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    Cape Town with children

    We really had no clue what sort of holiday a November trip to Cape Town would be. All we knew was that Istanbul was cold and that our sons had their school break and that we needed to seize that opportunity one way or another. All we knew was that Cape Town would not be as cold as Istanbul. 🙂

    Before leaving we contacted local agencies and made all the necessary arrangements for our trip. While in Europe making arrangements isn’t always necessary, in Cape Town there are so many places to visit and such a large distance between each place that, especially since we were traveling with children, we needed to have some kind of organization going into the trip.

    We got to the airport all really excited for our trip. At the time my eldest son was 7 and the younger one was 3 and a half. Because we traveled within the “semester,” it wasn’t a particularly busy travel period so we didn’t have any problems.

    Our guide greeted us around 3 in the afternoon when we landed, and took us straight to the hotel and told us that we’d meet back the next morning after a full night’s rest.

    Our hotel was relatively close to the fantastic Waterfront, with its great shopping and amazing restaurants. So after getting settled in at our hotel, we hopped in a cab to see the beautiful see views and taste the delicious foods for ourselves. Even though we were close to the seaside, just for safety reasons I recommend traveling in a cab whatever the distance.

    When we got to the port we saw that there was more to the whole thing than just food, drink and shopping. There are also daily boat tours to visit Rodden Island where Nelson Mandela spent all those years in prison, as well as “shark cage diving” tours for the truly brave. We absolutely did not have the courage to try those out! 🙂

    Even before coming to Cape Town, we’d been told that the seafood was out of this world. As a result, finding the seafood was the first thing on our to-do list. Even though we were just 4 people the amount of food that arrived at our table was unbelievable. I can’t even describe how amazing it was to see the waves of massive calamari, really “jumbo” shrimp, ribs, huge lamb chops (yes, we had meat along with our fish) all being placed on our table. Even just describing it all over again makes my mouth water! After dinner we walked around a bit and returned to our hotel. We knew we’d be getting up early in the morning so we wanted to get a good night’s sleep.

    After having our breakfast in the morning in the hotel, we met with our guide who took us to the first stop in our tour. Even though the temperature was around 18-20 degrees Celsius there was still an early morning fog. After about a 30 minute drive we got to Boulders Beach where we’d take the ferry to Seal Island. We got our tickets and headed out to sea.

    When we got to Seal Island (actually though it’s called an island it’s actually just a big rock) our little guys got real excited to finally to see the seals that previously they’d only seen in documentaries on tv.

    After we spent some time looking at the seals we returned to the harbor and got caught up with a group playing African music (along with the other boats). We danced a bit along with everyone else.

    Aaaaaand, then we had to head off again, this time to see some African penguins. African penguins are actually relatives of other penguins, and are slightly smaller in size. They can grow up to 30-40 cm tall and the sounds they make are so close to that of donkeys that they’re known as “jackass penguins!”

    It was just great to be able to take a family picture with some of our new penguin friends. 🙂

    After leaving the penguins we set off for somewhere that everyone should try to see at least once in their lives: the Cape of Good Hope (Actually Cape Town is the southwestern-most point of the continent, the southernmost point is Cape Agulgas, 160km from Cape Town).

    A baboon crossed our paths while we were driving so we took photos, though we made sure not to open the windows on the advice of our guide.

    There’s only one restaurant at the Cape of Good Hope and we had some amazing dishes there, and then took a funicular up to the lighthouse. We looked out over the amazing sea views provided there and took some “classic pose” pictures. We were as happy as the kids watching the waves from the Atlantic crash into those from the Indian Ocean.

    After watching the convergence of the two oceans our children got even MORE joy out of the “colored rocks” store. After collecting some stones we headed out on the road again. Even though it’s small, once you go in you can pick up as many of the stones as you want, paying per plastic bag. The kids really enjoyed filling up their bags with as many stones as they could fit in.

    The second day we left to go to Table Mountain. Table Mountain is well-named as its flat surface does indeed look exactly like a table. The mountain has a height of 1086 meters high and is reached using a 30-40 person capacity cable car that rotates 360 degrees. Looking down on Cape Town from the mountain top is a real pleasure. Following the visit to Table Mountain we left for Drakenstein Lion Park, which the children in particular were really looking forward to. The park is near the city of Paarl. We were warned in no uncertain terms against disturbing the lions, speaking loudly, running, and whistling at the lions. Whistling is particularly important since whistling is the cue for food that they’re given. This lesson was learnt when some children on another tour group did indeed start whistling, only for the lions to come rushing our looking for food!

    After Lion Park we cut over to nearby Cheetah Park. Cheetahs are the world’s fastest animal, they can run 120km an hour. To get into the park you pay a nominal fee (donation) and then you can go up and take photos with the cheetahs.

    After visiting the cheetahs in cheetah park, the kids were tired and we piled into the car to have them rest and to treat ourselves to some winetasting at Stellenbosch. Because the weather is so sunny and the soil is so fertile, one gets amazing grapes and vineyards in South Africa which of course in turn produces excellent wine, and from there of course one gets the opportunity to take part in equally excellent wine tours. After brief explanations you can taste various wines and buy whichever ones you like best.

    After a second day of touring around we treated ourselves yet again to the fabulous food the country has to offer and feasted until we could eat no more.

    Because the next day was set to be our last day in Cape Town, we made sure that we got an early start. This time we’d planned on organizing our own day of tourism. The first thing we did was to get in a cab and head over near the Waterfront to the Two Oceans Aquarium. As with every child, our two boys lost themselves in the aquarium. When you arrive early to the aquarium you can escape the long lines of people and have the place more to yourselves.

    The part with the penguins has shows at specific times throughout the day. We happened to be there for one of the shows, and even though the show was in English, our children still had a great time.

    Here we made sure to say hi from these penguins’ brothers and sisters that we’d made two days ago! 🙂

    After that we left the aquarium and went to a different shopping center to buy little things to remember South Africa by and gifts. Then it was time to head to the hotel and pack before leaving for the airport.

    We left with jackass penguins, Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, cheetahs, the aquarium, definitely jumbo shrimp, and millions of other things dancing in our memories…

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