Cape Town

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Cape Town. Kaapstad. Slaapatad. After visiting, I know why people are all gaga over this Mother City.

This was a solo trip wringed in this otherwise family trip to South Africa. After the Easter long weekend, we reached the sister and her husband’s place in Johannesburg Monday evening and I was to fly to the Mother City early Tuesday morning.

I’d made close to zero plans for Cape Town, briefly contacted Hylton Ross for a tour, had Table Mountain and Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point on the cards. So this evening before flying out, I started looking up more things, decided on getting one of the Hop On Hop Off tours, consulted with sister’s husband, booked the hotel shuttle and off I went.

I was a bit nervous of flying out given all the safety issues and all, the sister’s husband took efforts to book flights at such times where I could get the first train out and the last train in from the Sandton station to the airport. But, the seasons had changed and come the Easter Tuesday, a lot of the operational hours contract there, given it’s autumn -> winter time there.

The sister’s husband was gracious enough to get up early in the AM to drop me to the airport as the first shuttle that we had initially thought I’d get was no longer on schedule. And I prefer arriving early at the airport than later.

Not checking in early enough meant no window seats on the flights. Check in early, people, because those views from the flight are beautiful. I managed to get some by hopping on to the other side where two seats were empty besides the window seat lady, who didn’t me taking pictures.

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Spending some time getting a SIM card at the airport,  by the time I got out, the hotel shuttle gentleman was there to pick me up. The huge shuttle all to myself and this nice friendly driver who gave me a little introduction to their city.

It was a lot of traffic going into the city and by the time I got into the hotel, it was past 10:30. My day had started at 4:00.

The hotel had the room ready, so I went up, sweetened a tad and then went to the Waterfront Hop on Hop Off stop which was almost just across the street from the hotel.

I bought the tickets after a little deliberating on which one to get. My first stop was to be the Table Mountain – the sister and her husband said to cross it off the first chance I get, or risk not having views or the cable car not going up due to weather and all.

So, there I was, almost peak of the day, and this ticket agent just kept repeating it’ll be a two-hour wait. I asked him if there’s a better time of the day to go there, or should I try another day – nope, just the same – it’s a two-hour wait right now. Yes, you can buy your tickets for the cable car with them.

I proceeded anyway. The drive through the downtown, and then up to the base of the mountain was nice. And then, it was that intimidating long line because I was there at the peak of the day – noon. I waited two hours, no kidding there. And as we moved up the line, there was this arsonist who set fires up on the mountain. No, again, no kidding. Here was the news.

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I was just hoping for not to be turned away, after all the waiting in the sun. Thankfully, we weren’t and the wait was made a bit interesting with choppers and firefighters trying to douse the fires, hah!

The cableway ride is an interesting one in that the bottom of the car rotates, so everyone gets a 360-degree view, regardless of where they get to stand. Annoying as it was, to spend half of my two and a half days just because of the waits, the views were totally worth it.
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They have little trails up on the plateau of this mountain. Keeping time in mind, I sprang around a bit to take in the stunning vistas. You get a glimpse of it all – Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, the stadium, Camps Bay, mountain ranges and those waters.
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Descending down, I took the bus back to the same V&A waterfront stop. I hopped around V&A food market, the gallery of shops there that had beautiful stuff, before heading on to the city center to get my Ethiopian meal.

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I also extended my ticket purchased to be a three-day ticket, that gave me a free sunset bus tour. So soon after finishing the food, I got back here at the V&A waterfront location to get on the sunset bus.

It was quite an experience, with people all picnic-ready for the sunset with a proper basket, wines and what not at Sunset Hill.  The bus ride up is beautiful, no doubt and the sunset is good too, but what is stunning is the bus ride back down and the illuminated, glittering Mother City.
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It was very difficult to get good shots from a moving bus from a mobile camera, but I’ll have those pictures etched in my heart.

It was past 7 / 7:30, and I decided to call it a wrap for the day.

The second day was scheduled with Hylton Ross. Given my short stay here, it made sense to do a tour to make the most of it, though know that the Hop On Hop Off gets you to most of these locations. And I was extremely happy with the tour.

My friends who travelled there earlier this year also did tours with Hylton Ross and they were pleased with them as well.

Our guide was Brittany who picked me up from a hotel in the city centre, and I was the last to join the group already aboard the bus.

