South Africa 2016

Posts from our early 2016 trip to South Africa and Namibia

Lemonade

Right now, as I write this, we should be arriving at the Cape Town International Airport. But we’re not. We are happy and comfortably in our hotel in Amsterdam, about ready to go to sleep.

Our third trip back to Cape Town started off great. For the past week or so Sue has been cleaning and culling clothes, getting our house ready for our children to move in while they do renovations to their own home. We should have house guests more often — we’d have a lot less ‘stuff’ in our closets.

Our last week at home seemed to be a flurry of socializing and dinners, trying to ‘say goodbye’ to all our friends and family. You’d think we were off on a 3-year mission stint, and not a mere 2.5 month ‘holiday’!

So yesterday (Monday) morning, Brian was on our driveway by 8:45, and we loaded our luggage (golf clubs, 1 large suitcase to check-in, 1 small suitcase and a backpack to carry-on) into his truck. It was (another) bitterly cold day in Manitoba — we left our parkas in his truck after he dropped us off at the airport. Plenty of time to check-in. Our luggage was checked right through to Cape Town. I’d arranged for a taxi to meet us there Tuesday night at 11pm to take us to the apartment in Green Point that we were renting from Peter for our first month.

Plenty of time to sit in the departure lounge and have one last Tim Horton’s coffee. The Delta flight to Minneapolis was SUPPOSED to be here early, according to the text messages (and voice mails!) I was getting on my phone. So when we first got a notice that it would be delayed we were not concerned. We had lots of time to make our connection in Minneapolis for the flight to Amsterdam. But when they rolled out the urns of coffee and tables of doughnuts, things were looking a little more serious. The flight desk announced regular status updates, and then ordered SANDWICHES for us all. And just when we thought we might actually spend our first night in Winnipeg, they announced that the plane from Minneapolis was now in the air and we would be boarding — 2.5 hours after schedule!

We more or less knew we’d miss our connection to Amsterdam. And we did. And the airline folks quickly had us re-booked on a later flight, leaving Minneapolis at around 7pm. Well, that wouldn’t really get us to Amsterdam in time to make our 10am connection to Cape Town. And especially not once our evening take-off was further delayed due to de-icing and snow-ploughs on the runway, etc, etc.

Oh well, no point in getting stressed or upset. Would it help? There were quite a few others on our flight who too would be either scrambling to make a connection or desperately trying to find alternative options. (Even the German guy who was trying to connect to Berlin, whom we tried to help. We directed him to the next departure lounge and after a bit of visiting found out that he was from Mitchell!)

We arrived in Amsterdam shortly after noon — 2 hours after our flight to Cape Town had departed. But KLM was VERY organized and efficient and looked after us better than we could have expected. We were immediately re-booked for tomorrow’s flight to Cape Town, same flight number, same departure time. Then we got vouchers for food and stuff at the airport and were directed to the ‘KLM Travel Services’ desk. There we got a couple of ‘overnight kits’ (tooth brush, shampoo, hair brush, even a large white t-shirt) and vouchers for hotel and meals and shuttle. Easy!

The free shuttle took us to our huge conference-center hotel. We checked in and were quickly seated in the restaurant so we could get our free lunch before the 2 o’clock closing time. Nice meal! Then up to our room to have a bit of a snooze and clean up. Email our waiting taxi in Cape Town and re-book for tomorrow, let Peter (our landlord) and Marina (our Cape Town friend and ‘almost-sailing companion’ from 15 years ago) know that we’d not be checking in and contacting them on Wednesday as we’d arranged.

At around 7:30 we headed back down to the restaurant and had a delicious supper — even beer and wine included in our voucher! Back in the room we watched a bit of BBC and then Sue went to sleep while I started my journal. Gotta get back into the routine…

Tomorrow we’ll have a wake-up call at 7, be on the shuttle to the airport by 8:15, and hopefully on our way again at 10:10am.

So what could have so easily been a day of ‘lemons’ turned out to be just fine. We’re ‘on holidays’!

In the news: David Bowie died yesterday. A suicide bomber killed at least 8 German tourists in Istanbul (two passengers on our Minneapolis-Amsterdam flight and our shuttle to this hotel were on their way to Istanbul; they too missed their connecting flight and will try again tomorrow).

Cap Stadt, at last!

So our wake up call got me out of my deep sleep just before 7am. Shower. Put on the same clothes I wore yesterday. Go down to the restaurant. Big buffet. I heap a pile of bacon next to my scrambled eggs and wash it all down with some great fresh coffee.

The shuttle bus back to the airport is packed. We line up and go through customs in no time — although the Schiphol Airport is a huge and busy airport, everything seems so smooth and efficient. Before you know it we’re in the departure lounge, and soon after that we’re making our way down the airplane aisles, dragging our one carry-on suitcase all the way to row 40 near the back of the plane.

But the seats seemed more comfortable — more legroom, great TV, all good. We took off almost as soon as we were buckled in. Slick. I quickly tuned in one of the ‘new release’ movies and so did Sue. Then came swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes, IKEA-style. More movies. A bit of dozing. Pizza for supper. The 11.5-hour trip seemed easier than the 8-hour cross-Atlantic flight.

We arrived at the Cape Town airport at around 10pm, about a half hour early. We quickly frittered away that bonus time in the long queue winding its way to the passport control. Then we picked up our bags and headed out. Sue spotted the big 300-lb taxi driver holding a paper with ‘Rudy & Sue’ handwritten on it. We dragged our golf bag and suitcases out to his waiting cab. Twenty minutes (and 220 Rand, $19CAD) later he had us at our apartment on York Street. I unloaded our bags, paid the cabbie, and dragged our stuff to the waiting gate.

And that’s where the first hiccup of the day began. The gate was locked. It looked like we would need a card or a fob to swipe it to open. We didn’t have that. We DID have instructions on how to get into the #12 mailbox, how to open up the combination lock inside that mailbox, and how to find our way up the stairs to our apartment. But we were on the wrong side of the gate. Oh oh. What do we do now?

I wandered to the other end of the building and took out my phone. No phone card here, but I soon connected to Peter’s wifi — his apartment was just one floor up from the street. Once I had that I looked up his phone number in Toronto and Skype-phoned him. He was surprised to hear form me — he was in a meeting — but when I explained our situation he quickly gave me his full attention. No, don’t go down the street and check into a hotel. We’ll get you into the apartment. He wasn’t expecting the gate to be locked, and he really wasn’t expecting us to arrive there this late. (I DID email him our new itinerary but I guess he read arriving at noon rather than at midnight.)

Well, Peter and I both tried calling and texting his contact here in Cape Town, but that didn’t get us anywhere. Our bodyguard, the big cab driver, hung around and waited — he didn’t have anymore fares for the night and we felt safer out on the dark street with him standing next to us.

Finally I took out two golf clubs, my driver and an iron, and used one of my bungee cords to tie them into a long pole which I stuck through the iron grate and stretched as far as I could to ring each of the addresses on the buzzer inside the entrance. No one answered — at least we didn’t hear anyone answer. Besides, it was now after midnight and any of the tenants in our building probably wouldn’t be too pleased to make our acquaintance at this time of night anyway.

I went back to the front section of the building, under Peter’s apartment where my wifi signal was strongest. I looked up at the third floor apartment above ‘ours’ and saw the lights were on and the patio door was partially open. I called out, ‘hello?’. And then two you ladies came out on the balcony — and I explained my situation and asked them to please let me in the door. And one of them came down and opened the gate for us. Whew!

The cabbie left us. We gathered our bags and hauled them up to our apartment. Hot in here. We opened the doors and windows, turned on the fans. I emailed Peter to let him know we were in. He called right back on the landline into the apartment. He too was completely flustered and anxious. He’d left his meeting early and run back to his office where he was now looking up hotels for us for tonight. So we talked and calmed down a bit and he gave me instructions on how to get his car going (tomorrow).

In the meantime Sue found 2 open bottles of white wine in the fridge which we easily finished before turning in for the night. All that frenzied action at the end of our day — we were still up at 2:30am, me writing my blog entry and Sue catching up on what Margaret Daley-Wiebe had going on Facebook.

Finally, the rooms were cooled down, the wine was all gone, the streets were all quiet. I took out my contacts and went to bed. Tomorrow will be another day. Another ‘beginning’.

Today’s News: The loonie closed below 70 cents US.

Settling In

After the craziness of last night, how could we NOT sleep well? I woke up around 6, checked out the noise outside our bedroom window. The sun was already up and I guess it was time for the guy sleeping in the driveway to the underground garage next to us to pack up his stuff and move along. I went back to bed for another hour.

When we finally DID get out of bed we didn’t have much in the house for breakfast. Sue made a couple of Nespressos and we decided we’d go out for breakfast at one of the many coffee shops on our street. But first we had a bit of unpacking and cleaning up to do.

A couple of hours later we had two bags of garbage to carry down to the bins in our parking garage. The fridge was empty, de-icing. The cupboards were all cleaned out and cleaned up. And our suitcases and golf clubs were packed away into the closets.

We had a coffee and a chocolate croissant at the coffee shop. Then we went to the grocery store just down the road and bought two bags of groceries. Back at the apartment the big ice block in the fridge had melted into a giant puddle on the kitchen floor. And Sue washed all the dishes for the next hour.

We wandered back out into the neighbourhood again in the afternoon. Found ourselves at the big Victoria & Albert Mall at the Cape Town Harbour. I bought a phone card for my phone and checked a number of stores for an AC plug adapter to fit my cords to the South African outlets. Not much luck. We had a very late lunch of fish and chips and a salad. I finally found a $9 adapter at the ‘Pic-N=Pay’ store in the basement of the mall. We wandered home past the big World Cup Soccer Stadium. Sue stopped at the deli to buy a pound of roasted coffee beans so we can make ‘our kind of’ coffee tomorrow morning.

We started happy hour as the sun was setting. Big winds out today — we had to really block up our open doors to keep them from suddenly slamming shut. Now that I finally had an adapter I could hook up my Apple TV to the television and sign into Netflix. So started watching ‘Narcos’ — watched the first 2 episodes and had a little ‘at home’ wine and cheese party to go with it. By 10:00pm we were both having trouble staying awake — maybe that’s a sign that we’re now ‘acclimatized’ to the new time zone?? A bit of internet and then off to bed.

Today’s News: Sue just got an email from Millie that her mom died. Not entirely unexpected, but a sad note all the same.

 

On the Promenade

Friday. I woke up at 6. It’s bright outside and the city is waking up. I went back to sleep. Next time I woke up it was the construction workers down below our open window who were mixing concrete to patch the driveway — and it was almost 9 o’clock. I got out of bed and made a couple of nice ‘real’ coffees for Sue and me with my Aeropress.

Sometime after we’d eaten our fresh mangos and toast with peanut butter there was a knock on the door. It’s Warren, the maintenance guy from down in the garage. Do I have jumper cables? Hmmm… I don’t know. I’ll get my shirt on and meet you in the garage.

There’s a German tenant whose battery needs a boost. So now I need to get into Peter’s covered up car. Okay. I take of the cover and roll it up. Underneath is a reasonably clean white Volvo 2-door sporty car. I take the key apart as per Peter’s instructions, and unlock the door. Now what? The battery has been disconnected, but Peter has told me that there is a wrench in the car with which I can re-connect it. I find the wrench. Now I need to open the boot. Or the trunk. Or the hood. Or the bonnet. Whatever — but I don’t see any knob or handle to pull. Now I’ve got Warren, the maintenance man, and security guy, and the German dead battery guy, all offering suggestions. The German looks up the car on his Samsung phone. Shows me a diagram that indicates we may find a lever or cable in the trunk. I’ve pulled out the back armrest but I need the German’s phone-flashlight to see into the trunk. Nothing there. We all take turns getting into the car and pressing various buttons. Nothing. Finally they all wander back to the German’s car. I am perplexed. I bend way down under the dashboard and spot a red handle. Pull it. The hood pops. Ho-ho! I open the hood and spot the two red battery leads dangling. But where’s the battery? And how will I get into the trunk to get at the booster cables I’m not sure are in there?

