Cape Town, the reason holidays were invented

Trip Start Aug 25, 2009
Trip End Sep 07, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We took an early flight from Joburg to Cape Town on South African Airways. It only cost us about R250, very cheap for a full service airline that gives you ample legroom, serves breakfast and coffee, and all the unnecessary attention as we were the only yellow skin on the flight. He picked up our small little Tata Indigo manual from the airport on arrival. The trick is, if you rent the car from the airport, that saves you the taxi/bus charges to/from airport, you spend lesser time commuting and that means lots of time to do other stuff. The airport is not far from the city, less than 20km. You`ll see the Table Mountain on the way to the city and I can`t see the mountain top cause it was covered with table cloth (clouds)… what a spoiler.  We checked in to Cape Town Backpacker hostel, I booked a double room ensuite, room and bathroom are clean, and the best part was the balcony with misty table mountain view. Upon arrival at the hostel, owner of the car that parked next to us complained to the hostel that their got broken into and they have lost their passport plus other documents. So, my advice is, Cape Town is not safe, don`t leave anything in the car. Car jacking, break in and drive by shooting is everyday news there, be extra alert when you`re driving a car.

We spent the rest of the morning around V&A Waterfront (, where you`ll get shopping, dining, and lot of other stuff in one place. We had fish and chip for lunch as for no reason I was craving for it and all my "good friends" (seagulls) were all waiting, shouting and fighting for the leftovers. There are a lot street performers there and I bought a CD from this Marimba band called African Dream. Their music is kind of soothing so make sure you grab some while you`re there cause you won`t get it any better anywhere else. There are also craft markets there but most of them are overpriced as it`s a popular tourist spot. If you`re looking for cheap and nice crafts, go to Green market Square.

Since this is the last major city that I'll have a chance to do some souvenir shopping, we quickly rushed to Green Market Square ( If you do a quick scan on the market, you`ll find that they all sell almost the same thing. Of course you`ll need to BARGAIN, and BARGAIN. They also have volume discount. Be nice to them and they`ll be nice to you. Remember, they start packing from 4pm so be there early and there`s also a tourist information nearby as well. Beware, there are lots of thugs near that area, some of them will approach you and ask you to pay them for the parking even though you have already paid. Some will ask for money and claim that they will "take care" of your car and help you to pay when the police come. Make sure you only pay to the parking fees collector in the city. They (parking fees collector) will come to you once you parked or you waive them here. It's about R2 per hour.

After that, we went to Camp`s Bay, about 15mins from the city and 2km from our hostel, is one of the famous beach with Table Mountain at the back. It`s a must to go, the scenery is great! If you parked at the beachfront, there`ll be a lot of pest… beggars, people that sell you things and of course thugs as well. The tip is, drive a bit uphill, towards the city/V&A Waterfront along Beach Road, there`s a turning to your left and you see a big parking lot there, that is great place to take picture cause you can snap the whole Camps Bay/Cliffton Beach plus Table Mountain at the back.

After that we move on to Hout`s Bay, 15mins drive from Camps Bay. As soon as we arrived there, those beggars already there waiting for us so we took a few picture then quickly go before we get swarmed by them. There`s a scenic route using Hout's Bay to Noordhoek toll way but it was closed for maintenance when we were there. Our dinner was at Pasta Factory, a stone throw away from our hostel, eating the same pasta that we had in KNP but I still prefer the one at KNP :-).

Day 2, our plan was to go up Table Mountain… but the table cloth refuse to give up so we decided to head west to experience the flower power in the West Coast flower route. There`s no point to stick around in the city as it will most like rain the whole day. The most we left the city, clear sky ahead of us. Flower route is only available during spring when the wild flower booms (Sept - Nov). We had breakfast in Century City. I was looking for Chinese food but ended up with bacon and egg again. I then went to Canal Walk, the largest shopping centre in Cape Town, while Philip went back to hostel to pick up the map, careless and forgotten as usual. Be sure to pick up the brochure from tourist information before you go, it has a illustrated map in it. The people in tourist info will try to sell you another BIG map, quite costly, you can live by with the illustrated map on the brochure, but if you don`t mind to spare the money, buy the detail map. We stopped by Darling, Wayland Natures Reserve (small patch of land full with wild lilies and wild flowers) and Yzerfontein (coastal town with huge waves). Lilies, which are sold in Malaysia as a ridiculous price, are wild flowers in SA. You not only find hundreds but thousands of them dotted the entire landscape. Finally, we reached West Coast National Park (R66 entrance). On our drive to Postberg section, there are many nice beaches along the way in additional to blooming wild flower in various colour from yellow, purple, red, white… what a sight! We walked, jumped, sat and roll, being showered in those flowers as if we were shooting Bollywood  movies… (note, no flower were harmed) and we tried numerous posture with the flower. Even the foxes are having a great time. Chinese was the only choice for dinner, I really enjoyed my first Asian food in a fusion Chinese restaurant after so many days in SA. After dinner mean planning time for the next few days' activities.

