Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CT Trip Day 5 - Penguin Encounter and Back to Jo'berg

After this, I will publish a post on how we planned this trip and informatino we collected. I hope that would be useful to other traveller and they won't need to face a lot of trouble for their planning.

The last day of Cape Town trip was not that much happening as it was cloudy from morning and it kept raining almost till afternoon. Anyway we had left beaches, Cape Point for this day and had to give it a shot to cover it even if it rains. We started on drizzling rain while going from mid city and covering other side of Cape Town. Once we were on the road along the sea, it made the whole scene exciting. A rail road was paved in between road and sea and it was surprising that how could a train run on it if sea level rises. Anyway it was interesting to see and imaging how it could feel travelling on a train when it is running on that rail.

Our first stoppage was Penguin point. It is actually builders’ beach but you could occasionally see penguins roaming around.We were lucky that in this weather not much of crowd was there and so Penguins were playing freely without any worry. We gave them some. Sorry for it, but we just couldn’t control our excitement and while trying to take some snaps with them, we drove few of them away. Once we realized we made a distance and enjoyed watching them from distance. Not sure if they were angry or habitual of human sight, but none of them showed any interest in us. And I was thinking that ‘Happy Feet’ could be visualized in real life as well.:(

Once we were able to absorb that we have really seen some penguins out of zoo in real environment and it is not a film, we turned to reach Cape Point. We paid entrance fee and started struggling to find right way to reach a good view point. First point was Whale watching point where we were hoping and may be any whale could pop up if we were lucky. We could cover Whale watching point, it started raining. We then skipped rest of wandering and headed straight for highest point, Cape of Good Hope. By the time we reached there, it was raining heavily. We could not even go outside the car to enter the building where we can catch train to go up. After sometime when it slowed, I was the first to run inside building. It was also for purpose that I need to buy tickets for all of us. Train rail was very steep and we thanked ourselves to take a decision for going by train. Not sure if anyone could try climbing that much steep ramp in this rainy season. But hey what a scene, someone was taking a suv up that climb. It was looking so risky…

We boarded the train and captured on whole side of train to our group. It was giving a good view while going up, almost like the Cable Car we took in Table Mountain. We reached up and it was very windy in there. Bhushan tried to take photograph with few of us on the side wall of stairs, but wind force was so strong that we could not stay on that wall. It was safer to be on stairs. We reached on top of light house from where we could see sea till the end of earthJ. There was one pole with different flags indicating direction and distance to few of world’s famous places. Almost everyone was taking photo while pointing a related or familiar place. We also took our turn and most of us pointed for Delhi flag. I am sure nobody has an actual idea if that flag was pointing toward right direction or not, but who was thinking about that then..

Due to clouds we could not see much far and tried hard looking for a place where we can differentiate between Indian and Atlantic Ocean water. It was recently I came to know that it was not the actual point where these two Oceans meet. That much to the rumour spread in this world.

We returned just to find out that power has gone and so train won’t go back down. Everyone was waiting for power to be up so that they can go down. Ultimately, staff arranged a car to take people down in multiple turns. Now we were just remembering the scene we saw while we were boarding the train. Are we going on that slippery path in a car? no way, but then what else… ok. We prayed and sat inside car. I should say that lady who was driving that car was very expert. She smoothly brought us down and we were safely back in no time. We celebrated our return with chips and coffee.

We covered one more point which was told to be a dangerous place for ships. It is a place where ships need to turn around big rocks to go on shores across that point. Many ships crashed during turn while hitting hidden rocks under water. Waves were quite high and forceful here. We had a good time clicking photos while sitting on rocks with waves splashing behind us.

This was the last proper activity of that day as it started raining, though slowly, again. We came out of cape point area with everyone hungry as it is already afternoon. We stopped at one McDonald joint and took burgers. Unfortunately the famous drive was closed due to landslide and so we took diversion to cross the way and reach back to waterfront. We were thinking that we would be able to catch some good sights on beaches though it was cloudy and not much hope was there. It happened so and only few playful surfers were having fun in sea. We came back to our place and started our plan for going back to Johannesburg. There was no point in staying whole night. If we leave early, we can take rest at back home with enough time to relax for next day office.

Few of us wanted to stay one more day so that if lucky they can see some babes on beaches. But when we checked weather it was a storm prediction with almost no chance for sun on next day. So it was decided that we would go back.

On our return journey, as soon as we were out of Cape Town, it started raining heavily. Anand, as usual, was on driving seat with me on navigation and rest all on back seats, sleepingJ. It was quite difficult to drive in that heavy rain with very less visibility. Trucks were also on highway which was making it more difficult as their tires splash a lot of water making road almost hidden. Anand took us on a adventurous ride, though only I was awake to witness it and we managed an average of 140 Km/hour in that situation. It was dangerous but thrilling. I won’t advise anyone to attempt it and would be sorry if anyone gets inspired by reading my story. Anand was a very experienced driver with full knowledge of what he was doing and so we could manage it. Nobody should try it just for having fun when don’t have a good idea of what he is doing.

