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June 22, 2011

Southern Line Tourist Route: A beautiful day trip around the Peninsula

Simon's town

Simon’s Town. Photo courtesy ifijay

Imagine a train ride around the gorgeous Mother City. The sun is shining, the skies are blue and you’re free to hop on or off at any stop all the way from Cape Town to Simon’s Town to visit any of your favourite tourist attractions… sound fantastic? Well, stop dreaming, because with the Southern Line Tourist Route, it’s possible!

On Tuesday June 14, I had the privilege of enjoying a trip aboard the stylish Southern Line coach to experience this fantastic ride along the ocean-side. Boarding at the Cape Town station, I received a steaming cup of coffee and the morning papers to kick off the luxurious day trip.

With stops at Observatory, Newlands, Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek along the way before reaching the final destination, Simon’s Town, there were plenty of interesting places to visit.

For those so inclined, there was stargazing at the South African Astronomical Observatory and an opportunity to indulge in some fresh bread at the Josephine Mill in Newlands. Surfers could catch the big waves at Fish Hoek Beach and art lovers could visit the Kalk Bay Modern art gallery.

I stayed on board, taking in the breathtaking sights along the way until we alighted at Simon’s Town station. In this charming seaside town, there are plenty of cultural sights, great restaurants and shopping spots to enjoy.

Most fascinating to me was the Simon’s Town Museum. Housed in Cape Town’s first Governor’s winter residence, Simon van der Stel (after whom the town is named), the museum is home to exhibits of the cultural history of the townspeople and their connection to the Royal Navy of the town.

When you’ve absorbed all you can about the history of this picturesque little place, head downstairs to the basement of the museum and take a look at the hidden jail cells (in one of its many incarnations over the years, the house was a jail). Eerie and with just a hint of the dangerous criminals that were once ensconced in those cells, the basement is a potent reminder of an era gone by.

Whether you’re broadening your mind with history at the museum, sailing the seven seas aboard a charted boat around the bay or doing some well-deserved retail therapy, you’re sure to work up quite an appetite.

Luckily for you, there are fantastic restaurants in town to satisfy your hunger pangs. One such delicious spot is the Quarterdeck Restaurant. It overlooks Simon’s Bay, offering you an unparalleled view of the harbour and excellent service from friendly staff. Their seafood platter is to die for, as is their super-sweet waffle and ice cream.

The Southern Rail Tourism Route is more than worth the R30 ticket price for a one-day trip or R50 for a two-day trip. Valid between 08h30 and 16h00, tickets are available from any of the participating stations.

Hop on board the Southern Line Tourism Route today and experience your city like you’ve never done before.

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