| Entry 42 of 49
You need to upgrade your Flash Player Click here to start downloading FlashPlayer!
I got up at 0630hrs this morning determined to attend an early morning Eucharist at St George’s Cathedral. We have not either had the opportunity or more likely made the opportunity to attend church during this trip. In defence, I think this is partly due to the amount of travel we have done. We drove to Mafeking on the first Sunday, Port Elizabeth on the second, went by bus to Windhoek on the third, returned to Windhoek by bus on the fourth, and returned again on the fifth to Windhoek by Town Hopper. Next Sunday we will be on the train bound for Johannesburg.
I walked along cold dark Cape Town streets to the Cathedral. It is only about a five-minute walk away. The streets were full of people going to work and of course the Greenmarket Square Market was in the process of being set up.
I was the first person to arrive at St John’s Chapel, at 0700hrs. The service was due to start at 0715hrs. I picked up one of the Anglican service books and took a seat. Plenty of time for private reflection. Gradually people started to arrive. They all seemed to know each other. A mixture of retired parishioners, members going to work and perhaps staff. In total there were no more than ten of us. It reminded me of the services I used to attend at Beverley Minster as a student twenty years ago.
The service started promptly at 0715hrs and the participants contributed from memory without reference to the service books. Needless to say I was lost from the start, however one of the congregation came over and whispered a page number to me. I got lost again and another member came and turned my book to the correct place. From then on I was able to follow and participate in the service, which had a high Anglican flavour. During prayers the celebrant prayed for the work of their neighbours the Methodist Church in Greenmarket Square. There wasn’t a long sermon as such but the theme of the service was the slave who had been forgiven a large debt but failed to forgive someone who owed him money. We have been shown mercy by Christ therefore we should show mercy to others.
I took communion and at the end spoke to the celebrant, whom I am led to believe was on attachment from another church denomination. On the way back to Greenmarket Square a member of the congregation called Karl joined me on my walk. He gave me a copy of a church booklet entitled, ‘Season of Creation’. I formed the impression that St George’s is a welcoming institution. I wish them all the best in their mission work in Cape Town. After this positive and uplifting start to the day I returned to the Tudor Hotel and rallied the troops for breakfast.
Time for a little more history.
Tensions arose between the British administration and the local Afrikaners following the emancipation of slaves.
“In 1787 William Wilberforce had formed an anti-slavery society in Britain and dedicated himself as an MP to abolition. He spoke with moral vigour against slavery and persuaded the influential William Pitt to support his cause. Pitt rounded on Parliament berating the 'incurable injustice' of the slave trade, and it was finally outlawed by act of parliament in 1806. It did not, however, set existing slaves free.
The Act of 1806 stopped the traffic of slaves in the British Empire, and thus curtailed imports of new slaves. In this climate the British authorities made little use of the slaves inherited from the VOC. Among the British middle class it also created greater sympathy toward slaves and former slaves, and this spurred on anti-slavery societies and welfare initiatives. They pressed for the emancipation of slaves.
Finally emancipation was passed in the British empire and slaves were set free on 1 December 1834.
The cleft between the British and rural Afrikaner communities, however, grew wider with the emancipation of slaves (1834) prompting ten per cent of the European population to leave the Cape, with their slaves, and cross the Vaal River in search of independence. This 'walk out' on British rule is known as the Great Trek and has been the subject of many books, including Mitchener's 'the Covenant'.”
After breakfast we engaged a taxi and headed for the Lower Cable Car Station. The taxi and driver had seen better days. When he stopped to put fuel in his taxi he only put in R50, a surprisingly small amount which reminded me of our taxi travels in India, specifically Darjeeling.
Plans have existed since the 1870’s to build a Cable Car or Funicular Railway up Table Mountain. However plans were interrupted first by the Anglo-Boer War and then the Great War.
“A Norwegian engineer, Trygve Tromsoe, presented plans for a cableway in 1926, and construction began soon after with the formation of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC). Construction of was completed and the cableway was opened on October 4 1929 by the Mayor of Cape Town AJS Lewis. The cableway has been upgraded three times since then.
In 1993, the son of one of the founders sold the TMACC, and the new owners took charge of upgrading the cableway. In 1997, the cableway was reopened after extensive renovations, and new cars were introduced.”
We have previously been at the top in 2000 & 2002 but thought it well worth the trip again as this is the first time for Ailsa. There was only a small queue and short wait as the Cable Cars travel every 5 – 10 minutes and can carry 65 persons at a time. The weather at 0930hrs was perfect with not a cloud in the sky. As we queued a number of buses started to arrive. Given the clear weather everyone not doubt had the same thought as us, get to the top!
It is possible to hike to the top of Table Mountain along the Platteklip Gorge path, which comes out near the Upper Cable Car Station. However I have read that it is quite challenging in places and there have been reports of crimes against tourists in the general vicinity. There have also been reports of crime at the top once tourists leave the general vicinity of the Upper Cable Car Station. We were in no rush today as we took in the view from the top whilst searching for Rock Hyrax (Dassies). Unfortunately we did not see any on this occasion. We walked along the marked paths no more than 800 yards from the Upper Cable Car Station. I did look at the paths, which lead out across the top of the mountain and beyond. As I wished I had my hiking gear and could venture out, the mist descended. In ten minutes visibility was reduced to less than 500 yards. Fifteen minutes later it was clear again. Preparation is clearly essential if you intend to hike. I have heard of a Hoerikwagga Trail, a four day trek across the mountain, but did not see it on any displays I read.
