On the move in Africa!

Caution …Bicycles !

I would have never thought about it-bicycles. Here they move faster than cars and being from a city of cars I am not prepared! They are fast and have priority and I need a swivel neck to stay alive!

Why a great day touring by bus and boat. 

There’s plenty more to see when we get back at the end of the month. 

Saturday morning was a different story.we got a taxi to the airport, checked in,boarded, and got settled in our seats. An hour later we still hadn’t taken off. The engines idled and we waited. The pilot announced that there was a scratch on the skin of the plane . Then there was refueling. A few minutes later we were asked to get off the plane and go to another gate that seemed miles away. This is Schiphol of course. Now we await buses to take us to our next plane. It’s 2 hours past our last boarding! Cape Town here we come maybe!!!

Saturday we went up Table Mountain on the cable car. That was an experience because it was unusually clear . After that we went to Robben Island South Africa’s symbol of Apartheid and the struggle for freedom. I did see Nelson Mandela’s tiny cell. The sea is rough and there was no chance of escaping across the 10 kilometres of dangerous water.

Sunday we toured Cape Hope and saw where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic. And we saw tons of penguins!!! 

Today the wineries around Capetown town occupied our time!

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Friday…

Friday, October 26

It is just after 8am and we are leaving the Kruger National Park area now and heading for Johannesburg, a long ride through the mountains. There is lots of logging around here and mining. Gold mines are here and the area is rich in diamonds,copper, coal, and manganese. Before 1894 this whole area was called the Transvaal and run by Paul Kruger. The British wanted the riches of the area and fought led by Cecil Rhodes against Kruger. They won and divided the area into 4 provinces. When I go home I want to read more about Africa and it’s history and get some movies as well. 

The scenery is beautiful as we travel through the mountains, gray vistas surround us and we stop occasionally to photograph the views. This is surprising country not at all what I imagined. As a child I always imagined Africa as jungles and rivers – a frightening place! It is not much different than North America except as we go north it is hotter!

By 10 am we arrive at Blyde River Canyon similar to the Grand Canyon. It was so beautiful. This is the third largest Canyon in the world. The highest peak is about 2000 meters and the views are incredible. It was worth the price of 30 rand about $3!

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Knysna to Port Elizabeth

Friday, October 19th.

We are driving today very early on route to Port Elizabeth. It is very rainy so an ideal time to be sitting under cover of our bus. At the sides of the roads leaving Knysna there are thousands of tin shacks where sometimes more than 4 people will live and work in the growing vacation town. Last year a huge fire (caused)razed the town and the surrounding area. The devastation is still visible.

Yesterday I shopped for some cotton clothing produced here -not in China! I love it. It is cool when in heat and warm when the air is cool. Having hiked so much in Europe I got used to wearing layers of polyester but this cotton is fabulous. We lunched on a boat while cruising Knysna Lake and then wandered the shops. Dinner was at Sirocco overlooking the Lake. I ate ostrich which was really tender closer to a beefy taste rather than chicken. I loved it!

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On the go!

Saturday we went up Table Mountain on the cable car. That was an experience because it was unusually clear. Most tourists seee nothing because of the constant fog that hangs over the top. After lunch we went to Robben Island, South Africa’s symbol of Apartheid and the struggle for freedom. I did see Nelson Mandela’s tiny cell. The sea is rough and there was no chance of prisoners escaping across the 10 kilometres of dangerous water. It was a leak reminder of what the political prisoners had to suffer in those years of the last century.

Sunday we toured Cape Hope and saw where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic. And we spent time with hundreds of of S. African penguins!!! 

Today we headed off early to the wineries around Capetown town &occupied our time enjoying several different blends.

Our guide Ndoda talked about his country as we drove out to the first stop. Apartheid was the worst monster South Africans faced  Ndoda said. At one point the interest rates were 25% and unemployment was outrageous. It still is as far as I can see. As we drove I saw men and women gathered on corners hoping someone will pick them up for a day’s work. They put their hands on their heads to indicate a willingness to take anything. 

People have to come into the cities like Capetown to work yet they can’t afford to live there. Many live in the districts in houses made of tin bringing to mind District Six. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_Six)

The country is still dependent on coal for fuel but Capetown has the only nuclear energy plant in S. Africa.

