It’s fantastic being back in Cape Town! A location that stole my heart during the first visit in 1987. The beautiful coastal city is surrounded by incomparable Table Mountain.
View of Table Mountain from My Gardens Apartment
I arrived on May 2nd after a series of flights beginning in Catania Sicily and passing through Rome and Addis Ababa Ethiopia – including two plane and terminal changes more tiring than the thirteen-hour flight.
Cape Town at Night – wpblink.com
During the flight from Addis Ababa to Cape Town naughty Indian children commandeered the aircraft running wild through the aisles disrupting everything. A passenger complained in a loud way and the children were forced to sit down and behave themselves. Upon arrival in Cape Town, they continued wreaking havoc in the immigration hall, running races through cordoned off lines, clearly undaunted by their reprimand on the airplane. Their parents seemed amused.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Cape Town – Rhino Africa
After Berlin, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Sarajevo, Belgrade, and Sicily, passengers on Ethiopian Airlines were more diverse than any of the places visited, except maybe Berlin. I’m still processing the time spent in Europe and the Balkans – a valuable learning experience with priceless memories!
Table Mountain from Melkbos – Discover Africa Safaris
When returning to Cape Town I always notice changes – some subtle, others not. I’ll be here through mid-June and then on to Hermanus, Onrus Beach, and Walker Bay.
Cape Town – Independent.ie
My apartment in Gardens neighborhood is in a high-rise building with retail and parking garages on the lower levels and residential above. I’m on the 17th floor and look out at Table Mountain. It’s thrilling to watch the mountain constantly changing depending on weather, wind, and sky. It almost seems close enough to touch!
Pink in Cape Town’s Sky that Artists Try to Capture
The building is secure and comfortable. Everything is within walking distance including a great choice of restaurants.
I have a rental car for day trips and places further away. After seven months without driving, it’s nice to be mobile again – even though South Africans drive on the wrong side of the road :)…
Table Cloth of Fog Over Table Mountain
Today the wind is howling – yesterday it was calm. Earlier the Table Mountain Table Cloth was visible as fog gently spewed over the flat-topped mountain. It’s mesmerizing watching sunrises and sunsets and spectacular scenery changes from foggy to clear and back again. Hiking on the mountain is part of my agenda.
The drought crisis is over but water and energy conservation are everyday concerns in Cape Town. Hopefully winter will bring significant rainfall. May temperatures are mild in the 60s and 70s but forecast to reach the 80s next week.
South Africa’s General Election is May 8 with another ANC (African National Congress) victory predicted. Elections are always exciting. South Africa’s economy and social inequalities create an emotional, volatile atmosphere with protests for change.
It’s an understatement that Dubrovnik is a vast change from Berlin! With the 90/180 visa rule, I had to exit EU Schengen countries and there weren’t many options. Croatia was the right choice.
Dubrovački Zimski Festival 2019 – tzdubrovnik.hr
Dubrovnik in Winter
Some say visiting Dubrovnik in winter is crazy, but I love the time here, even though it can get windy and cold. Locals clearly prefer warm Mediterranean weather and grumble when it gets below 50. Winter temperatures are steady in the 40s – 50s with chilly nights in the 30s. Most days are crisp and clear emphasizing a backdrop of sea and mountains! I met a tourist from Chicago who said Dubrovnik’s winter weather seemed almost like spring. It’s ideal for hiking and winter festivals are fun.
Festival of St. Blaise Dubrovnik – Total Croatia News
Long-term travel is a much different experience than short-term group or family trips. The goal is staying a while and being low-key, forgetting yourself, getting comfortable mingling, and learning to understand a country’s culture, people, and day-to-day life. I no longer try to explain the value of this to those who don’t understand and are even critical. However, as a solo traveler you must be self-reliant and cautious. I’ve made and survived many mistakes. Imperfection and the unknown are part of the adventure.
