South Africa - Cape Town
Sat 13 Sep
Arrived at Cape Town just before noon. Checked into a backpackers' hostel called "The Backpack" (it claimed to one of the first), used an ATM, bought a phone card, coach ticket and telephoned a friend of a friend called Cindy. She and partner Garth were soon around to collect me and we headed off down the Cape Peninsular to take in the stunning views and a couple of local beers.
What with an overnight flight I happily slept an hour before they collected me again in the evening - this time to eat down at the Waterfront where the Jazz Café promised live music. Enjoyed South African "cuisine" of steak and chips and lots of beer. Back at the hostel enjoyed some chocolate cake and a coffee plus a chat with some of the other guests. Slept well.
Sun 14 Sep
Collected late morning by Cindy who took my luggage and me back to their home. Garth had been doing a sponsored walk across the beach with niece Tamryn. We drove down to Fish Hoek and on to Simonstown for lunch at the harbour side. I bought postcards and we all enjoyed a "sucker" (ice lolly) before we went 3km further on down the coast to a penguin colony called Boulders Beach. We drove "home" and later I went with Garth to drive Tamryn home - his brother and parents lived in the Cape Flats area and I thought it would be interesting, but actually we watched Pop Idol for an hour and then stopped at Nandos on the way back. Cindy went to bed early with ear ache whilst Garth and I watched "Beautiful Mind" in the dark (for some reason); a good film.
Mon 15 Sep
Garth dropped me at the Table Mountain cableway on his way to work. The day was still relatively cool and the views very clear. I walked along to Maclear's Beacon at the far end and back to the café for a coffee and "crunchie" (flapjack). Resisted the urge to buy fridge magnets and other souvenirs so early in the journey! I had several problems with the camera and already lost a picture of me staring out towards Cape Point. The camera had been serviced before coming away and I was using brand new memory chips. I got nervous and exchanged a number of SMS messages with a friend in London about the merits and prices of various possible replacements.
Met Cindy at the bottom of the cableway and went to the Waterfront. It is a young, trendy place - a bit like Covent Garden in London - and on a Monday afternoon seemed to be popular (why aren't all these people at work or school?). After lunch I dragged Cindy around a few camera shops and soon discovered that choice was limited and prices approaching 50% more than in Europe. A replacement camera was going to be expensive enough anyway.
In the evening Garth prepared a "brai" (barbeque) using his "Weber", a sort of flying saucer shaped pan and cover. Friends Heidi and Dean came around for the meal and we watched Pop Idol "ejection night" and UK soccer highlights from the weekend. Managed to copy my photos to a CD, but Garth's internet connection was too slow to read any emails.
Tue 16 Sep Cindy dropped me at the coach station in "downtown" Cape Town. I said my thanks and farewells - it was delightful the way these people I'd never known till a couple of days before had become so friendly and generous. I went into the coach office and claimed my Youth Hostel members' 15% discount for the ticket I had already bought on the Internet. Then I joined the queue for the bus. There must have been 40 minutes to go and I had about 20 people in front of me - so I gave up hoping for a good seat.
Soon we were into open fields, grass and yellow flowers (rape seed?). We stopped after an hour at a petrol station - the sort like we get in UK with a mini supermarket, toilets and ATM. Bought bread, cheese, mango juice and biltong! It was going to be a long journey (22 hours).
Later, once it had got dark they put on a video - "Notting Hill". I quite enjoyed it.
South Africa - Cape Town