Sunday 29 April 2018

Cape of Good Hope and the penguins at Boulders

Another excellent day today, this time on the Sightseeing Bus day trip down the coast. We started out just after 9am for the two hour run down to the Cape, and once there we headed straight up to see the old and new lighthouses. Our guide told us that the old lighthouse is on the top of the cliff, but unfortunately it often gets covered by fog and on one of those occasions a ship was wrecked on the rocks far below, so the decision was made to build one nearer to the sea.

If you look really closely at the above photo you might see a little lump at both the top and bottom of the cliffs in the distance. 
The scenery was fantastic and our guide took us on a walk away from the lighthouse and to the furthest point on the mainland. 

We then hopped back on the bus and almost immediately passed a big group of wild ostriches on the beach. 

They are taller than most people, weigh up to 130 kilograms and have a very sharp and dangerous big toe, so we just admired them from inside the bus. 
The next stop was probably the highlight of our trip to South Africa - a visit to the penguins. 
They are based at Boulders which is a beautiful beach, with - you've guessed it - lots of giant boulders on it. 

Much more exciting than the boulders though were the penguins, hundreds of them just chilling out out a Sunday afternoon. We were on a boardwalk above them and they ignored us all completely and just got on with their lives. 

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and other things

Yesterday was a really busy day because we had tickets for the hop on, hop off bus so we had to do lots of things to get our moneys worth.
First off was the beautiful Botanic Gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain. It is autumn here now so there weren't many flowers around, but we found an amazing protea, 

the sun shone brightly and the views were incredible. 

Our next stop was a bird and monkey park, but I kept mainly to the bird bit. They had some lovely birds, but my favourite was this giant stork baby whose knees bent backwards. 

Back on the but still again and we drove along the coast where we hopped on and off a couple of times to see the beautiful beaches and huge waves. 

Finally, we just got back to the Waterfront in time to join a sunset champagne cruise along the coast. Excellent, if rather cold outing, but lots of sparkling wine to go around. 

I have just remembered that we also did a nice harbour cruise this morning and a walk through the Company's Gardens, so we are packing it all in well. 

Friday 27 April 2018

Silo Modern Art gallery, Cape Town

This afternoon we visited the Silo, a modern art gallery built inside the remains of a huge grain silo on the Waterfront.
It is mostly made of very thick concrete, with lots of little rooms housing collections. It was always a surprise what awaited us behind each closed door and each exhibit was very individual. 
A particularly interesting one was the room full of dangling bricks... 

Darren was very taken with a lady sitting on a zebra and I think that he would have liked to have taken it home, but it was about ten feet wide and nearly as tall so I don't know where we could have put it. 

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the outside of the building but the inside is pretty impressive. 

Wine tasting in Stellenbosch

Yesterday we booked a day trip wine tasting in Stellenbosch. We were due to visit five vineyards, starting with the first one at 10am.
We had intended on starting the day slowly with a coffee at the first vineyard, but they had a wine and chocolate pairing tasting so we went for that instead. 

There was five wines and five chocolates and surprisingly, it was all very tasty. This was at the Lanzarac vineyard if you ever happen to be passing it. 

Unfortunately the weather was not at it's best, although it didn't matter as we were indoors all day. 
Our second tasting was also quite civilised and we tried five more wines, although we were starting to worry that five vineyards may be too many. 

By the third vineyard we had made friends with our travelling companions who were a lovely Brazilian couple on their honeymoon. We got chatting, laughing and drinking with Vivi and Luis and the day shot by. 
Before we knew it we were at the last vineyard, finishing off the last of the wine and putting the glasses on our heads! 

Not feeling at my best today, but we caught a taxi back to Cape Town ready for our next adventure. 

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Cape Town in the sunshine

After the rain of yesterday, we looked out of the window this morning and the sun was shining. We went for a run around the Waterfront first thing and then went out to revisit the places that we went to yesterday.
Everywhere looked totally different, and gradually Table Mountain appeared from behind its fluffy 'table cloth' clouds. 

We also spent ages trying to take photos of a sea lion swimming in the marina. 

But then we heard some barking noises nearby and we came across a whole gang of them basking on a floating wooden pontoon. It was identical to the scene at San Francisco's Pier 39.

Monday 23 April 2018

Cape Town

We left our ship this morning and set off to explore Cape Town. It hasn't rained for a very long time, and there is a very serious drought situation here, but fortunately we have brought the rain with us.

I am not missing half of the above photo, it shows how low the clouds came as we walked around the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. 
We found loads of brightly coloured rhinoceros scattered around the area.... 

... and we also posed next to four very famous South Africans including Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu. 

