Cape Town Part 7: Table Mountain

Finally! Slow and steady wins the race or something like that? I don’t think anyone’s ever accused me of being quick about anything, though, really.

Yes, the trip to Table Mountain (after a mani/pedi [or lengthy and frustrating search for an ATM, in Marlon’s case. Same same?] and one last farewell trip to Greenmarket Square, for old times’ sake) marked our last hurrah in Cape Town, and with it ends my epic (literally) telling of the voyage. Pat, always coming through for us, told us to hold off going until after six, when tickets go for half price. As such he was able to come along as well and summit Table Mountain (for the millionth time).

It’s roughly $20 to go up and back by cable car normally and $10 for the “sunset special.” It’s also hike-able, but requires far more time and stamina than the Lion’s Head hike. (At least that’s the word on the street.) At the office they take a poll of everyone’s nationality; we were surprised to find Americans were second to Germans for most visitors. We also learnt that the funny animal we’d seen at Hermanus is called a “dassie,” and that it bites.

7d1cjaw snap, look who’s makin gifs! shoulda taken more pics, in retrospect, but this is a real(-ish)-time representation of the ‘table cloth’ coming over the mountain.

looking up table cloth table mountain ivy table mountain flower our african wonder

from this angle, i felt like i could finally (maybe) see how it looked like a lion

from this angle, i felt like i could finally (maybe) see how it looked like a lion

the cable cars rotate and have two open spaces in the windows so everyone gets a turn taking photos

the cable cars rotate and have two open spaces in the windows so everyone gets a turn taking photos

table cloth sunset

dassie alert!

dassie alert!

dassie2

table mountain photographer

on his way to becoming VERY well traveled.

on his way to becoming VERY well traveled.

dangit, sun!

dangit, sun!

pat me mar table mountain sun settinglast sunset rocks sunset table mountain purple sky table mountain map of peninsula

haha, we were told there'd be exotic birds around, but this was the best pic i could get of the one we saw

haha, we were told there’d be exotic birds around, but this was the best pic i could get of the one we saw

sunset silhouette table mountain table mountain brush little girl table mountain

view of cape town from the base of the cable car

view of cape town from the base of the cable car

we had our final dinner at an italian place called 'la burratta,' in the woodstock neighborhood. http://burrata.co.za/

we had our final dinner at an italian place called ‘la burrata,’ in the woodstock neighborhood. http://burrata.co.za/

Our trip back went pretty much as smoothly as we could’ve hoped. In fact, we got bumped up to business class on our first flight! (Unfortunately, you’ll recall this would’ve been our flight to Johannesburg; by far the shortest of the three legs.) Aside from that ol “technical stop” in Dakar, where they kept us awake without food for what felt like an eternity, things went fine and before we knew it we were back in the thick of this really terrific winter we’re having in North America.

quiz time: which of the big five are we missing (as it's behind mandela on the 100)?!

quiz time: which of the big five are we missing (as it’s behind mandela on the 100)?!

oh NO, not a plane wing pic!

oh NO, not a plane wing pic!

then an elephant jumped out of the cloud

then an elephant jumped out of the cloud

oh dc, you look so cold...

oh dc, you look so cold…

and indeed you were

and indeed you were

 

Cape Town Part 5: Markets & Robben Island

We returned to Cape Town from Hermanus early Thursday afternoon, which gave us enough time to hop on a minibus and hit up Greenmarket Square again. Well, kind of. We were starving, so grabbed a late and leisurely lunch near the market, and wrapped up right around 4:30, which is when stuff starts shutting down. We were still able to score some good wares, and decided if we felt inclined surely we’d have enough time to return after visiting Robben Island the next day (we’d booked spots on Friday’s 11 o’clock boat earlier in the week). Wanting to take advantage of having made the trip downtown, we decided to walk over and check out the castle we noticed was nearby on the map, and which had piqued our interest.

lion's head playing peek-a-boo

lion’s head playing peek-a-boo

this was actually at a street parallel to the full-on market. he's resizing a belt for marlon and i bought one of those bags

this was actually at a street parallel to the full-on market. he’s resizing a belt for marlon and i bought one of those bags.

st george's mall

a delightfully bizarre sculpture

a delightfully bizarre sculpture

our tour guide for part of the walk

our tour guide for part of the walk

'this way, guys!'

