Wednesday 2nd December
Early start this morning to get to Airport and meet Auntie Sue at 7.45am. Managed to find her straight away and headed back to the Green Elephant just in time to say goodbye to Lynn who headed off to the airport not long after we arrived.
Once I had waved her off and moved Auntie Sue in, we headed down to Spar to do a food shop and then spent the afternoon discussing plans for the rest of the trip.
Thursday 3rd December
Auntie Sue decided to throw herself straight into Cape Town, so today we grabbed a 2 day ticket for the sightseeing bus and headed off up Table Mountain. Much the same as the previous time up there we queued for the cable car, whizzed up the side of the mountain in it and wandered around the top taking panoramic pictures of Cape Town and the beaches below.
After Table Mountain we took the bus to Camps Bay, had a spot of lunch and then walked from Camps Bay to Sea Point. It’s about an hour and a half walk along the beaches of Camps Bay, Clifton and Bantry Bay, all 3 of which have some of the most expensive real estate in Africa.
At Sea Point we jumped back on the City Sightseeing bus and headed back to town, where we grabbed a taxi back to Green Elephant. We had a quiet evening round the bar and cooked ourselves some dinner before heading to bed.
Friday 4th December
Today was the second day of the City Sightseeing bus ticket so we headed out in the blue route to Kirstenbosch botanical gardens. We spent a few hours roaming around the gardens which lie overlooking the city under the shadow of table mountain and devils peak. Auntie Sue was in her element walking around amongst foliage!
We grabbed lunch in the busy Kirstenbosch restaurant, the food and drink was amazing. Locally produced food and foliage goes into every meal so everything tasted fresh and clean. My jug of strawberry lemonade was amazing!
Once done in Kirstenbosch it was mid to late afternoon so we jumped on the bus and did a loop around the city on the blue line before heading back to the backpackers to relax and chill.
Saturday 5th December
Took Auntie Sue on the historic walking tour this morning, we were but 5 minutes into it when I got accosted by Jan, Alison and Wilma who had just rolled in on the Odyssey Overland tour. We followed the walking tour group along the walk whilst we chatted and had a quick pavement catch up. It was lovely to see them again after splitting in Rwanda all those weeks ago!
After the walking tour Auntie Sue and I walked to the V & A and popped into the aquarium for a wander round before grabbing some food at the food market and then jumping on the sunset bus to Signal Hill.
Sunday 6th December
Early start this morning and a full day out with Peter our driver who collect us at 7.30am and took us out for a drive to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope via Hout Bay, Simons Town, Boulders Beach for the penguins amongst other picturesque places.
We started off heading to Boulders Beach where we went to visit the penguins, which were really cute, they are moulting at the moment so some of them looked bedraggled which kind of made them cuter!
After the penguins we headed to Cape of Good Hope
It was very misty and wet there so we didn’t stay long, just enough time to take some pictures of us with the sign and climb the hill behind to get a glimpse of the sea.
Afterwards we went to Cape Point which was cloudy, misty and wet before taking a scenic drive back along the beaches and Chapman’s Peak before going to Hout Bay.
In Hout Bay we jumped on a boat to Seal Island
Then after our seal encounter we headed to a fish and chip place for fresh fish and chips before heading back home.
Monday 7th December
Today was a work day….we went to the Archives in Cape Town to try and find information on my Great Aunt and Uncle (Auntie Sue’s Aunt and Uncle) who lived in Cape Town from the late 50s to early 80s. We had all sorts of information including a car registration number, a passport number and other info. So first stop was the Archive Office, we did a search on their computer…nothing! All we were after was an address of where they lived so we could go see for ourselves but no joy!
The Archives Office suggested the Deeds Office in town, they would have deeds to an address there. So buoyed by that we walked to Plein Street and a large brown office building. We ventured through the revolving doors, signed in and headed to the 13th floor which was information. As we entered the 13th floor we saw a sign saying please take a ticket. How organised I thought, only to find the ‘ticket’ was in fact a stack of squares of cardboard with numbers written on in felt tip. 24 was on top so took that wondering how on earth the people behind the counter would know what number was next if the cardboard squares are not automated!
