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Cruise Port: Cape Town, South Africa

The remarkable cityscape of Cape Town with its Table Mountain backdrop dominates the view when you come into the harbor.

Our very large cruise ship came into the Duncan Dock next to the container area.

A terminal was located quite a distance from the ship.

Inside the terminal building there were few amenities; rest rooms and a waiting area.

The ship provided free shuttle buses (another long walk), but taxis were available.

The ride into the city takes about fifteen minutes and is not an inviting walk.

The city covers a fishhook area of land and includes many diverse sights.

The shuttle bus took us to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

This site is a good place to start a full day of activities. It provides an abundance of amenities including a huge shopping mall with rest rooms, ATM’s, and internet cafes.

The mall includes a wide range of stores including high end stores such as Gucci and Burberry.

Restaurants overlooking a scenic harbor lie right outside the mall area.

A modest wine shop with amazingly low prices for excellent wines is close by.

A large shed filled with stalls sells all kinds of South African craft items.

An information center lies a short walk from the mall.

It offers booking services for hotels as well as a wide variety of activities including: Garden Route tours, safaris, whale sightings, and tours of townships and wineries.

The best way get an overall look at the area, however, is the City Sightseeing Hop on-Hop Off bus. The main station is located a few blocks from the Tourist Office along Dock Road.

For 170 Rands (about US $14.00) you can ride over the whole area on a day long trip. There are two major routes: the red line which takes in Table Mountain, the downtown and the coastline, and the blue line which goes to the Botanic Garden, links up with the purple line to some wineries, and includes the coastline. The buses run regularly and are an easy, relatively inexpensive way to spend the whole day seeing the sights.

The city is clean, attractive and a mix of old and new.

Sites

Table Mountain
The cable car ride to the top takes four minutes and rotates so that everyone can get all possible views. The Hop on Hop Off bus stops here and you can get tickets for the cable car ride at the bus station when you get on the bus.
www.tablemountain.net

Robben Island
Named after the colony of robben (seals) that once lived there, this island is the equivalent of Alcatraz outside of San Francisco. It has served as a place of exile since 1658 when a trader was exiled there by the Dutch and since then has been used for a leper colony as well as a maximum security prison for political prisoners such as Robert Sobukwe and Nelson Mandela. Sites include the place where Sobukwe was held in solitary confinement, the quarry where prisoners endured hard labor, and the cell block with the tiny cell used by Mandela.
www.robbenisland.org.za

Winelands
The most accessible wineries can be reached via the Hop On Hop Off bus but the towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek offer outstanding experiences that are well worth the time and money. If you are used to the wine tastings in the United States get ready for a treat; you can relax in comfortable seating with a magnificent view while you sip delicious wine at very low prices.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Located on the eastern slope of Table Mountain, this botanical garden was established in 1913 to conserve and promote the indigenous florae of southern Africa including many rare and endangered species. Outstanding garden with fabulous views. Daily 8am-6pm April to August, 8am-7pm September to March; 50 Rand (about U.S.$4);
www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch

Background

In the fifteenth century the Portuguese began stopping in Table Bay for fresh water on their way to the Far East but by 1652 the Dutch East India Company saw the strategic value of the site and set up a permanent settlement there. By 1795 the British saw the potential of the site and after conflict with the Dutch took control by 1814. The discovery of gold and diamonds in the 1870s increased tension between the Dutch and the British, erupting into the Boer War. Racial issues, including Apartheid, has colored the history of South Africa in the twentieth century but now the country is working towards solving their problems with Cape Town the legislative capital of the country,. The city has a population of about four million people and is the second most populous city in South Africa after Johannesburg. There is lots to do in Cape Town a two day stay is not nearly long enough to enjoy what it has to offer.

The local currency is the South African Rand. Banks are open from 9am to 3:30pm with early closing on Saturday. Most shops and restaurants accept credit cards.

To buy books about Cape Town from Amazon.com click here.

Cape Town

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