Getting to know Cape Town: Impressions and Planning
January 1, 1970
by Gabriela Verruck (Amora)
The first impressions about the city, safety and public transports
Well, I had a big excitement for being in Africa for the first time! And, just after arriving, I could see a well-organized and beautiful city with very friendly people.
That includes the buses. They are good and at the airport you can already buy the MyCiti card and use it to go to the town and from there around! The system works with a distance payment: the further you go, the more you pay.
In contrast, the trains, which go to more distant places, are old and non-punctual. But, besides the flaws, it is a good experience, specially if you love being in contact with the locals and seeing how they live, just like me.
When it comes to safety, men constantly asked me how I was while walking by my own on the streets and I could see them doing the same with other women, but they reacted absolutely fine, answering as a real question. So, I could see that this aspect is cultural and harmless in most of situations (even though, for me, this is sexist, indeed). But, even with that, I felt really safe and all I did was avoiding to walk alone at night and I had no problems at all. So, if you, girl, wish to come but you are afraid because of everything we are told about Africa, I would tell you: “Give Africa a second chance!”.
Day 1 – Table Mountain and Old Biscuit Mill
The first thing I did, as the day was beautiful and clear (otherwise there are too many clouds) was to go to the Table Mountain. So, having a good day, give priority to Table Mountain! It is A MUST DO! The place is unique and stunning! The view you can get from there is unbelievable and… it is one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature!
Just after this astonishing experience I went to a market called Old Biscuit Mill located at the Woodstock neighbourhood.
At this place you can find good food, good music and a lot of things to buy, making of it a nice place for spending some time (but I would not classify it as a must do).
Day 2 – GreenMarket Square, Free Walking Tours and Museums
Next, I went to the city centre where I could go to the GreenMarket Square. There you can buy African souvenirs (not cheap!) and this is from where 3 of the 4 Free Walking Tours offered in the city leave from.
I highly recommend these tours! They are based on tips and work like this: There is a local guide that takes you (walking) to touristic and historical points and that explains a lot about their history. With these tours I could get a bigger contact with the Apartheid’s history and also to get to know different places that I hadn’t planned at all in knowing, like Bo-Kaap and District Six.
On this day I also went to two museums: Iziko South African Museum and Iziko Slavery Lodge. The first one is massive! You must take a very long time for this one if this is the kind of thing you enjoy doing. I loved it!
The second one is good, but, for me, it was a bit too emotionally strong at some points. But, anyway, I would recommend it, unless you are too tight with the time.
Day 3 – Muizenberg and Fish Hoek Beaches
This day I went to the beaches that the locals go. I took the train (it took forever to leave the station) until Muizenberg (the Beach), where I spent some time enjoying the sun and the nice view until I went for lunch. Soon after, I hopped back to the train up to Fish Hoek.
For me, Fish Hoek was the best part because I could see how they deal with the sharks: there are drones monitoring and a siren rings when there are sharks around so that everyone comes out of the water quickly (yes, there are brave people around). While me, I just gave one deep: the water was really cold (even though it was considered one of the warmest ones!).
Day 4 – Clifton and Camp’s Bay Beaches and Lion’s Head
More beaches for this day: Clifton Beach and Camp’s Bay. Those are very beautiful and way easier to reach by public buses, but, also, way more touristy than the ones from the day before. But I would say it is worth going.
After this refreshment I went to hike Lion’s Head, a MUST DO FOR SURE. I went up with some brazilians I met and it was amazing. We watched the sunset from up there and, believe me, everyone should check it out…
Just after, to celebrate, we went out at Long Street, the best place for nightlife in Cape Town. Another MUST GO place.
Day 5- Green Point Park and WaterFront
This day I went to a walk around the city, taking a look at the stadium and at the Green Point Park (very beautiful). After, I went to the WaterFront (a MUST DO!), where you can have good food and also a good night time.
From there, the 4th Free Walking Tour leaves, but I missed it and I couldn’t do it. Also, from there you can take the tour to Prison Island, where Mandela was kept in prison.
Day 6 – The end
Time for leaving! I left the hostel in the afternoon to the bus station to get my bus towards Port Elizabeth. The place was really crowded and disorganized, so, if you go there you must pay a lot of attention not to miss your bus.
I went with Intercape and I recommend it: it has better prices and a good service when it comes to comfort. Greyhound is also a good one, but normally it is more expensive.
So well, after the mess around the bus station I finally left to new adventures! I hope you have enjoyed it!
See you in new journeys!