Monday 10 September 2012

Day Six - The Cape Town Tour

Todays highlights:
  • Sightseeing Bus Tour of the City
  • Stunning winding roads along the Atlantic
  • Breathtaking views over the city from the cable car station on Table Mountain
  • Sun Set from Camps Bay over the ocean
The table cloth over Table Mountain 
After a good nights rest we woke to glorious sun shine. The apartment has windows facing all directions except north. The morning sun arose from the ocean lighting up Table Mountain that was quite stunning. A tablecloth-style cloud covering lay across the top of the mountain; this is common for this time of year.

For the first time in the holiday we prepared our own breakfast (we had brought our own Irish Corn Flakes!). Still on alert over the previous day, we used the vantage point we have from the apartment to observe local behavior. Tourists and locals mingled outside. The tourists did stand out. At traffic intersections men dashed around primarily white-coloured cars to sell all sorts of newspapers and goods. Elsewhere men in brightly coloured uniforms cleaned pavements; others watched over car lots, others just waited by street corners. It seemed relatively safe, but we took no chances only taking a little money out with us. For the first time in 14 years I left home without my phone or mobile Internet access, relying on a paper map that I was too frightened to take out

We used the view to observe local behaviour before heading out!
We tried to look local and walked with purpose. We retraced our steps from the previous night to visit the supermarket. We walked in the middle of the road to get the best view around corners in case of gangs. We did get accosted right in front of the store, but thankfully made it in safely. Spar stores back home aren’t known for their upmarket styling or selection, this one was. It had everything including a very large vegetarian and vegan selection from “Frys” foods, which are actually a local company here. We had bought their foods before back home, but the selection here was phenomenal. We made a point to return back to the Spar at the end of the day to stock up on food for the apartment. Outside the population was primarlly black, inside this store however, the customer demograph was white. We did continue to see a trend in white/black throughout the city and did feel uncomfortable in places where we stood out, as if we were not welcomed.

Venturing into the city center we made certain to stay close to groups of professional looking people. But this didn’t stop the homeless or less fortunate from hassling us at every opportunity. Worse was at traffic lights where we were captive to their attempts to gain money or food from us. Venturing into a small local mall we stood out like a sore thumb being two of the few whites there. Inside one store we oddly had to get a dated sticker placed on our coke bottle that we had brought in with us. Prices here were very cheap, so we picked up some snacks and continued on with the exploration.

O'Driscolls Irish Bar
The plan was to find the famous Long Street and soak up its atmosphere. Feeling thirsty I tried to find a coffee shop. This is near to impossible in the city. Coffee culture doesn’t appear to have made it here in Cape Town. All we could find was a McDonalds in a shopping mall that used to be the main train station at one point. They do have McCafĂ©s. Opting to sit inside for a while we grew nervous as we noticed a few men outside looking in at us since our arrival. We felt we were being watched. Thankfully there was a second exit straight out to the street, so we made a dash for it in an attempt to locate the sightseeing bus tour and safety.

On the Bus Tour
Township - or slum area
The Atlantic Shoreline 
We’ve taken quite a few of those red bus sightseeing bus tours over the years but the Cape Town one has to be one of the best. A two-day ticket gives you access to two main routes, one city the other coastal (in addition to a vineyard/wine tasting tour and canal cruise). We kept to the main city and coastal tours, taking in the coastal first. Something we discovered on this tour is the white population of the city tend to live on the Atlantic coast areas, like Camps Bay. Here perfect white sands hug the shoreline whilst massive waves roar in from the Atlantic carrying in freezing cold waters from the South Pole. These coastal areas and the V&A docklands area are meant to be the most tourist friendly and mainly white orientated. You see the theme again. This sadly is really a divided city. This explains what we experienced yesterday as we are staying on the fringes and arrived right in the heart of the central business district via public transport.

Hout Harbour

V&A Waterfront
Mug and Bean for a maple cinnamon latte
The scenery here is breathtaking. Cape Town is a beautiful city once you look past its rough edges. Table Mountain with its 12 apostles facing out to the sea provides a dramatic backdrop dominating the skyline. Our bus tour took us around all the major sites including botanical gardens and district 6. The city line even took us up to the cable cars on Table Mountain, however as it was 5pm by the time we got up there, the cars where closed for the day.
V&A Waterfront
South African Countryside

Vinnie on the Bus Tour
Camps Bay
We took the bus back down to Camps Bay were we alighted for a stroll along the perfect white sandy beech and watched the sun setting over the ocean before rejoining the bus back to the V&A waterfront and heading back to the apartment before it got too late. By this stage we were becoming more confident with the city, knowing where to avoid and how to react. However, we still found ourselves restricted at night, it was just too dangerous to venture into the city by foot.

The start of the winding roads along the atlantic shoreline
V&A Waterfront
Nelson, Vinnie and Coke Status
The Wheel of Cape Town at V&A Waterfront
Tomorrow we have an early start as we plan on taking the 9am direct bus up to Table Mountain to attempt to take the cable cars up.

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