Flight Over Table Mountain
Many of my adventures seem to happen when I’m tired.
My wife and I were bound for a twenty-two-night cruise from Cape Town to Sydney on the Queen Mary 2 and had taken a flight from Heathrow to Cape-Town.
We arrived early in the morning and transferred from the airport to the hotel and caught a brief glimpse of Table Top Mountain behind a shanty town on the outskirts of Cape Town.
The coach, with forty-odd other passengers, dropped us off at the Hotel, and we all fought to claim and transport our suitcases for the check-in.
The fatigue from the flight led to frayed tempers, and the foyer was alive with irate passengers most of whom just wanted to find their beds for a few hours sleep.
We weren’t boarding the Queen Mary until the next day so theoretically the day was free to do whatever we wanted.
Check in was delayed as the rooms wouldn’t be ready for an hour or so and we took a seat and waited.
It was a beautiful day. The air was clear and the sun was shining. It’s rays illuminated the foyer, and a warm breeze wafted through the open doors. It was such a welcome change from the cold murkiness of the late January day we had left behind us in London.
I didn’t want to stay seated too long because I was afraid of falling asleep. It would be better to wait until we could go up to our room, shower and then slumber.
I got up and walked around the foyer, trying to shake the sleep away.
Then I spied a brochure advertising helicopter rides over Cape Town, the coast and of course Table Mountain.
I grabbed it to take a look. The photos were, of course, fantastic and when I looked out again from the foyer at the cloudless sky outside, I thought as we only in Cape Town for the day it would be such a shame not to seize the occasion.
I took the brochure to my wife, and she read with a big smile.
There was no need to say more.
There was a contact number on the back of the brochure, and I asked at the desk if they could arrange a tour later in the day.
A few minutes later, all was arranged, and we would be picked up by car from the hotel and taken to the airport for our flight, and transferred back to the hotel afterwards.
There was just enough time to check in and spruce ourselves up before the car arrived.
I think I might have closed my eyes during the drive to the airport as I can’t recall the details.
We received a warm welcome from the staff at the airport who gave us the customary safety briefing and ushered us, a few minutes later, into the helicopter. It was perfect as there would be just the two of us with our pilot.
We braced ourselves for take-off but it was so smooth that our bodies were unaware that anything had happened.
The air was clear; the colours were vibrant and with our headphones on, the sound of the rotors was muffled. Microphones enabled us to chat between ourselves and with the pilot. He told us that he was French, and as both of us are bilingual, we spent the rest of the flight ‘en français.’
I’ll let the photos describe our flight as I think that they convey the magic more than my words could describe.
It would have been extremely difficult to have had a better experience than the one we enjoyed that day.
Later, after touchdown, we chatted some more with the pilot and crew back in the reception while we waited for the DVD of our flight, filmed in HD from several onboard cameras.
Rather than go straight back to the hotel we asked the driver to drop us off at the waterfront.
We shopped in the market to get some fancy dress for an upcoming African Ball on the ship. I took more photos, while we drunk a coffee on a shaded terrace. We listened to a local Zulu Band who were selling their music on handmade artisanal CDs.
I even danced a little with them afterwards, Zulu style.
We were fabricating memories by the bucketload.
The cherry on the cake was the boat ride from the quay to the hotel, winding along the canal and up to the hotel.
Back at the Hotel, we just had the strength to sit out on the terrace and order dinner and a nice glass of South African white wine before going upstairs and falling into bed, totally exhausted.
On our way up to the room, we saw clouds rolling over Table Mountain like a stream.
What a day!
This is the second part of a series of travel tales.
8. The Bali Run