Christmas at the Cape
Dec 26, 2008
|Christmas on the Cape
Christmas morning. Hard to believe when we look out the window and see the ocean, the blue sky and people already on the beach. We noticed a lack of Christmas decorations in the shops, in the towns or on private houses. There were hardly any Christmas lights even. Maybe Christmas decorations are just a North American thing.
We opened some presents, surprised not only that Santa found us, but we must have been very good this year after all. We had breakfast, our sparkling pinot with and without orange juice and then set off for a day of touring the southern cape area.
We piled into the car and set off north towards Cape Town. We turned off and drove through the exclusive Constantia wine area with its large wine estates (all protected by large gates, walls and razor wire), and vineyards that climb the surrounding mountains slopes in beautifully regimented green rows. We drove down the other side of the mountains to Houts Bay, on the Atlantic side.
Houts Bay is a sheltered little fishing community that is starting to attract some investment and development. There is a nice little wharf area with a dock and restaurants.
The beach wasn’t that nice though, and was littered with dead kelp.
Our plan was the drive the scenic M6 road from Houts Bay south along the coast. The road is built high up on the mountain and apparently has beautiful views of the coastline. Unfortunately, it was closed due to dangerous conditions (risk of rockslides, perhaps?) and we had to backtrack back through Constantia and Fish Hoek and take another road down to Cape Point. We stopped for a picnic lunch and to stock up on some fruit from the roadside vendors.
We drove down the Atlantic coast; past surfing beaches with huge breakers, lonely lighthouses, and little beach towns.
After about 4 hours of driving, we finally reached our destination, the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Point is enclosed within the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve so we had to wait in a line and pay a park entrance fee. Driving to the Cape Point we saw only a couple ostriches and wondered what else was out there hiding in the nature reserve. There are supposed to be zebras and antelope, but we didn’t see any.
It was a windswept, rocky place, with few trees and large boulders and cliffs.
The sea crashed angrily against the rocks, coming in with huge, powerful waves, and freezing blue water.
We climbed to the old lighthouse at Cape Point and look out on the south Atlantic.
This is a dangerous area for ships, and there have been scores of shipwrecks documented since the Portuguese first sailed around the Cape. We went down to the Cape of Good Hope and had our pictures taken at the African Continent’s most southwestern point.
We had a drink and a snack at the café there,
then drove back towards the entrance of the park, past a group of baboons.
We had seen baboon signs everywhere that day – from roadside signs near Constantia to warning signs about dangerous food-attracted baboons in the park – so it was nice to finally see that the signs were warranted and that baboons do, in fact, exist in the area.
We decided not to test their reaction to food, however.
We drove into Kalk Bay and ate at the FSH restaurant that night, with its ‘pick-your-own seafood’. It was very busy and we weren’t overly impressed. We were exhausted, especially Rebecca was had done all the driving that day, so we went straight home to bed. Not a typical Anderson family Christmas – usually we’d be skiing somewhere cold instead of driving past beaches and vineyards – but I don’t think any one of us would have it any other way. It was our very own South African Christmas!
We spent boxing day with the penguins on Boulder’s Beach. We walked along to wooden boardwalk to Foxy Beach, watching the penguins doing cute little penguin things as we walked. We are considering stuffing a pair in our suitcase. I wonder if we could house train them? At Boulder’s Beach you can actually lay on the big boulders while the wild penguins walk all around you and intermix with the people. You can even swim next to them along the beach as they dart back and forth in the water. Following the boardwalk to a street, and then following the street into town, we came to the black beach. It was packed with people, tent to tent and towel to towel. People had their little portable braais and were cooking up boerswors and chicken. Almost every male of any age was involved in a soccer game or some sort. There was even a brass band playing jazz in the middle, with a large group of people surrounding them and dancing to the music. There was a lot more happening and a lot more atsmosphere on this beach than on the white beach.
We checked out some jewelry shops in town, comparing prices on the tanzanite rings for Rebecca, and returned to home for some barbequed chicken dinner. We had an early night because we planned to tackle the mighty Table Mountain tomorrow!