South Africa, Day Two: The Journey Around the Mountain

Oct 17 2010

This is the third in a series of blog posts about my recent trip to South Africa. I’m posting them a week after they happen. For all 825 photos from my trip, see my Flickr photo set.

Cape Town, South AfricaToday, I fully toured Cape Town.

Those sightseeing buses were fabulous. I took hundreds more photos, learned all sorts of interesting factoids (the thickets of thorn bushes that cover one side of Cape Mountain were planted at the direction of the governor, to prevent the natives from stealing their own cattle back from the Dutch and driving the cattle down the mountain), and rode up Table Mountain.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South AfricaThat last was quite an experience. A cable car takes you up the final few hundred yards, and I’m afraid of heights. Moreover, at the top of Table Mountain, the railings are quite basic; no more than hip-height at the most. It took me a while to make it out to the edge. But the view was breathtaking. Totally worth it.

Moreover, I completed two quests today.

First, I have a goal to visit every continent, and to bring back and live with some physical artifact from each continent. I found my African artifact: an ivory corkscrew, sold by a local. Practical and beautiful.

Second, another goal is to eat every dish in every cuisine. While in Cape Town, I kept hearing about cape snoek, a fish only found in the southern hemisphere. So when I sat down at a restaurant on the Victoria and Alfred waterfront and saw snoek on the menu (served with a lemon-honey sauce with french fries and a South African white wine), I just couldn’t pass it up.

I discovered that the warnings I’d heard about snoek’s extreme boniness were true. I’ve never had as many bones in a fish.

Worth it? Oh yes. It was literally the best meal of my life.

I spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures, then scurried back to my hotel before night fell, and read until bed. What a fantastic day, and what a contrast to my gloom the day before.

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