Where African Jackass Penguins play among Southern Right Whales. Where the Atlantic meets the Indian Oceans. Where fine foods accompany fine wines. Where old meets new. Where else but Cape Town?
I remember many years ago visiting a house which had a huge wooden giraffe standing in the corner of the room opposite a big old concrete fireplace. The giraffe was as tall as I was and had been hand-painted from top to bottom. The giraffe's owners told me that they had bought him from a roadside seller in Cape Town. I was fascinated by this creature and I had wanted one for myself ever since. Now was my chance!
My Cape Town home for the next four days was to be the Lord Charles hotel in Stellenbosch Road, Somerset West. A luxury establishment set amongst the natural beauty of the Cape Winelands. The hotel is 30 minutes from the airport and within easy reach of the historic towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschoek. The hotel is home to the famous St Andrew's bar, the perfect place to watch the World Cup unfold with a cold pint of Castle lager or a glass of wine sourced from one of the many nearby vineyards. The hotel has its own car hire office with cars to hire from 150 Rand per day. The hotel also provides a shuttle bus to the many excellent restaurants in the surrounding areas. The hotel still has World Cup accommodation available from 1420 Rand per person.
Also recommended is Sunset Lodge, 41 Gull Road, Blouberstrand. This is an award-winning bed and breakfast overlooking the ocean and Robben Island, situated 200 metres from the beach. World Cup accommodation is still available from 295 per person per night.
My Cape Town Eleven:
The food and wine
Cable car to the top of Table Mountain
Whale watching at Hermanus
V and A Waterfront
The penguins at Boulder beach
One day safari at Aquila game reserve
Cape Of Good Hope National Park
And if you are there for the World Cup get a ticket to a game, any game!
All these adventures can be grouped together as half or full day tours. I would highly recommend hiring a car and creating your own itinerary in order to truly discover Cape Town at your own pace. See www.tourismcapetown.co.za
Where to eat
No visit to Cape Town is the same without a visit to a local restaurant. Here are a few of my favourites.
96 Winery Road, Zandberg Farm, Winery Road, Somerset West (27(0)218422020; www.96wineryroad.co.za). A homely place set in the heart of the beautiful Helderberg countryside. My favourite dish is Loin of Gemsbok wrapped in Italian bacon with clouds cottage chevre and mango sabayon accompanied by a bottle of Ken Forrester Merlot. Cost per head from 150 Rand.
Blues Restaurant, The Promenade, Camps Bay (27(0)2143822040; www.blues.co.za). A modern restaurant by the sea. They do killer Amarula Dom Pedro's. Cost per head 135 Rand.
Willowbrook Lodge, Morgenster Avenue, Somerset West (27(0)218513759; www.willowbrook.co.za). A sumptuous white linen dressed restaurant on the banks of the Lourens River. Melt in your mouth beef fillets with mash and beurre rouge on the side. Cost per head 150 Rand per person including wine.
Visit Spiers. Go in the morning and see the hand-raised cheetahs in the care of the cheetah outreach programme. Then stay for lunch at Spier deli on the banks of the Spier Dam (27(0)218091100; www.spier.co.za)
Take a helicopter ride with a difference from the V and A Waterfront. They use ex Vietnam Huey Choppers with the doors removed. Exhilarating and a bit frightening (www.huey-helicopter.co.za).
Hiring a car is the best way to see Cape Town at your own pace.
Get to attractions early in the morning as, due to their popularity, queues start to form quickly.
Check the weather report a few days in advance to ensure a clear day when heading to the top of Table Mountain to ensure a perfect view of the fantastic panoramic vistas of the city below.
Book restaurants in advance as they quickly get fully booked, especially at weekends.
There are still tickets available for World Cup matches. Matches in Cape Town will be played at the newly built Green Point Stadium which will see Cape Town welcome world stars from England, Italy, France and the Netherlands to name but a few. See www.fifa.com/worldcup for details.
Whether you are a fan of football or not, the summer of 2010 in Cape Town will be one not to miss!
My Cape Town is a city of extremes. It is a city where shanty towns live in the shadows of hillside mansions. A city where the locals hide the pain of the past and welcome you with a smile. Where the wildlife roams free, yet the locals hide behind barbed wire security fences. Cape Town will make you laugh and it will almost certainly make you cry but after a visit it will steal your heart and fill your dreams. After my first visit i longed to return. I'm sure you will to!
Ps. I am now the proud owner of my own hand-painted giraffe bought from the roadside on my way back to the hotel after a visit to Robben Island. I may be taller these days and he barely comes up to my knees but he still fascinates me today as much as he did all those years ago.