Stradun Old Town During Winter Festival
Getting around Dubrovnik requires effort but you grow accustomed to climbing and descending a series of steep stone steps. I started a morning yoga routine that seems to keep me limber. I enjoy daily walks, short hikes, and climbing the stairs on the way to and from my apartment – especially at dusk and sunset when the sky and sea are vivid and dramatic. With a car, good luck finding parking near Old Town.
Winter View of Old Town and Lokrum Island from Mt. Srd
Internet is fast and unlike Berlin, you don’t get slammed with excessive advertisements. Almost everything closes on Sunday which reminds me of South Africa years ago.
Dubrovnik’s Islands in Winter – Total Croatia News
People, Cats, Food
I’ve met some lovely locals and learned about Dubrovnik’s history. Most people speak English fairly well. During business hours they move quickly, but after hours it’s a different scene.
Winter Sunset Dubrovnik
People in Dubrovnik are down-to-earth and don’t make life complicated. Some men are flirtatious :o)… It’s fun to be noticed, but even at my age, flirting back isn’t always a good idea for solo women travelers.
Old Town Cat
Winter Adriatic Sea
I don’t know but think locals are slightly overwhelmed by the ever-increasing hordes of tourists. Of course they’re a great source of income, but the summer invasion makes a huge impact. I imagine they must grow weary of the onslaught when Old Town is literally teeming with bodies.
Dubrovački Zimski Festival 2019 – tzdubrovnik.hr
Winter is the time when locals “take back Dubrovnik”!
Mt. Srd January 2019
I’ve noticed many stray cats – nothing like Istanbul. Most of them look healthy and like to be petted, but some are skittish and clearly feral. They’re clever and streetwise knowing when to run, which people to trust, and who in the crowd is likely to feed them at outdoor restaurants.
Statue of St Blaise Old Town Stari Grad Dubrovnik
Only a handful of restaurants are open during the winter – some better than others. Usually you can’t go wrong with seafood. So far, my favorite treat is olives! Green or black they’re absolutely divine – BIG smile. Croatian honey, dates, and oranges are also delicious. Markets around my apartment are small locally owned places with fantastic fresh produce and cheeses.
Mini Market Prima Dubrovnik
Winter Dusk before Sunset Dubrovnik
Politics, History, Money
Understanding politics in any country is a challenge, and I’m learning about Croatia through on-line newspapers and conversations with locals. What little I know about the complicated history of conflict between Dubrovnik and its Serbian neighbors is interesting, as is the Bosnian War from 20 years ago, and the Venetian, Napoleonic, and Ottoman invasions.
Church of St. Blaise and Orlando’s Column Old Town Dubrovnik
Croatia hasn’t adopted the Euro yet, but talks are in process for entering the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Some services quote rates in both Croatian Kuna and Euro – it’s confusing and there’s a big difference between the two! Taxi drivers give a price that sounds reasonable in Kuna and then when it’s time to pay, they say the price quoted was in Euro – usually an outrageous amount… My experiences with taxis in foreign countries haven’t been positive.
Portion of Steps Leading to Old Town
It’s disappointing that during winter there are no swimming, kayaking, or boat excursions to Dubrovnik’s fabulous islands – that is unless you’re a polar bear swimmer. I’ve seen several brave souls venture out in the cold Adriatic Sea for brief early morning swims. It’s a daily ritual like with San Francisco’s Dolphin Club members who swim near Alcatraz in the cold Bay.
St. Blaise Holding Croatia in His Hand
In winter many Dubrovnik businesses close and locals take a break for a few months. It’s more difficult finding services like tours of Montenegro and Bosnia, but I’m considering the options. Of course you can rent a car and drive yourself. My last visit to Croatia was over five years ago in the summer, when I passed through Dubrovnik on the way to Split and Zagreb.
Feast Day of Saint Blaise Dubrovnik – Dubrovnik Coast
“Statues representing St. Blaise holding Dubrovnik in his hand are the most common sight alongside Dubrovnik’s City Walls.”
