Hey everyone. I’ve been here about a week so I thought I should update you on what’s been happening, and where I am in my travels.
19th December 2010
Well it’s a week in, and it’s been a busy week but very enjoyable. First off, the flight. It was a very long and quite boring, but for some unknown reason I got upgraded to a emergency seat which meant I had massive amounts of leg room, an aisle seat and also a really nice 30 year old guy who I drank with, chatted about travels (also from south Africa but lived in England for 13 years), loved rugby and Cricket) and generally got on well with. But unfortunately I did only get about 3 hours sleep as I really can’t sleep on planes (something Jozef and Arthur will soon find out) but overall it wasn’t a bad flight.
This did mean that, as we landed at 10:00 local time, I was very tired and I didn’t have a chance to catch up on sleep (which I still don’t think I have done). We landed in Cape Town which is very interesting as a city, they are always in the shadow of Table Mountain, they have both very rich and very poor within several kilometers, yet everyone has access to near enough everything, and everyone loves, loves their City and Country, and quite rightly so.
I should mention if you don’t know the currency is South Africa Rand, and it’s about 11/12 Rand to the pound. So to give you some kind of comparison for prices a ½ L beer is about 20/25 Rand so about £2. So everything is cheaper than the UK, but not compared to lots of Africa.
That day, as both me and my sister Katherine were both relatively tired, we stayed in the main part of Cape Town; the Victoria and Alfred water front, and visited the new football stadium for the world cup, and the Aquarium.
The V & A water front was wonderful, it was full of restaurants, had a wonderful view of table mountain, lots of people and was very picturesque. We went to the aquarium because both me and Katherine scuba dive and were interested in diving with the ragged tooth sharks there, and also as I will be diving in January I wanted to know what I will be seeing.
After a couple of hours looking at penguin’s, sharks, carps, rays and lots more, we went for lunch at the green dolphin by the bay where a seal popped it’s head up to our surprise. One of the things that has really surprised me is the friendliness of the people and also, surprisingly, the animals. After lunch we saw the stadium which was unfortunately closed, but was still fantastic.
After a long couple of days we went to sleep, the hotel , The Protea, Breakwater, by Cape Town Business University, was great for a backpackers budget hotel, but it really was a no frills bed and breakfast. We didn’t wake until about 7 the next morning. This gave us just enough time to shower make some sandwiches and get on a tour bus which was taking us round Cape Town. I would have preferred to have been a bit more independent but unfortunately as it was the second day, it was the only way to see Robben Island and the city relatively cheaply.
The company we went around the city were called Ilios who although knowledgeable, you rarely left the bus and the guide was very direct, spoke very fast and when there are non English speaking customers as well, it makes it hard to understand. I personally wouldn’t travel with them again.
The City on the other hand was fantastic, and you realise how much the country has changed from Dutch, to English and at last to the people of the country. Also the trip of Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years as well as hundreds of other political and non political prisoners. This island really was a demonstration of the change after the Apartheid and Mandela’s influence and is definitely a must do if you are in Cape Town. The rest of the day was filled with driving in a Europecar rental, which were very nice and accommodating, to Montagu were we stayed for the night in one of the best Hotels I have stayed in my life, Les Hauts de Montagu. This place really was heaven, we arrived at night but it was amazing anyway.
The morning came and revealed its real beauty. The view was stunning. This was one of my parent’s treats for us so is not practical but if you get the chance it is worth every Rand. The view is amazing, there’s Ostriches, Klipspringers’, Tortoise, a pool and even a church. This really was fantastic.
Unfortunately the rest of the day wasn’t. All we did was drive to our friends in Plettenburg Bay for 5 hours.
We did stop at a famous café named “Ronnie’s shop” which one night his friends changed to “Ronnie’s Sex Shop” after a few beers. The bar is covered in underwear, various bank notes, and the walls are written all over.
It’s very bizarre and amusing, but it’s cheap and worth every penny for good “Road Kill” and a meal you will never forget.
After that, another couple of hours driving, and loads of rain we arrived at Plettenburg Bay, we had no idea what it looked like but there house was great, and our hosts were very nice. Charm and Peter were a retired couple who have known my parents for years and were extremely welcoming, generous and are really nice people. After a great meal, we had a long sleep.
The next day we went to around Plettenburg bay it was lovely, with a mix of both young and old, with beautiful beaches and wonderful restaurants for both fish lovers and the others.
Many South Africans have said that Plettenburg bay is very busy, but in my opinion I disagree, this may just be because of England being over crowded in comparison. Ok the weather was not great which probably didn’t help, but it has been surprisingly empty. Also if you have rental car, it’s very easy to drive to other towns close by, which are also very inviting.
Over the next few days we had a look around these places, the nature reserves which for about 150 Rand you can get a tour of the “Elephant Sanctuary” which takes in elephants that would otherwise have been culled. Here you can take an elephant for a walk, ride one and feed them.
For another 150 Rand, visit the “Tenikwa” awareness rehabilitation conservation centre where you can see leopards, cheetahs, other cats and birds who have been rescued. They are both cheap and fun ways to see these animals while helping a good cause at the same time. If doing a safari is not possible, I would certainly recommend one of these.
Also there are some excellent restaurants around such as “Emily Moon” which is great meal if you want to treat yourself, it also has accommodation, a pool and stunning views but it is expensive. There are obviously other restaurants which are on the sea front, such as “Enrico’s” or “Look out deck” and both have great cheap food with access to the beaches. A great place for a meal.
I am talking about eating in restaurants quite a lot, but realistically, you need to get food from a supermarket. There are a couple of supermarkets at varying prices. For example there is Woolworths which is at the same level of quality as Marks and Spenser’s, Pick and pay which is like Tesco and quite well distributed across South Africa, and local town shops which are between the both. It is definitely worth getting food from these for both breakfast and lunch as bread and alike are not expensive.
So far I have had a wonderful time, and today I’m off to a couple of wild life parks so I will tell you how they go in my next entry in a couple of days as now, at last, I will be getting an internet connection.
Also I have taken far more photos than this so to see them all (and full size) have a look on our Flickr.
Hope you are all having a wonderful festive season, where ever you are in the world.