Last day in one of our favorite places – we will be sorry to leave Cape Town and all of South Africa. We didn’t plan a tour for today – wanted the free time to do whatever we wanted without all the ship’s organization. And since this was our last opportunity for great shopping, that is how we spent most of it. [We also new we would never be able to get to Robben Island since the only time possible with the early “on board” time today was 9 a.m. and the tickets are usually sold out weeks in advance – and as we later learned in the day, the tours there were cancelled for the entire day due to winds and weather.]
We were on the shuttle bus at 9:30 with Rand (S. African currency) in hand. At the Victoria and Alfred Harbor there are lots of shops. First, there is a huge mall (like any modern mall in the States – but some of the shops here cater to African decor with upscale items) and then there are the shops in the Victoria and Alfred Hotel which are great quality items as well. Two special complexes here sell only African artisan goods – the Red Shed and the Blue Shed. They are lined with individual stalls specializing in either clothing, art work, jewelry, etc. And then there are the many, many other shops with everything from souvenirs to good quality African artwork, etc. We spent over 5 hours shopping and didn’t get to all the specialty Africa stores. But what we did see helped boost the local economy. And we are done! No more shopping – have no idea how we will get what we bought back home, but we did find all we were looking for. It was a great day.
Today we spent some time talking to this young man who sold us one of his drums. He has a whole stall (in the Blue Shed) with nothing but drums. He demonstrated the various sounds made by the many different drums. And yesterday I had heard him playing with some of his drummer friends and it was fantastic – nothing like a good African drum beat to get you going in the day!
We took a lunch break at a great bakery/café and had some wonderful coffee with our meal. And the bread on our sandwiches was so fresh and good! We even took our computers to do our last downloads before we get home.
We had to be back on the ship by 3:30 because in Cape Town the immigration authorities are very strict and every person has to go before one of the officials, passport in hand, and get his/her passport stamped. Then the VAT(tax) people came on board at the last minute so that you could get a refund sent to you for certain purchases you made. [There is a tax on everything you buy – both food and goods – for the locals. If you are not from here, you get a refund. However, you have to show every item you bought, have your sales receipt, a copy of your passport, and a number of other details to get this refund. Since most of ours were bubble wrapped by the stores, and the line was SO long, we skipped it – just not worth it.] On top of this, there was a 4:15 safety drill that everyone had to attend – way too much going on at the same time before we left!
After the drill and immigration process and while we were waiting to leave, the captain announced that the Queen Mary 2 was pulling into port if anyone wanted to see it. So, half the ship flocked the decks to get pictures – me included since I had never seen this ship. She did make a graceful and grand entrance. Someone said this ship is an “ocean vessel” and our is a “cruise ship.” That pretty much summed it up.
Went up on deck for the sail-away. It was a pretty one with the sun shining for most of it. But as we got under way, the wind picked up and we were so cold. But there were still too many great pictures to take, so BJ and I stood out in the wind to get the ones of not only Cape Town in the background, but also the interesting cloud formations, the sunset and Robben Island as we passed it. Since I didn’t make it to Robben Island, this was the best I could do!
#1 one of the last pics of the view of Cape Town with a clear Table Mtn.
#2 just a sample picture of the beautiful fluffy clouds
#3 a picture of the soccer stadium below Signal Hill
#4 a far away look at Robben Island – but it was getting too dark – enough so that I have pictures of the lighthouse (big zoom on my camera) with the light showing!
#5 just a sample picture of the sunset – so striking!
But as we were trying to take these last pictures, the swells in the ocean were picking up – so much that the deck was going up and down enough to swash the pool water right over the sides. I actually took a video of the big waves in the pool!
I could hardly feel my hands by now they were so cold so BJ and I went in to join the others who were smart enough to already have some warm food in their tummies. For me, hot chocolate was the solution! It really hit the spot.
The captain announced that the swells would continue to get bigger during the night and early morning when we woke up, and that we could expect 50 mile an hour winds tomorrow. This is what we expected as we rounded the Cape, not after we had cleared it! So, we decided to enjoy the extra hour of sleep and some reading time before bed.