A Travellerspoint blog

Day 14 - Table Mountan Cable Car

360 ride to the top

sunny 68 °F

Well this is the last full day that Tobias and Sina have and the last day to go to a match for them as well as Phil and Kate. Again, a gorgeous day, plenty of sunshine and warm. Today’s agenda includes the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain. The Dutch are out in full force already. 9image050.jpg The line was long (so we thought) and the price was a bit more than we had read, but we were still anxious to go. The cable car itself is huge, holding 30ish people I guess. It has a rotating bottom, so that everybody gets a 360 degree view. There was some clutching of arms going on; it was quite exhilarating just as a ride.
As you might imagine, the views from the top were spectacular and breathtaking. The top of the mountain is covered with small bushes and various rock formations as well as a very nice walking path. Along with views of the city and the park next to our cottage, you could see the stadium as well as Robben Island. At over 3,000 feet, it was quite a view. The footpath provided a nice loop to walk a full circle around the peak of the mountain top and get different views of all the surrounding areas.
We headed to Camps Bay for a late afternoon meal. We had heard it was quite trendy and nice. It was much like any popular sea side in the world, nice shops and restaurants across from a stunning beach with huge ocean waves. As I said, it was a gorgeous sunny day, it felt like a nice spring day to us. There were even same people getting into the water a bit.
We found a nice Italian restaurant with an upper balcony and open windows to enjoy the ocean and stuff our bellies. Even with these spectacular views, the prices were quite reasonable and included one extras meals as we all took home leftovers.
We returned to the cottage to prepare for tonight’s game and catch the first half of the Italy vs. Slovakia game. We headed out to the stadium at half time and paused at an Irish pub we found along the way. We caught the last 25 minutes of the game (as well as the Paraguay vs. New Zealand game as they had both games on). Wow, the Italy game was excited and surprising.
It was amazing how incredibly crowded it was on the walk to the game – how could there be more people than any other game? I guess all of the Holland fans must have decided to walk. As usual, their fans were completed decked out in a wide array of orange costumes. They are really the stand outs of all the nations. And despite their zealous drinking and enthusiasm, they remain interested in the game and polite – the world’s best partiers. Leading up to this game, we had really been impressed with the England fans as well, though rowdy, they were much better behaved than in Germany. Of course, the trip to South Africa was expensive, so it may have brought a different crowd of people. However, Tobias and Sina were harassed at the match by some Brits that had to be removed by the police, thus crushing any positive impressions that we might have begun to consider.
The walk back from the stadium with the sea of orange was extremely nice as well - and amazing quiet once we turned off the fan walk when we reached downtown. Oh yeah, on the way to the stadium, this slab of erected concrete caught Phil’s eye. We were quite surprised to learn it was a hunk of the Berlin wall.
Quip of the day: “This is winter time in South Africa?” as we strolled the warm sunny beach at Camps Bay.

Posted by wc2006 01:23 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 13 - Cape Point

The Cape of Good Hope

sunny 68 °F

Yet another trip to the mall for supplies and blogging; surely people know us by now. We decided to get picnic lunches to take with us. It is yet another simply gorgeous day; but we are not getting tired of these. Decked out in our USA gear for the day, we hit the road a bit later than we had hoped. Today we are going to the Cape of Good Hope and/or Cape Point. It’s a nice drive south of Cape Town. Tobias and Sina followed us in their car. Along the way there are seaside and mountain views, very nice. Unfortunately, we hit one town that had some major road construction that delayed us a bit as well.
We started seeing a lot of warning signs for baboons, such as “Baboons are wild animals, do not feed them.” As we missed our photo opportunity last time, we hoped to see more this day. Phil spotted a submarine out in the water so we stopped to grab a shot. We started a mad rush of people stopping to see what we had seen as well. Then, we stumbled across this guy that was sitting by the road, probably hoping for food.
The views along the way were very stunning. The park was very beautiful. At the visitor center we stopped to take in some views and were captivated by these long tailed birds there. We could see the point off in the distance. A few quick shots of the scenery at the car park and Phil noticed that there are park rangers. They seem to be chasing off wild animals that are maybe too dangerous for us tourist, like wild boar, though we don’t see anything.
As we setup to pose for our group picture, this mama and baby baboon walk right across the path and distracted our attention for a while. image037.jpg8image018.jpg3image020.jpg5image022.jpgThen, the group splits between the funicular rides and the hikers as we make our way to the lighthouse at the top of the point. Along we way, we encounter several more small baboons as well. Even with the funicular, there’s still a small bit of climbing to reach the top and see the point. Of course, we had to get a few snaps there as well.
If we had more time we would’ve walked and hiked some more, but it was getting late, so off to the Cape of Good Hope which was very nearby. That rode was much lower and closer to the ocean and we stopped for lunch by the sea. image043.jpgWe had also seen a ton of ostriches before and had no photos of those either. So we stole a few pictures of those before we rushed back. 5image034.jpg9image036.jpg The only thing missing from the “list” was a whale, which we all agreed this was one :)9image038.jpg

