Sunday, August 31, 2014

To The Top Of Table Mountain

In arguably the most beautiful city in the world, Table Mountain is the overarching view at almost every vista in Cape Town. The broad spread of mountain borders the city, with the sea edge on the other side. Getting to the top of the Table gives you a view like no other!

Having missed the chance to get to the top last time I was in South Africa, due to fog and then wind, I was determined this time to go. Setting an alarm for each morning, and peeking out to the view (above) to see if the mountain was viable or not, became a bit of a ritual in our hotel room.

One of the last days of our time in Cape Town, and one of the last days of cricket, we set ourselves to go. A group of us grabbed a cab to the bottom, and joined the queue for the cable car. Being early morning, we missed the bulk of the line that gathered after us, and the crazy crowd of buses that were waiting when we came back down.

Once on the Table top, we got to take in the views from all around. Of the sprawling city, the sea, the numerous bays directly below, and the long tail of the mountain range back out towards the Cape Of Good Hope.

Totally spectacular views! Vantage points on top allowed for wow moments at every stop.

In our party of early morning Table visitors, we had a birthday, and so after soaking in the scene all around, we stopped for breakfast at the café on top, where we enjoyed champagne to toast where we were. The staff there even gave the birthday boy a rendition of Happy Birthday To You in several different languages per verse, including Zulu which was pretty special.

Table Mountain is so beautiful, as is the city it dissects. The much anticipated experience of getting to drink in the views from above Cape Town was certainly worth the wait!

Jouljet Notes
Getting There: A shared taxi was reasonable from the city centre, and there were loads of tour and tourist buses as an option.
Time Spent: We spent a couple of hours, including breakfast. But you could spend much, much longer, as there are walking tracks and a lot of "Table" you can wander around.
Cost: R205 adult
Serious Tips: Check the weather forecast, and the cable car website - it does not run where there is a certain level of wind around. It also lists the times for first and last car up; Beat the crowds by going early, otherwise you will spend hours in the line; You can also walk up the mountain, which apparently takes around 2 hours - check out the routes though, because there are long and short paths!
Quirky Angle: Get a photo of the old style cable car cabin, sitting next to you when you line up. So cute!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Argus Building - Open House Melbourne

Melbournians, do you remember the boarded up, graffitied mess of a building on the corner of Latrobe and Elizabeth? It was hidden behind random posters of all sorts of things, with broken windows above street level, and had all the markings of a completely abandoned building right in the middle of the city.

Well, you should see it now!

The Argus Building was open on the Sunday of Open House Melbourne this year, and Jessie and I lined up for over 2 and a half hours for our chance to get a look inside. It was worth it!

Once we were in the group at the front of the line, we could enter the corner Advertising Hall - a space with high ceilings, white ornate features, and walls of the history of the building.

The Argus was a daily newspaper in Melbourne, and the first in the world to publish colour. The pages were produced and printed here in this building, with large printing presses running much of the night, which could reportedly be heard and the rumbling vibrations could be felt all the way to Flinders Street. The newspaper ran from 1846 to 1957.

In the 1990s, the site was a shell, where the homeless often sheltered. A gutted, abandoned shell, the building has been saved by a redevelopment by a private university, and is due to be complete later this year, ready for the academic year next year.

The Project Manager, who has been working on the restoration and transformation of this site over the past 4 years, was the person to show each of the tour groups around, and his love of the project and his work oozed with each detail he showed off to us. This really added to the delight of our preview look inside.

Tiny whispers of the graffiti remain on a couple of the beams of the wide and open interior - but most of what we saw was modern spaces ready for learning facility fit-outs.

But the restoration of the original pieces are the most impressive. The exterior is a stunning addition to this busy city corner, and adds a sense of history and heritage to the area.

Much of the detail of the columns had to be remodelled, as the damaged state of disrepair was too much, but it has been done so lovingly true to the original design. Although it's not quite the original colour - this hue was dictated by the City of Melbourne.

The sight of the building from across the road is stunning - the original window frames and the restored columns are impressive. New life to this corner of the city.

The tower on top, which was a vision by the original designer of the building in The Argus days, complete with a clock tower, but was never completed. There is a lofty ambition of finishing this one day in the new development plans, because all the plans still exist. Imagine!

This was a very popular building of the OHM weekend, and a new feature of our great city - a pretty amazing place to be heading to class and chipping away at a qualification.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Dirties and Watchers Of The Sky

My work schedule had me home in Melbourne for just a tiny bit of the Melbourne International Film Festival, which gave me two films to see.

The Dirties was my first film, at Collins Street's Kino. A coming of age teen story about bullying and cinema-obsession. Two lads set out to make a film, telling the story of their dream of revenge on the bullies at school who make their days hell - the "Dirties". Very black, and very funny, with their constant film references.

The bullying intensifies, as does the revenge plot. The cult movie references fly, and then the guns are introduced. I find kids holding guns so abhorrent, so this very real turn was confronting. But the momentum had built, and things get out of hand, almost nonchalantly - but it's just pretend, right? Just a movie? Shocking, and yet almost surreal because of the level of desensitisation we the audience and society has towards violence and film.

My second film was equally as grim in topic and lessons - Watchers Of The Sky is a doco about the genesis of the term "genocide". The story of Polish man Lemkin, and the use of his word in international legal processes - and how often, genocide continues to be committed and ignored, the world over.

Grim and depressing, the truth of the reoccurent nature of such horrors around the world hits hard - but the end note about the basis of the name of the film restores hope, miraculously. I hope that in my travels and my work, I too can be one of the Watchers, to make the world a better place.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Colours Of Bo-Kaap

South Africa is labelled the Rainbow Nation, and the colours throughout in many aspects are brilliant and enchanting. None other than this small neighbourhood just off the main street in Cape Town.

I spotted these as I picked up, and dropped off my hire car for my roadtrip, and just had to take a walk to get a closer look at this row of homes

Imagine the feelings of hope and happiness every day, walking out your front door to these bright colours! Even on the day that I was there taking these photos, it was overcast, but the colours bring such life to the street!

A bit of research tells me that this was the old Malay Quarter, with a mosque, but also known as a more multicultural area of the city. Although this flavour of the area is diminishing as more wealthy people are buying a piece of colourful housing for their own. Let's hope gentrification does not make this strip of character lose it's colour!

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