‘this way, guys!’

city hall

city hall

table mountain and city hall

table mountain and city hall

shadows

made it to the castle

made it to the castle

castle of good hope 2 goofy lion castle of good hope plaquesAlas, we’d missed the Castle of Good Hope‘s last tour of the day, but it was about time for us to be heading back anyway. At Pat’s suggestion we headed over to Koi at the Ambassador Hotel for a pre-dinner drink– he said it was one of the best places to watch the sunset. Alas again– all the seating near the windows was taken and we didn’t have a great view from the bar, but the walk to the restaurant was pretty and the cocktails were good.

sunset walk sunset boats sunset walk 2 sunset walk 3Then yes, on Friday we went to Robben Island, the infamous home of the prison where Nelson Mandela spent eighteen of his 27 years in prison. (I was to learn that the current president, Jacob Zuma, as well as Thabo Mbeki [who served between Mandela and Zuma] had been prisoners on Robben Island as well.)

It’s perhaps needless to say that the visit was both emotional and thought-provoking, and I thought it was an important part of our trip. Though they really do try to make the experience one that celebrates the strength and power of the human spirit (which it does), it was hard not to feel just very sorrowful at times when thinking of the things that were endured there. It was all made so much more real by the fact that the tour guides are past prisoners themselves– the narratives are all in the first person. “We were given this much food,” and “The guards would do these things to us,” you know? When I learned that this was the arrangement I found myself a little surprised; it seemed like there would be too many bad memories there for anyone to care to return. Our guide (who, like Mandela and many others, was sent to the Island as an alternative to the death penalty after being sold out by a double agent for running  arms to Angola after being trained in Germany, if I heard and remember his story correctly) explained that in reality, it was the best therapy he could have asked for. He, like all (or at least most) of the museum staff, resides on the island now.

robben island quote free nelson mandela poster

right, so as i said our tickets were for 'the 11 o'clock boat.' but... there were actually three boats that loaded up and left one at a time, so it was probably closer to noon by the time we got out of there. also, our boat looked like a pirate ship (and, naturally, was blasting south african deep house), which felt a bit whimsical for the circumstances, but hey.

right, so as i said our tickets were for ‘the 11 o’clock boat.’ but… there were actually three boats that loaded up and left one at a time, so it was probably closer to noon by the time we got out of there. also, our boat looked like a pirate ship (and, naturally, was blasting south african deep house), which felt a bit whimsical for the circumstances, but hey.

oh right, and being one who doesn't take kindly to lessons, in spite of having been horribly sunburnt three days previous, i neglected to put on or bring sunscreen, so i had to cover my sunburnt forehead with a pirate-y scarf, and got to spend the whole day feeling like a big dork.

oh right, and being one who doesn’t take kindly to lessons, in spite of having been horribly sunburnt three days previous, i neglected to put on or bring sunscreen, so i had to cover my sunburnt forehead with a pirate-y scarf, and got to spend the whole day looking and feeling like a big dork.

south african flag

table mountain, lion's head, and the stadium

table mountain, lion’s head, and the stadium

roger ang mar boat

robben island and cape town

robben island and cape town

though hermanus is one of the whale-watching capitals of the world, we didn't even bother looking into it when we were there because it's the wrong season. so imagine our surprise when the captain announced there were two southern right whales traveling just ahead of us!

though hermanus is one of the whale-watching capitals of the world, we didn’t even bother looking into it when we were there because it’s the wrong season. so imagine our surprise when the captain announced there were two southern right whales traveling just ahead of us!

robben island port

'robben' does mean 'seals' in afrikaans, after all

‘robben’ does mean ‘seals’ in afrikaans, after all

seagulls roof freedom cannot be manacled robben island entrance

prisoners used to have secret meetings as they worked in that cave, mining out the rock. and that pile was made by former prisoners when they returned to the island after the prison shut down. i think mandela laid the first stone?

prisoners used to have secret meetings as they worked in that cave, mining out the rock. and that pile was made by former prisoners when they returned to the island after the prison shut down.

robben island tree robben island tree lighthouse robben island cape town swirling water guard tower

welp, took this photo before he gave permission and felt i got lightly chastised.

robben island door

where zuma was kept

where zuma was kept

robben island recreation area

a sample identification document. hindi and colored prisoners had different (more favorable) conditions than black prisoners.

a sample identification document. indian and coloured prisoners had different (more favorable) conditions than black prisoners.

robben island view robben island building leaf graffiti

in one of the wards you could enter each cell, where a first-hand testament from a prisoner who occupied that cell was presented.

in one of the wards you could enter each cell, where a first-hand testament from a prisoner who occupied that cell was presented.