It takes me a couple of minutes to realize that the battery is right there! Just the cables are disconnected. So I reattach them and tighten them up with the wrench. The car makes a chattering noise, just like Peter had told me it would, but I press on unperturbed. By now my friends have gathered around me again. Things are looking up. I press the little ‘open trunk’ icon on the key fob. Boink. Up pops the trunk lid. We all scramble to the back and look into the open trunk. Mr German unzips the spare tire cover, sure that there’s something else packed into there. But alas — no booster cables for him.

While he wanders off and calls for a service vehicle to help him, I get back into the car and put the key into the ignition. Will it start? Warren tells me the car hasn’t been running for 1.5 years (I don’t really believe that — Peter said he was here last summer). But the car starts right away, no problem. As if it was last driven yesterday. I pull it forward and park it again. Good. That will work just fine. All I have to do is remember to stay on the WRONG side of the road for the first couple of days (and the LEFT side of the road after that).

Back upstairs Sue is looking all clean and gorgeous and ready to hit the town. Shoot! I hurry and shave and shower and get my new snazzy pink shirt on. And then we’re off.

We cross the Main Road in front of our apartment and take the new wide sidewalk past the big oval soccer stadium that was built for the 2010 World Cup. There’s a couple of outdoor soccer pitches, a cricket stadium, and some horse-riding stables along the way. And then Sue spots a couple of golfers. We’re at the Metropolitan Golf Course, not quite 1km from our apartment. We can carry our clubs this far easily! A few club members are sitting at the outdoor under-the-shade tables enjoying big cold glasses of beer and plates of delicious food. Hey, we should have lunch here! But first, let’s go in and enquire about the golf.

Which we do. Looks good. Not a very complicated or ‘interesting’ golf course, but hey, it’s just across the street from our place and the fairways and greens are in tip-top shape. Plus we can buy discount 10-game packs. Plus on Mondays it’s nearly half-price! We make a Monday early-morning tee time. The plan is to play it once and see if we like it enough to buy a book of vouchers. Rudy is elated.

We continue our walk after we finished our big Windhoek beer and a cheeseburger (for Rudy) and a cucumber salad (Sue).

We soon find ourselves at the ocean, with a very nice wide paving stone promenade winding its way along the rocky coastline. It’s 2 in the afternoon, the sun is 27 degrees warm, the breeze brings that down a few degrees, and there’s only enough other walkers on the sidewalk to make us feel at ease and comfortable and safe. So we walk. And we walk. And we get to the famous Green Point Lighthouse, the oldest operational lighthouse in South Africa. It’s been warning sailors from this location since 1824. We stop for photos.

We continue on. When we see a putt-putt golf course I suggest to Sue that we stop for a break and have a game here. I’m not much into mini-golf but it seems to me the idea is about as close as I’ll get to being sweet and romantic like Hugh Grant in a schmaltzyJulia Roberts romantic comedy. Sue guffaws at the idea. “We’re going for a walk!” So much for romance.

We pass the turn-off to the highway named after our Mennonite friend, Bill Peters. Actually, lots of places here are named after famous Mennonites; well, they’re not really Mennonites, but their names come from the same Dutch origins as many of the names of our Steinbach avenues. Halfway around the world and we’re all ‘frintschaft‘.

We’ve walked for an hour, for almost four miles, in the heat of the day. How about we find a bus station that sells metro cards and we’ll bus it back to our place? That’s what we do. We’re at the Queen’s Beach station. The wait for the girl to actually sell us our metro cards (30 Rand each, about $3.00) takes about as long as it took us to walk all this way! But hey, we’re in Africa, and who’s in a hurry? We get on the bus and sweat in the hot sun all the way back to our place — and past our place — and past the next stop — until Rudy figures out that you have to press the big red STOP button hard and the bus will stop at the next stop for you.

Now we walk BACK towards our place. Stop at Woolworths (yes, that’s a ‘higher end’ grocery store chain here in South Africa) and Sue loads up on more fresh fruit — mangos, papaya, little sweet and ripe pineapples, all of which she recalls so fondly from her time in Franschhoek, South Africa back in 2001.

Another stop at the local liquor store for gin, tonic water, and limes, and we’re finally ready to go home.

Oh, I’d forgotten that we didn’t have power in our house. It’s warm when we get in. The ice cubes Sue takes out of the freezer to make our gin and tonics are not ‘icy cold’. Hmmm… What to do? Sue goes downstairs and asks Warren, the maintenance man, if this is happening to other apartments, and if this is ‘normal’. No. He comes up to check on me diddling around with our breaker panel in one of the kitchen cupboards. Try this. Nope. Try that. Same. So the ‘cold’ (by that I mean ‘not hot’ — the cold water here is lukewarm) shower I had this morning was due to the hot water tank breaker being off. Now everything’s off. I try various combinations of offs and ons, but the electricity just stays ‘off’.

Oh boy. Now what? Warren is nearly ready to leave for the weekend, but first gives me the phone number of an electrical service company that I can call. Which I do. Which isn’t answering the phones anymore at 5:30 Friday afternoon.

I email Peter — good thing I bought that cellphone card because without it I would NOT be emailing right now — and explain what’s going on here. Not that I really think he can help us from where he is in Toronto.

Fifteen minutes later I’m back at the breaker panel trying different combinations — and finally voilà! the microwave lights up. And the living room fan starts turning again. And we’re back in business. Well, all except the hot water tank, but I decide there’s no point in chancing that! We’ll have cold showers to go with our cold beers and hot Netflix offerings anytime rather than risk it all going ‘off’ again. I’ll wait until Monday when Warren is back to hit that breaker switch again.

I email Peter back to say that (almost) all is well. And then Sue and I have our long-awaited ‘happy hour’.

That takes us until suppertime. Out we go, back on the street. First to the ATM to freshen up our wallets, then to Mario’s, the italian restaurant at our corner, for a big plate of fresh mussels followed by a wood-fired pizza. Yummy. Interrupted by a phone call from Peter: what’s up? do we have hydro? bla bla bla I explain. Then I tell him about the car. And we’re all good here. And we’re happy. Have a great weekend. Back to my pizza.

We’re back home by a little after 10 o’clock. Just enough time for me to write a book about what we did today. And NOT QUITE enough time for Sue to figure out how to change the bedside clock radio from flashing 12:00 to showing the correct time. And both events took about the same amount of time, so you know Sue worked pretty hard at trying to figure out how to set a clock. But that’s probably a man’s job. “Besides,” she says, “We can just leave it.”

Today’s news item: Hey, the Oscar nominations are out! Now we have even more reason to spend a few afternoons in the refreshing coolness of a movie theatre here in Cape Town.

Whatever happened to those people you were going to sail across the ocean with?

You can read Part 1 (14 years ago) here.

I slept in till about 9:00 again. Sue was lying beside me, eyes closed, mouth hanging open, hands folded across her chest. If it weren’t for the light snoring you’d think she was dead. She’s fond of saying that she “slept like a DEAD woman”, but this is ridiculous! Plus, when she got out of bed shortly after I did she was pleased to report that she hadn’t slept at all until 8 in the morning! Oh no! I guess her poor sleep habits just follow her across the time zones.

I made some coffees and sat down to look at my computer. We check the news and our email first thing in the morning, but most of the time NOTHING HAS CHANGED! Okay, what’s next? Sue gets out the frying pan and prepares to make bacon and eggs. Yeah, but we have a ‘hob’, a glass stove-top with fancy buttons to press and digital read-outs. Well, since Sue had such a great experience setting the clock radio in the bedroom last night (it is off by about 7 hours and now faces the wall), figuring out how to use the cooktop should be no problem at all.

After quite a bit of reading step-by-step instructions from the owner’s manual, we sat down to enjoy our bacon and eggs. The eggs were quite a bit harder than we usually like them at home, but not too bad for a first effort. Sue’s success with the stove leads her to suggest that she probably will never even use the dishwasher here — she’ll just wash the dishes by hand. So much for technology.

After breakfast Sue went back to bed while I went out to do a bunch of errands. I packed up the car tarp in the garage and stowed it in a closet in our spare bedroom. Then I went to buy a few groceries, etc from the nearby deli and grocery store.

When I got back Sue got out of bed and we had sandwiches for lunch. It’s stinking hot here today, around 30 degrees. I finally closed up the doors and windows and turned on our A/C. We were expecting a FaceTime call from our kids at around 4pm our time, so mid-afternoon we went out for a short walk. We came back from the Albert & Victoria Mall with salt and pepper shakers. Shopping!

We both showered and then sat around waiting for that phone call! We told the kids to FaceTime between 4 and 6, since we’re getting picked up at 6 to go for supper at Marina’s house. At 5 o’clock there were two clean and dressed-up grandparents sitting around in the apartment, listening to the air-conditioner hum, waiting for that phone to ring! At around 5:30 it finally DID ring — and we were greeted with a big smile from our 3-year-old little buddy. So how was his first night sleeping in ‘his’ downstairs bedroom at Oma and Opa’s house? “Good.” (The kids picked one of the coldest days of our winter to move from their house into ours.) So all was good at home — Max had not only finished eating his pancakes for breakfast, but his puzzles and books and toys were more or less evenly distributed between all the rooms in the house.

Not long after we hung up the FaceTime call I got a text message from Helene, Marina’s friend who was picking us up and taking us to Marina’s for supper. On her way, meet her downstairs where she’ll come by shortly.

After a 10-minute drive up around Signal Hill we’re at Marina’s. And what a joy it was to meet again! Marina and her friend Lucas live in a home that looks up to Table Mountain on one side, and down to the harbour the other way. Unfortunately it was quite windy out on the deck so we elected to sit inside around the table and catch up.

Sue, Marina, and Rudy, with the sun setting against Table Mountain (and the ocean breeze messing up some hair-dos).
Sue, Marina, and Rudy, with the sun setting against Table Mountain (and the ocean breeze messing up some hair-dos).

Which we did. Poor Helene and Lucas had to sit and listen as Marina, Sue, and I did our best to fit our stories together. While I have often told the story of our ‘almost’ big adventure sailing across the Atlantic, Marina ACTUALLY DID IT! And then, after making the crossing, she continued to work on sailboats for another 3 years before returning to her home in Cape Town.

We had a lovely dinner, lamb and potatoes and salad, and coffee and dessert. And we visited for a full five hours. And we’re still not done! All three ‘Cape Towners’ were eager to give us restaurant tips and suggestions for things to do and places to visit. Sue’s notebook has enough places noted in it that we may not eat in on the trip again!

So, before we said our good-night and good-bye, we promised to do this again before we go home — and maybe even meet one or two other ‘sailors’ from that 2002 adventure.

Helene drove us back to our apartment. We were tired but happy — we’d had a very fun evening. So Sue went off to bed while I found an online stream for the first of two NFL play-off games. By just before 3:00am the Kansas City Chiefs had lost to the New England Patriots and I was going to bed.

Sunday Night Football

temps_and_calendar_screenshotAfter staying up way too late last night to watch the first of two NFL playoff games, I slept in this morning — woke up at around 11. It was already HOT outside. I guess we’re not going for one of those all-day City Bus rides with the open upper deck today! Too hot, and too late! I check NFL.com to see what happened in the late game (and I mean LATE! I would have had to stay up until 7 this morning to finish watching it). Well, looks like I missed a dandy. Aaron Rodgers throws another Hail Mary to get the Packers into overtime. And then Larry Fitzgerald, who’s been a standout all game, wins for the Cardinals in OT. I know — I watched all the highlights twice!

After coffees and breakfast we sat around and read. We finally closed all the doors and turned on the AC. Had a very late lunch. Didn’t really feel like doing anything that involved moving around in the heat. (A quick look at my ‘notifications’ shows that there’s nothing up on our calendar, that we’re 8 hours AHEAD of Winnipeg, and that we’re more than SIXTY degrees warmer than Steinbach!) So what should we do? How about going to a movie? It’ll be cool in the theatre, it’s not far to walk, and it would be a shame to just sit in our apartment all day. What’s playing?

And that’s when I discovered that there are TWO movie theatres in the V&A Mall, down near the harbour. I knew about the ‘big’ one, but there’s a second smaller ‘independent’ theatre that’s NOT showing Star Wars right now. So just before 5pm we headed out to the mall.

splashing_in_the_fountainsWhen we got there we heard live music, and saw lots of people enjoying the afternoon. Kids were splashing around in the fountains, the big ferris wheel was doing its best to keep up with the line-ups, and everyone was sitting under big umbrellas at all the indoor and outdoor bars and restaurants.

