By Troy Ramsey-Axelsson
Warm and inviting. Diverse and enchanting.
Reminiscent of Australia, and only half as far from the UK.
I am speaking of Cape Town, my preferred port of call – particularly when the northern freeze strikes from October onwards.
In fact, in my dozen or so visits here as an Adelaide-bred Londoner, I would go so far as to say (with a little Afrikaans thrown in) that Kapstaad is ‘lovely’ one day and ‘lekker’ the next — the latter word meaning someone or something luscious.
The very first sight most visitors see on their city-bound journey from the airport is a magnificent series of steep mountains that roll distantly parallel with the roadside, featuring rugged terrain and trees which slope at dramatic downward angles from the mountain surface — as if they are falling over.
The lay of the land
After a twenty or so minute drive from the airport, one is treated to a spectacular view of a small semi-skyscraper metropolis to the left and the Victoria and Albert (V&A) waterfront to the right. It is at the V&A many tourists end up sooner or later to eat and shop at the very least, or perhaps also to visit the aquarium or use one of the multitudinous marinas to sail off to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for the best part of three decades.
Further down the coast another ten minute drive, you come to Green Point and Sea Point, both quieter seaside suburbs offering much of the more modestly priced tourist accommodation.
Another ten to fifteen minutes drive further still, along the slightly elevated and winding cliff-top thoroughfare between Bantry Bay and Clifton Beach, the road peters out back to sea level around Camps Bay. A series of pristine white beaches lie with irresistible temptation to the right of the roadside, whilst a plethora of cafes and cocktail bars lines the other, all heavily patronised by the local cognoscenti.
On any given day, particularly on any warmer one, you can talent-spot the body-beautiful blokes and babes with perfectly sculpted abs and pins running along the cliff-top footpaths which stretch virtually the entire coastal span from V&A to Camps Bay. This two-legged scenery very much adds to the already ‘lekker’ landscape of Cape Town — hey, there’s that handy phrase-word again!
Heading to Camps Bay from the city centre or V&A, I would suggest anything from hiring an open-top sports car to jumping on the double decker sightseeing bus.
Beyond the bay
Beyond Camps Bay lies a number of options for the more adventurous holiday-maker including but not limited to surfing at Llandudno, nude sunbathing at nearby Sandy Bay and hiking through the national park — a 6-hour trek from start to finish with dramatic hills to climb and tides to dodge along this rugged walking trail betwixt sea and mountain.
On my last visit to Cape Town around Easter 2013, I treated myself to a tandem paraglide off Signal Hill which provided panoramic views of Sea Point — a relaxing experience which was exponentially preferable to a skydive I spontaneously did in the Hunter Valley on Millennium eve.
At the top of the table
A little further inland from Signal Point, all tourists inevitably end up at Table Mountain, the famous jewel in the Cape Town crown. Rising 1085 metres above sea level at its peak and forming a relatively long and flat mountain top resembling a table, it is most accessible by cable car and has plenty of walkways and vantage points to take in the breathtaking views of Cape Town. Very often in the afternoon a sweeping breeze of mist and cloud will descend upon the mountain to create what the locals call the ‘Table Cloth’. I would strongly advise you pack something warm for this regular occurrence, especially if you visit Table Mountain in the afternoon.
Wining and dining
One other must-see for any Australian tourist, in particular, is the Stellenbosch wine region boasting some of the world’s top wineries. Even in my preciously snobbish South Aussie opinion, I would say these wines are definitely right up there with the best New World wines of Oz.
Tokara Cab Sav is fantastically low priced blow-your-head-off red which any Cape Town liquor store sells for the amazing price of 80 Rand (£7). Delaire offers a sit-down wine tasting experience in a finely furnished sitting room for just 89 Rand, offering generous sample portions of 6 different delicious wines.
Cape Town is a reasonably compact city that is easily navigable without hiring a car. Taxis, buses and walking will get you everywhere you need to go, affordably and comfortably.
It is a great place to go for a short escape — in most cases, a week in CT is absolutely sufficient to see all the sights at a comfortable place.
There is definitely something and someone for everyone.
Troy Ramsey-Axelsson entered our Great Travel Writer competition for May. Submit your entries for July now!
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