Chapter Seven: Queuing For England


By 8.30AM the weather was already scorching, not a cloud in the sky.

The very long queue for Table Mountain

On any other day this week that would’ve been a most welcome turn of events for us (and I’m not complaining now, not really) – but today was our Table Mountain day, which meant we were to stand in this blazing furnace for 2.5 hours as we slowly shuffled forwards in the cable car queue.

We could’ve climbed the whole thing (we did climb part of the way there, as we had to park quite far away from the cable car stop), but that would’ve taken longer, and made us even more sweaty than we already were.

We could also have pre-purchased our tickets online, but I entirely failed to do that.

One of the two cable cars… they rotate 360° as you travel up and down the mountainside

So, just to paint the picture for you… we were hot, uncomfortable, stuck in a very, very long queue and generally getting nowhere fast.  The people who had pre-purchased their tickets to this “7th Wonder of the Natural World” were queued up to our left, shuffling forward at twice the speed of our line – which was a little annoying, obviously.

I’m sure you can imagine how we felt then, when a tiny, witch-like lady barged in front of us, completely disregarding the queuing system!

”I’m a tour guide,” She said, as if that was a perfectly valid excuse for what she was doing.  “I’m looking for people from Broomstick airlines.”

I promise I’m not making this up.

”Broomstick airlines?” She called out, and a man in a stupid hat/ knotted handkerchief just in front of us in the faster moving, left hand, pre-purchased tickets queue put up his hand up.

The Witch elbowed her way to him, only to tell him that he was in the wrong queue as they hadn’t purchased tickets.

“But this queue is much quicker, and we can just swap over when we get to the front.”  He said, annoying everyone around him.

“Ok.”  Said the Witch, “I’ll fetch everyone else.”

It was at this point that things got heated, the Witch attempted to bring four more people forward from the slow lane into the fast lane, but a very British woman, clearly livid at this flagrant disregard for the whole business of standing in line, put her foot down.

“You are not bringing people from the back ahead of me!”  The British lady said. “We’ve been queuing here for hours, you will just have to wait like everyone else.”

I was cheering, internally.

That put an end to the Witch’s antics, and no further magical folk from Broomstick airlines came forward.  Sadly, the Hat: handkerchief Man got away with his trick and skipped ahead quite quickly.

A view from the top of Table Mountain

As that is the only highlight from the entire 2.5 hour ordeal, you can imagine just how dull it was hanging around, waiting to get up to Table Mountain.

When on top of a mountain all bad hair days are to be excused, without question

However, our time eventually came and we were squeezed into one of the two cable cars that ferry 800 people an hour to the top.

Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was all that hanging around, or maybe it’s just true… but the top of Table Mountain isn’t really that interesting. Yes, there are some lovely views, especially on a clear day like this one, but it only takes about five minutes to take them in.
After that you’ve pretty much seen all it has to offer.

We stretched out our time up there for as long as possible, but even then we were heading back down in less than an hour.
Table Mountain then, is best viewed from afar rather then on top, so we walked back to the car (which had become so hot that the boot had sealed itself shut and wouldn’t open), and drove across to Signal Hill which offers some great views.

The next item on the hit list for today was penguin viewing.

There are several groups of penguins living along the coast of False Bay, and we picked Boulders Beach as our destination.

Before then though, we had to fit in something very important: lunch.

Not a bad place to eat lunch

We picked up provisions at a Spar shop along the way, and then drove on a little further to Houts Bay, which offered us some stunning views as we ate.

The next stretch of road, Chapman’s Route, was a toll road, though I’m not entirely sure why? It was very picturesque though, with the road carved into the mountainside. It was used in one of the more recent Jame Bond movies.

Then we made it to Boulders Beach, where we parked up and queued once again. Thankfully this time we only had to wait about 10 minutes, and no one tried pushing in.

African Penguin, acting cool

The penguins were superb, and well worth the trek South.

Having visited the most Southerly point in Africa yesterday, today we drove down to what most people believe is the most Southerly… the Cape of Good Hope (it’s actually the most South-Westerly point, and very proud of it).

Baboon, Baboon, Baboon!

On the way we stopped off at its next door neighbour, Cape Point, where we encountered a series of confident baboons, who strolled around like they own the place.
The Cape of Good Hope also gave us some wildlife encounters in the shape of several Ostriches (with baby chicks), a small flock of sacred Ibis, and sea lions or seals (not sure which as they were a long way away) sunbathing on the rocks.

It also gave us a coting of thick, sticky, salt air – the wind was quite strong here, and the waves came crashing in.

The Victoria & Alfred
Waterfront, named
after Queen Victoria and her son Alfred

It was then time to return to Cape Town, driving back on a different, and far less touristy route, via Wynberg and Claremont… with some very rough areas in between.
We got to Cape Town in good time, and made our way to the Waterfront Area, a Victorian era harbour, and probably the main tourist location, with plenty of shops and restaurants.

Table Mountain, definitely best viewed from afar

It was a great location to watch the sun set over Table Mountain, and enjoy some fine South African food.

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