Sunday 9 September 2012

Day Five - Cape Town

It was a 5:30am start for us allowing time to finish the packing, get down for breakfast and head to the Airport. Thankfully our hotel is close to the Airport, only a ten-minute journey so we didn’t leave until 7am for our 8:50am flight to Cape Town. A bonus of getting up early was getting to see Sun Rise light up Downtown Dubai. The view from our hotel room is breathtaking. The light glistened off the Burj Kalifa.
The sun rise lighting up the buildings
Again we are flying Emirates and departing from terminal 3, which is mainly all Emirates. Boarding was slow as our plane was a good 10-minute bus ride from the gate itself. The flight was relatively smooth, but long. This was our first time to fly a distance like this during daylight, overnight at least the cabin can darken and we can get some sleep.
O'Briens Irish Sandwich bars even have a store located in the massive Dubai International Airport
Waiting to board, surrounded by lots of South African accents
Arriving into Cape Town we felt the cold. It’s only the start of Spring here, whilst the sun is shining there is a definite chill in the air. Picking up the cases we faced our first challenge, how to get into the city. Options are a metered taxi, which didn’t seem popular, a shared shuttle-type taxi or a bus. The bus network was only launched last year and the airport route costs around €7 one way. Another option which was offered to us from the official cape town tourist rep was a pick up from his friend who would take us to our destination for a competitive price. We didn’t know how to take this offer, alarm bells did ring. We opted for the bus hoping the short walk from the bus terminus to our apartment would be refreshing and provide a good glimpse into downtown Cape Town. It didn’t fail to provide this glimpse!

The bus ride took some 20 minutes taking us past a few outlying townships. These are those corrugated metal housing districts, slums. It was rather tough having to see this, a side of Cape Town which exists but us as tourists we tend to only want to see the gloss and not this real side to the city.

Arriving into Cape Town we were taken aback by the lack of people and activity. Stores close around 1pm on Sundays and the city was a ghost town with the exception of random men hanging around corners. The central part of the city is relatively built up, some small towers, the biggest being the Vodacom Tower (Vodafone). We did get some odd looks from people as we dragged our bags around. Crossing a road a man approached us asking where we were going. He appeared to be some sort of police officer but we later found out he was a public safety patrol guard. They are dotted all over the city, almost every street,  filling in the gaps for the city police. He escorted us to our apartment warning us about the city, the dos and don’ts. We were both taken back by this. Along the short walk with him we passed by another patrol guard and two police. The apartment had two guards in reception. All this security - for what?

Checked in we evaluated the situation. Is Cape Town safe? We had been given mixed reports beforehand. We’ve been to worse places before, from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur and have always grown to love a city. We were booked to stay here for 9 nights and our first impressions were not positive.
Quick view of our apartment
The kitchen area of our apartment
After settling in a little, we asked for directions to the local supermarket, which was a Spar (yes they have Spars here). It was only two blocks away. By now it was dark and raining. We didn’t quite make it as we were approached by one homeless man who hassled us for money, saying he wouldn’t hurt us but his friend (who was crossing the road to us) .... we didn’t wait to hear what his friend would do as we dashed into a petrol garage for safety. We entered via the exit door, the security inside made a deal over this until I told him we were being followed and to give us a break. He did. Thankfully the garage had a good sized food selection so we picked up provisions for the night and morning and planned our exit to leg it back to the apartment.

The decision was made to leave Cape Town early. We got onto Emirates and changed our flights back to Dubai 6 days early and booked another hotel in Dubai to stay out the remainder of our holiday.

Our attempt to secure the apartment (just in case)
We didn’t leave the apartment and settled in to watch some videos we brought with us. By the way our apartment is MASSIVE. Putting the negative experiences we encountered aside we do have a fantastic apartment which is large in size with an open plan lounge, dining area and kitchen, separate laundry room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms with showers, one bath, two balconies including one facing Table Mountain itself. I’ve attached a video tour below.

(Note: As this blog post is about Sunday - please don’t worry. We survived day six and seven. We leave Cape Town today, Wednesday).

No comments:

Post a Comment