Dave of Silverleaf Tours picked us up at 9:00 a.m. sharp in his comfortable bright green "ComV". Little did we know that we were in for the insiders tour of the Cape, a day filled with interesting facts and trivia from a man who had spent his life in the area.
From Hout Bay we drove to Cape Town along beautiful coastline roads, stopping frequently to photograph the Twelve Apostles (mountain formations) or the exclusive beaches behind gated residential communities.
It was from Dave that we received our first African history lesson, the origins of the colonization of Cape Town and the 13 official languages in South Africa. Dave’s first language is Afrikaans, a language derived from the Dutch settlers. I am familiar with German and I was amazed to hear phrases and read signs that I could almost understand.
The first part of our tour included Bo-Kaap, a charming inner suburb of Cape Town, also known as the Malay Quarter, part of Cape Town’s Islamic Community. This area is where many freed slaves first made their homes on the picturesque slopes of Signal Hill. The vibrant colors of the homes in the area welcome visitors and invite them to stop and enjoy their creativity. A photographers delight.
The Community Gardens: The wonderful oasis in the heart of Cape Town is also known as the Public Gardens and was formerly called the Company Garden. This was the first established area of Cape Town. In 1652 it was a stop over for the ships of the Dutch East Indian Trading ships to pick up fresh vegetables and water for the crew’s consumption during the long trip from the Netherlands to the Far East.
Today, the Gardens boast over 8,000 different trees, shrubs and flowers. The east boundary is the oak-lined Government Avenue; an aviary and tea garden at the Mountain end. From the Gardens you can see the House of Parliament and the City Office of the President, The National Gallery which houses 7,000 works of art, the domed and twin towered Great Synagogues and the Old Synagogue, housing treasures of the Jewish Museum; the South African Museum, the Planetarium and the South African Library.
Cecil Rhodes Memorial, is a temple-like structure, situated on the eastern slopes of the Table Mountain Range, and honors the 19th century imperialist, tycoon, politician and controversial visionary Cecil John Rhodes. Young Rhodes and his brother sold all they had to chase their dream of finding diamonds in South Africa. In1871 the brothers staked a claim in the newly opened Kimberley diamond fields, where Cecil was to make most of his fortune. In 1880 he formed the De Beers Mining Company.
Later, Rhodes devoted himself to the development of the country that was called Rhodesia in his honor (re-named Zimbabwe in 1980). He died in South Africa and was buried in Zimbabwe. Rhodes left nearly all his fortune to public service and education, thereby creating the Rhodes Scholars.