Cape Town In Three Days

DC's "Snowpocolypse 2011" had us stranded in a taxi for nine hours (with the meter running) instead of flying over the Atlantic Ocean, leaving our long awaited trip to South Africa two days short, allowing only three days in Cape Town. And of course, I immediately fell in love the "Tavern of the Seas" and wanted to stay for weeks... or years. Getting down to business, I carefully drew a plan to ensure that I would see as much as the city as possible in a short amount of time. A success!

Inhabited by Dutch settlers, Afrikaners, Zimbabwean migrants from darker days of oppression, and nomadic expats, Cape Town is nothing short of a cultural feast of exploration.

Points of Interest

Table Mountain: To Americans, this is just a hill, to Capetonians, it is a sacred mountain. This rock

formation overlooking the bay is made of granite and is lined with mountain biking trails. Take a gondola to the top or hike up on foot to observe sweeping views of the Cape. The #1 tourist stop in Cape Town, this is a must for photographers. (Photo: Flickr/sallylondon)

Hop On, Hop Off Tour Buses: Hop on at specified stops around Cape Town. Hop off at any destination you choose. There are two different routes (red and blue) that run frequently so you are never waiting long, all the while providing an efficient mode of transit along Cape Town's favorite areas.

How to book: Ask your hotel concierge, or map the route online, go to the stop and pay the driver directly. And make sure to listen to the audio lecture — it's fascinating!

Long Street: Lined with bars and restaurants, and reminiscent of New Orleans' Bourbon Street, Long Street has a multitude of spots where you can belly up to watch the country's most beloved sport: football. We loved the "Royale Eatery," serving what had to be the best cheeseburgers in all of Cape Town.

Cautionary Note: Although there are a lot of locals peppering the streets and a heavy police presence, keep your wallet in your front pocket and your purse in front of you — or don't carry one at all.

Robben Island: Just a 60 minute ferry ride from the waterfront, across the shark infested seas, is the Robben Island Prison, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This prison was once home to Nelson Mandela

Tour the prison on foot or by bus with guides — some of whom were also once held here. Read the poetic words Mandela wrote in letters to his wife, and learn why — as Mandela states in a documentary at the Cape Town Jewish Museum — "South Africa was better off before the Apartheid." (Photo: JustLuxe)

High Tea at the Table Bay Hotel: One of the top-rated places in the world to enjoy a High Tea.

Cape Town Waterfront: Ride the Ferris wheel, shop for souvenirs, enjoy a Savannah Dry Hard Cider, and munch on frites while the gulls soar overhead and the seals sing from the waters below.



A Day in Camps Bay: They call it the "no wind zone." But there we were, sitting on a low wooden log fence facing the beach, holding our clothes onto our bodies while listening to palm trees furiously dance and rustle from the powerful winds from the sea. Grains of sand and city debris blew up and hit the sides of our faces. Umbrellas from European-esque sidewalk bars flew over tables into the streets as chic Capetonians made their way to bars along the strip.

The main street is sort of Malibu-meets-Big-Sur-meets-Africa; Ferrari's climb the streets lined by white sandy beaches. This area is highly prized by the jet-set elite, and frequented by South African celebrities as well as foreign celebs such as Leonardo DiCaprio, David Beckham, and George Clooney.

Unforgettable Day Trips

Stellenbosch Wine Country: About two hours by car from Cape Town, the drive-up windy garden

(Photo: Flickr/Joseph A Ferris III)

Cape of Good Hope: Just a two hour drive from Cape Town, enter baboon country and head to the southernmost spot on the African continent where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean converge. Stop near the entrance of the park to view ostrich at a neighboring farm. The fastest-bird-on-earth's legs turn red when ready to run, and their hide is the second most valuable in the world (behind crocodile, ahead of kangaroo).

Additional Notes about Cape Town

It is not a malarial country, no vaccines needed! UNLESS you visit Kruger National Park in the east, then you will need a double dose.

Buy a multi-attachment adapter. It seems that immigrants brought their outlets to the region, too.

Water is very clean throughout Cape Town, and tap water is reported to be not only okay, but "pretty good."

By Stefanie Payne