We bought our tickets to see “The Lady in the Van”, a British comedy-drama starring Maggie Smith as an eccentric homeless woman. It was a little slow, but quite good. And when we got out of the movie at around 7:30 the action outside the mall was still going strong and the sky was not yet dark.

harbour_sealsWe walked back towards our place, but did a little loop around the harbour first — and found a few places that brought back memories of the month we stayed here in 2002 and came down to the harbour (to look for our boat).

Back on Main Road, near our place, we stopped at a restaurant and had supper. Then back up to our room.

panthers_over_seahawksIt was around 9:30pm. I wanted to watch at least the first of this afternoon’s football games — the first one, which starts at 12 noon back home, started at 8pm here. By the time I found a live feed on my computer, the first half was nearly over. Really? 31-0 for the Panthers and it was still the first half? Yikes! This is going to be a blow-out!

Well, I should have known better. Sue always says that if Rudy cheers for a team they are sure to lose (and it’s a good thing I’m a good loser, because more often than not that is true — yesterday the Chiefs, whom I was cheering for, lost. Then I missed the next game, and ‘my’ team won (just barely). Now, as I got myself all connected up and comfortable to watch the Panthers blow out the Seahawks in the second half — ‘my’ team doesn’t score another point and the Seahawks score 24 points and nearly upset Carolina. Whew!

And now one in the morning and I need to get up early for our 8 o’clock golf game tomorrow. So I’ll skip watching the Steelers-Broncos game. Both teams are probably breathing a sigh of relief knowing I’m not cheering for either of them!

 

And today we golfed…

I woke up at 6, an hour before what I’d set the alarm for. Checked my phone — did the Broncos beat the Steelers last night? Yes. Email from Mom? Yes. Email from Tim? Yes. And the next thing we get a FaceTime call from Tim — it’s 10 at night back home, but 6am here. Well, I was up anyway. So after a short visit with Tim and Alex, who have moved into our house, I got out of bed and made coffee. We have a 7:49 tee time at the Metropolitan Golf Course today.

We emptied some of the pockets in our golf bags and headed out. It’s not quite 1km to the golf course if we walk through Green Point Park, past the big World Cup soccer stadium.

aerial view of Cape Town
(1) Our apartment; (2) the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront; (3) Metropolitan Golf Club clubhouse; (4) Sea Point Promenade; (5) Signal Hill; (6) Lion’s Head; (7) Table Mountain (wearing a white table cloth).

The temperature was comfortable, but you sensed it would warm up quite a bit yet. We checked in at the clubhouse, Sue had a muffin, and then we were introduced to our playing partner, Charlie, from Scotland. And then off we went to Tee #1.

The Metropolitan Golf Club is actually only a 9-hole course, but you play 18 holes by going around twice, the second time using alternate tee blocks and greens right behind or beside the ones you used for the first time around.

I dribbled my tee shot almost to the ladies tee. “That’s okay. Take a mulligan,” said the Montrealers in the foursome right behind us.

But after a couple of holes things started to fall into place. Not all our shots were long and straight, but most were. And putting was pretty good, too.

We golfed the loop that made up the first 6 holes of each 9, and then we went back under the road and past the clubhouse to play the last 3 holes on the other side of the road. And each time we passed the clubhouse I had to stop and buy another blue Powerade.

Sue with golf bagBy the time we’d walked (and carried our clubs) for 18 holes the sun was directly above us and it was quite warm, although the occasional sea breeze kept things manageable. But my feet were killing me and it was high time for lunch. Charlie said this was his last golf game here — he is flying home on the weekend — so he gave us all the new balls that he had not shot into the water hazards. We asked Basil, the starter, if he would store our clubs in the club storage (for members), which he did. Then we ordered lunch from the club grille. The cheese burger I ordered had neither cheese nor burger, not even a hamburger bun (they were out), but the cook substituted a slab of grilled chicken, laid it on a couple pieces of bread, put it into a plate of fries, and parked it next to my big cold Namibian beer. So that all worked out okay.

We walked home, stopping to buy a loaf of bread along the way. Back home we changed, drank a few gallons of water, then promptly both fell asleep on the couch. Meddach-schlop.

Around 5pm we felt sufficiently refreshed to sit up and look at our devices again. Man, what did we do before the internets? Happy hour on the balcony, watching all the cars go by. Another shower and a bit of suntan lotion (Sue thinks it works retroactively as well) to make my nose a little less red — I got a bit too much sun at the golf course today!

At 8 we went out for supper around the corner to a fancy burger joint. Food and service is just so great here! Sue had ribs and a salad and a glass of nice red wine, I had a burger and a huge beer…

Back home we plopped ourselves onto our couch and got the Netflix started up again. Narcos, episode 3. Let’s see if we can stay awake for another hour…

 

Day Trip to Simon’s Town

Good morning. What’s on the agenda today? Well, I thought we should take Peter’s car out for a spin.

So mid-morning that’s what we did. Started up the Volvo, drove it out of the garage and turned it south at the intersection. And we’re on the road!

We didn’t really have a plan, but we’d talked about maybe just heading down to Haut Bay and then back home for lunch. Well shoot!, that only took about half an hour and we were just starting to get comfortable! So we pressed on. And soon we were going up and down along the coastline, enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery this side of Chile! The driving was very fast, but we saw probably around a hundred cyclists, and boy!, some of them were coming down the winding passes might fast!

At one point, near Chapman’s Peak, we had to pay a 40 Rand toll, and THEN the road got even more scenic. The Cape’s famous fynbos, growing on steep cliffs, with the road winding up and down, hugging the coastline. Even the rockfall shelters are beautiful!

We were following the M6 highway, which took us across the peninsula and down to False Bay on the other side. We could have continued all the way down to Cape Point at the southern tip, but decided to stop at Simon’s Town for lunch. We parked the car and went across the road to a harbour-front strip of restaurants on the town pier. We enjoyed a big platter of seafood and cold beers, while we looked out at a bay of beautiful sailboats, and were entertained by 5 old black men who were doing a pretty good impression of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. All for about fifteen bucks!

Back in the car after lunch. We took a different, more direct route back to Cape Town. We were using my iPhone with GoogleMaps as our GPS, although the roads and directions were very clearly marked. (Actually the GPS wasn’t the only one telling me how to drive! My co-driver, sitting to my left, was offering constant advice regarding the speed I was driving — I think every time we were in the far-left lane on the four-lane highway she thought I was in the PASSING lane, and forgot that we were in a left-hand traffic country!)

Well, the phone’s GPS served us well, but just as we entered Cape Town, with a drive THROUGH the city left to go, the phone beeped and warned us that the battery was about to go into hibernate-mode. Yikes! No, no, no! Thankfully we managed to get all the way back to our garage before it actually shut down. Whew! I guess I’ll have to go look for a cigarette-lighter adapter before our next drive out into the country.

Back in the apartment I selected a Glenn Frey and Eagles playlist from my music library and hooked up my phone to the stereo. Sue sat on the deck and read. Around 5 o’clock the phone rang. Well actually, A phone rang. I picked up the handset on the kitchen counter — Hello? Hello? — nobody there. I had just sat back down to continue my Eagles reverie when the phone rang again. Again no answer. Huh? Then, while I was standing there looking at the phone, wondering what was going on, a phone rang again! I opened up the door to the storage cabinet under the phone, where the hot water tank is, and there on top of the hot water tank was an old wired in telephone. Hello? Ah, it’s the intercom for the buzzer at the front gate!

I let in the plumber who was here to check on our hot water tank. It only took him a few minutes to deduce that it was the breaker, an electrical problem and not a plumbing problem. So I am to let him know if we have any more hot water issues and if we do he’ll be back with an electrician.

Okay, that’s settled. Time for happy hour out on the patio. G&Ts with a portion of Biltong (for me, some kind of cereal mix for Sue). And then back to our reading and computing. My mom sent me an email complaining that she wasn’t getting enough stories from me! Really? I’m spending half a day at my laptop writing about things we do the other half of the day! So I called her up — and sure enough, they are one day behind on the journal! Oh well, it was good to talk to Mom and Dad — they both seemed to be in good spirits.

At 7pm we went out for supper. Today we turned right at our corner and ended up at a Thai place. It was pretty hot still, so of course we ordered the ‘hot’ chilli paste with our meals. The service was quite relaxed — after a quick gelato from the shop next to the restaurant we got home at 9pm. Just in time for another episode (or two?) of Narcos on Netflix.

In the news: I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Glenn Frey yesterday. The Eagles created a lot of the music that became the soundtrack of my life. RIP.

Adventures on the High Seas

I got up early this morning (6am), not because I had anything to look forward to (like golf), but just because. I checked the hot water — still working! — and called the plumbing company who came to check on it yesterday to let them know it was working. “Great,” says the lady who answered the phone. “Call us next time if you have problems again.” Okay! Thanks so much for coming to check on it! “It was our plizha,” she says.

Did you hear that? THAT’S what makes this place so great! We Canadians might have said, “No problem,” but here they say it was a PLEASURE (and they say it with that cool South African accent).

After breakfast Sue and I looked at some other courses that we might golf at in the next week or two. Sue had finally had it with the dead plants in the planters on our balcony, so she got a big garbage bag and ripped them out. Before lunch we went out to do a bit of shopping: more sunscreen, more beer, more cheese.

Right after lunch Sue figured out how to use the washer and did a load of laundry. It’s a new energy efficient machine, so it took a long time to do a load. No dryer, but a big drying rack in one of the closets got set up in our living room and I left our ceiling fan on high when we left the house a little after 2pm.

We went down to the V&A mall. I was looking for a cigarette adapter to charge my phone (/GPS) in the car. After doinking around at the mall for a while we continued on around the harbour. Our friends Marina and Helene had mentioned that was a regular once-a-week opportunity to go along for a sailboat ride at the Cape Town sailing club. They forwarded the notice to us:

Spend an evening sailing on one of the Royal Cape Yacht Club’s (RCYC) yachts participating in the Lufthansa Twilight Series. Bring warm clothes and a waterproof jacket.

We had tried to ‘pre-register’ by phone a couple of days ago, but were told to ‘just show up’ at around 4pm and they would register us and we’d be sailing by around 4:30. I’d looked up the location of the yacht club on google maps and since it was only about a 4 or 5 Km walk, Sue thought it would be good exercise for us if we walked there.

So we walked. Well, the walk along the harbour wasn’t anything like walking around at the Waterfront or the V&A Mall! No decent sidewalk, lots of big trucks, dirty streets, metal fencing, etc — in other words, a WORKING harbour. It wasn’t as hot today as it had been for the past few, but it was still plenty warm. By the time we finally arrived (safely) at the yacht club, we were hot, sweaty, and thirsty. And a bit too early to register. Okay, let’s go sit in the bar and cool off.

It seemed that ‘registering’ wasn’t as simple as it seemed. I had put our names on a list, but we were about the 15th on the list, and it looked like we might not get to go! Sure, people ahead (and some who’d registered AFTER us) were getting ‘picked’ — but most of them were either ‘experienced sailors’ or cute girls. And because the winds were VERY strong today (last Wednesday they had cancelled the event because of high winds, and the screen in the lobby showed everything after 1pm today was “in the red zone” — so quite a few boats were opting NOT to go out today.

WELL! This did NOT sit well with Sue. We had NOT walked all this way only to get shutout! I urged her to go stand in the lobby and smile at the old sailors and maybe we’d still have a chance. And besides, if it’s too windy to sail, do you REALLY want to be out on the ocean? Well, if we’re not going sailing then we’re WALKING all the way back! Gulp. Okay, I’ll go see what I can do.

And just when we were more or less resigned to a long hot walk back to the apartment, this tiny old lady comes up to us and asks, “Would you like to sail?” Yes! Okay, follow me.

And before you know it we are on a steel 34-foot boat named ‘Cabaray’, with Ray and Liz Matthews, and Christian (a German) and Alan (English). And we are the ‘guests’. And while there is some question as to whether the race will even begin, we will be ready! We no sooner are on the boat and we’re taking sails out and rigging the sheets and a whole bunch of other ‘sailor’ things. And we’re backing out of our slip. And heading out into the open bay. With lots of other boats. It appears the race is on. Did I say race? Oh yes, this is a race. Ray says there are about 80 boats entered, but probably only about 50 will race today. And we are in a class with 7 other similar boats, and will be starting with the second-last group. And while we wait for the start signal we jockey around on the big waves for position — not so close to the start line so as to be OVER when the horn sounds, but also not in the middle of a ‘granny tack’ where we’re facing the wrong direction!

And then we’re off! and it’s a GREAT start. We’re in perfect position. The wind is violent and we’ve had to take the sails down several feet in order to not be ‘over-sailed’. But we are flying. Well, actually we’re keeled over big time — one rail is regularly under water and we are getting soaked with sea spray. But Ray and Allen and Christian are working their butts off, cranking and pulling and ‘coming about’ and not at all worried about the gale force winds. Sue and I are smiling — this is WAY more action than we had bargained for. We didn’t really think it would be an evening ‘cruise’, but by now my palms are raw from pulling ropes and my knees are skinned from running back and forth on top of the boat, raising and then folding the big sails, trying to stay out of the way but helping when it seemed I was needed. This is REAL sailing! I want to get my phone out of Sue’s bag, which is down in the hold, but the sailor quickly advise against it: “Cameras and sea salt are not a good combination.” So the reader will just have to believe me that we were in some mighty big winds, doing our best to lean a keeled-over boat upright, looking out at a lot of other boats fighting to stay perpendicular to the waterline, and not really enough time to consider whether this was fun or scary!

Did I say gale force winds? We had just rounded the first marker and were not sailing WITH the wind (a TERRIFIC start — and about that time Liz mentioned to Sue that LAST YEAR we won the trophy!) when 3 loud bursts of the horn put an end to the race. “They’ve called the race. Too much wind.” Shoot! What now? Do we take down the sails? No, says Christian, let’s sail her back to the docks. So we ‘fly’ home — our speedometer reads more than 7 knots, plus we have a 23 knot wind (30 knots, says Allen, is officially a ‘gale’!). We are really moving.

And that’s about the time our adventure started. We were close to home base when all of a sudden the engine stopped. Oh oh. Our experienced captain (we learned later that he is actually the commodore of the yacht club!) didn’t waste any time. “Hoist the gib!” he shouts. But Allen, who has just carefully taken down the front sail and nicely wrapped it and tied it up, doesn’t respond. He later explains that he did not know we had no engine, so it didn’t make any sense to him to put the sail back up. But now we had NOTHING! Except a huge wind blowing our boat STRAIGHT INTO THOSE BIG ROCKS that protect the harbour! Too late for the sail. Next Ray comes running to the front of the boat, dragging a big heavy old anchor. DROP THE ANCHOR! NOW! But first Christian cuts the sheet from the gib and ties it to the anchor. And then we have to fasten the other end of the rope to the boat. And all the while the winds are getting more violent, the waves are spraying us even more, and the big boulders on the shoreline are getting closer.

Ray gets on his radio, announces that we’ve lost power and need help. He signals to the boats coming into the channel behind us. Soon another big sailboat comes up alongside us, cuts in front of us, swings wildly around towards us on the other side — and CRACKS up against our boat. Everyone on both boats is reaching and pushing away and throwing ropes to try to get towed. But the wind is too rough and we can’t manage it. The other boat pulls away and we continue to drift. It tries again, and this time Christian manages to throw a rope that the guys on the other boat can catch — but ours is a STEEL boat, it’s heavy, and the other boat can’t pull us in this wind. In fact, now THAT boat is in danger of hitting the rocks. They manage to roar away, back into relative safety of the open water.

And now it’s too late for us. Our starboard side bangs up against the wall of rocks. We can hear the keel below crunching on rocks. And then we bob up and down, back off a bit, and bash back up against the rocks. Allen and I are near the front of the boat — feet pushing against the rocks as hard as we can to keep one particularly sharp edge from piercing the side of the boat. Christian is trying to tie bumpers all along the side of the boat to protect it — but the boat shifts forward and back and the bumpers don’t line up with the rocks. More boats come to try to help — but it’s too dangerous for other sailboats to come this close to shore in these rough waters. Eventually a big ‘coast guard’ type of motor boat arrives. But it too can’t tow us off the rocks. And it has trouble getting close enough to us.

Finally a big orange inflatable boat with two big engines in the back and a full crew of ‘rescue’ guys in full wet suits and life jackets arrive. I didn’t really believe that would work, but it did. They pulled us off the rocks, so our boat ‘backed’ off, and the front swung around one last time, clanking against the wall of rocks, and then we were free. Ray kept asking Liz to go down below and see if we were taking on water. By now he had unpacked brand new never-been-used lifejackets and insisted we each put one on. Once we were free from the rocks and ‘safely’ out in open water again, the other motorboat came back and threw us a tow rope. They pulled us all the way to the pier, passing huge brand new catamarans and yachts, many destined for shipment to Florida and the Caribbean. There were about a dozen sailors waiting at the dock, helping to tie our boat up. Even here, the winds made this no small job.

As we were getting towed into the bay, I was thinking about the damage to the boat (and even to the boat that hit us earlier) and I commented to Allen that “sailing is a rich man’s sport”. Allen smiled and said, “You know what they say: If you want to know what it feels like to be a sailor, go stand in a cold shower and burn money!”

Sue and I made our way up the ramp and walked into the yacht club. There was a huge party going on there! I guess 50 or so boats, most with 6 or more people aboard, and the race finished before it really even started — well, 300 people were going to stick around and enjoy themselves. So we did too.

Big beers, cheap hamburgers, and even a guest lecture by a guy who had sailed a sailboat from Cape Town to Argentina, then to South Georgia to climb a mountain, and finally sail back home to Cape Town. Our late arrival back at port meant we missed the lecture. But we had our own story to tell now, and many of the sailors had by now either seen our boat or heard about our problem — so when Ray and Liz and the crew were finally done cleaning up the boat (it will be hoisted out of the sea tomorrow, checked for damage, and they hope it will be racing again next Wednesday night!) and had made it back to the clubhouse — well, they will be telling stories long into the night tonight.

We, on the other hand, were exhausted. Not only windswept and sunburned and feeling dirty with our matted salt-watered hair and icky clothes, but we’re just not used to that much ‘activity’. So we said goodbye to our new friends (who invited and encouraged us to come again next Wednesday!) and went out to find a cab to take us home. But no, here in South Africa people are so kind and friendly. And another ‘friend’, a woman standing in line at the bar with Sue, waiting to be served, offered to give us a ride — and dropped us off right in front of our place. Thanks for the ride!

It was her plizha!

Back at the Met

Woke up at 6, had a quick breakfast, and then hurried across the Main Road and the 10-minute walk to ‘our’ golf course. This morning we bought a 10-pack of ‘vouchers’ at the Metropolitan Golf Club. That gets us a discount for the next 5 outings. The morning was very pleasant — not too hot, a light cool ocean breeze. We were joined on the first tee by Simon, a young man originally from London, now working and living here in Green Point. We had a fairly slow round, but did quite a bit of visiting along the way. On the second fairway, after a very good (for me) drive, I took out my 3-wood and crushed the ball. Unfortunately I also crushed the wing and ribcage of one of the many big birds that were sitting and grazing on the course — not only did my ball stay right there on the grass, about 15 yards from where I’d hit it, but I think that poor bird won’t have survived much more than another day.

By the time we finished our 18 holes it was quite a bit warmer. We stayed at the clubhouse for lunch and then walked back home. Gin & tonics and a couple of Netflix episodes of Narcos — only two left and we’ve completed our first series.

We left the apartment at around 4:30 — Sue had a short grocery list. I wanted to take out more cash — but the ATMs didn’t like my card today. We used up almost all of our cash to pay for the groceries. On the way home we were met by Warren, our ‘maintenance’ man at the apartment. Now HE needed a bit of cash to pay for his electricity at home! But we are OUT of cash! Back inside our apartment Sue managed to ‘find’ some extra Rands and ran downstairs to give that to Warren.

So, instead of picking something up for supper, Sue ate her leftover Thai food and made me a sandwich and salad. That was okay too. We called the SCU to ask about our debit card — but all seems to be in order. We’ll try that again tomorrow.

After supper, at around 7pm, we settled into our usual spots and finished watching the ‘Narcos’ series. After that Sue sat and read while I did some computer work. Went to bed early — tired.

Drive to Stellenbosch

After breakfast we went out for a long walk — first to the Green Point lighthouse (behind the golf course) and then all the way back to the V&A waterfront mall. We tried one of the four ATMs in front of the Pick’nPay store in the lower level and were able to take out 5000 Rand — 2 thousand more than the maximum allowed on any of the ATMs around our place. Plus, we were relieved to know that our bank card was working again. I also bought a lighter adapter so we could charge my iPhone in the car — and avoid running out of battery with our ‘GPS’ next time we take a drive. Just after the noon cannon shook the place (really! it’s up on the hill behind our apartment and you can hear it all over Cape Town), we headed back home.

After lunch (sandwich for me and some kind of homemade rice concoction Sue made for herself), we took our maps and my new USB-lighter-charger and went down to the garage.

Our destination was Stellenbosch. Along the way we stopped to check out 2 golf courses not far from our place — Mowbray and Rondebosch. Both had plenty of ‘public’ tee times available. So that is an option for us as we move forward.

Then we drove past some SERIOUS shanty-towns and made our way out to Stellenbosch, about 45 minutes away. Once there, we parked near the tourist information centre and wandered into the centre of town. There is a big shopping area downtown — and as strolled around we remembered some of the shops and the layout of the mall and the adjacent parking lot from when we were here in the fall of 2001, staying in Franschhoek and would make day trips to Stellenbosch.

After a couple of big cappuccinos and a McFlurry at the McCafe we headed into the mall and wandered around until we found the Woolworths store. Sue was looking for sandals. Eventually we got out of there and found our way back to the Volvo. We google ‘Home’ and the darn phone guides us back to Cape Town, then THROUGH Cape Town, and up along the ‘High Street’ behind our place, and right into our garage. Whew!

We had our happy hour on the deck and then I queued up one of my movie downloads. After we’d watched our movie (“Anomolisa”) we headed out into town — and found ourselves in another of the many restaurants on our street. We ordered mussels, an avocado salad, and shared a pizza — after all, it’s Friday night.

Back at our house we sat at our devices for a while. Opened the patio door to let a big breeze blow some moderating temperatures through the apartment.

I wrote my nightly blog entry, but I must have been sleeping while I was doing it! When I suddenly sat up, awake again, and read what I’d just written, I had NO idea what or why I’d written that — and some of it made no sense at all! I read it aloud to Sue. She laughed and said I’d better “un-post” it. Which I did. I fixed it up a bit and “saved” it, and quickly headed off to bed before I had any second thoughts about what I just “published”.

Saturday Housekeeping

I went to the bakery to buy a fresh loaf of bread this morning — to go with the bacon and eggs Sue made for breakfast. Then it was time to clean up the place. Sue swept the deck, washed the floors, cleaned the barbecue. By the time that was done it was time for lunch! Leftover pizza from last night — just as good the second time around.

sue_on_lighthouse_walkAfter lunch we went for another long walk around Green Point Park. We again ended up at the V&A Mall. I went to see a movie (“The Revenant”) while Sue shopped for sandals (she’d heard the movie was quite violent and didn’t want to see it). The movie was more than 2.5 hours long (but excellent!) and when I came out of the theatre there was Sue sitting and having a nice big cappuccino in the theatre’s cafe. We went out into the big square outside the mall — the sun was warm, but not as hot as it has been here most days. People were enjoying the live music and watching the children playing.

braai_on_the_deckWe walked back to the apartment, making a pit-stop at the butcher shop to pick up half a dozen skewers of chicken. After happy hour and then got supper ready — our first ‘Braai’ (that’s what they call a BBQ in South Africa). And that little Weber on our deck did a very nice job! We ate out on the deck too, watching the people and cars going by, a refreshing cool breeze coming in from the ocean, listening to music emanating from some of the cars on the street and other apartments around us — we sat out there until the sun was down and the (nearly) full moon was shining brightly.

