Gareth had set the expectations high for African internet after his 2011 adventure but we are finding the 2015 trip one of internet difficulties and mishaps. Our goal for a daily blog was therefore stymied.
Our final day in Cape Town had us venturing forth from the Waterfront into Cape Town central. We were on the hunt for a recommended music shop and a good cup of coffee. Catching a taxi our research lead us directly to the music shop which had a plethora of African CDs and made us feel like we were back in the 1990s. Following the advice of the shop-keeper we bought a few Jazz/African Groove CDs. We then wandered Long Street feeling very conspicuous as tourismos before venturing off to find coffee.
Gemma was delighted to find 'Bean There' an African single origin coffee house. The coffee was amazing! Gareth stuck to the traditional Grapetiser and was embarrassed by Gemma taking tourist snaps of the bar.
It wasn't long until we had to head back to the Waterfront and join a lengthy queue for the boat trip out to Robben Island. Unfortunately for Gemma we ended up on the slower boat which wallowed in the swell for 45 minutes. Luckily we had salty chips ready to go. Arriving at the island we were herded onto buses and again our belief was reinforced never to go on a large bus tour again. We were driven around the island seeing the highlights including the Lime Quarry where Nelson Mandela did hard labour, the ghost city of the wardens before finally finishing at the maximum security prison. We were given a tour by an ex-political prisoner who spoke very eloquently about his time served. It was sobering to see the small cells these activists were held in for such long periods of time. Of note, these cells were of a similar size to the prison dog kennels on the island. Somehow we were then herded back on the slow boat back to Cape Town. We were able to get some amazing photos of the Cape Town from the water.
Gareth had done his research and found a Tapas restaurant called Fork back in the city. This restaurant had just incredible food. The waitress suggested that we only would need three courses, the food was so good that we ended up ordering five courses and could have ordered more but we were forced to be polite.
Today we made our journey to Port Elizabeth and required a hire car to drive Route 62 and the Garden Route. We were unfortunately given a Ford Ikon which was not a good start to the day. Finding our way out of Cape Town wasn't too difficult and we reached Stellenbosch quickly. Stelllenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town and is filled with country style home wares shops, jewellery shops, fashion, antiques and books. Amongst all of these are charming cafes and bars. The Lonely Planet's top attraction however, a park with an old church, was quite a disappointment since the park was dirty, unkempt and full of homeless people and the church was closed to visitors.
Getting back into our car, we continued the drive back into Franschhoek and were able to experience our first pass in the mountains. The scenery for this area was breathtaking. We easily found a park on the main street in Franschhoek and were extremely impressed with its vibe. French Huguenots settled in this spectacular valley more than 300 years ago and the town still maintains a French feel surrounded by rocky crags. Lunch was enjoyed on a shady verandah overlooking the main street with red and white checked tablecloths while people watching trying to understand South African road rules. Another lonely planet gem was the discovery of Huguenot Fine Chocolate complete with caramel and chill! What would have cost $25 in the Blue Mountains only cost $4. We should have bought more.
Leaving Franschhoek we went through an impressive mountain pass where we stopped at the peak to take photos and saw our first baboons. We hope the smell of chocolate would not attract them as our guide had suggested yesterday.
Gareth then began to enjoy the South African driver ettiequte of pulling over into the shoulder if you are slow and eventually worked out that putting on your hazard lights was a sign of thanks. We were aiming to join the famous Route 62 but didn't have much information as to where it began. Driving through some non-tourist towns the Tom Tom lead us along a street that had at least ten 4-way stop signs. On a main road! Gareth became more and more assertive and Gemma would still be still be sitting at the second one if she was driving.
Route 62 did have some impressive passes but we were not prepared for the long, long, extremely long sections of wide open valleys and straight road. The towns along the road were nothing like our previous two stops. Each time we intended to stop we just kept on driving and it ended up becoming a 4.5 hour slog with no cruise control accentuated by three fabulous passes.
Arriving at Oudtsthoorn as the sun set, we were greeted by a lovely host and enjoyed a free welcome drink in the beautiful garden. We had dinner at a local frequented restaurant where Gemma was tricked into ordering a vegetable stack through the use of the word pancake.
Heading back to our accommodation we were informed that the WiFi had dropped out and that technicians were supposedly dealing with the problem.
PS the technicians were successful!