Destination: Cape Town, South Africa
Currency: South African Rand
Languages Most Spoken: English, Afrikaans, Xhosa
Location: 33°55′31″S 18°25′26″E
We caught a flight from Joburg to Cape Town and upon arrival checked into a cute Air B n B in the center of town. Our host was very friendly, welcoming and had a lot of helpful recommendations. First stop was a Hike up Table Mountain, we all figured it would be a dirt trail up the side of the mountain but it ended up being a 2 hour hike up rocks up the side of the mountain. It was probably the most intense 2 hour hike of my life but making it to the top of the mountain was very rewarding and the view more than made up for the grueling hike. I was legit side-eyeing all the people who took the cable car up the mountain, while feeling extremely proud of myself for what I just accomplished, shoutout to Alana the hiking/motivational leader who got us to the stop of that mountain. (while hiking up the mountain we met two guys who were using the mountain to train for their hike up Mountain Kilimanjaro and it only took them 45 minutes to hike the mountain, I would absolutely hate them if they weren’t super nice and kept yelling encouraging words to us during the hike).
Exhausted we took the cable car down the mountain, took a quick nap, freshened up went to dinner on the V&A waterfront, it reminded me of the San Francisco Fisherman’s wharf. We had diner at this Italian restaurant called Meloncino and let’s just say this prompted my quest to eat pasta as many times as possible the rest of my trip, hahahahaha. Our Air B n B had a restaurant at the bottom which doubles as a bar at night so we stopped after dinner for a couple of drinks before calling it a night.
The next day Alana and I took a wine tour, and honestly this was an amazing way to spend the day. We took our tour with Cape Trio Tours and our guide for the day was Dominic. Honestly I cannot recommend this company enough, from the time of inquiry into the tour up until the end of the tour the owner of the company, Granwell (Big G), stayed on top of the communication, provided helpful information, answered all my questions and even offered suggestions on other tour companies for my Johannesburg trip. We ended up meeting Big G at one of the wineries and he was just as friendly and pleasant in person. Our tour guide Dominic was on time, very cheerful, professional, informative and overall very chill. We were able to go through the tour at our own pace with Dominic providing useful information about the area, the wineries, the wine making process etc. The tour made 3 wine stops, and 1 chocolate tasting stop (Fairview Wine Estate, De Villiers Chocolate, Villiera Winery, and Seven Sisters Winery).
My favorite of the wine stops was the first stop, Fairview where we had this amazing Verdelho and a sweet red that had my heart smiling (I wish I had bought 2 bottles of the sweet red, alas I shall be saving it for a special occasion similar to a now 5 year old bottle of red wine I got at a winery in Napa Valley). Next up was the chocolate stop which but very cool to learn about how ethically/sustainable chocolate is made, but it was my least favorite mostly because I don’t care much for chocolate. Just so we are clear everything we tasted was very good, I even found myself liking dark chocolate after doing the tour and tasting some of the samples they had; if you love chocolate, you will love this place. Villiera winery was very cute and chic; Dominic gave us a brief tour of the wine cellars/ wine making room which was pretty cool. They have a wide selection of sparkling wine/bubblies, it took a little getting used to and at this point we were starting to feel the wine a bit. I was super excited to check out the Seven Sisters winery, a black owned winery, but with this being our last stop by the time we got there late afternoon they had sold out of most of their wine, and were pretty much packing up shop for the day. I didn’t really get the experience I was looking for but I chuck it up to low energy levels after a long day, and wine being sold out (which is good for the business). I would suggest making this stop number 2 instead of 3. Overall it was a great wine tour and honestly I would go back to do this every time I visit Cape Town
Saturday we did a bit of shopping at the Green street market to get souvenirs for our family and friends. My recommendation is come with small bills and be ready to bargain, I am notorious for driving a hard bargain. We were able to buy some African print Fabric, and get outfits made (turnaround time 1 day) at a way cheaper price than in the US. After shopping we went on a tour of the Cape Peninsula Tour that was to include Hout Bay, Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, African penguins in Simon’s Town, Muizenberg beach, let’s just say the tour did not turn out the way we were expecting. The owner of the tour company neglected to inform us that he wasn’t actually hosting the tour, instead he sent a driver. Then the driver and another business partner insisted we would be unable to do the tour we had agreed upon then quoted us a different reduced price since they did not think we had enough time to explore all the places we wanted to.
