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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Lion's Head

SOUTH AFRICA | Saturday, 27 May 2023 | Views [58]

An absolutely gorgeous day it was today. Cape Town is up there with a place like Washington, D.C.; I can spend a few weeks here and still not be bored. There are many great hikes in the area. The two countries I've prepared for most in terms of safety are South Africa and Papua New Guinea. Today I was wondering if I should hide my phone in my underwear as I'm going up Lion's Head but Christo said that safety isn't an issue. Since today is Saturday, I knew there would be many people walking up. Christo would drop me at the train station and, due to safety reasons I followed a girl into a carriage where other passengers were. A train ticket is only 9 rand (about $0.50 US) whereas taking a taxi or an Uber into town would cost about 150 rand. Once in town I made sure to have something light to eat beforehand, so I got a sausage with fried onions and then took a bus to the start of Lion's Head. Signing an obligatory (for me) geocache at the start of the trailhead, I promised the girls at the coffee trailer that I'd get one on the way down. With plenty of people about, it's clear that Capetonians love it as much as foreigners. Bliss! Snap! Bliss! Snap! As I went higher. 

Walking up Lion's Head is like ice cream on a cone as you're going round and round and being rewarded with many different views. 

The setting of Cape Town is utterly spectacular, and I'd be absolutely hard-pressed to find a city with a more spectacular setting. As I always do, I felt the euphoria as I reached the top. 

At 669 metres, Lion's Head is the highest I've been in South Africa so far. This will be nothing compared to Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is my goal for my 40th birthday. I'll have to train and perhaps lose a little bit of weight before going there in September 2024. I hung out for more than half hour snapping photos and having water and a snack.

The locals sure love it up here too! 

I thought of walking to Signal Hill but then figured one hike a day is enough as I made my way down. I didn't have much luck on the geocaching front but the views more than made up for what I couldn't find. As I promised earlier, I got a well-deserved coffee when I reached the start of the trailhead. My current CouchSurfing host, Christo, lives in Brackenfell, about 20 km east of the city centre and I wanted to make my way back by about 5:30 PM but I wasn't done exploring. Colourful Bo-Kaap was next on my radar. 

Appearing like something out of Reykjavik, St. John's, or even Bermuda, Bo-Kaap is the oldest surviving residential neighbourhood in Cape Town. I could easily spend a full day here on a photo safari but my camera battery was flat by then. Thankfully my smartphone has a really good camera. 

Wow! Just wow! After so many years of travelling, I'm still always discovering new places and learning new things and I never get bored. There aren't nearly as many trains on weekends, so I ended up taking a minibus to Bellville (whilst the sun was still up) and walk from there to Christo's home. Brackenfell is regarded as being safe to walk at night. Tomorrow, Christo plans to make bobotie, a traditional Capetonian dish made with mince, spices, egg, and chutney. With an abundance of meat and spices, South Africa is one of those countries where I can have an absolute ball when it comes to food. Whilst I thought of ordering something for takeaway, Christo decided to cook up a light tea of pasta.

Christo and I would stay up late chatting about all sorts of things related to all kinds of topics regarding South Africa. Both of my hosts in Cape Town grew up during apartheid and went to white-only schools. Despite having a population of close to 60 million, only 5 million South Africans pay tax yet 17 million people are on the dole. The remainder of the population lives through "informal" means like growing crops, raising livestock, and through subsistence means. Electricity is a constant topic in South Africa as they practice what's called loadshedding where power is scheduled to go off for a while at certain times of the day. Christo has a portable gas stove for when the power is off. Cape Town's train network was suspended during the pandemic and hasn't been fully operational due to safety issues and due to minibus operators (which are often part of gangs) burning the train carriages. As you travel into Cape Town, just before town, you'll see dozens of burnt-out train carriages. Cape Town is also most certainly a city of contrasts regarding neighbourhoods. As I walk round Brackenfell I could be forgiven for thinking I'm walking round the suburbs of Melbourne or Perth but some of the townships would rival some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Addis Ababa or elsewhere in Africa. Restrictions during the pandemic were even tougher than those of anywhere in Australia. The sale of alcohol was banned full stop, and you could only go to the nearest shop to buy stuff. Certain things like magazines couldn't be sold, and you weren't even allowed to walk your dog. 

Tomorrow my plan is to take the cable car up Table Mountain and walk down. Since I'll be in Cape Town again next year to go to Tristan da Cunha and at another point to do filming on Robben Island, I'm not in a rush to do absolutely everything whilst here. For today however, I'm glad I went to two of the city's great sights. 

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