The First Weekend

Friday

By James

On Friday we traveled by train back down the Cape of Good Hope from Cape Town to Muizenberg and St. James.The train ride was far less eventful that our previous trip down the cape and we arrived at the Muizenberg station about 35 minutes after leaving Cape Town. Upon our arrival the first thing we noticed as we walked down the main street was the red shark flag flying high above the beach.

Shark Flag

I immediately got excited thinking this meant there were sharks on the loose just off the shore munching on little kid’s feet. Unfortunately it turns out red is the second highest flag color, which means the water is too murky for shark spotters to see if there are any sharks in the water (there are actually paid ‘shark spotters’ that sit on the dunes in Muizenberg with binoculars in hand searching for creepy shadows in the waters).

The flag that means little kiddos are getting their feet munched off is actually white and apparently accompanied by a siren and a stampede of people leaving the water. Sadly, we did not have the opportunity to witness a shark scare.

After Tarynne snapped some pictures of the beach, we bought a coffee at a local cafe and began the 20 minute stroll down the boardwalk to St. James. The boardwalk is sandwiched in between the crashing waves on the left and the train tracks on the right, so the water flying at you from the left and trains whizzing by on the right it makes for an exciting little jaunt down the coast.

Since we are both young and exceptionally fit it was only a few moments until we cruised up on the St. James beach, which has white sand, a tidal swimming pool and some pretty sweet colored beach huts.

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While Tarynne was snapping some artsy fartsy photos of the beach huts a park security man popped his head out of the hut and came down onto the beach to chat. I quickly scampered away, but Tarynne stood and listened while the security man told her why black people hate white people in South Africa. To no surprise, he said it’s because white people keep coming to South Africa and stealing all of the jobs and that because of it he only makes $15 a day. Makes sense, so Tarynne quickly informed him we are just visiting and will not be stealing anyone’s job during our two weeks in South Africa.

After the depressing chat with the security man we decided it was time for a quick swim in the ocean before we headed back to Cape Town. Our goal was to a) not ride the train at night; and b) get back into town before the shops closed so we could buy a watch and check out some zoom lenses to take on our overland trip.

The afternoon train ride was a success as we arrived back in Cape Town with plenty of time to investigate the camera lens options and both buy watches.Since it was Friday night we decided we better hit the town hard to see what the weekends are all about in this place.

Our first stop was Cafe Caprice in Camps Bay, which was pretty low-key, so I had a chicken wrap for dinner and downed a bunch of beers while Tarynne went to town on her standard vodka diets with a lime.

From Camps Bay we rolled back to Long Street and the Dubliner Irish Pub, but not before a brief argument with the taxi driver as I accused him of having jerryrigged his meter so the kilometers were counted twice as fast. He was obviously guilty, because as soon as we accused him he promptly reduced our taxi fare.

We may look and sound like dumb Americans in a foreign country, but actually I’m English and Tarynne is just smart. Nice try cabbie.

While live music seems to be a mainstay in the downstairs of the Dubliner, on this Friday night the upstairs had been converted into a club-like atmosphere with electronic dance music blasting out of the speakers. Naturally, Tarynne and I immediately headed upstairs and continued to offer free dance lessons to this rhythmically challenged nation.

Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without me getting frustrated at the bartender for taking too long and then attempting to swipe a free shot that was sitting unattended on the bar. Turns out this shot was not unattended and while I thought I was being sneaky-sneaky, a bouncer caught me in the act and forced me to pay even though I denied taking the shot.

Whatever. Jokes on those guys, if I didn’t try to steal the shot I’d STILL be waiting in line.

Somehow I didn’t get kicked out, but with the bouncers on high-alert and tracking my every move so Tarynne and I decided we better find a new location to continue the party.

Since we’re creatures of habit our next stop was obviously Fiction, the dance club we went to earlier in the week. This time we didn’t even get inside the bar before we got up to no good.

Being the cheapskate half-Scot that I am, I didn’t have enough cash to pay both my cover and Tarynne’s cover. So rather than going to the ATM like most people, instead I paid my cover then immediately caused a diversion by dropping my wallet on the doorman’s feet while Tarynne snuck past him and into the club free of charge.

Too easy they say.

Once inside Fiction we realized it was some sort of themed party with decorations all over the walls and a bunch of people in costumes. After some dancing and a few more drinks it’s no surprise that Tarynne made it back to the Zebra Crossing Lodge with a pink inflatable whale with penguins drawn on the side and I left with an inflatable inter-tube and a massive sunhat I swiped off some random chick’s head.

Needless to say, it was a successful Friday night in Cape Town.

Saturday

By James

Saturday got off to a slow start due to the prior evening’s festivities, so we turned it into a relaxing beach day.

Rather than just going straight to our new favorite spot, Camps Bay, we decided it was time to explore a little bit by heading to Clifton. Clifton is made up of four beaches that are all actually connected by foot, but divided into four sections by boulder partitions.

Our time spent on the beach was pretty uneventful. Tarynne did handstands and I tried to do handstands. James went in the extremely cold water and Tarynne tried to go into the extremely cold water.

Standard afternoon at the beach.

As the afternoon began to come to an end we packed up our things at Clifton beach and made the 20 minute walk along the road to Camps Bay, where we posted up at a waterfront restaurant and shared a bottle of wine as the sunset.

Thanks to our escapades the prior evening and the fact we had to pick up our rental car bright and early on Sunday morning, we stayed in on Saturday night.

Sunday – Swedish House Mafia

By Tarynne

News to us several days ago, there was a change in venue from the upscale wine country of Somerset West to an ostrich farm in the middle of nowhere (aka “on the road to Malmesbury” – a location yet to be discovered by Google maps, or hell, even search).

So with some resourceful planning by James, we had Maxwell chauffeur us about 50 minutes north of our beloved Zebra crib.

While there is no description that can replace the experience, I’ll do my best to sum it up. By far the best concert I’ve ever been to. Yeah sure it was delivered by my three favorite DJ’s on the planet and a bit bittersweet as this would be my first and last time seeing them together (One Last Tour- perhaps will lend a hint that this is it for those of you lacking interest in the EDM world), but the experience was a bit richer than the typical EDM scene.

Yeah sure, there was an overwhelming amount of neon, booze, chaos and beautifully wild people. But there was something deeper than just a shared interest in SHM here. The view from James’ shoulders delivered a pretty powerful realization. The dirt field of a nation plagued previously with discrimination, segregation, now served as the most eclectic diverse pogoing arena I could have ever imagined.

With the background chatter littered with as many languages as offered by Rosetta Stone, to all be united by one sound was pretty incredible. Ironically there’s a sliver of similarity to apartheid, when close-nit families and communities were forcefully separated and torn apart, they later resiliently rebuilt and redefined their newborn communities through art and music, essentially they recreated culture. Funny…music can be more than just music.

We came. We raved. We loved it.

Monday

By James

On Monday, still with loads of Red Bull polluting our bloodstreams, we awoke bright and early to begin our 292 km trek from Cape Town to Cape Aghulas, the southern most tip of the continent of Africa and the official dividing point of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean.

Newsflash tourists: although littered with tourist restaurants and souvenir shops tempting you to believe otherwise, Cape Point is NOT the southernmost tip.

The first order of business was to pick up our rental car from the “secure” overnight parking I had parked it in before heading out to the concert the night before. Of course in this country “secure” means there is a little man who watches your car all through the night after you give him R20. I’m pretty sure they collect the money and go home for the night, so when we found our classy whip still in pristine condition we were extremely relieved.

By the way, the go kart we were provided by Hertz for the 600 km round trip was a Nissan Macra.

Nissan

Ballin.

Oh, and don’t worry. Despite the fact I had to shift gears with my left hand, it didn’t stop me from rocking out while I drive.

Anyway, without further delay we hit the road heading south so we could take the scenic coastal route to the tip of the continent.

Although this route was significantly longer than just taking he inland highway, it provided some pretty awesome views and some badass driving along a beautiful ocean-side road.

#Swerve.

After about two and a half hours of driving we rolled into Hermanus and stopped for a lunch of fresh fish caught earlier in the day.

Obviously after two hours in the car we also needed to stretch our legs and play a little.

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A few kilometers down the road from Hermanus we stopped at the Klein River Cheese Farm just outside Stanford so I could get my cheese fix on.

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And there were some groovy lookin’ animals for Tarynne to play with as well…

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It was shortly after the cheese farm that the “coastal route” became a little bit precarious.

Probably about 45 minutes east of Stanford the paved road just suddenly ended and we were left with this…

Oh boy.

Fortunately Tarynne’s questionable navigation skills led us to an encounter with this graceful feathered friend…

I quickly got on my Jurassic Park high horse and talked about how the skeletal structure of this here ostrich and the way it moves supports the theory that dinosaurs evolved into birds, not reptiles. But once again I digress.

After a good 45 minutes of rally car racing in the Nissan Macra we finally emerged from the wilderness onto a tarmac road and into Struisbaai where we were staying for the night.

The hostel we picked out, the Cape Agulhas Backpackers, turned out to be super sweet with a swimming pool, open air bar, fire pit and massive kitchen. We even got our own room which was a nice rest from 10 nights straight of sleeping in a dorm room with 6 strangers.

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Once we dropped off our bags we went for a walk along the beach and found an Italian restaurant where I consumed an entire pizza.

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Hey, driving is exhausting. Okay?

With my belly full of pizza and Tarynne’s full of wine we headed back to the hostel where we chatted with an English gentleman (that reminded us we were the first Americans he had encountered in SA) before going to bed before 11 p.m.

Tuesday

By James

On Tuesday we woke up, checked out of the hostel and headed about 10 minutes down the road to Cape Agulhas and the southern most tip of the continent of Africa.

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After snapping some photos and capturing the moment for all eternity we hit up a nearby fish and chips shop that according to Tarynne’s research has the best fish and chips in the Western Cape.

Sure enough, the fish and chips were really damn good. And after some small negotiations with the lady at the counter we were even able to get Tarynne some gluten-free fish.

It wasn’t one of @Lastroke’s signature half PB&J’s, but it was ideal and it did do.

From the fish and chips shop we hit the road back home, this time taking the inland highway route to save time. Well the plan was to save time, but there was a minor driver error that led us slightly in the wrong direction…

Planned route:

Planned Route

Actual route:

Actual Route

Whoops. My bad.

After a minimally extended drive home we returned the car to Hertz slightly dusty, but without damage. From there we walked to our new hostel, Atlantic Point Backpackers, where we are staying until Saturday morning when we leave on our 41 day overland journey.

After all the driving we cashed out early. Also, we needed a good night sleep because we were getting picked up promptly at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning for Great White Shark cage diving.

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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.

2 Responses to The First Weekend

  1. Carol and Ernie says:

    Watch those sharks! Enjoying sharing your experiences. cx

  2. great reading your blog. keep off the booze!

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