Hello. My name is Emma and I go on cruises. Mostly, so far on P&O ships out of Southampton, but other perfectly good cruise companies are available. ;-) When I can, I con my parents into paying for my ticket.
When I travel, I blog. If you would like to read it all, it can be found at my PS. The Post have asked me to proffer some edited highlights of my ramblings, which I shall now inflict on you forthwith. Enjoy.
Going on from where we stopped the first part...
Terrible Attack of Wind
Rob then drove us down the east coast of the Cape, through Fishoek, a nice little town, built along the curve of the half moon-shaped beach where every six years or so someone gets eaten by a great white shark in less than three feet of water. Nice. I asked why there were no shark nets and Rob's reply was that they can swim under and get in but then they can't get out. It becomes a sort of buffet!
And onwards, down to the Capes. Yes, CapeS. There are two. Now, pay attention. The Cape of Storms is on False Bay. It is the point where the two oceans meet – the Indian and the Atlantic. It's usually quite rough here. In fact, Vasco de Gama went into False Bay and couldn't get out for three weeks, because the winds were so strong. He named it the Cape of Storms. The Cape of Storms is now called Cape Point. It is the southerly most point of Africa. When we were there, on Saturday, it was like a millpond. Not a ripple. Remember, I said there was no wind on Day 1. The British built a lighthouse on it. I climbed up to it. You can't go in it, but you can reach the viewing platform built around it. 120 rather deep steps up and 120 rather deep steps down. Two days later I still hurt. But the view is astonishing. There are no words to describe the sight, there really aren't. You can see forever in every direction. It's spectacular.
There is a restaurant there, called, rather unimaginatively, the Two Oceans. Dad said it should be called The Restaurant At the End of the World, but maybe Douglas Adams didn't make it over here. The food is lovely, the service is good, and the waitresses and serving staff came out and sang an African song to us, complete with all the harmonies and everything. Lovely. Then I climbed the lighthouse and came back down again and we drove to the Cape of Good Hope. The Cape of Good Hope is the southWESTerlymost point of Africa. It's very nearby! But it's at ground level, so to speak. You just drive up, walk over to the sign, get your picture taken and get back in the car. There's not a lot there, not even much of a beach, but it's pretty cool, nonetheless.
From there via Chapman's Peak, Llandudno and so on back up the western coast. The scenery is breathtaking. Rock and cliff formations, with virtually no greenery (too blowy for trees) except in the more sheltered bays. Just barren and beautiful with a few scrub bushes here and there. We came back to Cape Town via Bantry Bay (Botany Bay as was), Camps Bay, where the houses are built into such steep cliffs they have little individual elevators to get up to them and where you can see Robben Island in the distance (28 year home of Nelson Mandela and now a bird sanctuary). And back into Cape Town, where Rob dropped us at the shopping mall at the V&A Waterfront I mentioned earlier.
Incidentally, the V&A waterfront is not named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It's named after Victoria and ALFRED, her SON, who was apparently a big fan of this part of the world and did much to develop it, presumably while Victoria did India and Albert did England, well, London, anyway. So it's the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, which takes a bit of getting used to. Feels very odd to say.
So there you have it. Cape Convoy minibus tours. Superb. Interesting, informative, flexible and inexpensive. Ask for Rob, he's brilliant.
Despite being utterly pooped, we did a little shop browsing and then retired to the Table Bay Hotel Atlantic Restaurant for dinner, which is WAY posher than it sounds. It's a very old, very expensive hotel and the food is divine. It was during the meal that the wind started to blow, rattling the panels of the glass-roofed dining room above our heads. By the time we were back on the ship, it was pretty strong and we had trouble crossing the quay from the bus to the gangplank. It blew all night.