This one reads:

As political prisoners we were denied something that people took for  granted around the world: Access to newspapers. It is not that we wanted to buy them, necessarily. We didn’t mind picking up a newspaper that you read last weekend, just to try and keep ourselves abreast with what was happening in the world. But that was not allowed. I remember an International Red Cross Committee representative saying, ‘South Africa is mad. Even Palestinian prisoners are allowed newspapers.’ That should tell you how backward South Africa was.

I remember the terrible risks we sometimes took in our attempts to lay our hands on the news. Of course, it was a pleasure to fall ill and land up in a hospital in Cape Town; we knew that the day of our return we would be mobbed for news from outside.

It is not as if we usually got the chance to read a newspaper, or even a page of a newspaper, because we were at all times escorted by warders. But they could not close our eyes; they could not stop us from reading the headlines and snatching a few words. One had to make do with the headlines and fill in the rest, right or wrong. It was better than no news, and it brought us a lot of satisfaction.

mandela's cell

mandela’s cell

robben island lock stadiumWith the late start and a 45-minute boat ride each way, we didn’t end up getting back until after four; it took much longer than we were thinking and we were a little disappointed that we didn’t have time to make it back to the market as planned.  Our guidebook thankfully notified us that the indoor Pan African Market was open a bit later, so we decided to give that a try. We also had a very late lunch at the Timbuktu Café located within the market, where we were surrounded by old Reader’s Digests and serenaded by Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” on vinyl (on repeat, as it were).

timbuktu cafe artwork pan african marketWe balanced out the somewhat somber day by having a fun-filled Friday night on Long Street. Danced and laughed a lot with Pat and his friends Zingy, Lesogo, and Manny.

back of the cab

with zingy and lesogo in the cab

boys at joburg

there was a less-blurry photo, but there’s so much joy in this one!

Cape Town Part 3: Lion’s Head Hike

We hiked to Lion’s Head on Tuesday, after our promenade walk . I’ll admit to being oblivious to this peak/hike previous to our journey (an Italian fellow on the plane from Johannesburg to Cape Town was the one who informed us [maybe just me?] of it), but had put in my request to hike the more famous Table Mountain early in the planning process. While we did make it to Table Mountain on our final evening in town, we did so by way of the cable car and I think this ended up being a better arrangement for our purposes. With a couple extra days I would have gladly devoted a full day to the lengthier, more strenuous trek up Table Mountain and a sidetrip to the nearby Kirstenbosch Gardens, but we had a pretty action-packed schedule as it was and the more condensed Lion’s Head hike suited us perfectly.

This hike we were able to tack on to the tail end of our day, when Pat and a few of his friends got off work. We wouldn’t have really wanted to go any earlier, actually, as everyone was feeling pretty hot even at dusk (and we brought… AN bottle of water. One of the small ones. Hahaha.); and we summited just in time to catch another phenomenal sunset. Round trip I’d say it took us around two hours, and there were a couple moderately taxing parts. I believe the path splits at one point between a slightly longer but more leisurely route and one that involves some chains and ladders. Amazingly, we saw a number of dogs on the trail– some all the way at the top! Of course, it is possible for dogs to climb ladders… (wait for the dismount on that, it’s worth it).

