Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town! I was thrilled to be here, after hearing about it nearly all my life. 
I got a private room in a hotel that also had dorm rooms. It was nice to have my own room after hostels and camping 😀 for a month. There is a dire water shortage and signs to take a one minute shower and flush only when necessary. I caught myself leisurely running the tap water to rinse my toothbrush and was horrified. So I was more careful after that. It is estimated that by July there will be no water at all unless there is rain. And the drought is three years old.

It was a sunny day and I could see Table Mountain. I planned to hike up the next day. Should have gone this day, because the “tablecloth “ of clouds covered it when I went and visibility was about 10 feet!

In the morning I took a walking tour of the downtown area. The guide took us to the balcony of the government building where Nelson Mandela gave his first public speech after 27 years in prison. I nearly wept🇿🇦. Then we strolled by the slave lodge museum. It was emotional. Fortunately, our guide told us of a small shop where we could buy handmade chocolates and in the back, at 5:30, there was an artesian gin bar. She like the crushed basil gin, so it gave me something to look forward to the rest of the day, the gin, not the chocolate as it keeps me awake literally all night.

After a quick nap at the hotel, I walked to the nearby Muslim neighborhood of Bo-kaap. The museum tells the story of poverty and predjuice, but things are much better now and the buildings are painted marvelously.

Mural of Desmond Tutu.

Our guide by the Nelson Mandela mural.

Cape Town has some lovely buildings.

The middle balcony is where Nelson Mandela stood to give his first public speech after 27 years of prison.

English parliament building. 

English architecture.


Table Mountain over the City of Cape Town.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Knysna, South Africa

Leisurely cycle out to the headlands and got an ice cream. Stayed in a lovely big old home in a room with another American woman. She spends two or three months in this hostel every winter. I can see why, the town is lovely, the weather pleasant and the people are nice. Plus her parents are Dutch and she speaks the Africaan language, so is right at home.

“Gone Fishin” statute 

The Indian Ocean 

Relics in a park.

Blubber Cauldron from the days of whaling. 

Made in England.

Lovely old homes.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Park along the waterfront.

Ride my bike along the waterfront park, out to the nature reserve to see the lighthouse and the Africa penguin center, and along the Indian Ocean to a restaurant for a lunch of prawns and white wine. None of which was planned but it was a lovely day.

Walk on the beach.

Indian Ocean 

Fun to ride without my panniers for a day.

Birds in the rehabilitation center. 

Penguins are released across the street into the ocean when healthy⭐️

Traveling through Zulu country.

It was a good day to be on the bus as it was drizzling rain. We stopped to view Nelson Mandela’s grave, which can only be seen from the road. He was born near here. Our bus driver said this is the poorest part of the country and there are a lot of people living on tiny plots of ground raising corn, with a few animals. 

It was fun to meet the people traveling on the bus. All were foreign tourists, mostly from Europe; Germany, Denmark and Sweden. One young man was from Michigan, and had graduated from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where my mother is from and she also graduated from UM, and my father has a law degree from UM as well, with an undergraduate degree from Harvard.
We chatted about Verner’s ginger ale and Domino’s Pizza, both originating from Ann Arbor. The bus got into Port Elizabeth much later than scheduled but the nice hostel was all fine and no one complained as the rain makes traveling a bit slower. Also the bus makes many stops dropping off and picking up people in little towns along the way. So we had time to get out and stretch. Also, I would come back this way and could see where I might like to stay. It was a good way to see the countryside as I would have a good idea of where to get off the bus and do some cycling where it was not so rugged and populated. It was more enjoyable than I had anticipated. Maybe I was a little tired after three days of cycling, too.

The bus schedule makes one stay two nights in Port Elizabeth, so I was looking forward to two nights in one place.

Nelson Mandela’s grave is in the distance, barely visible. It is really lovely country.

Below is the house built for Nelson by the Africaan National Congress after his release from 27 Years in prison. He was very active still, so did not live here much. Some of his descendants now live here.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Cycling to Howich, South Africa.

The country generally sloped downhill, making a fast and easy ride through the countryside. I stopped at a market with a restaurant to have tea and the man supervising the spreading of gravel in the parking lot was the very man who had stopped to chat yesterday!

The market was really upscale with frozen take home items like their home-made lasagna. Plus many fresh baked pastries. I sat in their glass conservatory and it was positively a great cycle break. 

I had called the Baz Bus last night to request a pick up in Howich, as the terrain was going to become rugged near the coast in Durban which had a huge population and busy roads. Like 3.44 million people in the combined metropolitan area. My pick up spot was at the Merryville Spar, a grocery store in the Merryville mall. The challenge on the phone was understanding that often people do not prounouce the “r”. Finally, after making her repeat Mayville spa three times, and looking at the list of pick up points, I figured it out and was thankful for her patience with me. Sometimes it is frustrating!

As we approached Durban, the country was really hilly and massive amounts of traffic. Whew, I planned that well! My accommodation was right across the street from the Indian Ocean! I got a second story room with a balcony so I could enjoy the view. The lodge had a nice swimming pool and served a simple dinner and a nice breakfast so I did not even have to go out. Spending just one night here, the bus picked me up at 7 am for a day’s drive along the coast to Port Elizabeth. 

Goats along the road.

Howich Falls. Had lunch across the road.

After the Howich Falls.

Cute town of Howich.

View on my bike ride. 

Folded bike ready for the bus ride.
I am really enjoying the cycling!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cycling in South Africa

The owner came out to greet me and take my photo, saying they had never had anyone arrive on a bicycle. She even cooked dinner and breakfast for me, by request and I had a little cabin to myself.

The owner of the lodging.

My cabin was comfortable with a view of blesbuck across the fence, with their young ones frisking around  in the afternoon sun.

The Zulu had a village just beyond the chalets and their cattle were at the gate.

An ostrich was in the yard and made circles grazing around the cabins. I am sitting on the porch and it pays no attention, as usually they are very shy. Helen said about four years ago it had a broken foot and it came to the fence and they fed it over the fence. Then it finally decided to come in the yard and had been there ever since.

A politician is my guess. Perhaps two languages plus some English about public safety.

Riding through the rilling hills of the Midlands. One man went past me, then turned around his white pick-up, a bakkie as they say here, to stop and chat.
He had white hair and probably in his late sixties. He went to Texas A&M on a track scholarship and ran the 800 and 1,500. Marrying a Texas girl, he brought her home and they live down the road. Further on he says it looks like England because it is so green. And he told me to drink lots of water because it is so hot.

And these hills are big and steep on a bicycle! But there is occasional shade so I stop and rest. 

The next night I stayed at Glen Eagles, very charming old hotel. Before I checked in, I had no reservation, I rode past it because looked like a shop further on, according to a sign. It was a lovely ride across a bridge into the woods. I asked the two security guards at the front gate of a factory where it was. They said there are new owners and the shop is gone. I looked closely at the sign. It is a textile factory and their shop is now closed to the public. I asked about the new factory name, is this Chinese? Yes it is. 

There was a shift change and about forty black women came walking through the gate, all chattering. There were the white transport vans waiting in the shade for them, this form of public transport costs about 15 cents and carry 20 people, stopping when requested.

Then I road back to get a room in the Lodge.

Such a lovely room. When I showered I felt a sting on my rear end. Turns out I had developed two blisters where I sat on the bike and they had broken open, unbeknownst to me! But now it was a bit tender! 

Good thing I carry bandaids! And tomorrow is another cycling day.