Well we took a seat to wait for 24 to be called (somehow!), some locals popped in and sat next to us saying that the take a ticket system didn’t work! Well I did wonder….so as I got up to put my number back a guy at a desk shouted ‘next’! As I was next I put the card with 24 on it back on the pile and walked towards him, he then said ‘what number’, I said ’24’, he said where is the card with 24 on it! I told him I had put it back as was told it didn’t work! I had to run over and re-pick up 24 to show him! Weird system if you ask me! Slightly flawed!
Anyway I proceeded to tell him I was looking for an address where my relatives lived in Cape Town, he replied ‘what f number do you want to look through’, looking at him blankly I said ‘what is an f number’?
He then proceeded to explain that I needed to go downstairs and tell them what area of Cape Town I wanted to search in, they would then give me an f number which I was then to bring to him so he could get the deeds archive for that area.
I then explained we didn’t know what area they lived in and couldn’t I search for them by name! Apparently not, so we gave up with the deeds office!
Next we popped into the Social History Centre to check and see if they appeared in the archives there, no luck either! Our last chance was the National Library Archives.
So we headed there and spoke to a helpful lady who fetched us a phone directory for 1960 and passenger lists for ships from UK in 1959. We know they had residence status in 1959 but may have travelled over any time before 1959 and as they travelled around in a bedford van most if the time we weren’t convinced they would give a phone but worth a try!
Anyway we flicked through both to no avail so their address eluded us.
Having no where left to check we gave up and headed to the Slave Lodge which is a museum set in the old slave lodge dedicated to and about South Africa’s slaves. Very interesting place as well as a stunning building architecturally.
Afterwards we popped into a food market in town and grabbed some lunch before heading to the planetarium and National Museum. I had already had a wander through the taxidermy on my first week there but took Auntie Sue to have a look around as it was only £2 to get in. Also because they are mid-renovations they gave us a free ticket for the National Gallery for the next day! Bonus!
After the museum we headed back and did dinner and chilled.
Tuesday 8th December
We had a lazy morning this morning and headed to Robben island mid afternoon for a wander around the prison and Mandela’s cell and gardens. Having been there the week before I had the chance to wander without feeling the need to snap pictures. We also spent longer on the island tour than before so that was nice.
After Robben Island we met up with Alison, Jan and Wilma for a reunion and farewell meal. It was nice to have the chance to catch up properly after the tour before they head off home and I to India.
Wednesday 9th December
We headed into town late morning and stopped by the Ethiopian restaurant for lunch so found myself eating bloody injera grey foamy bread again! Who knew when I left Ethiopia all those months ago I would have Ethiopian cuisine so much!
Anyway we then headed to Bo Kaap so Auntie Sue could photograph the beautiful colour houses prior to our cooking class with Gamidah. So I had a chance to perfect my samosa and roti making skills which was good. We made a lentil curry this time as Auntie Sue is vegetarian, so another recipe to add to my repertoire!
After cooking we walked through Companys Gardens before grabbing a drink and a cake from the cafe.
Then we grabbed a taxi and headed back.
Thursday 10th December
Today Auntie Sue went on a safari, which left me with a free day to chill out and potter.
I had a nice lie prior to heading over to the bar to use the Wi-Fi. Like normal when I have a lazy day in the bar using Wi-Fi the staff of the Green Elephant manage to rope me in to working for them for free this time they had a tourist conference and I had to assist chopping fruit, firstly we made watermelon lollipops and then I had to chop watermelon into cubes prior to making melon, pineapple and grape kebabs.
Eventually I was saved by Andrew who was also on the Odyssey tour and happened to be staying at the Green Elephant we headed out to the pick and pay supermarket to grab some bits before popping into spur for lunch. After lunch we headed back and I had a quick nap before poking my head into the conference to see what was happening. Shortly afterwards Auntie Sue returned from her Safari and we chatted, used the wifi and did dinner before heading to bed.
