People’s ideas of South Africa tend to be confined to Mandela, apartheid, or rugby. When you decide to go you will be affronted with questions like: “Isn’t it dangerous”, “Did you pack a money-belt” or “What about Ebola?” While these questions are inane, they also totally miss the point. South Africa isn’t a place where you can get blind drunk and pass out in an alley next to the RSL and expect to have your wallet/phone/pants the next morning. In certain areas, walking around alone at night can be sketchy (or at least feel sketchy). And the transparent race and class divisions are confronting. However, these things are also what make South Africa alive.
The volatility in the atmosphere is awakening, there is no opportunity for somnambulating between work, home, bar, hostel – you’re forced to be present and aware. The class divisions are immediate rather than concealed – the corruption is in your face not written off as conspiracy. The inequality lives on the streets, unable to be regionalized or hidden in prisons. What I’m trying to say is that South Africa has the same entrenched political and social problems as every other country in the world, but there they are bare and visible. With this in mind (and if you’re still interested in going), Cape Town is a metropolitan city with heaps of European influence – the buildings, the partying, the food – it’s full of energy and life. Here are four things you should do while you’re there.
The view from the top of this mountain is the best thing I have ever seen. It is like rubbing your eyes on the inside of a rainbow. Or what I imagine Earth to look like from space. It is the kilometer high meeting point of city, beach and desert, and when you stand on the summit and spin around really fast the 360 degree panorama will blur into heaven.
The magic of Lion’s Head is untouched by Western safety measures – built in stairs, metal barricades, and signs warning you not to stand too close to the edge. Instead you actually get to experience real fear as you climb up a flimsy rope and look down at your sure death, or feel your legs go wobbly when you venture near the rocky precipice as the wind pushing against your back activates your survival instincts. If you do the sunset walk, bring a torch, you’ll understand why when the time comes.
Cheap, sexy and retro – this theatre is the Madame of motion pictures. First opened by Princess Labia for staging live performances, it is now a movie house that will make you feel as if you’re in a black and white talkie. Good for first dates, solo hangs, and sober nights out – though it does have a bar with a sweet view. Labia.
Sea Point Putt Putt
If you’re really keen to experience all those kid birthday parties that you didn’t get to have, or that your parents couldn’t afford, go sink some balls on the Atlantic Seaboard. This putt putt course has a difficultly rating analogous to the Whistling Straits, mostly due to its cracked paintwork and uneven surfaces. It is a wild time, made all the better by the beautiful ocean views.
Talk to locals and do this. Its fucking cold, your own shadow and the massive kelp forests will have your adrenaline manically yo-yoing between freaking out and funning out, and the waves will blow your salty little minds off.
Bicycle Wine Tour
These fantastic tours will allow you to explore the beautiful Cape countryside while pulling wheelies and tasting delicious wines. There are a variety of routes available based on fitness and drinking ability. There is a sort of transcendence in getting fit and drunk at the same time – and we highly recommend it.
Cape Town is a city pulsing with youth and innovation, thriving and fresh, windy and warm, happiness and depravity, it is full of questions and has few answers. This is a mere drop of awesome shit you can do while you’re there. The bars on Long Street are righteous and always full (even on Monday mornings). The VA Waterfront is touristy as fuck, but has a great view of Table Mountain. And it is only a short drive away from the Garden Route, and some of those most untouched nature orgasms you will ever experience.
Live recklessly adventurous and put Cape Town on your touristy bucket list.