Old Town Dubrovnik in Winter – Total Croatia News
Croatia & Surrounding Countries – infohost.nmt.edu
I’m working my way south and considered Malta as the next stop, but it’s part of the Schengen visa block, so it won’t work. Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Albania are of interest with Cyprus being the warmest climate. Since my last stop will be Cape Town, traveling via Cyprus is a good route but I’m doing research… Hopping over to Montenegro and spending a few weeks is an option. I’m enjoying the quiet, peaceful environment and of course Croatia’s people and incredible natural beauty!
The massive Carr Fire near the California / Oregon border created terrifying “fire tornadoes“. They occur when a fire acquires “vertical vorticity and forms a whirl”. Fire tornadoes can “grow to gargantuan size with winds of over 90 mph”.
The Carr Fire ignited in late July. A month later, after “torching more than 200,000 acres,” it’s about 90 percent contained! Smoke from fires in Oregon, California, Washington, and nearby Colorado and Canada creates a surreal aura, bringing an eerie atmospheric haze, poor air quality, and vivid sunrises and sunsets.
Next Long Trip
I’ve started getting into the specifics of my next travel adventure. No matter what, this time I’m traveling with one piece of luggage!
Like in 2017, I’ll begin in Europe and eventually make my way back to South Africa. I decided to start in Berlin – a new city for me. I’ve studied Berlin’s East and West boroughs and have a few leads for rental apartments in well-located areas near attractions and transportation – Mitte, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. Rents are reasonable, and the apartments look comfortable.
Thankfully Day Zero in Cape Town’s drought is now pushed out beyond 2019, but the government’s move toward land expropriation without compensation is a concern. More than two decades after the end of apartheid, land ownership remains a “highly emotive” subject for South Africans – that may be an understatement. According to the ruling ANC government, white people own 72 percent of private land, black people 4 percent, and other ethnic groups 24 percent.
Land expropriation is said to be “the most pressing social issue in the country”. However, some think high crime, corruption, and the “triple-time-bomb of poverty, unemployment, and inequality” are the real issues keeping South Africans awake at night.
Kayelitsha Township Outside Cape Town – Dan Kitwood Getty Images
Julius Sello Malema Leader Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – blouinnews.com
South Africa’s EFF – founded in 2013 and led by outspoken Julius Sello Malema – is a self-proclaimed “radical leftist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement that draws inspiration from the broad Marxist-Leninist tradition”.
My extended South African visa expires in 2020 – a regular entry (tourist) visa issued at the airport is good for 90 days. I haven’t decided whether to pursue the rigorous renewal process. The “retirement visa” has allowed me to make long trips (up to five years) to explore and better understand South Africa. I especially enjoy the Western Cape, hiking Table Mountain, volunteer work with young children, and vibrant Cape Town – a special and dear place to me. South Africa is a strikingly beautiful but complex and sometimes difficult country that can’t possibly be understood without spending extended time there.
During this period of rapid change, the National Development Plan (NDP) is the country’s detailed proposal addressing key issues for uniting South Africans.The lofty NDP goals to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality are to be implemented by 2030. What little I know of the NDP, it seems overwhelming, but I’m digressing – back to Berlin…
Clouds Over Table Mountain from Signal Hill Cape Town – Erik Pronske Getty Images
The NDP’s goal is to “unite South Africans, unleash the energies of its citizens, grow an inclusive economy, build capabilities, and enable the state and leaders to work together to solve complex problems”…
Berlin State Opera Staatsoper Unter den Linden – Wikipedia
Berlin This Fall
I plan to arrive in Berlin in September. Their fall weather is much like Oregon’s with cool but mild temperatures. When winter comes and it starts getting really cold, I’ll move south – not sure where yet. I’m considering exploring new places versus returning to more familiar areas. New countries of interest include Romania and Albania, but Italy and Spain also have moderate winter climates.
I’m looking for a three-month rental apartment in the Berlin-Mitte borough, the central section of former East Berlin. “Before the war and division of the city, Mitte was the center of Berlin. It’s regained its former pre-eminence to such an extent that many visitors never see the western side of the city.”