We visited the shop, took the Cable Car to the bottom, and visited the stalls near the Lower Cableway Station. The cable cars are actually imported from Switzerland. The highest point on Table Mountain is 3559 ft. The cableway carries over 800,000 passengers annually.
Once at the bottom the children noticed the start of the trail up the mountain. The sign was marked India Venster. We walked up hill past the Lower Cable Car Station as far as the junction where hikers decide between the serious Venster Butress route or the Upper Contour Path which goes up the Platteklip Gorge. From what I have read today, the Platteklip Gorge route is the best route unless you are a serious mountain climber. Erin & Ailsa had done well and climbed at least as high as Slemish Mountain back home. We had a respectable walk on the lower slopes of Table Mountain. Next time we will come prepared and try for the top (taking account of local crime advice). We took a taxi back to the Tudor Hotel and regrouped.
At 1415hrs we walked to the Mount Nelson Hotel for afternoon tea. We made only one stop at the Central Methodist Mission (Metropolitan Church). Methodism in South Africa dates from the time of British conquest during the Napoleonic Wars. A Sergeant John Kendrick of the 21st Yorkshire Light Dragoons, a Methodist lay preacher, conducted services in the Cape in 1806. A memorial in the church states that he died on the 13th November 1813 at Cape Town. His last testimony was, “I the chief of sinners am; but Jesus died for me.” The first Methodist Minister arrived in Cape Town in 1816. A number of missionaries and ministers are commemorated in plaques around the church. The church building dates from 1875.
Until 1988 the Central Methodist Mission consisted of two congregations separated by Apartheid (Metropolitan Church & Buitenkant Street Church). In 1966 District Six was declared a white zone and thousands of people were forcibly removed including most of the members of Buitenkant Street Methodist Church. The church then became associated with the struggle against Apartheid. A plaque of shame was mounted on the building to remind passers-by of the injustice that had taken place. Nelson Mandela has spoken at the Metropolitan Church (Central Methodist Mission – Greenmarket Square). The Buitenkant Street Church now hosts outreach projects and the District Six Museum.
We were lucky to get a table on the terrace of the Mount Nelson Hotel on account of a block booking inside. We were very grateful and recalled sitting in the same area with Erin in 2000. Silver service did not mean all that much to her at the time but she enjoyed the chocolate cake!
“The Mount Nelson Hotel, opened on the 6th of March 1899, was the fruit of the imagination and determination of shipping magnate Sir Donald Currie. The hotel was designed to emulate the finest in London, which was then the leading capital of refined hostelry.”
The Mount Nelson Hotel has seen a number of famous guests over the years, including Lord Kitchener, Winston Churchill and the Prince of Wales (1925). We stayed at the Mount Nelson in 2002 for a few days. This is a most impressive heritage property. Sadly it is beyond our current budget on this trip. Besides we would need two rooms, which would significantly increase expenditure.
“Voted “Best Tea in the World” by Michael Winner (author and UK Sunday Times columnist), and "Best Tea" by Brian Berkman (Cape Town travel and food critic) Afternoon Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel includes traditional afternoon tea favourites such as pastrami sandwiches, smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches, tasty South African cheeses and biscuits, quiche and savoury pies, not forgetting the ever popular scones with strawberry jam and a grand assortment of tea cakes.
A wide variety of teas including Rooibos, Lapsang Souchong, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Orange & Cinnamon, Green tea & Mint, and Jasmine Green accompanies these taste sensations.”
Today we had time to linger over the sandwiches and cakes, washed down with the best Darjeeling tea. The famous Windsor Table could not be seen underneath the mounds of eatables! On a slight note of criticism concerned the savoury offerings. There was no quiche, sausage rolls or pies on offer. The replacement offerings were not quite to my liking still I must have eaten a loaf of bread worth of sandwiches between 1445hrs and 1645hrs! The Darjeeling tea was excellent. I ended the day with a little Rooibos.
We headed out of the Prince of Wales Gate, walked across the road and headed off down Government Avenue, through the heart of the Company’s Garden. Jan van Riebeeck originally laid out this garden on the orders of the Dutch East India Company, to supply both colonists and passing shipping en route to the East. Today the Company’s Garden is a large public park, complete with fountains, statues (such as Cecil Rhodes), and numerous museums. We strolled past the South African Museum, National Gallery, and came out beside the Houses of Parliament. Parliament has been based in Cape Town since the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910. The four provinces could not agree on a national capital at that time. As a compromise, Cape Town was designated the legislative capital, Bloemfontein the judicial capital, and Pretoria the administrative capital. En route the children observed a man feeding squirrels. He gave them a couple of nuts so Erin & Ailsa fed one squirrel each.
We headed back down St George’s Street Mall and went to the Pick n’ Pay in Strand Street for supplies. Then back to the Tudor Hotel before darkness fell. The market was being dismantled for the night. I wish they would leave it up so that I could enjoy my sleep at 0600hrs!
| Entry 42 of 49
You need to upgrade your Flash Player Click here to start downloading FlashPlayer!