Monday, 4 May 2015

April 26 & 27 – Getting to Stellenbosch

Now that we are back on line, some catching up...


We almost missed out flight to Johannesburg. We both thought it took off an hour later than it did, so that when Karen saw the “Now Boarding” status while we were sitting in the lounge, it was a scramble. But we made it with plenty of time to spare.

We were in another A330, just like the Air Canada plane, but the South African Airways 330 had lie flat seats, meaning 18 in a space where Air Canada had 12.
Not Air Canada pods, but not bad at all
Still, the food and wine were excellent.

Yes, please 
These will do to (the Sauv Blanc was excellent) 
Canapés. VERY good. 
Pear salad. That's bread, not a banana, on the left 
Chicken dinner 
After dinner port & chocolates
Johannesburg was a fairly efficient airport, though we went out of the secured area and through the terminal to get to the domestic flights, and security didn’t impress me that much. Interesting views from the lounge, however.
I didn't know there was an Angola Airways, or that they had 747-400's
The flight to Cape Town from Johannesburg took us over some pretty desolate spaces and interesting things. For instance, I saw the racetrack where they used to hold the South African F1 Grand Prix decades ago.
Pretty track, pretty location
There were a bunch of these strange piles of something, mostly in the middle of nowhere. I suspect they are mine tailings, but who knows, for I could see no nearby mine workings.
I actually found this one on Google Earth
We flew right over Kimberley and its world-famous diamond mines.
The dark spots are diamond mines: holes in the ground
We passed over vast expanses of dry nothingness, which I suspect is kind of what Namibia will be like.
Cool escarpment 
A farmed valley high in the mountains
We had some pretty views descending into Cape Town.
Table Mountain on the left. Downtown on the right
It was fairly efficient to rent a car at the Cape Town airport. The 30 min drive to Stellenbosch was “entertaining”, past shantytown slums and pedestrians walking on the 4 lane highway, with some cars doing 130 km/hr and others doing 60. Driving on the left wasn’t a problem, but continually hitting my windshield washer lever instead of my turn indicator was. The GPS was worth it, though being a Tomtom and not the Magellan I am used to, gives me warning beeps and sounds I just don’t understand.

We arrived to our accommodation…
Bangkok Place Backpackers, complete with a pool. Our room is on the upper left corner.
…then wandered the pretty town, which has a nickname of “the City of Oaks” after all the English oak trees planted around here.
It's fall
Okay, so those are eucalyptus, not oaks, but they do have a lot of oaks, and they’re all changing colours.
It's fall
The core of the city’s only about 8 square blocks anchored by Kerk St (Church Street, named after this).
Pretty, but small
The city has a bunch of interesting architecture, which mixes Victorian with Dutch with English, and at times, reminded me of New Orleans.
French-influences in the balconies 
French influences here, too
They have some funky street art on display here, including this:

Meeting time! 
Brass toilets as public art
Stellenbosch is a pretty little town, and not surprisingly, a nice little “weekend getaway” from Cape Town. The botanical garden is excellent, and aside from horrible parking is a great place to explore.

One thing that is strange: some nutbar decide to import an animal he fell in love with on a trip to America a couple of hundred years ago. So the parks here are full of oak trees, and are also full of… Eastern Gray Squirrels.
Today’s Travel Tip: Hitchhikers

Hitchhikers are everywhere, and they are always Black. Pedestrians are all over the motorways wherever you go, and they, too, are always Black. Hitchhikers stand en-masse at on-ramps, but can stand anywhere. Some hold out R10 or R20 bills for some reason; I suspect to try and convince you to give them a ride or that somehow, they will pay you to get a ride (I even saw some holding out apples).

I never pick up hitchhikers ever, so it’s not really that important to me, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to give rides, South Africa’s your place.

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