After a less than restful night for all of us with the time change we groggily got up and were rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise then made our way downstairs for breakfast. After two cups of coffee that reminded me of my recent days in Spain we awaited our half day tour of the town. We looked out the front door of the hotel and saw runner after runner going by across the street, but with no numbers on, so we asked an attendant about it. She told us that there’s a local run every Saturday and Sunday morning that makes a loop and if we’d keep watching we’d soon see walkers and parents with prams, and sure enough, there they were. Isn’t that a grand thing? And soon our van arrived with Estee as our guide as we winded out way up the hillside to ride the gondola up to the top of Table Mountain. We had to queue up to get our tickets – the story of our days – but we had the good fortune of standing in line behind a local couple. She was a tour guide! We were pleased to hear that we had chosen good tours here plus she also gave us great idea about future African trips, which she could help us with. We finally made it to our turn to go up. While it was crowded it was very cleverly done as the floor rotated as you went up so your view changed. But what was spectacular was the view from the top! Everywhere one looked was a stunning view of the mountains, the ocean, the city, the harbour. At 3,500 feet it was distinctly cooler than down in the city, but the views were unobstructed. Yesterday, as we driver in from the airport the top was obscured in clouds and we were told that the gondola is frequently closed due to wind. But not today! The clouds slowly came over part of the top, making it appear like a cloud waterfall. A truly monumental natural beauty.
After way too brief of a time we rode the gondola back down and climbed back into our tour van. They drove us around the downtown area pointing out places of interest but to our dismay they did not stop much. We got to see the Malay Quarter with the colorful Bo-Kaap houses. Then it was on to the diamond shop. Woohoo! Every girl’s dream spot. We were greeted at the door with flutes if champagne…. Should have realized that would get our defenses down…. But they started off with a nice briefing about diamonds, how they’re found, their characteristics, how they cut therm, then they brought us around their showroom. And then we were doomed. Ha! Well, they also had tanzanite, which I’m fond of and I found a lovely ring that was simple enough to wear every day, so that’s what I’m now sporting. Lovely. But as each of the three of us decided to make a purchase it appeared we were holding up the tour van. As this was the last stop we sent them on their way. We have no issue walking, so that’s exactly what we did – back to the waterfront.
Once there we found a great restaurant where I got a delicious lunch of falafel. Yum. We meandered through a shopping area with a bunch of small stalls with local souvenirs, of which Dar partook. I’m still hemming and hawing.
We headed back to the hotel hoping to get tickets to Robben Island this afternoon, but alas, we were a bit too late. We sat with the gent at our hotel’s travel desk and after a bit of some waffling on our parry and some issues with ticketing we got things worked out for Monday. In the meantime, we had a few extra hours, so we hired William, a local taxi driver, to take us to a garden in the city know as the “Company Garden”. He did much more than that…. He took us back to the Malay Quarter where we not only got better views and pics but we also saw a beautiful young couple in wedding attire having pictures taken. They were gorgeous and it was a lovely, spring afternoon for their wedding photos. We were then dropped off at the top end of the garden so we could wander through it at out leisure, with William awaiting us at the far end. How easy was that? The garden wss as delightful as we thought it might be, filled with laughing, playing children, young couples snuggling together on benches and laying in the grass, a local guy wandering around selling peanuts for the American squirrels that somehow were brought to the park, to a mama goose with a huge brood of gosling, too a heron sitting stop a statute. All around wonderful. At the base of the garden was the church in which Desmond Tutu preached, which also has for some reason a restaurant located within it called “The Crypt”. Yikes! Don’t think I want to check out their menu.
William showed us a few other spots of interest around town then dropped us off at the hotel. A great deal. Once inside we decided to go up to the top floor where they have a pool and bar to check it out. Well, not really our crowd, as it was distinctly a younger, more with it bunch, but we managed to go off to an unused side for pics. The the best thing was that on our way out we stopped to chat with a young lady who had a bit of a wreath on her head. Dar enquired as to the occasion. It was then that we noticed the pin she was wearing and discovered it was for a bachelorette celebration. Plus, her friend was there celebrating the fact that she was due with twins. A double blessing. After that we felt we also ought to celebrate a bit so we shared the bottle of wine the hotel had given us then proceeded down to dinner at the hotel’s for an easy end to the day.