Visiting Cape Town After Years of Not Travelling


Note: So I actually wrote about this in full and I didn’t bother publishing it for some reason. I’ve truly been a fool [VIDEO 2:02].

Between losing my passport and the pandemic, I haven’t been out of the country since 2019. I could have gone late 2021, but I didn’t have money in time to go to SA and Omicron brought swift travel bans the world over so the family trip to the US was postponed. This (along with all the cases) ruined my desire to travel, but I decided to visit Cape Town in late February for a week. While I could have planned things much better, I enjoyed the time away. Here’s how it went.

Sunday, 20 February: Packing Up

I was supposed to go on Tuesday, but I had flexible ticket so I decided to leave a day earlier. In preparation, I got my $30 PCR test, withdrew some money, looked for a hostel and packed my bag.

A backpack surrounded by clothing, masks and electronics

Monday, 21 February: Knock On Delays

I noticed that the flight was rescheduled for an hour later, which was strange but whatever. I got to the airport pretty early and I managed to chill in The Lounge which cost $15 for a non-alcoholic package. It’s a nice place with attentive staff, but the food could be better.

I headed out to the gate and the flight was delayed again. It was pretty busy with all the flights coming in and out and I got to see Ethiopian’s A350 which was really pretty. Seems like overkill, but who wants to take a 4 hour flight on a turboprop?

Eventually, I boarded the plane and headed off on an uneventful flight. Before immigration, I had to fill in some papers which slowed things down, annoying given that I might miss my next flight and I didn’t want to get into Cape Town too late. Once I got through immigration, I changed my money at a horrible exchange rate before picking up an overpriced SIM card and letting my aunt know I was in the country.

Thankfully, the next flight was delayed as well. In fact, all the flights on that airline were delayed that day and it was a problem for weeks. Thankfully, my trip ended the day before their airworthiness certificate was suspended. Anyways, the flight was delayed and then some because they waited for more passengers.

Another uneventful flight where I landed, realized I got an overpriced SIM card and got a DiDi to the hostel. I chatted with the driver who was from Zim and had to move for a better life. Quite a downgrade from his previous career then again if people are willing to do this, then things are pretty bad in Zim.

I got to the hostel, Big Blue Backpackers to be specific, paid and headed to the dorm room. I paid slightly more since the room I wanted was full. I then packed my shit super quietly before heading to bed. It’s not the best of accommodations, even by hostel standards, but I’d barely be there so it doesn’t need to be fancy.

A bunk bed with faded red blankets with an unmade bottom bunk

Tuesday 22 February: What A Waste

I got up early, took a shower and headed out for the day. After I went to get some toiletries and breakfast at KFC, I went to the pier to get the City Pass [AFFILIATE LINK] I bought before a came so I claimed it and waited for the first bus to head into the city.

Once in the city, I bought some breakfast. I found little shop and I bought a Gatsby sandwich with some odd brand soda. I met some homeless guy who wanted a bit and gave him half since it was kinda big along with a sob story and political rant.

For some reason, I decided to get vaccinated against Covid even though I already had 3 doses of Coronavac. I tried to do that so I could get more acceptance. The pharmacy was kinda smart making you sign up for their loyalty program since they bill the government. After two hours, they said I couldn’t get Pfizer since I already got 3 doses. They had asked what took me so long. Oh well…

I walked in the city, saw a CBD shop and walked around the city center. I got to see a vibrant market and government buildings (it’s the legislative capital after all) before I settled at the District Six museum which covers the forced evictions that occurred there during apartheid. I saw a group of white people listening intently to the colored tour guide to learn a vital lesson—racism is bad.

A picture of the City with shrubbery up front, the built up city in the middle with the ocean and more land behind it

After that, I decided to move along and head up to Table Mountain. Getting there was a beautiful drive with a nice breeze. Once I reached table Mountsin I chickened out because it seemed so high up. I then went back on the bus and listened to the radio ad I went along the coast. Discovered that Afrikaans was written in Arabic first to teach Malay kids. I guess it isn’t purely a white supremacist invention after all. They’re also fighting insanely high housing prices. I guess we decided that housing should be chronically expensive and we have to squander economic potential to satiate landlords hu? #GeorgismWillWin.

