ET and I have our differences when it comes to cities. He’s convinced that Boston is the best city ever while the New York snob in me disagrees that it should even be considered a city at all.
[Don’t kill me, ET!]
However, we are unanimous in our agreement that Cape Town is one of, if not the most gorgeous city we’ve been to.
Here are 5 reasons why we love Cape Town so much, have dreams to retire there, and why it should be on everyone’s travel list.
1. Staying at Camps Bay
Anyone who wants a glimpse of how the rich and famous blend in with the sun, sand and sea should stay at Camps Bay. Quite literally South Africa’s version of California’s Sunset Boulevard, the strip along Victoria Road is the place to be if you are interested in people gawking, nice beer/coffee (depends on the time of the day) and getting a nice tan while lazing your afternoon away.
As the wise saying goes: “always start your trip on a high” (anon., 2014) – we knew our trip was off to the right start when we got to our apartment and were greeted by this view.
This beautiful Airbnb apartment is framed by the majestic Table Mountain at the back and mesmerising Camps Bay in front, and we woke up every morning to the waters of the blue-hued Atlantic Ocean stretching out to the horizon. The apartment even has an infinity pool, but because it was winter, we only “enjoyed” it once when ET dared me to go in.
For the culinary aspirants out there, the apartment offers a very well equipped kitchen (to the point where kitchen knives and condiments were arranged in order of size, colour and length!) – perfect for honeymooners as they attempt to impress each other with their own home-cooked meal!
2. Gastrorgasmic Sushi
We would never have thought to look for sushi in Cape Town, but due to our desperation for Asian food, realised that there were many highly-rated sushi bars in the city. The first meal we had in Cape Town was at Willoughby and Co at the V&A Waterfront and it was absolutely mind-blowing. It could have been the Asian pangs, but we daresay the Rainbow Reloaded is the best sushi roll we’ve had thus far. Cape Town’s privileged position on the coast means that it offers the freshest of fish, so “sushimi”-lovers are spoilt for choices here.
Advice-on-the-Go: Do not hesitate to look clueless when the waiters approach you. Don’t shortchange your experience! Our experience with Willoughby and Co was fantastic because we were game enough to probe the service staff and take their recommendations. The service quality here stands at nothing short of awesome – quite literally the embodiment of ask and ye shall receive!
3. Road-tripping to Cape Point via Chapman’s Peak & Boulder Beach
We don’t think words will do this justice so we’re just going to let the pictures do the talking.
One of our favourite moments was when we decided to follow in the footsteps of a gutsy guide and climb over the wall to take pictures at the edge of the cliff. Of course, at this point everyone on the other side of the wall was staring at us, and it was hilarious being the only two people looking back at dozens of gawking tourists. It so happened that there was a group of PRC tourists who kept going “哇好浪漫哦!!” (Translation: WAH SO ROMANTIC!!!). We couldn’t stop laughing, and it is definitely one of those moments we’ll remember for a long time to come.
Being at Cape Point gives you an immense feeling of privilege at being able to witness one of Nature’s greatest masterpieces. It’s one of those places that already looks amazing on pictures, but will still take your breath away when you see it for yourself.
4. Shark- Cage Diving
“Go down!!!!” the crew will yell.
You take a deep breath and submerge your head in the water, making sure to check if your fingers and toes are safely within the cage. Even though moments ago you were questioning the sanity of jumping into the sea in the middle of winter, you forget all of this as you see the Great White advance towards you with its jaws open. You make a mental check that all your fingers and toes are within the metal bars. Safe. Annoyed that its quest for food is once again thwarted, the Great White snaps at your cage and then turns away in a huff.
Gaansbaai (located 2 hours away from Cape Town) apparently has the highest concentration of Great White Sharks in the world so it makes perfect sense to go shark-cage diving there. Apart from skydiving in Namibia, this was the one activity that we (ok, more of Sheena) was super psyched about! Our trip with White Shark Project definitely did not disappoint. While waiting for the cage to be set up, we were even “lucky” enough to witness a shark feast on a seal. It was naaaasty. Contrary to popular belief, the waters in winter are also warmer and clearer than in the summer. So even though it seems very counter-intuitive to jump into the sea in winter, this season is apparently prime for shark-cage diving.
Tip: For those who even have a tinge of sea sickness, we would highly recommend taking some pills the night before. ET unfortunately did not enjoy his trip because he spent a good part of it colouring the water with his puke. You’re likely to spend most of the trip waiting on the swaying boat for your turn to get into the cage, and jumping into shark-infested waters in a desperate bid to swim back would not be the best option.
5. Langa Township Tour
We’ve saved the best for the last.
For all the wondrous sights and sounds that Cape Town offers, there’s nothing that left a deeper impression than getting a glimpse into the lives of the locals in Langa. Located only 20 minutes away from the city, it used to be one of the areas that was designated only for the natives during the Apartheid era. We cycled through Langa with our wonderful guide Thando from Vamos Tours, meeting its effusive residents who readily posed in kungfu stances and hollered “China!!” at every possible opportunity. We met curious kids and witty women, and were given a rare glimpse of a community that is built around sharing and giving back to help each other. We were humbled by the people who invited us into their homes, despite the fact that they were already squashed shoulder-to-shoulder with 3 families in a room. We were privileged, just for those four hours, to have been intruders into the richness of life in this community, and to bear witness to the fact that the gotong royong spirit is still very much present around the world. Visiting the townships is a must-do for anyone visiting Cape Town – it just does not make sense to walk away from a city that so willingly bares its soul to you.
Cape Town really stole our hearts, and we can’t wait to go back again (: