Cape Town 2019

Waterfront Cape Town – The South African

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.

Walker Bay Sunset – Unsplash

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.

Walker Bay Grootbos Nature Reserve – Robert Harding

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.

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway – springbokatlas.com

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.

The Company’s Gardens Cape Town – The Heritage Portal

There’s considerable voter apathy in South Africa, especially among young voters. The ANC disappointed and is under pressure to improve the failing economy, address unemployment, provide better services (especially power), improve infrastructure, and curb crime, violence, and government corruption. All are complicated issues with unemployment, the economy, and a looming energy crisis heading the list.

Views Onrus Beach and Hermanus Bay – Pinterest

One thing I’d forgotten about (almost) is the Hadeda Ibis – known as the “loudest bird in Africa“. With Hadedas nearby, you don’t need an alarm clock!

More later…

Durban Botanic Gardens South Africa

Feeding Egyptian Geese

Yesterday I visited Durban’s subtropical botanical garden – the most beautiful in the world, for eyes and nose! A guide, Krishna, educated me about the trees, plants, and birds. Many of the “proper” names are long, so I took photos. The exquisite plants take your breath away and divine fragrances fill the air – orchid, lemongrass, jasmine….

Rare Cycad Palm

Australian Palm

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Durban Botanic Gardens maintains indigenous plant collections from the subtropics, characterized by majestic trees dominating the landscape.”
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Orchids

As Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden and Durban’s oldest public institution, the Durban Botanic Gardens cover 30 lush acres. The Garden is famous for a collection of rare South African Cycads.

Duck Family

Vervet Monkeys

Tree Frog on New Guinea Kamerere (Eucalyptus)

Turtle

Bird in Nest in Lotus Leaves

History and Background

British Colonists developed the Garden in 1849 as a “botanic station for agricultural crops”. Today it’s part of a network of international botanic gardens focusing on “biodiversity, education, heritage, research, horticultural, and green innovation“.

Ibis aka Hadeda

One focus is conserving threatened plant collections like cycads and palms.

Branches New Guinea Kamerere

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The Gardens are home to the “original specimen of a Cycad widely acknowledged as the rarest plant in the world”.

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Highlights and Collections

The main plant collections are, orchids, bromeliads, cycads, and palms.

Yellow Orchids

In the Trees

Bark New Guinea Kamerere

Bromeliad

Egyptian Goose

Yes, they’re really Blue!

Heron

More Orchids

Monkey on a Bench

Little Bird

  • Orchid House – first “naturalistic” orchid collection with Cattleya, Dendrobium, Vanda, Phalaenopsis, Oncidium, and Miltonia
  • Cycads and Palms – rarest collection in the world
  • Natal Herbarium – specimens of dried, pressed, and catalogued plants
  • Charity Tea Garden – teas and refreshments for visitors
  • Sensory Garden for the Blind
  • Heritage Trees – rare majestic species over 100 years old
  • Education – permaculture courses, lectures, horticultural library
  • Botanical Research Unit – researching indigenous flora
  • Durban University Horticulture Department – work with students
  • Green Innovation – focus on Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC)

Red Bishop on Lotus

Cycad

On the way home I discovered Château Gâteaux, a South African pâtisserie with great espresso and tempting sweets. The fudge-picasso white chocolate mousse is ;)!

Fudge-Picasso Château Gâteaux

Mouille Point and Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard

Green Point Lighthouse

Green Point Lighthouse

For several months, I’ve been living in Mouille Point (moo-lee) situated along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s near Sea Point, Green Point Park, Cape Town Stadium, and Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. So far, Cape Town’s winter has been mild with mostly warm sunny days.

Mouille Point and Surrounding Areas

Mouille Point and Surrounding Areas

Atlantic Seaboard Promenade and Green Point Park

Mouille Point is a small active neighborhood with a paved seaboard promenade on one side and urban Green Point Park on the other. Every day visitors frequent the popular area, including joggers, walkers, baby strollers, skaters, and cyclists.

Mouille Point Promenade

Mouille Point Promenade

Mouille Point is a “put-in” spot for sea kayakers. Points along the seaboard are also popular with surfers (wetsuits essential) and divers. Seabirds that circle overhead include cormorants, seagulls, and giant albatross. Hadeda Ibis hang out on the other side in Green Park making their loud, distinctive haa-haa-haa-de-dah call.

Heavisides Dolphin

Heaviside’s Dolphin

albatross

Giant Albatross

Seals, penguins, endemic Heaviside’s dolphins, and even an occasional right whale visit the coastline. I’ve been continually entertained and amazed by Mouille Point’s sea life, sights, smells, sometimes violent surf, and indescribable sunsets! The Promenade is equally enchanting during clear sunny and overcast stormy days.

