Cape Town is that rare gem of a place that you hear nothing but good things about from the people who live there and even from those who just visit. For two months now (yes, we’ve already been here two months and are still in South Africa….) we’ve heard endless praise about this city. We’ve thought of it as the anti-Johannesburg for weeks and viewed it as a sort of mecca of the South Africa portion of our trip.
There are many wonderful things about this city, the two most important being cheap, delicious food and penguins. The highlight of our cheap, delicious food experience was the Eastern Food Bazaar, a collection of stalls with a plethora of choices – everything from Palak Paneer to Hummus and Pita to Indian Omelets to Pani Puri. We ate here three times. Penguins will be highlighted in the next blog.
The city is watched over by Table Mountain, a sandstone goliath that attracts tourists and locals alike. We hiked up Plettenklip Gorge. Anne’s most powerful outdoor skill is her ability to hike uphill at an impressive rate, so she went for it on this one. The estimated time up is 2 hours and she made it in a mere one hour and five minutes. My most powerful outdoor skill is not my ability to hike uphill at an impressive rate. For a tourist treat and to save my aching knees after the Otter Trail, we took the tram down and it was actually pretty cool. The floor slowly rotated so you had a view from all angles. I thought that was a very nice touch compared to other trams that I’ve been on.
Our hostel was a short walk away from the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, a monstrosity of a mall/shopping complex complete with a massive Ferris Wheel out front. There were two movie theaters and we went to the artsy one and saw Jane Eyre. I highly recommend it. While it felt slightly foreign to sit in a movie theater and eat popcorn, it was lovely.
While my driving skills are constantly improving, Cape Town threw me several new curves, such as lots of street parking and lots of pedestrians. One of the more intense (but scenic) drives was the road to Hout Bay which consisted of narrow, winding roads with a mountain on one side and the Atlantic Ocean 100m below on the other. That alone would have been fine, but this shoulder-less road was a favorite with bicyclists who were either suicidal or short on biking etiquette and insisted on riding up to four bikers deep with nary a care of the car approaching them from behind on a hairpin turn. Luckily we and they made it out alive, and we took a fabulous but short cruise to see a giant fur seal rookery. (Because we just don’t see enough marine mammals at home.)
The Cape Town experience would not be complete without a drive down to the Cape of Good Hope, where the tourism industry incorrectly touts this point as the meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (the real point is Cape Agulhas some 200 kilometers east). It was still beautiful though and we did a nice hike out to the point.
Between the museums, outdoor opportunities, delicious eateries, and shopping, we ended up being here for four non-stop days, and really only left because we were spending too much money and promised ourselves we’d be in Namibia by June 1.