No matter how reliably The Weather Network steers me wrong, I continue to consult it.
On falling asleep last night I planned to head to Boulders Beach today. When I woke up to the sound of rain and looked at the forecast, (rain then clouds till three), I adjusted to museums and maybe a bit of shopping. Upon actually leaving bed at eight and seeing blue skies I changed tracks once again and got sorted for BB.
And then the power went out.
I had heard that load shedding was a major cause of train delays, (as well as bursting into flames etc etc), and so tried quizzing my hostel if the trains would be running. The internet and phones shed no light on the matter and eventually we all decided the mystery could only be solved by a little left right.
The power at the train station wasn’t out, and the trains were running, though ostensibly delayed. I was told to park myself on Platform 5 and my delayed train would be leaving at 10h25. I could not get to the bottom of whether my train was delayed and therefore would be leaving at 10h25, or if my 10h25 train was delayed. For all that English is an official language here, there are subtleties that are completely lost in translation. There are few for whom English is their first, or most commonly used, language. Still, I know zero words of their 10 other official languages so I suppose I should stop whining.
I dutifully found somewhere to station myself on Platform 5 and wait to find out the answer to my query.
What I found out is that you had better stay sharp while waiting for trains in Cape Town (Africa?). The PA system crackles on and off regularly across the platforms, but what they are saying is a complete mystery to my little ears. At some point my eyes wander up to the lit sign on my platform and I notice that the word “Delayed” has changed to “On Time”. Well! Happy days. Until I see, just to the left of this good news, the time of 12h40.
Wha?! Has my 10h25 train been cancelled?? Are there really no trains for two hours?! As I’m looking wildly around to find someone to ask, the platforms are oddly empty, which I should find more unsettling but at this point I have bigger things to worry about, I notice that Platform 4 has acquired a train to Simon’s Town. That leaves at 10h25. And is On Time.
Huh. When did that happen? How was I supposed to know? And thank goodness I noticed before said train had departed.
Next trick, which train car to get into. I start out by dutifully following the crowd. This rarely steers me wrong while travelling, but I notice that there seem to be three types of car and it really isn’t obvious to me which ones are the nicer ones. One might assume the padded/upholstered chairs were nicer than the plastic chairs, except much of the vinyl has been cut away, leaving exposed foam. Also, there’s no labelling and I realize two things simultaneously. I have been told quite strictly to only take the first class train cars and that no one asked me during ticket purchase what sort of ticket I wanted.
Luckily racism is alive and well and I wasn’t asked which ticket I wanted because it was assumed the white tourist could only possibly want a first class ticket. Eventually I sussed out which car was first class and am now tucked safely across from a nice old lady. Protection. In numbers, if not in bulk.
Simon’s Town isn’t much to write home about, although the little town museum is a gem.
From the museum I hunted down some fish and chips. For those faced with a similar choice, hake seems to be comparable to cod. And then on to Boulders Beach!
Things I wish I’d known: you can swim and sunbathe at Boulders Beach. I’m going to post a suggested Cape Town itinerary when I’m done here, I will include my BB two cents there.