Tag Archives: road

Roads and trees

Roads and Trees

I love these kinds of roads; the trees form a tunnel that makes me feel like a Formula 1 driver - only without the Formula and without the 1. Not that I'd actually be able to drive at those speeds on our roads as, irrespective of the actual day of the week, there's invariably a Sunday-afternoon-cruiser enjoying the drive somewhere ahead of me. At times like these I need to remind myself that it's okay, perhaps even good, to drive s-l-oooooo-w-l-y. :)

Congestion on Cape Town's roads has been increasing steadily over the past years, with the effects being felt more intensely since the 2010 Soccer World Cup construction work began. Large alterations are in progress at the N1/M5 interchange near the city, as well as at Hospital Bend, which look as though they'll improve the rush-hour traffic problems significantly.

Believe me, most of Cape Town can't wait for them to be done!

Take a look at this 2008 article detailing the intended upgrades.

Drip, drip drip, drip

Drip, drip drip, drip drip drip...

Over the last few days I've been posting photos from the Worldwide Photo Walk that I attended on Saturday. Even though Cape Town was at her best on Saturday, and there are plenty more photos that I'd like to draw your attention to, this will be the last one that I'll publish as a blog entry. I have however uploaded the rest of the morning's photos to our "Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk - 2009" album. Please indulge me and take a look through the album - the city really was very photogenic on Saturday morning.

On a side note, although we had perfect weather on Saturday, I found this gutter downpipe dripping really fast, almost as though it were raining... which makes publishing this photo today co-incidental since this week we've had our fair share of rain! Perhaps the dripping was prophetic in some or other way? :)

Birds of steel for your garden

Birds of steel for your garden
I'm not one to buy curios, furniture, or other goods from road-side sellers. Perhaps I should, but it would be on rare occasions that I'd stop and browse, let alone buy. After taking the photos of the tyre swing seats I wandered over to a lady selling birds made of some kind of metal - possibly copper - hey, possibly copper from old hot-water cylinders!

I found out that the cost for these (what I'm assuming to be garden statues) ranges from R180 for the large, more detailed birds at the back, to R150 for the large, but less detailed ones in the second-last row. The price decreases along with the size of the bird, all the way down to R50 for ones about the size of a shoe-box.

As with the tyre-swings, you'll find this stand just up the road from the Stodels Nursery in Bellville.

Where to buy tyre swings

Tyre swings for sale

At the end of last month I posted a photo of a swing made from an old car tyre. Today I happened to spot a road-side vendor selling these tyre swings pretty close to where I live. Don't you think it's far better to put these tyres to use as a swing than to have them lie about polluting the environment? I just wish that they would make swings for big people. Perhaps some old 4x4 tyres would work nicely... heh, one could even have a premium-class swing made from BMW run-flat tyres! :D

I didn't think of it at the time, but I should have asked the vendor (sitting in the far right corner of the photo) how much these cost. I can't believe that they would be expensive, so if anyone is interested, leave a comment and I'll stop by to find out for you.

If you'd like one for your kids (or even for someone else's), you'll find this vendor just up the road from the Stodels Nursery in Bellville. I've marked it here on Wikimapia.

Why not consider buying two of these and some tough rope, and then setting them up in a field or forest somewhere where someone would use them? You'd support the vendor and possibly make some kids (or skinny big people) happy at the same time... the butterfly effect, you know! :)

Arrive Alive

R300 fly-over the N1

I have to draw your attention to the little story that I've been putting together in the last two posts. The first photo in the series was of graffiti found underneath the fly-over, the second photo revealed where the first was taken, and now this one was shot from precisely the same spot as the first, but with the photo centred on the location in Kerry-Anne's photo on 8 June. So, by now you should have a fairly complete perspective on this particular interchange. :)

While lamenting over the boredom she endured in high school, Kerry-Anne failed to mention that this fly-over is one of her most loved roads in the Northern Suburbs, if not in the entire province! The way this fly-over rises into the air with a perfect crossfall camber, banking 90° to the right, is simply awesome for people who (really) enjoy driving their cars.

Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not suggesting that one needs to exceed 120km/h to take pleasure in the bend, but I do suggest that if you haven't yet driven this route you should give it a try. Take note however that you should keep left as you take the bend, as the roadworks on the R300 extend onto this fly-over and cause the right-hand lane to come to a potentially dramatic stop. Remember folks, be safe, Arrive Alive. ;)

Funk Fly-over

R300 fly-over

The lorry that you see on the left is making its way away from the city along the N1 national highway, about 30km outside of Cape Town. The fly-over that you see rising from the centre of the photo carries vehicles from the N1 onto the R300, one of the major routes used to reach the country's second national highway, the N2, about 20km from this point.

