Our Sightseeing adventure began yesterday, Saturday 24/03/2012 with a ½ hour Canal Cruise. This was a lovely way to explore the the waterfront and part of the city as far as the CTICC. The boat was easily accessible. After buying our tickets we were directed past the One & Only hotel to the water taxi. The wooden jetty was wide and stable and the two strong crew members easily lifted the wheelchair onto the boat, although Damian felt better sitting on my lap than in his wheelchair, it was still very possible to do this trip in a wheelchair. When buying tickets, we were given earphones to plug in on the boat to listen to the commentary which was an interesting history of the sites we passed along the canal. For instance, fresh sea water is pumped into the canal at 200 litres per second refreshing the entire canal every three days. We were given a glimpse of life on the canal, with residents canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding or tanning on their private jetties.
Damian is still regaining confidence on the water after a bumpy trip out to sea a few years ago that had him seasick with me keeping him focussed on the land for the whole hour trip – so this was a peaceful and scenic confidence-builder boat trip that we both thoroughly enjoyed.
Today, Sunday 25/03/2012, we did the City Sightseeing Bus trip. Having lived in Cape Town for two years now, I thought it was time to be tourists in our beautiful city and I fell in love with it all over again. The buses are wheelchair friendly, with a fold out ramp at the front entrance. As Damian is still light enough for me to carry I parked the wheelchair at the bottom and carried him up to be able to have better views from the top-deck. We took the blue route bus as I felt it was more suitable for Damian’s interests. We first passed through the city centre and I made a mental note to come back and explore Long Street on another day that had more of my interests in mind than Damian’s. Kirstenbosch Gardens will definitely be a hop-off point for us on a future ride, but today I had World of Birds as our main hop-off point. The route is very beautiful, and again we had earphones with a running commentary of all the places we were passing and I learned a lot about the Mother City that I didn’t know.
World of Birds was our stop and it was the most amazing place we have visited in Cape Town so far as far as Damian is concerned. Our first commendation for them is that they do not charge for wheelchair visitors, which as a single mom, and with the aim of our adventures in mind, is a real plus for us. There were so many different kinds of birds, loads I have never even heard of never mind seen. I was very disappointed with myself, as usual I didn’t charge my phone and so after only a few photos my battery started going flat and I couldn’t take any more. We saw so many different parrots, black swan, ibis, gorgeous pink and red ones too, white peafowl – which as explained is a colour mutation and they are not albino as they don’t have pink eyes – and so much more. I saw a cuckoo for the first time, and it is nothing like I expected. We also passed through an open falcon enclosure which was a little scary, as even though they are small, they are still birds of prey. When we passed through the crow enclosure Damian had his first squeal as a large black and white crow hovered over him trying to land on the table of his wheelchair. He had his first giggle when we went through the owl enclosure and an owl turned its head to keep watch on him – one eye open and one shut. We joked it was peeping at him!
We saw a little gate that I just couldn’t pass up… Magic Garden! I must admit, with all the signs saying ‘No unaccompanied children’, ‘Parents, where are your children?’ and ‘No children to walk ahead of parents’, I felt a little cautious as to what to expect… I thought there were more free roaming animals. I still don’t know what the cautioning signs were about but it was the most magical place of the sanctuary. A little path through a little forest with lots of little magical figurines (or were they figurines???)… gnomes, fairies, goblins, owls, dragons, unicorns, toadstools… complete with authentic dense spiderwebs!! I can go on and on. The stuff that subdues the workings of my grown-up brain and sends me floating into the magical world of my child-like imagination! I absolutely love anything faerie!
And then the best part… monkey jungle! This really was a highlight for both Damian and myself and one I don’t think either of us will ever forget. When we got to the gate, the keeper came and told us to pack anything away that could be taken. He also asked if Damian was scared of monkeys. Now Damian is very nervous about most things, so I was a bit worried, but he assured us they would not hurt us. I didn’t know what type of monkeys were in the enclosure, I was expecting chimps or the like. We were given strict instructions, as were other people entering: DO NOT TOUCH THE MONKEYS! If they come to you, it’s ok, they won’t hurt you, but don’t touch them. Well, I can tell you for sure, the monkeys either didn’t understand the “don’t touch” part or blatantly ignored their keeper. As soon as we were inside the gate we had three of the most adorable squirrel monkeys leap onto Damian’s wheelchair much to his surprise. One promptly ‘pooped’ on my denim jacket that was draped over the back of the wheelchair. A lady in the enclosure with her family kindly offered to take pics for us and then email them to me. I was so grateful for this, having a flat battery in a moment of a lifetime. The keeper told us to move into the shade where the light was better, then sprinkled food on Damian’s wheelchair. I lost count of how many monkeys were all over us. I was sitting on a bench next to Damian’s chair and they were on his shoulders, on his table, under his legs chewing on his wheelchair, scratching at our bags, chewing on the buttons on my jacket – it was so special. And then it happened… I had gone into the enclosure with my hair in a ponytail but two squirrel monkeys quickly changed that. With one on each shoulder and lightning quick fingers they quickly removed the band from my hair, leaving my hair loose and me thinking they had practised that before! They dropped the band but before I could get it another one grabbed it and ran off with it.
After this amazing visit we hopped back onto the City Sightseeing Bus and headed into Hout Bay to Mariner’s Wharf. We hopped off again and took a walk to look at the boats to the sound of a Marimba band. We saw a fishing boat unloading fish into a freezer truck. On our way back one of the locals was cutting up fish and tossing it into the water to the waiting seals. There seemed to be a great deal of familiarity between him and the seals and his request for donations after his ‘’show’’ revealed a skilled entrepreneur earning a bit of a day’s living.
We hopped back on the bus and headed back along Suikerbossie into Camps Bay, through Sea Point and Green Point and back to the V&A Waterfront. We didn’t get off at any more of the stops, but enjoyed a fantastic view from the front of the top deck.
We rounded off the day with an ice cream before going home.
The staff aboard the buses were incredible. They helped us swiftly on and off the buses and were very friendly. We had an absolutely amazing day.