February 12, 2006

Travel Report: Penguin flu and giant crabs in Cape Town

Follow-up to Travel Report: Simon's Town day 2, and Cape Point from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

After seven great days of touring, I rode back over the Cape Penninsula and onto the big highways leading through the sprawl of Cape Town to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, ending my journey at the BMW showroom where it had begun. I returned the bike to Celia of Karoo Biking, who bemoaned my bad luck in the Karoo mud, and seemed to agree that the damage was not too bad or expensive (more on that matter later).

This seemed like a good time to collapse with exhaustion, so I did, falling into the hospitable arms of BMW (free coffee, comfy chairs). Most friendly of all was the head of security, who pointed me in the direction of a good hotel nearby, and arranged for my equipment to be transfered by taxi.

Protea Breakwater Hotel at the University of Cape Town

The hotel to which I was directed proved to be a great choice. It was a little confusing at first. I had booked into a Protea three star hotel. I found myself within the rather luxurious campus of the University of Cape Town Business School. And yet the building had the appearance of a prison…


…quite a pleasant prison…


…which it had in fact been for a short period of time. This reminded me of the importance of the prison system within the history of South Africa, a subject that I had discussed with Elizabeth in Simon's Town. And the links between that culture, the colonial administration, poor laws in the UK, and the concentration camps.

But this was no longer a place of punishment, rather a place of learning and luxury accomodation combined. The UCT had clevely allowed a leading hotel chain to take over the accomodation business within its best campus. And it certaintly was doing a good job of it. For under £50 I got this view from my window…

Table Mountain

…and a short walk away…


Unfortunately, I was unable to enjoy myself fully, having contracted some hideous sickness which I suspect was linked to swimming with penguins.

The following day, before returning to the airport, I visited the Two Oceans Aquarium, next to the hotel. Despite being in a weakened state, I managed to be impressed by the many fishy exhibits, including giant crabs as big as a labrador, and scuba divers cleaning the tanks…



And that was it. I returned to Cape Town International airport to board the first of my two flights to take me up to meet Emma and Lawrence in Gaborone, Botswana.

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