The afore-mentioned Italian had mentioned that the rock formation that is Lion’s Head “really does look like a lion’s head!”. I never really thought so, but it was a very beautiful and scenic hike anyway.

view of table mountain from the start of our hike

view of table mountain from the start of our hike

the shadow of lion's head

the shadow of lion’s head

precarious parking

precarious parking

lion's head panorama looking up lion's head table mountain from lion's head table mountain 2

twelve apostles

twelve apostles

going up lion's head lion's head flowers dead tree twelve apostles 2 lion's head tree lion's head path lion's head rocks lion's head view

we took the risky route

we took the risky route

going up

i'll admit to choosing this largely because it's the only real evidence of my dreadful sunburn haha. PLUS there's such a handsome guy next to me...

i’ll admit to choosing this largely because it’s the only real evidence of my dreadful sunburn haha. PLUS there’s that handsome guy next to me…

we made it!

we made it!

me mar pat lion's head

shadows lengthening

shadows lengthening

lion's head sunset on top of lion's head

photo cred to marlon

photo cred to marlon

And Marlon also had some more pics from the sunset at Clifton 2nd in my first post so… here they are. Delayed gratification.

me mar sunset

on our warming rock.

on our warming rock.

me mar rock(Of course, on this snowiest of snow days it’s hard to believe this was just two weeks ago!!)

snow day 1 snow day 2

Cape Town Part 2: Around Town & A Walk on the Promenade

Our first day on our own in Cape Town we kept busy by checking out a number of recommended sites around town. On the Atlantic side of South Africa, the sea water’s come straight from Antarctica and hasn’t warmed up quite enough to make for comfortable swimming without a wetsuit. However, there was an enormous and pristine public pool overlooking the frigid seas (its own water comfortably heated) at the end of Pat’s street, and we decided to start the day with a swim. With just a 20 Rand (<$2) entrance fee we were really impressed by the place. (Though admittedly we never made it back for a return visit haha.)sea point pool

sea point pool 2We dried off and caught a cab to check out the colorful houses in the historically Muslim neighborhood of Bo Kaap. In doing so, we learned Wale Street is like this, and not like this. Once there we walked around and took some pictures, only to realize we were without a guidebook and didn’t really know where we were in relation to anything else. Luckily a friendly café owner was happy to point us in the direction of the Company’s Garden on such a beautiful day. On the way we passed Greenmarket Square. They say this is one of the best markets in town, and we agreed. In fact, it was so good we ended up going back about four more times!!! (But that was mostly because we kept arriving right as it was closing: around 4:30-5 pm.)

bo kaap 1

bo kaap 2 bo kaap 3 bo kaap 4 bo kaap 6 bo kaap 7 green market square 1 green market square 2 company's garden 1 company's garden lotus

table mountain-- in all her glory! (and a rose garden that looks like it has seen times of much, much greater glory)

table mountain– in all her glory! (and a rose garden that looks like it has seen times of much, much greater glory)

we seriously saw so many funny little animals. stay tuned.

we seriously saw so many funny little animals. this, i’ve just learned, is an egyptian goose. (thanks marlon!)

those clouds roll visibly off table mountain and are known as the tablecloth.

those clouds roll visibly off table mountain and are known as the tablecloth.

We ate at a pizza place near the market, then made our way back to Pat’s. The 10-15 minute ride back to Sea Point was reliably 60 Rand (<$6), and we had a number of interesting conversations with our usually gregarious cab drivers. Getting around was always pretty cheap and interesting.

Even more cheap and interesting than the cabs, however, were the mini buses– at 7 Rand a head you could jump in and hop out again anywhere along the route. They were sure to be bumping some South African Deep House (though I guess the cabbies did too. Everyone, really.), and have no fewer than three languages being spoken at a time; the driver deep in click-flecked conversation with his partner while the woman next to you spoke quietly into her phone in Afrikaans and the men behind you chatted in an unidentifiable language (but one made so, perhaps, partially by the bottles of beer they kept extracting from a backpack). The rides always proved to be good people-watching opportunities.

On Tuesday we made a sort of impromptu decision to walk the promenade from Sea Point to the Waterfront. I got a little excited with my camera, what with the waves and boats and seagulls; and also a terrible sunburn, as I failed to apply sunscreen, even though I had two things of it in my bag. I’m actually still itchy as hell with sun poisoning, but all things considered it was worth it.

oliver street... obvi.

oliver road… obvi.

beach road sea gull boat boat waves waves reflection waves boat gull gull corner sailboat

these guys were coming down from lion's head all the time.

these guys were coming down from lion’s head all the time.

waves splash boat more waves more splash big splash street art cape town

another funny bird.

another funny bird.

