| Entry 39 of 41
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When I awoke this morning I opened the shutters, went out onto the balcony and looked out over Walker Bay. Mist hung around the hills above Gansbaai but otherwise it was a perfect day. I could see that the sun would soon burn through the mist improving visibility for whale watching. Only one or two dog walkers were out on Grotto Beach. Sadly I had that going home feeling and knew that we would not enjoy the sights of Hermanus today, nor sit around the log fire this evening. Instead a cramped South African Airways flight to London awaited us.
We did have another excellent Mosselberg on Grotto Beach breakfast before leaving our accommodation. There is nothing quite like a freshly prepared breakfast starting with fruit salad, yogurt, bread & cold meat, an omelette with sausage and bacon on the side, and finally a croissant to fill the corners! To think that I generally skip breakfast during the working week. After breakfast there was one last opportunity to whale watch from our balcony.
It was with a heavy heart that we left our accommodation at 1030hrs and headed back into central Hermanus. One stop at the Post Office to post some cards before proceeding along the N43 to link up with the main N2 to Cape Town. We did go over a couple of interesting passes en route, especially Sir Lowry’s Pass, just before we reached Somerset West. I seem to recall that the English travel writer, H.V. Morton spent his later years around this area.
“Sir Lowry's Pass is a mountain pass on the N2 national road in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It crosses the Hottentots-Holland mountain range between Somerset West and Grabouw on the main national road between Cape Town and the Garden Route. A railway line also crosses the mountain range at this point.
The mountain crossing in that region was known by the indigenous Khoi people as the Gantouw or Eland’s Pass, and was used as a stock route. The Dutch and British settlers at the Cape built a rough pass called the Hottentots Holland Kloof Pass following the Gantouw route. The first recorded crossing was in 1664, and by 1821 the pass was seeing 4500 ox-wagons per year crossing into the interior, but the route was so severe that more than 20% of them were damaged. The ruts left by these wagons being dragged over the mountains can still be seen, and were declared a National Monument in 1958. Starting in 1828, a new pass was constructed on the current route, about 2km to the south of the Hottentots Holland Kloof, by the engineer Charles Michell using convict labour. The new pass was opened on 6 July 1830, and named after Lowry Cole, the Governor of the Cape Colony at the time. In the 1930s, the pass was widened and tarred; it was further improved in the 1950s, and in 1984 the upper parts were widened to four lanes in a reinforced concrete construction.”
We pressed on towards Cape Town. The N2 passes the airport but it was far too early to even consider going there. Instead we decided upon a lunchtime visit to the Rhodes Memorial. In previous journal entries during my time in Southern Africa, I have stated a little of the enterprising life of Cecil John Rhodes. I never managed to visit his grave in the beautiful Matopos Hills, outside Bulawayo. It is on my list of things to do when I eventually get back to Zimbabwe (after Bob Mugabe is dead and buried). Whilst the ‘World’s View’ at Matapos contains the bones of Rhodes, his memorial is located in Cape Town.
“The magnificent floodlit memorial to Cecil John Rhodes, stands on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, on the Northern flank of Table Mountain. It was built in 1912 on the very place where Rhodes used to sit and contemplate his future. It was a short ride on horseback from his town home, Groote Schuur.”
(Dutch for ‘Big Barn’ – Groote Schuur is now the residence of the State President)
“The Rhodes Memorial was Financed by public subscription raised from the estimated 30 000 citizens of Cape Town in deference for all that Rhodes had accomplished, and the very considerable contribution he had made to the development and increasing prosperity of Southern Africa…the monument was designed by Sir Francis Macey and Sir Herbert…
Incorporating Doric columns, the classical architecture so revered by CJR, the eight lions, were cast “in situ” by J.W Swan, modeled upon those protecting Nelson column in Trafalgar Square, London, and are a Tribute to Rhodes’ wish to have real lions roaming his ‘African Wildlife Garden’ for all the citizens to enjoy…
The dynamic ‘Statue of Energy’, rearing at the foot of the 49 steps, (one for each year of his life), was a tribute to the restless drive and determination of Rhodes.The inscriptions were composed by Rudyard Kipling, a great friend of Rhodes, and engraved on the pedestal supporting his bust are the words :
The immense and
Living he was the
Land And Dead
his Soul shall be
Carved into the frieze above his bust are the words:
To the Spirit and Life Work of
Cecil John Rhodes
who Loved and Served South Africa
1853 - 1902
The Memorial was dedicated at a public ceremony in 1912 by Sir Earl Grey, British Colonial Secretary, who made a special trip to South Africa for the occasion, and the unveiling was performed by the then Mayor of Cape Town, Sir Frank Smith.”