The initial pricing plan included the tour along with all our entry tickets to the different spots required. We decided to go along and only pick the major spots we wanted to visit. First stop was Simon’s town to see the African penguins which was fun and a quick stop. After that we headed to Cape Point which was absolutely breathtaking, the drive along the coast was beautiful and truly a sight to behold. We get to the nature park and drove past a group of baboons and we were satisfied with admiring from the car and taking pictures through the window when to my surprise the driver rolled down the passenger side window inviting us to take pictures (never mind the numerous signs all over the park indicating that was the thing to not do considering these are animals in the wild and actually dangerous). About 5 minutes past the baboon the ‘tour guide’ mentions he had actually never been to any of the places he was taking us; we effectively rented a driver to take us to the different spots, there was no tour of any sort being given. We were very disappointed but figured we would make the best out of the day. At Cape Point we hiked to the old lighthouse to get even more gorgeous views of the coast, then drove down to Cape of Good Hope which is the most South Western point of the African Continent; the pictures do it no justice.
Eventually we head back out of the park, when one of us noticed, the driver didn’t notice, that off course the car is now on E and fast running out of gas. It’s getting dark and there is a high possibility of running out of gas in a park filled with dangerous baboons. Our ‘tour guide off course has no clue where the nearest gas station is, so we half panicked and half prayed the entire 30 minutes journey back into the nearest city that we did not run out of gas. Thankfully we made it to a gas station, and ended up watching the sunset during out drive back to the city. Upon getting back to the city it turns out the reduced price we were quoted did not include any of our entry tickets, and we ended up pretty much paying what we were initially quoted. Needless to say we were extremely disappointed in the tour company and were just grateful we avoided the potential mishaps (Note to self, we should have booked the Peninsula tour with Big G instead and would have saved ourselves all the hassle.
Our last full day was to be spent doing a Robben Island tour but the tour was cancelled because there was an issue with the boat so instead we decided to spend the day doing some more shopping, and then Alana got her hair braided. Since this was our last night we decided to do dinner at a South African Restaurant called Karibu. It was at the V & A Waterfront and was a great way to spend our last night. Food was good, weather was good and overall a lovely experience. There was one thing about Cape Town that was hard to not notice, in every single restaurant we ate at while there we were the only black customers, but the staff at every single restaurant was 80% black. That was a culture shock I was not expecting, and I always left each restaurant wondering what life would be like if I had grown up in South Africa. At home maybe if I was at a super fancy restaurant that may have been the case but not every single restaurant. I did not speak to any South Africans about why this was the case but I have no doubt it has a lot to do with the history of the country, and the long terms effect apartheid/ racism have on the disadvantaged group.
We left Cape Town and headed back to Joburg for our flight to Europe. Unfortunately at the airport in Joburg Alana was victim to a thief who made away with her bag full of belongings (cell phones, credit cards, laptop, cash make up etc.). Needless to say we left South Africa a bit deflated, and it ended what was otherwise a very amazing trip on a sour note. There was nothing fun about another week and a half of travel with half your belongings gone. Thankfully Alana had her passport and more importantly none of us were physically harmed during the ordeal. Alana was a trooper though and remained cheerful the rest of the trip and we were able to make the best of the situation. This could have happened anywhere in the world so we refuse to let that taint out image of South Africa and instead chose to continue to see the beauty in the world. I’ll do a blog post covering some few safety tips to observe while travelling that can hopefully help avoid encounters with unscrupulous characters.
Final in the installation will be about our few days in Europe and for the first time, I will be sharing the exact cost of my trip with you all. Some more interesting things happened the rest of the trip you don’t want to miss out on.
PS: the views from Cape Town were so pretty I did not edit any of the pictures, I know amazing.