Safiya Robinson

October Challenge Day 13........ Solo travels!

Safiya Robinson
October Challenge Day 13........ Solo travels!

After yesterday’s revelations about single life, a request was made to find out about one of the solo trips I made and I have chosen Cape Town in South Africa. I previously sent these out as emails to my sisters and friends while I was there, and I am trying something new here - inserting photos in a blog post. I am including the writings from the first 2 days. Wish me luck!

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Day 1…

The flight to CT was an experience. While in itself uneventful, it was pretty interesting as I observed the friendliness of travellers. It all started on a taxi ride to the airport bus. The overly friendly driver proceeded to give me a run down of his financial future. Perhaps he was trying to chat me up who knows... This continued when I arrived at Heathrow and struck up a conversation with a friendly traveller. About halfway through the conversation I realised I had given quite a bit of information about myself (of course I told him I was meeting work colleagues at the airport... as a female traveller I have learnt what info to give out about myself). Unfortunately I had recently seen the film Taken and began to get paranoid about being snatched at the airport!!! I just imagined that he would call some contact and alert them of my arrival. So far though its not happened. That being said - I'm in a taxi on route to the hotel so anything could still happen... the drive from the airport is dominated by the beautiful table mountain. Apparently you can climb it... or take a cable car... as I love mountains this was the perfect welcome reception to CT.

Indeed the whole City is dominated by Table mountain. Its a beautiful backdrop for a city that otherwise resembles a number of other cities I have been to. The amazing thing about walking around the city was that you could be anywhere! Passing several McDonalds and even a large Woolworth and a Big Ben style clock, I felt like I could have been anywhere in the world, except for the South African flags hanging everywhere. It's nice to 1 Cape Town... Day 1 see the national pride, especially given that a lot of the historical things I have heard about South Africa have been negative. That being said, as a firm believer in the power of positive thinking I have decided that this is is going to be an excellent trip. The rest of the day involved a long walk around the town centre getting my bearings and a trip to the conference centre where the meetings will be starting tomorrow with lectures and displays. I also paid a visit to tourist information to size up what activities I will be wanting to do over my spare time here. So I have decided tomorrow I will try to get up to the top of table mountain to get a view of the entire city and at some point over the next few days go on a bus tour. The city seems to have it all - beautiful mountain, waterfront area all within walking distance and not too much further out beautiful beaches (complete with penguins... And sharks!!) and scenic countryside.

The temperature is perfect with a strong breeze at your back making exploration on foot quite pleasant. Just need to make a note to myself that the temperature drops severely at night... That being said, I haven't worked up the courage to do any evening exploration, I may just make the most of spending some time in a hotel since that isn't something I do very often. And with a view like this can you blame me? Catch up tomorrow!

 View of Table Mountain from the hotel

View of Table Mountain from the hotel

Day 2…

I should warn readers - this is the long and detailed version. Start reading only if you're seated (or perhaps in bed and want a little bedtime reading) the short version is - spent the day wandering around Cape Town. See photos below! For you who have a little more time - are you ready?? Here we go! Today I woke up to glorious sun streaming through the curtains and a cloudless sky over table mountain. A perfect day for sight seeing so it was a quick breakfast and off to table mountain to see if I could make it to the top. Despite the tall buildings (I would call them skyscrapers but I'm sure that the Americans would just call them buildings) the mountain is a constantly visible backdrop. I got a taxi to take me up to the base of the mountain and prepared to ride the rest up by cable car. However, when I got there the line was looooong. In addition to that, due to some misinformation I didn't have enough local cash to get onto the cable car since I thought I would be able to use US dollars. However, they didn't accept this. The views were still stunning as we were about a third of the way up the mountain so I took a few photos and hopped on the city tours bus where I spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon hopping on and off the sights around Cape Town. If the weather permits I will return and try to get onto the cable car. However, due to a mistake by the higher ups, it turns out my trip here will be cut short by a day so it will be weather and time dependent .

My first stop was Camps Bay. We took the scenic route down to the bay passing the backside of the table mountain known as the 12 Apostles or the Gabled mountain range- more apt since there are more than 12 gables. It's a beautiful beach, and just opposite is a strip of bars and clubs where apparently the Cape Town celebs spend their evenings socialising. Maybe if I was 10 years younger I would join in but the hotel turns down your bed and puts a chocolate so I need to rush back for THAT!!! I did have a nice walk along the beach and did something that I haven't done for years - collect seashells.

 The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

Back on the bus, we headed around the coast, which like any beautiful coast is packed with hotels clubs and bars all squeeze in to make the most of the coastline. There are still a few scenic features like this beautiful lighthouse. The bus continued along to the waterfront and I got off and had what turned out to be an unplanned detour and coffee break. Note to selfNeed to learn to read a map properly. However the detour allowed me to source out some souvenir places so may be useful later on. I was then able to get back on the bus and continue the tour. We passed several interesting features - the Devils peak of the mountain, named after a legend about a man who went up the mountain to challenge the devil to a smoking competition (which then explains all the clouds up the top of the mountain)... It always amazes me how places get their names...

There was also some amusement - for example there was talk of the roadside vendors that would sell you anything at a traffic light intersection. Case in point - this gentleman... Can you see what he is selling? A cupcake for anyone who spots it...

 Can you guess what HE is selling?

Can you guess what HE is selling?

We also passed many scenic beaches although I am reliably informed that the water temperature in the summer is 10 to 15 degrees Celsius so you KNOW there will no swimming for me! I finally got off the bus at the waterfront area, a true tourist area. It was here I broke my cardinal and first rule of travel - NEVER buy a souvenir in the first place you see it. I bought a couple of souvenir gifts but I showed a great deal of restraint and literally only got 2 things... This was due to my mortal fear of haggling... I can see rip offs in the near future as I buy a few more souvenirs... There were several stores at the waterfront with lovely souvenirs, but as tourist traps go, I am sure they are all overpriced. As was the bottle of water I bought. I wouldn't have bothered but a dehydration headache was setting in after sitting in the sun at the top of the open topped bus for a few hours. I am told there is some more places in the backpacker section of town with souvenirs, so I am hoping they will be cheaper than the flashier waterfront.

This trip has been interesting in quite a few ways. For starters it's the first time I have travelled so far and entertained myself largely on my own. That and a combination of age and being a single female I realise that I have a lot of safety concerns which has made me realise I am fearful of doing some things that I probably would have been more adventurous with in my youth or with a travel buddy. The other experience I have had was in the few hours that I spent sightseeing with an older male work colleague. It was interesting - even when I made a few purchases and I paid they always handed him the change!!! I found it very interesting indeed. In addition, I suppose since he has kids my age he is very fatherly and would sometimes speak for me. It as very difficult not to burst out laughing... I guess I am really a feminist at heart. Will have to see how things go after he leaves on 3 Saturday and I am mostly on my own for a couple of days. Watch this space...

Well that's it done for today. Will be quiet for the next 2 days - will be in meetings and lectures for most of it, so unless you want to hear about the use of implants to retain dentures in an edentulous patient, or occlusion theories, (and let's face it... Not even I want to hear about those things!!!) then you will appreciate the silence. Next update likely Sunday. So until we meet again my friends - love and miss you all.

Big love from The Cape