GUEST ARTICLE: The weather was freezing when we arrived in Cape Town and the dark clouds and persistent light drizzle never made it any better. After picking up our car at the airport we set up our car navigator (something I would highly recommend) and headed into the city.
The traffic wasn’t as bad as we had anticipated, although there was quite a bit of construction due to next year’s 2010 World Cup Soccer (the South Africans are very excited about the World Cup and the atmosphere is already energised).
We checked ourselves into the Ritz Hotel located on the coast and then went to grab a bite to eat across the street at an excellent little Italian restaurant across the road.
After a wonderful meal of Spaghetti and Ostrich Meatballs (which were excellent!) and a nice bottle of South African wine we packed it in for the night. On our way home we noticed the winds had picked up quite a bit, little did we know we were in for one of many long sleepless nights.
Our room at the Ritz in Cape Town was located directly on the corner of the building which was encased in windows. During the night the winds had picked up to 75kms/hr which made the windows shake so violently we thought they were going to blow in at any moment, and the noise was like nothing we’d ever heard, it sounded like a train outside our window.
Unfortunately the weather never let up during our visit there although the sun did decide to poke its head out every now and again. Because of the drastic weather the seas really churned up and they were quite the sight to see.
The next day we decided to go for a drive down the coast. Even though the weather wasn’t the best you could still see glimpses of the famous beautiful giant rock cliffs and lush green hills along the coast. We could only imagine how incredible the city of Cape Town with these surrounding cliffs and sea would look on a clear day.
We drove towards the Cape Peninsula National Park, along the way we passed some beautiful looking suburbs but we also passed some large, poor settlements called Townships.
Townships were created under the old political system Apartheid and initially meant for non-whites. Khayelitsha which is located along the N2 was established in 1985 and today it is the largest single township. It consists of shacks made out of cardboard, tin, wood and pretty much anything one can find and it is home to just over 2 million people (!!)
The outside looks extremely poor and from what we hear some sections in the Township are very dangerous and the crime rate is high. They actually do recommend tourists going for an organised ‘tour’ of the townships for a better insight on living conditions.
One of the big attractions there is Table Mountain, a really incredible landmark overlooking Cape Town. Unfortunately due to the bad weather and high winds we were unable to go on their scenic cableway but the view from the Cableway Centre was still a beauty and it offered an impressive view of the city.
“Table Mountain and the 7 sisters in Cape Town, South Africa taken from Lions Head” photo credit: by darkroomillusions
Afterwards we went to check out their massive Casino and a shopping centre called The Canal Walk. Both places were very impressive although somewhat empty? I guess you can’t expect much in the middle of winter.
Oh and before you enter the casino you must check drop off your guns/weapons at security! Overall we found things were pretty cheap – for example we went to a movie with all the trimmings for only $12AUD, perfect!
One morning during breakfast I got to talking with a man who said he had just had the scariest experience of his life. The day before he had gone to a little café at Cape Point and was enjoying some lunch when all of a sudden the café door flew open and a massive Baboon came screaming inside, arms flailing and trying to grab whatever it could off the tables.
He said he and everyone else were scared out of their wits and were cowering in the corner while this thing bared its teeth screeching at the top of its lungs.
Guess who came to the rescue – a little old lady and her cane! She charged the Baboon and hit the crap out of it until it left! Hahahaha! What I would have paid to have seen that! I guess they actually have quite a baboon problem in Cape Town with not only theft but there have also been some attacks – freaky!
So, besides the freezing windy weather we saw some pretty interesting things (tip – you rally need a car in Cape Town). We would love to go back one day (in the summer of course!) to check out the infamous White Shark feeding tours and of course the very beautiful Table Mountain.
A Township tour would also make for an interesting blog as well and it would be nice to learn more about the people and the incredible history of South Africa.
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!