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Pole to Pole

Day 127: Johannesburg to Cape Town

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleHave a shower before dinner, and taking my all-purpose tie out to add that indefinable touch of elegance, saunter down to the bar. The windows are of such a size, with minimum partitions giving maximum view, that one has this strange sensation of floating, unsupported, over the countryside. Fraser says he saw a car coming towards him on a road running alongside and instinctively moved to one side. Poor old sod..

The barman Matt is put to work by Basil to make the perfect martini, but after three attempts Basil drinks it anyway. Matt comes up with the surprising information that the noisiest tourists he deals with are the Swiss.

'Swiss people are noisy?'

He relents a little. 'Well, not noisy, but they're happy drinkers.'

A glorious sunset over the town of Kimberley, which boasts of being the home of the World's Largest Man-Made Hole. At one time there were 30,000 frantic diamond prospectors digging in the hole at once. When it was closed in August 1914 it was three and a half thousand feet deep with a perimeter of a mile.

Meet one or two of my fellow travellers. A couple from Yorkshire whose daughter manages a vineyard on the Cape; a Swiss tourguide (Swiss and Germans are the most numerous tourists); a lady from the Irish Tourist Board who thinks that they have similar problems to South Africa's in attracting visitors - beautiful countries but political problems - and an exotic couple, she Colombian, he German, who are working in Gabon. We get back to the hoary old subject of malaria. Their view is that the pills are as bad for you as the disease, quite seriously affecting digestion and eyesight.

Fortunately my digestion is, for once, settled as I move through to the restaurant and the mountain of cut-glass that awaits me.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 127
  • Country/sea: South Africa
  • Place: Kimberley
  • Book page no: 288

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