After all my worldwide travels, Cape Town has leap-frogged to my favorite city.
After a month of “the bush”, where mind you, I enjoyed myself immensely and saw an incredible array of animals and experienced some wonderful cultures, I was not sure what to expect going to South Africa’s second largest city.
Frankly I am glad I did not expect anything in particular, because what I was treated to was spectacular.
Many travel writers, this one especially, have a tough time figuring out where to start. It leads to writer’s block and drink. I settle for starting at the beginning and coffee. So, sip sip sip, and here I go.
Our trip to Cape Town started in what had become a very familiar airport, Joburg International.
I enjoyed SAA for a very important reason. Besides the service, on time record and food, SAA planes are configured to be comfortable for Boers. Boers are invariably BIG people. If you ask one of them, as your irreverent blogger did more than once, they will tell you they are so big because they work hard and eat a lot of game. Both those are true. They forged a living off the land and Kudu is a staple. But I think they are so big because when their migration from Holland started, only the largest of the Dutch were allowed to migrate. I mean you do not see people this big in Holland. Someone must have gone from Apeldoorn to Zaanstad and picked the biggest hardiest people they could find, promised them a future in South Africa, and put them on a boat. I digress, as I usually do, but consequently a six foot-one 200 pounder like me was comfortable in SAA economy class.
I am already ahead of myself. Yes, we went to the top of this natural wonder of the world, but not until we did a day of touring. You see, this mountain is often in the clouds. We got lucky and had a clear day. More later.
We stayed at a truly nice place called the Portswood Hotel. We got lucky I guess. We were there in the lower than low season. I asked for a smoking room. The woman at the counter said, “well, if you need a smoking room, I will have to give you a suite, at no extra cost of course.” Boom, bam! A suite! Sweet! Thank you nicotine!
The Portswood is less than a five minute walk to a very vibrant waterfront/tourist area called the Victoria and Alfred waterfront.
There is a large shopping mall. There are about a million restaurants. It is also home to the hotel where Obama stayed just days before we were there. You can go swim with white sharks and get helicopter rides over the cape peninsula.
There is so much more to see in Cape Town, so relax and read on. I will cover only two more must sees, then in the next post, some areas around this wonderful city.
We visited a neighborhood called Bo-Kaap. This is the traditional Malay Quarter. Malaysians were brought to South Africa as laborers. They were designated as “coloreds”. Under the Apartheid rules, there were whites, blacks and coloreds. Blacks were the native Africans. Anyone else not white was colored. They had no more rights than the blacks. They were mostly Muslims. The work they were allowed to do was different than the blacks, but they tended to stay in their own neighborhoods. They built mosques and after a generation or two ran their own businesses for themselves. The neighborhood called Bo-Kaap survives today and is quite “colorful”.
Ok now, the one thing every tourist must do and see in Cape Town is the top of Cable Mountain.
We spent as long up there as we could. It was windy and cold, and wonderful. We regretted having to get back on the cable car to go back down.
In order to keep my promise of short posts, I will keep some truly special Cape Town experiences for the next couple of posts. One will be a trip to Robben Island, which was the prison where the apartheid government kept Nelson Mandela. One will be a post about “District Six” in Capetown which has a very disturbing history. Then I will cover a visit to The Cape of Good Hope.
In that spirit, I hope you are enjoying reading about what I consider the best city I have ever visited. Please share and make a comment!