When we cut off the N2 onto the N3 we left the main road too early and ended up at Cape Town University (just below the memorial). By retracing our steps we found the Princess Anne Interchange and the Rhodes Memorial was signposted from this point. The Memorial turned out to be a very popular spot with local Cape Town citizens. Most of the parking is reserved for Cape Town University permit holders (Monday to Friday only), so the weekend is a great time to visit.
After taking in the extensive view from the Memorial, which is somewhat marred by the expansion of Cape Town, we retired to the Tea Room next door. The outdoor seating area was very popular indeed and the food looked delicious, if a little expensive. We opted just for tea, coffee, hot chocolate and one massive pudding, which the younger Burnett’s shared. I was happy just to sit with my Rooibos tea and refill of hot water. After this we had a walk in the hills above the Memorial. One last stretch of the legs before heading for Cape Town International Airport.
We left the Rhodes Memorial at 1400hrs and headed back out of Cape Town towards the airport. There is ongoing construction work at the airport but we were lucky to find International Car Hire Return at the first try. I recall not being so lucky in Los Angeles a few years back! The return process took less than five minutes and we walked to the Departure Terminal with our luggage via a circuitous route (avoiding construction).
As usual we were far too early but joined the check in queue anyway. Staff did arrive around 1500hrs and we watched as our bags departed with Belfast City Airport tags on them. We received boarding passes for both our flights and proceeded to security, drinking all our bottled water first. Security was not a problem but immigration was more interesting. It would appear that the computer did not recognise Ruth’s return to South Africa. Ruth is the only Burnett with a fresh visa sticker issued when we returned from St Helena. The rest of us were re-entered under the old visas which are good for an extended period. The immigration officer appeared perplexed and returned her passport without stamping it.
We proceeded to the departures area which is quite compact at Cape Town International. Ruth took Erin & Ailsa around the limited shops but the prices were so appalling that she changed all our left over Rand back into Sterling to save temptation. I had played with the idea of paying to get into the business lounge but at R230 a head (half price for kids) this was no bargain. I also didn’t want to drink anymore fluids before joining our flight. Instead I found a quiet spot upstairs from our departure gate and wrote a last card from Cape Town (which will have to be posted in London). You get an unobstructed view of the runway from the departure building so I watched the trickle of flights arriving and departing. This place doesn’t seem any busier than Belfast! A Turkish Airlines flight for Istanbul departed at 1645hrs; another one of those places that are on the list to visit. We could have gone home via Istanbul and Dublin but I was put off by the trouble we had leaving Dublin last year. Another time perhaps.
The time between returning our hire car and stepping on board the plane did not actually weigh heavily upon us. We had all found something to do; I especially had my financial accounts to finalise, just in case I care to inspect them in years to come or we are overcharged by the hire car company, which happened last year.
Boarding the South African Airways aircraft (SA220) at 1820hrs was a bit of a scrum. We just elbowed in like all the rest. We were sitting in exactly the same section of the aircraft as on the way out. Unfortunately again there were no seat back TV’s for the children. In our immediate area we were surrounded by Spanish people, which seemed a little out of place at first. We had expected Spaniards last year en route from Johannesburg to Madrid but not this time round travelling to London.
Take off was delayed until shortly after 1900hrs due to the tardy arrival of some passengers and the incomplete loading of cargo. Once airborne we were offered drinks and about a couple of hours later we had dinner, which was quite passable. Oh how I missed the food in Rossi’s from last night and the Swiss Bistro in Oudtshoorn from Tuesday past. Ruth had a bit of a problem with the passenger behind her, who was about 6ft 3in tall and did not appreciate her putting her seat back. Once this was resolved we could settle down to watch the movies and cadge any drinks that were offered by cabin staff. One last Amarula for the road!
| Entry 39 of 41
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