Day 3, the moment we pulled the curtain, we gave up hope on going up Table Mountain. Since we burn a hole in our pocket last night with the Chinese food, we decided to cook our own bacon+cheese+egg+bread breakfast in the hostel and enjoyed our breakfast at the room balcony staring at Table Mountain. Finally Philip had made up his mind about returning this lousy car and get a better one. He dropped me at Long Street to shop for souvenirs and drove back to Tempest to change the car. An hour later, he came back with a little Chevy greenie, not sure whether it is better than the previous TATA, but I like the color. We stopped by Waterfront Craft Market again for some souvenir shopping as this is the last chance. Satisfied with what I bought, we heads out to Table Mountain National Park, to the famous Cape of Good Hope. On the way to Cape of Good Hope, we passed by some beautiful and cosy seaside town like Winford, Fish Hoek, False Bay, Simon's Town and Boulders. There's even a train service that runs along the coastline… it would be wonderful to ride those train. The roads are winding along the coast and the cliffs with a lot of nice lookout point in between. The view of False Bay is amazing. I felt that I was surrounded by beautiful valleys, bays and beaches formed by the waters of Atlantic Ocean. The Table Mountain National Park entrance fee is R75 and it take about 25mins to drive to Cape of Good Hope. The wind at Cape of Good Hope was very strong, to the extend that it almost blow us away. We have to fight our way through the hordes of China tourist in order to take a picture there. There is a very common misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the most southern tip of Africa, but in fact the southernmost point is Cape L' Agulhas, about 150km to the east-southeast. Check out more info about L'Agulhas in our Garden Route story. After wasting lots of energy battling the strong wind, we move on to Cape Point, up the mountain from Cape of Good Hope. One thing to note is that don't feed the baboon, they can be dangerous when attracted by food… as shown in my picture. On our way back, we stopped by Simon's town and I took a picture with the bent tress as a proof of the force of nature. Our other objectives was to checkout the jackass penguin in Boulder National Park. The reason why they are named jackass penguin is due to their donkey-like braying calls. There are hundreds of them and there`s 2 ways to see them. You can pay to get into the national park to get into close distance with them or you can walk the walkway along the perimeter of the park. Because we were late, we have to walk the perimeter. We did see them in close distance, Philip even tried to touch them and got bitten for it. South African are very protective of them and even built "bungalows" (man made home using buried container) for them. The penguin were on the way back from sea and you can see groups of them drying themselves by the beach before heading back home. To our surprise, we even get to see rock hyrax (cute!), supersize hamster with ultra-sharp teeth. To celebrate our last day in Cape Town, Philip brought me to this famous African restaurant called Mama African. The interior of the restaurant is decorated with traditional African art and serves authentic Cape Malay African food. The best part was it also features an African Marimba band and the music was so good that we bought their CD right away. We enjoyed till 10++ before heading home as there will be a long drive tomorrow.

Cape Town Must Go / Must Do:
- Table Mountain (Hope you`re not as bad luck as us)
- V & A Waterfront, Waterfront Craft Market
- Green Market Square for cheap souvenirs (Remember... BARGAIN !!)
- Camps Bay
- Cape of Good Hope / Cape Point
- Boulders for penguin viewing
- West Coast Flower Routes all the way to West Coast National Park (Sept - Nov)
- Get a Marimba music CD from a local African band
- Mama African for traditional African food, Marimba live band starts at 9pm
- Try out the local beer Castle

~ By Sarah

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Al on

Very thoughtfully written and vividly elaborated...with authors share their love for nature and journey to exotic destination most will kill for! :) Looking forward for the next blog.

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