And then it was time to go inside and crank up another movie, “Trumbo”. It was 11 o’clock when the movie ended — and time to go to bed. Got an early start again tomorrow: 8 o’clock tee time at the Metropolitan.

A break from the heat

Light cloud cover this morning as we drove to the golf course — we took the car because we wanted to take our clubs home so we can go to one of the other courses here in Cape Town this week. We had a tee time for 8:17. We were paired up with a couple of young university boys from Stellenbosch. The 20-year-old was a big strapping rugby player; his 23-year-old brother was smaller, but could out-drive the athlete. I finally figured out that the ‘yardage’ on the golf courses here are not ‘yards’ — they are meters. No wonder I was consistently short with my shots. But that made it all the more impressive to watch these two guys hit their drives! On the 16th par 4 the tees were 300 meters from the middle of the green. We’d already witnessed each of the guys drive the green a couple of times — on this hole Heinrich didn’t wait for the foursome ahead to walk off the green and put his 301 meter tee shot just past the hole. The group ahead were not overly impressed, but I sure was!

We got back to our apartment around 1 o’clock. Some of the roads around the big soccer stadium were cordoned off so we had to drive the long way around to get home. As we ate our lunch we watched and listened to the throngs of fans driving past our building on their way to the big Sunday afternoon soccer game. Lots of singing, cheering, honking, and ‘vuvuzelaying‘. Sue read all afternoon and finished her book, ‘Cool Water’. I had a nap.

At around 5 we had a short FaceTime with our kids — they were just sitting down for bacon and eggs. Then we headed out for supper. And we took our sweaters with us! That is a first since we arrived here. It was actually cooling off a bit! We went to Hudson’s, a very busy hamburger restaurant a few blocks from our place. Pretty good. We stopped for gelato on the way home.

Back at home I hooked up my computer to the TV and we watched the movie “Sicario”. Pretty good. It was eleven o’clock when we finished the movie. I turned off the TV. I heard some dripping noises coming from the open window — hey, it’s drizzling. Then I found a video stream online of the first of 2 NFL playoff games on the computer. By 11:30 it was actually raining pretty hard outside! The farmers and the golf courses around here will be VERY happy with that. And it will nicely wash the streets and sidewalks clean.

It was 1:30AM when the backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning) finally took his team to the Superbowl, beating Tom Brady’s Patriots in a close game — worth staying up late to watch!

News of the day: Tim’s sister Carrie had a baby girl!

A Lazy Day at Home

After a late night (I stayed up to watch a quarter and a half of the Carolina-Arizona NFL game last night — by which time it was clear that the Panthers would win easily), I slept in a bit this morning. But by 8 o’clock we were sitting in our usual spots drinking our morning Aeropress coffee.

I spent the rest of the day working on some projects on my computer. Sue read. After yesterday’s cloud and rain, the sun was out again today, although not as hot as it’s been. And Sue had had enough of looking out our streaky windows at the action on the street below — she got out a big pail and a bunch of her special micro-fibre cloths and cleaned our windows. And blinds. And now it’s bright and shiny in our place and if you don’t notice the difference then Sue will tell you about it. We made a quick trip to the corner Ultra to buy more libations before lunch.

After we’d eaten our sandwiches we had more of the same: reading and computing. And all that work can really tucker you out — so we had naps too. After my nap Sue and I went down to the Main Road and bought ourselves some ‘ready-to-eat’ meals from the always-busy Giovanni’s Deli just around the corner. Sue zapped our dinners in the microwave and we washed down our fish and chicken dinners with some of that famous South African ‘pinotage’ we’d bought earlier in the day.

And then it was movie time again. First, “45 Years”, a lovely British film — quiet and complex, starring Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling (who is nominated for a Best Actress oscar). We followed that up with the movie “Youth”, starring Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine — and although the movie LOOKED fantastic and had a marvellous soundtrack (a song from the movie is nominated for a Best Song oscar) it was just a little too obtuse and weird for our liking.

And that brought us to the end of another great day in Cape Town.

Bacon on Bree and a Braai on the Balcony

Got up, made coffee, read the news. Sue made breakfast and wondered why I don’t ever mention the f-f-f-FABulous (Millie’s expression) fruit we eat here in South Africa. And right while she was saying that I was thinking, “What exactly does Sue think is so great about fresh papaya and bananas?” We’re such a good couple…

After breakfast Sue read her book and I worked on a website. Just before 11 we headed out; destination: Bree Street in the City Centre. Google Maps said it was 2.2 kms to get to the part of town where all the ‘cool’ restaurants were. But we stopped at some kitchen stores and some grocery stores along the way and it was probably close to noon by the time we had walked most of the way up Bree Street and decided on a lunch place. And that’s how we found ourselves sitting at a small outdoor table on the sidewalk in front of Bacon on Bree. Guess what they serve there? Well, the folks sitting next to us got a couple of plates with HUMUNGOUS burgers on them — and bacon spilling out from all sides of the bun. I was tempted, but Sue nixed that idea. So we looked at the ‘Breakfast’ choices. And ordered the first two on the menu, eggs and toast for Sue, and some kinda Mexican bean breakfast with a sausage for me (no need for ‘toast’ — bread is much too fattening for me anyway).

So if the Canadian dollar ever goes back up a bit and the hog farmers in Manitoba find themselves needing a new market for their pork, well… I know Ed has ‘schracklich fail schwien’ in his barns, but this bacon joint was serving it up like it was as cheap as oil in Alberta!

On the way home we stopped at some of those stores we’d “browsed through” on our way up and Sue bought a few knick-knacks for the kitchen. Then, once we got close to home, I went to the Ultra Bottle Shop and got a couple of 6-packs of Pilsner Urquell and Sue went to the butcher shop to get some skewers of lamb and beef for tonight’s supper. We got into the apartment at 2:30 — we’d walked just over 7 kms, had a great lunch, and were all set for our supper to boot!

Sue finished her book, Fifteen Dogs, and started her next one. I got going on a new website. No nap today. At around 6:30 it was time for supper. Sue cooked some manicotti and cauliflower while I barbecued the beef and lamb on the ‘braai‘ on our balcony. (The two university boys we golfed with the other day told us that actually a ‘real’ braai involves charcoal, and what we have is just a ‘wannabe’ braai!)

When Sue had the dishes all cleaned away it was time for our evening matinee. Tonight’s feature film was Brooklyn, nominated for 3 Academy Awards. Sue said it was a ‘sappy story’, but she sure enjoyed crying most of the way through it. After the movie we watched CBC’s “The National” on my computer and had some yogurt for dessert. And that’s the way it was today in Cape Town.

That’s what retired people DO.

Made coffee and had breakfast. Sat around for a couple of hours, working on logos while Sue did laundry. There was a bit of excitement here for a while — I went out to see what all the kerfuffle was all about and learned that there were 2 cobra snakes on top of our roof! Dangerous, too. At least that’s what the girl in the hallway said to me. And her boyfriend was on the phone calling some snake charmer to come and get rid of it. And SHE was calling the SPCA to do the same. And then here comes Warren, the maintenance man, and he too is all excited about the snakes. And down on the street there’s a small crowd gathering on the sidewalk, and they’re pointing at our roof and gesturing away. And the girl in the hallway says that it’s that time of year here, and the snakes are up on the mountain but these two apparently came down into the city and found their way up onto our roof! It makes no sense to me. Warren and the girl head downstairs and out onto the road up the street. The boyfriend and I follow. As we get to the next apartment block we look up and there, about 6 stories up, someone is calling down to us from an open window. “What’s going on down there?” Can you see it? “See what?” There’s two snakes on the roof of our building! “Yeah, I see ’em. You mean those toy snakes?” Toy snakes? “Yeah, they’re just toy snakes!” Well, that figures! It just didn’t make any sense that cobras would crawl up onto the top of our building — what’s there for them? Excitement’s over. The group of onlookers on the sidewalk heard what the guy in the window said and disperse. Everyone feels like an idiot. I see the ‘head’ of one of the toy snakes hanging over the edge of the roof. It’s not moving.

At around 10:30 Sue and I head out. We’re going to walk the Sea Point promenade again. It’s cloudy and cooler today. NOTHING like it’s been here for the past 2 weeks. Great temperature for a long walk. Half an hour into the walk I ask Sue if she has her bus pass. Oh no, I forgot it! Okay, I guess we’re walking all the way home then. Which we do, but we come back along the Main Road instead of along the coast. That way we can stop and browse through a couple of very impressive large grocery stores — and see the fresh muffins on the bakery shelves and smell the coffees in the fancy coffee shops. And keep walking. The 8.5 kms took us a couple of hours to walk, what with all the stops.

Sue made some super sandwiches for our lunch. The rest of the afternoon I was on the computer and Sue was reading. And at one point she says, if old retired people like us can’t spend the day doing nothing but going for a walk and then sitting in the comfort of their home and reading — well, what else is ‘retirement’ about anyway!

At around 4 my computer interrupts me with a FaceTime call — Max and Alex! It was great to visit with them. Then, after our usual happy hour, I went out to the Asian restaurant around the corner and ordered sushi takeout. I didn’t really know what I was all ordering, but when I brought it home and opened up all the containers it turned out pretty good!

And then it was time for the movies. Today I wanted to watch Mad Max: Fury Road. I didn’t REALLY want to watch it — the preview looked like crap. I hadn’t even really heard or seen much about the movie, but now that I have the list of Oscar nominees I noted that this movie was nominated for TEN academy awards, including Best Picture! So really, I felt obliged to see it. Sue had already said she wasn’t at all interested, and I had offered to watch it alone, but now we figured we should at least give it a try. We are old, but not so old that we can’t try new things even if we THINK we won’t like them. Kind of like sushi.

Well, I’m all for relaxing and enjoying the passing of time, but after about 30 minutes of that movie we both couldn’t take it any more! Even RETIRED people don’t have time for that kind of make believe nonsense. And we really did try! But this was such DRIVEL…

So we stopped that movie, and started up another one — Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. Nothing to action-packed here either! In fact we had to pay attention and follow along with the subtitles. It was WAY better than that first film. But even so, by 9:30 we were both getting too sleepy to continue. So we put it on pause — we’ll finish it another time — and headed for bed. That’s what RETIRED people do.

Good Golf, Good Friends

Some days here in Cape Town we do NOTHING — and it’s hard to keep my commitment to write in my journal EVERY day when we basically eat and sleep. Speaking of journals, we start each morning by checking the news, our emails, and a couple of blogs. And this morning, after I made coffee and sat down to ponder the state of affairs like I do every morning, I read the final entry in David Banman’s blog, Flatlander Climbing. We’ve been following his adventures day-by-day and I’ll miss that after today. What a great story. What good writing! Reading his entries makes me want to give up MY blog!

Anyway, as I was saying, some days we do nothing, and some days it pours. Today is one of those days.

We started off the day by hopping into our car and driving out to the Rondebosch Golf Club where we had an 8 o’clock tee time. We were a bit rushed and thought we’d have to fight rush hour traffic, but we got to the course right on time. The starter asked if we were ready to go right away, so that’s what we did. Rudy and Sue, just the two of us, teeing off on Hole #11 (a bit of a weird layout, we’d golf 11 to 18, then have 30 minutes for ‘breakfast’, then golf 1 to 10 to finish the round). And what a great time we had! Never really waiting for the group ahead, never feeling pushed by the group following (in fact, no one behind us for the entire ‘back’ 9!). The temperature was in the low to mid 20s, just enough clouds to keep the sun from baking us, and both of us shooting some fine golf shots. Add to that a ‘breakfast’ of egg and bacon sandwich with french fries (okay, Sue had a muffin and coffee) and a final score of 93 for me (my first 3 rounds in Cape Town were all close to 100, and this was a full par 72 18-hole course!) — well, it was a ‘red-letter day’ all the way!

Back at home shortly after one — Sue made a quick bread and wine run and then we had our sandwiches for lunch.

After lunch we went back to the big Woolworths down the street for a more substantial shopping expedition — mostly groceries and supplies. By 5 o’clock we’d cleaned up the apartment, showered and changed, and were ready for our 6 o’clock meeting at the Hudsons, the burger joint a couple blocks away.

