Sunday, February 22, 2015

Table Mountain

There has been limited access to the interwebs on this trip - at least, of the sort necessary for uploading pictures - so I'm way behind. This was Feb. 21, Saturday. We'd visited Robben Island in the morning and in the afternoon, we had plans to go up to the top of Table Mountain via cable car.

But first, a couple of diversions. This is the place we were staying, in the Rondebosch neighborhood of Cape Town. The Little Scotia Guest House. Pretty near the University of Cape Town.

In other words, a total heartbreaker of a jewel, inasmuch as we'd walk by the scenes above on our way to breakfast, or on the way back to our room at the end of the day, and sigh deeply at the realization that we were wayyy too overscheduled to take advantage of the totally mellow vibe.

Random diversion #2: have I ever told you how motion sick prone I am? On the ferry rides to/from Robben Island, I scored a spot just behind the captain's chair, and stared resolutely at the horizon. I did OK. On the way out, I was the one who spotted a southern right whale breaching out in front of us. Didn't get that on film, but I did capture 13 seconds of the view of Table Mountain on our way back:

Anyway. You'll be glad to know I didn't puke. 

So we got off the ferry, admired a couple of seals lounging on temporary unused boat access steps, and had some lunch at one of the many restaurants that line the harbor. Then we walked a mile or so to a convention center where we figured we'd find a taxi stand. Victory. We got a ride to the base of the Table Mountain at its western end, where the cable car operation is. 

See the building at the lower left? See the tiny promontory at the upper right?

Yeah. It doesn't seem like such a safe idea, does it? But remember, we're not wusses. And, if Visa says it's OK, it must be OK.

That's the one coming down while we're going up. Brought to you by the Department of Shameless Commerce.


That's Robben Island, below. So near...and yet so far.

And stretching out to the east, the Cape Flats, home of many of the neighborhoods we'd visited earlier in the week.

We came across some rock dassies - the local term for rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis), which are related to elephants.

And then, of course, there were the flowers:

I'm thinking this is Crassula coccinea.

This is a red heath - there are lots of different kinds. I was just happy to get a respectable shot with my phone and didn't get persnickety about the details. 

I'm thinking this might be Disa ferruginea

OH, speaking of red things, guess what? Turns out the insides of the rocks are red! Either that, or Table Mountain is composed of red velvet cake. One or the other.

We wandered around for quite a while, away from the other visitors, grateful for our nerdiness in having brought serious rain gear impervious to the wind and damp, because it was COLD up there. I was wearing Chaco sandals - which, as usual, I'm like the ONLY person I EVER see wearing these. This is my fourth (!) continent wearing 'em and I guess they are either completely out of fashion (knowing me, this would not be surprising) or I just haven't found My Tribe. Anyway. Bare toesies, but oddly my feet were fine.

After a while, we got cold, and treated ourselves to hot chocolate/cappucinos in the companionable crowd at the cafe Then we headed down. Care to accompany us? The floor of the cable cars rotate, so you get a 360 degree view without necessarily having to elbow your fellow travelers aside. 

After such an epic day, we felt we finally deserved to hang out back at Little Scotia Guest House.

So we did. Next up: the drive down the Cape Peninsula, penguins, baboons, and a surprise ostrich.

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