Getting back to The Waterfront, I booked a ticket for a sunset cruise. In waiting, I got a harbor cruise which took me around a bit before I headed out for dinner at KFC. Fancy isn’t it? I also got some boba tea. The cruise time arrived and I was boarded with my complementary champagne. We headed out, to fair for the sunset, but someone got alcohol poisoning so we couldn’t go out too far. Chilling by the front of the bot was so much fun. We headed back early and got a free ticket if we wanted the next day. I hope she got better.

I headed back to the hostel, showered off, updated my diary and went to bed.

Wednesday, 23 February: Fish & Wine

Starting early yet again, I headed to KFC for breakfast before I embarked on a long drive around the Cape Peninsula.

I thought I would start off at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens but they were weren’t under the City Pass. I rushed back on the bus and headed to the Wine Estates, Groot Constantia specifically. On the way there, I learned about how the settlers got there. They traded fine with the Khoikhoi before it descended into conflict. They tried to sue for peace, but the Dutch told them to fuck off.

Colonialism lesson aside, I got to the estate and toured the little museum. I appreciate the plaque which says they used slaves to build the estate. Such details are usually conveniently ignored. After that I got to tour their operations. While there, I noticed some big ass wine barrels. Turns out they used to use it but they stopped because the children who could fit inside to clean it kept passing out.

After that, I crashed into a couple I had the doomed cruise on and got to do a bit of wine tasting. I’m not an alcohol guy, and when I do drink it has to be sweet. Given that, my favorite bottle would be Napoleon’s Choice the Grand Constance. I get why he drank a bottle every day in exile until he died. Shout out to the guy who let me try it even though I wasn’t supposed to! I would get it but I had little luggage space and my mom wanted me to get her a red. Also, it was $50 a bottle.

Holding out a glass of orange-pinkish wine on a park bench with a box saying Groot Constantia in the background

Moving on, I went to Hout Bay where I saw what they mean by South Africa being the most unequal country on the planet. Fancy mansions across from a shanty town was a bit much to take it. Turns out that the town hasn’t been doing so well since fishing isn’t as good as it used to be due to declining quotas #Seaspiracy. Apparently some illegal fishers even saved a sinking ship.

At the bay, I booked a boat ride just in time to head off and look at some seals. It was a nice breeze and the seals seemed to enjoy being out there together. I headed back to get some fish and chips, curtesy off the pass. It was real good, along with the fish cake and caramel shake I got on the side. A bit of time later, I took a ride back to the Waterfront along the beautiful ocean.

Seals congregating on a rocky island in front of some water with other seals playing

There I had a bit of time left to check out the aquarium. A cool place with lots of sharks. Also a big exhibit on how we kill far more sharks than they kill us. Decades of media has portrayed these animals as man eaters, but we aren’t their type. They don’t go out of our way to kill us. Sadly, they’re hunted a lot for shark fins and are left to die without them.

My fat ass with a KN95 mask standing in front of a mirror titled earths most dangerous predator. Also has a note at the bottom saying choose your story about sharks carefully, your kids should be fearful for sharks not of them. Sharks neev everyone’s help

You didn’t have to call me out like this, damn.

Thursday 24 February

Turns out that the bastard actually did it. I’m not qualified to talk about it but I hope the guy pulls out of there. The other guys are putting up a fight thanks to a blank check and foreign support. Please don’t debate me for the need of a No Fly Zone (that’s WWIII where everyone loses) and why you should merely accept defeat—I don’t wanna hear it.

No fast food breakfast this time. I headed to get a breakfast bun from the Bootlegger Coffee Company which was tasty. After that I headed into town to get my COVID test before I headed home tomorrow (so I thought). Given that I was in town, I did a bunch town activities. Like some Honest Chocolate tasting, which was honestly gross. Fortunately I found some Mie Goreng Indomie and carried onto the South African Art Gallery which wasn’t that exciting. A few steps from there I headed to the Jewish Heritage Museum.

