Friday, August 26, 2011

African Trip Review -- Cape Town Review/Gay Pride

The guide books all said that Cape Town was dangerous City where one should not walk outside in the evenings with or without accompaniment - you must take a cab or a car.  For the first couple of days we heeded this warning -- it wasn't until the last day that we decided to throw caution to the wind and spent time wandering after hours out and about.  Guide books frustrate me at times when they are uber cautious.  I know why -- silly Americans are afraid of their own shadows.  Anyway...

The first night we popped over to the V&A Harbor and had an acceptable dinner of African Meat (Ostrich for me and Boar for MS).  A couple beers and then back to the hotel.  We had a lot to do over the next few days and were running on limited sleep.

The next day we slept in a bit then headed up to find a Cape Malay restaurant that we had read so much about.  It was called Bo Kaap Kombuis and was really great.  The food itself looked a little funky -- see...

During our lunch were were shocked by a very loud explosion.  We were the only ones in the restaurant who seemed to care.  After asking a couple times what the noise was, we were informed it was the Noon Gun -- a cannon that is fired at noon each day so the laborers know when it is lunch time.  We got use to it -- and actually enjoyed it from that point on.  The guide book did warn us about the gun, but we paid no attention to that warning either.

After lunch we headed over to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and many other prisoners were held.  It's a quick ferry ride from Cape Town. The guided tour was well done, but not something you need to do more than once.  It is something you MUST do whilst in Cape Town.

After Robben Island we walked up and down Kloof Street, looking for a few good restaurants.  We didn't see anything that really jumped out at us as a fantastic place, but everyone said this is the place to walk.  We found a nice little place at the base of Table Mountain, called Asoka, for a couple of specialty cocktails made with fresh herbs and loads of liquor.  The service was really good and it was a great way to kick off our second evening in Cape Town.

After drinks we walked around trying to find a great sushi place called Kyoto Gardens -- but we couldn't find it.  We looked all over and I swear it must have gone out of business.  We chose to eat at a small Thai place a block or two from Asoka.  The food was quite lovely - we dined al fresco both places this evening.

After dinner we decided to go out.  We aren't big on the whole gay scene -- we don't go clubbing, we don't have to stay in the gay neighborhood, although traditionally one night in a new City we will go to the gay ghetto for a cocktail and to see what the locals do.  Cape Town's gay area, that we saw at least, was pretty casual (like the rest of the City). We walked around for a bit, but didn't find anything that really jumped out at us.  As we were sitting outside eating dessert, a place around the corner up a hill caught my eye...called Bubbles. Immediately I thought it was a little champagne bar -- and well, that's all I need to see and I'm all over it!  We ventured up the hill and then up the stairs and heard a live show...it was a drag show.  Maybe we will find the gay bar we were looking for after all.  We aren't into the gay scene and we really aren't into the drag scene either.  This place was great though.

The owner/performer was Polish and she told us the place had been open just a few days.  She and her husband recently moved from Paris to start a new life in Cape Town.  When she was younger she use to perform in Poland and live in Paris -- and commute weekly for her show.  The club had 6 other Americans inside (ugh) they informed us that they flew in from the US for Pride Weekend...we were completely shocked that it was Pride in Cape Town.  The owner at Bubbles was leading the parade the following day and performing in their new HUGE football (soccer) stadium.  We were invited to join her VIP area, but alas we were taking a drive to the Cape of Good Hope the next day (whew).

The performers name was Lola (like my Grandma) and of course she sang "Copa Cabana", which just made my day.  Her name was Lola, she was a show girl...and I am a Fan-ilow!

The next day we decided to take a drive down to the end of the continent (which was amazing and will be reviewed next).  The day after the drive we went on a GREAT bike and wine tour (to be reviewed shortly).

The final day in Cape Town we decided to hike Table Mountain, which was high on our list from day one.  One thing I didn't mention yet, is the weather.  Cape Town was windy (blew the smog and filth out of the City) but it was warm. It was in the 30s each day. I loved it.  Table Mountain is extremely steep.  There were a two ways to get to the top -- either cab it part way up and then hike, or take the cable car.  We opted for the latter.  It was a very quick ride to the top and interestingly enough the inside of the cable car rotates, so no matter where you stand you'll get a full 360 degree view of the area.  Going up the mountain you can look out and see Robben Island and all of Cape Town.  I hate heights but with a firm grasp on the railing I enjoyed the ride.

At the top of the mountain we decided to walk around for a bit...it was much cooler at the top and was really surreal.  As we moved a little bit away from the observation deck we really found no one else out and about, it was really surprising.




The weather can change pretty quickly on the mountain.  You'll notice the wind damaged sign above.  The "hooter" they refer to is the siren to warn everyone to get off the mountain (or you must WALK down...no thank you).  The clouds from form over Table Mountain and from a distance it looks like a table cloth over the table -- really quite extraordinary

After the Table Mountain Hike we headed back to the Hotel and MS had dinner with his uncle's friend. I opted to go to dinner on my own.  The next day we headed to the airport early and continued our journey to Zimbabwe.

Cape Town was one of the most beautiful Cities I have ever visited.  My biggest regret about Cape Town was not being their for the World Cup.  The City has such a great energy when we were there, I just cannot imagine what it was like with thousands of footballers there (and the whole world watching).

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