Heading to Capetown to Visit Emily!

Note: For this trip we decided to keep separate journals (form which these posts originate). So each will be identified as coming from Wendy or Wayne.

Sunday, June 8 - Tuesday, June 10

Wendy: We flew first on Northwest and then on KLM, in business each flight.  The food was very good, way better than on United, though on the first flight we were served (and expected to eat) a 4-course meal in 30 minutes!  Both also served Godiva chocolates for dessert!

Wayne: We leave in rainy skies. The first leg is to Memphis (a Northwest hub). We got in a little late and had to hustle to make our connection on KLM.  Left around 10 pm.  One hour into the flight they said there was a problem with the lavs in coach and we couldn't do an 8-hour flight with no lavs, we  were going to have to stop in Boston! (Tufts!)  They got it fixed in a half hour and we were off again.  Excellent food and service; we only slept a little.  Our little detour meant that instead of an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam, we only had 5.  And subtracting 1 hour to/from Schipohl and the 2-hour check-in window, it did not leave a lot of time. On top of that, our pre-arranged ride was nowhere to be seen.  So we taxied to the hotel (we had a day room), freshened up, and went out to see the town (quickly!).  It was a beautiful day!  We were in a good spot - a block from the van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum and the canal.  Lovely and great people watching.  We had to stop for Belgian frites and we also got a turkey BLT which was huge! (and delicious)  Then back to the airport for the next leg.

Wendy: Amsterdam was not at all familiar to me. I had been to the Rijksmuseum in the summer of '74, but couldn't remember anything.  Actually, for the short amount of time we had here, we used it well.  Caught the canals, saw the museums (from the outside!), ate at an outside cafĂ©.  Very jet lagged; it was pretty surreal.

Wayne: Got the 9 pm flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town, except it has a stop in Joburg!  We were in row 1 on the 747; very nice.  KLM service was great.  I was so tired and couldn't wait to sleep, but when they turned the lights out the guy behind us started snoring and kept it up for 8 hours!!!!  So I listened to piano concertos and Art Garfunkel.  Even with the headphones on I could still hear Mr. Snorer.  Then a delicious breakfast of apple-raisin crepes and we were in Africa! An hour on the ground and then 2 more to Cape Town and finally, after 44 hours of travel, we were there!!!  And Em was waiting!  She looked great.

Wendy (aboard the flight to Cape Town).  Wayne already gave the snoring report. But he didn't mention the hot snack between Joburg and Cape Town!  When we got there, Em looked great.  Just effervescent and happy to see us.  Beautiful as always, chirping about everything.  We had her climb aboard our pre-arranged ride and we were on our way.
Travel Note:  While our package was purchased through Brendan (a US-based company), all of the tours, arrangements, and transfers were made by Thomson (a S.A. based operator).  We had a personal consultant who guided us along the way.

Wayne:  We went directly to the Cape Grace (often listed as one of the top 10 hotels on the world!).  It was very nice; the staff are all so friendly and helpful. While we were waiting to check in we saw the Cubs playing the Yankees at Wrigley on the TV!  Our room was great.  They then arranged a car/driver for us who took us over to UCT, where Em is studying this semester.  It was a glorious day - blue skies, temp around 25C (most unusual for winter people said).  Em walked us around the campus; very picturesque, with mountains as a backdrop (by the way: we were going to take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, but it is closed for maintenance all this month!).  We ate "toasties" (a toasted sandwich - like a Panini - I had chicken salad, Em had Thai chicken with tomato!).  Then we went to Em's house (23 Church Street, Mobwray).  She had baked a chocolate cake (yum!).  Then back to the hotel for dinner. The meal was awesome!  Our appetizers came garnished with porcupine quills!  We had steak, chocolate salmon (!), and wildebeest.  And super desserts.

Wendy: The Cape Grace is charming and the service is superlative! Since the cable car is closed, our driver took us to Signal Hill where we were able to get a great view of the mountain and the city and some nice photographs. 

UCT was great!  m was so proud to show us around and introduce us to her friends.  Her room was especially neatened up for us. Everything in its place. We should visit more often!   Then, our first dinner; we ate at the Cape Grace. Very elegant - Africa nouvelle.  We noticed right away that Em's taste buds have broadened considerably.  After chowing down her butternut squash soup, she demonstrated excellent tomato eating capacity!

Wednesday, June 11
Wendy: Robben Island (where Mandela was imprisoned)  is a good place to start our tour of the city. While I have been reading Michener's "The Covenant (1,238 pages of South African chronicles) throughout the trip, I think it will end before it gets to Mandela, so needless to say, I am not at all grounded in that aspect of S.A. history.  Robben Island is about 35 minutes off the coast of the city.  it was a nice boat ride, but very cold and because I'd gotten ready so fast I was not properly dressed.  The tour of the island is actually conducted by es-prisoners!  The prison held only black men (political prisoners) and was in use until the early 90's.  The guides are extraordinarily forgiving but didn't hold back any of the gory details. We started with a tour of the island including the leper colony graveyard and the limestone quarry, which was also a "university". Given how poorly the prisoners were treated (some were whopped), I had a hard time understanding how they were able to pull of an actual university, but they did.  Men actually got degrees there!  Then we passed the lighthouse and the military area (it was a British base). Then onto the prison itself.  Until the last few years of its existence, the cells did not even have beds.  Compared to our tour of Alcatraz, this was much more moving and emotional.  The tour guides made it so.

Wayne: Wendy wanted to do Robben island, but Em and I opted out. Em is staying in the room with us. The boat leaves at 9; we did not do a wake-up call and woke suddenly at 7:30!  Hustle!!!!
We walked to the waterfront with Wendy (she made the boat), and we had a wonderful breakfast buffet.  Then we walked over to the waterfront mall...just like old times - waiting for mom and Andrew while they were on some death-defying adventure! The boat was supposed to get back around 1:30, so around 1 we went into the on-shore Robben Island Museum.  Very impressive - it told of the struggle that took place over many years to end apartheid. The boat finally docked at 2:20!!!!!  We went to have a "light lunch" at a restaurant called Emily's!
Once again, it was soooo delicious, but certainly not light!  I had line fish, which is not a fish, but just the catch of the day.  I forget what kind it actually was, but it was so beautiful with millefuille potatoes and julliened veggies. By the time we finished it was 3:45 and we had to be at Em's baptism at 5:00!  Yes...she was getting baptized in the ocean! So we rushed and got dressed and just made it.  On the beach at Camp's Bay. A beautiful setting - a dozen friends were there, it was calm and warm and the moon rose over Table Mountain. So we had the ceremony and then all of us went to a restaurant to eat (again!). More fish, this time butterfish; very tasty. And that was the end of a very quick day.

Wendy: People say that Cape Town feels more European and Mediterranean than African, and we can see why.  Em's baptism was surreal. She gave a beautiful talk on the beach (an excellent writer!). Then she went out into the ocean with the officiant, both wearing full wet suits. She got dunked and then came walking out.

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