African adventure – Cape Town, South Africa – part 1

Monday 8 April finally arrived and we excitedly left home mid afternoon to make our way around the M25 towards Heathrow Terminal 5. As it was a train and tube strike day we expected very heavy traffic but actually it wasn’t too bad. We were pretty early so the check in and security were easy and fast – best ever experience with British Airways. We then found somewhere to have a snack and a couple of drinks before heading to the gate at 9pm – which was a very long walk – and that’s when the experience completely deteriorated – it was absolute chaos! Eventually we got boarded and of course we were next to some screaming kids…. Just what you need for an eleven and half hour flight, not! We were seated in the exit row to get more leg room but that wasn’t quite such a good idea because, of course, this is against a bulkhead which is where the bassinets reside… Never mind, lesson learnt!

The flight itself wasn’t too bad after the kids finally quietened down. We both dozed on and off and had the most terrible dinner ever but at least the wine was good. Soon it was time for a reasonable breakfast before we arrived into Cape Town on Tuesday morning. We got off the plane and joined the queue for immigration. This was worse than Miami – a complete horror – with a couple of bored and uninterested officials chatting away to themselves. Don’t think we even got a welcome to South Africa. Finally, an hour later, we were cleared in and went to the baggage carousel – which was on a go slow allowing about six bags through at a time. Another hour later and we were reunited with our bags….phew! We were very grateful that we had tracker tags in our bags at this point so we knew that they had arrived with us, not sure how calm we would have been otherwise LOL.

We then picked up a local SIM, met Francois our driver, and were driven to the Victoria and Alfred hotel on the waterfront. There had been a horrendous storm over the previous weekend and the front was still moving through so we arrived in drizzly rain. Check in was very fast and we quickly unpacked and rested up before heading out to the waterfront – checked out the dancers and bands entertaining the tourists – before deciding to have dinner in the pub. Absolutely fantastic fillet steak and beautiful wine, amazingly cheap price too, so we returned to the hotel where we had a final drink before heading to bed.

Wednesday we were supposed to be going out with Francois for the day but the weather was still rough and the Chapmans Peak Road was closed because of some landslips – so deferred this to the following day. All sorted we headed down to breakfast – the cold buffet was good and the hot offerings were average so we needed to consider our choices going forward.

After breakfast we walked (in the chilly drizzle) to the Aquarium which was huge and had some interesting scientific displays. So enjoyed that although it wouldn’t have been high on the list of things to do. At this point we still had not seen Table Mountain as it was cloaked in a tablecloth of clouds. But excited to be here all the same….

Afterwards we headed to the Victoria Mall and into Woolworths (think M&S) for some supplies for our room. Back to the hotel we stashed our goodies and got changed as the weather had got warmer and drier – yay. We then booked an Uber to Bo Kaap – checked out the museum and wandered around admiring the brightly coloured houses. We then continued with the aid of Google Maps to find Charles Cafe which had been recommended by our Hayes and Jarvis concierge Meghan (who was amazing throughout the whole trip). We had to walk past an encampment of homeless people so I felt a bit vulnerable but only carrying a bit of cash and no jewellery Richard was absolutely confident that we would be fine and we were, thankfully, but I didn’t enjoy the experience! We found the Cafe and settled down to have a Cape Malay curry lunch – OMG absolutely fantastic. Not hot in spice terms but absolutely laden with superb flavour. Was great.

We then headed back to the hotel in another Uber for a relax before returning to the waterfront for a few drinks. We started off in the Irish pub – because it had live music – but it was skanky, absolutely horrible and filthy dirty, so we moved on. We then went back to the pub from the night before – again because they had live music – but the service was rubbish and the band not good so we called it a day (without even having a drink after a 30 minute wait) so we returned to the hotel and enjoyed a drink and then to bed. Had been an interesting first full day in Cape Town.

Thursday we headed out to meet Francois after an improved breakfast experience and we drove down towards the Cape of Good Hope and admired all the millionaire residences along the way before finally reaching the Chapmans Peak Drive. This is listed as one of the most scenic drives in the world and we thoroughly enjoyed it with Francois knowing exactly where to stop so we could take photos and make the most of the experience.

We arrived at the Cape of Good Hope and as we entered the nature reserve we saw ostriches, some deer, wild tortoise and baboons along the way – wasn’t expecting that LOL.

We headed to the lighthouse and got the tram almost to the top – at this point I sat down and left Richard to do the walk alone. The steps were very steep and deep and my legs just didn’t want to play. So I rested up while he embraced the moment although he found it tough going too…. On his return to my level, we wandered around through all the lookouts and enjoyed the spectacular views. And yes there are two lighthouses here…the first one could not be seen from far enough away at sea and resulted in many shipwrecks on this treacherous coast, so another one was built.

Leaving the Cape behind we headed to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. We paid our access fee and walked to the beach but the tide was in and there were no penguins close by although some were swimming around. So walked the boardwalk around the headland and then we found them nestling in the sand – fantastic!

After that we carried on back towards Cape Town stopping off first at Hout Bay and checking out the hotel we had booked for the last part of our trip. Then it was to a fish village and caught up with a seal having a laze as the fishermen had finished for the day. Back to the hotel and relax….had been a long day. Oh yes and we came across this little fellow taking in the sun.

Later on after cleaning ourselves up we got another Uber to Gold for an immersive African dining experience. 14 course taster menu and we loved most of it – Richard’s favourite was the ostrich and mine was the pie. Sadly the seats weren’t the best as we were up on a balcony and although the dancers and singers came up to entertain us think the experience would have been better on the lower level. But never mind was great fun! Didn’t think we’d have to paint our faces though LOL.

So that brings to an end the first part of our stay in Cape Town. More to follow shortly.

Bye for now, Jan