South Africa Part 1: Cape Town

My cousin and his wife are traveling through Europe right now and blogging as they go. 
I have read each of their entries so far, and it's awesome to feel like I am traveling right along with them!
While I was not disciplined enough to blog throughout my stay in Cape Town, I do want to chronicle the highlights of our adventure there, for my own memory as well as for anyone who may want to visit one day!

Wednesday & Thursday, July 6th and 7th, 2011
After a seventeen hour flight from DC to Johannesburg (with an hour on the ground in Dakar for refueling), we flew for two more hours from Johannesburg to Cape Town and arrived at our hotel in the center of town on Thursday at 9:30 pm. 
We booked the accommodation and transportation aspects of our trip through Lion World Tours. 
I'm not sure how they got us into the 15 on Orange hotel, but I'm so glad they did! The hotel is beautiful and modern, and the staff is friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating (even packing us breakfasts-to-go for our early morning adventures!).
Though we had slept through half of our 20 hours on the planes, we went to bed soon after our arrival to gear up for the next day.
Friday, July 8th, 2011
First order of business: hike Table Mountain.
I had booked our hike through Table Mountain Walks prior to our arrival, and couldn't wait to get a bird's eye view of the city.
At 7:30 am we were picked up by our hiking guide, Mary.
By 8am we had begun our ascent, and by 8:15 I was ready to quit.
Why, oh why, had I signed us up for this the morning after spending 20 hours on on plane?
What I thought would be a four hour hike- 2 hours up, 2 hours down- was in fact a four hour hike up, and a cable car ride down.
It was no easy climb, but in the end it was so worth it. The views at the top (and all along the way) are incredible.
Hot, tired and thirsty after our hike, there was only one remedy for our exhaustion after such a big morning, and it came in the form of red, white, rose, and bubbly.
That's right~ after a quick lunch and shower back at our hotel, our next guide, Peter, arrived to take us out to the exquisite Cape Wine lands (think South Africa's Napa Valley).
We spent the afternoon at 2 vineyards in Stellenbouch, about 30 miles east of Cape Town.
We relaxed in the sunshine, tasted delicious South African wines, and had the most interesting conversations with Peter about the country's history. 

That evening Peter recommended a restaurant for dinner called The Africa Cafe, which ended up being the best meal we had while in Cape Town. 
Our waitress began our dining experience by washing our hands with rose water, as it was customary there to eat with our hands. Not only was every single dish they served delicious, but we also got a taste of true African culture. They painted our faces and sang the night away, and I could have stayed there forever!
Saturday, July 9th, 2011
After sleeping in until 10 am on Saturday morning (the traveling had finally caught up to us!), 
we spent the majority of the day hopping on and off the Cape Town City Sightseeing bus.
In my opinion this is one of the best ways to get an overview of a big city- you can hop on and off the bus numerous times throughout the day, and stay in each location for as long as you wish.
We "hopped off" at the Imizamo Yethu Township, Mariners Wharf, and Camp's Bay.
Imizamo Yethu is a township of about 3,000 South Africans. Though extremely poor by American standards, everyone we met while walking through seemed incredibly happy and full of life.
We saw their communal toilets and one of their four communal water taps. 
We spoke with our guides about the education system of the township, and made friends with a few young girls (who, upon posing for a picture, ran over to see the digital image on my camera, just like my own students!)
Our time there was eye opening. 
From there we rode the bus to Mariners Wharf, a seaside part of town with shops and outdoor fish & chip shacks. We cooled off with ice cream, put our feet in the sand, and watched some daring natives play in the frigid water. 

After finishing our ice cream and dusting off our feet, we hit another beach area called Camps Bay.
Camps Bay's modern flare and hip vibe reminded me exactly of South Beach, Florida.
We had sushi at an open air restaurant on the water and stayed on the beach to witness our first South African sunset. 
It was stunning (both the sushi and the sunset :) ).
That night we enjoyed kingclip and crab legs at Baia, a seafood restaurant on the Cape Town Waterfront.
Sunday, July 10th, 2011
We spent most of our day on Sunday on a guided tour outside of the city. We drove along the stunning Atlantic Seaboard, stopped by Hout Bay, took a boat to Seal Island, stopped off at Chapmans Peak, explored Cape Point (where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans start to meet) and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, ate lunch in Simonstown, and hung out with a penguin colony at Boulder's Beach. 
It was a big day.
We spent our last evening in Cape Town walking around the Waterfront, and then ate dinner closer to our hotel at the Gold Restaurant (similar to The Africa Cafe but not nearly as scrumptious). 
Throughout our time in Cape Town I just couldn't believe its splendor! Around each and every corner, the city was more and more beautiful, and I am thankful to have been able to explore so much of it in our short time there.
On Monday morning we boarded our flight east to Port Elizabeth for the safari portion of our adventure, which I will record the details of very soon. For now, Kenzie is going to kill me if I don't get off the computer and take her for a walk :)


Our Beaten Path said...

WOW! Amazing! I loved looking at your pictures! What a great time it looked.

Ashley Sisk said...

Loving the photos - just want to go even more!

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