On the way out to the restaurant we got a text from Marina — they’d be a bit late. No problem. Sue and I got our ‘reserved’ table and ordered our drinks and waited for Marina and her brother Rohann to show up. The arrived about 20 minutes late. We’d just said our hellos (we hadn’t seen Rohann since that day 15 years ago when we said goodbye and abandoned the sailing trip) when who walks up to our table but Carol, another of the ones who actually did the crossing in 2002. We’d had dinner’s at Carol’s house, and also spent quite a bit of time with her.

So now we were all here: Marina and her brother Rohann and their friend Carol — the only one missing was Ferdi, the captain. But then again, he was the guy ‘missing’ for most of that month we spent here in 2002! And as it turned out, the South African people had no shortage of stories about Ferdi.

We quickly decided that Hudsons was WAY too loud for us to do any visiting. Marina had brought along a photo album and we were going to look at it together — but we couldn’t really hear ourselves. So we all got up and walked back, heading for our apartment — but along the way we passed a little ‘Simply Asia’ restaurant, perfect for what we wanted. So we pushed together two outdoor tables and spent the rest of our evening there.

We ordered our food and then began visiting. Sue and Carol were at one end of the table, Marina and Rohann and I were at the other. We hardly had time to eat — so much fun reminiscing and catching up.

Carol, Marina and Emma, Sue, Rudy, and Rohann
Carol, Marina and Emma, Sue, Rudy, and Rohann

At some point in the evening Marina’s daughter Emma joined us — her father dropped her off at the restaurant. By 9:15 it was time to say goodbye — but we all agreed to meet again and continue our catching up.

While the others got into their cars and had to drive home, Sue and I walked back to our apartment. It sure looked nice and clean — too bad we never had our visitors over to enjoy it! But we’d had a great visit, and we were actually looking forward to our next one.

 

 

Friday Night Pizza, #118

We woke up early. Made coffee twice this morning; two cups each. I worked on an illustration trace for most of the morning. Sue went out for a haircut, and a really good one it was (translation: I wouldn’t have noticed any difference if she hadn’t told me). At around 10:30 we sent a text to Marina’s friend Helene that we would be stopping by her apartment on Sea Point to pick up some coupons she’d offered to give us — two-for-one golf and a few restaurant deals from one of those coupon books. By the time we had walked along the promenade all the way to her place she wasn’t home — but she’d left an envelope for us at the front desk. Great.

paragliding
Almost every day there are a row of paragliders coming down from the top of Signal Hill and Lion’s Head, floating down over the golf course and landing here beside the shoreline on Mouille Point.

We continued our walk back towards our place, first stopping at the V&A to get more cash from the ATM. The noon cannon sounded just as I unlocked the door into our apartment. And then lunch was served!

After lunch we restarted the movie we started a couple of nights ago, Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, a Japanese movie about a girl who thinks the movie Fargo is ‘real’. Quiet, subtitles, a little strange, but okay.

After the movie we had our happy hour out on the patio. Sue had emailed Peter about the car registration and we now got an email back reassuring us that all was okay. I watched some guy trying to fill his overheating radiator with water down on the street below our balcony — and he got his nice white shirt and dress pants all sprayed up with anti-freeze when he opened the rad cap. Yeah, little things like that amuse an old guy like me. That, and the traffic jams on our little access road during Friday night rush hour.

Sofisticata -- stracciatella chees, parma ham, balsamic reduction & sun-dried tomatoes
Sofisticata — stracciatella cheese, parma ham, balsamic reduction & sun-dried tomatoes

Soon after happy hour it was time to think about supper. Where should we go today? Well, it’s Friday — so of course we’ll have pizza. Do you wanna go out? Just as much fun getting takeout and having it here. Okay, where shall we order from? I’ll ask Siri. She suggests Big Route Pizza, just around the corner from our house. TripAdvisor gives it 5 stars! Well! That’s easy enough.

After supper (the wood-fired pizza was as good as the reviews said it would be!) we cued up another Oscar-nominated movie, Carol. We ended the day watching the CBC ‘At Issue’ Panel.

Dinner at Hildebrands’

Cyclists in front of the Moulle Point lighthouse.No bacon and eggs this morning. That’s not how most Saturday’s start — and actually, that’s not quite true for THIS Saturday either. No bacon and eggs AT HOME is more like it. We had our morning coffee but then went for a short walk to the Mouille Point lighthouse — that famous ‘barber-pole’ landmark that’s a 10-minute walk from here. We met Marina at a little cafe overlooking the park and the coast. And THAT’s where we had bacon and eggs. And visited with Marina for a couple of hours. I returned the photo album chronicling her 2002 Atlantic crossing that she’d let me borrow for a few days. Now we had a chance to catch up, to hear about some of the experiences and events of her life during and after that trip.

After breakfast Sue and I continued our walk along the promenade for another mile or two, coming back through Green Park which is right next to ‘our’ golf course. Wow! What a nice park! Lots of people were gathering in groups at picnic tables, quite a few extravagant birthday parties were set up wherever there was a shady spot under a few trees — kind of like Kildonan Park on a summer weekend at home. Our location here really is ideal; we are so close to so many of the best things in Cape Town.

Having such a large (and late) breakfast meant that we somehow or other missed lunch 🙁

Sue read and I worked through an online web tutorial in the afternoon — one way to avoid the heat of midday. We ‘FaceTimed’ with our kids at around 4:15 (that’s 8:15am, breakfast time for them) and then headed back outside. We had to hurry just a bit to get to the V&A and buy our tickets for a 5 o’clock showing of “Suffragette”. Saturday afternoon at the movies is another good way to escape the heat. And the movie was very good — we both enjoyed it a lot.

Crazy cloud formation swooping down over the top of Table Mountain.
Crazy cloud formation swooping down over the top of Table Mountain.

After the movie we headed out onto the waterfront. It’s like a huge “The Forks” — lots of people, lots of kids, lots of entertainers and music and buskers, lots of restaurants. Some great views of Table Mountain from here. And lots of boats, including sailboats. I remember how we came down here almost daily back in 2002, looking (and hoping) to see ‘our boat’ — the one that never arrived. And as we wandered around we saw more things that brought back reminders of our time here 14 years ago. Familiar sights. One of which was the Hildebrand Ristorante. So we sat down at a table under an umbrella and talked about Ed and Millie and what a nice place they have here!

When we’d finished our pasta and seafood dishes it was around 8:30 and the sun had set. We headed back home. We passed the giant soccer stadium.  A ring of lights from the city circled the base of Signal Hill ahead of us. When we got back to our apartment we opened up the patio door and enjoyed the coolness of the evening with a glass of wine. It’s beautiful here.

 

Sunday in Cape Town

Since I was completely exhausted last night and couldn’t stay awake long enough to write my journal entry, I did that first thing this morning. Sue was itching to go for a morning walk early enough to miss the heat — the forecast high for today was low to mid-30s. So after I finished my entry and my first cup of coffee, out we went. We headed to the V&A Waterfront — we wanted to find out how far ahead we’d need to book the ferry out to Robben Island, something we want to do together with Robert and Arlene when they join us here at the end of the week. Looks like a day or two before we want to go should be okay.

After wandering around the waterfront we found ourselves on the boardwalk leading back to Sea Point. The views of the waterfront, the big shopping arcades, the huge stately V&A Hotel, the big soccer stadium, and a backdrop of Table Mountain — stunning. Lots of people out for a walk, a jog, a sail, and an impressive number of cyclists and cycling groups. And of course, lots of folks enjoying Sunday brunch at the restaurants and cafes that lined Beach Road.

We made our way around the coastline until we got back to the lighthouse and then headed back home through the park. We passed the big stadium again — the parking lots around it had quite a few cars and even more busses parked there. The sound coming from the stadium sounded more like preaching than like soccer or track-and-field cheering. By the time we got home and were sitting down to our bacon-and-egg breakfast, the strains of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and“Nimm Zeit Dir Zur Andacht” (I’ve forgotten the title of the English version) were echoing up to our balcony from the stadium. All I needed now was a quick lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup, a bit of golf on the TV, and some medach-schlop.

But no, we decided to take Peter’s nice Volvo out for a spin on this Sunday afternoon. Destination? How about up to Milnerton, where there is a new golf course right alongside the ocean? It’s HOT today, not a lot of wind, and traffic won’t be too bad. Okay.

And it was a great day to drive the convertible with the top down. What an amazing car! Sue pushed a button on the console and voila! the roof of the car lifted up, divided into sections, and lowered itself into the open trunk! Das tut automatic! Passersby stopped and stared! Yeah, we’re cool! “The name’s Bond — James Bond!” (If my video didn’t take so long to upload I’d show you how the same thing happens in reverse when you press the ‘top up’ button.)

Luckily we’d put a bit of sunscreen on our schnazes. rudy_getting_our_of_volvo After stopping in at the golf course we continued up the coast to a place called Table View, a west coast suburb of Cape Town. You can probably guess why it’s so-named. We parked at the roadside parking lot and took a quick walk down to the beach. Yikes! the sand is hot and the sun even hotter! Quite a few families are out on the beach; surfers on the water — and we’re quite sure we also saw a couple of dolphins playfully racing with each other — jumping right out of the water.

sue_on_the_beachWe didn’t stay long. We drove the 30-minute drive back to our apartment. We parked the car and made a quick trip to the butcher shop to pick up some sausage (to go with our cheese and crackers for ‘coffee break’) and a couple of rib-eyes to braai for supper.

While Sue quickly finished reading her bookclub book, “Slade House”, I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix: first “How to Live on a Dollar a Day” (a couple of Americans try to survive in Guatemala on the average daily Guatemalan income),  followed by “Cowspiracy” (all about how bad the beef industry, okay the animal agriculture industry, is for the planet and for humans). Yikes! That won’t make the steak barbecue today taste any better!

Just as I lit the barbecue I heard a crash and a guy swearing loudly — so I went out on the balcony to witness a (probably drunk) old white guy get physical with the black driver of the car the white guy had bashed into from behind. Idiot. A taxi driver and another tenant here both got involved (and the black taxi driver also got pushed around) before they dispersed.

That little Webber barbecue on our deck does a pretty good job on a piece of dead cow! We sat out on the patio and enjoyed our (last?) piece of beef. The outside temperature was now perfectly comfortable.

By 9 o’clock Sue had supper cleaned up and we were back in our seats. What should we watch tonight? I found CBS Sunday Morning online and we watched that. A short snippet from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

At 11pm we’d completed another Sunday in Cape Town.

Monday at the Met

Monday morning — after a quick coffee, fruit, and toast, we hop into our car and head across the highway to ‘our’ golf course, The Metropolitan. We haven’t been there for over a week. Mondays are ‘cheap golf’ days at the Met. We register and I rent a pull cart — my golf bag stand is broken. It’s only 70 Rand to rent a cart (about $6 CAD) but I ask ‘my friend’ the starter (Basil, as in the guy in Faulty Towers) if he happens to have any cheap used pull carts. “Okay, Mr Rudy, I’ll look after you.” And by the time we finished our the first 5 holes and we’re passing the clubhouse Basil has a deal for me: 200 Rand for a used pull cart. “And I’ll r-r-r-ite your name on it.” Deal.

We golfed with an elderly couple (he was 80) from the Netherlands. They are members at this course (and have been for many years), even though nowadays they come to Cape Town for only 5 weeks a year. Simon was a surgeon here for many years — he worked together with Dr Christiaan Barnard, the South African surgeon who performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant in 1967. And both Simon and his wife ‘Pellie’ were pretty good golfers.

This morning there was a cool mist and fog for much of our round — so foggy we often couldn’t see where our drives landed. But the temperature was much more bearable and we actually liked the change. I golfed better than I have for the last few rounds; Sue not as well. But we had fun.

We had lunch back at our apartment at around 1:30. Sue read, I worked on some files. Late afternoon I went to the liquor store at the corner and bought a bag of craft beers — and Sue and I did a little taste test when I got back. Max facetimed us — he’d just watched my video of the convertible top coming down on the car, and he wanted to tell us how much he enjoyed that.

