“Bon Voyage”

Michael Willis

Semester at Sea 2016

“O, to die in Cape Town”, said Andy Pringle, the 89 year old gentleman sailing around the world with his family. The MV World Odyssey docked in Cape Town on March 15th 2016. This was the most westernized port we had been to in a very long time. It felt like your typical United States city with its own African flare.  Cape Town is a city where it was easy to find something to do; between exploring the V&A waterfront which was full of local musicians and western chain stores, to hiking table mountain, to having a relaxing afternoon in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, the many extreme sports people participated in, and lastly the fantastic tours of the wine lands.

While I was in Cape Town, I went to the waterfront and found many interesting places to eat and hang out with friends. We also ventured to Long Street, which would have the Richmond equivalent of Cary Street. There, we found a wide array of unique shops and more local eateries. One afternoon my friends and I participated in a wine tour, getting to taste many of the local areas best wines. We even got to try the local specialty. The Pinotage. This is a grape variety that is completely unique to the Cape region. It is a red wine that is sweet and fruity while still maintaining the complexity of a red wine. This trip to wine country happened on the “Hop on, Hop off” tour bus program. A unique tour experience where at any bus stop you can get off and explore the local area then get back on and go find a new place to explore.

The next day, we planned a sunrise hike up Table Mountain. Table Mountain is a very unique mountain, as it is much more like a plateau. It is also one of the most recognizable figures of Cape Town. This was a challenge, but completely worth the adventure. We left the ship at 3 am and started hiking by 4. We hiked up the gorge trail that was expected to take roughly two hours. We stopped along the way to let a group, moving much faster than we were, to pass and after the short stop we all went from our short sleeve shirts to all of the layers we could get on us. It was a bone chilling temperature, with a light mist of rain. When we summited Table Mountain the sun was just starting to rise. Thankfully the table cloth, as the local’s call it, had not yet started to cover the top so we were able to look down on the city of Cape Town as the sun rose. The view from the top was stunning, but the short cable car ride down the mountain was necessary after a long morning of hiking.


Table Top Mountain

Table Top Mountain

Table Top Mountain Cable Car

That afternoon, I went with my friends from Canada to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. We wondered around the gardens for hours. Looking at all of the local flora type fynbos. The fynbos variety of plants is very unique and is one of seven floral regions in the world. The plants in this niche have a wide variety of characteristics. They range from small rock plants to small trees. There were many of the flowers in bloom. They all released super strong, sweet odors that could be smelt throughout the garden. They also have a very large collection of cycads. Cycads are a type of tree that was around during the dinosaur era.

On another day exploring Cape Town, we ventured down to see Simons Town in an attempt to go and see the Penguin Colony at the tip of the continent. We unfortunately did not make it to the penguins, but we were able to explore a new town that is still a part of greater Cape Town. We went to the beach, where the water was freezing because it is approaching the early fall in Cape Town, and Antarctica isn’t that far away. We took the train home from Simons Town which saved us lots of money, and made for an interesting adventure. Going from a train station that you walk onto the train from the street, to the Cape Town station that is more like an airport terminal than rail station.

“O, to die in Cape Town” that is the motto we lived by while exploring South Africa. It led us to many great adventures and motivated us to be out of our comfort zone.

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