Having monopolized their time for several days, we decided to give Kevin and Vanessa the morning off. Actually, they had agreed to come with us to Robben Island but the tickets were all sold out. Despite that disappointment, I’m sure the time to get back to their own lives, at least for a morning, was welcome.
We, on the other hand, decided to do the opposite of going back to our normal lives and took a bit of a flyer. We decided to take a helicopter ride around Cape Town.
While not the cheapest morning activity, it was far from the most expensive helicopter ride we’ve seen on offer over the years so we thought it was worth the splurge. Besides, the price included two hop-on-hop-off bus tickets we can use when we get back to Cape Town later in the trip, so how could we not!?
We knew she would like the idea, but weren’t sure whether Ella’s view of helicopters would change when the prospect of getting on one for real was presented. Fortunately, though the sound of a nearby chopper taking off rattled her a little, we got her on the chopper with no tears. She may look all business in the picture, but she really did have a good time. The pilot had tough competition when it came to pointing things out. Ella really enjoyed speaking into her mic and calling out the boats, circle (World Cup Stadium), and other things she saw.
Personally, I had a pretty good view. The ride gave us a much better sense of the size and layout of the city. In the end, Katy and I both thought it was a worthwhile extravagance.
Another waterfront development Toronto could learn from
After the helicopter ride, we headed over to the nearby V&A Waterfront area (Victoria & Albert, in case you’re wondering). The waterfront is a tourist bastion, but manages to be that without feeling too touristy. There’s a mall, which we didn’t go in, lots of restaurants some hotels and, the part we liked the best, a couple of markets.
From what I can tell the Waterfront was created in it’s current form in 1988. If that’s the case, they’ve done a great job of keeping it up-to-date. Katy commented that it reminded her of the Waterfront area in Chicago, I would say it’s actually much nicer.
The markets were essentially a more refined version of the Neighbourgoods Market we had visited the day before. In fact many of the same vendors were at this location, with a few more in the larger space. You might say this was the less hipster version.
Fortunately, they had a few more t-shirt options in my size so I could freshen up my wardrobe a bit. While we had received one of three pieces of luggage the day before, it was the stroller we likely won’t end up using on the trip, not any of the useful things, like clothes.
Ella’s favourite part of the waterfront was Nobel Square. Dedicated to South Africa’s four Nobel Peace Prize laureates: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. She insisted on several pictures. I’ve never had an easier time getting her to stand still for a picture.
Ella gets her groove on
In the evening we met up with Kevin, Vanessa and Nate again to head over the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. From late November to early April, there is a summer concert series with a show every Sunday evening.
The night we went, the concert was Oliver Mtukudzi of Zimbabwe. I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of him before the show, but his music was great and perfect for a lovely Sunday evening with probably the most dramatic backdrop I’ve ever seen for a concert.
Ella took to the music enthusiastically. In some cases a little too enthusiastically, spilling the bucket of ice and drinks of the people near us. A chocolate cake just below us was also a nice casualty. That they actually encourage you to bring outside food and alcohol (as long as you take your waste away and don’t drink and drive) is a nice change from North American concert venues with their $15 drinks and no outside food.
Another nice thing about the show, aside from the music and setting, was that it was the first place I had really noticed people of both races totally mixed with everyone having a good time together, with no evidence of any lingering divide. While it may not be the most accurate picture of the overall state of things, it was great to see.
Well, thanks for showing up
In case you’re wondering, just before we headed out to the concert, our two remaining bags showed up at the apartment. Clean clothes for everyone!! There is some evidence they were eaten by some kind of plastic wrap machine.
Before the concert, we frantically tore the bags apart and reorganized things so we could leave a bag here in Cape Town. Tomorrow we fly to Port Elizabeth and then drive to the Shamwari Game Reserve where Ella will be hunting cheetahs for her promised race.