We went to ‘Woolies’ (that’s what everyone here calls Woolworths, which is one of the more ‘upscale’ chains here) and picked up a couple of those ‘pastys’ (kind of like empanadas) I keep wanting to try. We took them back to the apartment, Sue made a salad, and we had supper on our patio. Perfect temperature, just sitting there outside, watching the world go by.

After supper we watched the last of my movie downloads, “The Danish Girl”, which is nominated for 4 Oscars. Well, actually Sue watched it. I missed all the exciting parts of the movie because I had to have a few ‘little rests’. At 11 pm Sue said she was going to bed and I should too. So we did.

Too windy to hike

We had planned to try the hike up to the top of Lion’s Head today, but Sue’s trusty iPad told her it would be much too windy. So instead, after breakfast we went out for another LONG walk — out along the promenade. We watched quite a few paragliders land in the park along the coastline. It was hot again, although the gentle sea breeze kept it manageable. On our way back home we walked through Green Park, as we usually do. We even took a little side-trip into the ‘Biodiversity Garden’, a large garden with informative signs that describe the plantings along the pathways.

Back at our apartment, we had lunch out on our balcony. A perfect day (again!). So much for trusting that iPad.

maredsous-belgian-beer
Maredsous 8 – Brune. A Belgian brown ale brewed according to Benedictine tradition. BeerAdvocate rates it “Outstanding” and RateBeer gives it a 92.

Sue read a bit in the afternoon and we took turns having a little snooze. We tried to watch a bit of American news on our AppleTV — “Good Morning America” was analyzing the results of the first 2016 Presidential primary in Iowa. The big news: Trump lost to Cruz, and Hillary and Bernie Sanders tied. Well, you can only listen to that ‘noise’ for so long. Time to open up another of my imported fancy beers and go sit out on the balcony and look out at the real world.

By supper time the wind had picked up quite a bit. (See? I TOLD you the iPad was right!) We actually both took a sweater out with us when we went for supper.

We went to Rustica, an Italian-style restaurant just down the street. The food was okay, but we decided we’d try a few others before we’d go back there. We stopped at the Woolworths to pick up some eggs (tomorrow’s breakfast) and a chocolate bar (tonight’s night snack) and a big cappuccino to go (to go with our chocolate bar).

Back at our stations I connected the TV to my MacBook and played another of my movies, “In the Heart of the Sea”. It’s a Ron Howard film that tells the story of how Herman Melville came to write his epic, “Moby Dick”. And so it is sort of the ‘real’ story of Moby Dick. Well, not really. But it’s 2 hours of a very big whale getting back at the whalers who are trying to kill it. It was okay (but we we’ll try a few others before seeing it again!).

At one point in the movie, when the sailors are stranded and starving on a deserted island thousands of miles from civilization, Sue said, “Can’t they just text somebody for help?” This, while she was texting with Alex while watching the movie. Seriously! What is this world coming to? We can’t go on a ‘real’ hike, and we can’t even enjoy a ‘virtual’ disaster without first poking and swiping that damn iPad! The only relief is that the machine has a battery that runs down — so before we go to bed we need to close the lid and plug that baby in and let it charge overnight while we too get some rest. And then in the morning, we’ll wake up all refreshed and ready to face a new day — but first, let’s check the iPad and see what we missed while we were sleeping. And let’s see what the weather forecast is for today…

More of the same

I got up at 7; Sue slept an extra half hour because she had a few hours at night without sleep — she blamed it on ‘that rich food’ she had for supper last night. We had scrambled eggs and the last of our nice ground coffee for breakfast. The winds were still blowing pretty good — maybe the weather man was finally reading the same forecast we were.

We spent the morning at home. We’d been looking for accommodations for us for the last week of February, after Robert and Arlene leave for home and before our final month back here in Cape Town, but nothing seemed to be working out for us. We’d phoned and emailed a number of places, but no one had availability for the dates we needed. So this morning, after some discussion, we decided to email Peter and see if we couldn’t just come back to our apartment here for the last week of February. Why not? We’ve come to like it here quite a lot and it would be so convenient for us if we could just leave some of our stuff here while we go to Namibia a week from now.

Mid-afternoon we ventured out. We ended up at the V&A Waterfront and had a nice big coffee and some mini-doughnuts at the Mug & Bean shop there. There was a big luxury yacht moored just outside — we went to take a closer look.The boat’s name was Vava II, from Georgetown, in the Cayman Islands.

Vava II Superyacht
The 314ft-long Vava II – which costs more than £250,000 just to fill the fuel tanks – was commissioned for former Miss UK Kirsty Bertarelli, by her billionaire husband Ernesto.

There was a helicopter on top of the boat, and very fancy glass windows and staircases. Apparently it has a variable depth swimming pool too! I looked it up when we got back to the apartment — the yacht cost 160 million dollars to build!

We picked up supper fixings at ‘Woolies’ on our way home. In the mean time we’d heard back from Peter — we’re all set to stay here at his apartment for the extra week as well. That was good news — no more hunting for B&Bs for the end of February.

After supper we watched a bit of news on TV. Sue read and I worked on the computer for a bit. Well, actually I had a bit of a nap first. We went to bed by midnight — we’ve got to get up early tomorrow for our Thursday morning golf game back at Rondebosch.

Whoa! That’s a lot of walking!

Alarm at 6. Out of the apartment by 7. Tee time at Rondebosch for 8:05, but we were off on our first tee by 7:30. Great weather. Great conditions. That new pull cart I just bought from Basil is great! So once again it’s just Sue and me on the course. Some good shots. Some GREAT shots. And unfortunately, too often it was just plain too MANY shots. But fun. We were done by 11:30, home for lunch just before 12. I entered our scores — not our best game! But lots of fun. Can’t wait to do it again. But I hauled our clubs and my ‘new’ pull-cart upstairs and stashed them in an extra closet — Won’t be needing them again until late February when we come back here.

Max and a Snowman
Two cute snowmen on the deck at the back of our house. All Smiles!

After a short after-dinner nap we walked (did I mention we WALKED 18 holes this morning?) down to the big fancy ‘Checkers’ grocery store down in Sea Point. Another 4km walk. My feet can’t take this! We used our bus cards to take the bus back to our place. We were just home when my phone starts ringing the FaceTime chimes. It’s a call from Max and Alex, wanting to say Good Morning! Talk about a kid that’s just ALWAYS HAPPY. My mom would say, “Immer Frölich, immer frölich, alle Tage Sonnenschein.” Yeah, I think Max probably wrote that song. Here’s a photo we got a from last weekend when he and his parents built a snowman on our back deck.

Anyway, it was great to FaceTime with them. I’d received a email from my mother, so I decided to give her a Skype call. Dad had just gone for coffee but Mom was home and happy to talk. They are doing fine. She had just heard that our friend Mary Ann’s father, C. Wilbert, had passed away. We told her we’d had TWO emails like that yesterday — the other one was from Noreen, letting us know that Ron’s father had died. In the last two weeks three of our friends’ parents have passed away.

I had just hauled out the vacuum cleaner and was doing the ‘once-over’ when my phone ringtone sounded. Phone call from Peter. We gave him a bit of a report and went over a few things about the car and the neighbourhood. Then at one point Peter tells us that whatever our plans for tonight are, we must cancel them — it’s “First Thursday” today, not just in Cape Town, but even in Toronto! Well! What’s First Thursday? On the first Thursday of every month, people in various cities around the world go out and explore art galleries and cultural attractions all evening for free. You get a map and you trot from one gallery to the next, and sometimes you even get a glass of wine and something to eat, and that too is often free. And by later in the evening it just turns into a giant street party. According to Peter, we MUST see this. So I look up to see where in Cape Town this is taking place and how to get there and soon we are up behind our house, on High Level Road, waiting for a bus to take us to Bree Street. And eventually, a bus DOES show up and takes us to the ‘happening’ area. LOTS of people out. We don’t even need a map to show us where the next gallery on our ‘tour’ is — we just look for people spilling out of a building, usually with a glass of wine or a beer in hand — that is where the next stop on our tour is.

Street acrobats in Cape Town
Street acrobats entertain some of the visitors who came to Bree Street for “First Thursday”.

We ran out of energy. Yeah, it was nice to walk into some of the art galleries in downtown Cape Town. And MY GOODNESS there sure are a LOT of people milling about in the streets – and there sure are a lot of VERY ATTRACTIVE YOUNG people milling about in the streets. This could be a really fun party, but right now Sue needed to eat something. So, with all the quaint little cafes and shops now completely packed, overflowing with all these beautiful people, what were our options? As we were walking back towards our apartment, away from the busy centre where all the action was, we spotted a ‘Simply Thai’ (chain) restaurant with a couple of empty tables outside. We’re eating here. We got a table and ordered a couple of spicy noodle dishes. Just what we needed.

After wandering around the streets and looking at some of the venues, we were tired and ready to head back. How? Uber? Taxi? Bus? How about we just walk? So that’s what we did. Walked all the way back to our place. My feet were ready to fall off, but not before we’d at least stopped at the Gelati place near our house for a Snickers ice cream. Back at our apartment Sue sat outside on the balcony for a while. I started to write my journal.

We were exhausted. It had been a long day, quite warm, and we had surely walked our quota of footsteps today. Sue was ready for bed; “Good-night” and off she went. I finished my journal entry and then looked for a place to make a U-Turn.

Okay, that is the SECOND ridiculous thing I’ve written tonight (I already deleted the first sentence, something about “packaging” — huh?). I don’t know where that came from! But I just ‘woke up’ and read what I’d just written — a U-turn? — that makes NO sense. It’s time for me to go to bed too. Good-night.

Guests from Home!

A lazy day at home. We needed to rest our bodies from all that walking yesterday. Plus, it was VERY hot here today. Sue did two loads of laundry. We have a great washer but we rely on a collapsible clothes rack and the African sun on our balcony to dry them. Today was a good day for that!

Then Sue went to Giovanni’s to get some sandwich meat. I took the car to the gas station for a fill-up. You don’t do self-service gassing up here; no, the gas jockey here welcomed me with a smile, filled up the car, washed all the windows, checked (and filled up) all the tires, popped the hood (bonnet?) open and checked fluids and added water for the windshield washer! That was worth at least a two-dollar tip!

When I got back Sue was busy composing another long email to friends — it’s the only way she gets emails back, and she craves those emails and the contact from home. So lunch was served closer to 12:30 than my preferred 11:30.

After lunch Sue cleaned up a bit and read her book (finished reading “They Left Us Everything” by Plum Johnson) and I worked on a website. I downloaded a couple of biographies for Sue — now she’s reading “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.

Safari Pizza from Big Route
The ‘Safari’ pizza toppings included Springbok, sun-dried tomatoes, and Rocket.

For supper I went to pick up a ‘Safari’ pizza from “Big Route” just around the corner and we ate that out on our balcony. It was still plenty warm outside, but there was so much action going on out in the street we just had to sit and watch. I think there must be some big rugby tournaments or something like that going on here this weekend — a plane pulling a long ‘Mavericks’ banner has been flying around above the stadium all afternoon, and we’ve seen quite a few ‘teams’ of big handsome jocks marching down past our apartment on their way across the street to the stadium.

We were finished supper when we got a text: Robert and Arlene have just landed at the Cape Town Airport — they will call us when they’ve checked into their B&B, just a couple of blocks from our place.

It was around 9:30 when I met Robert and Arlene at their place. We walked back to our apartment and had drinks and heard a little about their safari adventures. We still have a lot of ‘catching up’ to do. We also talked about some options for what to do for the next few days before we leave for Namibia. At 11:30 they walked back to their apartment. Sue cleaned up the dishes while I wrote my journal.

Walking, talking, eating, and drinking

I told Robert and Arlene my post today would be shorter. Maybe all I need is the title?

Sue and I had Saturday morning bacon and eggs. Robert and Arlene came by at 10 and we all headed out for a morning walk. Out to the lighthouse and then along the coastline back to the V&A. Sure are lots of people out on this weekend! With a light cloud cover and a gentle ocean breeze the conditions were about as good as we’ve had today. We went to the ticket booth and bought tickets to the ferry ride and visit to Robben Island for tomorrow at 9am. That done, we headed back home for lunch. Sue and Robert made a pitstop at Giovanni’s for bread and meat and we all had lunch at our place.