The centre of this photo is where I shot the photo in yesterday's post. I have to say that I had an eerie feeling listening to (and feeling) cars, trucks and huge lorries whizzing by only metres overhead. It kinda reminded me of climbing up the Sydney Harbour Bridge (which carries a highway as well as a metro rail system!).

The mystery of traffic

Highway traffic

I imagine every city has sections of road like this one. No, I don't mean sections of road with a breathtaking view of the mountain - we can't all be that lucky :P ... I mean sections of road that have frequent and utterly inexplicable traffic jams.

This is the N1, near Bellville (one of Cape Town's northern suburbs), heading in the direction of Cape Town. The left fork is the offramp that leads to Durban Road, Bellville CBD and Tygervalley Shopping Centre.

For some reason that continues to elude me, traffic on the small section of highway from this offramp to the corresponding onramp that joins the N1 on the other side of the bridge almost always slows down to a crawl. This photo happens to have been taken on one of those rare occasions when it was relatively free-flowing.

And it's not that there's a bottleneck because of the cars coming from the onramp - there are more than enough lanes on the other side of the bridge, and the traffic is always free-flowing by the time I get level with that onramp. It's utterly bizarre - all I can think is that people must sense some kind of weird voodoo in this dip and therefore instinctively slow down...

Die Burger, Naspers and The Borg

Newspaper Salesman

Die Burger, first published as long ago as 26 July 1915, is a super-popular print newspaper read mostly by Afrikaans-speaking South Africans. The name is essentially a direct translation of The Citizen, which I would imagine to be a popular name for newspapers all around the world.

Die Burger is owned by Naspers, a large corporate that owns other well-known print brands such as Huisgenoot (and YOU), Drum, Fair Lady, City Press, Shape, Daily Sun, City Press, Beeld, etc. Many years ago Naspers formed a pay-television company, M-Net, and a television signal-distribution and communications company, MultiChoice. The company expanded in later years to create a large Internet service provider called MWeb, then launched the Media24 division (with it's *24 brands), and in more recent years started buying stakes in hot-shot digital startup companies like MXit and Blue World Communities.

People have often referred to large software companies such as IBM and Microsoft as "The Borg" due to their strategy of buying out the competition's software to add to their growing portfolio of solutions. It's become apparent to me that, due to their size and pervasiveness in the market, in some ways Naspers is becoming South Africa's own Borg of the media and publication sector...

National highways and fly-overs

National Highway

I used to have a perfect view of these fly-overs from my classroom when I was in high school. During exam time, we were seated in alphabetical order according to our surnames - this put me right over at the window, which suited me perfectly. I've never been able to sit and do nothing for very long (my record is about 3 minutes, and I was all worn out from the exertion afterwards), so whenever I finished an exam early - which was fairly often - I'd have to invent elaborate mental games to keep myself from going crazy with boredom.

These fly-overs over the N1 were a godsend, as you can imagine, because they meant I could keep busy by counting cars. I would keep a tally of how many cars of a certain colour went past in each direction, how many trucks went past, how many motorbikes, and so on. Yes children, when we were young, back in the olden days, we didn't have fancy computer games or iPhone apps - we had to make our own fun.

Talking about fun, the latest episode of The Digital Edge podcast is available - download it here. (The Digital Edge is South Africa's best podcast, and I'm totally biased, because I'm in it.)

A hospital room with a view

Night time intersection

The building that you can see more or less in the middle of this photo is the Panorama Medi-Clinic, one of the best known private hospitals in Cape Town. Take a look at the lights spreading out in the background and you'll probably be able to work out why this area is called Panorama. It's located on the slopes of Tygerberg Hill, in the northern suburbs, and from here you can see a very large part of greater Cape Town.

The Panorama Medi-Clinic was opened in 1986, and was the very first hospital launched by the Medi-Clinic group. I'm not a big fan of hospitals in general, due to having spent quite a bit of time in one when I was a toddler. Being in a hospital environment always brings up vague feelings of trauma for me, so I avoid them as far as possible. If you don't have any such qualms, though, then take a visual tour of the Panorama Medi-Clinic. :)

Driving rain

Driving rain

We woke up early this morning, with about 42 fire trucks blasting our house with their huge fire hoses. When the pounding water eventually held up, I looked outside and found that every single fire-truck and fireman had mysteriously disappeared without a trace... leaving behind pools of water all through our garden.

