Sunday, March 18, 2007
CAPE TOWN -A WORLD TRAVEL DESTINATION PART-2
OUR FIRST TRIP TO CAPETOWN
Ever since we came to South Africa, a visit to Cape Town was on top in our wish list. Housing many wonders including South Africa’s parliamentary buildings, it is considered an
(picture from UCT website)
exotic tourist destination by South Africans and foreigners alike.
Several times we planned a visit to the city. But by some reason or other it did not materialize for a long time.
Then there came an invitation by courier asking our younger daughter to appear before the management of Telkom South Africa for a bursary interview in Cape Town. The bursary was for her studies at the University of Cape Town, where she was about to start her tertiary education in a few weeks time.
It came in such short notice that we had to make haste in preparing an itinerary for our trip and pack. With a few tips from her father our elder daughter took care of that. Packing and the sundry were as usual left with our younger daughter and myself.
We worked around the clock like busy bees. When we went to bed after making sure that everything had been packed in the car it was past nine at night. My husband set the alarm so we could start off by 5.00 in the morning.
Next day at 5h00 sharp we hit the road.
Nine hours to cover the thousand kilometers from our home town (Grahamstown) to Cape town and an hour for lunch and coffee breaks, we estimated the arrival time to be 3 in the afternoon.
We reached the outskirt of the city of Cape Town by 2 in the afternoon. From there on we were thrown into the hustle and bustle of the city. The last leg of hundred kilometers was not anything like what we experienced till then.
The more we sank into the city traffic the more strenuous the driving became. At regular intervals the highway branched into many lanes causing the inexperienced drivers to veer into a wrong lane. By the time you had realized the mistake there was no coming back until you reached a flyover. By then you are far removed from your destination.
Before we reached the city traffic we had decided that my husband would be on the wheel, our elder daughter assisting him with direction.
Armed with a road map of the city she sat on the passenger seat and steered our way to the city centre and to the hotel we had booked for a couple of days. Flashing glances between the road signs across the road and the road map she broke the tense silence in the car suggesting that her father stay on the lane or to drift left or right where she indicated.
At 120km/hour changing lanes was not easy.
Vehicles dashed in a single direction in three lanes. The race created a sense of urgency. Laws of motion, as it were, presided over human destiny.
It evoked in us a sense of diligence and an anticipation of the city’s industrial and corporate hub that was soon waiting to unfold before us. Both the drivers and the passengers in those speeding vehicles were masters or servants of that corporate world.
They were chasing time.
Yet they were extremely courteous and friendly to the visitors. A car that bore the registration number of another province was forgiven if it veered inadvertently into the faster lane.
The highway was protected on both sides by high walls. They tucked the city’s poor citizenry away from its time-chasers.
Slowly the motion streamlined into a rhythm. We were cruising in the flow.
Once the tension subsided, we became jovial to make remarks about the huge blocks of buildings on both sides. The traffic became hectic minute by minute as we entered the city center. The speed limit suddenly dropped to 60 km/h and we felt the entire world flooded with vehicles.
Inside the city, traffic was controlled by intermittent traffic lights. In front of the red light sometimes you have to pause for two to three minutes.
As we entered into the thick of the city traffic we got lost a few times since we took the wrong lane. Because traffic instructions were perfect, we could find our way easily back.
In case you are lost terribly you can enter into any petrol station which are spread all over the city and the petrol attendants are of excellent help to guide you through.
At one point we saw a flash of a deep blue on our right indicating the proximity of the beech and the beach hotels. We had booked for a hotel on the beachfront.
In five minutes our car was pulled into the front lobby of the hotel. We had booked into one of its self-catering apartments.
The receptionists at the counter were an Italian couple. They were extremely friendly. We felt as though we were visiting a long lost family friend. After exchanging greetings and small talk we went to our fifth floor apartment.
Spotlessly clean, the bedrooms, kitchen and the sitting room offered us a pleasant ambience.
We were all very tired. My husband offered to make us tea and after that we decided to have a nice rest.