After lunch the Dycks went to back to their place for a nap and we read (I bought the Saturday paper from Benjamin, down on our street). At around 5pm we gathered again, this time for happy hour. We FaceTimed with our kids, then the Dycks did the same with theirs.

Just before 7 we headed out for supper — went to Mano’s, just down the road a bit. We got a table outside — the ‘big rush’ would come in an hour or two. We had a fine supper while watching people (and many expensive cars) go by. Main Road had lots of action today. Even a pretty good crack=up right across the road in front of us!

4 rugby guys in Anaheim Mighty Duck jerseys.We’d noticed a guest wearing a ‘Mighty Ducks’ hockey jersey in the restaurant — and later in the evening he was joined by several more similarly attired ‘hockey fans’. That’s just a bit too weird — most people here know NOTHING of hockey! In fact they think of ‘field’ hockey, not ‘ice’ hockey, when we tell them that there’s no rugby, only hockey, back in Canada. So we asked these boys what’s up with the hockey sweaters? And they were happy to tell us they were not ‘hockey’ sweaters; rather, they were all former rugby players who no longer PLAYED rugby, but now remained part of the team by being MANAGERS — and they had the properly labelled jerseys to prove it. We told them we were from Canada, and hockey was our sport. They were only too pleased to pose for us and then enthusiastically encouraged us to ‘hang around’ at the restaurant, that later tonight there would be quite a party there!

Old folks like us are happy to go for a bit of an early supper and linger over our table and watch the beautiful people go by on the street — but we are not really all that interested in staying up late (9:30) just to see a bunch of drunk and rowdy ex-rugby players whoop it up on a Saturday night. Thanks, but we’ve got to ‘get up early tomorrow’. Good-night.

A Trip to Robben Island

Kodak photo with R&S at Table Mountain
Kodak photo with R&S at Table Mountain

Fruit and toast and by 8 o’clock the Dycks were here. We walked down to the V&A Waterfront and got in line for the 9 o’clock ferry to Robben Island. It was plenty windy, and probably even windier once we got out of the harbour. The one-hour ferry ride brought us to the island — and not everyone aboard had the same rosy complexion they started with by the time we disembarked. But WE were all okay.

Entrance to the prison at Robben Island.
Entrance to the prison at Robben Island.

We filed off the ferry and then walked along the pathway to the big sign at the entrance. We passed through and were led into the prison walls by a former ‘inmate’ of the notorious apartheid prison.


The prison at Robben Island
The prison at Robben Island

He had us all seated on benches around the perimeter of the former entrance and processing center of the prison, and then began to tell us something of his experiences as an inmate there. He gave us a lot of names of the various black protest group leaders who served time there with him, including Nelson Mandela. He also told us a bit about what life in prison was like for him in the 70s and 80s, before the end of apartheid in 1990. He spoke clearly but unfortunately his heavy accent made it hard to understand all he was saying.

Nelson Mandela's cell at Robben Island.
Nelson Mandela’s cell at Robben Island.

The guide took our group (about 50 of us) through the various prison sections, stopping to give short talks along the way. We even got to walk past the cell where Nelson Mandela stayed for 18 of his 30 years behind bars.

The second hour of our tour was by bus. A guide explained the various points of interest as the bus drove a loop around the island.

And then it was time to get back on the ferry for the ride home. Oh no, now we’re being herded onto a much smaller ferry! And it’s AGAINST wind all the way back to Cape Town! We’d just made ourselves comfortable on the top deck of the boat when a deckhand came to warn us that we would all get very wet up there — lots of splashing water today. Down below we went, again managing to get ourselves a good spot in a ‘booth’ next to a window. We were a bit concerned about Arlene, who didn’t feel at all good about riding the big waves back to the mainland.


Seasick? Not me! Just stop rockin' the boat so I can get a decent photo.
Seasick? Not me! Just stop rockin’ the boat so I can get a decent photo.

Well, we were just getting comfortable again when a guy comes down there and tells us sorry, but we’re all going to have to get off this boat and take the other boat back. What? Okay, we scramble out and head for the next boat. Arlene is hoping it is the same ‘bigger’ ferry that we were on for the journey here, but no, they insist we get on this smaller boat. Which we do. We all manage to find a cushioned seat up on the deck when, what do you know, a guy comes and tells us we are all gonna get wet up here, lots of splashing today. Down we go, but now we are in a window-less hold below, and there are no empty spots on the benches left. Okay, we’ll just squeeze the seated passengers in a bit tighter and FORCE ourselves onto the end of the benches. And we were LUCKY — quite a few re-seated passengers who got on after us had to sit on the floor, on the stairs, or STAND for the one-hour swell-riding trip back! Now there were quite a few MORE green faces. Barf bags are distributed. Some of us smile weakly, glad that lunch is still AHEAD of us. And for the next hour we hang on for the rolling ride back. No windows, just the loud rumble of the diesel engine and the occasional splash of sea water when it comes down the stairwell.



But we made it, appetites intact. We found a table at an outdoor cafe next to where the buskers were entertaining the Sunday crowd. Good music, good food. Before heading home we made a pitstop at a jewelry store to get a new battery for Arlene’s watch, and another stop at the butcher shop to pick up steaks for our braai tonight.

Back to our respective quarters we went for a quick lie-down before reconvening at our place for happy hour. Around 5 o’clock the Dycks came by. G&Ts and crackers and cheese. We discussed several world issues and then I hooked up the TV to my computer. We looked at a few of the memory cards of photos from Robert and Arlene’s safaris and trip to Victoria Falls.

Now it was time to barbecue the steaks and the potatoes. It didn’t take long and we had a lovely setting before us, with potatoes, steak, salad, and champagne. Delicious.

More after-dinner discussion. By 9:30 we were tired but wait! there’s ice cream! We had some good ice cream with caramel sauce before saying good-night and see you tomorrow morning.

I really wanted to stay up to watch the Superbowl game, which starts at around 3 in the morning — but i don’t think I’ll make it! Too tired too early.

Went to bed at 11:30.

If it’s Super Bowl Sunday then it’s Monday morning in South Africa!

I woke up, looked at the alarm clock. It’s still dark outside. The clock says 4:20am. Hey, I bet the Super Bowl is still on! So I got up and headed into the living room. It took me a few minutes to find a live stream of the game, and a few more minutes to get rid of a couple of large popup banner ads that hid most of the screen, but I managed. What? The Broncos are ahead 16-7? How much time is left? Five minutes left in the third quarter. Well, that’s still plenty of time for the Panthers to make a comeback.

But not against this Denver defense. When it was all said-and-done, the Peyton Manning and the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 by a final score of 24-10. I’m okay with that. I didn’t see the commercials because the ESPN channel I got was from some Spanish station where the game announcers spoke English, but the commercial breaks just showed a street scene in San Fransisco and two Spanish announcers yacked away, waiting for the game to resume.

I managed to find another feed for some of the post-game ceremony and celebrations, but by then it was getting bright outside here, and the morning rush hour was starting. Sue got up and I made coffee. We had breakfast. Sue announced that it would be a ‘hot one’ today. I called the Metropolitan Golf Course and made tee times for our last five Mondays here, to the end of March. Monday is half-price (and busy) at the Met.

After breakfast the Dycks came by and the four of us struck out for today’s activity: a drive around Cape Town on the top deck of a big red double-decker bus. We bought tickets and boarded the bus at next to the Aquarium at the Waterfront. We plugged our little orange earphones into the panels next to our seats and listened as the audio described what we were seeing. It was interesting to learn that much of the ‘prime’ area in the front of the ‘city bowl’ (where we spend most of our time) was actually underwater until the 1930s when they dredged the bay and built the harbour. That is why the street BEHIND our apartment is named ‘Strand’ street — ‘strand’ means ‘beach’ in Afrikaans, and that is where the beach used to be!

Morning coffee break
Morning coffee break

The bus tour had about a dozen stops where passengers could get on or off anytime. We got off on the 5th stop, right downtown, near the Greenmarket. It was quite hot sitting up there in the bus with the sun beating down on us — time for a morning refreshment.

We walked from that stop to the next, stopping to wander through the Company Gardens along the way.

We eventually ended up on Bree Street and got a table at the Bacon cafe. Lunch stop. Always a highlight. (And as you know, ‘bacon’ makes everything better!)

Then back on the bus. Now it was much too hot to sit on the top deck. The route took us up to where the cable car rides to the top of Table Mountain begin. All four of us had already experienced that ride on previous visits to South Africa and were okay with not going up there today. But we had a 15 minute stop for photos.

Panorama of Cape Town from Table Mountain
Panorama of Cape Town from Table Mountain. Lion’s Head on the left, Devil’s Peak on the right, and the ‘city bowl’ looking out to the Atlantic.

The bus ride took us over the ‘shoulder’ of Table Mountain and back down to the coast, through a couple of small ‘suburbs’ of Cape Town: Camps Bay, Clifton, Bantry Bay, and back to Green Point. We got off the bus at ‘our’ lighthouse and walked through the park back to our place. Pitstops at Ultra Liquors and The Butcher Man to pick up supplies for our supper. Then off to our respective homes.

We had a short FaceTime with Alex and Max. We showered and cleaned up a bit. Robert and Arlene came by for happy hour at 5:30. We visited until 7:30 when it was time to barbecue our chicken skewers. Arlene made a salad and Sue made mushroom-filled tortellini. We talked some more. We pretty-much talked about everyone and everything we could think of! By around 10 o’clock we were plum-tuckered out — all that adventure, all that sun, all that beauty, all that talking…

Sue cut up a mango, a pineapple, and some chocolate for our ‘night snack’. A little glass of port to go with it. And then we said goodnight.

Baby, it’s hot outside

We slept in this morning. Today it was really too hot to venture out at all. Sue did a load of laundry this morning. Robert and Arlene came over for lunch. We visited in the afternoon until around 3:30 when they went back to their place. We Skyped with my parents and Facetimed with our kids. Shower and change. At 6:30 the Dycks came by and we all walked through Green Point Park on our way to The Hussar Grill in Mouille Point. We had 7 o’clock reservations. The restaurant was busy and after we got our meals we understood why — great food, great service, a great experience. At 9:30 we walked back, not through the park — the gates were now locked — but we found our way back nonetheless. We said goodnight — tomorrow is our last day in Cape Town for a while — and went back to our apartment. Wrote my journal, caught up on the news online, listened to a bit of music on my ipod, and then off to bed.

Leaving Cape Town

Woke up. Oh yeah, we’re leaving for Namibia today. Breakfast. Check our devices — Donald Trump is still winning (New Hampshire primary) and Bernie Sanders beat Hillary. We watched a bit of ‘news’ (Colbert Report?) on our AppleTV. Sue did one last load of laundry and was putzkying around, tidying up and packing. We’ll leave most of our stuff in the apartment and only take a small suitcase with us for our 4-day excursion to Namibia. I went to the ATM to get some more cash. Robert and Arlene came by with their luggage — they’ll leave half their stuff here too — we’ll come back on Sunday and re-pack for our week in Hermanus.

Robert and I went around the corner to Giovanni’s to get a bit more lunch supplies (our fridge is nearly empty, as it should be) and we had one last ‘home-made’ lunch around our table. After lunch we finished packing and closing up our place until it was time to call Uber and take the taxi to the airport.

The flight to Windhoek took 2 hours —  a nice ride in a big Airbus jet. A big beautiful airport but hardly anybody there.  We had a little wait to get through customs and then to the car rental desk where they were waiting for us.

Renting our Ford RangerWe got the big white four-door four-wheel-drive Ford truck for our trip. Arlene bought a Namibian Sim card for my phone so we’ll have data for the next week for the GPS. Then a 45-minute ride to the House of Olof Palme hotel in Windhoek. The sun was setting ahead of us and the pink and orange sky with the silhouette of the occasional African tree was beautiful.

Driving to WindhoekWe finally found our way to our hotel and the lady at the desk let us into the gated parking compound. We checked in, then gathered at a table beside the small swimming pool and had a nightcap.

Tomorrow is an early start — breakfast at 7:30 and on the road by 8:30.  We have a five-hour (or longer) drive to the sand dunes.