Friday, November 9, 2012

Last 24 Hours in Capetown, South Africa – Diamond and Red Bus City Tour

Sept. 29 – 30, 2012 - After our tour of Meerlust, we returned to Capetown where almost everyone in our group caught night flights home. As a flight was not available for me, I checked back into the Cullinan Hotel and then walked downtown to go on the 30-minute free diamond tour at Jewel Africa. This was informative, and they explain to you how diamonds are mined, cut, where the term “carat” comes from, and provide an overview of the world’s most famous diamonds. On the walk back, I bought more souvenirs at a small street market (much better prices than in the stores), then stopped at a Thai restaurant and ordered take-out soup and a glass of chenin blanc. I had this in my room while the rain poured down outside the window, and watched old movies until I feel asleep.

The next morning, I slept in, had breakfast at the buffet for the last time, and then packed. Of course on my last day, the sun came out and there was a beautiful blue sky with a temperature in the high 70’s. I left all of my luggage with the concierge and then took the 2 hour Red Bus Tour of Capetown. This is a great experience for around $18, and I wish I had done it the first day. They provide an excellent overview of the major town sites and history, including a tour through District 6, past the building where Nelson Mandela gave his famous speech, and to all of the Clifton beaches. Plus you can hop on and off any time.

At 1:15pm I returned to the hotel to take my pre-arranged taxi to the airport that the concierge had booked for me. Here I was ripped off slightly by the taxi driver. The MW tour leader told me to plan on spending 200 - 250 Rand to take a taxi to the airport; the hotel said 300 Rand, but the driver tried to charge me 350. When I told him all I had was 320 – which was true – he said that was fine. Doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth when the local taxis try to rip you off as you leave the country. Regardless, my flight was on time, and I eventually made it back home to San Francisco via London after more than 30 hours travel time.

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