Even though I’ve flown more than 100,000 miles this year and visited dozens of countries, this was not a hard decision to make. There was one place that spoke to me more than any other; one travel experience that surpassed anything else I’ve done this year – Cape Town, South Africa.
Like many aspects of the travel experience, I can’t explain exactly why I love Cape Town so much. The feeling is base, a visceral reaction to the time I spent there. I think a huge part of it is the natural beauty found in every nook and cranny of what is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I travel a lot, I think that’s fairly obvious. I’ve seen thousands of beautiful landscapes, buildings and vistas and frankly it takes a lot to impress me anymore; call me a jaded traveler I guess. But Cape Town had me from the moment I first saw the majestic Table Mountain and Twelve Apostles mountain range. Like a miniature New Zealand, around every bend and turn in the road lay before me a spectacular example of Mother Nature at her finest. Yes, Table Mountain is stunning and a treat to see every day, but there’s much more to the beauty of the area. The ocean, the city skyline, the waterfront area and the Mother City’s people are all beautiful in very different ways. This beauty can’t be contained though, it spills out into the nearby towns and communities from Hout Bay to Cape Point; the entire Cape area suffers from an incredible embarrassment of riches.
What transforms any city into a great, world-class destination isn’t an attraction or famous sight, it’s the people. Thanks to a strange and absolutely unique history, people from around the world have immigrated to this city by the sea, from Malaysians to Eastern Cape people and of course the British and Dutch. Over time this influx of people has created one of the best examples of city melting pots I’ve ever seen and it defines the city. The food is perhaps the best way to see this wonderful diversity first hand, especially if you take a Cape Malay cooking class. Malaysians were brought to Cape Town early in its history and their culture has evolved over time to the point where it’s just part of Cape Town’s fabric. I took a cooking class in the home of a Cape Malay woman in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood of Cape Town, learning how to hand turn samosas and even baking roti bread from scratch. More than delicious food though, I learned about the history and culture of the Cape Malay descendants and only afterwards was I truly able to appreciate the great history of the city.
These are just some of the reasons why Cape Town not only appealed to me, but inspired a deep and unabiding love. I was warned before I left that the city has a way of staying with you; and that is the understatement of the year.