Tag Archives: Ocean

Cape Point & Penguins!

Our party of 16 had a wonderful Thursday excursion around Cape Point. We drove through Hout Bay, along the rugged Atlantic coast, and down to the Cape of Good Hope. We went to the Point and ascended to its top. Some chose the hiking option while others of us rode the funicular. At the top, we marveled at the views and took a LOT of pictures!

Next we drove to the water and it’s famous sign. We walked on the rocky shore, and some brave ones did a little rock climbing that made me quite nervous! I was relieved when we were all back on the bus, heading to our lunch stop in Simon’s Town. At lunch, Ernesto surprised Reed with a bottle of wine he bought for him way back on our first full day in Cape Town. The name seemed fitting for the male Professor Mueller – “Stubborn Man.” 😉

After lunch, it was time to go to Boulders Beach Penguin Colony. The famous “jack-ass penguins” were quite adorable and entertaining. We had fun watching their behaviors and taking LOTS of pictures (again). We had a little time for souvenirs, coffee, and ice cream before heading back to the city. It was a great day at the Point and with the penguins!

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of the Concordia program. We’ve learned so much, made new friends, and are forever changed. I am grateful for the time here!

P.S. One of our students celebrated her 21st birthday today. Happy birthday, Mo! 🙂

Water, Sun, & Sand

Our braai Sunday night was delicious. There were mixed reviews on the ostrich kabobs, but no one can deny the meat was tender, juicy, and flavorful. 🙂 Monday morning at Backpackers’ Paradise was cold! Gerard said 3c in fact, which is about 37f. We found our way to the main lodge to sit by the fire (with the 3 cats who reside there!) as we woke up and waited for breakfast. Toast, eggs, and fruit filled our bellies, and we set out in the minibus around 8:30.

We drove back through the Klein Karoo, which means “little land of thirst.” We went past the ostrich farms, through the hop valley, and over the Outeniqua Mountains. We drove through the city of George and back to Wilderness. Our first stop was at the Kaaimansrivier to do some kayaking. Thankfully the sun was out and it had warmed up! Gerard guided us along this calm, shallow river to a secret waterfall and past a sandy beach. We saw the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing in the distance. Aside from some bumper boats and splashing, it was a fairly tame paddle. 🙂 The kayak guy said most South Africans have not seen the waterfall that we visited, so we felt special!

We piled back in the minibus and headed to a Spar Market to purchase our lunch items. We drove a couple of minutes to Wilderness Beach, and we picnicked in the sand as we watched the waves. The Indian Ocean here is very blue and the sand is quite gold. Most of us got at least our feet in the water, and some got their whole selves wet! It was a fun time together, relaxing in the sun and admiring the beauty around us.

As I write this, we are on our way back to Cape Town, some 5 hours from here. Gerard got us some snacks of “Nik Naks” (like Cheetos) and “Jelly Tots” (think Dots), and the students have requested an ice cream comfort stop in awhile. 🙂 Our first stop was along the road at an ostrich farm. It was fun to get an up-close look at these amazing creatures! We made a couple more comfort stops, as well as an incredible sunset stop with Table Bay and the back of Table Mountain in full view!

On the home front, the family is on their long layover in Frankfurt, Germany. It was an extra stressful departure yesterday as the new South African regulation of carrying original birth certificates for minors was not known to us. Reed learned of it in PDX and was able to get our kids’ originals, but my sister is traveling with copies. Oliver from VAC said they should suffice just fine, and he acknowledged it is a ridiculous new rule when birth certificates were verified in order to obtain the kids’ passports! Anyway, fingers (& toes) crossed they will have an easy-going passport control agent in Johannesburg tomorrow!

Discovering the Garden Route

Saturday we set off bright and early for our Garden Route Tour. I, for one, was excited to get out of the city for a few days and explore some new areas. We enjoyed our first “comfort stop” as our guide Gerhard calls them, at the Oumeul Bakery in a cute town called Riviersonderend. Gerard surprised us at our second comfort stop with a treat of “milk tart” that he secretly purchased at the bakery! It was like a warm custard pie in a phyllo dough crust. Yum.

We ventured on, driving some five hours, and we were delighted to view the Indian Ocean at Mossel Bay (notice the township too). We arrived around 12:30 for lunch at the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. After our lovely lunch in the beautifully decorated lodge, we set out for our 2.5 hour safari. The sun was out and so were the animals! We saw giraffe, rhinos, elephants, lions, and many kinds of antelope. A couple of highlights included the lions sunning themselves on the road after a big meal (check out her belly!). Also was our guide squeezing fresh elephant poo and drinking the “water” from it. I’m not even kidding. It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen. One of our students’ phones slid right out of the truck, but amazingly we recovered it using “find iPhone.” It truly felt like some kind of South African miracle!

We said goodbye to the animals and journeyed on to Sedgefield, a little surf town right on Myoli Beach and the Indian Ocean. We got a peek of the sunset before we settled into our rooms at Afrovibe Adventure Lodge (no Wi-Fi hence no blog post). Then we enjoyed a beachside / fireside dinner and colorful welcome drinks, courtesy of Gerard. It was a good day on the Garden Route!

Sunday we awoke to rain. So, we got our Gumbies on and made a new plan for the day. No beach time or canoeing / hiking (we’ll save that for Monday), but instead we began with visiting a scenic viewpoint in Knysna. Not unlike the Eagle Creek Fire last fall, Knysna suffered a huge arson fire last June, so we could see the evidence both in scorched hillsides as well as lost homes. Sadly relatable.

