Arriving in Cape Town after a couple of days in the bush at Ngala Safari Lodge and I realised my time in Africa was quickly coming to an end.
After 10-weeks without road rules, countless marriage proposals and having honed my “don’t approach me with whatever it is you’re selling” look I’m back in a big city.
The rules of social interaction are different here and I’m glad I’ve got time to readjust before being thrown back into the Sydney scene. Cape Town blends cosmopolitan city (and a foodie paradise) with African culture (and all the corresponding development issues) better than anywhere else I’ve been on the continent.
I spent my first few nights on Long Street – full of restaurants, bars and backpacker’s. My hotel, The Daddy Long Legs, was quirky and the concept is one I’d like to see take off in more places around the world. Each room was designed by a local artist. I spent my first night in the “Room with a view” and the second in “The Emergency Room”, complete with x-ray light-box, nurses outfit and bedpan.
Anything I write about Cape Town needs a couple of big thank you’s – Lynette and Stef Chinn, Camilla, Claire from Mnemba and Terrence from Ngala – thank you for your Cape Town tips, lists of things to do and general advice! I’ve tried to cover off as many as possible and am putting on kilo’s in the process!
Covering off the big ticket tourist items first I headed to the V&A Waterfront and then
over to Robben Island to see the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 27yrs. My tour was led by Jama, a former political prisoner who spent 5yrs there from age 19. He spoke openly about his experiences and when asked if it was difficult for him to do this job he replied,
“I never wanted to come back, but I had to. I couldn’t get a job and this was one I was qualified for. At the beginning I didn’t like it but now it’s ok.”
Tough, if you ask me… to re-live every day (three times a day) experiences you’d rather forget. He did a great job and patiently answered all our questions.
On day 2 I went up Table Mountain. After summiting Kili had all the best intentions of walking up… I mean at 1085m it’d be a walk in the park. When it came to the crunch, sensibility reigned and all the advice not to try it on your own because of the risk of being mugged meant I took the cable car. Also a good experience but I did feel like I’d cheated a little!
The view from the top was stunning and since I hadn’t walked up, I decided to do the full “table circumference walk”. Along the way I picked up Italian Alberto, a local guide and a Belgian business man. We all finished the circle together and our local guide told us we’d walked approx. 8km… it didn’t feel that long, but maybe I’m just getting more used to walking than I realised.
After working up an appetite on Table Mountain I headed to the Neighbourgood Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. With retro-chic stalls and two tents of gourmet food I’d found my new favourite place in Cape Town.
There were jazz buskers, loads of people chilling out with glasses of wine and large boards of pizza, families feeding their kids new and exciting delicacies and lots of tourists taking photos.
After an ostrich burger, a micro-brewed cider and the most indulgent crepe I’ve ever eaten I was in need of another walk and headed to the Kirstenbosch Gardens. An oasis in the city I walked off my enormous brunch the finished my book on the grass in the sun.
So far my Cape Town experiences have been centred on the city, and if I’m to believe some of the locals, that’s not Cape Town. Apparently I need to head to Camps Bay and the Atlantic seaboard… so that’s where I’m headed next.