Cape Town South Africa Through Rose Tinted Glasses

After little over three weeks, I find myself leaving on a jet plane. It has been a mixture of feelings. I reflect. On the one hand the communities are clean, crisp and orderly. There is a sense of pride and knowledge of what makes a city desirable.  Then there are the townships, which I just glimpsed. Perhaps I did not want to know more.

My driver from the airport was young and cheerful. He had been quick to point out all the breathtaking sites  as we approached this thoroughly modern city with one of the grandest natural back drops on the planet. Mountains practically dropping out of the sky into the ocean and of course the natural wonder, Table Mountain with a cap of billowing clouds are just magestic.  Cape Town feels like a city with everything yet on an extremely manageable scale, easy to navigate, inviting and fun to walk.  The crispness of the architecture, touches of Dutch colonial interspersed with modern fusions surprise you at every intersection. The colors are bright yet tasteful. The range is phenomenal. I guess it’s in the DNA.  Long Street offers hints of New Orleans with laced iron work on many of the buildings. Cafes, coffee house, art galleries, clothing boutiques, interior design shops, curio and souvenir shops, you name it.  You will wander down side streets to the open markets of masks, beads, wood and metal work and be mesmerized. Museums and parks are just around a corner.

The city feels rich because it is city where tourists come to visit and those with means, and there are many, have second, third or perhaps more homes around the world and this is one of them. New Mercedes, BMW’s, and Audi’s are common. The pace is casual.

Virtually around a hill you find Camp’s bay with a dazzling white beaches meeting natures sculpted rock outcroppings. Elegant homes, Apartment and condominiums, dot the mountain to sea landscape. It is breathtaking. But there is more…

We walk the promenade with waves splashing for a good mile and a half. Anchored  in the distance  are large tankers and container ships. Our destination- an area called the Waterfront. It is an elegant mixture of shopping complexes, yacht harbor and dry dock tastefully interspersed. Again there are stunning apartments, boutique hotels, and commercial enterprises tastefully interspersed. The Aquarium introduces you to the sea life and environs and one can even get an elevated view from the Ferris wheel. The huge elliptical brimless hat shaped soccer stadium stands like a giant sculpture in the immediate distance.

Our neighborhood, Seaside, is an eclectic mix of Chinese, Indian, European, and a wide variety of African peoples from not just South Africa, but literally all over. The border is porous and unrest in one area sends people to areas with more stability. South Africa is a beacon and gets its’ share.

The Atlantic side is cold and home to big sharks. Locals usually seek out the Indian Ocean side and then look for protected coves for swimming. The Cape has an air quality second to none giving rise to brightness in the daily sunlight I found in few places

Oh yes and the food. Not just good, but much better than expected no matter where or at what level. For me it was truly a pleasant surprise. King Clip is the local fish. Marvelous! Of course there is the abundance of world cuisines. No matter what you like you will find it. A small Asian restaurant kept  us coming back for the garlic beans and sea kelp salad.

Charlie, Daniel and Frank, wonderful Jazz musicians played great music. We were there night after night.

As for the people, they have been more than friendly, happy too, at least the ones around me.  And perhaps that is the major reason people should travel.  People all over the world are just trying to get on and improve their lives at the daily level. Some places, especially the big cities, are so hectic that people have rigid boundaries. But when you come to a relaxed city or the country side the pace is different and so are the people. For example on the  night before I left there were technical difficulties at the theatre . The usher lady apologized and took me personally to another complex showing the same feature and made sure I got in on time. Now that is service.

Was I just seeing my environment through rose-colored glasses? Maybe. Go to Cape Town. Yes it is far, but worth it.

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