One little weekend in Cape Town

IMG_3231 (2)I have a LOT to say about this past weekend I spent touristing in Cape Town. I have some reflections I’d like to work through about the poverty that I encountered there as well as the heartbreaking history that has been so beautifully presented and honoured. For the time being, however, I’d like to simply share what an awesome range of fun you can get up to as a tourist in Cape Town.

I started off with a fantastic lunch of tapas, a glass of lovely red wine, and a coffee for $7.25. I’m trying really hard not to be the kind of person who takes pictures of their food (even though I want to so badly!) but I did feel compelled to take a photo of their very groovy bathroom:IMG_3039

Next came my visit to the District Six museum. Despite having consistently heard about how wonderful this exhibit is, I was wholly unprepared for how beautiful and tragic and noble the space is. I’m not going to spend too long on it here, as I want to give it its own post, so I’ll just say that District Six was an area of Cape Town that community leaders declared to be a ‘Whites Only’ zone in the 1960s and proceeded to evict and bulldoze the homes and businesses of some 60,000 mostly coloured residents. This went on until the 1980s and the international community was so outraged that nearly the entire site remains undeveloped to this day. The museum space practically seethes with the trauma of having your community torn apart and scattered to the winds.

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In this photo you can see the map of District 6 on the floor, all of the street signs that were saved following the destruction, photos of former residents, and a banner signed by some of the survivors.

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I was really struck by the family photos – a lot of them reminded me of the snap shots of my mom and my aunt when they were kids.

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The museum is housed in a former church in District Six that became a meeting place for anti-apartheid activists.

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I was in the museum for a long time. I will go back. But more about that later.

Because you seemingly can’t do anything as a tourist in this part of South Africa (at least I can’t) that isn’t vaguely schizophrenic, I went to an old colonial mansion next.IMG_3154

Not much to say about this one. It was mansiony. There was some art inside. Moving on.

Dinner was next, at the very cool rooftop patio of The Grand Daddy on Long Street. Also, a very funky little spot. There were about seven Airstream trailers up on this roof. How on earth did they get up there?IMG_3179

After dinner, I retired to my lovely Hout Bay room and this viewThis is the view from the guesthouse I'm staying in this weekend )

On to day two, which sees me venturing to Table Mountain to ride the cable car to the top. Apparently it’s a must do. Were you at Table Mountain this past Saturday? If not you missed out, because I think everyone else on the planet was there. I took one look at the lineup and skedaddled right back down the mountain. Another time.

Instead I went to the Company Gardens, a very beautiful garden in the center of town that used to be the vegetable garden for the colonial settlement. It has trees like this:IMG_3293

Then I went to the Bo Kaap, the Malay settlement that also has a wonderful history and culture that I’m looking forward to learning more about.IMG_3257

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Can we talk about this car?

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Seriously, I kind of want to stalk the owner and force him or her to be friends with me.

Next up: Greenmarket square. This is where lots of the arts and crafts vendors gather and there are always lots of kids’ groups singing and dancing for the tourists. This is what it sounded like on Saturday:

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The dancers take a break to listen to the singing

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What could possibly be next you ask? Why it’s the Carnival of course! The Cape Town Carnival just began a few years ago and it is a big hit drawing huge crowds of people.

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I think this girl was the queen of the waste collectors

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The firefighters waiting their turn. Why don’t they have shirts on?

Turns out that the Carnival is mostly a parade, did you know this? Having been thoroughly traumatized by the Timmins, Ontario Santa Claus parades of my youth (I’ll give you a minute to process that one), I am not so much a fan of parades. Home to bed!

Sunday started off with the Hout Bay Market, which is a very chic little market in an old fish processing warehouse on the waterfront. I thought I was in Portland.IMG_3330IMG_3331IMG_20160313_121042781[1]

The rest of the day I wandered around the city mostly, but I did manage to finally find some African food!! Okay, I’ve already broken my promise about photos of food – but African food!! I never thought I’d be so happy to see ugali (only here it’s mealie pap, and I think they might even put salt in it because it is delicious!).IMG_20160312_173119552[1]

And I ended the day by going to listen to the vespers at the very imposing and glorious St. George’s Cathedral at the top of Company Garden.

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My kind of church

Finally, I checked myself into this very cool, old (I’m guessing former fleabag) hotel just off Long Street. It had a distinctly Overlooky vibe to it, and I will definitely be back there 🙂IMG_3346IMG_3349

Okay, sorry I know that was a lot of content – I just wanted to share all the fun adventures that one person can get up to in a weekend in Cape Town! Don’t worry, I’ll be back to my overly introspective critiquy self soon enough 😉

33 thoughts on “One little weekend in Cape Town

  1. I love that you wrote this like a conversation. I could hear your voice through your words.
    … and you made me laugh out loud at “not much to say about this one. It was mansiony. There was some art inside. Moving on”. Yup – playing tourist sometimes results in this reaction 😀

    I really like the inclusion of sound in your posts. It adds another layer of interest. I’m going to have to consider doing this too 🙂

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    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed my virtual tour of Cape Town. I am enjoying playing with the potentials of sound – not really sure what, if anything I’ll end up doing with it in the long run – but I hope that it does help to contextualize what it is like to be there somewhat. Thanks for the feedback!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on My Life Lived Full and commented:
    I’d like to introduce you to my lovely niece, Meghan. She is a new blogger at Mis Tourist and has recently moved to South Africa for 5 months working on her PhD in Critical Tourism Studies.

