Back to the second part of the blog about our trip to Africa. I am sorry to say that I got a little distracted from it. It is spring in Tokyo, and the weather has started to warm up a bit. We had some friends from back home visiting/working in Tokyo, and I spent a couple of weeks sight-seeing with them around town. It is always interesting to show people around because it makes me see Tokyo — once again — through the eyes of people who don’t live here! After three years, for us, it feels more like “home” and less like a tourist destination. It is nice to feel the “newness” and wonder of it again.
Also… with warmer weather, the cherry blossoms (and lots of other flowers and trees) are beginning to “pop.” There are so many beautiful places to visit in Japan to see the sakura blossoms! “Hanami” (literally “flower viewing” in Japanese) is a really big deal here, with parties and gatherings under the beautiful trees. We spent last weekend wandering around some of our favorite “Hanami” locations — even though it was still a bit early, and the trees are not yet in full blooming glory.
But… back to our trip to Cape Town, South Africa. I will mostly just post photos, and descriptions.
Cape Town is a beautiful city at the southwestern tip of the African continent. It was originally settled in the mid-17th century as a stop-over for European ships on the way to trade in India. The Cape of Good Hope (originally named the Cape of Storms) is only a short drive south of the city. Capetown (and all of South Africa) has such a varied mix of people and cultures — and certainly has had a turbulent political past. So much history, and so many interesting sights.
Across from our hotel… St. George’s Cathedral — The Anglican Church of South Africa — is the seat of the Archbishop of Cape Town, and is said to be the oldest Anglican congregation in South Africa. The existing building was built in 1901 to replace the original building that was built in 1834.
The inside of the cathedral was beautiful, and had many colorful stained glass windows.
Also inside was a sculpture of the “Black Madonna” by Leon Underwood (1939) that was given to the cathedral in 1987. And, in the inner courtyard, was a stone labyrinth — the path of the labyrinth is used as a form of walking meditation.
Near to our hotel was the 24-Hour Flower Market, filled with stall after stall of colorful fresh flowers.
Everywhere were paintings, sculptures, and images of Nelson Mandela.
In the shopping street next to our hotel, was this small section of the Berlin Wall…
And a plaza filled with street vendors selling all sorts of South African souvenirs.
This grape vine — brought to Cape Town from the Western Pyrenees of France — was planted in 1771, and is believed to be the oldest fruit-bearing vine in the Southern Hemisphere. It still produces fruit that is made into wine each year.
During the business meetings, the spouses had a bus tour along the coast south of Cape Town to The Cape of Good Hope. The views of the ocean from this cliff-side highway were amazing.
And then… The Cape of Good Hope. Previously believed to be the southern-most point of the African continent, and the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian oceans, it is now known that Cape Agulhas — 90 miles to the southeast — holds that distinction. Still… the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where the sailing ships turned more eastward in their travels to India and the east. This photo was taken from the lighthouse at Cape Point. Another lighthouse had to be built lower down the cliff-side because this one was often shrouded in clouds and not visible to the sailing ships that depended on it for guidance around the cape.
Further around on the eastern side of the cape, is Simon’s Town, and Boulders Beach. Simon’s Town is a quaint British-style town that has been, first, the home of a British naval base, and now a South African naval base. It is also the home of Boulders African Penguin Colony! This colony of African penguins is fairly new… and got its start when a couple of penguin pairs showed up at the beach in the 1980’s. Now estimated to number between 2000 and 3000 penguins, the beach has become a popular tourist site.
The day we were there, was late in the breeding season, and we were able to see adults, juveniles, and even some penguins with eggs in nests built in the sand.
After the penguin beach, we went for lunch at a local winery. South Africa has many vineyards, and some amazing wines.
The last day of our stay in Cape Town, after the meetings were done, my husband and I took the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain.
Table Mountain is a flat-topped plateau overlooking the city of Cape Town. Approximately 2 miles side to side, it is over 3500 feet in height. Beautiful views of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula can be seen from the top.
Unique flora and fauna inhabit the scrubby, rocky mountaintop…
Including this brazen Redwing Starling… looking for a handout…
Various flowers and lizards…
…And the Rock Hyrax — commonly known in South Africa as the “dassie” — a badger-sized mammal native to Africa and the Middle East. Having been fed (against the rules) by visiting tourists, these little cuties showed little fear, and wandered around the top of the mountain… especially near the food vendors and restaurant areas.
South Africa is an amazing and starkly beautiful country, with so many things to see and learn about. It is a place I would happily return to, to visit again — despite the arduous 24+ hour travel time to get there from our home in Tokyo.