A synagogue behind brick flooring with a stone placard

It had quite a lot of security. It it was worth it given how beautiful the place was. There was a lot of interesting culture there. Across from there was the Holocaust museum which was really somber as I learn that antisemitism is bad. After that, I chatted with a groundskeeper and headed back into town. I first went to a little eatery and got some sushi, smoothie and spring rolls before I headed to Table Mountain as I realized that hundreds of thousands of people take this very cable car with no issues.

Before that, I tasted some beer which I mostly hated before I got some calamari and a hair cut. Said haircut took longer than I expected and it burned my face but it was worth it. I then headed up to Table Mountain which had some absolute views. Don’t know why I chickened out at first.

After that I thought I would get to Hard Rock Cafe for a free lunch but I barely missed it. At least I got to play around at the beach. From there I walked to get a cocktail which was a mistake. I got back to the Waterfront where I tried to print the Covid test but I was late and the guy didn’t budge. I bought some things for people at home, got some pizza and packed for the trip home.

I told my aunt I was going but she wanted me to stay in Joburg for a few days. I hadn’t budgeted for it but whatever. I’d go to Joburg instead.

Friday 24 February—Monday 26 February

Since I wouldn’t be heading to Harare that day, I picked a later flight to Joburg. I got to the airport by bus which was nice but a long way away. They upgraded me to a business class seat which wasn’t too fancy but I enjoyed the extra space. It’s kinda bullshit since I’ve seen these seats turn into 3 depending on the airline operating.

I got to Joburg and got annoyed at urban sprawl. My aunt stayed at the other side of town which would cost $30 to get to with no cheaper options. I arrived and it was amazing to see how they all changed. We caught up a bit and I went to bed.

Didn’t do much on Saturday but I had a braii. I also discovered how social my cousins were as they had lots of guests over the weekend. I also got some plus sized clothes.

As for Sunday, my aunt asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to go to the cradle of mankind. She forgot about that so I resolved to see my childhood best friend instead. Unfortunately, my cousins wanted to do other things so they delayed by a lot. My aunt said I could drive away which I should have done. Anyways, after going into a fancy estate to buy text books from a forex trader, I passed through KFC before I headed to Sandton where my friend ended up doing something else.

We went to Hard Rock for lunch (though I should have gotten steak) and I finally met my friend. He was really busy hustling trying to make a name for himself while I was doing Fuck All. Kinda felt bad, but he’s also investing in NFTs so I guess not. He told me to look for a job and focus on fitness which I brushed aside until writing this at which point I got a job. I’m still looking into fitness.

After saying bye to my friend, I went to do a few things with my cousin like buy some food for my aunt and weed for my cousin (not for me, the most I’ve done was eat an overpriced CBD chocolate bar). I said by to my aunt, slept, asked for some money and flew back home.

In hindsight I should have planned to be with them for longer.

Thoughts and Tips

I’m happy to be traveling again and I wish I could travel more but money is the limiting factor (though you can support me and I can travel more). It was like Covid wasn’t there at all.

SA is a beautiful country with some very ugly problems. One things that made me sad was how I inviting places were with all the security, high fences and all as if I had no right to be there. I get why, but it’s sad that is the case.

To sign off, here’s some travel tips:

  • Have a rough plan on what you want to do. Not to inflexible that you waste time and money and not too rigid you suffer from FOMO.
  • Don’t change money at the airport, use your bank card at an ATM.
  • Don’t get a SIM card at the airport, do it in town.
  • Do be vigilant, shit can get real.
  • Don’t travel just to eat at a McDonald’s. Try local restaurants and the like. If you insist on eating at a KFC, get something unique.

I had fun in Cape Town and I hope to go again with more money. The next place I plan to visit is the United States in August, specifically Florida.