Friday, 9 May 2014

Cape Town: The city that stole my heart

I am not over exaggerating when I say I fell in love with Cape Town, whether is was the bustling Waterfront, the weather or the cocktail happy hours, it is a city that stole my heart. Everyone I have spoken to who has been to Cape Town has had nothing but good things to say about the city and it lived up to the hype.

Cape Town has a perfect mix of outdoors and nightlife, things to do and places to lounge and I found myself staying there for longer than I had planned. It is a city I could easily live in with options of hiking, surfing and swimming a weekends but with cocktails, ostrich burgers and dancing for night time.
The infamous Tablecloth seen from the V&A

View up Platteklip Gorge
One of the draws in Cape Town is hiking Table Mountain. At over 1,000m high and nearly 3km across, it is a relatively straightforward climb with amazing views to reward you on reaching the summit. Megan and I decided to climb via Platteklip Gorge, one of the most straightforward ascents. We took a taxi for R50 to the base of the mountain but later found out that minibuses go to the turn off which would prevent you being ripped off by a taxi driver (ours tried initially to charge R80 and then turned off the meter before he stopped the car and tried to charge R60). We started the climb shortly after 10am and reached the summit shortly after 2:30. In places the trail is very exposed so take plenty of water and sunscreen if climbing in the summer season. Once you reach the top, there are many trails you can follow and there are views over the City Bowl and Atlantic Ocean on one side and down to Cape Point and the Indian Ocean on the other. We treated ourselves to a well earned ice-cream before taking the cable car back down.
View south along the Cape Peninsula
 from the top of Table Mountain

View of the City Bowl, Signal Hill and Robben
Island from Table Mountain

One day I took the Red tour bus which I always find a great way to orientate yourself and to get some historical nuggets. I hopped off to explore Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens under the eastern side of Table Mountain. The Cape Peninsula is home to one of the floral kingdoms, the Cape Region of the South African Kingdom, the smallest of all the floral kingdoms and one of the iconic flowers of that kingdom is the King Protea, the national flower of South Africa. Unfortunately it seems I had just missed the flowering season but none the less Kirstenbosch provided some beautiful plants, and some interesting information it the natural medicine area.

The red bus took me out towards the wine area and Groot Constantia winery. Just a note for all the single gals among you, don't do what I did and go to Kirstenbosch and wine tasting on Valentine's day. I was surrounded by couples being all coupley and it just hit home that I was all alone on that day! 

After the stop at Groot Constantia, the bus made it's way out the to 'Republic' of Hout Bay and along the back of Table Mountain, under the shadow of the 12 apostles through Camps Bay and back to the V&A Waterfront. The views along this coastal portion are amazing, crashing waves, beautiful suburbs perched on cliff edges and with the sun setting behind me, it was a perfect end to the day. 

Along with all these good, clean outdoor activities, the hedonistic centre of Long Street awaits you in the evening. This place is busy every night of the week whether it is people meeting for dinners in one of the many restaurants (dining al fresco in the summer), having happy hour cocktails (how I spent my evenings) or dancing the night away, you have your pick of places. I stayed in Long Street Backpackers at the heart of Long Street and so was just steps away from it all but again Long Street is full of accommodation to suit all budgets with at least 4 other hostels on the same block as LSB alone. 

Cape Town has so much to offer that it's impossible to cover it all in one blog post. I mean I haven't even touched on Robben Island, the Cape of Good Hope etc

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