    She’s witty, intelligent, and carries an opinion. I hope you will give her a view.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rebekah! Thanks 🙂 The car was awesome – it looks like a Bentley, but was actually a Wolseley, another British car from circa 1960 or so. I took a beautiful shot of the back that I didn’t think to post, but I can Pm it to you if you’re interested. The light bursts were not added afterwards (I have no idea how to edit photos :-/). There were little LED lights high up in the ceiling and they made for a really cool effect in the photos. Thanks for your feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Meghan, visiting via Aunt Jo! What an amazing opportunity to spend the next 5 months in South Africa! Are you based in Cape Town or are you moving around? I look forward to reading more about your adventures!

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    • Hi Lynn, thanks for visiting 🙂 I am based in a small town outside of Cape Town, so I’m living the best of both worlds – the quiet village life and the time spent in the big city on the weekends! I’ll try to keep my adventures interesting!

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      • Very cool. My daughter & I were hoping to visit Cape Town & take a little trip to the Shamwari Game Reserve. We were shooting for early September but not sure if it will happen this year. Lovely to connect with you!

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  4. Hi – your Aunt suggested we have a look and it’s a great blog! I’ve been to Cape Town a few times over the years but loved seeing it through your eyes, words and sounds. What a great sign – would be my kind of church too!

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  5. Referred via your Aunt ~ Thoroughly enjoyed your post. I agree the sounds aspect is intriguing…must learn more about how to include those!
    I’m also intrigued by your PhD – what is Critical Tourism Studies?

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    • Thanks Paula, I’m glad you enjoyed my post, and I’d be happy to give you some tips on adding audio if you like. Critical Tourism Studies is focused on the social, ethical, and political impacts of tourism, and not so much on the marketing or business side. We’re interested in learning how communities and people are impacted by tourism – how they are changed and influenced, what drives certain people to visit the places that they do, and how they are changed by the places that they visit. I am especially interested in learning about how tourism is impacting communities in Africa, and what happens when poverty and tourism come together. That’s a long and inadequate answer, but it is a really interesting field of study and I’m looking forward to learning a lot in my time here!

      Liked by 2 people

      • It sounds fascinating – I look forward to learning more. Some friends recently visited Costa Rica, and some of our discussions touched on those very issues.

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  6. Bo Kaap has changed a lot since I lived in CT – you wouldn’t have seen a car like that parked there then! (At least not with all its wheels on 😉 ) And there is a reason for the queues up the cable car to Table Mountain, if you are only there for a short time then you have to take the first opportunity to go as the cars can stop in windy weather! I do hope you get up there it is amazing from the top. But the Company Gardens is one of my favourite places in the centre of the city. I hope you met the inquisitive squirrels 🙂

    Whereabouts are you staying during your time in SA? I might have some suggestions for your forays into the city 😀
    Jude xx (via Joanne)

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    • Hi Jude, thanks so much for your reply!! When did you live in Cape Town? I’ve heard that Bo Kaap has gentrified quite a bit through young professionals looking for a ‘funky’ neighbourhood moving in, but my sense is away from the one or two more ‘showy’ streets where all the tourists (i.e. me) go to get their photos it is still not really a place you want to extensively wander through without a local friend. And now I know to check online about the conditions on Table Mountain – it had been closed the day before because of the wind! I am staying in Stellenbosch, but will be travelling back and forth to Cape Town very frequently, so I would love to have some suggestions for great places to check out! I love hearing what the locals know 🙂 Thanks so much for your feedback! Meghan

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      • Ah, yes, I think the tourist part of Bo Kaap would be too rich for me! And as for Camps Bay that you mentioned, it is definitely for the ‘beautiful people’. Never appealed to me when I was young never mind now! I lived on the coast of False Bay, Muizenberg for some of my time in CT. Also Marina da Gama and Milnerton (northern suburbs). This was back in the 1970s so quite a violent time in the history of the country although the Cape was always more liberal than other regions. I’ll leave you a link to my other blog where I write about travel and from that you can find my Cape posts. I am following you so you will get used to me chipping in now and then – just ask Jo, she knows how chatty and inquisitive I am! Oh, and Stellenbosch is gorgeous, but Franschhoek is better IMO 😉

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  7. Meghan I am visiting via your Aunt Jo. We are very much hoping to go to South Africa soon so I am delighted to see your photos and hear about your experience. I smiled at your comment about not taking photos of your food. I will admit some of the most popular posts on my blog are the food quizzes I do. Yes I’m one of those people. 🙂

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    • Hahha, thanks for your comment Sue! I have to admit that very few things make me happier than food, so I may just have to give in to it 🙂 When are you planning on being in South Africa? I’m having a wonderful time here – I look forward to reading about your experiences in turn!

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  8. I am excited to follow your journeys. I feel you have what it takes to write an amazing blog~ great photographs, an authentic writing “voice” and a kind heart. The photos of food are valuable. People love nature and those orange mountains are gorgeous and lastly, we all like to read about reality. We may never get to Cape Town, except through you, dear. Smiles, Robin
    I love your aunt, through her wonderful posts and she led me to you. ❤

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    • Hi Robin, thank you so much for your lovely note full of thoughtful encouragement! I love my aunt too – she is incredible 🙂 I look forward to reading about your adventures as well! xo

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  9. Aunt Jo is doing a roaring trade….

    One thing you will learn through blogging is that photographing food is highly acceptable. (Sometimes I think it must be mandatory.)

    I loved this tour through Cape Town – great photos and I loved the sounds you included so we could really imagine what it’s like to be there.

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  10. The thing that always catches my eye about interiors in Africa is that there is pattern everywhere. To me it doesn’t look like it matches, but it looks wonderful because of its boldness. There’s a lesson there, I’m sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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