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anna_moon Cape Town - A travel report by Polly
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Cape Town,  South Africa - flag South Africa
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anna_moon's travel reports

The most beautiful city on earth

  12 votes
Page: 1 2

Cape Town travelogue picture
In July of 1998, my church youth group had the amazing opportunity to go to South Africa for three weeks. It was my first trip abroad – I’d never thought of South Africa as a place I had to visit, but I was thrilled to be going. Traveling with a church group, or any sort of humanitarian organization is a different experience from personal travel; you get a different sense of a country when you visit its hospitals and orphanages instead of its sights and beaches. Luckily, our youth leader had planned an incredible trip where we got to do a bit of both. Before I left, I was told South Africa was one of the most beautiful places on earth. I have to agree – both the breathtaking landscapes, and the dramatic and sometimes heart-breaking story of the people who live there make the country the most amazing place I’ve visited. As the starting point for our trip, Cape Town made the perfect first impression.

Favourite spots:
Cape Town travelogue picture
Table Mountain is to Cape Town as the Statue of Liberty is to New York – a sight that has become shorthand for the city. Besides helping to create a romantic skyline, a trip to the top of the mountain cannot be missed. We were worried the morning fog would hide the view, but took the Rotair to the top. The view of the city and the ocean was fantastic, as was the world on top of the mountain – little stone huts and walls, scrubby plants, and lots of strange, furry little animals that looked a bit like groundhogs. The dassies (or rock rabbits) were friendly and happy to pose for pictures. The fog crept in just as we were leaving, and you could barely see across the top of the mountain, let alone the city below.

What's really great:
Cape Town travelogue picture
Cape Town is incredibly beautiful, a shining city between mountains and the ocean. The architecture suits the land – pastel houses with Dutch-style facades are terraced up the side of the mountain. In the morning, the fog rolls in, and the sunlight casts a beautiful glow over everything. Even in the winter, temperatures are pleasant (though at evening it’s good to take a jacket or sweater along). We drove up the winding roads above the city to see it at night. However, it must also be mentioned that the level of poverty is just as astonishing as the scenery. Driving in from the airport, we got our first glimpses of groups of houses built around the supports of an underpass with cardboard and metal siding. Walking down to the waterfront at night we were met by a group of children begging for money. The South African in our group told us you can't give them all change, because even more will turn up. Advice that was very hard to follow.

Sights:
Cape Town travelogue picture
On the morning we arrived, we visited the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens as a kind of laid-back introduction to South Africa. It was a slightly rainy day, and the gardens were pretty much empty, making it a relaxing place to visit and giving us a chance to see some of South Africa’s fauna (birds of paradise) and wildlife (fowl and a mongoose). A livelier stop was the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. This giant, modern complex consists of a mall and a restored harbor. It’s a great place to shop and to people-watch.

Accommodations:
We stayed at the Ritz Hotel, which was a very nice hotel, a bit like an older Hilton or Marriott. The exchange rate when we went was excellent, and the rooms ended up costing around $15 a night – an incredible bargain.

Restaurants:
We ate in the revolving restaurant at the top of our hotel, where I tried ostrich for the first time (it tasted like steak to me). We also tried the fast food place “Steer” at the V&A Waterfront. In general, I thought South African fast food was better than you’d find in the American chains (so long as you stay away from the burgers).

Other recommendations:
Cape Town travelogue picture
If you have time and transportation, Cape Point is a great day trip. It’s located at the tip of the Cape peninsula, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans join. The walk up to the lighthouse left me winded, but once at the top, it was neat to be able to see the spot where the currents meet – a slight difference in color clues you in. A large rock by the lighthouse gave testament to the fact that “Karl was here, 1997”, and “Ami loves Tom”, and other travelers who had left their mark. In the nice gift shop, you could buy a vial of water from Cape Point, Nelson Mandela snow globes, and other awfully touristy goodies.

Published on Wednesday January 21th, 2004


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Sat, May 12 2007 - 01:33 PM rating by mistybleu

An interesting and enjoy read, you sound like you had a fantastic time.

Amanda

Thu, May 06 2004 - 04:48 PM rating by willow

Another excellent report. You have a nice style to your writing- and what a lucky youth group! The farthest mine ever went was a three hour drive away!

Thu, Jan 22 2004 - 08:38 AM rating by marianne

Very useful information, described in a pleasant way.

Wed, Jan 21 2004 - 06:24 PM rating by cycleboy

Hi Polly,
your report shows a great sense for this fantastic city, its inhabitants and the surrounding landscape. Very,very good!

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