Next we crossed the Outeniqua Mountains toward Oudtshoorn. Along the way we saw “hop valley” (yes, where hops were harvested a couple of months ago!) and lots of ostriches. Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of South Africa, and some of us will enjoy it tonight at our fireside braai (barbecue). We also had a good time singing “Africa” by Toto as we drove in the rain. 🙂

Gerard planned to take us to lunch at a winery, but it was closed being Sunday. So, he instead took us to a very unique lodge / restaurant with a big inside fire / braai. It was incredible! The owner (seen in the photo in a khaki shirt by Gerard, who’s wearing black) cooked lamb chops and beef sausages right in front of us. Different kinds of salads, veggies, and pickles – along with some delicious warm rolls – accompanied the meat. We departed with full bellies, perfect for a little spelunking (not!).

We traveled a short distance to Cango Caves, 20 million year old, spectacular limestone caverns. Some students did the adventure tour where you slide through something called the “letterbox” and climb “devil’s chimney,” among other feats. I went with a student on the heritage tour, which goes through six of the “halls.” Unfortunately, one student is not feeling well and rested in the bus for both the caves and lunch. Hoping the rest helped and the evening is much better!

We just settled in at Backpackers Paradise in Oudtshoorn. Our fireside braai will be at 7:00 tonight. Monday we plan to dip our toes in the Indian Ocean (finally) when we travel back to the canoeing / hiking area we missed today due to the rain. The weather report looks better, so hopefully that works out! We then will make the long drive back to Cape Town, arriving after dark I should think.

Reed and the kids are at PDX now as I write this, so I can hardly wait for them to arrive, along with my sister’s family! When we return to Cape Town tomorrow, I need to move to our family accommodations, so I may not get to blog. For your patience and for following along, I say “baie dankie!” (Afrikaans for “thank you,” and pronounced, “buy a donkey!”)

Wow Wow Wow!

Today we were true Cape Town tourists and rode the hop-on / hop-off bus ’round & ’round and up & down majestic Table Mountain. We were so fortunate to have a sunny, calm day, and it felt as if we were on the top (of the bottom) of the world!

We began with a return to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden where we got soaked on Monday. We enjoyed the panoramic views and tree top canopy. Next we ventured on to the World of Birds where we walked through enclosure after enclosure of every kind of bird on the planet it seemed! We also saw guinea pigs, lemurs, and various monkeys. Wow!

At this point we were in need of lunch, so we set our sites on Camps Bay and the Hard Rock Cafe for the “free” burger included with our bus ticket. By now it was nearly 15:00, so we opted for Ubers to get us quickly up to the aerial cableway on Table Mountain. We already had our tickets, so we went straight to the cable car queue. Before we knew it, we were ascending what felt to be straight up in our cable car, complete with rotating floor! Wow!

We marveled at the views and meandered along the paths for over an hour. We were so fortunate to have calm winds and relatively clear skies, along with a nicely timed ride down at sunset. Wow! The bus took us back to the waterfront, and we Ubered to our respective homes.

It was a day full of beauty and contrasts. This truly is a unique and spectacular part of the world. We all highly recommend that it gets on your “places I need to go” list! Here are just a few of the incredible scenes from today. I’m sure each of the student’s social media pages has many more incredible shots. 🙂

Cape Town by day

I awoke to a mix of clouds and sun…and quite a lot of wind. Table Mountain has been covered by its “table cloth” of clouds whisking toward us, which means rain is on the way I guess. I slept okay, but was quite cold…the houses aren’t really heated here; I just have a panel on the wall that emits a bit of heat, though it is away from my bed, which is near a window that is a bit drafty…that all makes for a chilly combination. The street is noisy too, so I will have to adjust to that. And there was a barking dog…

Sheila took me on a drive this morning, after her DMV task. We drove away from Cape Town; I haven’t seen the city yet (I am in the suburb of Newlands). We drove toward Muizenberg, St. James (& “Danger Beach,” a surf spot), and Kalk Bay; all on the east side of the Cape. I included a couple of photos from the drive. It was beautiful; kind of reminded me of the New Jersey southern shore towns…a bit run down, but lots of charm. The mountains remind me a bit of the Wasatch in Utah; the trees & flowers of northern California (Sheila has orange, avocado, guava, & grapefruit trees). I guess it’s nice to have something to map on to.

I am now at the Good Hope Studies center, which is a 10-15 minute walk from Sheila’s. It is a safe neighborhood with shops and other conveniences between GHS and “home.” I feel quite disoriented, but I know that will subside the longer I am here. The train station is nearby too, but I will tackle that another day. Everyone is friendly, and it is very nice to be back online, at least during business hours.

The classroom for our first two weeks is another 10-minute walk from GHS in Aberdeen Guest House (at least I think that was the name). We will go there tomorrow so I can try out my iPad and connection with the projector (fingers crossed). I guess it has wifi too, so that is a nice surprise (we had been told no wifi there). Brenda is my new friend at GHS as she is doing a nice job orienting me.

I feel so disconnected from anything familiar now, so that is trying. I trust God in bringing me here, and I know He is with me. I also know that once I am settled a bit more and students arrive that I will be feeling better about things…now I feel a bit lost!

I am going to sign off now and wade through some emails… 🙂