We chose a different route back and got to see the large waves on the outer Atlantic side for a few miles. We made good time on the way back but knew that we would be late. We had thought of watching the USA game somewhere along the way, but the England game was going on at the same time and we were afraid all of would be watching them. Much like in the states, the English premiership is shown on the TV, so naturally, the England team is popular here. We caught the first few minutes of the game on the radio in the car. However, just before we arrived, they switched to the England game as well (they were going to bounce back and forth between games). We arrived in plenty of time to see the USA get ripped off again when the refs pulled Dempsey’s goal out of the net. Wow, that game was a real nail biter as we screamed and holler at the screen until relief finally game in stoppage time.
We had a nice dinner at the nearby Italian restaurant we’ve been trying to go to. Tobias and Sina rejoined us (they had missed the USA game to stop and see the penguins at Boulders Beach on the way back). Then we headed out to watch the Germany game. It was Tobias’ turn to be a bit sick, so we opted for something not too far away, the Dubliner. Unfortunately, there were more USA and England fans, but they were showing the Germany game nonetheless. The USA and England fans were singing, chanting and shouting back n forth in good fun. We even had some decent (for us) ones like “The queen, the queen, is good as Robert Green” and over singing the “E-n-g-l-a-n-d” song with “Second Place”.

Quip of the day: USA and Germany win their groups.

Posted by wc2006 01:14 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 12 - Wine Tasting

What a beautiful day

sunny 65 °F

Off to the Cape Winelands early in order to get back in time for the 4pm games. Today starts the dual games, so there are only two game times, so each morning and early afternoon we’ll try to do some tourist activities. We hired a taxi and driver, Tingo, so that we could all enjoy the wine tasting. We visited a few vineyards and had a good time. We headed to Sommerset West to a recommended vineyard there, Vergelegen. It was very beautiful of course.
Then we headed more towards Stellenbosch. We saw the Alto vineyard which had a very good wine that Jim had introduced us to. We enjoyed it very much and took home a few bottles. Then we headed to the Ernie Ells one, but decided we were running short on time. Our driver was having a bit of trouble with the vehicle, so he dropped us in Spier. That place was very touristy but we enjoyed a nice picnic lunch outside nonetheless.
We returned home and enjoyed the Bafana Bafana game at the local hotel. Many of the staff were pulling with us for South Africa so that was fun. For me, I was glad for SAf to win, but was also glad that Mexico got through. We met another South African couple; Wilma works at the hotel. Her son plays soccer and has been to Dallas to play in the Dallas Cup. So we got to know them and they invited us to a Braai on Friday at their house. Again, the South Africans are so hospital, it is really quite amazing.
For the second games, we just went to the local Asian place we’ve been trying to have. It was a quiet ending to a long day.

Quip of the day: At least the South Africans beat France. In other groups and other times, a win and a draw might get you through. Sorry, Bafana Bafana.

Posted by wc2006 00:16 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 11 - Game Day

