February 12, 2006

Travel Report: Simon's Town day 2, and Cape Point

Follow-up to Travel Report: Simon's Town day 1 from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Riding to the end of Africa

In the morning of my second day I rode further south along the penninsula, as far south as is possible, right to the end of Africa. In fact there is a more southerly point, but the Cape Point nature reserve is considered to be special. The large wild area that occupies this part of the Cape is certainly worth a visit, with its pristine fynbos landscape and animals, including baboons, ostrich and bontebok antelopes. It is also a good sea watching platform, with sightings of many kinds of cetacean possible.

Cape Point 1

Cape Point 2


Later in the day I returned to the harbour. The many interesting small shops were now open, including art galleries presenting a wide variety of innovative work. I again sat in the restaurant admiring the view…



In the afternoon I had a fascinating appointment. Elizabeth van Heyningen of the University of Cape Town is a leading expert on South African history, currently working with Iain Smith of Warwick on the historical database project Morbidity and Mortality in the Concentration Camps of the South African War, 1899-1902 She is also a resident of Simon's Town. It was therefore an ideal opportunity to meet up with a historian doing work related to that in which I am involved in England. Elizabeth proved to be full of fascinating insights, not only regarding methods of historical research using computers, but also the many interesting topics that we dicussed over coffee.

I had a great time finding out about South African history, Simon's Town and its people, and how this all connects with and shapes the politics of today. Elizabeth proved to be a charming and clever lady. The meeting left me with a greater understanding of the importance of projects such as that on the concentration camps, and a determination to support more such activities in England. I hope to meet up with her when she comes to Warwick later in the year, and intend by then to have much positive news to report concerning databases in history.

Last lunch in Simon's Town

Later that evening I sampled yet more of the delicious sea food, this time a "fisherman's platter" of hake and calamari…

Fishermans Platter

I reflected on Simon's Town, and just how surprised I had been about it. I have, I believe, never been anywhere quite so relaxed. One can easily walk around the town without fears, even at night. People are friendly and welcoming, and there is plenty of interest, including several museums that I failed to visit. On passing the tourist information office, I stopped to assemble a collection of leaflets advertising cottages to rent. My plan is to return soon with Lawrence and Emma.

Return to Cape Town

The following morning, on my way back to Cape Town, I had planned to take a boat trip into the bay, with the hope of seeing sharks and dolphins. Unfortunately, that night a fierce wind blew up, and by the morning the surface of the sea was far to rough. I proceeded instead on to the big city, stopping to get the bike washed ready for its return to Karoo Biking. It was still carrying a heavy load of Karoo mud…

Bike wash

Part 11, Cape Town

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