Itching to go somewhere really cool, but don’t have budget for New York? Cape Town gal Gotlhokwang Angoma-Mzini decided to think like a tourist on her own doorstep. Check out what she found…
The Place: Cape Town
The Tourist: Gotlhokwang Angoma-Mzini
*You know that feeling when butterflies in your stomach seem like they’re marching rather than dancing? You know – when your heart beats rapidly and no matter how many deep breaths you take you can’t slow it down? When your hands quiver like the corner of your Sunday paper while you read the comic strip? Well, that’s what I got. And it wasn’t a first date or a career-changing presentation. What gave me this feeling was my city. Let me explain.
Um… But I live here…
I live in a city that boasts panoramic mountains, ombré seas, evergreen gardens and world-famous wines. I know this. But somehow I’ve managed to miss some interesting landmarks. My journey started at Winchester Mansions, situated along the Sea Point Prom, facing a spectacular blue Atlantic. How could I have missed this luxury, old-world grande dame? High ceilings and large vaulted windows, with modern touches that don’t detract from its colonial history. By modern, I mean that kiss of a cocktail at the chic Harvey’s restaurant – think pretty terrace for al fresco dining with spectacular ocean views. At the centre of the 4-star luxury hotel is a large square open-air courtyard clad with plants that climb and creep.
And then my city gave me goose bumps…
After settling in at the hotel, we began a walking tour of the Mother City. I was prepared to be underwhelmed. I work in the city. I walk in the city. I take traffic-beating alternative routes in the city. But tour company City Sightseeing took up that challenge and exceeded all expectations. Their hour-and-a-half walking tour takes you past historic buildings with some interesting lessons: the Cape High Court with its divisive colonial lexicon; the Slave Lodge; City Hall where Nelson Mandela made his first speech after Robben Island, and more. Then followed an amble through gardens spotted with one or two albino squirrels and a tree that’s three-and-a-half-centuries old! At this point I was far from underwhelmed and closer to two little towns called Engrossed and Enthralled. That night, with my head on the hotel pillow, I reflected on today and how far this city has come; I revelled in my present as I enjoyed the space and comfort of my room; and contemplated my tomorrow with the squadron of butterflies in my stomach. One thing was for sure: I would never walk the city streets in the same way again.
“Why the hell am I doing this?” Oh, that’s why…
On Sunday morning I woke up bright and early, choking on my heart. I’d signed up to paraglide (cue: “Why the hell am I doing this?”) with Parapax paragliding. (*Please see first paragraph for emotional description.) The hotel drove me up Signal Hill to a spectacular view that made me forget my dread. At the top, adrenaline flowed like wine. Strapped to a crew member, I heard only two instructions: “Run; then put your legs up.” I ran. I prayed. I jumped. Looking down with the wind in my hair and the expert, Steph, from Parapax, I fell in love with my city all over again. Perhaps butterflies aren’t a bad thing?
MUST DO’S IN CAPE TOWN:
Winchester Mansions: famous for their live Jazz Brunch. Starting at 11am. Great spread of food.
Every Wednesday evening from 6pm is ladies’ night at Harvey’s Bar. Plus, you get a complimentary cocktail and rose on arrival (score!).
On the red bus. City Sightseeing Cape Town’s hop-on, hop-off bus includes all major Cape Town tourist attractions.