Africa/Middle East 2014:
Day 3 - Cape Town, South Africa


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Africa/Middle East 2014: [Day 1 - Virginia] [Day 2 - Senegal] [Day 3 - South Africa] [Day 4 - South Africa] [Day 5 - Zimbabwe] [Day 6 - Botswana] [Day 7 - Zambia] [Day 8 - Tanzania] [Day 9 - Qatar] [Day 10 - Abu Dhabi] [Day 11 - Dubai] [Day 12 - Oman] [Day 13 - Bahrain] [Day 14 - Jordan] [Day 15 - Jordan] [Day 16 - England]

Monday, November 17, 2014: The view from our hotel room in the morning was incredible. Table Mountain! Right there. Wow! After several days of rain, we enjoyed nothing but clear skies during our stay.
We headed to the hotel's Stonebreakers Restaurant for a pricy, not-included-with-our-room-rate buffet breakfast.
Then we headed out to see the sights. The hotel is located right across the street from the starting point of the Hop On Hop Off bus, so after a quick walk, we were on the first bus of the day.
We did a quick drive through a portion of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and saw this building.
Maersk! Yes, this was the Maersk/Safmarine building and Debbie was in the lead of our favorite travel game.
Here's a statue of Bartolomeu Dias, Portuguese explorer.
We passed the Grand Daddy Hotel. It features Airstream trailers on the roof that you can stay in. We had considered staying here but ended up being very glad that we had opted for the fantastic location and view of the Breakwater Lodge instead.
We had planned to get off the bus at Table Mountain ...
... but high winds had closed the cableway to the top of the mountain.
So we just spent a few minutes enjoying the view from the lower cable station.
Tom got a panorama shot of the view.

Here it is. This is looking out from the bowl toward Table Bay.

