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Friday, June 19, 2009

Around Cape Town

We started out our stay in Cape Town with a half-day city tour to get a feel for the area & see some of the highlights. I (think) this is city hall & on a non-gloomy day, you'd have a beautiful shot of Table Mountain in the background.

Our first stop was the Castle of Good Hope, built as a fort in the 1600's. Those are all the various flags, representing different sovereign rule, over South Africa.

The fort was once ocean-front, but the city has reclaimed a great deal of land in the bay and expanded the footprint of the city. Obviously, with all the maritime and shipping history of the Cape, all things nautical play a big part of the history of the country.

If I remember correctly, this building was once home to the governor of the area & there is a very special room that was used for high-level talks and negotiations during the apartheid era.

We were there at the right time to catch a very neat little changing of the guard and key ceremony that was re-created. I was quite fascinated by how far SA has come in a political sense in just the last few decades- they are making so many changes and moving forward at an astonishing pace.

This was once a swimming pool, but it had been buried for many years when the Castle was being used as a fort and not a residence. It was only recently rediscovered and renovated.

There were several groups of schoolchildren there to tour the castle also, and I enjoyed watching them and learning about the education system in SA. Although they may speak Afrikaans or Zulu as a native language, all students are required to learn English.

Next stop with the Iziko Museum of Cape Town, which we primary visited to learn a little bit about the indigenous people and tribes that occupied South Africa before European settlers arrived.

The museum was free & has some other really neat exhibits and a cool planetarium. I'd totally forgot that you see a very different night sky in the Southern Hemisphere.

The museum is just above the beautiful Company Gardens, formerly a magnificent and working area of the Dutch East India Company.

Now, the beautiful area is filled with dozens of different plants and trees and it is a public park that you can stroll though on a leisurely walk.

I also really enjoyed the weather at this time of year- it was nice and cool, but not too cold in the mornings. It was a great break from the oppressive Houston summer heat. On our other 2 days in Cape Town, the weather cleared out and we had beautiful views of Table Mountain.

Another very interesting fact is that there were no natural trees in the cape area. All the beautiful old trees were planted by the dutch- starting over 200 years ago.

No trip to any city is complete without a stop at a local artisan market. Green Market Square is not only beautiful, with it's decorative brick streets, but had an amazing collection of artisans selling some wonderful hand-crafted painting and jewelry.

We also made a brief stop at this beautiful cathedral, the former church of Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

I love stain glass windows- they are so beautiful!

The city tour normally included a trip to Table Mountain, but it was closed on this day due to inclement weather on the mountain. We ended up grabbing lunch and spending a few hours at the beautiful waterfront area.

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: Going home late tonight, after a long work trip! I miss the hubby and Zoe...

1 comment: said...

Thanks for your really fantastic photo. wow! amazing! I am filling lucky.
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