M is for Mother City

This entry is part 15 of the series Out of Africa

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Set in between the ocean and the mountains, with a national park at its heart, Cape Town is one of the most wonderful cities in the world. As South Africa’s oldest city, it is commonly known as the Mother City.

The architecture is an amazing mix of Dutch, British and Cape Malay. 21st century skyscrapers tower over flower sellers, buskers and food markets.

CT -Houses_of_Parliament GlThe Houses of Parliament stand in the midst of the beautiful Company Gardens, where you can sit and laugh at the antics of the many squirrels and feed the pigeons.

The bells of St George’s Cathedral take turns with the haunting tones of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer from the Minaret atop a nearby mosque. At 12 midday, visitors jump in alarm and the locals glance at their watches when the noon gun fires from nearby Signal Hill.

CT -Waterfront GLA short distance from the city centre, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a hubbub of activity, including the Two Oceans Aquarium and many boutique shops.

You can sit at one of the vast number of restaurants and watch the comings and goings of the world’s cruise liners, ocean-going ships and luxury yachts. You can catch a ferry from there to the famous Robben Island where you can visit the prison cell of the late Nelson Mandela.

CT Table Mt and others GlWherever you travel around Cape Town, you are aware of the magnificence of Table Mountain and its attendant Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. As you face the mountains, Devil’s Peak is on the left, where you can visit the famous Groote Schuur Hospital and on the right is Lion’s Head.

The world-renowned University of Cape Town is at the centre of news bulletins even as I write this post. In 1928, the university moved most of its facilities to the magnificent site of Groote Schuur on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, on land bequeathed to the nation by Cecil John Rhodes, whose statue has stood at the front of the buildings, overlooking Cape Town, for the past 80 years.CT UCT_Upper_Campus_landscape_view google

On 10th April this year, the statue, dripping paint and refuse, was lifted from its resting place, following a massive campaign to remove all historical statues from our country. Its new location is a closely guarded secret.

In Joshua 4:6 we read, “Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them . . .” This seems to set a precedent for remembering history, does it not? This is a sad day for South Africa. If all the memorials are removed, how will history be remembered for future generations?

The easiest way to reach the top of Table Mountain is either to climb via Skeleton Gorge (see K is for Kirstenbosch for more on that) or by a ride on the cable car.CT Cable car Gl

Cape Town is close to many holiday destinations such as the Cape Winelands and the Garden Route.

Relax on a sandy beach, or visit Boulders Beach where penguins have the right of way. Watch whales in Hermanus, or cage dive with great white sharks off Gansbaai. Wander through the incredible Kirstenbosch Gardens (See K is for Kirstenbosch) or go wine tasting at one of the many wine estates. You can spend a week or several months in this beautiful city, and you can be sure of one thing. You need never be bored.