Can you believe it? I have already been in Cape Town for two weeks, and in all honesty, it has been really busy!
One of my first adventures here was attending the Simon’s Town Navy Festival.
For those of you who do not know, Simon’s Town is a town around 45 minutes away from Cape Town CBD, which happens to be hope to the Navy as well as penguins (yes, penguins). The town is named after Simon van der Stel- a governor to the Cape Colony. The navy base itself started towards the end of the 1800s. I guess it is pretty cool to think that the navy base of South Africa has around 150 years of history associated with it. And in all honesty, you can feel it when you enter Simon’s Town. However, the first established South African Navy Force was established in 1922. What is rather interesting, and makes Simon’s Town close to my heart is that two of my uncles worked on various ships and submarines during the 1970s and 1980s in Simon’s Town. I guess it is rather cool knowing some of my family made history, right?
Our journey started around 11AM on Saturday morning. The crisp Capetonian air was blowing through the open windows of our car. The sun was rather bright but still tolerable. The sound of the latest David Maxim Micic album was playing in the car. Around 10 minutes away from Simon’s Town, we pulled over on the side of the road to a sun-kissed lady selling pomegranates. We ended up getting seven large pomegranates for R50 ($4). We soon made our way on the final leg of the journey and were met with a rather large amount of traffic. In all honesty, I did expect some traffic, but I did underestimate the extent of the traffic.
Now, Simon’s Town is a rather small town, with a population estimate of around 6600… and the town is rather old (with loads of buildings being built in the late 1800s and early 1900s). This only meant one thing… parking was almost impossible to find. After driving around for close to 45 minutes, we noticed a large open field that they had just turned into a parking area for people attending the event… thankfully. We soon parked and went through a rather hectic security check… I’m talking about our bags getting scanned and going through a metal detector… but I guess rather safe than sorry, right?
Once we had passed security checks, we were in the actual military base. The mountains surrounding us on one side and loads of stone and brick buildings filling the space in front of us. The navy staff were making their rounds and seeing them in their uniform reminded me of watching some old school war movies, which I absolutely love.
The first stop of the day was the signage shop, where we met a rather interesting man who does all the signage for the South African Navy. His passion for art was rather evident with all the drawings he did. He took us on a slight private tour and showed us a massive painting of a ship on water that he managed to complete in four days… yes, four. I think we were the only people fortunate enough to see that painting.
We soon made our way to the museum which was located about half a kilometer from the signage shop. In the museum, we saw loads of old antique phones, keys, and parts of various military equipment and machines… Needless to say, it was rather fascinating to see how much effort the South African Navy has put in over the past 95 years.
We then made our way to the Rigging Section, which I did not find all too interesting as it just focused on various ties and ropes, which I have almost no knowledge on. However, outside was a scuba diver practice area, which was shaped like a submarine. Both young and old were intrigued by the divers inside.
We were soon feeling rather peckish and decided to get something to eat. However, I was more intrigued by the submarines located in the water. Growing up, I always saw submarines as being rather tiny… I guess you could say that Smart cars were the equivalent of what I imagined submarines to be. However, they are significantly larger. The public was allowed to go into the submarines but the queues were insane.
After finding some food and drinks, we walked around and saw the tug boats, where members of the public were allowed to go for a free ride. As terrible as this may sound, they were loaded rather full (at least that is how it looked), which only reminded me of one thing… refugee ships…
We soon realized that we were not going to be able to go on the tug boats or submarines and made our way to more stalls where we found Pop-pop- which are these little balls that both Charlie and I grew up with… you throw them on the ground and they make a noise, but we had a ball of a time playing with them.
The next area we explored was the gun area, where various weapons were made. Although this part did not have lots, it was still rather interesting.
We continued walking around and went to what looked like a high school career week where the public was informed about various military and navy career paths that they could potentially follow.
By the time we were done with this area, we saw that the air show had begun. I absolutely love airshows and this lead to us trying our best to capture pictures of the wonderful plane formations in the sky. Sadly, the show was rather short (fair enough, it is not an airshow). But it was enjoyable nonetheless.
We continued walking around and met a wonderful lady in the South African Navy known as Leché. We ended up having a whole photoshoot with her and became friends with her. Needless to say, I am happy with that.
After taking some more photos, this random family came up to us and asked us to take photos of them. While we took photos of them, more members joined. The one lady (who I am assuming is a single mother) was trying to convince Charlie that he was the father of her child… It was rather amusing but slightly confusing.
We soon decided to head back as it was getting late and we wanted to eat dinner before continuing our second adventure of the day- The Cape Carnival (the post will be available to read next Monday!)
All in all, it was a rather wonderful and interesting day. My ultimate highlight would have to have been being able to feel that military/navy feel and feeling as if I was in a WW1 or WW2 movie. I cannot wait to attend the event next year again as I missed some events that I was really looking forward to.
And as for the penguins I mentioned earlier on, it is by Boulders Beach-a penguin colony in South Africa. In fact, Charlie and I went to Boulders Beach in February. I’ll post about that some other time probably.