After a week in Namibia it was time for the second part of our adventure in Southern Africa. A week in South Africa was on the list and Cape Town was our starting point. We had calculated for three days in Cape Town and it turned out that the city had a lot more to offer than we would ever have had time for in that short period of time.
Back In South Africa: Hello Cape Town!
We arrived at the airport in Cape Town before noon on our tenth day of traveling. We were once more greeted by sunshine and we immediately made sure to arrange the necessities at the airport. A little bit of cash, a prepaid card for the phone and a map of the city. We were eventually ready to catch a taxi to our accommodation in the center of the city.
The taxi driver tried to introduce a few of the sights that we could see in the distance. Sadly this was before we knew the names of the hills and mountains and we probably misunderstood him a few times. At one time when we commented on the beautiful landscape we were just passing one of the poorer areas, that comment did probably not impress our driver.
We were dropped of right outside of our accommodation, the Icon Apartments. Check-in was a quick process and we were soon guided to our room. Here we started to set up a plan for the three days that we had in the city.
Cape Town Sightseeing
We dedicated the first day in the city to getting to know Cape Town. We started the exploration by walking up the street from our hotel to one of the tourists centers. Here we gathered more information about the city and especially about a tour out to the Cape Point for a later day. One of the tour companies offered a tour for around 1000 Rand per person. We would consider this option for a few more hours before a new opportunity emerged from nowhere.
At the tourist center we also found information about the free walking tours in the afternoon. There were two tours to choose between, either the Historic City Tour or the Bo-Kaap Walking Tour. We opted for the latter since Susann had already fallen in love with the possibility to see a lot of colorful houses.
Free Walking Tour: Bo-Kaap
The area of Bo-Kaap lies just next to the city center on the slopes of Signal Hill. The tour started outside the tourist center in a good pace. We soon arrived in Bo-Kaap and all the colors welcomed us to a new world. Here we were introduced to the concept of Cape Malay and we were given a lot of inspiration for foods to try during our stay in the city.
Our guide Janet shared tales from the neighborhood and it is especially the stories about how the colors came to be that fascinated us. This would have been such an interesting topic over a glass of wine with a local. Was it because of a doctor who wanted to make it easier for his patients to find his office? Or is there an even wilder background to the colors?
The Auwal Mosque from 1794 and the Nurul Islam Mosque from 1844 together with other historical buildings tell a story of the area’s past. The mainly Muslim neighborhood has had and still has a multicultural tradition. Bo-Kaap was formerly called the Malay Quarter and it is a former township.
An Evening at the Cape Town Waterfront
After the walking tour it was time to grab something to eat and also find a new pair of shorts. The only pair was after a week in Namibia ready for the bin. So we headed to one of the shopping centers that we were recommended. Only a 15-minute walk from our hotel was the V&A Waterfront. It lies in an old part of the harbor that has been rebuilt into a center of shopping, dining and entertainment.
Here we sat down for a nice dinner in a restaurant in one of the malls. We spent the time talking about everything that was to come. However, we soon noticed that we needed to hurry before the shops started to close. We still had to find that pair of shorts. Luckily it was a lot easier to find a pair in South Africa than it was to find a pair of shorts in the shops in Sweden in September and October.
Changed Plans For Cape Point
It was on the way back from the Waterfront that our plans for the Cape Point changed. We took a taxi back to our hotel as we didn’t know the area well enough to walk in the dark. Here we met Carlos Links, a taxi driver who offered to be our guide around Cape Point. The tour would cost 1600 Rand, excluding entrance fees. We decided to think about it and to give him a call the following morning.
Our original plan was to go to the tour company in the morning and book a tour for the next day. The decision was easy; a private tour with Carlos driving us to the places we wished was a lot more tempting than sitting in a tour bus with a fixed plan. We will write more about that trip in later posts. As we came back to the Icon Apartments, our first day in Cape Town had come to an end.
Icon Apartments in Cape Town
During our three nights in Cape Town we stayed at the Icon Apartments. Here we had a large apartment for ourselves. Everyone was really friendly even though we felt a bit misplaced with the more business feel of the accommodation. It was probably the most impersonal place we stayed at during our trip, although it was also the most convenient one.
The best part? Well, that would probably be the kitchen counter. It really was a perfect place to spread out the maps and plan the coming days. There were eventually three maps of the city and region spread out on that counter with marks all over them. Something we usually just dream about doing when traveling.
To summarize, the Icon Apartments was not the most welcoming accommodation, but it was probably a good place for us to rest as it had all the convenience that smaller places couldn’t offer. Its location in downtown Cape Town was also a great advantage.
This post belongs to a series about our trip to South Africa and Namibia. Read the previous parts by clicking on the links below:
- Part I: Doha, Qatar >>
- Part II: Johannesburg, South Africa >>
- Part III: Traveling To Namibia >>
- Part IV: Otjiwarongo, Namibia >>
- Part V: Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia >>
- Part VI: Etosha National Park, Namibia >>
- Part VII: Omaruru, Namibia >>
- Part VIII: Okahandja, Namibia >>
- Part IX: Windhoek, Namibia >>