Wednesday 31-07-2013

Today I learned (yet again) another hugely valuable life skill – sometimes you just have to trust other people.

Allow me to explain. Everyone has been telling us that the Cape of Good Hope (basically the tip of the Cape) is breathtakingly beautiful and well worth the 90 minute drive. However, there was no cheap way to go about getting there. Unless we rented a car. Alice, thankfully, is very used to driving stick shift, however she had only driven on the left side of the road a couple of times before. But she kept telling me how she wouldn’t have volunteered to drive if she didn’t feel comfortable, and in the end I decided to let fate call it – if the rental company would let a 19 year old with an American drivers license rent a car, then who am I to say that we can’t?

So after another delicious breakfast, we got picked up by the rental car company at our B and B. We drove for about 5 minutes, and then arrived at the rental car office. I wasn’t loving the whole rental car idea (mainly because I was worried about damaging the car and/or ourselves) but Alice was very patient with me, explaining that she really did think she was up to the challenge.

We got the car, inspected it, and then were off! Those first few minutes, to be perfectly honest, were the worst part of the trip. We were in the middle of Cape Town and the car was more sensitive than Alice’s back home. Alice was a trouper, though, and drove without hesitation through the streets of Cape Town centre, while Daniel directed her and I prayed and bit my fingernails in the back seat (but actually).

Once we hit the highway, however, all was well with the world. I actually think that the music was what made all the difference – we turned it on once we got onto the highway and I could just feel a weight being lifted off of our shoulders.

This ride was actually indescribable. The water was this gorgeous clear-blue to our left, the towns on our right were picture-perfect seaside villages, and the mountains behind us just made it all that much more memorable.

We had to turn around because we missed the turnoff to see the penguins, but we were so glad we did! Down a boardwalk-like wooden ramp were dozens of penguins, waddling around and/or just chilling in the sun. They were precious (and some were even a little sassy). After a bit of walking and picture taking, we headed back into the car.

Sooner than we expected, we hit the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope National Park. After paying the fee, the real fun started. We were cruising with the windows down, down a very uncrowded road, past some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life (no exaggeration here, I promise!)

I didn’t want the road-tripping to end (literally never thought I would say those words!) but we were soon stopped by the end of the road – and a footpath leading up to a lighthouse! I was super-excited, since for some reason my family has always had an affinity for lighthouses.

We made our way up the steep path, stopping every so often for gorgeous photos. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enter the lighthouse, but we could get GOREGOUS 360-degree views around it. It was beyond stunning, and I didn’t want to leave. However, we were a tad pressed for time.

I noticed that there was a short-looking path going down a little further out onto the rocky jetty. Since Alice and Daniel didn’t want to go on it (and I for some reason felt this deep desire to see what was at the end of the path) I told them that I would run (literally) down the trail, and meet them back at the car super-quickly, and they agreed.
So run I did. The run there was absolute perfection – downhill, with 270-degrees of water views. I know I am overusing this word, but it was SO gorgeous. I took some pictures at the end (including pictures of an abandoned lighthouse further down on the rocks) and then started the run back home.

The run back wasn’t nearly as fun, since it was uphill and I was already tired from the run down. Oh, and also that hot African sun was beating down on me without a single cloud in the sky. Regardless, I made it back to the car, and soon we were off!

We continued on our way, turning off a different road to take a picture by the official Cape of Good Hope sign and also to see the views from a different area. After a brief stop there, we piled back into the car and started the journey back home.

No one really warned us for how narrow the curvy the roads would be, but yet again Alice was an absolute trooper as she conquered one turn after another. Eventually, we arrived in Hout’s Bay and I had my first proper Fish and Chips. We were starving, and the food was so good (and so fresh, too, since this was literally a waterfront establishment!)

We then got back into the car and made our way to the base of Lionshead. Now we were told ahead of time that (and I quote), “many locals like to do this hour-long hike with a picnic basket after work.” We were basically given the (mistaken) impression that it would be an easy hike to the top and back down again.

And it started off easy – on a wide dirt path with gorgeous views wrapping around the mountain/hill. However, very quickly, it became very steep. It was a great and beautiful challenge, though (although I did regret going for that hard run down to the second lighthouse!)

However, the views from the top were so worth it – 360 degrees around Cape Town and the surrounding suburbs. We could also see Table Mountain and the 12 apostles not too far behind us. We briskly headed downhill, since we were supposed to meet some MaP alumni for dinner at 5 (which clearly wasn’t going to happen!)

Thankfully Steph (one of the alumni) was very understanding. We went home, parked the rental car, showered, and walked down to her office on Long Street. She was especially understanding when she had heard ALL that we had done today – saner people would have split this up into two days, but we leave tomorrow, so that wasn’t really an option!

Steph drove us to her apartment, and then we met up with Mala and Andrew – two other MaP alumni who attend Varsity College in Cape Town. We went to a sushi restaurant, and it was delicious. Mala and I really hit it off, and realised pretty quickly that we are pretty similar people – both obsessed with food, talk to our parents almost every day while at university, are runners, etc.

After dinner, Steph called us a taxi, and the cab driver was named Steve, and Daniel later pointed out that he looked very much like Steven Pinker. After a bit of packing and checking into our flights online, we were off to bed after a thoroughly exhausting (in the best way possible!) day.

TGT: 1) amazing road trip to the Cape of Good Hope 2) delicious sushi dinner with MaP alumni 3) getting to the top of Lionshead

Until next time,
~JK

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