The fact that it has taken me 2 whole weeks to get this blog out is a testament to how much we are LOVING Cape Town. It’s been an impressive first stop on our adventure and with as many places that Adam and I have been fortunate enough to visit, nothing quite compares to this vibrant and culturally diverse city hugging the coast. With two and a half weeks under our belts, we already have a laundry list of observations that make this place unique.
Landscape + Location
If you haven’t been following our Instagram, which you should do, you’ll need to start by googling “Cape Town”. Instantly your eyes should widen with the glorious imagery filling your google image search of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, the sprawling city at its base and beautiful blue oceans. From any point near and around the city as well as its various neighborhoods, these iconic land masses have a major presence, making you feel very tiny. And oh my gawd are they stunning. So stunning that we hiked both within our first week here. Blog on those climbing adventures coming next and I promise it won’t take 2 weeks. Even as I sit here at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop, Melissa’s, enjoying a double flat white (latte equivalent?) and finally writing this blog, my backdrop is Her Majesty, Table Mountain. You should also know as we recently found out that Table Mountain is one of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature“.
In an attempt to keep this blog a manageable reading length, I won’t go into detail YET about the stretching vineyards, luscious forests and gorgeous coastlines, but it has to be said that the physical landscape of this region is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
On our first hike up Lion’s Head, we heard people passing by speaking Italian, German, Spanish, South African English, American English, Afrikaans (basically Dutch), and a few others that were indistinguishable. At first, I was thinking wow, all these people are here on vacation or ‘holiday’ as they say locally. But the more time we’ve spent mingling, the more we’ve realized South Africa has a huge population of people that have moved here from other countries, some just at least until their visas expire.
It’s also been interesting to note that many we meet identify with multiple nationalities. One morning on beauuuutiful Camps Bay Beach, we were playing volleyball with a whole group of people currently living in South Africa. However, they described themselves as “South African and German”, “Italian and South African”, or “Dutch and South African”. Maybe that is a way they distinguish they aren’t tourists or maybe they all feel as though they identify with being South African in the same way they identify with their own home country. Regardless, it’s been intriguing and a hell of a lot of fun to meet all these worldly people. It’s also quite impressive that everyone speaks multiple languages… which is really encouraging me to go back to hitting the Spanish books before we get to Spain. Nesicito aprender mas pronto!
Locally Sourced Food + Cost of Living
Yea, yea, we’ve been eating a lot… but we’ve also been working out a lot too, but we all know the food is prettier to look at than our morning circuits in the park. The food scene here in “The Mother City” is outrageously delicious and beautiful, not to mention half the price as in the states! Now I know every local is hoping their currency, the Rand, continues to strengthen, but as of today, our dollar goes FAR (12:1). Wine = 40-60 R is normal at a nice restaurant ($3.33-$5) and on happy hour it dips to 25-30 R ($2-$3)! A locally sourced, good meal = 60-100 R ($5-$8.50). Adam has also been stalking the various real state advertisements and those are about half of what you would expect too. As you can probably guess, we’re dreaming (plotting?) of buying a place here on the regular.
One more thing I did want to add that has been pretty striking is that nearly all the food at the grocery stores is LOCAL. Pineapples, bananas, meat, eggs, cheese, olive oil, wine, packaged food, jerky (called biltong here) – it’s all from South Africa! A testament to the rich abundance of the country’s landscape.
I’m pretty sure the only time I’ve seen high voltage wire is in Jurassic Park, but here it’s as common as taking an Uber (which is the main method of transport). High voltage wire along with, massive spiked security gates and barbed wire encompass nearly every residence, be it a stunning mansion or a simple condo complex like our AirBnB. As an example, we have 4 keys to get into our apartment which is inarguably one of the best areas of Cape Town – The Garden District. One that unlocks the front spiked security gate and interior iron gate, another that unlocks our apartment door’s iron security gate, and two additional keys that unlock the locks on our front door. It takes 5 minutes just to get in and out. What this says to us as visitors is that security is an issue and locals would rather be safe than sorry. However, I can’t help but think that this apparent need for intense security only further visually and physically divides the people that South Africa is working to unite.
There is so much more that I want to cover but I want to save some juicy details and exciting days for posts to come. However — one thing I don’t want to ignore in this first post because there will be a blog dedicated to it coming up is that the socio-economic divides in South Africa are something we have never witnessed. As we’ve heard many times from locals, “Cape Town isn’t South Africa” and our visit to one of the adjacent townships this week not only proved that but changed us probably forever. This country is stunning, exciting, and amazing yes… but it has a complex and horrid history that has scared its infrastructure and affected culture in a way that is really hard to put to words.
Until next time, cheers and keep liking our Instagrams : )
Chels and Adam