I'm gonna take it easy on you today, not much to report on. We left the hotel at Kruger National Park at 10:00 this morning. It was a 90 minute drive to the airport in Nelspruit. Below is a picture of the plane I flew on before we took off from the small Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.|
It took just under three hours to get to Cape Town. We touched down just before 4:00. It was sunny and very windy when we arrived. I am spending the first two nights about an hour east of Cape Town on a wine estate. It is a very nice hotel. Many small separate buildings make up the hotel. I have a very nice room complete with fireplace.
We have a full day winelands tour tomorrow and then transfer to a hotel in downtown Cape Town on Wednesday for the last four nights of the trip.
I had a very relaxing day today. We had beautiful weather for our tour of the winelands just east of Cape Town. Our first stop this morning was in the historical small town of Stellenbosch.|
It was a very scenic drive all day as we journeyed between the small towns in this region. Below is Simons Mountain, not sure I am spelling that right.
Next we stopped at the prison from which Nelson Mandela was released after his 27 years in prison. This is the "Long Walk to Freedom" statue that was placed here in 2008 on Mandela's 90th birthday. The gentleman in front of the statue is John McCarter, our fearless leader. The prison, which is still in use is just behind the statue.
Next we journeyed to the picturesque town of Franshchoek. I forget what the memorial that is pictured below is commemorating.
We took a short walk through the town.
Weather couldn't have been nicer.
Next we went to the Dieu Donne estate for a wine tasting and lunch. I tried all the wines, but not being a drinker I couldn't have cared less. Next we went to lunch at the five star restaurant next door. The food was very good and equally as nice was the view from our table.
It was back to the hotel after that. Below is a picture of a very small part of the hotel village.
The trip itinerary made it sound like we were going to spend the day tasting wine. I told the tour director that if that was all we were going to do, I wasn't going to come. But on his advice I went along and am glad I did, it was a very enjoyable day.
Leaving wine country tomorrow morning for our final stop on the trip, Cape Town. I have had perfect weather for 17 days in a row now, but the weather for the rest of my stay is looking kind of iffy. I am keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow as we are going up Table Mountain, the highlight of Cape Town.
Yesterday's email didn't go out until today due to the Internet being down at the hotel all last night.
I have safely reached the final stop on the trip, Cape Town. We left the hotel at the wine estate this morning at 8:30. We drove directly to Table Mountain here in Cape Town which was only about a 45 minute drive. Weather wasn't too bad today. It was almost completely overcast all day, but we only had a few drops of rain. We took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain.
The picture below is from the top of Table Mountain. That's Lion's Head on the left with the Atlantic Ocean out beyond that. Downtown Cape Town is in the center of the picture and that's Table Bay in front of the city. You can see Robben Island out in the bay. That is where I am going tomorrow.
Below is a close-up of the inner city.
The picture below is looking the other direction from the top of Table Mountain. It is looking out toward Cape Point which is the southwestern most point on the continent.
After leaving Table Mountain we took a short drive around the city and then stopped at a diamond manufacturer where we learned how they make the jewelry (aka sales pitch). We were then dropped off at the waterfront where we had some free time for lunch and or shopping.
The waterfront is a very nice area. I'm sure I will be returning here again as it is only a ten minute walk from the hotel. Below is another picture from the waterfront looking out toward my hotel.
The hotel where I am staying is very nice, as all the hotels were on the tour. I was kind of worried about how things would go with this tour company as I have never used them before. The customer service I experienced before the trip was absolutely AWFUL! But everything that I have experienced while on the tour itself has been outstanding. There are others in the group who have used this company before and said that they are always top notch. So if you are planning a trip check out Vantage Deluxe World Travel.
The forecast is for on and off rain for the rest of my stay here. I am hoping it is more off than on as there is a lot I would like to do here. I will write more tomorrow.
It was a beautiful day when I woke up this morning. The picture below is of my hotel as we were heading out this morning at 8:30.|
The nice weather was very short lived however. We took a ferry to Robben Island, and by the time we got there at 9:30 we were already getting some light rain. Robben Island was a leper colony in the old days and then later turned into a prison. This is the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 17 years.
It was a very interesting tour. We began with a bus tour around the island. The guide on the bus was a very interesting older man who played a major role in the protests against apartheid. He has also been the host to many presidents and celebrities when they have come to Robben Island. When he was escorting Hillary Clinton around the island when George W. was president, as they were passing the gun pictured below he asked her not to tell President Bush that the island had weapons of mass destruction.
Below is the limestone query where Mandela and the other political prisoners had to work at hard labor for 13 hours per day. The brightness of the sun on the limestone ruined the eyesight of the inmates. To this day you can't take a picture of Nelson Mandela using a flash.
When we got to the prison itself the guide was a former inmate of the prison. Pictured below is one of the large cells used for housing many prisoners.
The cell block below was Nelson Mandela's cell block.
Below is Nelson Mandela's actual cell.
It was a very interesting tour and the rain stayed light while on the island. The tour lasted three hours. We were back at the waterfront at 12:30. From the waterfront the group was heading out to a diamond museum and jeweler. I told our tour director to leave without me and I would make my own way back to the hotel. By this time it was raining steady with some thunder and lightning, so I had some lunch and did some shopping. I bought a few African nick knacks to bring back home. Got back to the hotel at 3:00. Hoping for better weather tomorrow, but the forecast doesn't look too promising.
Tomorrow is an all day tour with the group of the Cape Peninsula. Then I have all day Saturday and most of Sunday on my own as my flight doesn't leave Cape Town until 6:10 Sunday Night.
It was a holiday in South Africa today. It was Freedom Day. When we left the hotel at 8:30 this morning it was a very ugly day. But almost immediately the clouds started to break up. Our first scenic stop was Camps Bay which is pictured below. That's the Atlantic Ocean you see in the picture. It's still pretty cloudy here but starting to clear.|
We continued driving south down the cape from Cape Town. By the time we got to Hout Bay the weather was getting nice.
Next we continued the drive on the winding road over Chapman's Peak which you can see in the picture below which was taken from Hout Bay.
Our next stop was at an Ostrich farm. We saw the birds hatching from eggs and then baby chicks as are seen below.
They are much cuter as babies than they are as adults. Below is an adult male. The males have black feathers and the females have gray feathers.
Next we headed over to the Cape of Good Hope. On the way we saw some critters. Below are some mountain zebra.
We were delayed a short while as four wild female ostriches were standing in the road. That's the Cape of Good Hope you see in the picture below behind the birds.
Below is me standing at the southwestern most point on the continent of Africa.
Below is the Atlantic Ocean from the Cape of Good Hope. As you can see there is not a cloud in the sky now.
One last picture of the Cape of Good Hope. This was taken as we were driving away.
Our next stop was at Cape Point. We ate lunch at the cape restaurant. Great food, huge helpings like you would not believe and very low prices. My bill was 98 Rand which is about twelve dollars. After lunch we rode the funicular up to the old light house. After getting off the funicular I walked the rest of the way up to the lighthouse pictured below.
Pictured below is the view from on top looking down on the Cape of Good Hope again.
In the picture below if you look real close you can see the new lighthouse out on the point. The Atlantic Ocean is on the right and the Indian Ocean is on the left.
Our final stop of the day was in Simon's Town. This is where the South African Navy is located. It's also the home of Boulder's Beach which is full of penguins.
Below is a mama penguin with her two young chicks. But you can only see one of the chicks.
The penguin below was particularly friendly as he walked right over to us.
The final picture of the day is Boulder's Beach. That's the Indian Ocean in the picture.
It was only about an hours drive back to the hotel from Simon's Town. We got back at about 5:00. As I am writing this horns have been honking outside nonstop for hours. I didn't notice this the previous two nights. Maybe they are celebrating Freedom Day. Tomorrow is my last full day here in beautiful South Africa. There are no activities with the group until the farewell dinner tomorrow night. So I will have to find my own way around the city.
The trip is winding down to its final hours. Today started off wet and gloomy again but turned into a descent day except the mountains where shrouded in clouds all day. I haven't seen Table Mountain since we went up it four days ago. I left the hotel around 9:30 when the weather started to clear. I journeyed out to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It's about a half hour outside the city. Apparently I wasn't the only one that decided to go there as I met several other members of my group as I was walking around the gardens. The gardens were beautiful but it is late autumn here so a lot of the plants weren't at their peak. Below are some photos of the gardens.
After getting back to the city I returned to the V&A Waterfront for lunch. After lunch I walked around the wharf for a bit.
I watched some of the street performers and rode the giant Ferris wheel you see in the picture below.
The picture below was taken from the top of the Ferris wheel. Its looking right at Table Mountain but it's socked in as usual.
Below is the waterfront from on top.
Below is a picture of the waterfront clock tower.
I returned to the hotel from the waterfront by boat. There is a stop on the canal cruise that stops at the civic center which is directly across the street from my hotel. I got back to the hotel around 4:30. Tonight is the farewell dinner with the group.
Tomorrow begins my LONG journey home. My chauffeur from Emirates picks me up at the hotel at 2:10 tomorrow afternoon. My flight leaves Cape Town at 6:10 tomorrow night. From here it is a ten hour flight to Dubai. In Dubai I have a three hour layover. Then it is a 14 hour flight to JFK from Dubai. Then the worst part, a nearly six hour layover at JFK. And finally a two and a half hour flight to Indy arriving at 10:34 Monday night. I will be leaving the hotel here at 8:00am Sunday Indiana time and won't get home until 39 hours later.
My next vacation isn't until November. I'm going to spend a few days in London and then take a transatlantic cruise home. Thanks for reading my emails.
I'm on my way home,|
I'm sitting in the airport lounge here in Cape Town waiting for my flight to Dubai. The international terminal here is like a morgue, almost no one here. I can't believe my vacation is over already, it's seems like I just left. No reason for me writing but it gives me something to do while I am waiting. Only 37 more hours to go on my marathon journey home. Below is a pictures from the airport here. I couldn't take a picture of my plane because it doesn't seem to be here yet. My plane doesn't start boarding for another 90 minutes.
Greetings from the friendly skies of Emirates. I am on board an Emirates A380 heading for New York's JFK Airport. We have been airborne for three hours and have got ten more hours to go before reaching New York. We are currently flying over Ankara Turkey and about to cross the Black Sea. I've got a large TV screen in front of me with 1200 channels, my laptop beside me connected to the Internet, a fully stocked bar directly behind me with anything I want to eat or drink and a window looking out on the world below. It's too bad we ever have to land, I could stay up here forever. I just snapped the picture below.|
I left Cape Town last night at 6:10. It was a nine hour flight to Dubai. I watched the movie J. Edgar and got some sleep. They served dinner after takeoff and breakfast just before we landed in Dubai. It was a smooth flight. Below is the plane I flew on in Cape Town before we left. It's a 777-200.
I had three hours between flights in Dubai. The airport is one of the biggest and busiest I have ever been in. It was a long walk just to get to the lounge. I spent about an hour in the lounge before heading over to my gate. We sat at the gate for about 45 minutes waiting for some connecting passengers. Below is a picture of the Dubai Airport as we were heading for the runway.
After takeoff I got my second breakfast of the day and watched the movie Iron Lady. I have never used wifi before while in flight so I wanted to see if it worked. I'll be home in 18 hours so I'm a little over half way through my long trip home.
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