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January 25, 2011

Ten reasons why Grantourismo loved Cape Town

camps bay beach

Camps Bay Beach. Photo courtesy derekkeats

In February 2010 husband-wife travel writer-photographer team Terence Carter and Lara Dunston traded hotel rooms for holiday rentals and embarked on a year-long grand tour of the globe called Grantourismo in partnership with HomeAway Holiday-Rentals. Their aim was to travel more slowly and sustainably, learn how to live like locals, and do and learn things, and inspire other travellers to do the same.

In October, they spent two weeks in Cape Town, staying in a Camps Bay house minutes from the beach, and became smitten with the city. As they’re nearing the end of their trip and reflecting on their year, we asked them to tell us what they loved most about Cape Town.

10 things we love about Cape Town, by Terence Carter

1. The people

We noted the friendliness of the people from the moment we placed our jet-lagged bottoms on the seats of our transport from the airport, when we received a wonderful, personal account of the end of apartheid and heard all about contemporary Cape Town. And the warmth didn’t stop. We were getting last minute tips on the best use of Mrs Ball’s hot chutney on the way back to the airport. Everyone was keen to share their Cape Town.

2. Township experiences

To visit Cape Town without touring the townships is for us like visiting Cape Town and not going to Table Mountain. Simultaneously sad, beautiful, eye-opening, encouraging, disheartening, and uplifting, a township visit can be an emotional rollercoaster ride, but it’s worth it. Once again, it was the spirited, entrepreneurial people we met that ultimately left us optimistic about South Africa’s future. We highly recommend visiting with an experienced, sustainable tour company such as Cape Capers, Andulela, and Coffeebeans Routes.

3. Captivating coastline

We’ve meandered along some spectacular coastlines in our travels around the world but the scenery experienced on the drive from where we stayed in Camps Bay to Cape Town’s centre never failed to wow us. The coastline around Cape Town is some of the most ruggedly beautiful in the world. If visitors don’t hire a car, we strongly recommend they do the red hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus, snag a seat on the left side for the best vistas, and have that camera ready!

4. Camps Bay Beach

And while we’re talking ruggedly beautiful, Camps Bay Beach is something else too. The creamy soft sand, the still rock pools, the ever-changing moods of the surf, the breathtaking sunsets, and the view from the beach up to Table Mountain with its mesmerising “table cloth”. It’s a beach we’d happily stroll every day. And we did!

5. Table Mountain

This mountain must offer some of the most enthralling views in the world: the city disappearing into the distance on the way up, the views from above the clouds from the top – just magnificent. It’s both surreal and beautiful. Extra surreal when you see a dassie! And just as spectacular as the vistas from the mountain were the views of the mountain that captivated us from our bedroom balcony everyday! See for yourself here.

6. Long Street

To be honest, we were expecting a backpacker hangout of Long Street from what we’d read, but the street is thankfully way more interesting than that, with loads of interesting shops, cafés, bars and pubs, and heaps of locals heading there for after-work drinks and entertainment. We didn’t spend enough time here – next time we’ll make up for it.

7. Neighbourgoods Market

Champagne and pizza or a steak sandwich before noon? Why not! What a fantastic place to hang out on a Saturday morning. The Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill is the kind of local experience that we love to seek out. Definitely a must-do! We also took home some pies and pastries that were just amazing. Foodie fun!

8. Cape Malay food and African cuisine

We love exploring local foods and enjoy a good curry, so the Cape Malay tomato bredie quickly became a favourite dish – and one that’s already gone into my repertoire! I did a Cape Malay cooking course in a private home, which was super. I not only picked up some new skills, but we had the best samoosas ever!

9. Wine and the Cape Winelands

We see a lot of South African wines on shelves and in menus around the world, but you guys are seriously keeping the best to yourselves! We got a real kick out of trying the array of wines, as well as touring the Cape Winelands and pretty towns like Franschhoek. The biggest surprise for us wasn’t the pinotage, but the shiraz. Don’t tell anyone.

10. Beading and other beautiful handicrafts

From the African wood carvings and colourful handicrafts at the Pan African Market to the vibrant beaded delights produced by Monkeybiz and Streetwires, the stunning beaded products in Cape Town were enough to make Lara fall in love. So much that she tried her hand at the art on a beading experience. She’s hooked! Her only complaint? She didn’t buy enough! Next time …

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