Mitte is the oldest and most historic part of Berlin with many cultural attractions and “ever-expanding restaurant, club, and arts scenes”.
In March after popular demand, producer and human rights activist Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre’s production of West Side Story returned to the Artscape. The American musical has been performed in Cape Town before and audiences raved about the brilliant actors, singers, dancers, music, and sets!
The spectacular opera house has an exciting ambiance, including gardens, rehearsal rooms, and a stylish foyer. Over the years, I’ve joined friends there for memorable opera, ballet, musical, and comedy performances! Last night’s brilliant performance didn’t disappoint!
Eric Abraham – Film, Television, Theatre Producer
Stephen Sondheim – Songwriter
“West Side Story is a musical about cultural differences, racism, forbidden love, revenge, and death.” _____________
Arthur Laurents – Screenwriter
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story’s timeless plot is set on the “harsh streets of New York City’s Upper West Side in the 1950s”.
Rival street gangs, the Puerto Rican Sharks and Caucasian Jets, battle in a turf-war to gain control of the neighborhood. Tensions rise when Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, leader of the rival Sharks.
The 1961 film version of West Side Story “won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture, best supporting actor and actress, best director, and best cinematographer”. The film also won a Grammy for best soundtrack. It’s undoubtedly one of the best musicals ever written.
Charl Johan Lingenfelder – Musical Director and Conductor
In 2018, West Side Story is once again “sweeping Capetonians off their feet”! How could it not with the fabulous Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra performing in the pit and an outstanding cast of forty exceptional performers?
Cast of Characters
Lynelle Kenned plays the role of Maria, a hopeless romantic who falls in love with Tony and finds herself at the center of a violent conflict between the Jets and Sharks. Kenned won the Fleur du Cap Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. Among her many talents Kenned is a soprano opera singer with a marvelous voice!
Kevin Hack – Tony
Kevin Hack – Tony
Daniel Richards – Bernardo
Sven-Eric Muller – Diesel
Bianca le Grange – Anita
Richard Lothian – Officer Krupke
Clint Lesch – Chino
James Borthwick – Doc
Lynelle Kenned – Maria
Craig Urbani – Detective Schrank
Stephen Jubber – Riff
Logan Timbre – Action
The main character Tony – former Jets leader – is torn between his gang friends and love for Maria. The part is played by talented US actor Kevin Hack who has performed the role almost 400 times. Hack recently completed an international tour playing in the 60th anniversary international tour of German producer Michael Brenner’s production of West Side Story.
Matthew Wild – Director
Singer, pianist, violinist, dancer, and actress Bianca Le Grange plays Anita, Maria’s friend and Bernardo’s girlfriend. Daniel Mpilo Richards plays Bernardo, proud leader or the Sharks.
Leonard Bernstein – Composer and Conductor
“The choreography exudes vibrant waves of emotion from act to act leaving its audience’s heart thumping!”
Artscape Theatre Centre Cape Town
Artscape Foyer Upper Level Lounge
Sculptures Artscape Entrance
The actors are multi-talented with impressive accomplishments and careers. The beautiful, strong dancers were magnificent!!! Main characters include:
Lynelle Kenned – Maria, Bernardo’s sister in love with Tony
Kevin Hack – Tony, former Jets leader in love with Maria
Bianca Le Grange – Anita, Jet, Bernardo’s girlfriend, Maria’s friend
It was an interesting, eclectic crowd attending the performance – an evening of entertainment by extraordinarily talented young artists! Many more than mentioned here helped with production of the musical.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Next weekend Artscape hosts the 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival. The exciting lineup includes Alistair Izobell, Amanda Black, GrazRoots Project, Blinky Bill, Claire Phillips, Miles Mosley, Nduduzo Makhathini, Mabuta, Louis Moholo, and many more outstanding artists!
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places on earth. It touches me every time I visit. Fog is back in the Cape, mysteriously draping itself over Table Mountain – yesterday was a great day to see the garden.