Friday 11th December
Auntie Sue went for a pedicure in Obz in the morning, then we headed into town for shopping. I grabbed some cheap chinese xmas decs for the beach hut in Goa and Auntie Sue grabbed a few bits in the African Craft markets.
We headed to Sargent Peppers for lunch, a big salad each!
Afterwards we headed back and had a lazy afternoon reading and chilling out. Then starting to pack our bags ready for check out in the morning.
It will be weird leaving the Green Elephant after having been there over a month, I will no longer see Nyasha, Angel or Edwina in the morning or Nick, Steve or G behind the bar in the evening. On theplus side I won’t have to endure Edwina’s awful tv viewing habits again! Anything with Kim Kardashian in or overly made-up wives bitching about people hair dos! Lol
Saturday 12th December
We checked out of the Green Elephant at about 11am and headed to the bar for an hour or so to use the Wi-Fi and say goodbye to everybody. We grabbed a taxi down to the Best Western in town but our room wasn’t ready for check in so we dumped our bags and walked to the V&A for lunch.
We stopped at a nice fish restaurant and sat outside having a lovely final lunch in Cape Town.
After lunch we browsed the shops around the V&A before heading to the cinema to see Maggie Smith star in Lady in the Van. Very funny film and a good way to round off our last day in Cape Town.
After the film we grabbed a taxi back to the Best Western and checked in to our self catering apartment which I managed to get for £18 due to a hotels.com discount! Bargain!
Sunday 13th & Monday 14th December
We got up early and headed to breakfast before using the Best Western shuttle service to take us to Cape Town station. We waited for 15 minutes before the ticket office opened and we could collect our tickets for the Shosholoza train to Johannesburg. The station was complete chaos people everywhere with loads of bags, clothes, food, family members……some people had such a large piles of stuff we imagined that somewhere in there would be a kitchen sink.
They were also cars being loaded on to a train, massive piles of furniture, chairs, tables, sofas, wardrobes…you name it someone was taking it on the train!
Anyway we stood on the platform waiting for the Shosholoza which eventually arrived an hour late. We all piled on and Auntie Sue and I found our cabin in carriage 8. We managed to stash our bags in the hidy hole above the door giving us more room in the cabin. We had 2 beds, 1 fold down and 1 that was used as a chair and a small basin and table. Basic but clean.
Eventually the train departed and we sat watching Table Mountain disappear from view.
After a couple of hours we were out of the city and in the countryside, we passed reserves with loads of animals in them, it was like doing a safari on the train! We saw zebra, buffalo, gazelle, ostrich and giraffe.
We also passed loads of townships with their corrugated metal roofs and massive piles of rubbish.
All in all though the train was very comfortable and we had 2 toilets in our carriage both of which were relatively clean by Indian train standards and had toilet roll and a flush! You do still sit down and get a rush of warm air coming up through your legs with the scent of piss being the main aroma!
Auntie Sue and I had a cool bag full of food which we worked our way through during the day. I had celery and carrot sticks with cream cheese dip for lunch and dinner was a very regal affair of mini cheese selection and rosemary crackers.
The scenery changed throughout the journey and in moments it looked like all the other African countries I had been to on this trip. We had sandy dunes like in Sudan, mountains like in Ethiopian, grassy scrubland plains like in Kenya, lakes like Uganda, forest like Rwanda and even at one point, upon waking in the morning, a very convincing Serengeti!
The scenery then changed to that of American horror film with derelict looking tin roofed houses and those wind turbine things in the garden merrily spinning around on their own!
We occasionally saw signs of civilisation like a long, straight road or a service station but that was about it!
Sleep came in fits and starts through the night due to bangs, slams, skids and shunts of the train.
At one point I woke and we were in a sidings and it sounded as though everyone had got off! I heard some say Johannesburg and I thought somehow we had either arrive half a day early or both passed out for 12 hours! Alas no, it was 5am and we had stopped somewhere for an hour or something, eventually moved off and we went back to sleep for a few hours again.
Breakfast was a meagre affair of hard-boiled egg and a banana…the food reserves were running down
It was a long journey….30 hours in total!
