It is very little wonder why South Africans are so proud of Cape Town, why celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Madonna own waterfront property and superstars Leonardo Dicaprio, Charlize Theron, Elton John, Samuel L Jackson and John Cleese come to escape the paparazzi. The wild beauty of it's craggy cliffs and stunning white sand beaches, nestled under the shadow of the awe inspiring Table Mountain clash with it's violent history of apartheid and racism, come together to create the Mother City.
"The Mother City is an affectionate nickname, which is widely known and used among locals and visitors to Cape Town alike. There are a number of suggested reasons why Cape Town is called the Mother City, and the most commonly offered explanation is as follows, in the words of Selwyn Davidowitz, an accredited Cape Town tour guide/operator:
“In the 1930's some unknown party wrote to the local cape Town newspaper claiming that Cape Town was the only city in South Africa that could justly call itself a metropolis. The public took to this description and because the word metropolis is derived from the Greek derivation of meter or metros meaning mother and polis meaning city, the nickname of "Mother City" was born. "(capetownmagazine.com)
When the Managing Director of the Africa Mercy announced to the crew that the sail to our next field service in Madagascar would include a stop over in Cape Town, the room erupted into a cheer. South Africa has played a big part in the history of the Africa Mercy, after a six month stay in 2010/2011 to install new generators. We have many South African crew as well. The announcement came with the anticipation of exploration, relaxation and restoration!
As we sailed into the prestigious Victoria and Albert Waterfront, the most visited tourist destination on the African continent, my eyes unexpectedly filled with unshed tears. Somehow in the excitement of it all I had forgotten that this was the same stopover, even the same berth, of our maiden voyage on the Africa Mercy in February 2011, heading from Durban to Sierra Leone.
We were back where it all began and it was so encouraging that we still had the same heady excitement to be visiting Cape Town and the same great expectations of our field service to come, in yet another new country, that we did almost four years earlier. I felt my heart bursting with joy and thankfulness for all that God had done to bring us to that evening. What a spectacular journey we have been on and what a spectacular time we had in the beautiful city of Cape Town. The Jewel of Africa shines!
Just wanted to share a few (quite a few-hey I had to choose out of almost 900 photos!) memoirs of our most memorable second time in Cape Town. If you have never considered visiting South Africa, maybe this will change your mind..........
Two different perspectives of the many shades of Table Mountain as viewed from the ship, berthed at the V&A.
(Photo credits: Patricia Royston)
One of the most fun parts of berthing at the V&A are the friendly seals. We could look out the windows of the ship and see seals playing in Table Bay, on a regular basis. This particular fellow was often seen sunbathing off the bow of our ship.
After complaints about the terrible conditions the prisoners faced on Robben Island, some of the inmates were able to move from sleeping on the floor to the more "confortable" bunk beds.
We were so close to the penguins we could have reached out and touched them easily.
(Photo credits: Shelly Davies)
The beaches are amazing down the coast of Cape Town; clean white sand and turquoise water. Above and below, some more pics of the penguins doing their thing in front of an awestruck crowd.
(Photo credits: Catrice Wulf)
The train ride my have been a little rustic but the scenery was breathtaking.
(Photo credit: Shelly Davies)
Cute little coloured beach house litter the coast line where local Cape Town residents and tourists escape the city.
A gaggle of Africa Mercy crew (including us) gather round the stand, which featured a to scale replica of the Africa Mercy lovingly handcrafted by a former South African crew member, for a group photo.
(Photo credits; Jen Peterschmidt)
Our reward for standing in line for hours; stunning views over Cape Town. Above, the picturesque Lions Head, under the cable car.
(Photo credits: Catrice Wulf)
The stunning view overlooking the affluent Cape Town beachside suburb of Camps Bay. If your are looking for Leonardo or the perfect latte, then this is the spot!
The Africa Mercy's Chief Medical Officer and 28 year Mercy Ships veteran, Dr. Gary Parker, hands over a gift to the 4,000th visitor during the public tours,
(Photos credits: Unknown)
The Pan African Market on famous Long Street, which houses Cape Town's widest range of African Crafts.
Signs, memorials and graffiti around Cape Town are a constant reminder of the struggle for equality for black South Africans. Above artwork screams the message "All shall be equal before the law".
The stark contrast between the very rich and poor living side by side; opulence and poverty neighbours, is extremely evident in Cape Town as well as other big cities in South Africa. Above is the Township of Imizamo Yethu where residents live in makeshift housing on the foothills of Table Mountain.
"Imizamo Yethu (in the Xhosa language, literally Our Struggle and commonly known as Mandela Park), is an informal settlement in the greater Hout Bay Valley area. The 18 hectare settlement houses approximately 33 600 people with little or no infrastructure for sustainable living. The settlement has dismal water facilities; there have very few toilets and no sewerage system.The Disa River which runs through this settlement has the highest level of e-coli bacteria that has ever been recorded in South Africa." Wikipedia
In 1996 when President Mandela visited Kristenbosch, he was presented with a golden yellow form of Strelitzia regina, named "Mandela's Gold".
The highlight of a visit to Kristenbosch Botanical Gardens is definitely the boomslang.
"The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a new curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum. Inspired by a snake skeleton, and informally called 'The Boomslang' (meaning tree snake), it is a low-maintenance, low-impact sculptural raised walkway.
The Walkway takes the visitor from the forest floor into and through the trees and bursts out above the canopy, giving spectacular panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, Garden and Cape Flats. This walkway is 130 m long, narrow and slender, with a few wider view-point areas, and lightly snakes its way through the canopy, in a discreet, almost invisible way. The walkway is crescent-shaped and takes advantage of the sloping ground; it touches the forest floor in two places, and raises visitors to 12 m above ground. It is more than just a traditional boardwalk - like a snake, it winds and dips."(www.sanbi.org)
The Fresh Food market at the V&A was a visual and literal feast. I had lunch there with my friend Leah from Tassie. I had a sausage roll, lamb samosas, macaroons and fresh orange juice. Yum, yum!
The Africa Mercy by day and by night, decked out in all her glory!
(Photo credits photo below: Heather Klassen)
The New York Times has nominated Cape Town as the number one city to visit in 2014 in it's "52 Places to go in 2014". After a glorious two weeks enjoying The Mother City, we tend to agree!