Sea to Sky

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Day Three

On Monday morning we were up by 9 a.m., but since I insisted on writing the first blog post of the trip I kept us trapped inside the Zebra Lodge until nearly 11:30 a.m. Needless to say, despite my brilliant writing, Tarynne was not impressed.

So finally at half eleven we ventured out of the hostel, down Long Street toward the Civic Center and the train station on our way to Simon’s Town and Tarynne’s precious penguins.

The train tickets were cheap, only R14 each for the journey from Cape Town to Simon’s Town, which is about $2 per person.

The trains are dumpy and covered in graffiti, but overall in the light of day they feel pretty safe. The first part of the ride went through the city and suburbs with only views of factories and the backs of houses, so it wasn’t very interesting and I may or may not have taken a little snooze.

Unfortunately, as Tarynne is soon to discover, when I’m involved in travel nothing goes smoothly. So as expected, about 40 minutes into our train ride as the train began to leave one of the stations the engine that had been rumbling in the background the entire trip sputtered and died.

Silence.

And then an explosion of chatter as all the passengers discussed what was happening and what to do about it. Of course, there was no announcement from the driver that the train had broken down and not a single person to tell us what to do, so we just sat there with the rest of the crowd waiting for the engine to start again.

But it didn’t.

And for about 45 minutes we sat on a broken down train in a train station still about 40 minutes from Simon’s Town and Tarynne’s precious penguins.

Then a garbled announcement finally crackled over the loud speaker that neither of us understood, but the everyone else on the train leapt to their feet and sprinted across the platform to a train on the other tracks. With no other option, we followed suit.

Moments later the doors of the new train closed and we were moving again, whipping our way toward Simon’s Town.

Fortunately, the second leg of the journey was far more scenic and ultimately enjoyable.

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Thanks to my lengthy blog post and the train that conveniently decided to break down, we didn’t arrive in Simon’s Town until about 3:30 p.m. Perfect, considering we had been warned by every book under the sun that riding the train back from Simon’s Town at night is extremely dangerous.

Essentially this was going to need to be one speedy hangout with Tacky and his funny little friends.

Turns out the damn penguins don’t live right next to the train station. They actually live about a 45 minute walk down the road, so Tarynne kicked it into high gear and charged down the street while I struggled to keep up in my extremely uncomfortable knockoff Havaianas from Thailand.

Tarynne turned the 45 minute walk into a 25 minute walk and finally, at just after 4 in the afternoon, we arrived at Boulders Beach – home of the African Penguin (or as Tarynne likes to call them, drunk stumbling toddlers).

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And then there was this …

Obviously this penguin hang out session required more than just an hour, so it wasn’t until quarter to six that we left Boulders Beach and headed back to the train station.

Naturally, we missed the 6 p.m. train to Cape Town and that’s when the panic set in. The next train wasn’t until 7:10 p.m. and although I clearly knew this wasn’t a good situation, Tarynne is female and felt it was necessary to remind me every five minutes that we weren’t supposed to ride the train at night.

These comments from Tarynne also had the underlying message that if I didn’t think I was Shakespeare and didn’t take two hours to write a blog post that morning, we’d already be home.

Clearly it was the train breaking down that made us late, not the blog post, but I digress.

Anyway, it was a long wait on the platform for the train to arrive, and when it did the sun was setting and it was completely empty except for one other passenger. Ideal.

We decided the best place to ride this train was next to the one other passenger since she was a lady and it seemed less likely we might get mugged in front of her.

At about 7:15 p.m. the train finally rolled out of the station and we were on our way home to Cape Town.

After a few stops the train began to fill up with people and things seemed to be looking up. Everyone was on their way home from work and seemed friendly and harmless. But then a few stops later everyone started to get off the train and the car we were riding in slowly began to empty.

With the passenger count in our car down to only about ten people, the lady sitting across from us got up to leave and as she did she turned to me and said, “This train isn’t safe. If this car empties out, don’t be here.”

Thanks. Just what we needed to hear.

We then spent the next 20 minutes tracking the movement of every person on the train, looking for anything suspicious or threatening.

With two stops left until Cape Town all of the other women in our car got off the train and left us alone with about seven men.

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I know I’m pretty jacked and all, but I didn’t feel like fending off a crew of seven dudes, so I grabbed Tarynne, jumped off the train and headed down a few cars to one with more passengers.

It was still pretty sketch, but felt much safer and ten minutes later the train pulled into the Cape Town train station and we were almost home. From the train station we took a taxi back to the Zebra Lodge where we showered, changed and quickly went down the street to the Fat Cactus for a glass…er…I mean a bottle of wine.

Day Four

Yesterday we woke up bright and early with a big day of hiking ahead of us.

By 9:30 a.m. we were in a taxi and on our way to the base of Table Mountain to embark on the two and a half hour hike to the top. After a little bit of confusion and some panic from me regarding finding some “emergency toilet paper” for the hike, we found the trailhead and started our ascent.

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What initially looked like a nice walk in the park turned out to be a grueling hike vertically up 800 meters under the mid-day heat.

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Tarynne just cruised up the mountain with ease, but my fat ass needed some extra motivation. So with nothing else to turn to I reached into my backpack and pulled out my Coug flag. I draped it over my shoulders like a cape and climbed over the final rocks muttering “Go Cougs” under my breath and telling myself that if I can’t make it up this damn mountain, how can I expect the Cougs to win the Rose Bowl.

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Well. I made it. So watch out PAC-12 North, it looks like the Cougs are winning the Rose Bowl.

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Once we made it to the top, we trucked around, took some cool pictures and ate a lollipop before climbing into the cable car for the relaxing ride back down to the bottom.

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Tired and hot as hell we decided to reward ourselves with a trip back to Camps Bay, a dip in the ocean and a few drinks watching the sunset.

With the sun down we quickly got cold and headed home to change. Once we freshened up, we head out onto Long Street to see what kind of nightlife this town has to offer. We ended up watching a cover band in an Irish pub until about 1 a.m., then headed to a three floor night club to teach these South Africans how to dance.

We finally made it home by 3 a.m., and as a result today has been our least productive day thus far.

This afternoon I think we’re headed to the District Six Museum and tomorrow we’re cruising out to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela was locked up for nearly 20 years.

As always, Go Cougs. Oh, and by the way, Go Sonics as well.

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About James

Washed up Wazzu alumnus in the middle of a horrific quarter-life crisis.
This entry was posted in South Africa and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sea to Sky

  1. Erica & Nick says:

    Cool pics Jamesie, don’t think Mom’ll be too happy about the train ride though – having kittens!

  2. Erica & Nick says:

    p.s. We’ll be joining you in spirit tonight, watching the wildlife of the Southern Cape – BBC have a David Attenborough series showing, spectacular wildlife photography
    p.p.s. Go Cougs!

  3. Carla says:

    Hahaha… love the posts…the penguins… pictures, and the coug spirit. Good team.

  4. Alana says:

    Hi Tarynne. I don’t know you James but I just wanted you to know I love the entries. I visited SA twice since I dated a Capetownian for 5 years. It is a beautiful place and I love the stories. Keep it up but PLEASE don’t keep her waiting for 2 hours in the bright of day again!
    Alana

  5. Carol and Ernie says:

    Hi James and Tarynne Love the blog. Remember that walk up table mountain – did it on our honeymoon! (and the penguins too!) You must go to Kirstenbosh gardens. Carol and Ernie

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