The VOC fortress and the climbing of Table Mountain
Table Mountain Travel Blog› entry 22 of 24 › view all entries
We get up at 7.15 am. Trudy wants to have breakfast outside the hotel, but I am hungry and donâ€™t feel like wandering around searching for food, so we eat in. Nothing special, and way too expensive (75 Rand per person).
At 8.45 am we are at the VOC fortress again, but it doesnâ€™t open until nine. The fortress was build by the Dutch to protect the city against threats from the sea (the English) and from the land (locals). We start with the military museum, which displays uniforms, weapons and such from the 17th, 18th and 19th century (some are originals others are replicas).
When you need to go to the toilet, you must go through an ancient corridor into the vault.
At ten we are witness of the Key Ceremony, the sounding of the bell and the firing of the cannon (the firing happens twice every day, itâ€™s done at noon also). It looks funny: a man walks up with a tiny cannon under his arm and lights the fuse with a lot of protocol. The size of the cannon fools me, and when it finally fires (in spite of the warning up front) the tremendous blast scares the living daylights out of me.
We walk around a bit more through the fort, which isnâ€™t as imposing from the inside as it looks from the outside (and in our imagination), before deciding to go to Table Mountain.
Because it is still very windy, we fear that the cable cars up Table Mountain might have stopped. We buy some raisin rolls and some drinks, just in case we have to walk up the mountain. The cab driver who takes us to the ground station of the cable cars makes it very clear that it is very dangerous to walk up the mountain, people have been robbed up there and the gales should also not be trivialized. On arrival at the base station we see that the cable cars hĂˇve stopped and nobody knows whether they will start again today or not, nevertheless we get off the taxi. We ask a guard about the robbery story and he says that it has happened once a while ago, but the perpetrators have been caught Ăˇnd there are a lot of people on the mountain trails today, so itâ€™s quite safe. Itâ€™s a fifteen minute walk over the paved road to the start of the trail to the top. Here we ask another guard and he tells us exactly the same as the last guard.
We look for a place that gives some shelter from the wind and there we have lunch. The raisin rolls are dry as dust, so I am very thankful for my can of Coke. Suddenly we hear a loud bang, itâ€™s twelve oâ€™clock. The gunshot from the fortress can clearly be heard half way up Table Mountain. A little later we catch up with Annette and Barbara, who started the climb an hour before we did. They didnâ€™t bring any food, and we just ate ours, so we canâ€™t help out either.
Near the top we see some mountain goats jumping about and we take a few minutes to watch them.
We start the walk to the summit of the mountain, but after some fifteen minutes we decide to go back, because the trail goes out of sight in the distance and it is almost three already.
At three we start our descent (we have to go down the same way we came up), so first we go through Platteklip Gorge. Fog is coming in slowly. Itâ€™s still just the two of us, the ladies must have gone down already. And indeed some time later we see them on the trail in front of us. When we catch up with the girls they say that Trudy floats down the mountain and, of course, they want to know why. When Trudy tells the story their responses are heartwarming.
When we look up we can see the clouds curling down through Platteklip Gorge. This means we mustnâ€™t linger and make our way down to the city.
We see some Dutch boys going up with nothing but a couple of bottles of whine with them and no warm clothes.
We walk to the Victoria & Albert Waterfront and on our way there we see a car that wonâ€™t start. Itâ€™s a black family, the daughter and wife are pushing the car, the man of the house sits behind the wheel. Trudy and I come to the rescue and the four of us can push the car back to life again.
Before going to diner we have a look in the beautiful shopping mall. Trudy sees a little plush hedgehog holding a heart with the word LOVE on it. Since it is so appropriate we buy it.
We choose an Italian restaurant this time and order the spare ribs.
We take a taxi home and the driver comes from Zimbabwe. Trudy tells him what happened today and spontaneously he gives us a puzzle he made himself from iron wire. We have to separate the heart from the I and the U without braking it. While we try to crack the puzzle he plays some music for us on the traditional musical instrument he keeps under his driverâ€™s seat. When we say goodbye at the hotel we get to keep the puzzle and he wishes us all the best. He doesnâ€™t shake hands with Trudy, because in his culture it is not done to shake hands with a married woman (and he considers Trudy married, so he says).
We take another shower and sleep like two very happy logs.