When your partner loves good wine, great food and holiday destinations where you can experience culture, tradition and a range of activities, a week-long trip to Cape Town is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. And that’s exactly what the talented designer Dharna Hassija was gifted this year by her husband Abhinav. In this travelogue, she takes us through their exciting journey to one of South Africa’s most enticing cities.
In spite of the iconic Table Mountain and the surrounding sea, the real magic of Cape Town lies in the experience it offers to its visitors – be it shopping, hiking, a wine tasting tour, paragliding or wildlife viewing. One never runs out of things to do.The Cape Royale hotel, where we stayed, was ideally located near the V&A Waterfront. Witha well-designed shopping mall next to the sea, music concerts, and night markets with delicious food of every cuisine, the waterfront has something for everyone. After just one hour of exploring the city, we said to each other, “We are going to love it here.”
Bo-Kaap, Robben Island, and Cape Town City Hall were the first stops on our itinerary. Before it was abolished in 1994, South Africa had racial apartheid. Bo-Kaap with its coloured houses (to mark it as a slave town) and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over two decades, were reminders of how precious freedom is. It was both sobering and inspiring to learn first-hand about South Africa’s first black president, especially from people who actually knew him. When you visit Cape Town City Hall and see the balcony from where Mr. Mandela gave his first speech after his release, you can almostsee the thousands of people gathered to listen to him, and almost feel the charged atmosphere.
Our next stop was Boulders Park, home to thousands of African penguins. The raised boardwalk, which gives visitors visual access to this massive colony of penguins, is a well-planned structure. It keeps the colony safe while bringing you within an arm’s distance of these beautiful creatures. The most amazing part of the trip, however, was our visit to Cape Point, where you can witness the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, at the Cape of Good Hope. Seeing the rich blue, cool waters of the Atlantic collide with the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean, is a visual treat.
At over 3,500 feet above sea level, the view from Table Mountain is arguably the best in the city. Taking the famous cableway up the mountain was one of the last things we did in Cape Town. At the top there is a café and restaurant, where we grabbed a drink and soaked in the picturesque beauty of the surroundings. We then made a spontaneous decision to enjoy this view again, except this time it would be from the sky. Paragliding from the top of Signal Mountain, past Lions Head, and ending at Camps Bay, was a glorious experience.
If you enjoy wine, you must visit Stellenbosch; it’s one of the world’s most renowned wine regions, consisting of hundreds of privately owned vineyards. We stayed the last two days of our trip at the Spier Vineyard, which offered an amazing experience of farm, vineyard and farm-to-table food options. We toured five different vineyards and tasted everything from cupcakes and cheese,to chocolate.
The city was absolutely enjoyable and we’re sure to revisit it someday. – Dharna Hassija