Cosmopolitan Cape Town
Just when you think you have seen the most spectacular views and scenery that South Africa could possibly offer, the country pulls out another punch. Cape Town is a city that should be on everyone’s must see list. You have the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, beautiful Table Mountain smack in your face and the city circling around it. Cape Town is a very upbeat and vibrant city with so much to see and do. It has a very cosmopolitan atmosphere, some call it’s Africa’s New York.
Long Street And Kloof Street
Long Street stretches for over twenty blocks through the Cape Town center. The street is lined with remarkable Victorian buildings that have been restored over the years. Many have been converted in backpacker accommodations. There is a clash of cultures where the Victorian buildings sit alongside Muslim Mosques. Long street runs into Kloof street which is lined with antique shops, street wear boutiques, restaurants, bars and night clubs. This is where you come to wander and soak up the atmosphere. There are many trendy restaurants as well as traditional African shops, music stores and jazz clubs.
The side streets are also very interesting. On Longmarket Street you can find the historical Green Market sqaure where vendors set up from Monday to Saturday between 9am and 4pm selling all kinds of goods such as African curios. Green Market has a variety of buskers from jugglers to mime artists.
Canal Walk Mall
Canal Walk Mall sits outside of the downtown area of Cape Town. As it’s name states it’s situated along a canal and has a number of high end multi-storey residences sitting above it. It’s quite an attractive setting for a shopping mall. Inside it’s got all the types of typical shops you would expect to see and a large food court.
The Bo-Kaap district is a multi-cultural area of Cape Town. Many of the residents are descendants of slaves who were imported to the Cape area in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. A lot of the houses are painted in very bright colours. There is a small Bo-Kaap museum that has displays and information about the life of the original Bo-Kaap residents and their history in Cape Town.
Table Mountain Cableway
Hope of the cableway to the top of Table Mountain for spectacular views of the city.
District Six Museum
The District 6 Musuem tells the history of the District 6 area of Cape Town and the events that took place. This was one of the many areas during the apartheid that was designated as a white only area. Thousands of non whites, some of whose families had lived in the area for over 100 years or longer were forced out of their homes and off their land. They were moved out to designated areas where they were left with next to nothing, no running water or electricity. They used to be able to walk to work in the city center within 15 minutes, now they would have to catch trains to get into work. One of the areas they were forced to was a shantytown called the Cape Town Flats. You’ll see this area when driving from the Cape Town airport in towards Table Mountain. It is a windswept, barren area that is covered in dilapidated tin shacks that go for as far as the eye can see. Over one million people reside here. It stands in stark contrast the nearby wealthy suburbs of Cape Town.
Many elderly people died of the shock and didn’t survive the move. The areas were leveled and demolished where their houses stood. The demolition started while the forced eviction was still occurring. Many people died because buildings fell down around them. On the floor of the museum there is a huge map of the District 6 area. Former residents have come to write comments the streets of the map in spot where they lived. They have written about memories of where they used to play as children. Some of the former residents have been able to make claims to the land they once owned.
Green Point Market
Each Sunday the Green Point Market has hundreds of vendors set up their stalls of goods for sale. You can spend hours if not an entire day shopping. You can find any type of souvenir you might be looking for from beaded jewelery to wooden masks, stone carvings, drums and clothing. Bartering is expected a lot of items. A general rule of thumb is to start at half of what an item is being offered for and go up from there.
Umoja is a long time running musical production that travels around the world. We took in a showing of it at the Artscape Opera Playhouse. It tells a story about the history of African music, from the start of drumming to during the apartheid and up until present day. It is full of high energy with lots of singing and dancing. We enjoyed it so much we saw it again when it came near our home in Vancouver B.C. on the west coast of Canada.
How About A Romantic Dinner At A Prison?
The Pollsmoor prison where Nelson Mandela was once an inmate has a restaurant called Idlanathi where you can have a meal prepared and served by inmates. The inmates working in the restaurant are finishing up their sentences and have been put into a rehabilitation program that is getting them ready for life after release.
Visit Kirstenbosch Gardens Or Take In A Summer Concert
Spend a few hours strolling through the grounds of Kirstenbosch Gardens or if you are visiting during the summer enjoy one of their musical concert events.
Hike Up Lions Head
Hiking to the top of Lions head is a popular activity with locals and tourists. It’s totally free and offers views nearly as impressive as the top of Table Mountain.
Visit Robben Island Prison
Try to imagine what life was like for Nelson Mandela’s and other freedom fighters who were imprisoned on Robben Island for decades of their lives.
Enjoy A Meal, Shopping Or Entertainment At The Victoria And Alfred Waterfront
There’s a restaurant to suite everyone’s taste at the Victoria And Alfred Waterfront as well as a variety of shops and entertainment.