Cable Cars and Signal Hill Sightseeing in Cape Town (2017-05-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 AUG 2018

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has for many years now offered a free adult ticket up the mountain on a South African citizen’s birthday – a deal which I’ve seldom made good on, but not necessarily for the lack of trying. It has far more to do with the fact that my birthday falls in the Cape Town winter season, meaning that weather conditions are almost never in my favour.

After a rare success in 2016, I once again tried my luck in 2017, however the strangely quiet cable car station should have been enough of a hint that the operation was shut for the morning, thanks to adverse conditions at the top of the mountain.

Not too daunted though, I instead altered my trip to that of even more of a local tourist, opting to go on a scenic drive (filled with photo stops) past the nearby kramat up on the ridge, even further up to Signal Hill, over Kloof Nek and down into Camps Bay, round the coast to Seapoint, lunch in the V&A Waterfront, and then ending it all off with a tour of the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum. Certainly a more than adequate replacement plan then.

Talking about the kramat, Cape Town is actually surrounded by a ‘holy circle’ of kramats – shrines of great Muslim spiritual leaders. There are about 20 recognised sites scattered throughout the peninsula, with two of these sites actually situated on Signal Hill – that of Tuan Kaape-ti-low at the Army Camp, and that of Sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie Shah on the ridge (the one that I pulled over at).

Continuing further up the road you will eventually reach Signal Hill, a great (car-accessible) location for viewing Table Mountain, Cape Town, its surrounds and the last vestiges of Peninsula Shale Renosterveld – particularly useful if you don’t feel like the strenuous walk that accompanies going up the likes of nearby Lion’s Head.

Driving down from Signal Hill towards Camps Bay, you’ll spot a couple of cannons overlooking Camps Bay along Kloof Nek road, originally placed there by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to defend the castle from attack via the wagon track which led from Camps Bay to the Castle via Kloof Nek. Yes, I did pull over and take a few photos. I can only imagine that Chantelle was very happy not to be tagging along with me for the day!

As for Camps Bay itself, as always it is breathtakingly beautiful (when not overrun with sun-seeking beach goers), and the public art installations along the beach makes for a nice distraction while stretching one’s legs.

The remainder of the drive takes you around the rest of the rich, beautiful (seemingly always under construction) Atlantic Seaboard towards Green Point, and because I like stopping to take pictures, I inevitably stopped along the Seapoint promenade to get my first ever glimpse of the once relatively controversial Michael Elion’s “Perceiving Freedom” public sculpture/Ray-Ban advert.

I didn’t really mind it all that much to be honest.

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As for the rest of my day NOT walking about on top of Table Mountain? It was pretty pleasant.

Related Link: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway | Signal Hill | Camps Bay

A Gourmet Burger and Oscar the Seal at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town (2017-05-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 27 APR 2018

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway gives you a free cable car ride for you birthday, and my work gives us the day off on our birthday, meaning that I’m forever trying to go up Table Mountain on my birthday. Sometimes I get this right, but most of the time, thanks to my birthday falling in the middle of bad weather May, the route is closed and I need to come up with something else.

That is precisely what happened last year, and after spending some time walking around Signal Hill, Camps Bay and Sea Point, I headed towards the V&A Waterfront, a place that we visit surprisingly little come to think of it.

As any Cape Town tourist will tell you, the Waterfront does offer a lot of fun things to photograph, and on this particular day I found myself for some or other reason focusing on the hard to miss, gleaming bronze seal statue standing proudly in front of the magnificent Sun International Table Bay Hotel.

Standing adjacent to Jetty 2 and in front of the hotel’s main entrance, “Oscar”, the 2.7 meter high bronze seal statue sculpted and delivered (1997) by South African sculptor Danie De Jager, was commissioned by the hotel group in memory of Oscar the Cape Fur seal (and his fisherman friend – whom Oscar had inherited his name from), the beloved furry figure that called the Table Bay jetty home and whom the opening team had “adopted” during the construction phase of the hotel itself.

For many years Oscar the Seal delighted both Waterfront tourists and locals alike, before sadly dying due to injuries sustained in a boating accident around 2003. However, seeking out a place to bask in the sun, Oscar’s pups continue his legacy of visiting the Table Bay jetty on a daily basis, basically becoming much sought after photographic fodder in the process!

Anyway, Cape Fur seals aside, after a nice photographic stroll around the quieter than what I’m used to area, I decided to stop for a bite to eat, treating myself to one of the delicious gourmet hamburger creations that Gibson’s has become so famous for.

Craft beer in hand, I eagerly tucked into my food, fed the seagulls, watched people zip about, and took in all the sights. Not the worst way to spend lunch hour by one’s self I guess!

(In case you are all wondering where Chantelle was on the day, well she was back home busy frantically baking a cake in front of the camera, appearing as one of the challengers on Via’s – an Afrikaans channel on DSTV – Bak of Brou television show. Apparently this was quite the stressful event!)

One of the reasons I suppose that we don’t as a family visit the V&A Waterfront very often is because it is always so jam packed with people all the time, meaning that I found myself rather enjoying this rare mid-week visit for a change!

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Lunch done, photos taken, next up for my birthday walkabout – a visit to the Springbok Experience rugby museum!

Related Link: V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | Gibson’s

The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum in Cape Town (2017-05-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 APR 2018

As a treat to myself for my birthday, I paid a solo visit to the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum down in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town last year May. It was my first time visiting the rugby museum, and honestly, if you are a long time South African rugby fan then this place will blow you socks off.

First things first – this is a museum experience unlike any other that I’ve experienced before.

The concept is that of an interactive, audio-visual driven experience, with the museum building being split into essentially 3 major sections – the Springbok memorabilia/rugby shop, the skill games section (perfect for you and your kids to have some rugby themed fun), and the the main and most important bit – the actual self-guided museum walk, which forces you along a path that talks, lights up and seeks to inform you with every step of the way.

You start at the very beginning, learning about how the game reached our shores, how it grew into a club level activity, and from there how it progressed from amateur to professional, from local to world class along the way.

Pleasingly, the museum does not shy away from difficult topics like the black smudge of Apartheid and race relations in general, and in fact, forces you as  visitor to understand exactly just how ridiculous and hurtful this dark mark on our shared history really was.

Visually the museum is stunning, running its bold yellow and green motif throughout the displays, with important figures and moments highlighted with stunning monochromatic mannequin displays.

Trophies, uniforms, pamphlets and photos, the museum has a treasure trove of South African rugby memorabilia that stretches throughout South Africa’s rugby playing history on display.

Larger than life inspirational quotes aside, just about every information panel you encounter comes with either a voice over effect, button to press, screen to watch, or tactile experience to digest – meaning that if you really want to, you can easily make a walk through this museum last longer than what your wife would spend in a well-stocked Woolworths store on one of its 50% off everything sale days.

(Technically, my wife doesn’t do this, but from what I understand you could be sitting on a bench that entire day if she has her good credit card in hand).

The experience itself ends off with a video screening in a small, darkened amphitheater, the result of which is you exiting through the final door beaming with pride at being a South African rugby fan. (Or at least that is exactly how I felt after making my way through the experience).

Hats off to SARU and the team that set this experience up then – if you are a Springboks fan, and have yet to visit this remarkable ode to SA rugby, then this should definitely be on your list of things to do in Cape Town!

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P.S. Handy Tip: That amphitheater is super dark, so beware the step up to the viewing bench. Otherwise you’ll repeat the swift tuck and roll maneuver that I performed once the final film credit had rolled…

Related Link: The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum | Cape Town