic market offerings of the city. Then some of J and C's South African friends hosted a braai (a barbeque) and we got to have more. kosher. meat.

Tuesday was our last full day in Cape Town and we decided to head down to the Cape of Good Hope. This is not the furthermost southern point on the continent, but it is the farthest south I've ever been.

I wore that pink shirt I always wear in photos for the occasion.

We hiked up to Cape Point, which was just okay, and then took a dramatic and beautiful hike from Cape Point to the Cape of Good Hope itself (no I have no idea what the difference is). On the way, we passed this gorgeous small stretch of beach, where I took dramatic and beautiful photos of cliffs and waves.

In a surprising turn of events, after going down many, many stairs to get to the beach, we then had to climb all the same stairs to get back to the path.

(A and J. BFF. I made A carry my purse.)

On the way back from Cape of Good Hope, we stopped at Boulders Beach, where there is a colony of penguins that you can hang out with! They were really, really silly.

And that was our trip to Cape Town! Now we're back in Gabs (for another 32 days) and just chilling and enjoying being in one place for a while.


  1. Looks like a fabulous and educational trip!

  2. PS I'll get you a new shirt when you come to Chico.

  3. YAY can't wait till you're back!