Experiencing Total Distraction In My Shiny New City
I had so much time to get things done in the final two weeks of my African adventure. I thought that I would just stay a while longer in one spot instead of trying to navigate through the Garden Route along the coast of South Africa. Instead, I was excited to rest in the summer warmness before heading to the cold snowy season of my hometown back in the states.
Sure, there were things I wanted to “get done.” The museums and the top tourist attractions. But it is so easy to get “off track” by the glam of this city where there is always something to do; I found myself often distracted and the time seemed to slip away.
I amazingly I did get to all the major tourist destinations during the time I spent in Cape Town. Table Mountain, one of the seven new wonders of the natural world. The tour to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held as a prisoner for eighteen years. I also fit in viewing the penguins that sit on the shores in South Africa.
I explored the castle built by the Dutch when they “set up shop” here during the age of exploration. I witness the key ceremony where they continue this daily formal tradition when opening the castle gates. I traveled up to see the noon cannon fire at the top of Signal Hill. These cannons happen to be the oldest functioning cannons still in daily use in the world. I spent time in the city center, in the company gardens and the famous, yet touristy, Long Street. Additionally, I spent an entire day exploring the wine region north of the city.
I was also able to fit in a couple of “off the beaten path activities” during my time in Cape Town. Such activities included attending two lectures at the planetarium and attending Sunday mass at St. George’s Cathedral. St. George’s is well known as the cathedral Desmond Tutu served as arch bishop. It also was where the peaceful marches of resistance started that would change the social and political course in South Africa. Below the church I visited the tribute open to the public to remember the acts of courage during the anti-apartheid movement of the eighties.
Cape Town sits on several harbors and the smell of the salty air reminds me of my college days in Seattle. When it is nice outside it seems as though everyone is “out and about.”
The when the wind picks up the locals are not deterred. It is amazing to watch the cloud swirl around in the sky when looking up toward Table Mountain. Looking down, just off the beach, the wind somehow causes the water near the shore to mist upward to the sky like it is raining from the ocean up toward the clouds.
I loved wasting time just hanging out at the waterfront and watching the creative artists and musicians display there talents. It was almost more fun to watch the everyday people at the waterfront than anything else. The lights from the giant ferris wheel and the holiday decorations made the waterfront seem magical at night.
There is a wide range of non-tourist activities from outdoor music concerts and markets to an outdoor movie theater in one of the botanical gardens. I loved watching Forest Gump while sitting under the stars. It amazed me that no one talked during this outdoor showing. Even the teenagers sitting in a group beside us were totally quiet and intensely watching the show. On another day of city discovery, we just rented bikes and cycled up the coast past the lighthouse.
I loved all the “must see sights” but I think I just loved hanging out in the city and enjoying the entertainment it had to offer. And oh….The restaurants! And oh…The fresh seafood! If I would have stayed another month in Cape Town I am sure I would have gained ten pounds!
My favorite day included taking a drive along the coast of Cape Town. It is apparently very easy to rent a classic car or motorcycle here. I have a new friend and fellow traveler who rented a Cobra, and I was happy to ride in the passenger seat. The car seemed as through it was made to take the looping bends around the hills and the coastline at high speeds.
Back in the city, I laugh as I notice that most women on the street do not notice the car until my friend revs the engine. However, the eyes of all the men seem to be drawn to it. What is it about fancy cars and men? All I know is that riding in a fancy car with the wind blowing through my hair on a warm summer’s day seemed to be the best way to take in this breathtaking part of the world.