“Slow down. It’s Cape Town”
Cape Town road sign
Cape Town is a wonderful place. The atmosphere is brilliant, the people fairly laid back, it has beaches galore and plenty of stuff to keep you entertained should you tire of relaxing.
Sorry about the “travel guide”-intro, but the minute you start writing stuff like “I thought this was less than awesome” it looks like you hate the place… It’s one of the curses of the “bloggo-sphere”. I really felt the need to preface my post with something neutrally-positive because I have at least two places that’s gonna get a “meh” from me in this post. For example, I would love to say that Table Mountain was mindblowingly awesome, but I can’t. And there you have it. “Bakoyma hates Cape Town now.” (Disclaimer: I don’t).
The truth is you can enjoy the hell out of a place without digging the socks off its main attractions and I have both positives and negatives to share about my time in Cape Town:
Has great views of Cape Town and the sea, we saw another beautiful sunset up there and the rock formations where kinda cool to bounce around on, BUT despite the large numbers of pictures of me smiling balancing on edges and looking out over the world (let’s face it, I dig them heights), I felt like the trip up to the top of Table Mountain was underwhelming. I think it might be like that movie -everyone- raves about and then you see it and it’s simply “good entertainment”. If you hadn’t heard anything you might have really loved the movie, but now all the marvellous effects are unsurprising and expected, so they don’t quite shine as bright as they could have. Walking around the top was like navigating in a school of fish, way too many people (the bane of many a tourist attraction). The views were great, but again, not special for Table Mountain. There are other places in the world that are high up too, the way people talk about TM you’d think it was the only mountain in the world…
To sum up: By all means, go see Table Mountain, but if you shouldn’t find the time please don’t feel like “you haven’t been in Cape Town”…
I learned that “robben” means seals in German. And apart from seeing Nelson Mandela’s cell that was pretty much the coolest thing about my trip to Robben Island. It’s the one thing I feel I could’ve skipped altogether. Which is sad…
The truth is I get a whole lot more “feeling” for the history from reading about it then I did being there and that’s a rare feeling for me. I’m used to being moved and having the tangible effect of visiting the place move me and add to my perceptions and opinions. It didn’t happen here. Mostly because we rushed from place to place without much coherent narrative. We took a ferry to the island, got on a bus, got driven around while a woman told us about the various places (there were some nice tidbits of info in here, to her credit), we stopped at a place overlooking Table Mountain in the distance and drove on to where the prison was. Inside we were met by an ex-prisoner (we couldn’t quite catch when he was there and for how long, but I think he was imprisoned for a few years there at least) and he spoke for a whole hour. And this is were it gets difficult for me, because I feel quite disrespectful putting into words that I didn’t really enjoy that experience. Not because it was a horrible story and I felt bad, that would have added to my experience of the place, but it was incoherent and messy, all over the place. And -that- made it a bit boring, because the minute you started feeling anything for one situation he’d digress and you were snapped out of the story.
The final blow came in the end though, after the hour long talk we were guided to Mandela’s cell (highlight) and the told to make our way to the ferry again. I wanted to go see in the shop because apparently one of the wardens has written a book and we heard he might be there to sign it if we wanted to buy it. I thought that would be a great gift opportunity and also something I might want for myself. Now, maybe this warden wasn’t present and maybe I never had a chance at getting this book, but I will literally -never know that- because when we arrived at the ferry docks (where the shop also is) we were promptly ushered aboard the ferry because “we had to go immediately”. When we asked how long we would have to wait if we wanted to take the next ferry we were told that wasn’t possible. So the “herded sheep”-feeling was complete… And I. Hate. That.
PENINSULA TOUR – CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
The Bazbus takes you from Cape Town to Johannesburg, but they also do day trips! Sophie and I went on the full day Peninsula tour which takes you to Hout Bay (seals!), Boulders Beach (penguins!), Cape Point (lighthouse!) and Cape of Good Hope (water!)
We both felt this was good value for money, the tour includes a nice 10-minute bike ride in the national park and and optional hike between the lighthouse and Cape of Good Hope (both of which feel pretty good when you’ve been sitting in a car all day). Again with the beautiful scenery, South-Africa… Damn… ❤
CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE
It’s an old fortress. You can get somewhat lost in it and the best part: not too many people (probably depending on season…)
I got lost in old hallways, narrow stairs, an “interrogation room” (ye olde torture chamber) and walked along the completely not-fenced-off roof. Safety-schmafety, if you’re stupid enough to venture too close to the edge there’s always the Darwin Award, right?
All the furniture has been removed so there’s really only the “shell” left, but I felt that gave it more of an “air of history”. It looks almost abandoned in a way, the people and their workings long gone… I might be romanticizing this a bit 😉
There’s a downside here though. This is by far the most rubbish-infested place I ever visited. People have thrown cans, styrofoam-boxes, plastic and various crap everywhere. The old well had a couple of novelty “additions” too (Fanta cans)…
KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICIAL GARDEN
I saw the tree canopy walkway (”The Boomslang”) online at some point and knew I had to go see it for myself. I get like that. A whole botanical garden, UNESCO heritage site and I’m like: “I’m gonna walk that short 130 meter wooden walkway cause that’s the one and only reason I have to go there.” Doesn’t really make sense, but I’m fabulously happy with that reasoning so I’m gonna go with it.
Kirstenbosch surprised me though. I knew it was a UNESCO site and all that, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. Botanical gardens are nice, but not something I usually go ga-ga over…
Anyway, go to Kirstenboch and see the magic, feel the relaxing atmosphere and see all the crazy plants they have. I’m not going to go all zen over the tranquility and silence of the place, my was on iPod the entire time 😉
But go on the walkway, there’s a great view from it and it’s beautifully made ❤
THE COMPANY’S GARDEN
This is a park and heritage site not far from Long Street in Cape Town. It “was created in the 1650s by the first European settlers” and can boast many fantastical attractions such as “The oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa (1652)” and “a well stocked fish pond”.
I went there to find the statue of Cecil Rhodes, met two South-African ladies that gave me nuts and ended up feeding squirrels and pidgeons that climbed all over me. Fun times.
I also found a little, green treehouse-thingy “for the kids”. I went in and hung out there. Because I’m a mature adult.
Cape Town marked the end of the safari, so this is where I said goodbye to the rest of my group (Trish unfortunately left in Swakopmund, so she was already gone). After going to Table Mountain with Anita & Chris and staying at The Backpack with Sophie and Nicole, they all finally left me all alone #FetalPosition
Here’s the last crumbs of my time in Cape Town and some hilarious stuff like a fashionable foot-tan and a freakin’ mosquito bite on the EYELID. Fun times 😛