Oh alright... you saw right through my story, didn't you? It wasn't really firemen, of course, but rather the biggest and heaviest cloud that we've seen for a long while, unleashing all its rain in one enormous downpour. I must say, I'm not particularly looking forward to this winter; it's been icy cold this afternoon - around 11°C (which is freezin' for a Cape Town afternoon)!

We're heading off to a friend's birthday party at FTV in Cape Town this evening. It's storming outside, but Shana's convinced it's going to be hot inside. ;) I'll let you know tomorrow how it went!

Don’t expect to buy a garage

Scooters and a Yard Sale

I meant to post this photo when I took it (on 3 May), so I hope you don't mind a slightly older photo. I just liked this one for some reason - perhaps it's the angle, perhaps the slightly-out-of-focus scooters in the background.

Seeing the sign reminded me of the only yard sale (often known as garage sales here) that I visited many years ago out of curiosity. Clearly the event left me rather pessimistic about the chances of actually finding anything of interest at these sales. The items I browsed that day were really nothing more than junk for which I wouldn't really have ever had any use.

I do think, however, that I should give it another try. I imagine one could find some really interesting things hidden among people's white elephants. Perhaps, if you're a tourist, it would be an interesting thing to do too... visiting a yard sale. You may find something interestingly different to buy, and you may meet some interestingly different people too. For your own sake, though, be a little cautious; this is a city, after all, and we have our fair share of unsavoury people too.

Oh, and remember that a yard sale is often called a garage sale - so don't go to a garage sale expecting to come home with a new garage. ;)

Don’t drive to the voting station

Driving my car

As I mentioned yesterday, tomorrow will be the day that gazillions (hopefully!) of South Africans visit their local voting stations to put their cross on a ballot and cast a vote for a political party... or I guess in many cases, against a political party.

Whichever party :-) you fall into, why not do as Kerry-Anne and I will tomorrow? Don't drive to your voting station, but walk instead! You'll (a) avoid possible traffic, (b) get some exercise, and (c) have a chance to walk outside in the nice, clear, and comfortable 25°C weather we'll be having. It looks like it will be a perfect day for voting - not too hot, not too cold.

Of course, I should probably disclose that we only live a shy 900 metres from our voting station... :)

Could they not have told us before?

Road closed!?

We've taken Tafelberg Road along to the Cable Way many times, but I've never bothered driving further along the road to see exactly where it goes. We decided to take a drive along the mountain road, heading towards the southern suburbs, hoping to eventually get through to Newlands.

All was going well until a few kilometres into our journey, when we suddenly came across what you see in the photo. I mean, really, could they not have warned us that the road was barricaded? I took a look on Wikimapia and found that the road actually does lead down to De Waal Drive, which is a hop, skip and a jump to Newlands.

Even though it took us to a dead end, the view from Tafelberg Road is spectacular. It's actually worthwhile parking near the Cable Way and taking a walk along to the start of the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail, one of routes to the top of the mountain.

“Black” taxi

"Black" taxi

If you're unfamiliar with South Africa you may wonder why I named the title of this post "Black" taxi, especially when there are no black vehicles in this photo. The orange minivan in the photo is in fact known colloquially as a "Black taxi"; this form of transport is used by a large portion of the country's population to get to and from work, and by far the majority of these commuters are black. These taxis are generally (and perhaps ironically) white, so this orange one is an exception.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself on the N2 highway during rush-hour you're sure to experience the taxi operators' phenomenal driving ability - often you just have to sit back and laugh at these drivers' arrogant resourcefulness when navigating stopped or grid-locked traffic. And, oh, by the way, the unofficial rule of the road is that unless you have a significantly large vehicle and/or don't particularly mind your car being scratched or dented, these taxis have right of way. ;-)

Don’t forget to pay for your parking

Parking signs

We used to have parking meters in the city, but now we have real, living human-beings to receive our parking money and make sure that we don't stay longer than we should. Which is much better, I think, because, try as I might, I could never get a smile out of those parking meters...

If you come to the city and hire a car, look out for people wearing bright yellow bibs, and carrying hand-held parking machines and bags of change. They'll tell you how much you need to pay, depending on how long you plan to park for. Oh, and do be nice to them - they're out there on their feet all day, every day, and I suspect they have to deal with a lot of grumpy, unfriendly people. ;-)

Come with me, down Paradise Road

Union Avenue and Paradise Road

Today marks an interesting sporting anniversary: 120 years ago today the very first cricket test match was played in Cape Town. The match was the second of a 2-test series; the first test was held in Port Elizabeth earlier in the month, and the second hosted at our very own Newlands cricket grounds. South Africa unfortunately lost both tests and the series to the then-better ;-) English team.

