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My First Taste Of Cape Town (14/05/12)

May 15, 2012

Ahead of my first solo trip to South Africa I had arranged to stay at a hostel called ‘The Backpack’ and I had also arranged a shuttle bus to pick me up from the airport and take me straight there. This was all in a bid to make my first steps on foreign soil relatively easy and stress free – I figured that once I was at my hostel I could then summon the courage to explore more spontaneously.

The first thing that I could picture going wrong, sort of did. Whenever I walk through arrivals and see the many names held up expectantly by waiting taxi drivers and guides I always imagine myself walking right past my name, missing my ride and having to make my own way. So with this in mind I walked carefully past every name card, making sure I didn’t miss mine. However when I reached the end of the line with my name nowhere to be seen, I wondered if I’d just been unobservant, but a second walk past the names and I was sure I’d been forgotten.

But I didn’t panic, I simply headed to the information point hoping to be retrieved. Luckily a different taxi driver asked me who I was waiting for and told me he knew ‘The Backpack’ shuttle bus driver and just at that moment the driver walked around the corner and we were united.

I had the bus all to myself so I sat upfront and enjoyed a 20 minute introduction to Cape Town courtesy of my driver. I couldn’t wait to get my first glimpse of Table Mountain and as soon as I saw a huge, looming rock face shrouded in an early morning mist, I eagerly pointed it out and asked if this was it. It wasn’t Table Mountain itself but two of the peaks that make up the Table Mountain range – each peak having it’s own name.

The furthest peak from me was called ‘Lion’s Head’ which actually looked nothing like a lion’s head and (as my driver informed me) even when looking at it from the other side of the range and with an evenings worth of wine in your system, it still didn’t look anything like a lion’s head.

‘Devil’s Peak’ however had a much more fitting namesake with a legend to match, which the driver went on to tell me; three hundred years ago an old pirate used to hike up the mountain to smoke his pipe (some say it was because his wife chased him out of the house when he smoked and some say it was because his wife was so ugly). Anyway, one day when he was up on the mountain top smoking his pipe when he was approached by a figure dressed entirely in black. The figure challenged him to a smoking dual – if the pirate won he would posses all the riches in the world but if the figure (or devil) won, he could take the man’s soul. The pirate agreed to the challenge saying that he didn’t have a soul anyway and so the smoking dual began.

As I looked at Devil’s Peak and the swirling mist that surrounded it, I could understand the legend that tells us modern travellers that the mist you see is in fact smoke and the two are still sat up there to this day attempting to smoke each other out.

Shortly after hearing this tale I saw actual Table Mountain but it too was shrouded in a thick mist and it was only later when I’d arrived at my hostel that I got my first real glimpse of it and it was an impressive sight.

The driver had told me that the mountain claims many lives each year as people venture up to it’s giddy heights only to get lost in the mist that can descend within an instant. The key he told me was to sit down and wait for the mist to pass. I made a mental note to remember those words of advice, as I may need them at some point.

Once I’d been dropped off at the hostel and put my bags away I headed to ‘Long Street’ which was a five minute walk from my hostel and was aptly named – a long street lined with lots of shops and cafes.

I found myself a café called YOURSTRULY and ordered a Flat White and an avocado, brie and salami ciabatta – it tasted amazing and was my first meal on South African soil. Now I just needed to get back to the hostel, not least because I’d been told not to stay out past sunset but also because the sooner I went to bed, the sooner I’d be getting up to join my Great White Shark project!

  1. Haystack permalink

    Loving the posts gems!
    Like the Lion’s head story, its makes it seems real.

  2. Glad you’re enjoying them 😀 I just hope I have the time to keep them going – I’m one day behind at the moment but hopefully will catch up tomorrow!

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