We arrived into Joburg at 3.30pm on the Monday! Eventually we found our taxi driver and we headed off to our b&b for 2 nights in Sandton, a nice part of Joburg!
We check in then wandered up the road to pick and pay supermarket for food shop.
We then did some dinner, showered and had a good nights sleep…in a bed!
Tuesday 15th December
We had a lazy morning before getting a taxi to Sandton Gautrain station to get the train into Joburg. The Gautrain is a nice, clean and armed commuter train which is safe to use.
We covered the 2 stop to Joburg Park Station in 10 minutes and leapt off and onto the city sightseeing bus.
There is only 1 line to the Joburg bus, unlike the 4 in Cape Town. Shows you how little there is to see in Joburg. It’s a lovely city, very cool vibe to it but not much to see really!
Anyway we got on the bus and listened to the informative audio guide for an hour or so before we jumped off in the centre of town.We went to the mining area of town where all the mining corporations had their head offices. We did a self-guided mining district walk, where we were on the lookout for a specific statue made by my Great Aunt (the Cape Town residing one!) which used to reside in Commissioners Street outside Rand Mining offices.
Old mac was his name!
Anyway no sign of Old Mac in the mining district, I even popped into the office of The Chamber of Mines’ but to no avail. They didn’t recognise it!
We then wandered to Commissioners Street where Old Mac stood and located the building he stood outside, which is now the Gauteng Governments for their infrastructure department.
Took a picture of the building where he stood but didn’t locate Old Mac, no one in the building knew where he had gone either!
We wandered back to the bus and got off in Bramfontain where we had a spot of lunch in a cool little cafe before walking to The Origin Centre. This is a cool, little museum that looks at the origins of the human race and different tribes in South Africa. Also the best collection of rock art apparently!
Afterwards we jumped back on the bus and headed back to Park Station and back on the Gautrain to Sandton where we got a taxi to the B&B. We had dinner and used the wifi for a bit before it stopped working! Typical…get a place with excellent wifi in the room, have plans to facetime everyone and the wifi breaks before you get chance!
Still the tv worked so we sat watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty before bed instead!
Wednesday 16th December
Today we had a lazy day as it was our last in Africa. We had a lie-in, breakfast, packed and then went for a walk to the Pick and Pay to get xmas cake and mince pies for Christmas Day in India!
Curry and mince pie on the beach sounds perfect!
At 3.30pm we got a taxi and drove to the airport. Once there I checked in for my flight and Auntie Sue for hers back to UK.
Then we went through security and sat eating a Haagen Dazs ice cream (using up our rand you see!)
Then the time came to leave Auntie Sue and head to the gate for my first flight to Abu Dhabi.
So after nearly 5 months in Africa the time came to leave, what a fabulous journey through 15 African countries. Every one of them different but all containing wonderful people. I have crossed Africa from north-east to south-west using an overland truck, planes, miniature planes, 4x4s, foot, catamaran, taxi, boat, safari truck, minibuses, party buses, coaches, public buses, greyhound coaches, hire car, citiliner buses and trains!
I have seen pyramids, temples, mummies, desert, mountains, waterfalls, animals galore, churches, more animals, lakes, gorillas, the plains of the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro crater, more animals, beaches, old towns, more lakes and beaches, lions, elephants and cheetahs face to face, Victoria Falls, more animals, whales, more beaches, more mosquitos than I care to see again in one room, more animals, wetlands, beach promenades, shopping centres, cinemas, surfing, classic trains and cars, Table Mountain and the end of Africa…looking out across the sea…..to the next landmass…Antartica!
Anyway…the trip is not quite over…don’t despair…I have a couple if weeks in India lounging around on the peaceful beach of Agonda, Goa for Christmas before heading (hopefully by train…we are on the waiting list…) to Kerala for a friend’s wedding!
This will be my last blog before Christmas so have a brilliant festive time one and all, I will send my final blog just after New Year when I will be heading home and back to work!
All good things come to and end, mainly so you can save some more money and start the next good thing!