Kayaker Sunset Mouille Point

Kayaker Sunset Mouille Point

Green Point Common lies slightly inland on the other side of Mouille Point next to Cape Town Stadium. The green haven includes soccer fields, duck ponds, children’s playgrounds, a golf course, and Green Point Urban Park and Biodiversity Garden.

History of Shipwrecks

Green Point Park Pond

Duck Pond at Green Point Park

“The name ‘Mouille’ comes from the French word for a marine anchoring ground. In the 18th century ships were often swept ashore in Cape Town’s Table Bay. In 1743 the governor decided to build a breakwater (mouille in French) to protect anchored vessels. Work began when farmers who delivered goods to the city were required to load up their wagons with stones, drive out to Mouille Point, and offload them into Table Bay.”

S. A. Seafarer

S. A. Seafarer

“Braving dangerous high seas, slaves and convicts toiled at building the breakwater. After three years of hard labor they had completed a mere 100m (110 yards) and the project was abandoned. In 1781 the French arrived and built a battery near the unfinished mouille, naming it Mouille Point Battery.”

Cape Town Stadium

Cape Town Stadium

SS South African Seafarer

White Horse Whiskey

In 1966, despite nearby lighthouses, during a fierce winter storm the SS South African Seafarer ran aground between Mouille Point and Three Anchor Bay. Everybody on board was rescued by helicopters from South Africa’s Ysterplaat Air Force Base.

The City of Cape Town commissioned sculptor Kevin Brand to create a piece for the Sea Point Promenade recalling his memory of the Seafarer running aground.

White Horse Sculpting Sea Point Promenade

“At the sculpture’s unveiling, Brand explained that the ship’s cargo contained miniature white plastic horses associated with a supply of White Horse Whiskey being transported by the ship. The crashing of the Atlantic Ocean washed these little white horses on shore and scattered them around the beach where he and many others delighted in finding the tiny treasures. The horses are on concrete bases and positioned along the promenade at angles which suggest a ‘washed-up’ feeling.”

Green Point Park Walkway

Green Point Park Walkway

Green Point Lighthouse later replaced Mouille Point Lighthouse. Traditionally a new lighthouse cannot take the name of an older one. Today Green Point Lighthouse is a popular landmark and its red-stripes brighten the promenade.

Cape Town Stadium from Green Point Park

Cape Town Stadium from Green Point Park

Shipwrecks along Mouille Point include the Royal Mail Steamer Athens, which ran aground in 1865 during The Great Table Bay Gale 17 May. The colossal gale wrecked seventeen ships! The iron engine block of the Athens is visible off shore. It’s possible to dive the wreck which has been “salvaged” for over 150 years! The Athens wreck is said to be badly broken up and overgrown with kelp and sea urchins.

Hadeda Ibis

Hadeda Ibis

Since spice traders began sailing around Cape Point, Cape Town’s storms have famously claimed many ships. Some were “lost to the sea” while others are visible and accessible to divers. The remains of many shipwrecks can still be seen resting on beaches along the Cape Peninsula’s coastline.

Green Point Common

Green Point Garden

Green Point Garden Flower

“In the 18th century the Green Point Common was known by the Dutch as De Waterplaats (the Foreshore). It extended from Three Anchor Bay to Cape Town and included most of the land towards Sea Point and the coastline. The Common was granted to the Cape Town City Council in 1923 by the Union Government.”

Ducks Green Point Garden

Duck Pond Green Point Garden

“The Common has a colorful history as a sports field and recreation site for Capetonians. Horse races were held at the Common until Kenilworth Racecourse took its place. Sailing regattas ran along the promenade and at the turn of the century the area hosted an Imperial Exhibition. The Common was also a venue for some of the earliest rugby and cricket matches in the Cape, and the Green Point Track was important for cycling and track and field sports.”

Cape Town Stadium

Promenade Cyclists

Promenade Cyclists

Cape Town Stadium replaced Green Point Stadium and was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Today it’s the home ground of two Premier Soccer League clubs – Ajax Cape Town and Cape Town City. The stadium has hosted competitions like the HSBC Sevens World Rugby Series.

V and A Waterfront

Victoria and Albert Waterfront

After the FIFA World Cup, the Business Venture Investments 1317 consortium was awarded the service contract to manage the stadium and ensure that it remained a sustainable multi-purpose venue. In 2016, the group still manages the stadium.

Royal Mail Steamer Athens

Royal Mail Steamer Athens

Cape Town Stadium is available for concerts and other venues and can host from 10 or less to 55,000 people. Spaces for rent include a mixing lounge, business zone, presidential suite, playing courts, and conference rooms. It was recently used to host a concert by American singer Mariah Carey.