“Where’s your favourite place in the whole world?” is usually your question when I explain that I’m a flight attendant and Cape Town is usually my answer. There’s just something about it – the colourful culture, the delicious food, the powerful merging of mountain and oceans – Cape Town really is a special place.
The Mother City was one of the first destinations on my Emirates roster when I began flying, which to me felt like being paid to go to the World Cup. In fact, I was being paid to go to the World Cup! and it’s part of that excitement and the charm of a city welcoming you with festival arms that never really wore off.
But world cup or no world cup and whether I’m there for twenty four hours or two weeks, the city of Cape Town is embedded in one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever been to and is a perfect combination of all the best things : the ocean, mountains, the beach, a harbour, history, culture, colours, good food and great wine. It is a merging city, rich in history and working to leave the Apartheid behind. It is, in most senses, not the Africa that we have been influenced to imagine but it is indeed still very African, full of life and ready to emerge.
need to know Cape Town
the Weather – when i was there over Christmas the weather was beautiful and sunny during the day with long sleeve t-shirts at night. Swimming in the ocean however, especially on the Camps Bay side was a different story with freezing cold water temperatures making wet suits mandatory.
the Spots – I’ve stayed at a few different hotels in Cape Town and on a few different budgets. The Southern Sun Cape Sun was our crew hotel for Emirates. It offers a great location, not-so-luxurious rooms but friendly, jovial staff. The Portswood V&A is a lovely hotel steps away from the Victoria Alfred waterfront that offered a fair price over the Christmas holidays. Hostels on Long street are easy to find, bare boned and under 10$. see; Blue Mountain Hostel and Long Street Hostel. My brother and I also stayed at a really lovely hostel much closer to the base of Table Mountain than to the waterfront called The Backpack. www.hostelworld.com
the Food – I am my fathers daughter and one of the best parts of travelling in South Africa is its value for the dollar. Mouth-watering steaks, freshly caught seafood and bottles of wine cheaper than milk are not to be missed when travelling here. At Victoria Alfred waterfront in particular, these restaurants were some of my favourite, Wang Thai: (@Wang_Thai) a perfect mix of thai and Japanese cuisine, this place will have you ordering everything off the menu. My brother and I still talk about the Hot Rock N Roll maxi rolls there and their yelllow curry with chicken off the bone. Spur Steak Ranch may not be fine dining, but like the South African equivalent of Swiss Chalet you get a solid, lovingly predictable steak dinner.
the Tours – When I went back to Cape Town for two weeks with my family, we were able to do more and drink less than on my layovers. Here are a few of my favourites:
Rent a sedan, renting a car and driver isn’t as fancy as it sounds over there and is actually the safest most efficient way to see the sites you want and to help the local economy. When we hired a driver, he took us to the Cape of Good Hope, along the whole peninsula and showed us his favourite parts of the Southern tip for the day. @BikesnWines, looking to do something different than shuffle on and off a tourist bus all day, I came across this tour to the Stellenbosch and Southern Cape Vineyards. It made for an awesome day of casual exercise, outside in the Vineyards under the sun. I remember taking a train from Cape Town to the country, starting the morning off with Brandy and having a really great time as we biked from vineyard to vineyard. http://www.bikesnwines.com/ Climb Table Mountain, and take the cable car down. That’s what we did on a windy day in December and my Dad, whose no wimp and has climbed a few mountains himself, suggested we do. Climbing it was steep and rigorous, there were people more out of shape and underprepared than me on the route and I am definitely glad that I did it. But isn’t perhaps for the faint of heart and since going to the top for spectacular views is mandatory, some of you might want to take the cable car roundtrip.
Camps Bay, Long Street, taking a run along Beach Road: spending time in the different neighbourhoods of Cape Town is a good way to experience its diversity. All of these places have something sweet to offer, Long street has lively markets in old character houses and lots of colourful culture. Camps Bay has beautiful beaches, great restaurants (@CafeCaprice) and beautiful Cliffside mansions. Taking a run along Beach Road or just spending your morning waking up on the promenade is invigorating and free.
the Messy Details – keep in mind that my brother and I were flying home on stand by, but when we arrived in Dubai all of the things in the front pocket of Jimmy’s knapsack had been stolen. An old blackberry, a gold chain, some Canadian dollars – nothing too important but frustrating none the less. I think its safe to say that his items were lifted in Cape Town and not Dubai, because our bags were waiting for a destination for a while and because South African airports have a terrible reputation, but no matter, lesson learned – lock your life up.