Milling around Cape Town

I’ve arrived in Cape Town during the winter season here and it’s made me think that I much prefer living in a warmer climate. Of course, by winter’ I really mean wearing a fleece or a cardigan during the bright days rather than donning layers of thermal underwear or a duvet-style puffa jacket. But it does get cold in the evenings and homes and hotels are not usually equipped with central heating.

Gone are the warm balmy nights I’ve gotten used to these past three months, where I didn’t have to worry about carrying an extra layer of clothes and an umbrella just in case. I’ve also had to incarcerate my pedicured feet back into shoes and socks. Sunshine is so freeing isn’t it?

But the cooler climate does have its benefits. For one, it’s great for walking. I’m staying downtown in the city centre, next door to the National Parliament and the lovely Company Gardens (a stark contrast to green-free Accra). I should get a pair of Zena’s much talked about Vibram walking shoes to make the most of this pedestrian heaven. Word of warning though, it only exists in the city centre otherwise, you need some wheels to get around!

Cape Town is a gorgeous, sexy and classy city. It’s a modern, thriving metropolis, blending the colonial with the traditional and the futuristic. With probably one of the most diverse populations in the world, Cape Town has beautiful looking people as well as architecture. But what sets it apart is its natural habitat; it’s like the city has grown out of the ancient rocks that still encase it.

The iconic Table Mountain looms majestically in the rugged skyline and almost seems alive and breathing white clouds above the city.

I wanted to do the hike to the top of Table Mountain today and take the cable car back down but the moody weather thwarted that plan. I’ll have to make a quick dash for it whenever there’s a clear enough day to climb. Table Mountain is 3,558 ft high, so while it might be sunny and warm on the ground, it’s likely to be freezing cold at the top so you must heed the weather warnings.

My alternate hike was down the infamous Long Street, with all its funky boutiquey- chic-ness, to the V&A Waterfront a pristine development where rich folks live. It has a working marina, some plush apartment blocks and hundreds of shops and is a great place to while away the day. I stopped to checkout the Waterfront Craft and Wellness Centre an indoor marketplace with vendors selling artwork and offering everything from reflexology and back massages to tarot reading and crystal therapy.

On the walk back, I past my firm’s local office building and thought about dropping in for a guided tour, but then thought there’s much more to see in the city and, anyway, my sabbatical is too short to be thinking about work. It’s like the weekend; as soon as you get to the middle of it you start thinking about your Monday morning! I’ll wait until they post me here for a project one day (I wish!).

I’m spending the rest of the week in the winelands of Cape Town in a place called Franschoek. Apparently, it’s a beautiful village with lots of great places to eat and great wine, of course.

Notice how I’ve not mentioned the detox planned for this week? Well, I gave it one day and decided that I didn’t want to miss out on all the culinary delights Cape Town has to offer. Don’t worry, I’m getting much more fruit and veg and have been avoiding cakes, although there seems to be a bakery on every corner!

I also plan to head to Robben Island and am thinking about doing a Township Tour’ but not sure howI feel about the proposition; going with a bunch of tourists to visit a hood and see how poor black folks live? I might be missing the context here, but I can imagine if people from the hood where I grew up were to organise similar tours at £50 a pop, I’m not sure how authentic’ that experience would be.

Also,where does the money go? To the tour operator? Check out the ad for the tour below and let me know what you think should I go?

‘Discover the multicultural side of Cape Town and interact with the locals. From District Six where forced removals changed the lives for many people, to informal settlements where traditional healers and shebeens add to the rich culture of township life.’

Answers on a postcard please 😉


7 Responses to “Milling around Cape Town”

  1. Francis Kwabena Yeboah May 12, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Interesting read. It seems like you are having a great time. I like the comparison you made to a tour in SA and an organised tour in the hood over hear in the UK. Wouldn’t that be funny. However it would be interesting to see how people live in the villagersin SA, just to get a feel or as close a feel to how the indigenous people lived prior to western influence…..

    All the best and stay blessed…..

  2. Oh Michelle, your travelling tales make me jealous! I have worked in the local office you passed for a few days and stayed with the posh folk on the waterfront – it’s bringing back the memories.

    Table mountain is a must but you will have to make a dash when the table cloth lifts, I had the same problem. At least you can see it from pretty much everywhere. I didn’t do Robben Island and wished I had so I would go for it if I were you.

    Stay safe

  3. Hi Michelle,

    Yes! Go on the Township Tour and share your experience with us.

  4. Re the trip to township, what have you got to loose other than £50 (which I must say is quiet steep!) yet lots of memories which you can’t quantify in money. That said, am sure most of the areas you’ll visit if not all would be strategically picked areas for tourists…….not that I am a cynical African  enjoy and share you experience I am sure it would be an interesting experience nonetheless.


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