Monday, February 25, 2013

Train Adventures

Cape Town is 17 train stops away from where we are living, and the trip varies each time. Some days, we have people selling food from car to car (probably illegally) or singers collecting donations.  Some of the singers are blind.  We are still challenged by trying to figure out which stop we have just passed and which stop is our destination.  We have memorized the stops, but if we're daydreaming or talking, we might not always be paying attention.  So far we haven't gotten on the wrong train, but we have come close several times.

Train platform at Newlands, near the cricket 

Passengers board the train at Retreat Station 

A first class train ticket costs 9 rand ($1) for the 45-minute ride north to central Cape Town, so it's a great deal.  For the same price, you can also take the train 45 minutes south to Simon's Town, a picturesque town where the South African Navy is based.  It's also right next to the penguin colony we mentioned in an earlier blog entry.  This train route hugs the coast for about half of the ride, passing several bucolic bays and various sandy and rocky beaches.

Picture from train window back towards Simon’s Town 

View of multiple bays, with Simon’s Town in the distance

Fishhoek beach, from the train window

Fishing boats at Kalk’s Bay or Fishhoek

Muizenberg (surfer’s) beach boardwalk, near train terminal

There is a large security force that monitors whether or not people are on the train illegally.  They wear colored fluorescent vests.  Most of the time, they check individual tickets.  Periodically, the train stops at a station for two minutes and about 15 security people storm the train and round up all of the scofflaws.

Yesterday, 20 security personnel ran frantically after the train to tell it to stop after it left the station. They boarded the train and took a few people off, but the size of the force seemed out of proportion to the magnitude of the offense.  The local lady sitting next to John commented, "These people have gone mad."

Update: Ask John about what he taught a young passenger on the train to Simon's Town...

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