The Last African Sunset

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During our second visit to Cape Town we had to cram in everything we’d missed while we were hungover the first time. Plus, we added everything that travelers had told us to see during our road trip. The list was a little extensive for one afternoon.
We dropped our bags at the hostel and drove off to city hall. Check! Photo! Moving on. From there, we drove along to the Castle of Good Hope. It was less exciting than we had expected, so we just did a photo bomb drive by and carried on. Afterwards, we drove through District Six to see the area where the slave trading and markets used to be. The neighborhood has cleaned up incredibly well; we couldn’t find a trace that the slave markets ever existed, and instead, a beautiful university sits in the middle of the district.
After that we tried to search out the slave museum. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on our map, and the parking attendant lady, albeit so very nice and helpful, didn’t understand what we were looking for. When we finally found it hours later by chance, the place was already closed.
And one of our final destinations was Woodstock markets. We’d been trying to track down these damn markets for over a week now, and we were determined to find them. Originally, Nick and Sandy had recommended them to us because they claimed to have “eaten the best food of their lives” there. That is a huge claim. We needed to find this place.
The first time we were in Cape Town we ended up at the wrong markets! We made it to the wrong waterfront and instead ran across a different, but wonderful, food market. This time we were determined.
We drive down towards the Woodstock district. Unfortunately, Woodstock was off the city map that we had and so we were driving blind. All we knew was that they were markets and they were near the water.
Woodstock seems like it would be a pretty dodgy area in the night time. Definitely not the idyllic center of Cape Town that we’d previously explored. We drove up and down the streets aimlessly in search of something that could be considered a market. Finally we gave in. Time to take the car back to the rental office before we got charged another day. We pulled over at the nearest petrol station to fill up. We figured we’d ask the attendant if he’d heard of Woodstock Markets.
“Of course!” He said, “they’re right there. About a half block down across the street!”
Seriously?! How lucky was that! So we booked it across the street and zipped in to the big building that held the markets about 25 minutes before they closed. Also lucky!
Inside we found a whole bunch of little shops that sold clothing, trinkets, food and wine. We walked into a specialty cheese and meat shop to look around.
When we asked about the market, the lady who owned the place explained that they only have a market on Saturdays. All the shops in the little square put together a kiosk and sell their things market style all day long. She says people are even waiting to get in before the gates open!
Sadly for us, it was Monday. So we instead bought a meat and cheese platter, a half bottle of wine and put together a picnic for ourselves for later. We checked out a couple more shops on our way out, then drove off to the airport to drop off the car.
When our bus arrived back in the city center it was nearing six o’clock. We immediately took a taxi up to Table Mountain where we could watch the sunset with our little picnic.
This time, we opted for the cable car. I was not about to hike the hour and a half up the mountain again after such a busy day. But, unlike the first time, we had a spectacular view of Cape Town. The sky was completely cloudless, and the setting sun made for some incredible photos. We ran around like giddy school kids, once again, taking a million photos of the view from every angle. When we’d nearly filled my camera’s memory with photos, we sat down to eat.
The package the lady had put together for us was wonderful, with fresh sourdough bread to go along with the meat and cheese and a salad with a balsamic vinegar on top. We sat on a little rock, way away from the crowds of tourists, sipping on our wine and eating our food. The perfect ending to a perfect trip. We could not have asked for anything more from Africa. From Kenya to South Africa we were blown away by the people and the beauty. This is definitely a place I will visit again.
As we sat on Table Mountain, watching our last African sunset, I felt as though my trip was ending and I was going home. But in reality, we were only half way there. Next stop: India…

