on a journey to the ‘Cradle Of Mankind’, Sheetal Wadhwa discovers
the ‘Mother City’ Cape Town in its stupefying contrasts
described in the words of its avid promoter, Sheryl Ozinsky, tourism
manager, Cape Town, One city, many cultures - it is a city
of extraordinary images that clash and complement each other, a
city of weather changes and one that has weathered change. It is
a city of the satellite dish atop an informal settlement, a mosque
alongside Cape Dutch architecture, a city where the traditional
pin stripe suit is giving way to more ethnic fashion statements.
Town conjures a myriad of images, from that of a cauldron of cultures
to a captivating commercial centre. It was on my last evening in
Cape Town, as an awe-inspiring sojourn was drawing to a close, that
I reminisced my heartfelt perceptions of this city. Memories of
my quiet dinner at the bustling V&A Waterfront gorging on a
sumptuous helping of indigenous Calamari and a taste of the South
African Shiraz, would remain with me forever.
Tank at the Two Oceans Aquarium
half-hour journey from the international airport to the city centre
itself takes one through a sliver of the culture and landscape of
a fast emerging city, with its characteristic juxtaposition of privatisation
and progress. Closer to the city, one drives through more affluent
suburbs and along scenic drives that overlook the Cape Town business
district. As I set foot in Cape Town, I saw an inviting city with
its own character, made by its people, marked by them and celebrated
by them. The whole aura of the Cape exudes vivacity, passion, colour
and, of course, the omnipresent South African hospitality. What
marked me most, however, was the diversity in the origin of the
people, which is truly astounding and their conviviality is both
touching and inspiring. Speaking of diversity, whatever season you
have chosen to visit Cape Town, be warned about the old joke. Cape
Town has four seasons - sometimes even in the same day. This is
especially true if you plan to go hiking or be outdoors.
regards to international acclaim, Mandela would be the indisputable
flagship. The other outstanding icon in Cape Town is the Table
Mountain, that serves as a beacon to the entire city, an impressive
exclamation mark at the base of the continent with its exhilarating
views of the Cape and its surroundings. To access the Table Mountain,
I took the cable car ride, which is very fascinating apart from
being the most convenient way to access the higher grounds. A remarkable
feature and also an important revenue generator for the metropolis
is the extremely popular V&A Waterfront. The perfect backdrop
for a romantic evening and a must see spot for tourists,
the ever-increasing number of international film and television
crews is characteristic of this place. Virtually every kind of cinematic
landscape exists within a two-hour radius of Cape Town.
Mountain, Cape Town
I said, the city is a vibrant mix of visual delights and physical
inconsistencies, to be just another fashionable tourist destination.
It has a unique ambience and spirited independence. It is an exotic
melange of the technological advancement of Europe and America and
the cultural heritage of South Africa, which also manifests itself
in its extensive variety of cuisines. Cape Town is undoubtedly establishing
itself as a bustling business destination for both indigenous and
international companies, a number of which have relocated to the
Western Cape. Just like its varied cuisines, Cape Town has a variety
of opportunities to offer a prospective investor. Business in Cape
Town is alive and bustling. Huge projects such as the construction
of Cape Town International Convention Centre, the GrandWest Casino
and the shopping centre at Century City represent massive investments
of capital and confidence.
above all, the city is really the cultural capital that has fostered
musicians and actors, artists and writers, been a platform for theatre
and cinema, and various forms of art. The city is made up of such
a diverse population with so many realities that it is difficult
to claim a unifying cultural myth.Theres really something
for everyone from commercial cinema to art films to visual arts
to appeal those with an eye for aesthetics.
