Travel

A Slice of the Cape
January 2, 2017
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When a good opportunity presents itself, seize it. You don’t know if you’ll have another if you let it go. That’s one of the maxims that I’ve embraced growing older (you know you’re getting old when you use words like maxim), haha! When my mum offered to take me with her as she attended a conference down South, I leaped in head first. I’d never been there before and who knew when I’d get to go if I declined?

Mom would be making a presentation at a conference while I enjoyed what Cape Town had to offer, but before we could travel, there was the rigorous and tiresome process of acquiring travel documents, not to mention the nasty Yellow Fever vaccine that left me feeling dizzy and with abdominal pain. Argh! If anyone has ever had an easy time with this, please drop me a line.

Views from above the clouds.

Views from above the clouds.

The day of the trip finally arrived and I was all too happy to leave behind the 3-day blackout imposed on us by Kenya Power. You read that right- 3 days! We got to the airport just in time. It was intriguing to see how many security checks we had to go through. Air travel has become so complicated these days, sadly. The scrutiny is quite detailed that I’m afraid in the future we’ll be required to prove that we’re humans- not droids- before being allowed on board. That’s in contrast to the numerous pigeons at the airport that I watched in envy. They just spread their wings and fly. No procedures.

Airplane wing and clouds.
I got my head in the clouds a little…

Fast forward to our arrival. The flight was uneventful, except for my ears almost exploding from the pressure while landing. I was quick to embrace the extremely comfortable hotel bed for a much needed nap. I would have slept for hours if it wasn’t for the offer of dinner from one of mum’s associates. Who can say no to free food? I’m glad I accepted the offer, the food was absolutely delectable! That was the best chicken curry I’ve had to date!

Indoor self-portrait.
EPIC self-portrait in an EPIC hotel room.

Breakfast the next morning was no different. There was an embarrassment of choices ranging from juices, yogurt, fruit, cereal, ice cream, waffles, to various kinds of meat and bread – and that’s not even half of it. Westin hotel was the absolute best, the epitome of luxury living. The food, accommodation, prompt and kind service by staff – hats off to this establishment. I certainly wouldn’t mind going there again.

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Lively street band at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.

The heavy breakfast came in handy to energise me for my expedition to Table Mountain. But before I got there, I was fascinated by seagulls at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. So noisy but kind enough to pose for a few shots.

Seagull bending.
Maybe if I curl up just enough, I’ll disappear.
Seagull looking back
Hey, what’s back there?

A ride on the popular City Sightseeing buses afforded me the opportunity to enjoy views of the city. I chose to take the top decker for the optimal experience. Culture shock does not even begin to describe what I felt going through Cape Town. The streets are impeccably clean and safe, the buses are on time, the roads free of traffic jams and things generally work the way they should. It was a total contrast to home! You need to visit for yourself to fully understand it, really.

Cape Town street.Check out that CLEAN street!

When we finally arrived at the mountain I was lost for words at the sheer beauty of it all. God’s creation is amazing. Rock formations rising metres and metres high overlooking the great expanse of the sea. “By your (God’s) will and for your pleasure were they created,” goes a line from the Bible. I couldn’t agree more.

View of the ocean from Table mountain.
Magnificent views from the base of Table Mountain.

Rising to the top by cable car offered even more amazing views. It was thrilling yet slightly terrifying at the same time, looking out below through the transparent sides of the car. Especially when it jolted! The staff put us at ease by playing and singing along to ‘Don’t worry, be happy’. Talk about friendly customer service.

Cable car.

It’s a long way up!

Table Mountain was not done serving me views yet. I was mesmerized when we got to the top. I couldn’t decide whether to shoot or take it all in. I could have been there for hours and not noticed the time flying. The animals also captured my attention. One of the most interesting creatures I’ve ever seen- the dassie- was quite fascinating. It just sat on the rocks scratching at unseen parasites, occasionally glancing up at us ‘pesky tourists’. Not making a single sound the entire time. The more lively Red-winged starlings hopped about waiting for crumbs from those having snacks.

Dassie looking up.
Back away or I’ll bite! The dassie.
Red-winged starling bird.
Red-winged starling giving me the side-eye.
Red-winged starling full body photo.
Red-winged starling looking stately.

After about 2 hours of wandering on the walking trails, I still hadn’t had enough. I only wrapped it up out of exhaustion. The beauty up there cannot be fully described, only experienced. The only downside is that I’d gone there alone, so I had nobody to take ‘cool’ photos of me. I had to ask strangers to do it, and at times resorted to selfies (cringe!).

Author on Table Mountain.
One of the few cool photos taken by a stranger.

With tired feet and a full (camera) memory card, I reluctantly began my sojourn to the hotel. It was definitely a day well spent. A sumptuous dinner awaited us again at the invitation of mum’s friends. I should joyride on trips more often. I got to try Mexican chicken quesadilla for the first time and was instantly sold. It was a great recharge after expending so much energy on the mountain.

Large chess board with players.
This is how REAL chess is played.

The next day, we had planned to visit Robben Island. We arrived at the ferry station just in time but nature had other plans. The ride was cancelled at the last minute due to rough sea conditions so with heavy hearts, we left. That was to be the climax of our short stay at the Cape, especially for mum. I consoled myself by taking a few photos of the waterfront.

Looking outside the window at Robben Island Museum.
Looking outside the window at Robben Island Museum.
Table Mountain with clouds.
Table Mountain in all it’s ssssmoking majesty.

With that, our trip came to an end. I wasn’t going to let the day close on a flat note though. I braced myself against the rather strong winds and explored the streets for some long exposure shots. As a photographer you’ll do almost anything to get the images you want- and in this case that meant walking alone on those cold streets.

I totally enjoyed the 2 days we spent there. Robben Island, we’ll be back soon! I thank God for allowing me to visit and enjoy a slice of the Cape.

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About author

Michelle Ajema

Michelle Ajema is an artlover who is deeply fascinated by the exciting world of DSLR photography. She loves shooting nature, and can often be found stalking monkeys and birds in her backyard.

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