I didn’t really have any expectations of Cape Town. I had seen the pictures of the city surrounded by Table Mountain but I didn’t really know what the city itself would be like. I spent two days exploring and it really was an amazingly beautiful place.
Table Mountain is the highlight, standing over the city, but you don’t really appreciate it enough until you get to the top and see the breathtaking views. After planning on the standard 30 minute walk around the main lookouts I ended up doing the 90 minute walk out along the ridge to Maclear’s Beacon. Although not part of the plan I’m glad I did it because the 360 degree views covered everything from the entire city and its outskirts, to mountain ranges in the distance, the ocean and the numerous beaches and even Cape Point, the southern most point of Africa. After seeing that, there was no surprise in finding out that Table Mountain is officially one of the Seven Wonders of Nature.
The beaches and coastal towns around the city are also amazing. Clear blue water, white sand beaches, palm trees, extravagant houses and expensive restaurants are characteristic of Camps Bay, Clifton and Sea Point, which are just over the Table Mountain ridges. I felt like I was in either Greece or maybe even Sorrento back home instead of Africa. I even overheard a fellow traveller say, “This seems like Europe!”.
In fact, a lot of Cape Town makes me feel like I’m not really in Africa yet. I feel like I’m on more of a holiday where I should be in a bikini lying on the beach rather than an adventure. Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful place, which explains why Leonardo Di Caprio apparently comes here often (though I sadly failed to spot him).
Although the city is modern and ‘Westernised’, you can still see colonial and Dutch influences in the old buildings, showing the city’s rich history. There is also remnants of apartheid in the city, especially in District Six which was hit hard by the forced removal and demolitions that took place from the late 1960s onwards. Areas are still flattened but have been deliberately left with no development taking place as a sign of respect for what happened there. It’s not the most popular spot for tourists but it definitely shows you more of what’s beneath the developed city front and sandy beaches.
Visiting Robben Island was very moving. How anyone survived living there I don’t know and especially for such a long time. Our guide had been a prisoner there himself for 5 years and he was able to give us an insight into daily life, how there was a ranking of prisoners depending on race, which went whites, coloureds and then blacks meaning that treatment and privileges were given based on this ranking. Political prisoners were held completely separately from others also, so being a black political prisoner meant you were treated the worst.
*post adapted from my trip here in November 2014 and from my original blog site elishasbigtrip.wordpress.com