Pilgrim Days

Does an outing ever feel more like a pilgrimage than sightseeing? As we scour travel blogs and tourism websites looking for activities that interest us, some places are recommended as the best in the world.  One time was in Cape Town, South Africa almost two years ago.  We traipsed across the city admiring architecture, street art, and gardens on our way to Truth Coffee for the best coffee shop in the world.

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Last week in Melbourne, we set out for the best croissant in the world and the best book store in the world. We found the first at Lune where we waited in a line that ran around the corner. After our croissants and coffees, we headed over to Readings. It is smaller than I expected, but apparently with very loyal clientele, many arriving on bicycle.

How do I feel? First, I enjoyed these experiences.  The service, the professionalism, the attention to detail can really take the ambiance to another level.  Second, I wonder how a place can be judged “best in the world.”  My mind does not work that way. Even making a top ten list for me is difficult. Third, no place is perfect, each has its character both positive and negative. This frequently depends on my frame of mind rather than the venue itself. Fourth, after so much travel, I still enjoy searching out the well known places and the hidden gems.

The banner in this post consists of posters from some of the many Australian Rock’n’Roll bands in the last 50 years. An exhibition at the Arts Centre Melbourne dedicated a gallery to memorabilia and video memoirs of the music scene in Australia.

 

 

Winter Break in Summer

After our two weeks in Cyprus, we met up with Daughter in Milan.  Her fall semester completed, she had a month free.  Previous years, we spent together in Istanbul and in Morocco.  Instead of a chilly apartment in Europe, we opted for summer in Cape Town, South Africa.  Wife and I enjoyed our African adventures last February.  There were still places to explore in Cape Town.

For the previous breaks, Daughter has flown a direct flight to meet us.  Traveling together, changing planes in Dubai was a chance to stretch our legs during the break of the 15 hour flight time.

As it was University break, we did not need an adventure every day.  Daughter took an all day tour of Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope.  She got to hangout with penguins and took some stunning video of the waves breaking on Cape Point.  Together we climbed up Table Mountain, watched the Kaapse Klopse (January 2nd Carnival like parade),  and admired street art emanating from Woodstock to the Gardens.

Here is a sampling of pictures from our outings.

Here is some of the street art I found along the way.  There are too many artists to mention.

Finally, one last dip in the South Atlantic.  The water feels really cold at Camps Bay.

Remembered Places, Remembered Stories

This is what my blog is all about.  After publishing my last entry, a review of my Picasa files showed stories I had forgotten to include.  Let me relate some of them now.

We found the City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-Off bus tours in both Johannesburg and Capetown, interesting and economical.  In Johannesburg we just stayed on for the full tour without any intermediate stops.  This gave a great introduction showing where Gandhi practiced law, the jails where anti-apartheid protesters were held, and the modern commercial district in the photo below.  Only later did I realize that most of the white vans are share taxis.  They are vital for the townships as the bus and train transportation only run basic routes.

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In Capetown we came upon the multicolored buildings of the Bo-Kaap neighborhood just a few minutes walk up from where we stayed.  This was the home to the Cape Malay community made up of immigrants from all over Asia. Many who spoke Malay were brought as prisoners from the Dutch East Indies colonies in Indonesia. It appears that very few of the prisoners came from the peninsula covered by present day Malaysia.

In Windhoek, we stayed at a Guest House.  Although it had been dry, we managed to be caught in the rain a few times.  Safe at the guest house, we were treated by a full arc rainbow.

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Afrikaans is one of the languages of South Africa.  It sounds similar to Flemish (the Belgian variety of Dutch) so I can pick the gist of some conversations.  From its Cape Dutch beginnings, it has become an amalgamation of Portuguese, Bantu, Malay, German and other languages.  What I found most interesting is the first books written in Afrikaans around 1820’s used Arabic script.  Below is an example from 1860.  This occurred as Afrikaans replaced Malay as the language of instruction in Muslim Schools.  The first books were school primers.

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To the Cape of Good Hope (and back)

After crossing Africa from Dakar to Nairobi at the end of January, we headed south to South Africa. We spent a week in Johannesburg, then two weeks in Capetown. One of our goals was to see the Cape of Good Hope. We made it all the way to the farthest Southwestern point of Africa, and then we turned around and started traveling up to Europe.  Along the way, we stopped in Windhoek, Namibia and Gaborone, Botswana before shooting up to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.  I post a lot of pictures that capture some of our memories and some of our deepest impressions.  In the captions you will find commentary to explain where and what touched me about the photograph.  I faced a quandary trying to choose the best photos with the strongest impressions out of so many we took.

 

From African Skies

We prefer to travel overland when possible. Due to the distances, differing bureaucratic visa requirements, and questionable roads and rail, we opted for flying for most of our travel in Africa. As much as possible, we booked daytime flights in hopes of seeing as much terrain as possible. Part of the excitement of Africa is flying on a clear day viewing the vastness of the land.  I captured the following landscapes through airplane windows using iPad and iPhone.  During January to March 2016 we started in Casablanca flying to Dakar (via Madrid). Then we flew on to Nairobi, Johannesburg, Capetown, Windhoek, finally back to Johannesburg. We visited Pretoria by train. Then, we took a bus to Gaborone returning by air. Then, we continued up to Addis Ababa (via Nairobi).  The austere red earth highlighted by mountains, dappled with shadows of clouds, cut by the occasional river fascinates me. The lonely yearning in each of these photos of the distant expanses resonates with me.