Tuesday, February 4, 2014 (Day 7)
- Depart beach apartment, check into Kloof Nek apartment
- South Africa Museum
- Lunch in the gardens
- National Gallery
- Cape Town Photography Exhibit
- Table Mountain for sunset
- Dinner in Camp’s Bay
weather: sunny, clear, hot
This morning was another wonderful morning as we woke to the sound of the waves down below and the sunrise outside the window. We are sad to leave this apartment on the beach in the north suburbs of Cape Town, but they were already booked past today. So, we are off to move to another apartment in a more central location just south of the city center of Cape Town and actually extremely near Table Mountain. this morning we packed up and departed the beach apt and headed to Kloof Nek to drop off our luggage so we didn’t have to keep it in the car all day.
Our Kloof Nek apartment of course was not ready for us at 10:30am, but they stored our belongings and we headed into the Cape Town center to check out some of the musueums. We started off at the South Africa Museum. They had a great room with information about the history of the African cave paintings. This room was the best in the whole museum and I wished there was some more information. The rest of the museum had exhibits on sea life, a room on astrology, mammals, and other more normal exhibits that you might find in any natural history museum. In the Cave Paintings exhibit though, we learned the 100,000 year old ochre processing techniques from the Blombos Cave in South Africa. We got to see many examples of the cave paintings in Africa, through pictures and information as well as some rocks themselves that were transported to the musuem to preserve the paintings. Since we didn’t plan to visit any of these caves during this visit, it was really neat to see all of these in the museum. There were also some extremely odd exhibits in the museum. For instance there was one almost in-explainable exhibit on rats and had blow up versions of about a hundred rat tails with no explaination. We were stumped and then moved on.
The two museums we wanted to visit, and the public library as well as some other big buildings are all situated around the Company Gardens which turned out to be a huge park area with quite a nice walking path. We walked down with the intention of heading to the main road to find lunch, but then we noticed there was a little cafe in the garden, so we ate our lunch underneath the trees, near the colorful flowers, and in a very peaceful setting. Our next stop was the National Gallery with exhibits by local artists. This stop was also worth the visit because of the local art. Even though there were a few European artists thrown in there every now and then, it was mostly South African art with a mix of old and modern art. The first exhibit was about 3 rooms all by one local modern artist and then the permant exhibitions were in the back. What I found most interesting about this gallery was the orgainization of the art. There was no real plan or organization. Modern pieces would be between two pieces from the 1600s and photographs next to large oil paintings. It was all mixedup and gave it its own character and I enjoyed going through the gallery.
After the Gallery, we didn’t have any major plans for the day, so we opted to walk more through the Company’s Gardens. The plans are all labeled and we were interested to see how many trees were from different international countries. Even a tree from Louisiana, USA was included. While wandering, we saw that there was a photography exhibit at the Public Library and we opted to go inside. To enter the library, we were asked to go through a metal detector and scan our bags through the xray machine. Then we needed to sign in with all our pertinant information including passport numbers and phone numbers and addresses. Finally, we were lead to the Cape Town Photography Exhibit where of course no photography was allowed. You can’t take any photos inside the library actually. The photos were mostly all from the late 1800s to early 1900s as it was an exhibit on how Cape Town used to look. It might have been more interesting if we knew more about how Cape Town looked today. We haven’t really walked around the main parts of the city or anything. Definitely, most interesting was the old camera equipment on display as well including cameras that were larger than I am!
By 4pm we were back at Kloof Nek to officially check into our apartment which is huge! We’ve got a master bedroom larger than a typical living room, a second bedroom off to the side, an enormous living area with the kitchen, dining room, and living space, and a utility room with both a washing machine and a dryer! We are excited to see a dryer. I threw in some laundry and we decided that for the evening we would head up to Table Mountain to view sunset from up high. Also, the cable car tickets are half price after 6pm.
Table Mountain was less than a 10 minute drive from our apartment, but the hardest part is getting out onto the busy street. We are parking our car in a 4-car garage (2 cars in back, 2 cars in front) right on a very busy street. And there is no real driveway. I have to inch out and then get into traffic, pull over and stop to close the garage door, and then inch out into traffic again. At 6pm it was a bit of a challenge, but do-able. There was a pretty short line for the cable car tickets and then our ride up was maybe 5 minutes or so in a packed car that fit over 60 people I think. Also, this is a rotating cable car! So, we were most amused, when we all got inside, and then held onto the handrails at the sides of the car; the guide started with his announcement: “Please let go of the handrails. Do not touch the side of the car. The floor is about to move NOW!” We were also incredibly amused with all the commotion of the tourists scrambling around the car the entire time trying to grab photographs, videoing the experience, and shouting exclaimations. The whirls and clicks of all the cameras and phones were a-buzz for the whole ride up.
We learned that Table Mountain is one of the NEW 7 natural wonders of the world. There are so many different kinds of “7 wonders of the world,” that it is too hard to keep track of them all. Table Mounain is also a World Heritage Site. Anyway, we got to the top and the weather could only be described as cool/warm up here. Mostly because if the wind was blowing it was cool, but when it paused, the sun was warm. Our elevation is up at cloud level and as the minutes ticked away, the wind picked up to crazy levels and it got quite chilly as the evening came. The clouds typical roll over this flat-topped mountain and create the effect of a “table cloth” which is really quite fitting. Today, the table cloth was off to the side and it was neat to watch the clouds roll over. We walked around and took lots of photos of the views, both down to Cape Town city central and the V&A Waterfront, and then off to the west where the coast and the beach way down below was.
I found a spot for sunset photos and we camped out here in the crazy wind trying to stay warm by ducking behind some rocks for cover. The last car down was before the sun completely went away, but I managed to get some Cape Town city photos as the city lights came up as well as the warm glows of sunset. For the last cars down, “the hooter” as they labeled it sounded as an air raid siren calling us all to the cable car so we could get down off the mountain and no one would be left behind. There are actually several kilometers of trails up here that we hope to explore another day. “The hooter” will also sound if the weather conditions get bad and if you hera the air siren, get to the cable car as fast as possible.
Down off the mountain, we drove to the area on the west coast of Cape Town known as Camp’s Bay for dinner. This is a fancy area and we saw lots of fancy cars around. Some of the dinner places were all booked up, but we were really happy with a pizza place that had room for us. They had an excellent idea for a healthier type of pizza. They took the pizza dough, then cut a hole in the center, and put a green salad in that hole. So it’s like getting half a pizza and a salad. It worked perfectly and I can’t belive I haven’t seen this before. =)
We didn’t get back home until 11pm and Mark quickly fell asleep while I stayed up to send an email postcard and do a little SCC work before heading to bed.