Please no tie game this time

rain 60 °F

image011.jpgThe morning time was filled with normal preparations, up to the mall for more supplies and internet access as well as getting some sandwiches to get before the game. This is the only early game that we have. I was looking forward to getting pictures of the stadium during daylight, but unfortunately, it’s another rainy day instead.
We catch a cab about half way to the stadium. Due to our later start and the bad weather, the traffic was really bad. Even so, it was raining enough that our clothes got quite soaked on the walk there. We had two extra tickets to the game and the lack of haggling was funny. But surprisingly there were people looking for tickets to the game. We took British pounds from a man and his teenage boy; it is always good to find people that are really excited to get into the game.
We all decided that we did not want a tie this game after seeing three ties already, albeit good ones. The first half seemed back and forth a bit and we thought we might be seeing another one. But as soon as the second half started, it was overly with quickly – wow, it was really exciting.
Despite raining through most of the game, and threatening somewhat afterwards, we were completely dry on the walk back from the stadium. 64image017.jpgWe stopped for a meal at the African Café. This was our first “African” food. It seems that most of the authentic African food is cooked at home, so it is hard to find good African food restaurants. Recommended by the locals and our guide books, we found this place very good. We went before 6pm, so it was their lunch menu. The waitress brings around a cart of tapas like dishes, of which we decide to try most all of them. It was all either good to excellent. It was a very relaxing lunch and broke the walk home nicely in half.
On the way back to the cottage, we saw this headlines sign that Phil really liked. They post various headlines like this, I guess as an effort to sell their newspapers.

Back at the cottage, Tobias and Sina finished washing some clothes as we planned the next few remaining days for them (they leave on Friday). Tomorrow we hoped to go to the vineyards but found all the tour places booked up. With the help of the nearby hotel, we finally arranged for a private taxi for tomorrow. We watched the Spain vs. Honduras game from the cottage during some of the planning and had some light snacks as dinner. The dryer takes a very long time to work, so it was a nice quite time for us to all visit and plan things out.

Quip of the day: "Why not just go ahead and make it 7?" one of the stadium fans said just before Portugal scored their last goal.

Posted by wc2006 00:11 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 10 - Robben Island

Interesting and educational

sunny 65 °F

8image034.jpgToday was the scheduled day for Robben Island. Unfortunately, it was Gwen’s turn to be attacked by Chaka Zulu Revenge. She was up sick all night long and unable to go on the Nelson Mandela tour. She was really sick and the ferry ride over would have done her in. Tobias and Sina joined us and continued to work on game ticket arrangements. Since we were only five, we rode in one car down to the V&A waterfront to catch the ferry to Robben Island.
The ferry ride over to the island was on a catamaran. The ride was cool, crisp and nice with an excellent view of the city and the stadium from the water. At the island, there were tons of birds perched along the docks of the harbor. Upon arriving, the crowd just kind of wandered as there was no real directions. We finally figured out we would supposed to get on one of the guide/tour buses. Our bus tour guide, Kent, was excellent. Despite his comments to the opposite, he was very well spoken and very funny as well. 0image038.jpg
7image040.jpgWe learned of Robert Sobukwe, the only prisoner charge as a political activist (Mandela and others were charged as terrorists). It seems that the blacks in South Africa had to carry passbooks (“stupid books”) that showed they were registered and where they were allowed to go. Along with that, they were not allowed on the streets after the 7pm horns sounds. Mr Sobukwe arranged a protest where people burned their books in front the police stations. The thinking was that there would be too many of them to place into prisons and that the Apartheid would have to abandon the books. Instead the police fired guns at the crowds killing many innocent people and Sobukwe was arrested. He was sentence to three years in prison. At the end of his sentence, he was then labeled as a political enemy and moved to Robben Island. He lived in a small build right next to the prison guard dog kennels (pictured).
At the formal prison, there were many different blocks/sections. Section B was the one for “leaders” like Mandela that had to be kept way from the other prisoners so as not to organize them. As depicted in the Invictus movie, he cell for more than 10 years was a small little cell without even a cot or a toilet. They used buckets and got to empty them once a day. They got 2 half hour breaks in the common grounds, which for Section B was still just a large isolated courtyard without any view to the outside.
Our prison tour guide was a former inmate. He was sentence to Robben Island for High Treason, but did not fulfill his sentence as Apartheid ended and Robben Island prisoners were released before his years were up. He indicated that some of the guards were really bad people and some were very nice. The guards like Robben Island because the gangsters were in the other prisons. But to avoid the guards becoming too close to prisoners, they were only allowed to work there two years and were shipped off if found to be too friendly with the prisoners. Phil asked our guide what he had done and he told us his story, candidly and frankly. He was a member of passive activist groups and participated in many non-violent protests. However, at one protest, he witnessed the police shooting his pregnant girlfriend in the mouth and kill her. He then became radicalized. He left the country without permission and began militant training in Angola and West Germany. He learned training in munitions and explosives. He came back and got caught in a failed attempt to blow up a petrol tanker with a bazooka.
A sober day indeed.

