I’m Taking You to Cape Town, This Time
“Are we in Europe?”
That was my first question once Sari and I stepped our feet out of Cape Town International airport. Unlike other trips that I normally did with myself only, this time, I traveled with Sari, my house mate to see what the most southern part country in Africa could offer for us. We flew to Cape Town from Kinshasa by South African flag carrier airlines, South African Airways. It didn’t require long time, only couple of minutes after landed, we were amazed with the developed airport, good infrastructures and road, cleanliness of the city and architecture style resembling European’s building decorated the city. Not mentioning Table Mountain, the landmark of the city that could be seen from most of part of the city, and Atlantic Ocean at the other part. Additionally, the climate is not as Kinshasa which is only three hours flying from there, instead it’s like other sub tropical country, with the absence of the snow during winter. So, it’s not wrong though if we felt like we were in the Europe of Africa.
We stayed at Cape Diamond Hotel during our stays in Cape Town. I gave my trust to Sari to be in charge in selecting accommodation, and I was happy with her choice. Our hotel is located in the city center, which is closed to the one of stations of hop on hop off bus and greenmarket square where many typical souvenirs from Cape Town could be found with the good price. For your information, Cape Town is not really a cheap city. During our stay there, we didn’t meet many young travelers and backpackers, but senior travelers were many. One that differs Cape Town with most of cities in Western Europe, the public transport is not really convenient, where many places are not passed by public bus. To reach those places, taxi should be the option, that will cost traveler a lot in order to see the city. Therefore, Sari and I decided to use the service of Hop On Hop off bus, enabled us to see most of Cape Town attractions with affordable prices, compared to the cost that we must spend if we want to use taxi for the whole time. This bus really helped us during our stay in Cape Town.
We came when winter almost came to end, and flowers started to bloom. Spring was almost there. However, for people like us who comes from tropical countries, the low temperatures couldn’t make us to separate from our coat, despite some South Africans already wore some swimming suits in the beach. A day after our arrival, we headed to the famous Table Mountain. Unlucky due to the strong wind, we couldn’t go the the peak with the cable car. We’re a bit disappointed, but Sari reminded us that we still had another six days in the city. We could use the entire day by walking around to see the city in the details and visited museums.
So, we headed to Iziko Museums of SouthAfrica. Iziko means hearth, founded in 1825, it’s the first museum in the country. It exhibits million specimens, including fossils, stone tools, rock samples, marine and wild animals and whale skeletons collection that I amazed the most. Apparently there are other part of museums that visitor could visit, including planetarium. But, we choose to make our visit shorter since we still wanted to see the other part of city. Moreover, we were quite satisfied with what we saw there.
Next stop was Castle of Good Hope. Just a few steps away from city center, we immersed ourselves in the time of 19th century. Located on the coastline of Table Bay, the castle doubled function as fortress, was built in the 17th century. In 1936, the castle was declared as historical monument and considered as the best preserved of Dutch East India Company. It provided shelter for Europeans who settled in Cape Town. Back to centuries ago, there were many Europeans, particularly Dutch living in Cape Town since it’s considered as replenishment station for passing ships during their trips from the Netherlands to Indonesia.
During colonization, there are many Malays, mostly from Indonesia, exiled to Cape Town or be brought by Dutch that colonized Indonesia on those periods. Apparently, please forgive my ignorance, I just knew about this fact, when I found many words in Cape Town similar to Indonesian words. With my South East Asian looks, that would be easy just to tell people around that I’m South African. When we were in the restaurant, the waitress spoke Afrikaans to us. We let him spoke for two-three minutes without stopping, until we told him that we’re tourist and have no idea any single word of Afrikaans.
The rest of the day was spent by walking, wandering around the city. Some parts of city still had the remains of World Cup which held three months before. I must thank Sari for her patience waiting for me when I was busy to snap colonial buildings we passed along the way. Even though I hadn’t practiced as architect for some years, but my passions for architecture never dies. However, even though known as the second largest city in South Africa, but the city sleeps earlier than we thought. After five, most of shops and business were closed. Based on advice from our local colleague, we avoided to walk around in the dark and ended our journey before sunset.