When we entered South Africa, we were again struck by how much the country sets itself apart from its neighbors. Welcome to the land of fertile vineyards, olive groves, coffee roasters, artisan farmstalls, European-influenced architecture, division of wealth and communities. It’s a complicated place, but that comes later… The first thing we really noticed was how open and inviting locals were to share a their food and conversation at the end of a long day’s cycle. We were beginning to think we should stop carrying our own food with the amount of times new friends invited us to their braii (BBQ). We finally made it to the coast, another highlight in South Africa, and immediately tucked into a full seafood platter! We were completely unaware of how difficult the following day cycling on the coast would be when we ended up on the wrong dirt track, which turned to sand, which turned into pushing our bikes for hours, which turned into trudging across a mile of sand and prickly bushes and over two fences only to be picked up by the landowner who took us home put us up in his flat for the night. Again the hospitality here continues to amaze! By the time we made it to Cape Town we were ready for a break – no better place than the ‘luxurious bubble’ of this cosmopolitan city.
Cape Town really is a beautiful city, where you’d be hard-pressed to find an unattractive view. We visited the fashionable Waterfront, the colorful Bo Kaap, and hiked Table Mountain’s sister peak (Lion’s Head). Our awesome hosts, Anke and Steve, took us to a beach to watch surfers and take a quick dip in the Atlantic followed by an artsy market in Hout Bay. Another day we went to the Silvermine dam for a picnic by the water, surrounded by wildflowers and rocky outcroppings. One of the highlights was learning more about the history and horrors of apartheid at the District 6 museum. At the time of apartheid (meaning apart), people of color were physically, sometimes forcefully, removed from their homes and neighborhoods so that a more segregated city could be created. Even though the apartheid [pass] laws have since been abolished, townships remain areas of high crime and poor living conditions. These neighborhoods often are separated from some of the most wealthy by only a highway or river, creating a visible contrast between the rich and poor, which remains one of South Africa’s enduring issues. Simon read a stat, which said that 10% of the population of South Africa holds 90% of the wealth. Even though we’ve been experiencing the luxuries of the area, we have to understand that we’ve entered a bubble and are currently traveling within it.
After a few days in Cape Town, we rented a car with our cyclist friend Rory who wanted to see as much as possible in the area before his flight in a week’s time. We explored Cape Peninsula, including the well-known Chapman’s Peak drive, a penguin sanctuary in Simon’s Town, whale-watching destination Hermanus [just barely missed the season], Africa’s most southernly point at Cape Agulhas, and the wine region of Stellenbosch. It’s no wonder Cape Town has been listed as one of the top cities in the world. There is so much to do in and around the area! It will be hard to leave, but a Warmshowers host on the coast beckons for Christmas. The journey continues 🙂