My remaining time in Cape Town being a tourist, just like many others before me and also meeting other tourists in the places I stayed.
I stayed the last few days at the Amber Tree Backpackers lodge, recommended to me by Maurice Raleigh whom I had met at Jollyboys backpackers in Livingstone. Maurice also on a bike, but with an engine was travelling north. There are lots of places to stay in Capetown, many in and around Long Street where much of the night life is centered. The problem with being where the nightlife is, is that it’s loud. Maurice had told me that Amber Tree Lodge was very well kept, within walking distance to town but far enough away from all the noise to be peaceful if all you wanted to do was rest.
I was welcomed to the lodge by Stephen, the owner. Booking to stay is done via the internet and many of the days I had requested originally were unavailable, already booked by other guests. I managed to get almost a week block and moved into one of the dorms. The other guests a mix, some long time travelers, others staying for a holiday. These backpacker lodges have an attraction you do not get with a hotel, you have a comfortable living room and rest areas, internet, a kitchen to prepare your own meals and most importantly other guests to talk to. Fancy going for a walk but maybe not on your own, no problem, just ask another guest if they would like to join you, same for dinner, going to the pub or bar. There are often other guests wanting to come along and enjoy the same experiences.
Just down on Long Street there are many bars, clubs and tourist attractions, one of which the Beer House. Brightly Decorated, and busy during the day, crammed in the evening. Sophie a fellow guest at Amber Tree who was on Holiday from her job in Zimbabwe as a school rowing coach and I decided to go out for a bite to eat and then a drop or two of beer. After all now was the ideal time to be using up some of the money I had kindly been donated through my buy me a beer/coffee button.
We chose to do two of the beer tasting options and share giving us better value for money and a larger quantity of beers to taste.
The theme of the beer house was pretty cool, even the toilets were made from beer kegs and the flush were beer taps.
Finished off with e pretty cool picture of Bender on the wall, cool if you like futurama.
While walking in the park in the afternoon there is a good view of Table Mountain, that day with the tablecloth. The climate conditions on Table Mountain are pretty unique, cold air from the Atlantic Ocean comes up over the mountain and hits the warm air coming from the other side creating cloud that seems to roll off of the mountain. It looks like they have thousands of dry ice machines turned on up there.
The same evening the ongoing infecting the city street arts festival was still ongoing, Sophie, Gretcha (from Belgium) and I decided to go along and take a look.
There were short films, some of them pretty surreal and an open air play which seemed to just take the mickey out the South African President Zuma and his mishandling of the country and stealing of cash. Other performances the same evening were dance and another dance/play. All of it very entertaining and free.
A couple of times while I was being a tourist in Cape Town, Samantha a local lady was very kind to show me around. I’d heard of nice fish restaurant in Kaulk Bay, Fish Hoek. Lots of people had mentioned it and when Urs and I rode by earlier in the week at had been too early to stop for lunch. Samantha and I went back for an evening meal.
Just outside the window, the sea broke on the rocky coastline and the smell of the kelp pervaded the restaurant but luckily not too strongly. Seals also settled for the night on the rocks and the pier below. I was amazed at the size of the seals, they were huge and the males bigger still. Much bigger than any I had seen in captivity.
The time I was in Cape Town seemed to be just right, I was there for the Argus Cycle Tour and it also coincided with the Carnival. A couple of the lads staying at the hostel and I decided to go an check it out. Lucas a Polish man living and working in London and a Swiss chap whose name I forget (sorry) set off to watch the procession. We were not impressed to begin with, there were motorbikes leading out the procession then massive gaps before anything else but as the evening progressed the crowds grew and the procession got into full swing.
There were lots of dance troupes, their routines vibrant and very lively, music coming from the lorry in front of each troupe. The procession was long and by the time they reached us they had been dancing 2 hours already and many still dancing full throttle.
I needed an old bike box to ship my bike home, first off I went to Revolution Cycles, but they wanted 50 Rand for the box. I got back on my bike to Woodstock Cycleworks and inquired there. I was given a box at no cost and decided to hang around to talk to other customers and people working there. The vibe of the shop is fantastic, with a small café, wifi and a ton of old bikes that had been renovated it’s a really nice shop. JoJo the Barista and I chatted for a quite a while, JoJo originally from Tanzania and interested to hear where I had ridden there. He even gave me the recipe to make my own Chapati’s, my Favourite food in Tanzania.
Another day and more guests leave and others arrive at Amber Tree Lodge, relaxing in the lounge a new guest Andrea from Austria arrives. On a year out and travelling the world this was her first day of travel so I invited her to join me for a walk up to Lions Head, something I wanted to do before leaving Cape Town.