Town is truly one of the most picturesque cities in the world. Cosmopolitan
Cape Town is a holiday for those who come to see and be seen against
the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain and bask on her white
and Alfred Waterfront
Towns nightlife is as diverse as its culture. Your choice
of entertainment may include a night at the ballet, theatre, opera
or rock concert. There will be a club for your particular mind-set
from hip-hop to trance. Club More in Loop Street plays mostly house
music and some drum-and-bass, Cape Towns local drum-and-bass
group Sublime play at The Piano Lounge. Gignet Theatre Cafe, the
new music venue, is upmarket and cosy. Long Street is full of a
range of clubs and bars. Cape Towns Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
with over 50 restaurants, coffee shops, pubs and taverns, several
take-aways, the giant IMAX Cinema and a host of other leisure attractions,
is an entertainment seekers dream. By night,Century City offers
the interactive theme park Ratanga Junction with entertainment for
the whole family. But first treat yourself to some live entertainment.
Try Maynardville (a great venue for Shakespearean productions) in
Wynberg, or the Nico Theatre Centre. Jazz is catered for in a number
of restaurants and clubs. The citys most popular jazz venues
are the Green Dolphin Restaurant and Westend. As luck would have
it, Sun Internationals GrandWest Casino is the place to head
to for a Las Vegas style casino fare.Gourmet
Africa Bar and Restaurant in Long Street
all you gourmets, Cape Town showcases gastronomy galore. Wine is
also very popular in Cape Town and, in fact, in the whole of South
Africa. Metropolitan Cape Town boasts of several good restaurants
where you can sample spicy delights of Cape Malay cuisine. So for
those of you on a spice route, you need to get a taste of Cape Dutch,
Cape Malay cuisine at Cape Manna, Tel:(021) 419-2181. You could
also savour cuisine at Cape Colony, Tel:(021) 483-1875, which is
amongst the most celebrated restaurants in Cape Town. Sticking to
the spice route, you can explore Africa without even leaving Cape
Towns famous restaurant and nightclub row on Long Street.
To find an indigenous dish with a difference, stop by at the new
Amuka Cafe, Tel:(021) 424-9930, at the Pan African Market. To savour
cuisine, stop by at The Africa Cafe, Tel:(021) 447-9553, which is
a landmark for African cuisine and a popular stopover on the tourist
route. For Austrian cuisine, check out Blue Danube, Tel:(021) 423-3624,
in the trendy restaurant quarter of Tamboerskloof. Finally, dont
miss the Beluga Restaurant, Tel:(021)4182948, that boasts an award-winning
wine cellar, cutting-edge cuisine and stunning decor.
Walk Shopping and Entertainment Complex
might have heard of the Big Five, when game spotting in Africa,
but in shopping terms, the numbers are much bigger! From markets
to malls, Cape Town has several world-class shopping malls. The
major centres include The V&A Waterfront, Cavendish Square and
Tyger Valley, and the new Canal Walk at Century city. The V&A
Waterfront boasts over 250 shops itself, while together, there are
over 700 shops and restaurants between them. Canal Walk is the newest
blockbuster mall and its proximity to Ratanga Junction could mean
a combination day of shopping and shrieking - on the rides. Here
are some hot shopping tips:
Award-winning Cape wines: Buy direct from the farm on your wine
expeditions (for as little as R20 a bottle), or go to wine boutiques.
Honeybush tea, caffeine free and delicate, or the better known
Rooibos tea. Buy these from speciality tea and coffee shops or
supermarkets for a light and healthy take-away taste of the Cape.
Go to Church Street Mall and wander up to the Pan African Market.
This is a treasure of art and artefacts, fabric and jewellery
from all over Africa.
Art works like woodcut prints in black and white make superb souvenirs
of your trip.
Information Office, Western Cape Tourism Board, Pinnacle
Building, Corner Castle and Burg Streets, Private Bag
X9108, Cape Town 8000, South Africa.
Getting Around: There are city coach tour services,
offering from personalised minibuses to large double-decker
coaches. Sedan taxis are found at most major hotels
and attractions. Mini-bus taxis are found on the main
roads in most parts.
Phone Code: 2721
Currency: African Rand
Business Hours: Most banks close at 15:30 hours
weekdays, and have limited Saturday morning opening
Tipping: It is a standard practice in South Africa.
Ideally, it is 10 per cent in restaurants as well as
for taxi drivers. Porters could be given R2 to R3 per
piece of luggage.