It is now early evening and the rain is hammering down, which is very nice, but not what we expected! 

Saturday 21 April 2018

Port Elizabeth

Yesterday our good ship Queen Elizabeth arrived in Port Elizabeth on the 92nd birthday of Queen Elizabeth the second!

After taking in that amazing fact we headed ashore for a fantastic day that was totally organised by........ Susan!  Unfortunately we don't have a friend called Elizabeth. 
First she hired a car and we drove along the coast to a penguin sanctuary 🐧. 

The penguins were all so cute and they were joined by seabirds who had also been injured. We watched them for ages and I hoped that they would all jump off the rock together, but no, they didn't. 
Our afternoon visit was to the Kragga Kamma Game Park which was only a few minutes drive outside of the city and Susan had booked us on to a two hour open topped guided tour. 
What an amazing tour it was.....

We saw two of the big five, but my favourites were the giraffes and zebras, and we also saw a cheetah resting in the afternoon sun. 
I have lots more photos and if you like, I can bore you with them next time I see you! 

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Réunion Island 🏝

Our ship docked today at the French island of Réunion. It was a very green and beautiful looking place and we caught a bus to a little beach town.
We were planning on having a swim in the sea, but the beach was very steep and the waves were huge. 

There was also a notice board that warned that no swimming was allowed because of the risk of shark attack! 

I didn't even paddle, just in case, and there was a nice harbour so we admired the waves from the safety of the sea walls. 

Monday 16 April 2018

Botanic Gardens in Mauritius 🇲🇺

Lovely day out today with Susan and Paul. We caught a bus from the ship to the Botanic Garden at Pamplemoussees.
I was really looking forward to this visit as I wanted to see the enormous water lillies. 

The pond where they were growing was also huge and it was a glorious sight. 
The biggest crop in Mauritius is sugar cane and we also visited a sugar and rum museum. We learned all about how the canes are processed and they make 12 different kinds of sugar, some of which are sold in Harrods. We tried every single one ranging from a very basic pale brown to dark muscovado and molasses. 
After the sugar tasting we wandered over to the rum tasting and became good friends with the Iady pouring the measures. We tried eight different kinds, and once we had finished she would happily have started again at the beginning. 

Tempting though the idea was, we had to get the bus back to Port Louis. 
One final interesting fact about Mauritius - it was the home of the dodo. Although they have been extinct for hundreds of years, there are lots of statues, pictures and souvenirs as shown below, although most of them aren't quite so well dressed as this particular one. 

Friday 13 April 2018

Seychelles beach

We arrived today in the Seychelles, got off the ship and headed straight for the beach.
It was quite a trek over a large hill in very hot and humid conditions, but we got there and the views were spectacular. 

I was dying for a swim and I quickly leapt into the sea. 

After not more than half an hour of our arrival, we were sitting on the beach when the first spots of rain started. Within seconds it was a down pour and we tried to take shelter under a tree. The rain was soon rattling through and we were getting very cold and all of our belongings were also soaked. 
I decided that as we were already so wet then I might as well get back in the sea, and when I jumped in it was just like warm bath water. It was so much warmer than the rain water and we stayed in for ages just thawing out. 
Unfortunately the rain didn't stop and we eventually found a better shelter where we watched the downpour for the next hour or so. 

The rain suddenly stopped as quickly as it started and we took our chance to get to the bus stop, and we threw everything in the washing machine once we got back on the ship. 

Thursday 5 April 2018

Don't mess with Melaka

We joined our cruise yesterday, and are now in Melaka, Malaysia  which is our first port of call. It is a small town and has a very unusual motto. It seems an aggressive tone towards the tourists, but then they have been invaded by quite a few countries over the years. 

There was also quite an issue with the ship as we had to dock out in the bay and then catch little boats to the shore. Usually the ship uses its lifeboats and it is very quick and efficient. Today Melaka decided that we must use their boats but they didn't have very many, so huge queues built up in both directions. 
We spent more time waiting around than we did on shore, but fortunately we have been before and know that it is a lovely place. 

We just had a lazy afternoon wandering around, although we did walk rather than taking the beautifully decorated rickshaws. 

We found a nice bar by the river, had a couple of beers and enjoyed the scenery. 

Monday 2 April 2018

Gardens by the Bay at night

The Gardens by the Bay are incredible during the daytime, but possibly even better at night. They have a sound and light show twice every night and we have just returned from it.
Everyone lay down flat on their backs and stared up at the enormous metal trees as they flashed and changed colour in time to famous theme tunes such as Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones.  

We also saw the last night of illuminations around the Marina, and one of the best displays was the Merlion covered in flowers.