This meant that on Day 2, the boat trip we had postponed from Day 1 because of the marathon, out to Seal Island, had to be cancelled, as it was just too choppy. So we pootled around the shops and restaurants instead. Bought very little, but as it was Easter Sunday, there were Lindt people demonstrating chocolate-making in the Victoria Wharf, so at least there was some free chocolate! We came back to the ship about 4ish and I went to bed, as my exertions of the previous day were just starting to catch up with me. And just as I was dozing off, the Captain made an announcement. Due to the high winds (nearly 50 knots!), the port has been closed and we can't leave. It's just not safe. The estimate was that the winds would drop in the early hours of the morning, around 2am, so we would try and leave then. So instead of asking you to be back on board for 5.30pm, we are extending our stay to 11pm. Yay. Even after my nap there was no way I had the energy to go out partying, so we just went to dinner on board and then I went to bed at 10. It is now 6.30am and we are still here. And what is more, it looks pretty windy out (the mast webcam channel on the telly does have its uses!), so I reckon we may be here a good while longer... A fairly serious attack of wind, I think you'll agree. We could be stuck here for DAYS!
How about this for a piece of bureaucratic stupidity? As a tourist, I am entitled to claim back the sales tax on the products I purchase in several countries, including South Africa. Duty Free is a wonderful thing, but you have to pay it and then claim it back, which is a bit trying. If I can even be bothered with the paperwork, that is. Anyway, in the purpose-built waterfront area, right next to the cruise terminal, there is a tax reclaim office. How brilliant is that? Perfect. But cruise passengers cannot use it. It's for airport passengers only. Cruise passengers have to go into the centre of the city to make their claims. What kind of a moron puts the airport office by the water and the water office in the city?! Seriously?! Are you high?! Just astonishing. Just goes to show, you can never overestimate the stupidity of human beings. Whatever anyone may tell you, wherever you are in the world, the international language is not English, it's Stupid, and most people speak it fluently.
For the more observant amongst you, who were wondering what I was doing awake at 6.30am, cast your minds back to the early editions of this blog. I mentioned I sleep a lot on cruise ships because of the rocking motion. Conversely, therefore, when it isn't rocking, I find it hard to sleep. If we're tied up and stationary, we aren't rocking. I find it very difficult to sleep when we're in port. Likewise, when I get back to the UK, it'll be days before I get a decent night's sleep.
(We later set sail at about 8.30am. I know this because when I woke at 9 we were pitching nicely.)(Remember the difference between pitching and rolling?)
As regards my theory about this ship being a bad omen, we now need to add to the list the coal tanker crashing into the Great Barrier Reef and leaking fuel oil (well done, fellas - FIFTEEN kilometres off course – bravo) and the murder of Eugene Terreblanche in South Africa. Not necessarily a bad thing, in itself, but if his followers persist in describing it as a declaration of war on whites, rather than simply the putting down of an evil man who didn't even have the decency to pay his employees for the work they did, this could turn out to be a significant moment. Shame, what with the World Cup coming up and everything. Only time will tell, I suppose.
Things I have learned on this cruise:
- Some basic Spanish
- About three phrases of Italian
- About three phrases of Welsh
- About three phrases of Chinese
- The designer label Salvatore Ferragamo does over 54% of its business in Asia and Japan. Of its 88 stores worldwide, 61 are in Asia and Japan.
- Some basics of neuroscience. No, really. It's been fascinating.
- Art is the new retirement. Timmy Mallett, Dave Lee Travis. If in doubt, paint, or in the case of DLT, make photographic art. Funny old world...
- Maintaining a scrapbook is hard work. And one roll of sellotape is not enough to do the job.
- Two fat pillows equals neck ache. One thin and one fat is fine.
- Taking a second credit card with you in case of emergencies is all very well and good, but losing the pin number is somewhat counterproductive...
This is getting a bit waffly so I think I'll end here for now. Happy belated Easter to you all. Enjoy the snow.
Post script: 8.45pm
"This is the Bridge. Code Alpha. Code Alpha. Code Alpha. Deck 8 Photo Gallery."
Oh dear. Code Alpha is Collapsed Passenger, Probable Heart Attack.
Things you never want to see on a cruise ship #1. Both doctors. Running.
And now they've paged a Mr someone. Presumably his wife. Not good. Not good at all...