Are you aware of the seven natural wonders of the world? No? Perfect, because I'm about to list them off: Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe Mt. Everest in Nepal/China The Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA The Great Barrier Reef off Australia The Northern Lights Paricutin Volcano in Mexico The Harbor of Rio de Janiero
Do you know what is missing from this list? I propose to include an eighth natural wonder of the world based on the fact that its just as spectacular as the landscape of Rio.
Cape Town. It's beyond words.
Beyond words, indeed, but I'll attempt anyway. Not only is this stunning coastal city hugging beautiful chilly waters of both the Atlantic and maybe a smidge of the Southern Ocean, but it's topped by a plateau that throws the clouds over its summit like a table cloth as well as the twelve jutting crags that line the western face of the mountain range. To look up any street in the city and see in the crisp sky this massive formation just makes the heart melt. The best is when this view comes at you from your hostel WC. Talk about a loo with a view!
Not only is it gorgeous to look at, but it has a scene that bustles. I think I'd have a hard time fitting in all I wanted to do in Cape Town if I had a semester...or even a lifetime. And the exchange rate, which sucks for the SAs but rocks for 'Mericans, makes tasting every morsel of Cape Town life possible.
What is there to do in Cape Town, you ask? If you like to spend money, look at things, eat things, climb up things, free fall, ride around, drink things, or dance around, you'll enjoy yourself in Cape Town. I was certainly overwhelmed upon getting into town, trying to figure out what to do in such a short amount of days. Luckily the Garden Route on our future itinerary gave us some relief as far as adventure sports went, so we could steer more towards those things which are specific to the Table Harbor zone.
What cannot be overlooked, though, is the history that barely dates back more than a decade. In our lifetimes, there was complete havoc between racial and socio-economic lines, travesties committed against people by people. And now this place waits for you at the bottom of Africa, tempting you with sports, wine, and awesome views. It doesn't seem like the dust could have settled by now, and in many ways it hasn't, since racism will continue to flourish probably for decades to come (sadly). So in the mix of traveling throughout this great city, it pays to visit the townships and orphanages that resulted from the human cruelty of apartheid. It's not quite "dark tourism", but it gives you an awareness that could easily be avoided (to your disadvantage) and could definitely enhance the trip.
My best friend wrote on her twitter "Cape Town = Heaven", and I think she's onto something. It's a 15+ hour flight from the States, and yet it feels like our back yard. It's comforting and loaded with things that make a young heart flutter. The African aspect of Cape Town isn't hidden, it's salient and exciting to experience first hand. And with the World Cup hitting the scene in 2010, that city will probably be Heaven on Earth for a couple cool months. If I had a good chunk of change to my name, I'd be signing up for game tickets instead of writing this blog.
In short, I guess you could say, Cape Town is just darn cool. At least...I'm a fan.