I begin to realize how privileged we are in North America with all our luxuries. Life is hard here but I don’t sense any resentment From the people I meet.

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The Good & the Bad of Travelling!

Caution …Bicycles !

I would have never thought about it-bicycles. Here they move faster than cars and being from a city of cars I am not prepared! They are fast and have priority and I need a swivel neck to stay alive!

Why a great day touring by bus and boat. 

There’s plenty more to see when we get back at the end of the month. 

Saturday morning was a different story.we got a taxi to the airport, checked in,boarded, and got settled in our seats. An hour later we still hadn’t taken off. The engines idled and we waited. The pilot announced that there was a scratch on the skin of the plane . Then there was refueling. A few minutes later we were asked to get off the plane and go to another gate that seemed miles away. This is Schiphol of course. Now we await buses to take us to our next plane. It’s 2 hours past our last boarding! Cape Town here we come maybe!!!

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Amsterdam today!

It’s Thursday – we’re in Amsterdam. The reason for adding a couple of extra days going & coming was to stay fresh rather than be jet lagged but we arrived in Amsterdam at 6:30 am , past midnight at home. I was ready to sleep by the time we arrived at our hotel. Of course checkout wasn’t until noon and at 11am our room was still occupied. I don’t do well without my sleep. 

A few hours sleep and I am good to go exploring. Its nice to be back in this city.

Every city has a hop on hop of vehicle and Amsterdam has the same deal that we bought into. What great way to see the city from a boat or a bus. We will continue in the same mode tomorrow!

Dinner was great at the Ribs Factory. There’s 10 of these in the Netherlands and this one we found on the way back to our hotel! Fabulous especially with a couple of pints. 

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There are always places to go and people to see!

There are always places to go and people to see! In this century so far I have been to these countries: AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BAHAMAS, BELGIUM, CAMBODIA, CANADA, CHINA, COLOMBIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, FRANCE, GREECE, ICELAND, IRELAND, ITALY, JAMAICA, LAOS, PERU, PORTUGAL, NETHERLANDS, SAINT LUCIA, SPAIN, SWITZERLAND, THAILAND, TURKEY, UNITED KINGDOM, UNITED STATES, VATICAN CITY, VENEZUELA

Well…a few were visited in the last century as well and several have been visited many times! I am adding on a few a year but how am I going to get everywhere if there are a total of 196 countries to visit?

By the end of this November I’ll add these 3 countries to my list: 2018- SOUTH AFRICA, SWAZILAND, ZIMBABWE.

And next year I’ll add these 5 places.  I already booked this trip but don’t tell my dogs about this yet. 2019- DENMARK, FINLAND, NORWAY, RUSSIA, SWEDEN

That’s 36 total out of 196 countries in the world! If I do 5 a year I’m going to have to live actively for another 30 years. Whew!!! Well there’s a few I wouldn’t visit unless we get a more peaceful world but I do love travelling. And after those 30 years there’s all those books I want to read and movies  to watch and all the media I want to to try in painting & printmaking.  This section from Tennyson’s poem, Ulysses often comes into mind:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!

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My last weekend

Saturday was incredible. Rosslyn Chapel is a little gem only about 7 or 8 miles from Edinburgh. I had arranged for a tour through Viator when home so that I could see the chapel and also see what Hadrian’s Wall looked like. It cost about $75 Cdn and it was worth every penny. The driver/guide told stories and relayed historical information with such enthusiasm. And he made more stops than were in the itinerary adding in some of his favourites. I saw theMelrose Abbey and another ruined Abbey at Jedburgh. We got to view a beautiful old viaduct and Sir Walter Scott’s favourite viewpoint. The 10 hours was filled with delightful scenes.

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Next stop- Edinburgh!

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At the bus station now I am waiting for the 1:10 pm bus to Edinburgh. The journey is about  4 hours in length and it’s good weather so I hope to get a window seat. I only have 3 more nights until my return to Toronto. 

I spent the better part of yesterday at Culloden wandering through the interactive visitor’s centre and then hiking the pathways of the battlefield. The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The Jacobites lost over 1500 men here within an hour and the British lost about 100. 

