A mere 1 ½ hour plane ride away from Durban was our next stop – Cape Town. I fell in love with this city from the moment we landed. The wide highways leading towards our hotel, were so different from Durban it almost felt like Europe in Africa.
We stayed at The Holiday Inn, Garden Court. Having arrived earlier than usual, the room was not ready for check in and we had to wait till almost 3 pm before we were checked in – worth the wait as we landed ourselves a huge room which had a panoramic view of the waterfront and the sea beyond it which gave a hint of the beauty of Cape Town.
The hotel is at the foot of Table Mountain, which towers majestically behind it, making it a good location to explore the mountain, but being a 20 minute cab ride away from the Waterfront and all the action, it did cost us a lot more in cab fare than just staying in a hotel in the Waterfront area to begin with.
Having arrived in Cape Town on new year’s eve, we asked the concierge for recommended places to ring in the new year, and he suggested we drive to the beach at Camp’s Bay, which is famous for its beach parties. We had met a young couple from Zambia who were on their honeymoon, and they decided to join us, so the four of us shared a mini van, winding our way from the hotel, past Signal Hill and down to Camp’s Bay.
We walked around the strip of restaurants on the beachfront, and having not had the sense to book in advance had to search for a place to have dinner before partying the night away. Luckily, the Cape Town Fish Market had some seating available, and we ate there again. After dinner, we walked out onto the beach however found that we didn’t have any alcohol to ring in the new year, and soon wandered off in search of a pub, which we found just in time! Having just ordered our first round of drinks, the DJ counted down to 2008 and fireworks off the beach ushered in the new year!
We headed back to the hotel at about 2 am – early I know, but getting a cab back had turned out to be easier said than done and it just made sense after asking 10 cabs that turned us down (due to the distance) to take the one that said yes to us, back to the hotel!!
The next day we headed out to the V&A Waterfront Shopping Mall and indulged in some new years ice cream at the Haagen Dazs Café, and then we took a champagne boat ride in the bay, taking in the sights of Cape Town as far as the eyes could see….i remember the spray of the sea, and the crashing of the waves across the boat!
I remember we had to choose between shopping and sight seeing. Now, it may not seem like a huge deal, but coming from Kenya five years ago, where anything “imported” was ten times the original price, and where it was not the easiest thing in the world to travel and shop, (thank goodness those days are gone) I faced the tough choice that I am sure every young woman climbing up the career ladder in my shoes faces: shop or sight see? On the one hand, I had Cape Town’s premiere shopping mall, Canal Walk and all it offered, and on the other – the wine routes and Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope to explore.
I am proud to say – the sightseeing won. It was a no-brainer. We chose a package deal that picked us up from the hotel, and took us down through Camps Bay,
via Chapman’s Peak Drive,
onto Boulders Beach to play with the penguins (you can’t touch them but you do get close enough to get a few choice snap shots)
past Hermanus Bay (where, when the season is right you get to see the Southern Right Whale) and onto Cape Point, where we were told the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet (but which we learned later was not true as they meet at Cape Agulhas)
and further down to the Cape of Good Hope.
The tour stopped in Stellenbosch, where we devoured some ribs at the Golden Spur, checked an ATM and realised that my salary had been credited and we could raid Canal Walk after all, and made our way to a wine and cheese tasting at the Zewenwacht Wine Estate, which offered us a cheese and wine pairing of the red and white wines it produces. That being said, South Africa and especially the wine route is on my bucket list again, so I can do a proper wine route and sample some of the food in a restaurant where one has to book months in advance!
We ended our sojourn in Cape Town with a legendary cable car ride up Table Mountain. The mountain was shrouded in mist the few days that we were in Cape Town, and a cable car ride was not possible, but on the last day we were awarded with a clear sky. We chose to do the Cable Car ride that took us up the mountain just before sunset (as opposed to hiking up the trail). We waited about 30 minutes in line, then rode up in what I have read described as a ‘rotating tin can’ on a cable (really it is a cable car that rotates 360˚ so you have views of the sea and the mountains and really is a fantastic experience).
At the top, it was very windy and we did the tour on the mountain, soaked in the views – absolutely spectacular – the sea on one end, with the twinkling lights of Cape Town coming on just below, and the mountains and the sea on the other, breath taking.
There is a restaurant at the top, where we ordered cocktails aptly named “Sex on the Mountain” and a very reasonably priced cheese and cracker platter, and watched the sun go down, and toasted to a very successful first footstep out into the world. Till this day, we remember that sunset as being one of the most spectacular – seeing the sun melt away into the ocean like a giant ball and spread orange over the horizon is a memory like no other.
The next day we would be heading back home, via one night in Johannesburg.