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A Train Ride to Freedom

From Cape Town to Paarl

Silversea offers a number of special “Experiences” to those of us on a world cruise. Today we went on a “Train Ride to Freedom,” from Cape Town to Paarl. For an hour and a half we rode in renovated railway carriages powered by two steam locomotives. We were in the observation car (last) fitted out with plush sofas and serving tables. As the train moved north we passed by the South Atlantic Ocean, by a park where white lions roamed, and by townships, racially segregated undeveloped areas filled with shanties and shacks. The townships stood in sharp contrast to the vintage cars we rode in, where violinists strolled and a magician performed tricks, where an oysterman shucked his wares and waitresses served hors d’oeuvres and champagne.

Our luxurious train brought us to the lovely village of Paarl, and then we were bussed to the Victor Verster Prison where Nelson Mandela was confined after his release from Robben Island before he was freed in 1990. There Mr. Mandela’s personal secretary, Zelda la Grange, described how she and her world had been transformed by knowing this man. She was raised in an Afrikaans family who saw blacks as dangerous enemies; the gentleness and kindness of Nelson Mandela changed her life and exploded her prejudices and narrow view of the world.

We left the prison changed too, and deeply grateful for the life and witness of Nelson Mandela. Lunch was at the KWV winery's “cathedral,” a long high-ceilinged event space lined with wooden casks of wine. More than twenty tables for ten were set with blue and white china and crystal vases filled with huge hydrangea and protea and tulips. We were served five courses paired with five splendid Laborie wines – all brought to us by a fleet of waiters. The menu:
Beskuit bread/Champagne Brut
Bobotie cigars/Chenin blanc
Springbok Carpaccio/Chardonnay
Filet mignon and Prawns/Cabernet Merlot
Chocolate extravaganza dessert/Pineau.

During this spectacular meal, the South African Youth Choir sang brilliantly. Really brilliantly. They have been winning international awards and deserve them. Their repertoire ranged from classical choral works to saucy African dance songs. We loved them. Amira Willighagen then emerged to sing with the choir – and solo. Amira is a 15 year old Dutch/South African girl with much acclaim and much talent, many recordings and awards. And what were you doing at 15???


Posted by HopeEakins 12:14

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Not quite like Amtrak, We went to nyc three times during the winter, Let see we had packaged nuts bottled water , pa kaged cookie Over cooked chicken salad , I guess we should follow in your foot steps,

by Chloe Horton

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