This is one of those places I’ve only ever imagined visiting – Kathmandu, Cape of Good Hope, Galapagos Islands. Those far away places mentioned in books. Places that conjure up romantic ideals of travel: beautiful sunsets, open spaces, clean air, deserted areas.
Upon arrival to Cape Town, the weather took a nasty turn. Dark clouds crowded the once clear skies. The two attractions I had my heart set on seeing, Robben Island and Table Mountain, were closed because of the weather. I understood why Robben Island was closed, the water was choppy and could make transport to the island treacherous. But Table Mountain? How do you close a mountain? The concierge assured me that yes, the mountain was closed. “I’m only in Cape Town for two days. What else would you suggest?” In response to my enthusiastic inquiry, with lackluster, he pointed to a rack of brochures.
I perused the brochures lined up ever so neatly in the racks. I’m not a particular fan of organized tours, but I wasn’t up for renting a car and driving on the other side of the road (I’ve almost gotten hit several times because I look the wrong way before crossing – no need to introduce a motor vehicle into that equation…) I glossed over the pictures. I didn’t really want to go to the wine country. I wasn’t in this part of the country for long enough to do a safari.
Cape of Good Hope? Really? For some reason I had not connected in my mind that Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope were close. But of course. I leafed through the brochure. The half-day tour was scheduled to leave at 1. I looked around, trying to figure out what time it was. The large, nondescript clock behind the check-in counter told me it was 11:30. I asked the concierge to book me on the tour.
Soon thereafter I was in the van, along with other Americans, English, Germans, Moroccans, Italians and French, all on our way to the Cape of Good Hope. We stopped along the way to view a penguin colony (incredibly happy with the wet weather) then wended our way over narrow curvy roads, stopping in a parking lot nearly at the end of the earth. I took the tram to the top, relishing in the strong winds and fresh mist that whipped my hair about my face. I climbed the hundred of stairs to the top of the lookout, peering over the edge that gave way to perilous cliffs, ending at the Cape of Good Hope.
Or so I thought. It wasn’t until I had taken loads of pictures and was on my way back down to the tour bus that I realized I had been taking pictures of the lookout at Cape Point, and not the actual Cape of Good Hope. Sigh. Oh, tourist attraction. Foiled again. With only a few minutes before our allotted meeting time at the bus, I meandered around until I found the actual Cape, snapped a few shots then continued on.