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A Leisurely Day in Cape Town, South Africa

View from Signal Hill

An awesome view of Cape Town from Signal Hill.

Darren and I took it easy today on the official sightseeing but I saw a lot nonetheless.  We walked around downtown Cape Town and slipped into cafes to have cappuccinos with the hipsters.  Yes, there are hipsters here too!  They’re a worldwide plague.

A Booming Surprise

When we were adequately caffeinated Darren informed me that he had a surprise:  As we traveled by car up, up, and up a mountain in the center of the city, we arrived at the top of Signal Hill, where numerous cannons from all time periods sat ominously.

Here, Darren introduced me to a Cape Town tradition: the Noon Gun which features the firing of a cannon every day (except Sundays and holidays) at exactly noon.  This has been done since 1806, day after day for 65,301 days.

We watched the antique cannon (cast in 1794) being loaded with 1.5 kilograms of gunpowder and stood waaaay back at noon.  The booming sound of the firing cannon was a total body experience.  Impressive.

The views from Signal Hill were worth the trip alone.

Cape Town’s Waterfront

Ferris wheel at the waterfront.

Ferris wheel at Cape Town’s Waterfront.

From there we went to Cape Town’s Waterfront which was bustling with activity even though it was midday on a Friday.  The Waterfront has a huge mall for shopping, marimba bands playing for tourists, a gigantic Ferris wheel, many restaurants and ferry docks.  All of this with the looming backdrop of Table Mountain.

We did some grocery shopping at the Waterfront in two of the supermarkets there.  The selection of foods rivaled any Whole Foods market in the U.S. and then some.  Any gourmet item you could want could be found.  I’m discovering that high-quality food is far less expensive in South Africa than in the United States even after reconciling the exchange rate.

Imagination vs. Reality

In retrospect, I am so embarrassed to reveal that before I arrived in Cape Town, I imagined it to be a chaotic, dirty, scary third-world place.  And what I have found is the complete opposite.

Cape Town is a clean, sophisticated, orderly world-class city that feels entirely safe during the day.  I have been warned not to go out alone at night and I heed that rule.  Like any major city, there is crime.  But as a tourist, the particularly dangerous areas can easily be avoided because they are on the outskirts of the city.  Vigilance coupled with common sense feels adequate here.

There is a vibrance to Cape Town.  It feels like so much positive change is happening.  It feels like a city on the cusp of international acclaim for positive reasons.

Thinking ahead…

On an entirely unrelated note, I am considering joining a tour to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe for February.  I’ve never joined a tour, mostly because of the expense, but it seems a shame to be in Africa and not see more.  Namibia interests me quite a bit and through research I discovered that it’s almost impossible to “wing it” solo because there are hundreds of kilometers of desert between destinations.  So, it may be the time and place for a tour.  Have you been to Namibia?

I’m hoping to hear from the tour group Monday.  Perhaps they need a travel blogger in the mix?

Photos of Cape Town:

2 Comments

  1. Woolworth’s foods was my favorite place for foods, besides farmer’s markets. Such good stuff (and they also donate spoils like TJ’s does). Definitely go to Namibia! I never got to and I really wish I had.

    • Woolworth’s is awesome! It’s better than TJ’s!

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