We were back by afternoon with our fast friend Sudhish at our complex Chianti, arranging food for us. We are very thankful to him as it gave us a good chance to relax for more time and less hassle. We missed him in Cape Town as he had already visited it, but now he was giving company to us in ending our trip, though not a perfect one but quite successful. This is one of journey which I will never forget in my life.

Please give your comments on how you like my journey. Also share your experience if you visited Cape Town and it happened with you. I would like to know your story as well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CT Trip Day4 - Robben Island & wine Yard

In our Cape Town trip I have covered our journey to Knysna on day 1 (actually, it was a night jounrey) and Bungee jumping on Day 2 while we got a chance to see Table mountain on Day 3. We had a booking for Robben Island on Day4 at afternoon while before noon we could either take a choice to see beaches or wine yard. Both were in opposite direction and with a constraint to return to Waterfront, to catch ferry, it was one of beach or wine yard we could take. Weather was cold and no-one was showing enough dare to jump in sea under this cold climate, so it was decided to get some warmth by drinking wine.. Yes, we were going to see some wine yard.

Most of wine yard are located in Stellenbosch which is about 50 KM from Cape Town. Anand took the driving seat and after about 40 min we were near this city. We had heard about Spier that it is a good place to visit for tasting wine and wine yard. We were disappointed once we reached there that Spier doesn't do trips to wine yard. But they have some good wines to taste and few cafe of different culture to taste different types of food. Also, they have a tiger and eagle breeding place where one could watch and play with them, obvisouly for a charge. We were not so brave to play with tigers while it was their feeding time, so we spent some time watching them eat and then went to watch Eagles. For a charge of R40 one could watch them and have a chance to hold one on his hand. It was quite a exciting experience as Eagle is a strong bird and, if aggerssive, could be very dangerous. There was one instructor, who let us hold one friendly bird. I was almost laughing with joy and excitement that bird was actually interesting in humans and she herself was interested in coming to one's hand and look at face to, may be, recognising something. Initially we tried it with gloves but later few of us even tried bare hand to hold her. It was fun.

We did some wine tasting. Now don't get any ideas that we were actually trying to do it like professionals. We were even lower than novice in this field with few of us tasting it first time in life, so lets keep it like we were just tasting it for getting a bit high or in hope that we could actually sense difference in two wines. In last, for us everything was same except a little bit of dryness or smoothness. Once finished tasting, we were on road ahead as we had still not seen any wineyard. With a bad luck we could not find any which could offer a quick trip (we needed to go back to Waterfront in time, so) but with a better luck we came across a Distelery and person there was very kind to show us the whole processing and explain it with good detail. We also got chance to taste a, I don't remember it was a 70 or 80% pure alcohol, filtered alcohol.

With this luck we thanked the person for his time (we are really thankful to him) and started for our back journey to Cape Town. Everybody was hungry and knowing that we will return in evening with very less chance that we will get anything on Robben Island, we went for our individual choice of food. Anand proposed an extra bucket of KFC spicy chiecken wings which many of us agreed. But what is this? once everybody has eaten, nobody was ready to eat extra chicken wings. Anand literally pushed few of us (me included) to finish 16 pieces of chicken wings after having a heafty meal. But thanks to Anand, we liked it and sorry others who missed it that it was very tasty.

We collected our ticket for ferry trip and went to stand in queue. We were much ahead in line and had decided to take roof as it would give a better view with a lot of sea air. It was a bright day and we started to think once we were on top that was our decision good to come on roof. But once it started the thought was away as cold sea air was actually forcing some of people to grab their jacket and put it on. Photo session started for us to take snaps in different angle (isn't it a boon from technology that now one don't think about running our of reel and take limited snaps:)).

We reached Island in around 45 min. The bus which was supposed to take us to first spot was not available and so we walked to get in there. It was the enterance and main office for jail for which this Island was being used in Africa. Main office means some of their tourchur rooms as well. We also saw cells where many of them were forced to live with only two thin blankets while temperature could go beow zero in times. Cells where many others were put in to live in abondance, away from others as a punishment. It was sad but fact of history.

Later we got a tour by bus for whole Island to show officer quaters, church and other buildings.
We returned to catch back ferry and again we were on roof with a hope that we might catch a sunset from mid sea. But ferry was fast and we reached waterfront back just when Sun set and we missed it behind heights of ships on dock. While on ferry we had fun trying to take snaps and you could see that few others (and beautiful one) joined us in our fun.

When back at waterfron, our schedule went back to same going back to room, order pizza, eat it while drinking and sleep to get up on next day. you can say that our evenings were boring and we could have done a lot in Cape Town but I think we were able to do a lot in day time that we didn't wanted to spoil it with another tiring dance or roaming in night. Also we need to get up early next day so that we don't miss any place which could be of importance. You will see that on our last day of trip our decision was not wrong and we did happen to get few exciting events even when it was raining most of the day.

Note: I request you to please comment on how you liked it and let me know what could have been improved.