Day 34, Saturday, March 29, Cape Town, South Africa

The Crystal Symphony is in Ko Samui, Thailand. The Crystal Serenity is still in Cape Town until 6PM. The MS Amsterdam is at sea from Durban to Cape Town.

I slept late today getting up about 6. While I am close to the Serenity, there are lots of tall buildings and it’s out of my sight completely. I walked to the end of the breakwater to watch the sun come up, and could get occasional glimpses of Serenity’s masts, but not much more.

Most of my day was centered around the Hop On, Hop Off bus. Other Serenity passengers had used it Friday, and 2 more were with me as I purchased my ticket. The bus has 2 routes and a 2 day pass looks like a good option, also including a couple of extras.

Ticket in hand, I started off by walking into town and the church I plan to visit Sunday. It wasn’t a long walk but it wasn’t a very attractive one either and I think I’ll use the bus to get there. The church was near one of the Hop On Hop off stops . We passed the “Company Garden”, a smallish but very nice park and continued to the government complex with Governor’s Residence, Parliament, and a statue of Louis Botha in the entrance.

Apartheid was based on the premise that people of different races couldn’t mingle, and Cape Town’s district was a vibrant interracial community that the government couldn’t allow. The government forcibly relocated 60,000 people, bulldozing their homes. The area remains mostly a wasteland of grass and weeds to this day.

When we got to Table Mountain it was time to “Hop Off” the bus. A cableway runs from the 1,000 foot base to the summit elevation of about 3,500 feet. Constructed in the 1920’s, the system the system has been upgraded several times, and the cars now carry about twice the original capacity of 30 people. The floor of the round cars rotates slowly giving everybody more or less equal views. Even with the increased capacity, getting to the top took nearly an hour, only 5 minutes of which was the actual ascent. It is also possible to hike up to the summit, but not an easy feat.

The top has a cafe, souvenir shop, trails, a jazz group, and stunning views. It was slightly cloudy today, and there were times of great and times of murky views. When the view was clear, the Crystal Serenity was a tiny dot but looking down on it the surrounding buildings did little to hamper the view. The trip down went much faster. After coming down from Table Mountain, the tour continued back to the starting point along the coast. Camps Bay was a very nice beach.

One of the extras that comes with the 2-day pass is a “canal tour”. The canal runs parallel to the waterfront perhaps 15 feet above the level of the sea. The ride was pleasant, but most of the shore was condos, with the exception of one nice look at the Serenity. On the way to the canal cruise I passed Nobel Square (dedicated to South Africa’s 4 Nobel Peace Price winners, Albert Lathuli, Archbishop Tutu, F W DeKlerk, and Nelson Mandella), and passed a seal sunning itself outside the Aquarium.

Serenity’s sailaway was scheduled for 6PM, and I walked down to the end of the breakwater to watch the departure. I heard 3 blasts of the horn (unseen behind harbor buildings) at 5:45 and the mast came into view 10 minutes later. With another blast of the horn the ship cleared the breakwater about 6:05 and picked up speed. I had expected to have a pretty solitary vigil, but there was a pretty good crowd on the breakwater. Many had family members working on the ship. (I would go down to watch Amsterdam’s arrival but will be on safari).

On the way back I noticed that the Robben Island museum has a mainland piece. There is a small building on one of the jettys that was the departure point for ferries going to Robben Island, and it is now a museum. It closed at 5 but I would like to go back if time permits.

As today’s parting shot it’s always a bit bittersweet watching your ship go off without you. The people on the final segment of the world cruise had a timely start and seem off to a great cruise. May it be so.

Roy

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