The V & A Waterfront in Cape Town is a popular area for visitors to explore, filled with a number of shops, places to dine, the ferry dock & a variety of tour company experiences.
V & A waterfront, looking back towards Table Mountain
It was also the place where we met up with Mark from AWOL tours, who would guide us on a city bike tour.
Making our way through the city, we stopped at various points of interest to learn a little about the history of this area. One of my favourite areas we cycled through, was in the Company Gardens.
The Company Gardens, created in the 1650’s, are situated in central Cape Town, in & around a number of landmark buildings.
The gardens and park are open to the public, free of charge. People meander through, enjoying the quiet beauty in the center of the city.
Taking a break in The Company Gardens, behind Tuyrhuys, the presidents residence.
In the picture above, we are standing in front of the Presidents residence. During Mandela’s time in residence, Mark explained it was not uncommon for him to be found walking in the park, engaging in conversation with people. Wouldn’t it have been a wonderful experience to have a chat with such an incredible man?
Statue of Cecil John Rhodes
Mark also shared an amusing story about the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, pictured above, which sits in the midst of the Company Gardens. It appears Cecil was not a popular guy for some.
In January of 2016, it seems a group disguised as workers, made an attempt to cut the statue down with a grinder. Hearing the commotion, a city manager caught on to their antics, forcing them to flee before completing their mission.
We chuckled over what they would have done with the statue, had they been successful in knocking him off of his pedestal. Imagine that conversation at a pawn shop!
If you are history buff, you can read more about Cecil here.
The incision made by the vandals before being forced to flee.
Our next stop was the Bo Kaap area, a community dating back to the 1760’s, formerly known as the Malay Quarter.
Bo Kaap has an interesting history, with many of the residents being descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries, who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries.
With their cheerful & brightly coloured exteriors, these houses definitely catch your attention as you make your way up the slopes of Signal hill.
You can read 5 fascinating facts about this unique neighbourhood here.
Just a few of the brightly painted houses in the Bo Kaap area.
Returning from our cycle tour, after a lovely lunch at the waterfront, we headed to the ferry dock, excited about our trip out to Robben Island.
Sadly, Mother nature had other plans for us. Apparently she was creating high swells in the ocean that day, resulting in our ferry ride being cancelled. Rescheduling for the next day, we hoped the weather would be more cooperative but sadly it was not, thus taking away our opportunity to get out to Robben Island.
Please note, if you are planning a trip to Robben Island, it is advisable to book your tickets in advance of your trip as tickets sell out. You can source information here.
One of the things I have learned about travelling, is that even the best laid plans don’t always work out. The need to be flexible in your plans can be paramount to enjoying the experience.
Flexible we were. Checking to see if the winds had affected the cable car that goes up to Table Mountain, we confirmed it was still running & opted to head up the mountain rather than out to sea!
Table Mountain, appropriately named for its flat top, is South Africa’s best known landmark. The cableway, which is the primary mode of transporting visitors to the top, opened in 1929, although has been refurbished to accommodate the approximately 800,000 visitors who come here annually.
Cable Car going up Table Mountain
Table Mountain offers a variety of hiking paths, ranging from easy to difficult. One of the more popular routes is the Platteklip Gorge hike. It is free of charge to do it on your own or you can hire a guide through a tour company to take you.
Our original intention was to hike up the gorge & take the cable car back down but with our change in plans that day, we did not have enough time to safely get in the hike so we opted for a return trip on the cable car.
View from the top looking down at some of the hiking paths.
K enjoying the view.
On a clear day, one is greeted with a beautiful view of the city below.
Clouds starting to roll in but at this point you could still see Robben Island in the distance.
Mom & daughter up in the clouds.
Whether you hike up or ride up, it is worth the trip just to see the view. Once at the top, the terrain is very easy to have a wander about, enjoying both the view & the many species of plants native to the mountain. If you would like to stay awhile, there is also a restaurant to have a bite to eat or perhaps just a glass of wine.
Regardless of the changes in plans, with a little flexibility, we experienced another fantastic day in this beautiful area.
Beautiful sunset from our balcony.
Next up…a trip out to Cape Point.