Cape Town, South Africa
33° 55' S 18° 24' E
Aug 16, 2009 19:16
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Goodbye RMS St Helena

I slept quite well last night in our cabin onboard the RMS St Helena.  Although the ship was not moving I could hear strange noises, which I attributed to the slight movement of the ropes holding us next to the harbour basin wall?  Then again it could have been something else. 

I set my travel alarm last night and suffered that moment of confusion at 0620hrs when it awoke me from a deep slumber.  Where am I to where did I place that alarm?  Anyway after a very pleasant shower during which I received no bruises and did not have to hang onto the railing for dear life, I got a very tired family out of bed.  By habit I checked under the cabin door for our daily copy of Ocean Mail, but of course it was not to be.  Time to move on. 

We were nearly first for breakfast at 0700hrs; usual table, usual Welsh company.  A sad last breakfast on the RMS, which has been our home for so long.  Looking through the dining room portholes (in the early morning light) I could see activity on the quayside and luggage being unloaded.  I passed on the breakfast fish, which Ailsa has banned, but enjoyed the full fry. 

After breakfast I had one last look up on deck.  The weather was perfect, hardly a breath of wind and a perfect blue sky.  Table Mountain could clearly be seen from the lifeboat deck.  I went back down to Bureau Square (Information Desk/Shop area) to bid farewell to our Welsh friends.  We will miss them; they took a great interest in Erin & Ailsa and really were the best of company. 

Back at our cabin (B39 – Table Bay) time for one last check of the cupboards and drawers before disembarkation shortly after 0800hrs at Duncan Dock.  We did squeeze in time for a photo of Erin & Ailsa with the Captain Rodney Young and then Claude Amann & Martin Joshua, just as we were leaving. 

We claimed our luggage on the quayside and were driven by minibus the short distance to the Seafarers Mission, where we had started from on the 25th July.  In true Burnett fashion we forsook taxi’s and headed off on foot, along with all our wheeled luggage, forsaking all offers of assistance.  We came out of the Docks onto Fish Market Road, then across a roundabout and up Dock Road in the direction of the V & A Waterfront.  We then cut underneath Western Blvd and up Ebenezer Road onto Somerset and Main.  From here it was only a few hundred yards to the Protea Cape Castle. 

We were of course too early to check in, however we could secure our luggage in their store.  We walked down to the Cafe Sofia, next to the Protea Victoria Junction.  We didn’t require breakfast but tea/coffee/hot chocolate with free WiFi is hard to beat.  We all chilled and caught up on E Mail and uploading journal entries.  This Cafe is a popular spot on a Sunday morning.  We returned to the Protea Cape Castle at 1130hrs and were able to move into our apartment. 

After a short rest we took a taxi to Cape Town International Airport (Arrivals) to pick up a hire car from First Car Rental.  Our rental was organised by Cape Spirit, the same outfit we used last year.  A hire car gives a necessary degree of freedom when travelling around South Africa, however it is also a pain, worrying about how safe it is to park or being mugged at traffic lights!  Not only this but what about the small print in the hire car agreement.  Perhaps it is best not to read but motor on and enjoy our holiday. 

The airport appears to be in the final stages of a construction boom.  We had some distance to walk from where our taxi dropped us off.  We have been given a new Volvo instead of the Honda Accord we were expecting.  However it has all the same features; leather seats, automatic; not sure about the size of the boot we will find out tomorrow when we load the car.  We returned to town via the N2 and could see the RMS St Helena from the flyover next to Duncan Dock.  Part of me wanted to get back on board for afternoon tea! 

Back at the Protea Cape Castle we spent the late afternoon watching television and reading the local newspapers.  I noted that the Sunday Argos had an interesting article on the death of Mr Kimani Maruge (aged 90) a Kenyan citizen who could neither read nor write but decided to return to school when free primary education was introduced in 2003.   

“The veteran of the 1950’s Mau Mau revolt against British colonial forces, who never had a chance to attend school as a boy, had become a national celebrity and something of a poster boy for free education campaigners worldwide. 

In 2005, he travelled to the United Nations in New York to urge world leaders to press for education for the poor...In an interview in 2006, Maruge said he wanted to go to school so he could read the Bible for himself, and that he would only stop studying if he went blind or died.” 

A rather touching story I thought.  I miss reading a quality newspaper such as the Daily Telegraph.  Anyway around 1730hrs we decided to eat in the Protea Cape Castle restaurant, however a substantial portion of their menu was unavailable and the place was deserted.  I much prefer to eat in a busy restaurant, the volume of customers   giving an indication of satisfaction.  We passed and walked down Main Road in the general direction of Green Point without any clear plan.  I had thought about the V & A but wanted something different.  There are a multitude of restaurants on offer along Main Road and some interesting early 20th century buildings.  This road reminded me of Smith Street and St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia. 

Time was marching on and the light was failing.  I am not keen on having to walk about after dark in Africa.  We actually decided to visit a Woolworth’s food store (rather like Marks & Spencer) and purchased a picnic tea to eat in our apartment.  I suppose this is what we really needed after so many meals on the RMS.  No starter, soup, main, sweet and cheese/biscuits; rather sandwich material and some spaghetti bolognaise for the kids.  I finished the last of the Castle Beer, which I purchased in Cape Town and have transported to St Helena and back. 

Time for an early night as we have a long drive tomorrow.

Photos / videos of "Goodbye RMS St Helena":

Cape Town harbour at daybreak. Duncan Burnett on the deck of the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena.  Table Mountain, Cape Town, in the background. A view of Table Mountain, Cape Town, from the deck of the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena. Erin & Ailsa Burnett with Claude Amann (Purser Customer Care) and Martin Joshua (Assistant Purser)as we prepared to disembark from the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena at Cape Town. The Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena, berthed at Cape Town harbour, South Africa. The Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena, berthed at Cape Town harbour, South Africa. Erin & Ailsa Burnett with Captain Rodney Young as we prepared to disembark from the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena at Cape Town. Unloading cargo from the RMS St Helena, Cape Town, South Africa. Erin & Ailsa Burnett in Cafe Sofia, Somerset Road, Cape Town, South Africa. Ailsa Burnett in Cafe Sofia, Somerset Road, Cape Town, South Africa. New stadium being built for the 2010 Football World Cup, Cape Town, South Africa.