Along with the back-breaking long hours, my day job also involves quite a bit of travel. And every once in a while, to somewhere I haven’t been, like Bucharest, Monaco, and sometimes to places I’ve been to far too often, like Thailand. This time around we were shooting a film in Cape Town. Shoot trips are usually packed schedules but on this trip, we managed to squeeze in about a day of free time just to compensate for the long flight from home. So here’s what a day in Cape town looked like for me.
Starting Cape Town on full
If there’s one rule we try to never break when we’re travelling, it has to be about starting our day with a filling breakfast. So we decided to head out to Olympia Cafe & Deli to get over the weird semi jetlag, semi still-asleep feeling that was writ large on all our faces. Olympia Cafe & Deli is a Kalk Bay institution and within minutes of stepping in we could see why. The place was filled with locals, including an artist who sat by sketching patrons, and was filled with the smell of freshly baked goodies. Brioches, fresh eggs and ham and coffee were high on everybody’s list. But a friend who was here earlier, saved the best for the last. Fresh strawberries, cream and honey. Our full stomachs just couldn’t say no after the first bite.
Bowled over by tiny guys
After filling our stomachs, we decided to head over to the closest National Park, considering we were in Africa after all. The obvious choice was Table Mountain National Park considering we didn’t have the time to venture out any further. Our first stop was at Boulders Beach – home to the endangered African Penguin.
I’d never seen penguins before and was always fascinated hearing Revati’s stories of her encounters with them. On a previous trip to Melbourne, we’d come close to driving out to seeing them at Philip Island but our plans changed. Needless to say, I was pretty excited at seeing a species for the first time and almost ran past the turnstile at the entrance.
There’s a wonderful wheelchair-friendly broadwalk built from the entrance all the way to the beach, reminding me once again of our many stops along the Great Ocean Road in Australia. Boulders Beach is a wonderfully managed sanctuary – clean, quiet and extremely visitor and penguin friendly. Scattered among the 540 million year old granite boulders and rock pools, were loads of African Penguins hobbling about quite unafraid of all the attention they were getting. Boulders Beach apparently let visitors get on the beach and up close to the birds earlier but humans are now thankfully restricted to the broadwalk. Further down, there’s Foxy Beach, which we were told is another great spot to meet the African Penguins.
To the Cape
It’s a little over 20 km from Simon’s Town, where Boulders Beach is located, to the tip of Cape Peninsula. And we decided to head over to the Cape of Good Hope or to Cape Point.
The drive again reminded me so much of our drive on the Great Ocean Road in Australia. With beautiful long winding roads, often cutting right through the landscape and the expanse of the Ocean filling up the horizon, we wished we could just spend the entire day driving around the Cape. A million oohs and aahs later, we were at the entrance to the Cape of Good Hope.
Considering we see so much of African wildlife on television channels back home, it really hits home that you’re in the continent when you see your first familiar animal. For us, it was the fearsome Baboon. But it was really strange seeing one with the Ocean in the background. The place was crawling with them and one particular gang decided to hop on top of a parked van and do a bit of sunbathing. The owners wisely kept a distance and didn’t attempt trying to chase them away or enter the vehicle through another door. I must admit that even I broke a sweat as one fine specimen turned and looked me right in the eye as I was photographing him from within the safety of our vehicle.
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that the Cape of Good Hope is a spot like any other. There’s something beautifully magical about this place. We were lucky that it wasn’t crowded and pretty much had the place to ourselves. It’s rocky, so don’t expect to walk down a sandy beach, and you do need to be careful if you want to venture closer to the water’s edge. Keep your eye on the rocks further out into the Ocean and you’ll also catch a glimpse of seals basking in the sun.
We took our time here, sitting on the rocks, walking up to the water and generally chattering on about the number of ships through history that took the turn around the Cape setting off to discover new lands.
Soon we were back to driving along picturesque roads as we headed to one of Cape Town’s biggest attractions – Table Mountain. We were staying in Camps Bay and could get a wonderful view of the Mountain from our seaside villa. From the Cape of Good Hope, it’s about an hour and a half back to Table Mountain but the wonderful views during the drive kept all of us wide awake.
Table Mountain is about 1086 m above Cape Town and while there are quite a few beautiful hiking routes to the top, we opted to ride the cable car up. The cable car offers fantastic panoramic views of the entire region, and just so everyone gets a great view, the floor of the cable car gently rotates. For the one person in the gang who had a terrible fear of heights, it wasn’t the most pleasant part of the entire trip.
Back to the gut
It was almost early evening by the time we were done so we decided to drive down for a quick bite. We drove past the V&A Food Market earlier and decided to stop there so we could taste a bit of everything. Of course, high on everyone’s list was meat you can’t find elsewhere in the world. So we dived right into some ostrich, croc, zebra and warthog.
Meal inside, it was soon time to end all the fun and jump back into work, considering this was a work trip after all! So as we drove back to work, there was just one thing that was on everyone’s mind – the next trip back to this wonderful city and country.
Oh, did I forget to tell you about a few spectacular sunsets I caught during the rest of my days in Cape Town?