A guest from home

Bezoek uit NederlandRiding around the world for two years is a great adventure. Away from everything we know, we discover together what the world has to offer. No familiar flat grasslands like in Holland, but vast deserts, high mountain ridges and rough oceans. We taste different food, hear other birds and see how others live. The journey gives us a great sense of freedom. An experience of which we already know that we will carry it with us for the rest of our lives.

But a journey of two years around the world also means that we will not see our family and friends during that time. Unless it is really necessary, we will not go home during the trip. We keep in contact with our loved ones by using Skype and Whats App, but it is not the same. Especially when we are having a rough day or when you know that there is someone at home who could really use a firm hug, we miss our home. Bezoek uit NederlandThe distance is definitely a downside of our amazing journey.

Before we left, we talked a lot about meeting on the road, preferably at a tropical destination. It sounds fantastic, but is often more complicated to organize than you might think. We do have a rough idea where we want to go, but do not exactly know from day to day where we will be. We do not want to make a detailed plan, to maintain that sense of freedom as long as possible. But our desire to be free, makes it very difficult for the people at home to book their flight.

The latter changed when we agreed to watch the campsite of Duncan and Elli. Suddenly we knew exactly when we would be in Stellenbosch and when we would continue our journey from there. The perfect moment for my father, Dick, to visit us in Africa. As we continued south from Uganda and made arrangements with Duncan and Elli, the visit of Dick also slowly came together. By the time we arrived in South Africa, his flight and his rental car were booked.

Bezoek uit NederlandAfter a great time on the Farm in Stellenbosch, the time had now come to go to the airport and pick him up. Neighbour Jo takes us with our bags to the airport, where we first pick up our rental car. The motorbikes will stay on the Farm one more week. We will pick them up when we leave with Dick to Namibia. In the pouring rain we receive the keys to the car and once we have put our stuff in the big trunk, we run through the rain to the arrivals hall of the airport. Excited about the family reunion I sit down on one of the benches in the hall. The plane from Johannesburg has a little delay. Every time the doors open I peer into the long hall to see if I can find our guest among the passengers. It takes a while, but then I see a very familiar posture in the distance. When the doors open again my father walks our way. How nice to see each other again after almost nine months!

We brave the rain, load the heavy suitcase in the car and drive to the city. We have a rented apartment in the centre of Cape Town for the coming week and follow the GPS to the city centre. We have already gotten used to driving on the ‘wrong side of the road’ since Kenya, but have to get used to riding in a car again. Especially because the steering wheel and the clutch are also on the ‘wrong side’ of the car for us Dutchies. Bezoek uit NederlandFortunately, we have had some practice in the recent weeks in Duncan’s car and drive without jerks or jolts through the busy city. The last bit is a bit difficult, because the street to the entrance of the apartment building is so steep that the small engine of the car almost cannot handle it. We even go backwards a little with the handbrake still on! With a roaring engine and hoping for the best, we drive into the parking lot of the complex.

Once the car is parked in the garage, we are handed over the keys to our apartment. It is a beautiful little apartment with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a living room with an open kitchen. From the sitting area we look out over the city and see the football stadium, the promenade called the “Waterfront” and behind that the harbour. A nice place. We do some shopping, fill the fridge with yoghurt again and open a good bottle of wine to toast to our visitor!

The next day we enjoy a quiet morning, a full breakfast and lots of cups of coffee, before we walk into town to take a look at the waterfront. It is still cloudy and chilly, but dry. Bezoek uit NederlandWe stroll down the promenade along the shops of The Waterfront, the Ferris wheel and the bell tower. Despite the clouds, we have a beautiful view of Table Mountain from the harbour. During our walk the sun shows itself through the clouds and we drink a home-brew beer at one of the many terraces.

At ‘home’ we make a plan for the next few days. There is plenty to see and do in Cape Town and the surrounding area. Some things, like climbing Table Mountain, we can only do if it is good weather. With the weather forecast at hand we decide to take out the care the next day for a tour in the area, since there is some rain expected.

The next day we manoeuvre the car out of the tight garage, through the gate and down the steep road. The GPS is set to “Hermanus”, the town that is famous for whale watching. We have been there before, but do not mind going there again. Not only because of the whales, but also because of the beautiful coastal road that we can drive after that. Bezoek uit NederlandOn the way to Hermanus we follow the N2. It is highway, but still a nice route with a steep climb at Sir Lowry’s Pass. The rental car struggles but eventually makes it to the top in third gear. In Botrivier we leave the highway and we drive onto the R43 to Hermanus.