I bussed back into the city and then wandered off to the Inverness Cathedral. Inverness Cathedral also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew (1866–69), is a cathedral of the Scottish Episcopal Church situated in the city of Inverness in Scotland close to the banks of the River Ness. It is the seat of the Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, ordinary of the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. The cathedral is the northernmost cathedral in mainland Britain and was the first new Protestant cathedral to be completed in Great Britain since the Reformation.

By this time of the day I was ready for food and I thought I’d check out another local pub. What do you expect, that I’ll change my evil ways? Not likely!!! I had a great meal in spite of the loud Canadian in the next booth. I hiked back after to my wee room for my last night in Inverness. This morning I ventured into a fascinating antique shop opposite my digs and also into a lovely Art gallery. After visiting the old Catholic Church I headed here to where I am now. 

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Lodging and other important things!

A1A7D09E-1F32-4617-B800-B5C41E0612D3CBB10EBD-E721-4C2E-B582-0670694CE9BC63467123-19F7-4DE3-BEBF-5283E33087B9C48D679F-C1F3-4D92-99FC-24D4E94DC63275A22DF2-5912-4CF9-BE0A-D54E1276C83703395F02-545B-450F-98A8-8DEA5D4F8118151B7B40-129E-4093-A012-2F71CCE80169F5D37362-C8EF-4AB3-B550-738754AE4A98281DC7C0-A075-413A-B73E-D242BA5F630800458FF1-0DF2-4FB6-AEC2-1E0D1D6207749F8F8A44-B3C6-4A80-9567-F78C93117F73716EADD6-D1BE-4240-B369-CA34051F0E4C2E5ABCD5-4760-4992-AC5E-CE282834498DThe hostel in Kirkwall was typical of hostels internationally- the basics are there-a full kitchen if you want to cook, pay per use laundromat if you need it, lounge area, seating area for eating and all sorts of notices about what’s going on. The room was a decent size with two beds in it even though I only used one. There are lots of toilets and sinks for washing and the showers were OK. I couldn’t get hot water very often. But for the price it was great. Here in Inverness I am at the Armadale Guest House which is clean and attractive and if I eat breakfast I could order it for 5£. But I don’t eat breakfast. My room a single room is the smallest room I have ever had when travelling. A tiny little bathroom that is lovely but I think my office at home is three times the size. No kidding. But the location is excellent so I’m not complaining.

Wednesday I woke early in my little closet. There is a tiny window at the foot of my bed but in order to access you have to swing you upper body around so that your head is at the foot of the bed and then you can open the window. To get up this morning I put my feet on the wall and pushed myself around and upright. Yes I know it sounds like I am exaggerating- but I am not. When I arrived the owner had confirmed that I wanted a single room with bathroom and I agreed. He asked for my payment and handed me the key without showing me the room. No wonder! He couldn’t have stepped inside without me going out. But to be positive the tiny wee bathroom has a great shower and hot water with excellent pressure.

This morning I walked down to the bus station and booked my ticket to Edinburgh. Actually the attendant told be to do it online- the price is only 24£. If he did it for me at the station it was double the price!!! The I went off to the bus stop to get the Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus. The bus that was there wasn’t the usual double decker that I had seen but the driver said his real bus was sick so he was driving a small bus. He said I could get on for half price instead (5£) and then gave it to me for 4£! He didn’t have the usual recording for the tour – he had to speak while driving and honestly I needed an interpreter. He kept talking about the highland coos we would see and I couldn’t wait to see this unusual bird. The tour was a good chance to get my bearings. The last stop on route he promised the viewing of these rare birds and as he pulled into park the bus he pulled a bag of carrots out of his bag and left the bus. Most passengers stayed on but I followed. Ahh the Highland coos were Highland Cows. They were lovely and Sam the bus driver loves to spoil them with carrots. 

We drove back into town after and I got off at the castle to get my breakfast at noon. Then I toured the castle, the museum and the art gallery. I also took in a Print Studio that covered 4 floors of a building. I walked and walked until I decided I needed to get my feet up. 

Tomorrow I plans to tour Culloden and the battlefield. 

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