It’s hard to say which Kirstenbosch delight is best – fragrant gardens with pristine fynbos, forested areas, dramatic mountain views, gourmet restaurant, exotic birds, stone sculpting, or the gallery of South African artists. It’s a big dose of beautiful!!
I visited the art gallery and especially liked the landscapes of James Yates. The current exhibition – Professional Cape Artists – features paintings, ceramics, and wooden sculpture of popular local masters. The exhibition is on display between 16th February and 11th March.
Everyone is taking the drought very seriously. It was nice drinking fresh spring water, washing my hands, and flushing the toilet without feeling guilty. Most public toilets in Cape Town have hand sanitizer dispensers. Sink water is turned off.
This trip I’m exploring Claremont – a leafy suburban neighborhood 6 miles south of Cape Town. Although nothing beats the energy and excitement of Cape Town, I wanted to experience a new area.
My B&B is between Claremont and Rondebosch, both are growing suburban areas surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and Cape Dutch architecture. The University of Cape Town is nearby. It’s quite a change from the daily city chaos in Maputo!
I drove from Hermanus to Cape Town Monday to run errands before exploring the Garden Route later this month. The scenery along the way is wonderful, but driving over Sir Lowry’s Pass isn’t my favorite. Drivers are erratic and aggressive, and most of the N2 is not divided, so there’s no median strip to separate opposing lanes. It gets to me every time, especially when it’s windy.
Cape Town is one of my favorite places (no surprise to anyone), not only because of its exceptional beauty, but also its special charm, energy, and the friendly vibe of the people. It was nice to see Table Mountain, visit friends I haven’t seen for a while, and eat at favorite restaurants. The two days were fun but hectic. I stayed overnight at a B&B in Sea Point.
Garden at Sea Point B&B
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
The only disappointment was not being able to visit the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) which opened September 22. The museum is closed on Tuesday and free to the public on Wednesday. I peered through the windows, walked around the exterior, took a few photos, and hope to visit the MOCAA soon!
Cape Town Waterfront Silo District
The unique museum has a five-star hotel and features African artists like Nandipha Mntambo and Nicholas Hlobo. The Silo District is Cape Town’s newest art, culture, and design area. It sounds like the opening event was quite a soirée!
“The Zeitz-Mocaa building is in a converted grain silo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The area was regenerated 30 years ago for retail, real estate, and tourism. Development was on the remnants of two dilapidated 19th-century harbour basins (Victoria and Alfred). The silos were built over coal sheds that once supplied steamships. They were part-funded by capital from slave compensation received after slavery abolition in Cape Colony.”
Cape Town Magic Club
Since I was in town Monday night, when many performing arts venues are closed, I decided to attend a Cape Town Magic Club performance. The show is in the “original basement bank vault of the 5-star luxury Taj Cape Town”. The small creative theater has a back entrance and is especially set up for each magic performance. The venue allows the audience to sit close to the magicians and interact with them.
Three magicians performed, and it was clear that they loved what they were doing and put their heart and soul into it. The show included two young, talented magicians:
The third seasoned magician / mentalist was impressive Larry Soffer. His magic and synergy with randomly selected members of the audience was mind-boggling!
“Larry Soffer is one of the most influential names in magic across South Africa. As his brand grows, he’s fast earning an exceptional name abroad. Larry has performed for royalty, celebrities, politicians, and sports stars. His popular live show and corporate event performances inspire his audiences to ‘Believe to See’ instead of ‘Seeing to Believe.’ In so doing, he truly opens their minds to new possibilities by believing in the impossible and thereby creating their own dreams.”
Magic Show Crowd
Taj Cape Town
Back Entrance Taj Cape Town
Taj Back Entrance to Magic Show
I sat next to a fun woman – Portia – and her husband. It was their first time at the Magic Show. Portia’s husband interacted on stage with magician Josue Musenge. The exceptional magic delighted the audience and blew us all away!
