CAPTIVATING CAPE TOWN
DAY 91 - 11 APRIL 2023 (SHIP'S date)
ENROUTE TO TENERIFE, SPAIN
Queen Mary 2 World Centenary Voyage
102 days, 31 ports, 18 countries.
Ellen Frazer-Jameson reporting from Queen Mary 2
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is the second most populous city in South Africa and the largest in land area of the Western Cape, as well as the legislative capital of the country where the National Parliament and many government offices are situated.
Cape Town is famous for its harbour, originally developed by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India and the Far East. The first European settlement was established on 6 April 1652 at the Castle of Good Hope, originally named Cape of Storms, quickly became the economic and cultural hub of the Cape Colony.
The Castle of Good Hope was built by the Dutch to repel British ships, it is a National Monument and the oldest building in Cape Town. Painted bright yellow, the Castle houses various museums including military history detailing the history of Cape Town.
A centuries old collection of art, furniture, glassware and statues tell the story of the companies of soldiers and officers who inhabited the fortification. The sounds of soldiers’ drill and marching can be imaginedto rise from the parade ground inside the Castle. A change of ownership from Dutch to British shows in the differing styles of exterior building, red brick; British, plasterwork Dutch.
Cape Town is synonymous with the magnificent mountain that reigns over her. Formed 800 million years ago, as the result of volcanic activity, a renegade structure formed features unlike other designs that fold and impact on each other. Cape Town’s enduring monolith is an iconic brand known globally.
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain 3,500 feet above sea level forming a permanent landmark over-looking the city of Cape Town, South Africa. It is a significant tourist attraction with visitors riding the cable car or hiking to the top. There are just three cable cars in the world with revolutionary 360-degree revolving cars with open sides almost close enough to reach out and touch the rockface.
Table Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in South Africa attracting 4.2million people every year for various activities. Table mountain is flanked with Devil’s Peak on the left and Lion’s Head on the right. Table Mountain won the accolade in 2011 from UNESCO as one of the New 8 Wonders of Nature.
The cable car takes less than five minutes to rise and the car holds up to 20 individuals. The calculation of time it takes to walk down, is two hours but on the day we visited, no-one seemed keen to check that out. We were lucky to get up the mountain at all.
By afternoon, the mists came down (hence the name "Tablecloth") and the cable car was cancelled leaving hundreds of would-be visitors disappointed.
Many of our fellow cruise ship passengers had tours cancelled. Sadly to some, the greatest landmark in Cape Town was not accessible during the World Voyage to see Table Mountain.All day long, mist shrouded Table Mountain and cleared only late in the day when we were preparing to sail.
Queen Mary 2 was docked alongside the V&A Waterfront and the regeneration of reclaimed land which stretches for miles with a promenade, retail, restaurants and entertainments is innovative and internationally inspired. The cultural and ethnic mix of Cape Town’s residents is showcased in the fascinating selection of stores and eateries promoting Dutch, Afrikaans, European, African and Asian, style.
In 1994 when Nelson Mandela, the former terrorist prisoner, became President of South Africa, he vowed to promote the Rainbow Nation and uphold equal rights for all people, whatever their colour or race. His vision captured the imagination of the country and a new world order inspired the nation. The name of Nelson Mandela will forever carry the promise of a flaming beacon of hope, even if in many ways the dream has been tarnished.
In Darling Street, City Hall, a spectacular Edwardian building erected in 1905, stretches over a city block and has done service as an administrative wing of government and the Grand Hall still in in service today as a music and art venue.
On a baroque balcony one story above the street, there stands a life size statue, one man whose legacy will live forever. On the hallowed place from which he addressed a crowd of thousands, following his release from prison in 1990 and subsequently becoming South Africa’s first Black President in 1994, Nelson Mandela, casts his eyes into the distance and observes the future he envisioned and created.
On this sunny Saturday almost 30 years after those momentous events, a street market Is being set up in front of the building by South African people. Second-hand clothes are traded and local food is shared. A sense of community permeates even among those whose appearance most obviously shows varying levels of poverty.
In the Company Gardens, an inner-city botanical garden, an energetic troop of teenage girls from one of the townships, dressed in performance clothes with clashing rings and bells on their ankles; dance and sing. Passers-by put money in the hat.
The Company Gardens are bounded by architecturally magnificent public buildings, government offices. Thousands of examples of flora and fauna are to be found hereand one strange phenomena. A snow-white family of squirrels. Is this Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in action?
A visit to the Museum of South Africa has a whole section devoted to Charles Darwin who visited Cape Town in 1836 at the end of a four-year voyage on his exploration vessel HMS Beagle. There are also other deeply thoughtful exhibitions in this excellent museum.
A drive along the Atlantic Coast shows another perspective on Cape Town. Picture perfect, sandy, white bays. Seals loll atop of shiny ocean side rocks. One mystery, the absence of swimmers. “Be warned,“ says our tour guide as we drive past mile after mile of seaside paradise. Maiden’s Cove, Camper’s Bay, Dolphin Bay, Three Anchors Bay, Bantry Bay, Bay Point. “The water is freezing. Icy cold. If you see anyone swimming, you can be sure they are not locals. Bay areas have swimming pools and beach activities include public dancing on the promenade.“
Properties on this stretch of coast are breath-taking. Each one more fabulous and luxurious than the next. Many of them familiar to television viewers in programs featuring homes of the rich and famous. Built ever higher on the mountain side, ultra-modern designs, two, three, four and even seven storeys of glass houses with garages on the roof. All vying for the best view of the pounding ocean. It comes as no surprise to learn these homes cost mega millions.
Before we return to the ship, one last drive up into the mountains.
Looking down (through the trees) on Cape Town miles away what do we see?
QM2 docked at the Waterfront.
Home sweet Home.
Happy Sailing... Ellen
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Current position of Queen Mary 2: Under way from Walvis Bay to Sta. Cruz (Tenerife)
Departure was 22 hrs 43 min ago. (at 19:00 h local time)
Arrival will be in 7 d 15 hrs 17 min. (at 08:00 h local time)
Traveled distance since Walvis Bay: 430.18 nm (796.70 km)
Remaining distance to Sta. Cruz (Tenerife): 3,516.36 nm (6,512.30 km)
Traveled distance since Cape Town: 1,214.08 nm (2,248.47 km)
Photo of the day (from the archives of JD Schwartz)
Further updates will be posted as soon as we get them from Ellen onboard Queen Mary 2.