The walk up isn’t too bad but you need to be careful where you put your feet. We arrived at the top with about 15 minutes until sunset.
Several others were at the top with the same idea, milling around already starting on their sundowners.
Our idea was to watch the sun go down and head back down, we both forgot about torches which meant getting down after needed to be quite quick to get past the more technical descent parts. On the way down we met several people still coming up, having mistimed their ascent to see the sunset.
My time in Africa was coming to an end, I needed to pack away my bike and kit for the return flight home. As I was near the centre of town I was able to do this a couple of days before.
The box I had gotten from Woodstock Cycleworks was the biggest one they had, not quite big enough though. It took me most of the morning to pack the bike down and get it to fit, eventually having to remove the front brake caliper to squeeze the bike in.
My last night in Cape Town, what to do?? During the week near long street I had found the bars to be too expensive, beers being sold to tourists at over double the price local people paid. Talking to an ex-pat Theresa now living and teaching in Cape Town who I had met at a Warm Showers Host, she had said I would find it hard to find a cheap bar in Long Street, Kloof Street and the surrounding area, its all for tourists!
It didn’t take me too long to find a pizza place, NY Slice that sold beer for the right price, 14.50 Rand instead of the tourist 36 Rand. The guys running the place were mainly from Zimbabwe and a great bunch. Prosper seemed to drum up business and had a great rapport with his customers. When I took Theresa there after finding it, she was surprised, she had been there a while and had not found it and even confirmed it was “the coolest place in Kloof Street”.
So my last night, I decided to go out with Prosper, Gideon and Craig, three of the guys that worked at NY Slice. First off they took me to a Zimbabwe bar hidden away behind the main street. Again beers at the right price. And then onto Jo’burg the nightclub.
In hindsight going on a mad night out before leaving wasn’t the best idea, I had a great time but a bad head when I arrived at Cape Town Airport.
This didn’t help my mood, I was very sad to be leaving Cape Town, I really didn’t want to. This leg of my journey was now at an end, although earlier on in the trip when times were difficult I often thought of getting to the end, but now I was here I didn’t want to be.
The flight to Johannesburg went smoothly, if not a little late and the flight onto Heathrow was trouble free. I flew SAA as they took my bike for free. When I checked in everything I was a couple of kilo’s over in total, I smiled and explained my trip to Minnie who checked me in and suddenly there was no extra charge as she rang a supervisor for an override on my overweight luggage. How nice!
Heathrow… Cold! Nearly 30 degrees when I left Cape Town and only a few degrees as I arrived in London. I had wondered where I would put my bike back together, after feeling the nip in the air it was easily decided, in the terminal!
The box had a dent in it when I picked it up, but luckily the only damage was to the front pannier rack.
Next Challenge, how do you get out of terminal 2 at Heathrow on a bicycle? The only way out is via a tunnel, luckily there are two cycle paths, unluckily the powers that be decided to work on both cycle lanes at the same time, shutting them both! There was no way out. I headed toward the National Express coach depot and started talking to Mike, one of the drivers, “good luck with getting out of here on that!” he said. Explaining my predicament he kindly let me put my bike on the coach to get through the tunnel.
Once I had escaped from Terminal Two it was easy, much of the route I had ridden before, riding through Windsor and onto Reading. The Eldon Arms in Reading was the first Wadworth Pub I came across where I could taste Wadworth IPA again in 10 months. Coincidentally the pub was run by South Africans!
I overnighted in Reading with a Warmshowers Host Chris who was very kind and let me just catch up on my sleep. After the long haul flight I was more tired than I thought I would be. Although there was no jet lag, I had about 3 hours sleep in 48 hours.
The following Day John and Sasha Berry arrived; John was riding back to Devizes with me. It was very good to see them both after so long.
John thought it hilarious that I was feeling so cold and even more hilarious as touring had taken away my speed, John near sprinted up the hills, reveling in my slowness. What is the saying, paybacks a bitch! Another saying is “don’t give it if you can’t take it”, with a smile on my face still I know my speed will come back, perhaps I just now need 30 degree weather to get it..
En-route we met up with some fellow DTCC club members, Terri Alberti, Nick Hopgood, Andy Peart and Andy Harper and closer to Devizes some Chippenham Wheelers, David Else, Rich Buckley and Steve Wallis.
I was welcomed home in the evening by lots of friends who came to the Southgate.
So that’s it, 10 months, Devizes to Cape Town and now I’m back, I have my sister’s wedding in a month and what then?