Peninsula trip stop 1: Rhodes Memorial

Peninsula trip stop 1: Rhodes Memorial
You may have noticed that we're about a week behind on our daily photos. We have, you see, been at a conference in Stellenbosch for the past week.

On Saturday we hired a shuttle and driver from CT Shuttles and took a small group of our international visitors on a trip around a part of the peninsula. Over the next few days I'll endeavour to catch up the lost days and bring you a set of photos from our trip! :)

Our driver arrived promptly at Spier Estate at 10am and we headed straight to our first stop, Rhodes Memorial, where this photo was taken. Isn't it a pretty view?

University of Cape Town – the Groote Schuur Campus

UCT Groote Schuur Campus

On 7 October 1983, the University of Cape Town's Groote Schuur (translated as "big barn") Campus was declared a national monument.

Originally, in 1829, South African College (later renamed to University of Cape Town) trained students in a building in Long Street. In 1841 they moved to Government Avenue, before finally taking occupation of the Groote Schuur campus in 1928.

Today, the buildings remind me of those old English school buildings that you'd expect to find Harry Potter frequenting. The campus is definitely worth a visit, so if you have some time on your hands to walk around and observe students in their natural habitat, make a turn past the Groote Schuur Campus - here's a map to this exact spot. :)

Table Mountain from a different perspective

Table Mountain from a different perspective

I'd almost reached the crest of Kloof Nek Road when I saw (what I think is) an uncommon perspective of Table Mountain. Noticing a rare parking spot on the side of the road, I quickly stopped, crossed over the busy road, and scrambled up to a vantage point, where I took this photo.

The area is perhaps one of the most awesome areas in which to live in Cape Town. My uncle owns a house close by and based on my (infrequent) visits there over the years I have to say that the weather is spectacular. The wind may be howling in the city centre below, yet it's almost eerily completely absent in this area.

I'm sure that you've worked it out already, but just in case you're not familiar with the mountain, the little spot that you see marking the highest point is in fact the upper cable station.

Jameson Memorial Hall and the pillars of colonial society

The pillars of UCT's Jameson Memorial Hall

Jameson Memorial Hall on the University of Cape Town's (UCT) campus is an impressive structure that has as its backdrop the towering Devil's Peak and Table Mountain mountain range. When I first saw the building and that it was a memorial to one Leander Jameson I wondered to myself what he'd done to have his name etched into the fibre of one of South Africa's most prestigious universities.

The story basically goes that he was Scottish and practised as a doctor in South Africa. Jameson befriended Cecil John Rhodes and ran several missions for him to help establish Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Leander Jameson disobeyed the British High Commissioner and spear-headed the famous Jameson Raid on the Boer government. He was captured and forced to return to England where he was tried and spent over a year in jail.

On his release he returned to Cape Town where he was elected to Cape Parliament in 1900 and became Prime Minister in 1904!

Perhaps I don't fully understand the history and story of Leander Jameson, but to me it would seem as though the British Cape Colony started off on a bit of a wobbly foot around the turn of the 20th century! :)

Read more about Leander Jameson's story here.

The Kimberley Hotel in Roeland Street

The Kimberley Hotel in Roeland Street

The Kimberley Hotel is now around 114 years old, and besides being a place frequented by members of parliament - for lunch - it was, for many years, the place from which horse-drawn carts would leave for the town of Kimberley, some 830km north-east of Cape Town (as the crow flies).

P.S. Did you notice Table Mountain hidden, almost from sight, in the background? :)

The Pumphouse

The Pumphouse

Paul mentioned The Pumphouse in a previous post about the V&A Waterfront. Built in 1882, the building originally housed the dynamo that powered the first set of electric lights in the Table Bay Harbour. According to Eskom's website, there were sixteen 2000-candlepower arc lights at first (you can read more about the use of arc lights in the 1800s here - it's pretty fascinating). The Harbour Board's report to the Cape Colonial Parliament for the year 1882 said that the light "... proved of great service, not only in minimising accidents, but in facilitating the working of vessels at night."

More recently, in the 1990s, The Pumphouse was a popular pub and live music venue, one that it seems a lot of people have really fond (if somewhat foggy ;-)) memories of. The reason the building is called The Pumphouse, by the way, is because it contains the pumps used for draining the water out of the Robinson Dry Dock.