lions head rusty rail marlon sea

funny bird drying himself

funny bird drying himself

and again

and again

kayak mural

green point lighthouse

green point lighthouse

view from wakame, where we got lunch http://www.wakame.co.za/

view from wakame, where we got lunch http://www.wakame.co.za/

palm tree glass

the stadium! we'd go to [half] a game later in the week.

the stadium! we’d go to [half] a game later in the week.

hahaha... for some promotion these little blue tuk tuks were giving free rides in january, and it was a goal of ours to get one. we'd kind of lost track of how far we'd gone and weren't sure how much longer we'd have to be walking, so imagine our delight when this guy came around the bend. we got in, told him, 'waterfront,' and roughly 33 seconds later, after making one turn, we found ourselves at our destination.

hahaha… for some promotion these little blue tuk tuks were giving free rides in january, and it was a goal of ours to get one. we’d kind of lost track of how far we’d gone and weren’t sure how much longer we’d have to be walking, so imagine our delight when this guy came around the bend. we got in, told him, ‘waterfront,’ and roughly 33 seconds later, after making just one turn, we found ourselves at our destination.

ferris wheel mountain boat waterfront

and just as my the shutter clicked on the photo of the 'what's hot' car, i became instantly aware of my new sun damage.

and as my the shutter clicked the photo of the ‘what’s hot’ car, i became instantly aware of my new sun damage.

While at the Waterfront we booked our trip to Gaansbai (for shark diving!) and Hermanus (to partake of the “champagne air” [still not exactly sure what that means, but Hermanus has it]), but I will tell you all about that at a later time.

Off to the Races (Again!)

photo cred: ben holmes

photo cred: ben holmes

My dear mother had the good fortune of being born on May 4, which happens to fall on or near the weekend of an important horserace (and, as her “Third Son” has pointed out, is the day before Cinco de Mayo. Every year!). Sure, some of you may know it as the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, but round these parts (specifically, in a place truly called The Plains, Virginia) Gold Cup is the name of the game. My parents have made a sort of tradition of it over the past few years, but that whole being-on-the-other-side-of-the-world thing has thrown a wrench into any chances of my own participation.

Until this year! And what a blast it was. Slightly classier (at least in some areas haha) than Foxfield, with plenty of horses seen and documented, and even bet on. Daddy ended up showering Momma in birthday winnings after sweeping three races, but the $20 he lent me went nowhere. Alas.

gold cup virginia

'a wooden table? a glass pitcher? flowers in a glass vase? we're not at foxfield anymore...'

‘tablecloths? a wooden table? a glass pitcher? flowers in a glass vase? we’re not at foxfield anymore…’

the birthday girl and me with an old neighbor, michelle. hadn't seen her in 14 years, i wanna say!

the birthday girl and me with an old neighbor, michelle. hadn’t seen her in 14 years, i wanna say!

he was dubbed my 'horse race bf,' which meant that we called each other 'dahhhling' and belly laughed in a very highbrow manner. also that he was responsible for wiping from my chin the bloody mary that invariable found itself trickling down on various occasions.

he was dubbed my ‘horse race bf,’ which meant that we called each other ‘dahhhling’ and belly laughed in a very highbrow manner. also that he was responsible for wiping from my chin the bloody mary that invariable found itself trickling down on various occasions.

actually watching the races... what a novel idea.

actually watching the races… what a novel idea.

sweet gig

sweet gig

horses overexposed

i have a feeling their photos turned out better than mine

i have a feeling their photos turned out better than mine

spectating

as it turns out there's not much skill or research involved in the gambling we do... just drawing numbered balls from a cigar box... but we have fun.

as it turns out there’s not much skill or research involved in the gambling we do… just drawing numbered balls from a cigar box… but we have fun.

numbers 1 and 2... my horse didn't even finish the race.

numbers 1 and 2… my horse didn’t even finish the race.

stupid kingdom...

stupid kingdom…

one-time president of serp, future [co]-president of gold cup

one-time president of serp, future [co]-president of gold cup

the golf cart whence we phoned our girl kathy chen. and it's old hat by now, but i feel it's worth reiterating that the photographer left us with these parting words: 'don't worry, i've got bail money for the both of you. i'm so rich it's not even funny.'

the golf cart whence we phoned our girl kathy chen. and it’s old hat by now, but i feel it’s worth reiterating that the photographer left us with these parting words: ‘don’t worry, i’ve got bail money for the both of you. i’m so rich it’s not even funny.’

