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:
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.
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.
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?
After dinner, I retired to my lovely Hout Bay room and this view
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!).
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.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 🙂
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 😉