I arrived in Cape Town after driving across country, from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park to Durban and along the coast. Friends had recommended as the one place not to miss. Sure enough, Cape Town was one of the few cities around the world that captured my heart.
I reached the city in beautiful weather with cloudless, blue skies. The words of a local rang in my ears: “If there are no clouds, drop whatever you are doing and head up to Table Mountain – you might not get another chance!” ..and so I did. At the top, I encountered one of many random acts of kindness: I was struggling to parallel park my right steered rental car (there is nothing RIGHT about that) and a local jumped in to help me into the spot with a smile. When I made it to the top, I had to sit down…the views are amazing, the natural beauty of the city breathtaking. I said a quiete “Thank you” to the woman who had told me to go up here in the perfect weather and staid till the sun was starting to sink lower and lower.
From up there, I also got a first glimpse of the diversity of the city. You have the bustling downtown, the little towns by the beach, pretty suburbs and sprawling townships all around, with mountains inbetween. There are so many facets to the city, you need a while to explore it.
And when I did, I also learned to appreciate what the often used term of the “Rainbow Nation” means. And the excellent museums help with that. The District 6 Museum teaches about the “Group Separation Act” and its impact on the people of Cape Town. Robben Island is another worthwhile trip, where a former political prisoner will tell you about the history of the prison island during the Apartheid system.
While Cape Town still carries the scars of many years of segregation and struggle, you will also find the hope and promise of the “Rainbow Nation” that is building a new future for all South Africans. More than elsewhere in Africa, people of different backgrounds seem to overcome their differences and live in relative peace and harmony. In restaurants, bars or malls, you can observe people separated more by income than by race, building their lives. You can find one of the best infrastructures of the whole continent in Cape Town and it is easy to forget the worries of this continent here. You can walk around many areas of Cape Town, day or night, without fear of being robbed or car jacked – despite reports of crime across the country.
If you still have time left after exploring the city itself, draw a wider circle and discover the surroundings. There is plenty to see. You can spent time in the wine country around Stellenbosch, Paarl or Frenchhoek, tasting great wines at a fraction of the price you would pay in the US or Europe. And don’t miss the unique Cape Dutch architecture.
If you keep going, you will make your way to the Little Caroo, with its wildlife parks, caves and ostrich farms. You can drive along the beautiful Garden Route and spend your time relaxing in a little coastal town, watching whales from the beach or jumping down bridges for the world’s highest bungie jump.
The beauty of the surroundings and the variety of things to do will keep you coming back, the diversity and friendliness of the people will make it difficult to leave.
Check out the photos below for more impressions of Cape Town: