Monday, February 26, 2007



With the apartheid ended and Mr. Mandela already as President, I visited South Africa for the first time, though I had already been there once, at the Johannesburg Airport on the way to Maputo and back to Lisbon in 1992. This time I flew Lisbon-London-Cape Town-Johannesburg-London-Lisbon, but the stop was only in Cape Town. It actually made sense. In fact, already in 1487, the Portuguese sailor Bartholomew Dias set out to find a sea route to the Far East. Sailing along the west coast of Africa, his ships encountered a ferocious storm, which drove them out to sea and away from the coast. Once the storm had passed they resumed their journey in an easterly direction. After a number of days sailing without any sign of land, they changed direction and headed north, landing at the mouth of the Gouritz River on the east coast of Africa on 3 February 1488. Dias and his crew were the first Europeans on record to round the Cape, and another Portuguese - Antonio de Saldanha - was the first European to land in Table Bay. He climbed the mighty mountain in 1503 and named it «Table Mountain». The great cross that the Portuguese navigator carved in the rock of Lion's Head is still traceable.

Mother City of Africa, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the oldest city in South Africa, with a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years. It also has several of the top national attractions in South Africa. Finally, it's also in Cape Town that the Rainbow Nation justifies its name: Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers, the local Bushman and Hottentot tribes as well as the Bantu tribes from the north, all live in City.

"INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL - I stayed many times at Intercontinental hotels, and as a Gold member of their Six Continents Club they used to upgrade me. The Hotel in Cape Town was a good one, and I was given a nice suite"

"THE VIEWS from my Hotel room: from the Table Mountain down to the Sea"

"CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE - The origin of the "Fort de Goede Hoop", built as a result of the constant threat of war between Britain and Holland, dates back to the Dutch merchant Jan van Riebeeck, who landed in Table Bay in 1652. Van Riebeeck immediately started to erect a fort, initially of wood, and from 1666 of stone brought in from Holland. It took about 30 years to complete. Today the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa. It has the shape of a pentagon with five corner bulwarks and an almost 10 metre high wall from massive boulders"

"CATHEDRAL - On 21 December 1834 St George's Church opened for divine service. It had no rector, and chaplains conducted the services until Robert Gray, the first Bishop of Cape Town, arrived in his newly-created diocese in 1848. Few cathedrals are completed in a lifetime. There are exceptions such as Coventry Cathedral in England, built within a decade, but others take longer. The Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr in Cape Town is still incomplete: three wars, depressions and recessions have delayed the completion of the vision of its first Bishop to have a cathedral worthy of the Mother City"

"THE OLD TOWN HOUSE was built in 1755 as Cape Town's first public building. It was given a prominent spot on the city's central square and served as Burgher Watch House, Senate and City Hall of Cape Town. In 1914 it became the city's first art museum and it now houses the Michaelis Collection of early Netherlands' art"

"VIEW from the veranda of the Old Town House, on a Saturday morning"

"BO KAAP, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill, belongs to the culturally and historically most interesting parts of Cape Town as the traditional residential area of Cape Town's Muslim community. There one can find cobbled streets, brightly coloured houses from the nineteenth century, Muslim shrines ("kramats") and mosques. Most of the residents descend from slaves brought here by the Dutch in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and elsewhere in Asia. They are known as "Cape Malays", even though this term is incorrect, as most of them do not descend from Malaysians. The Cape Malays and their religious leaders played an important role in the development of the language and culture of the Cape colony. The Afrikaans language evolved as a language of its own through a simplification of Dutch in order for the slaves to be able to communicate with the Dutch and amongst each others, since they all came from different countries and cultures. Educated Muslims were the first to write texts in Afrikaans"

"BO KAAP MUSEUM - One of the oldest of the seventy one houses in Wale Street is the «Bo-Kaap Museum». It is furnished as a Muslim house of the 19th century and documents the history of the so-called Cape Malays. Each year on the 2nd of January the Bo Kaap celebrates a big street party, the «Coon Carnival». It was originally introduced by the Muslim slaves who celebrated their only day off work in the whole year..."

"LONGSTREET - Long Street is one of the oldest streets in Cape Town with a length of 3.8 kilometres. In the older days, it was actually the longest street in the town centre, reaching from the harbour up to Tamboerskloof. Remarkable are the numerous Victorian buildings with cast-iron balcony railings, which have been well restored over the last years. Particularly beautiful is the upper part up to St. Martini Church of the German parish"

Monday, February 05, 2007



We profited the opportunity of being again in San Francisco to explore a little bit more of the Bay Area. This time, further to the city itself, we went to the Napa Valley, but took no photos, to Muir Woods, and once more to Sausalito. Then we returned home via New York. Time for Di to have a new pair of in-line skates from Bauer, and to try them in Central Park!



"THE FOREST at Muir Woods National Monument is simply superb. The Monument, declared by President Theodore Roosevelt on January 9, 1908, is what remains from the coastal redwood virgin forest that once covered a much larger area"

"THE SEQUOIA is an impressive giant tree. It belongs to the cypress family and can reach astounding proportions. It is usually considered the tallest tree in the world, reaching more than one hundred meters in height, and its diameter can reach seven meters in the base. It's also one of the longest living bodies on earth, as it can attain two thousand years..."



"(SITTIN'ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY - I learned from John that Otis Redding started writing the song at a houseboat in Sausalito. It seems that it happened after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, and the Dock of the Bay was recorded on 6 and 7 December, 1967 in Memphis, Tennessee. Three days later, the airplane that was carrying him crashed into Lake Monona, near Madison, Wisconsin..."

"CRAZY SHIRT was an important supplier of T-Shirts for the whole family, mainly for the young girl. I still remember one smelling chocolate that actually kept the smell even many times after being washed..."

"SCOMA'S - I think the photo was taken at Scoma's Sausalito"

"THE FOG on the Bay was starting to vanish, as we can see from the hills before the Golden Gate Bridge. Anyhow, not enough to be able to see the Bridge. That's why we did not get the same pictures as the ones taken in 1993..."



"LEGION OF HONOR was the gift of Alma Spreckels to the city of San Francisco, and is now part of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. The building is a three-quarter-scale replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, and is dedicated to the California men who lost their lives in France during World War I"

"THE JAPANESE TEA GARDEN, located in the Golden Gate Park, is one of my favourite places in San Francisco"

"BUDDHA - This Buddha is already in one photo of the 1982 trip, as well as some of the other photos that follow..."

"THE PAGODE at the garden provides great viewpoints for the shots"

"TRANSAMERICA - The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco, and was designed (and built between 1969 and 1972) by William Pereira and Associates (I just mention this because Pereira is a typical Portuguese name, actually also the name of the pear tree). The building can be seen from many streets in the city"

"COIT TOWER - Finally the fog over the bridge dissipated a little bit and the Golden Gate Bridge could be seen from the Coit Tower"

"LOMBARD STREET is a must see for any tourist in San Francisco"