Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 3 - Cape Town

It's been a while since I last updated this blog. I've come to the realization that it's impossible to update a travel blog daily, unless I want to spend hours a day in front of a computer!

So to pick up where I left off, after my wonderful tour of the Cape Point and the southern part of the peninsula, I decided to check out Cape Town's city centre on day 3. I took the Metrorail for the first time (which stops running at 7pm), one of Cape Town's few public transportation infrastructures (though with the 2010 Soccer World Cup approaching, this should improve). I was sold a first class ticket without being asked what I wanted (I guess there is no way to hide the fact that I'm not a tourist, given the few East Asians in SA). Other than the fact that the train arrived 10 minutes late, the trip into Cape Town was smooth. It was safe and the train was a melting pot of races. Exiting the train station in Cape Town was quite an adventure as everyone was funneled through ONE turnstile where one person collected tickets!

Upon exiting the train station, I saw the majestic mountains surrounding the city. It was gorgeous! There really is not a bad view in Cape Town-- it's either the mountains or the water. I then strolled down the pedestrian shopping throughfare of St. George's Mall. I also saw the few unfinished elevated highways. Parts of Cape Town remind me of San Francisco, with its sloping, hill-like streets. Cape Town is really the best of all worlds-- San Francisco's culture and San Diego's climate.

I then strolled down the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, a touristy marina similar to Fisherman's Wharf. The highlight here were the excellent views of Table Mountain, Devil's Peak and Lion's Head. The V&A also hosted various performing acts, such as people performing jazz, African drumming, or swallowing fire. But the most popular attraction at the V&A are the tours to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent years imprisoned.

Afterwards, I strolled along the coast through the neighborhoods of Mouille Point and then Green Point, all the way to the lighthouse. One intriguing sight along the way was the construction of the nearly completed Green Point Stadium, to be used for next year's soccer World Cup.

The last neighborhood on my tour was the Waterkant. This area is located on a hill and had views of Table Bay. The architecture was Victorian. Overall, this area reminded me of San Francisco.

The absolute highlight of the day was the hike up Lion's Head for the sunset. Hannes and I hiked up for 1 hour to the summit, scaling several ladders and chains. The views at the top were some of the most phenomenal I've seen through all my travels-- 360 degree views of Cape Town (Table Mountain, Devil's Peak, Atlantic coast, City Bowl). My favorite view was that of the mountains (Twelve Apostles) and coves along the Atlantic coast. At around sunset, a layer of cloud, the famous "tablecloth" rolled in on top of Table Mountain. Also, the sky turned into a beautiful purple and pink display. It was completely dark by the time was finished descending the mountain. Luckily the crescent moon and numerous stars guided us safely.

The hike up Lion's Head has convinced me that Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world! There are so few cities with mountains, beaches and ocean within the city limits. Furthermore, the quaint architecture, electic culture, diverse food and mild weather make Cape Town one of the world's most desirable places to live. I must confess that I now want to relocate to the Mother City!

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