As we were leaving, we had a great view of Lion's Head.
We passed these Dutch cannons that overlook ...
... Camps Bay.
This is the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay.
Here's the upscale suburb of Sea Point.
We glimpsed Robben Island from Three Anchor Bay.
Here is the Cape Town Stadium, formerly known as Green Point Stadium, built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup
This is Somerset Hospital, home of the Cape Medical Museum.
Our tour concluded right in front of our very own Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge.
We walked 20 feet from the bus stop to the Two Oceans Aquarium. We didn't get a photo of the entrance, so here's one that we found.
Near the entrance is this adorable tank filled with clownfish. There's a little tunnel underneath it so that kids can climb in and surround themselves with Nemos.
When not being terrorized by cute toddlers, the clownfish love to congregate on the top of the viewing tube.
This lionfish was one of close to a dozen in a tank. We can't pass up an opportunity to photograph these.
These are shrimpfish who swim nose-down in a vertical position.
Here's a zebra moray eel and a tiger reef eel.
This big boy is a moray eel
Here's a clown triggerfish, so named because of his orange lips.
Behold the mighty mantis shrimp!
This mudskipper was good enough to display his skill of staying out of water for long periods of time.
This Christmas tree display contains bristle worms. Look closely to see them in the tubes.
So many spiny starfish.
These are South African butterflyfish.
These are Knysna Seahorses. Chicks dig seahorses.
There are lots and lots of South Coast rock lobsters in this photo.
This was a fascinating exhibit. This nice man put different creatures under the microscope and told us about them.
Here's a bowl full of strawberry anemones under the microscope.
Here they are magnified a whole bunch of times for us to easily see while he fed them plankton.
Speaking of plankton, he told us about how whales eat plankton using these long things in their mouths called baleen plates. Here's one..
Here's a blue stingray coming by to say hello.
This display was filled with African penguins, with some rockhopper penguins just around the corner.
This is the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit, featuring ...
... this funny red stumpnose fish.
The impressive Predator Exhibit is home to ...
... this ragged-tooth shark.
When we were done with the amazing aquarium, we used our two-day Hop On Hop Off pass to go on the canal boat tour.
The tour passes by the One&Only Hotel, owned by the same company that owns the Atlantis properties in Dubai and the Bahamas. Here's a closeup of a gorgeous water feature on an island in the middle of the canal that belongs to the resort.
Here are some buildings that make up part of the hotel.
Here are some of the residences along the canal. Owning a home in these requires a much, much bigger bank account than we will ever have.
We passed another canal boat tour. The entire tour takes about a half hour.
Here's an Egyptian goose and her goslings.
This little waterfall is the source of the sea water that is pumped into the canal to keep the water from becoming stagnant.
We spotted the rare albino Maersk container in the wild.
We got to see ms Rotterdam again on her last day in port.
Some students from Seal College were taking paddle surfing lessons on the canal.
Our tour concluded at our original departure point and we walked along the waterfront back to the Aquarium.
We grabbed a seat at the aquarium's restaurant, the Shoreline Cafe, where we had a wonderful view of the sunny harbor.
A small dock jutted out right in front of our table, ...
... where we watched brown fur seals frolicking in the water.
Lunch was delicious! Debbie opted for fried calamari, while Tom had the seafood platter containing grilled calamari, fish, and mussels.
After lunch, we realized that it didn't seem as windy so Tom suggested seeing if Table Mountain had opened. It had! Let's go!
Off we went on the Red Route for a second time. This time we had enough time to get a photo of the beautiful mosaics on the Cape Town Railway Station.
There it is! There wasn't a cloud in the sky so visibility wouldn't be a problem.
We had purchased our tickets online back home, so we were able to bypass the ticket office and go straight to the line to board the cable car. Before long, we were heading up the side of the mountain. Hiking up the mountain on paths like this one is an option, but we had neither the time nor the interest.
The floor of the gondola rotates so that everyone gets a look at the scenery during the trip. This photo was taken looking through one of the two open windows in the gondola.
Once at the top, there were gorgeous views all around.
This is the view looking toward the south.
Adjacent to that view, here's Lion's Head on the right, and Camps Bay below us.
On the rocks just below the overlook, we saw several families of rock hyrax, known in South Africa as the Dassie (Dutch for badger).  We were told that they were the closest living relative to the elephant but we remain unconvinced. They are definitely adorable, though -- especially their tiny babies.
The top of Table Mountain has numerous paths and trails to enjoy the scenery and the many different types of plants.
Up here, it's easy to see how clouds can form behind the mountain ...
... and then come flowing over the top toward the city and the ocean.
Speaking of the city, here's a view of it from another vantage point. Looking toward the right, ...
... and then toward the left. There's Lion's Head again with Signal Hill further out toward the ocean and Robben Island in the distance.
Here's a better photo of Robben Island.
Here's an example of some of the pretty plants we saw, ...
... and here's another.
We didn't linger too long because we had to catch our bus.
It was getting windy again and we noticed that the cable cars were returning to the upper station empty. That's when we learned that they were closing the mountain again and we had finished our visit just in time.
So, back on the bus to finish the Red Route. This time, we were on the right side of the bus so we could get better photos of the oceanside. Here are the Twelve Apostles, but we got much better photos on our private tour the next day.
Here's the lovely beach in Clifton, ...
... and here is Bantry Bay.
There are several sculptures along Sea Point Promenade. This one consists of a viewing scope to the left (not in this photo) and different pieces of a a sculpture that when viewed through the scope forms a rhinocerous as viewed through a poacher's rifle scope.
This controversial sculpture was sponsored by Ray-Ban. The sunglasses point out toward Robben Island and supposedly represent Nelson Mandela. Instead, it appears to be an ad for Ray-Ban. The next morning, we passed this way again and saw that the sunglasses had been vandalized overnight. We didn't get a picture of it but found one online when we returned home.
This tree is Metrosideros excelsa, more commonly known as the New Zealand Christmas tree (last seen by us in actual New Zealand).
It is beautiful but considered invasive to South Africa.
Here is Green Point Lighthouse.
Seeing the Cape Wheel meant that we were back in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront area. We headed back across the street to our hotel to rest up and prepare for our final bus tour of the evening.
Two hours later, we were back on the bus waving goodbye to our hotel again.
This was the night tour, which consisted of taking us up to the top of Signal Hill.
We got to see the cannons and Lion's Head again during our ascent.
We never tired of photographing beautiful Table Mountain.
Near the top of Signal Hill, we saw the SunStar sculpture, a large illuminated star constructed of fencing that used to surround Robben Island. It went on display on November 19, the day after we departed.
At the top of Signal Hill is a large park that is popular for sunset viewing.
We had ordered picnic dinners earlier in the day from the bus tour company and collected them as we got off the bus.
We found an empty picnic table and checked out our impressive spread of food. We had marinated chicken breasts, cheese and crackers, savory meat triangles, pound cake and strawberries, green salad, and potato salad, with white wine (we had an option of either white or red when we ordered). It was incredibly windy up there so it took everything we had to keep tabs on our napkins, food, and cutlery.
A pair of guinea fowl entertained us as they patrolled the picnic area looking for food.
As it got closer to sunset, the grassy hill began to fill up with people.
Meanwhile, other people were getting their picture taken in this large frame that offered a perfect view of Table Mountain. The text on the frame says: Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. 33°55'05.00"S, 18°24'08.50"E.
We decided to enjoy the sunset from the top of the Hop On Hop Off bus. From here, we could see Table Mountain and our picnic area, ...
... and we had an unobstructed view of the sun setting in the Atlantic.
Shhhh, there it goes.
After sunset, we headed back down Signal Hill. Here is the Cape Town Stadium and Green Point.
As it got darker, the city lit up and sparkled. It was a chilly but beautiful ride back to our hotel.

It was nearly dark by the time we returned to the festive Victoria and Alfred waterfront, which was decorated with pretty stars for Christmas time.

Day 4 >


Africa/Middle East 2014: [Day 1 - Virginia] [Day 2 - Senegal] [Day 3 - South Africa] [Day 4 - South Africa] [Day 5 - Zimbabwe] [Day 6 - Botswana] [Day 7 - Zambia] [Day 8 - Tanzania] [Day 9 - Qatar] [Day 10 - Abu Dhabi] [Day 11 - Dubai] [Day 12 - Oman] [Day 13 - Bahrain] [Day 14 - Jordan] [Day 15 - Jordan] [Day 16 - England]

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