I have been quite fortunate from a general perspective to be able to have travel to various parts of the world. I am proud to say that I have been on six of the seven continents and have seen various ways of life. When asked where my favourite part of the world to travel has been to date, I cannot answer as each place holds different memories and experiences. However, what I would say to most people is that if you must make one trip in your lifetime that trip must be to Africa. I have been to Africa three times but have only visited Johannesburg and Cape Town with a 3 day safari at Kruger National Park (next year I will be going to Tanzania and Ethiopia and will do a 5 day safari of the Serengeti) but each time I have had very different experiences and I leave with not only a sense of pride of the Motherland but pride to see that integration is occurring and that wealth creation is spreading to ALL people as opposed to just those that are White. Black wealth is growing and as a whole in the major cities of Africa people’s standard of living is improving. I am not fooled, I have driven through some very desolate areas and have seen all levels of poverty. There are still a number of people that cannot afford electricity, proper facilities and have terrible living standards and to be honest that may not change in the near future. However, in the metropolitan areas you see the growth. My first time to SA I did not stay in Johannesburg but went directly to Cape Town. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful waterfront cities I have seen. Depending on how I feel, I would say it is between Cape Town and Sydney, Australia for the most beautiful waterfront city (we will discuss Sydney in our next blog) in the world.
What I remember most is leaving the airport and driving into the city. From afar you can see Table Top Mountain getting closer and you quickly realize why it is called Table Top because the clouds cover the top and it looks like a tablecloth over a table. You then come around the corner in to the bowl, which is the city, and the first thing you see is this unfinished highway that is elevated. This infamous structure is called the Foreshore Freeway that was developed and built in the 1970’s and has stood in Cape Town unfinished for over 40 years (plans to complete it are underway). It is currently used for action movies where we usually see the freeway being blown up or our heroes/heroins jump off the end of the freeway into the water or oncoming freeway traffic below. You then arrive by the Waterfront where they have a beautiful mall, aquarium, numerous art galleries and the Rugby Hall of Fame. The area is very busy bustling with European tourists. There is the dock where you can take a ferry to Robben Island to hear about Nelson Mandela. To be honest it is an experience that is a must but you may be disappointed with the tour. When you get to Nelson’s cell you have a very limited time to take pictures and take it all in. However upon your ferry ride back to the mainland you can reflect about the life and experiences a young Mandela had experienced and it really puts things into perspective. The Waterfront scene is amazing and the vibe so colourful, you have live music, usually African music which is melodic heavy bass it touches your soul; there are live shows, very few beggars and numerous attractions for kids. You can take a walk around the area at all times and feel quite safe. I ventured on my first day further east (I think ) and walked to where the soccer stadium that was built for the World Cup now sits. Sadly it is not used much which makes you ask why they went through all the expense to build such a beautiful structure that is hardly used. There are so many little areas/districts in the Cape Town areas all with different vibes and experiences. Among the beaches at the bottom of Table Mountain’s imposing western side, you will encounter some of Cape Town’s most desirable neighbourhoods – Camps Bay and Clifton. These neighbourhoods are popular with wealthy expats who take the opportunity to buy beach-side homes and enjoy the high life. While there isn’t a lot to do for culture vultures out here, the city is only around 10 minutes away. However, to spend a day in this area you will be exposed to phenomenal restaurants, exotic cars and quite possibly a sighting of either a local, European or North American star. At Bo Kaap/Waterkant you will see a mish-mash of brightly painted houses, modern apartments and chic loft renovations. It has become one of the more desirable areas, expats will find plenty of bars and restaurants here.
If you are a foodie, then SA is a must, there are a number of amazing local meals but also the game meat is amazing. I had peasant, buffalo, gazelle, and ostrich while I was there. Yes you need to be adventurous but to be honest most of the food could pass for steak but it is just so flavorful. Another amazing attraction of SA is the wine regions of Stellenbosch and surrounding areas. OMG the views, and the wine is something to experience. More importantly the price for wine is dirt-cheap. Truth be told your dollar goes a long way in SA, which is another reason why one must make the trip. Cost for travel from Toronto if booked well in advance can range from $899 -$1500 CAD and if you fly from the New York you can get a direct flight on South African Airways for $1100USD with a layover in Johannesburg. In total it is 21 hours of flight no matter which route you choose. Flights to Europe in peak times s well as Vancouver could cost as much if not more than a flight to South Africa.
In summary, I would say that I was pleasantly surprised of the experience and how much safer Cape Town is as opposed to what the medic =a would have you believe. This should not surprise anyone as the media will form our opinions for us if we are unwilling to venture out and find out for ourselves. There are so many other things to do in Cape Town and surrounding areas that I did not mention but I had experienced such as taking an UBER to Cape of Good Hope (the most southern point of South Africa) or Cape Aghula (where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet) or the animals you will see along the way in particular the penguins. Yes I said penguins in South Africa. All in all there is something to do for everyone in Cape Town and if your are an adventurous person I would highly recommend you take 7-10 days in Cape Town and surrounding areas.