The weather is not very good. The sky is dark and the ocean is very rough with high waves. Not really ideal conditions for whale watching. As we park the car, we follow a walkway along the cliffs following the coast. On one side of the path are beautiful mansions overlooking the sea and on the other hand are all kinds of beautiful shrubs and flowers that attract tropical birds. In the distance we see water fountains rising up from the sea, a sign that there are whales. Unfortunately, they are now too far away.

From Hermanus we drive to Betties Bay. In that lovely town lives a colony of African penguins! They have built nests in the rocks and waggle back and forth between the water and their nest. Some penguins still sit on their eggs, at other nests a penguin chick sticks out its head from the hole. Bezoek uit NederlandThe older ones already lose their down and only have some fur left on their heads or around their necks. It is great to watch the penguins for a while. Especially their attempts to climb onto the cliffs from the rough ocean are like watching a Charley Chaplin movie. And their walk, as if they wear their pants on their knees, is also funny to watch.

After visiting the penguins we follow the R44 further towards Cape Town. We again drive the famous ‘Faure Marine Drive’, the road that is known as one of the most beautiful coastal roads of South Africa. They weather has changed and it is now quite sunny. The sea is not as rough any more and when we stop to take some pictures we see some whales in the distance after all. We might even enjoy the views and dramatic scenery more than the first time. Also because we can now share it with Dick and he clearly enjoys the ride.

Bezoek uit NederlandThe next morning I am woken up by the sun that is shining through the curtains. A good sign, because if the weather is good we might be able to climb Table Mountain today. The weather forecast is OK for the whole day and when we step outside after breakfast we can see Table Mountain in all its glory. Even the cloud that so often covers the top and it called the ’Tablecloth’ by the people of Capetonians is nowhere to be seen today. The perfect day for a walk to the top.

We follow Kloofroad into the hills. We ride past the entrance to the cable car, because we will be walking up and only take the cable car back down. We find a parking spot and begin to walk to the top mid-morning. Stones are laid as steps which we slowly follow up. The path rises gradually at first, but becomes increasingly steep and winds up with several hairpin bends. It is a popular hiking trail. A long line of tourists and day trippers are on the path on their way up. We stop frequently to take pictures of the view, but also to have something to drink and to rest. After less than two hours we reach the top at the Platteklipkloof.

Bezoek uit NederlandAt the top, there is a lot of wind and even though the sun is shining, it is quite chilly. There is not a single cloud in the sky and we have an amazing view! In the south we look out over the Cape Peninsula. Next to that we see the coastline between Muizenberg and Gordon’s Bay and in the distance the coastal road we drove yesterday. In the east we can see Stellenbosch and the Hottentot Holland Mountains. With the binoculars we look for the orange Rondavel at the Farm. The most beautiful view is to the north, where we see Cape Town. We see the harbour with the container storage, the business centre with its high towers, luxury homes with swimming pools in the garden and the football stadium where the World Cup final was held. And a little way from the coast we can see Robben Island. With the binoculars we see our apartment and behind that the Ferriswheel at The Waterfront. Very impressive and definitely worth the climb. Once we have seen everything and -as always- have taken too many pictures, we take the cable car back down. A quick ride of three minutes.

Bezoek uit NederlandThe next day we take out the care again for a tour of the area. We tour through the vineyards on the slopes of Table Mountain towards Muizenberg to go to the Cape of Good Hope. It is very good weather, much better than the day we went there with the motorbikes. We follow Rhodes Drive and from the high road have a nice view over the sea. It is busy on the beach in Muizenberg with people swimming and surfing. Not far behind them, only a few hundred meters, we see dark shapes in the water. A group of whales! From the point we are standing we can see them very well, especially with the zoom lens on the photo camera. We can almost count the shells on their heads!

We drive further towards the Cape of Good Hope. Once we are in the nature park at the southern tip of the peninsula, we first visit Cape Point and the lighthouse. The walk to the lighthouse takes about an hour. When we were here with the motorbikes, we did not go there because we did not want to leave our fully packed motorbikes in the parking area all that time. Now we are here by car we can do the walk after all. It is a nice walk and especially the view of the vast coast of the peninsula is very beautiful. Bezoek uit NederlandOnce at the point we see how the waves break against the cliff beneath us. It is not difficult to imagine how difficult it must have been for the wooden VOC ships to sail around the Cape in search of a place to come ashore. Especially in bad weather, it must really be spooky here.

From the lighthouse at Cape Point we ride to the lookout at the Cape of Good Hope. Unlike the last time we were here, it is now dry and sunny. The wind does blow just as hard as during our previous visit. It is impressive to see the waves splash against the cliffs. The nice weather has attracted many visitors. We have to wait in line to have our picture taken at the sign (this time with the three of us!). We leave the nature reserve for the last highlight of the day; Chapman’s Peak Drive. A route between Noordhoek and Hout Bay where a road has been carved into the steep cliffs of the Cape and is known as one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world! Bezoek uit NederlandAnd we are there at precisely the right time of the day, just as the sun begins to set. We stare out the window to the stunning views. While Peter leads the car over the winding road, I let out various cries of joy. We stop where we can to take pictures in the beautiful light of the setting sun. It is exceptionally beautiful! It was a long day we end in style at a local pub with a large pot of beer and pizza.

We have our apartment for two more days and will fill that time with the last, obligatory attractions: a wine tasting and a visit to Robben Island.

The next day we drive to Stellenbosch where we first take a stroll through the historic centre. It was one of the first villages where Dutch emigrants settled in the seventeenth century, which is still visible in the architecture. Bezoek uit NederlandFunny how these little houses feel very familiar so far from home. In Stellenbosch everything breathes ‘wine’. On one side of the street wooden barrels are built, on the other side you can buy corks and empty bottles and a bit further is the office of a wine society. After lunch we visit the vineyard of Spier for a wine tasting. We taste more than ten different wines, red and white. Peter and I both did not know much of grapes and wine, but fear that after our visit to Stellenbosch we are forever ‘spoiled’. This wine is really something else, very different from the cheap wines we used to drink at home. Really nice to do a wine tasting, especially for Peter and Dick because they can also empty all the glasses. I am the designated driver of the day and spit out every sip of the delicious drink. We buy a box with six bottles of wine (after all, we will soon have a support vehicle with space for this box) and drive back to Cape Town.

Bezoek uit NederlandWhen we wake up the next morning it is raining very hard. Not a good sign, because in bad weather the boat service to Robben Island is stopped. By the time we have had breakfast and are in the harbour, it stopped raining and the wind has gone down a little. Just enough to keep the boat running. Once the boat leaves the harbour and we are on the open sea, the boat rocks from left to right. I am not really a sailor and are green after 5 minutes, just like most of the other passengers. The relief is great when we get on the island half an hour later.

We get a bus tour around the island. We have an exceptionally good guide, who talks about the history of the island, the prison and the most famous prisoner of the island, Nelson Mandela. We walk around in the quarry on the island and see pictures with prisoners that were put to work here. After the bus ride, we get a tour of the prison. What makes it extra special is that we are guided by an ex-prisoner. He was one of the many political prisoners and tells from his own experience about the harsh conditions in prison. Bezoek uit NederlandWe walk across the courtyard where daily to grit stones were made into dust and peer through the bars of the cell where Mandela was imprisoned for so long. Very special to visit the prison and the island.

On the way back, the sky is even darker than this morning and the wind has picked up again. The sea is rough and the waves are meters high. It is just like being in a roller coaster. The boat goes back and forth so much that I fear it will sink. And I am not the only one who thinks that, because around us several people are crying and holding hands to pray, hoping for a safe crossing. It takes longer than this morning and the relief is even greater if we are in the harbour again.

Bezoek uit NederlandAn exciting end to a special day and actually to a special week with our guest from the Netherlands in Cape Town. And his visit is not over yet, because tomorrow we pick up the rental car that Dick will use to follow us to Namibia and Botswana!! More to come (hopefully soon).

Distance travelled to Cape Town: 26.181km (16,268 miles, just like the previous post as we parked the bikes for another week)

Click here to see the pictures.

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| Leonie | AFRICA, South Africa

6 Reacties (Comments) - A guest from home

  1. Mieke

    Wat super zo even samen met Dick deze mooie omgeving bekijken. We hebben intussen al een prachtige fotoreportage gezien!

  2. Jan en Mariët

    Ja best handig he zo’n bezemwagen.
    Liefs van ons. xx

  3. Dienie

    Maar 12 km tussen Londen en Amsterdam, das op de fiets te doen!

  4. Heiko

    Hoi, Peter en Leonie wat een avontuur! En weer een prachtig verhaal met mooie plaatjes!
    Wens jullie een goede reis.
    Groetjes Heiko

  5. Frederike

    Het heeft weer mooie plaatjes opgeleverd; indrukwekkend mooi land. Xxx

  6. Erik Keune

    Weer een mooi verhaal XXX