Scarborough, a seaside village with charm

Scarborough Sunset

In the previous posts Kerry-Anne told you about a seaside village where a friend of ours owns a beautiful wooden house. Some of you guessed correctly that the little village is Scarborough - well done! This quiet suburb is to the west of Simon's Town, just on the other side of Cape Point. Find it here on the Google Map.

I browsed the web for the word Scarborough and found that this village is not by any means the only place bearing the name. It would seem as though our British friends have indeed been busy - according to Wikipedia there are a plethora of place-names (and other names) containing the word Scarborough, all around the world.

Caltex oil refinery in Milnerton

Caltex oil refinery

We've been trying to get a photo of this oil refinery for almost as long as we've been running this blog. Paul's tried while I was driving; I've tried while Paul was driving; I've even tried snapping a shot while stopped at the traffic lights opposite the refinery; but for some reason the angle and light has never been quite right and we've always ended up with a tree in the way, or blurry shots, or a passing car obscuring the subject.

Yes, of course, in theory we could just pull the car off the road and walk back a little way to get a good shot, but the trouble is that we're always (and I mean ALWAYS) in a hurry when we're passing this way. A few days ago we got lucky though, and you can see the result above (this is just a small part of the refinery complex, of course). I'll leave it to you to guess who was doing the driving and who was doing the shooting... ;-)

The refinery was built in the early 1960s and began operations in 1966. Of course, it's been upgraded a few times since then, and according to the Caltex website it "remains one of the largest industrial undertakings in the Western Cape, providing much-needed jobs and economic growth in the area." Unfortunately it also provides a rather unpleasant fragrance, but that's a story for another day...

Wellington – the name of many places

The Church in Wellington

This photo features what must be one of the most notable structures in the small town of Wellington. This church building is home to the town's traditional Afrikaans church, the NG Kerk (Dutch-Reformed Church), and is in fact the "moedergemeente" (mother-congregation), meaning that it's the main Dutch-Reformed Church of the district.

While looking for information on the town I discovered something interesting. Do you know how many places in the world are called Wellington? Just take a look at the "Places" section of the Wikipedia Wellington disambiguation page. Apart from New Zealand, the UK, India, Chile, Canada and Australia, the United States of America alone has 18 places called Wellington (or Wellington Township in some cases)!

I mean folks, what's up with that? Why are some names just so popular?

Anyway, let's get back to Wellington in South Africa. The smallish town of Wellington is home to just shy of 58,000 people. It's found just behind the perhaps better-known town of Paarl, and is one of the Cape's prime grape districts. Many years ago, in my teenage years, my family used to spend Easter weekends camping at the municipal caravan park in Wellington. Although I'm not sure what the park is like now, at the time it was pretty decent. Most camping sites had ample shade from huge Bluegum trees, there was plenty of grass on the large open space in the middle of the park, the facilities were not bad (as far as camping facilities go), and the huge swimming pool with high diving boards was simply awesome.

At the time, my siblings, cousins, friends and I spent most of our time swimming, and a fair amount of time cruising the streets on our skateboards. Ah, those were the days of little stress and worry, where the only concerns on my mind were (a) girls and (b) being back at the caravan in time for food. Those were the days...

And sometimes it’s the big things :)

Table Mountain after sunset

There are so many fantastic sunset spots in Cape Town: Clifton 4th Beach, Summerville in Camps Bay, Signal Hill, Table Mountain itself, Scarborough, upstairs at Wakame in Mouille Point, Blouberg Beach (which is where today's photo was taken), the top of Tygerberg Hill, Lovers' Lane... if you live in the city, or have been here, which is your favourite? And yes, I know, that's like asking you to name your favourite dessert - but give it a try anyway.

As much as I love all the other spots, I'd have to say that the two most spectacular sunsets I've ever experienced were the two I watched from the top of Table Mountain. Clifton 4th Beach is a close second, though, and a bit more accessible, to be fair. :)

Twelve Apostles from Table Mountain

Twelve Apostles from Table Mountain

It is a beautiful scene, isn't it? The photo can't fully describe how phenomenally spectacular a sunset from the top of Table Mountain is. The cableway is still running a special where you can buy a return ticket after 18h00 for only 72.50 ZAR. A price like that for a view like this? It's a no-brainer.

I have to be honest and confess that this photo is a little out of date. We're in the process of preparing version 2 of Cape Town Daily Photo, so there really hasn't been much time to get out and take photos. I shot this one a month ago when we went up Table Mountain with our visiting family from Sydney. :)