Union Avenue and Paradise Road are both part of the M3, a route normally taken by most people going to watch cricket at Newlands. The M3 is the major road leading from the City through the southern suburbs of Cape Town. It can be a little confusing, as sometimes people will talk of De Waal Drive, or the Blue Route, and mean exactly the same road. Let me clear up a bit of confusion by listing the various names given to parts of the M3. Starting from Cape Town's side of the M3, we have: Buitensingel Street, Orange Street, Annandale Road, Mill Street, Jutland Avenue, De Waal Drive, Hospital Bend, Rhodes Drive, Union Avenue, Paradise Road, Edinburgh Drive and finally, Simon van der Stel Freeway (colloquially known as the Blue Route). Got that? ;-)

Night-time view of Beach Road in Mouille Point

Beach Road in Mouille Point at night

On Wednesday we showed you the view from Wakame; this photo was taken from the same section of the restaurant (the upstairs bar area), but facing in a slightly different direction (looking up Beach Road, towards the lighthouse and Sea Point). And it was at night, of course. ;-)

We don't often find ourselves in this area on a weeknight, and so we were very surprised to see just how busy this part of the Atlantic Seaboard was. We had to drive around the block quite a few times to find parking - pretty impressive, considering it was 8pm on a Thursday...

Mobile greengrocers

Roadside fruit-sellers
If you drive around Cape Town's suburbs or out into the winelands, you are bound to come across guys like these selling fresh fruit at the side of the road or at an intersection.

I don't often buy from them, but not because I think their produce is no good or their prices are too high (to be honest, I couldn't tell you how their prices compare to those of the supermarkets). It's really just a personal preference - because of the way my mind works, I find it easier to buy all my groceries in one place. Perhaps I should make a little pact with myself to buy something from the next roadside fruit-seller I see, just for the experience. :-)

One thing I do know, from being invited to buy their products when I'm stopped at the traffic lights, is that the first price they quote you is very seldom the price they actually expect you to pay. Most times, when I indicate that I don't want to buy, they'll immediately drop their price, saying something like, "Today, just for you, I'll make it TWO for [insert original price here]." So next time I think I'll take them up on that Special Deal that's Just For Me and Only For Today. ;-)

Don’t even think about stopping

No-stopping sign

In the background of this photo you can see the arches of the Provincial Legislature Building, which houses the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. The building is located in Wale Street, more or less opposite Mandela Rhodes Place.

If you see a sign like the one in the foreground, it means that you cannot stop your vehicle at the side of the road - even if it's just to pick someone up or drop someone off. This particular sign is a temporary one (they were doing some work at the side of the road and presumably didn't want anyone stopping while they were busy), but the markings on a permanently mounted No Stopping sign would be identical.

Mandela Rhodes Place

Mandela Rhodes Place

Mandela Rhodes Place is an upmarket mixed-use development located in one of the oldest parts of the city (very close to the Company's Garden, in fact).

About four or five years ago the idea of inner-city living began to regain some popularity in Cape Town, and one of the most notable developments that originated during that period was Mandela Rhodes Place. The developers, Eurocape, restored several old buildings on the corner of Wale Street and Burg Street, the idea being to preserve the facades and historical architecture of these buildings, while entirely revamping the interiors.

Mandela Rhodes Place was launched in November 2006, and now houses a number of luxury apartments, a 5-star hotel, a winery, retail stores, restaurants, cocktail bars and coffee shops. I've only been there twice (at night on both occasions), but I must say, I love the atmosphere inside - it's quiet and stylish, with a real feeling of spaciousness.

Look right, it must be white

Cyclists on Sir Lowry's Pass

In yesterday's post I asked a question about the direction in which I was taking the photo. Trust an engineer to work it out first - although I guess it would be fair to mention that Duncan knows this particular road pretty well. :)

So yes to all of you who agreed; from this shot (taken a little further on) you can easily deduce that yesterday's photo was indeed taken in reverse. While the reason Duncan gave was correct, it's not the reason I was probing for - read on.

South Africa has a few large roads that carry traffic in one direction only. If the line on the road (in yesterday's photo) were white then this road would be one of these roads (carrying traffic in one direction only) and I would have been taking the photos facing forwards.

If you're ever driving in South Africa and find that darkness or fog prevents you from seeing too much, take note of the solid lines on the left and right of your vehicle - left should be yellow, right should be white... if that's not the case, pull off the road really fast!

Surprisingly, this does happen - I once experienced two such incidents in a single day. Leave a message if you're interested in reading the story and I'll add it as a comment.