Time Difference: Standard time in South Africa
is 2 hours ahead of GMT (3 1/2 hours behind IST).
Credit Cards: South Africa has a modern and sophisticated
banking and commercial system, and most shops and hotels
will accept credit cards.
Climate: Mediterranean with warm, dry summers
and mild, moist winters.
Language: In the Western Cape English, Afrikaans
and Xhosa are used the most.
P O Box 32021 8040,
Just minutes from the city centre of Cape Town, nestling
below Table Mountain and overlooking one of the worlds
most pristine stretches of beach, Bay Hotel combines
the personal service and charm of a small luxury hotel
with all the sophistication and efficiency of a truly
great international hotel...
Rates: Double Room/Twin: US$ 268.00
Victoria & Alfred Hotel
O Box 50050, Waterfront 8002
Framed by the ocean and Table Mountain, the luxury of
the Victoria & Alfred Hotel is rivalled only by
its relaxed atmosphere and warm personal service...
Rate: Double room (mountain facing): US$ 233.00
Mount Nelson Hotel
P O Box 2608, Cape Town, 8001
Tel: 4831000, Fax: 4247472
Set at the foot of our private, palm-fringed avenue,
this famous landmark has four separate wings
of luxurious accommodation, all set in private gardens
planted with lavender and iceberg roses. The hotel is
the venue of choice for all major business and social
events held in Cape Town.
Cape Grace Hotel
P O Box 51387, Waterfront 8002
Tel: 4107100, Fax: 4197622
Voted as South Africas top individual hotel, Cape
Grace occupies a prime position. Its architectural
flavour reflects the strong historical influences of
the Cape. The hotel caters for both the business and
leisure traveller with every modern convenience including
a small boardroom, private guest lounge, swimming pool
and 24-hour service to support its five-star rating.
Rate: Double room / Twin room: $310.00
P O Box 50369, Waterfront 8002
Tel: 4065000, Fax: 4065050
Table Bay Hotel is situated on Quay Six of Cape Towns
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The elegant hotel
takes advantage of the citys most convenient and
beautiful site. Its position means that all rooms have
a view of Table Mountain or of the sea as far as Robben
Not To Miss
Top of Table Mountain : Any real sense of location
in this city requires an aerial view. If your time is
limited, take the cable car. Otherwise hike up. But
consider yourself a poor traveller if you have not seen
Cape Town from the tabletop.
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company,
Tel: 424 5148.
Rooibos Tea : Rooibos, the widely-famed natural
tea indigenous to the Cape, will be difficult to miss
tasting. And once you have tried it, you will be a convert
to its pure taste and aromatic flavour. The fine needle-like
leaves of the red bush are harvested in
a completely natural manner enhancing its health benefits,
so be sure to drink your brew from the right cup. Available
in health shops and supermarkets.
Cape Point : The point is a rocky promontory
at the end of the Cape Peninsula. The peak is 249 metres
above sea level and can be reached by foot or the funicular
railway. Be warned: theres a steep hill to climb
to the lighthouse at the top, but the sense of exhilaration
when you get there is worth it.
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve,
Tel: 780 9204/ 780 9100.
Robben Island : One of the most significant and
symbolically charged pieces of land in South Africa,
it has served for many years, as a place of banishment.
Probably the islands most famous previous inhabitant
is Nelson Mandela. Now a living museum, the island is
a place of history, education and insight into South
Turkish Baths : To experience sensual indulgence
thats actually good for you, make your way to
Long Street Baths for a Turkish bath and massage.
Women: Mon and Thurs 0900-2000 hours, Sat 0900-1800
Men: Tues, Wed, Fri 0900-2000 hours, Sun 0800-1200
Cnr Long/Orange Streets, Tel: 400 3302.
Pan African Market
Started by Michael and Anthea Methven in 1997, this
wonderland is a multistorey indoor market packed with
the arts and crafts of the local traders that sell there.
The smells of wood, smoky grass and leather alone will
transport you to different parts of Africa.