She was awesome, funny and smart. I’d highly recommend her if you get to choose your guide. Not only was she courteous and witty, but knowledgeable and even if you don’t get to do the city walking tours or such, you’ll still leave smarter, having spent the day with her. And only towards the end of the day, I realized she was pregnant, but still so gracious to hold the doors and click pictures for us all day.

This was the full day Cape Point tour that I did with them. The journey to Cape Point took us along the scenic Atlantic seaboard coastal road. Starting with the stadium after the V&A waterfront, which can hold over 60,000 people, we proceeded to the Platinum mile, from SeaPoint, going south.

We passed the pristine beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay with their soft white sand and azure blue water. Camps Bay has great hotels and greater views if you’re a beach sort of a person. European vibes to the whole place. I was late in booking a hotel and so this area was quite out of my budget.

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The formidable 12 Apostles Peaks rise above the road on one side, with sheer cliffs and incredible rock formations drop into the Atlantic Ocean on the other side.

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The coast of the Cape Peninsula offers magnificent sceneries. We arrived at the quaint fishing village of Hout Bay where we did the optional boat trip to Seal Island.
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We then continued over Chapman’s Peak which offers GLORIOUS views.
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The Noordhoek beach looked stunning with the pristine white sands.

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Picture horseriding there?
And then onto the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Cape Point. This area is home to magnificent ‘fynbos’, many species of buck and birds, the
Cape Mountain Zebra, and mischievous baboons. Chacma baboons are the largest primates here along Cape Reserve.
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I had a pretty resplendent lunch before taking in splendid views of False Bay. The lighthouse and the walk down from there provide an even better vantage point of the two Oceans.

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We then visited Boulders Beach to see the African penguins galore. Those cute little creatures ambling!

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The drive proceeded through the very handsome Victorian Simon’s Town, and then we ventured inland to our last stop o the day at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
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And yet again, you had different but equally gorgeous views of the Table Mountain – a fitting end to a day filled with all the highlights the Cape
has to offer.
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I got off at the city center, had a fantastic dinner at a very inviting restaurant and called it wraps for the day after trying to get the hop on hop off to the hotel but missing the last bus and then having a very kind driver go a bit out of the way to drop me at a street and asking me to walk straight up and then losing my way to finally ordering an uber to get to the hotel 😐

The city centre was quite sprightly and party ready, even on Wednesday.
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The third morning was all hazy and foggy. I went to the V&A waterfront by the giant wheel – just to check it off the list. It was early hours in the morning and the shops were still sleeping.
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I hopped to the city centre to get a breakfast, then walked around a bit before going on to a walking city tour with a very passionate volunteer. The white clouds over the Table Mountain provide for absolutely beautiful views this day. The pictures don’t do justice.
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I could’ve managed another walking tour of the Bo Kaap area – also known as Malay quarters, but chose to explore those quaint cobbled streets on my own to see those colourful rows of houses.  This was after lunch and then I went ahead and some more dessert even though I wasn’t particularly hungry, because I’m a foodie, before heading on to the airport, a bit too early for my 5 PM flight back.

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I managed to spend some time at the Greenmarket square with handmade souvenirs, jewellery, clothes and what not.
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I learnt much about Capetown, Apartheid, the blacks, whites and coloureds and that it’s not necessarily a derogatory term here. A bit more about Nelson Mandela (Incidentally, Winnie Mandela passed away the day I landed in Cape Town). That I should be grateful for my life, after hearing some more stories about people’s treatment and dompas and how families were separated. Trevor Noah’s stories made more sense now. That the Cape Doctor winds, or so they are lovingly called – the South Easterly and northwesterly winds that keep the city pollution free. That the sea water is desalinated and then used in swimming pool in Sea Point promenade. Best of both worlds and less impact on the water supplies.

According to Feng Shui, Capetown is the perfect city, armchair shaped. The Robben Island acts as a great barrier, slowing the winds before they reach the Mother City. And the gorgeous Table Mountain and it’s the view from wherever you are – you’ll love it!

My first day went in queuing up for the Table Mountain, another wise I could’ve squeezed in more. It would’ve been nicer to visit the Cape Town Townships cultures and communities, to visit everyday life in a harsh environment where I could’ve heard some of the 11 official languages being spoken. District Six. Cape Flats to visit Langa. And more time would’ve made Stellenbosch and other wine counties, bungee jumping, Garden Route possible. But, another time 🙂

Stay tuned to read all about my food adventures in Cape Town.

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