As usual, I was dressed up ready to go to the city after about half an hour after arriving at the hotel, at about the same time most of my colleagues sleep. (From the hotel there is a free shuttle to The Waterfront at 12AM which comes back at 6 PM).
In the first afternoon spent in Cape Town I had plenty of time to get acquainted to the city, chill by the water, have amazing sea food paella and one of the best burgers I had in the food market, taste some more South African wine and have some serious discussions about faith, past and new crew life. On the way to the city there are slums of impossible poverty, practically sheds made of cartons, which I found out are called informal settlement. If I remember well, the same I saw at the outskirts of Joburg.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a setting in the oldest harbor in Cape Town, where there are hotels, restaurants with amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, Table Mountain and the city, shops, an aquarium, museums, a huge food market with traditional products, a souvenirs market, a wheel like a miniature London’s Eye, with even better view of the surrounding and many others.
The name of the harbor comes from Prince Alfred, the son of Queen Victoria who started building it in 1860.
From here there you can take a boat to Robben Island where Mandela’s cell is located, you can take kayak trips, fly over the city by helicopter, ride horses on the beach, take a party boat, almost anything you could think of.
The harbor is pleasant to walk and at a temperature of about 20 degrees – it is now winter – it is the best place to be when you are coming from 50 degrees weather.
First I took a picture a huge yellow frame in front of Table Mountain. By the way, Table Mountain is a mountain without a peak, a flat mountain, something I considered totally not interesting, until I saw the sweeping views of the horizon and the city from up there.
Then, I walked around the Nobel Square, where there are four statues of the Nobel Prize laureates of South Africa, among which one is Nelson Mandela. When I was there a seagull was resting on the head of one of them, completing the landscape with mountains in the background, the harbor with beautifully polished boats and the specific architecture of The Waterfront.
The Nobel Square is right in front of a huge wooden shed where a food market with the most extraordinary sweets, meat products, drinks, beers can be found. I chose a fresh sea food paella which a very sweet chubby South African lady served with love and enjoyed it in the cold South African sun at some table outside overlooking the four statues in the Square.
I decided a glass of wine would not be bad, so I went upstairs in the big “shed” – one side had more floors and the other is opened so from upstairs you can see all the small sections which have no roof, so you can see inside. I took the glass away, but here nobody cares for such minor things. After, I returned it, of course, but nobody seemed stressed anyway. Then we decided we should eat more and I tried the famous burger for which you have to wait almost one hour. Enough time to take a spin in the Cape Wheel.
Then we ate our burgers (I chose the Avo burger with avocado paste) and I had another glass of wine in the bar on top, looking at all the small shops with South African products and talking for more than an hour.
When we came here with the burgers nobody was here and we sat down, then the guy came and said he will be gone for a while and gave me the wine. I offered the money, but he said later. Then he came with the change saying he saw the amount I wanted to hand him initially. Everybody’s cool, relaxed.
Around you can find The Two Oceans Aquarium also and tens of cafes and restaurants with fresh fish smelling from far. In the mall there are all kinds of stores from decorations to local soap and souvenirs. I lost myself in a bookstore, had a shake while looking at the Atlantic Ocean and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the dinner and going out.
The place to be for dinner and partying in Cape Town is Long Street. At the recommendation of our driver we chose Mama Africa, a very traditional restaurant with live music and free wine and like every place in South Africa, amazing food, especially stakes.
Honestly, although people told me Joburg is more dangerous than Cape Town, Long Street didn’t seem safe at all to me. As we left a beggar woke up to ask for money and because he was sleeping he forgot about his dog and stepped on him. The dog barked and we got really scared, but our driver was waiting for us and everybody else seemed relaxed. This makes me remember of the terrifying/funny now adventure in Joburg when I and my friend were the only white persons in a whole neighborhood that we didn’t even know how dangerous it was. Flower power, lucky us!
Besides we had to get ready for the next day’s trip around the area: Boulders Beach for penguins, going up the Table Mountain, wine tasting in a South African wine yard, The Cape of Good Hope.