Cape Town, South Africa has been a glaring gap in the map of my Travels for a long time, up until my recent trip there last month. Cape Town was high on my “must go” places for a number of reasons including;
1. Cape Town is one of the worlds top Beach Cities
2. A desire to return to Africa ever since my first trip, a camping Safari in Tanzania
3. As with most stories and quests…its about a girl. In this case, a girl I dated back in college. A good looking dirty blonde haired, blue eyed girl with an accent I didn’t recognize that came from a place at the very tip of Africa called Cape Town. A place with beautiful beaches and women to match, wild animals not far from the city and a large population of members of my Tribe, the Chosen People. What and how did they end up there? My curiosity was piqued.
Cape Town has a reputation for a number of things, three that were on my mind while planning the trip were its stunning natural beauty, its reputation for being a fairly dangerous city(due to income inequality and its divisive past racial issues) and for being a hot Foodie destination.
The scenery surrounding the city and down the coast were even more stunning than I expected. Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope blew me away. Mountains are everywhere, waves crash against rocky coasts and while beaches are of soft sand.
In my experiences the danger factor was overhyped and by day I walked all over (within reason) without any issues. At night I walked around Sea Point the (upscale on one side, seedy somewhat on the other with a Promenade by the sea like that of Rio and Tel Aviv) neighborhood I based out of. However, I was told by everyone that walking around at night solo would not be a good idea.
Cape Town more than lived up to its hype of being a Foodie city, the Vineyards not only produce great wines but were beautiful, and Cape Towns Craft Beer revolution that I read about was in full swing. I drank great local brews throughout my trip including going on a Craft Beer crawl on my own in Woodstock(their Brooklyn) one day.
Overall I found Captonians to be friendly and oddly sounded more like Aussies than Africaans(my understanding is that up north they have the thick Dutch/Germanic accents). I also met a number of Africans from throughout the continent who all(with the exception of a couple of Angolan girls I met) shared at least one thing in command…they all spoke English.
Service wise whether it was in a restaurant, on the Street or even in the men’s room bathroom in Tembo Airport, extremely professional, courteous and friendly.
The locals really seem to have a thing for Art. I saw this not only in their Street Art, Galleries and Sculptures but experienced it firsthand in how they responded to the sketches I would work on while having lunch or coffee. I frequently draw portraits of multi-cultural women and that really seemed to strike a chord with them.
Race is something that comes up frequently, you simply can’t get away from it. I think they talk about it a lot as part of the healing process. It started on the ride in with my driver pointing out the “Townships” and new concrete buildings for the “colored” to tour guides on my trip to the Vineyards(i.e. we stopped at Drakenstein Correctional Centre, where Mandela was released from) and to the Cape of Good Point where our guide delineated how the Rainbow Nation views the make-up of it’s people, African/Black, White, and Colored representing any mix of any of the races together. He used President Barack Obama as an example of colored. I found Cape Town more integrated than I expected to. When I brought this up to locals though they seemed skeptical of my view. I guess as a New Yorker who grew up and lives in a multicultural melting pot I saw the present and future, not the past.
The city itself is rather unique in that it’s kind of like someone took parts of Sydney, SF, Miami, slices of Europe, surrounded it by mountains, stuck one in the middle and gave it an African vibe.
Overall I really enjoyed my time in Cape Town and left wanting to come back and see more of the city and of the county. I’ll start putting up blogs on the various neighborhoods, trips, beaches, wildlife encounters, Food/Vino/Beer etc that I enjoyed next week. For now check out the pics below to pique your interest in this fascinating city…