Nandipha Mntambo Artist
“The Zeitz-Mocaa is in a converted grain silo overlooking the Atlantic on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront……”
Table Mountain Backdrop to Silo District
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Boats Silo District
Larry Soffer inspires his audiences to ‘Believe to See’ instead of ‘Seeing to Believe’.
I’m anticipating a slackpacking adventure somewhere along the Garden Route, if I can find an affordable one. Slackpacking is “enjoying the benefits of a multi-day hike, beautiful scenery, and fresh air – without carrying a heavy backpack”. Sounds great – but some of the trips are pricey.
Nandipha Mntambo Artist
Nicholas Hlobo Artist
Josue Musenge Magician
Anele Dyasi Magician
Back in Hermanus, I’m concentrating on planning the solo Garden Route drive beginning October 25th. Decided to take the N2 coastal route with a few inland side trips. I’m booked to arrive in Durban November 1, leaving 7 days to explore!
The Fugard Theatre’s powerful production A Steady Rain doesn’t disappoint. I attended the pre-opening of playwright Keith Huff’s award-winning Broadway hit last night and was transfixed by the high-quality performance! Before the Fugard run, actors Brent Palmer and Nicholas Pauling performed the two-man play for sold-out audiences at the Alexander Bar, Café & Theatre.
Palmer and Pauling are brilliant in the “gritty, rich, and entirely gripping noir tale of two morally compromised Chicago police officers whose inner need to serve and protect consumes them and rips them apart”. The play takes place with two actors and a simple set of three props (two chairs and a table) highlighted by excellent lighting. The scenes alternate between “separate monologues and present-moment dialogues” requiring the actors to memorize an incredible amount of text. They slay the Chicago accent!
Nicholas Pauling and Brent Palmer
After years as a successful actor, including a role in the television series Black Sails filmed in Cape Town, Adrian Collins makes his début directing the production. Collins and Palmer were Fleur du Cap award nominees this year for Best New Director and Best Actor.
A Steady Rain takes the audience on a “riveting, relentless journey”. Huff uses “razor-sharp story-telling” to portray the tormented lives of two Chicago police officers, Joey and Denny, who are longtime beat partners and childhood friends.
Director and Actor Adrian Collins
“Joey and Denny have serious problems. Joey struggles with alcohol while he secretly obsesses over Denny’s wife. Denny is resentful, aggressive, and a racist cheater. During the course of the compelling and devastating narrative, the audience is kept white-knuckled right until the moment the lights go down”.
Joey and Denny
The plot recounts a real-life event involving infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s encounter with the Chicago Police. It focuses on the policemen who “unknowingly return a Vietnamese boy to the cannibalistic serial killer who claims to be the child’s uncle”. When the boy becomes Dahmer’s latest victim the two partners are pressured to take responsibility for their gross negligence in assessing the situation. As the play unravels it reaches a critical point threatening their friendship.
Palmer has written four plays. Two of his plays – Bench and Witness – won Fleur Du Cap awards. The multi-talented Palmer is also a stand-up comedian. He appears at local theatres and has directed and co-written shows for other comedians.
Produced in Chicago in 2007, the acclaimed play won multiple awards. It made its Broadway début in September 2009 starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig.
In a compelling and right-on-the money review of the play Steven Oxman of Variety (magazine) observed, “Keith Huff’s cracker jack two-hander … turns out to be less like the perpetual drizzle of its title and more like a snowball that builds to an avalanche. While Huff starts with a couple of familiar characters — good cop/bad cop Chicago patrolmen with alcohol and racism issues — he deepens them into complex figures, compellingly human even at their most despicable. The adroit character development combines with a billowing narrative to deliver some rattling emotional crescendos…. While he could maybe pull back on a contrivance or two, the playwright smartly sticks to his conceit of piling one worse complication on top of another, effectively investing A Steady Rain with genuine dramatic power and a sense of true outrage.”
Loose strands of the spellbinding plot draw together in the play’s masterful finale. It wasn’t light entertainment but gripping, well-performed drama at its very best. Cape Town has provided an incredibly rich live-theatre experience during this visit!