6image054.jpgWe had lunch at a Thai restaurant and caught part of the New Zealand vs. Italy game (wow). They went shopping at the Green Market square and I returned to check on Gwen and watch the rest of the Italy game. Gwen was doing much better, had some toast down. I got her some Asian food from around the corner. 4image056.jpgPhil came back to dump off stuff and we headed to meet the others at the Zulu bar to watch the Brazil vs. Ivory Coast game, where we sat up close to a large but poor quality screen. We just weren’t feeling the band after the game, so we called it a night.

Quip of the day: Our tour guide “I don’t have a second language, but English is my third”. I would love to be as fluent as him in another language…

Posted by wc2006 02:08 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 9 - Scenic Sight Seeing

Seeing the local areas

sunny 65 °F

3image002.jpgWe awoke early for a 9am departure with AJ to see the sights in the area. However, AJ had an interesting night (got into the VIP area at the game last night and stay out until very early in the morning). He had left his car at a bar and when he went to get it this morning, found it had been stolen. Even so, he and his girlfriend, Chris Marie met us near noon time and took us sightseeing.
We stopped at a waterfront to see some local vendors and stumbled across a few seals. From there we took the scenic Chapman’s Peak drive, which surprisingly leads to Chapman’s Peak J The views were spectacular to say the least. The drive was easily managed as the roads were all in very good shape.
From there we traveled through Simon’s Town and had a very nice meal at a waterside restaurant. AJ said that we would never get the upper room with the view of the ocean, however, since all the games were on the TVs downstairs we got the premier seating. The view by our window was great.
From there we rushed to Boulders Beach to see the penguins before the sunlight disappeared. They were really cute and quite naturally we took way too many pictures of them. The baby ones were really precious with their fuzzy fur coats.
After all this, AJ and Chris Marie gathered groceries and came back to our cottage for a braai (cookout). They prepared grilled lamb chops, grilled lamb livers, braai brokey (sp?) – grilled tomato, onion and cheese sandwiches – and a nice salad. It was a very good dinner and a very good time. They are truly extremely cordial people as well.
Quip of the day: Chris Marie, “My mom invited you Americans over to her house if we could speak Afrikaans”.

Posted by wc2006 02:05 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 8 - Back in Cape Town

Game 3 - England vs Algeria

sunny 68 °F

image056.jpgBack to the mall for groceries and web access, sorry that I’m getting behind, but it takes a while for these updates J Unfortunately, Kate and Phil are sick today, such stomach problems, without getting into judging the competition, I’ll accept Kate’s proclamation that she is the sickest. We watch the Germany vs. Serbia game at the cottage; what a shocker – I hope that Tobias still enjoyed himself, guess we’ll find out tomorrow. image058.jpgFor the USA game, Gwen and I walk through the company gardens again and downtown. During the day, downtown was quite different with markets and crafts. We arrived at the Firearms Arms bar just in time for the game. image060.jpgWe are still with a bunch of nice British fans. Of course, they were enjoying the USA getting beat by Slovenia. But they cheered along with us up until the tie. They were disappointed when the USA went ahead and equally dumfounded when the winning goal was denied.
After the USA game, it was a taxi ride back to the cottage to see if Phil and Kate were up for going to the England vs. Algeria game. They were ready so we caught a taxi close to the fan walk for a short stroll to the game. We were to meet AJ and his girlfriend’s boss, as they were going to the game with us. We still had two extra tickets to sell, but there were a bunch of people selling tickets this game. We found a nice couple and sold the tickets for face value, met AJ and Dirk and went to get it. The security was much tighter this game – perhaps it is just getting progressively more strict or perhaps it was because it was the England game – I guess we’ll see on the next match day. The game was very exciting. By far more England fans, but the Algerians were well represented as they owned group of sections not too far from us. At points, they out chanted and sang the British. There was even a guy that shot off a roman candle during the game, the security came and got him, but just put him back in his seat – he was the hero of the Algerian group.

Quip of the day: We got robbed twice today. The USA’s third goal being pulled from the net and on our taxi ride home after the game. We had to wait in a lot of traffic and the guy charged us about four times too much.

Posted by wc2006 02:02 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

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