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Cape Point to Cape Town

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Cape Point to Cape Town

The Cape of Good Hope, at Cape Point, happens to be the most South Westernly point of the continent of Africa. UJust another “I’ve been the farthest ____” moment. The cape, located in Table Mountain National Park, is also one of the most stunning points that the Western Cape province has to offer. As well, it’s only a little more than an hour from Cape Town, which makes it a convenient excursion for most tourists. However, despite the plethora of tour buses and the touristy souvenir shops, Cape Point is worth the visit!
Kelsi and I managed to make it to the cape just before the crowds showed up. We took the tram to the top of the lookout point, then hiked our way to the lighthouse at the top. The view from there is incredible! Sheer, rocky cliffs, over a dark blue ocean and a never ending view across the sea. The next stop south is Antarctica!
The tale goes that from the lighthouse you can sometimes see ghost ships sailing through the water. The rocky waters south of the cape have taken many lives and when the route was first discovered, few ships made it through in one piece. Once again, I can only imagine what the place would look like in a storm.
The view from the lighthouse is amazing, but you only get the real picture when you make the half hour hike along the lower path and out to the southernmost point. From there, you can look back on the lighthouse where the throngs of tourists stand to see how extreme the landscape really is. The cliff face that holds up the lighthouse is completely vertical. The jagged rocks at the bottom create a white foam from the rough waters, and the whole thing looks unreal. This was the best part of the entire Cape for me. No one else was around, just the wind and the birds and the view… Oh and Kelsi of course.
From Cape Point we drove along to the Cape of Good Hope just around the corner. We snapped some photos and continued on our way. The park had loads of walking trails to check out, but we were pressed for time and had to limit our sightseeing. Next time for sure!
From the Cape, we carried on north towards Cape Town. We passed through some amazing small coastal towns en route and took a million photos. A little ways down the road, we came across a toll highway that was considered a “scenic route”. We figured we might as well lap up the last of the coast while we could and carried on through it.
Scenic was an understatement. This place had lookout points every 300 meters and Kelsi and I had to force ourselves to stop at only every second one (otherwise we’d STILL be stuck on that road). The road ran right along the cliff face, overlooking the water. Then it rounded a corner and opened up into Hout’s Bay. Hout’s Bay is probably my favourite Bay of the trip. It is just large enough to get a beautiful view, but small enough that you can still see the mountains on the other side. The town of Houts Bay is nestled in at the end of the bay, running along the beach and up into the hilly backdrop. This place is paradise!
We’d heard so many incredible things about Camps Bay (which we drove through about 15 minutes after Hout’s Bay), but the place was overly populated and very touristy. It was beautiful, but lacked the simplicity of its neighbour town.
Just after Camps Bay, we were back in Cape Town. It was early afternoon and we still had a full evening ahead of us! What a crazy last day of sightseeing we’ve had!