father/daughter shot. right before this my dad pronounced, 'my daughter IS me!' this was followed shortly by, 'i'm KING of the idiots!' if a=b... and b=c... well i'm just not really sure if i should be offended or not.

father/daughter shot. right before this my dad pronounced, ‘my daughter IS me!’ this was followed shortly by, ‘i’m KING of the idiots!’ if a=b… and b=c… well i’m just not really sure if i should be offended or not.

i got four grown men to link arms wedding-style with me to take shots of sambuca... maybe one of my greatest achievements to date.

i got four grown men to link arms wedding-style with me/each other to take shots of sambuca… maybe one of my greatest achievements to date.

photo credit: kyle moller (whom i may or may not have threatened to knock off the tailgate if they didn't turn out well... lucky him.)

photo credit: kyle moller (whom i may or may not have threatened to knock off the tailgate if they didn’t turn out well… lucky him.)

ran into carol and kelly, two of my old gym buddies from high school!

ran into carol and kelly, two of my old gym buddies from high school!

someone, at the very end of the day, presented us with a mint julep (very poorly mixed, i might add). this pleased ben, who'd been in search of a libation to match his bowtie all day.

someone, at the very end of the day, presented us with a mint julep (very poorly mixed, i might add). this pleased ben, who’d been in search of a libation to match his bowtie all day.

while awaiting the traffic to disperse ben and i went to kick it with the boys blasting eminem from their car. saw fit to switch hats with this upstanding gentleman, though mom was none-too-pleased and, completely fairly, i should add, asked him if he had lice when he went parading over to our car in his new headwear. hahaha.

while awaiting the traffic to disperse ben and i went to kick it with the random boys blasting eminem from their car. saw fit to switch hats with this upstanding gentleman, though mom was none-too-pleased (it… may or may not have been HER hat i was giving away all willy-nilly) and (completely fairly, i’ll admit) asked him if he had lice when he went parading over to our car in his new headwear. hahaha.

It was a really nice time with great weather and great company! And… we were all ready to crash by 9:30pm, just like real adults.

In other news, got my wisdom teeth out yesterday! Am feeling surprisingly good and will almost certainly be crashing another of my parents’ events tonight by attending the Sons of Bill show with them at the State Theater. In honor of the extraction, and of Vampire Weekend’s forthcoming new album:

the gloves are off, the wisdom teeth are out… what you on about?

And it’s no “David After the Dentist“, but my brother did make a six-minute video of my coming-out-of-an-anesthised-state that shows me in my most childlike and mumble-tastic state (not to mention strangely resembling a dinosaur of some sort).

One year ago: Gili Trawangan
Two years ago: First Day of School

(Olliefield/)Three Things

I keep wanting to post about FoxOlliefield, but the task overwhelms me. <-That links to photos. I started making a Grooveshark version of the playlist, but it kept deleting songs after I added them (quite sure this wasn’t user error) so I only got 86 out of nearly 300 songs on it. Anyway, Emilie made a retrospective list of the only songs that really mattered, and by that I mean:

what rhymes with ‘hug me’?

(And we were so sure “Get Lucky” was going to be the Foxfield anthem… Pharrell’s just all over our charts right now. For a total change of “Get Lucky” pace, by the way, check out this downbeat-but-beautiful Daughter cover.)

Long story short, twas the bestie-best of times and it was wonderful having so many old friends in one place. Who says 13’s an unlucky number?!?!?!

girl pic foxfield

Alright but this post was originally supposed to just be “Three Things.”

Thing #1: My good friend Jack, formerly known as “The Tallest Man in Thung Song,” is an excellent photographer and I was just made aware of a really gorgeous blog he has of his work done in various locations across the globe. Give it a look:

Thing #2: My brother is a comedic genius:

Ketchup from Ryan Calonder on Vimeo.

Thing #3: This video’s awesome. Uses clips from glamorous ’80s and ’90s ads to make what really feels like a narrative. So amazing what having a soundtrack tricks your brain into thinking it’s seeing. Also just a cool track.

One year ago: The Ubud Market
Two years ago: Home Improvement
Three years ago: Chinese Transportation (maybe my favorite post from the whole time I was in China haha!)