On our last full day in Cape Town, we took the train down to Boulder Beach to see the African penguins. It was a long train ride, but we saw the beautiful view of the coastal towns and the ocean.
Partway through the journey, the attendant came to collect our tickets. She said there was a problem, because we were in first class and our tickets were for coach. I was surprised, because we had just jumped on the train and to be completely honest, I would have never mistaken the car we were in for first class. I belatedly realized that the outside of the car had said “Metro Plus,” but it hadn’t dawned on us that that meant anything special. We apologized and said we hadn’t known we were in the wrong place before asking if we could just move to the nearest coach car. She refused and charged us a fine. It was 40 Rand each and cash only, BUT she said if we didn’t have enough cash, protocol “demanded” that she call the police who would take us to the police station where we’d each then have to pay 300 Rand. What a scam! Luckily I had just gone to the ATM before we boarded the train, so I could cover us, but I felt pretty ripped off. She gave us our fine receipts and we triple checked with her that since we paid the extra fine, we could remain in the first class car for the rest of the trip without getting in trouble again.
When the train pulled into the last stop at Simon’s Town, it turned out we had a roughly 30 minute walk to Boulder Beach, but it was a nice walk. I even bought a hamsa bracelet at a shop.
Boulder Beach isn’t quite what we had expected it to be. Based off of the ads we had seen, I thought we’d be able to walk and relax on the same beach as the penguins, which is why we had packed a semi-picnic. One ad I saw showed a woman swimming in the turquoise water past a few penguins in the shallows. The beach was completely different. We paid to get in and then walked along a wooden ramp down to the beach where we were allowed to view the penguins and take photos. Even though it wasn’t what I expected it to be, it was still fun. When we left we stopped at a small gelato shop and ate the food we had brought – mostly sushi from the Thai place – and then had gelato before taking the train back to Cape Town where we planned to meet up with friends for dinner and bar-hopping. The second time, we sat in the right car.