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Cape Town Goodbyes

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We had a tight schedule when it came to exploring Cape Town. We had two less days in South Africa than we had originally thought. Two blondes trying to count the number of days in February is a disaster. What happened to the 29th and 30th of the month?! Oh that’s right, they don’t exist. And just like that we were two days short. Fantastic!
We cut one day off our road trip and one day off Cape Town. Then we filled our days with as much as we could.
We arrived on Friday pretty early. This was perfect because it was a day in the city we hadn’t counted on. We hit the markets, got accustomed to the city center, checked out the waterfront and went for an incredible Italian meal in the evening.
Cape Town is amazing! The city has such a great laid back vibe and the people are so helpful. Long street offers everything a young backpacker could want: clothing stores, markets, great restaurants and a fabulous nightlife. The waterfront is simply stunning. Fancy restaurants, out of this world seafood, sunset cruises, and quaint shop fronts; the waterfront is the hub of life, and was packed full of people throughout the day and evening.
On top of all that, Table Mountain can be seen from almost every part of the city. It stands on a hill behind the hubbub of urban life and looms down over the city. It is stunning. Table Mountain combined with the unusual looking Lions Head makes for a gorgeous backdrop to an already wonderful place to live.
Saturday morning we got up early so we could hike the mountain ourselves. No one was really sure what to expect. We’d heard it wasn’t so bad from one person, then we heard it was the most exhausting thing ever and we wouldn’t be able to walk for days after hiking it. Oh well, we were doing it anyways. So Kelsi, Gina, Anisha and I caught a cab to the base and began our slow ascent. It was steep, and far, I’m not going to lie. The sign at the bottom estimated a 2 and a half hour climb time… But we were mentally prepared.
“I’m going to go ahead and assume it will take me three hours” I said, “that way I won’t be disappointed when I don’t reach the top right away.” And so we climbed. And we climbed, and ten minutes into the journey I couldn’t believe that we hadn’t already been hiking for 45 minutes. But the morning was cool and the hike wasn’t as bad as I had expected. Actually, it was really fun!
We passed a whole lot of people stopping to catch their breath on the way up, but trekked on at a steady pace. At one point Anisha had a flip flop blowout and had to start walking barefoot. Kelsi and I trekked forward while the two of them made their way up more carefully, step by step.
I couldn’t believe it, but 1 hour 27minutes later we reached the top.
“We made it!!!” Kelsi exclaimed.
It didn’t seem possible, but we had hiked to the top and I didn’t feel like I was near death either! What a bonus.
Unfortunately, during our hour and a half climb, our beautifully clear morning had disappeared and fog surrounded the top of the mountain. We hike ALL that way to come into a cloud of white. Fabulous.
Either way we were stoked we had climbed it. We ran this way and that once we got to the top, trying our best to catch a view. We sat on some rocks just as the view cleared up enough to see Robben island, then in a matter of seconds it was back to white.
So we passed the time waiting for Gina and Anisha by having breakfast in the cafe, climbing around on every cliff face we could find, and creeping in on a wedding that was going on. After two hours, we were wondering where they had gone. We were so obsessed with catching even the most minute view, that we hadn’t realized how much time had passed.
“Maybe they went down the mountain without us” we thought.
So we bought a tram ticket down and hoped for the best. Sure enough, the two of them were crashed out on a park bench waiting for us!
They had made it up only ten minutes after us, but couldn’t follow our sporadic pattern at the top and missed us. Oh well.
The rest of the day was filled with dress shopping and bevvies around town. Finally a city with nightlife!
When our dress shopping afternoon was over, we met up with Falafel for a Mexican dinner on Long street. We ordered nachos and enchiladas and beers and a litre of margaritas. Well… Kelsi ordered a litre of margarita.
When dinner was finished all of us were a couple beers deep, and Kels was a litre in. It was hilarious. We trekked back to our hostel and started back up at the rooftop bar. Kelsi went around introducing herself to every person on the roof, while we all switched to vodka to try to keep up. All of a sudden Kelsi was missing and Anisha said she had “taken a quick nap” and we were supposed to grab her when we headed out to the clubs. Oh no.
An hour later we were all caught up and we rushed to grab Kelsi on the way out. “We’re going to the club baby!!!” I shook her. No response. She was curled up and dead to the world. “Kelsiiiii, wake up!!” Nope. Nothing.
So off we went, out to explore the nightlife of Cape Town with our new found friends… Until the sun rose. I refused to believe it was 6am until I turned and saw the glow of morning light coming over the hill. Okay… Time to go to bed. It was probably a good thing there wasn’t anything else open, because Gina, Anisha and I would have been there. Instead we called it a morning and crashed in bed.
By 10am Kelsi had had an 11 hour sleep and was ready to go. “Okay, wake up! We’re going for breakfast!”
“Nooooooooo!” We moaned. “I can’t do it!”
“Yup, lets go”
So Gina and I rolled out if bed and we jumped in a cab to the waterfront where we had eggs benny at a cute little cafe by the ocean. Afterwards we tried to complete the days activities. By a CD, get some new flip flops, book our car rental. It was overwhelming, I couldn’t do it: I got cranky.
“I’m going for a nap” I announced, then took off towards a cab.
An hour nap was all we needed to survive the rest of the afternoon. Then we were up and exploring the food markets back at the waterfront. We had some savory soups, fresh baked sourdough bread, the most incredible halloumi samosas I’ve ever tasted, and then taste tested a plethora of cheeses and olive oils and meats from various food stands. Everything was incredible.
After that it was dinner. Yes, we had hangover pit. But also, it was our last dinner with Gina, Anisha and Falafel! We stopped at a place on Long street just a couple blocks from our hostel that served the best milkshakes in South Africa. They were huge and filling and by the time we downed them, Kelsi and I were almost too full to eat our dinners. Then it was sadly time to say goodbye again. As Gina said, that is the sad part about meeting so many amazing people while you travel. Eventually we all go our separate ways…
It hadn’t hit me that we were actually separating until I hugged Falafel goodbye. She had been our one friend that stuck through the entire trip with us. And despite us being completely opposite people, I was really going to miss our overly cautious little vegetable! Who was going to say “no” to Kelsi and my terrible and whacky ideas?! Instead, Falafel took a photo on my phone of a sign that said “take care, not chances” and said, “every time you guys want to do something stupid, think of me and this sign.” And we replied with “Oh Falafel… What could possibly go wrong?”
And from that point forward… We were on our own!

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