Cape Town is a beautiful city. The natural setting of the area has nearly everything one would want as a place to live as it has both scenic mountains and a pristine sea with white sand beaches. The only issue is that being situated at the point where two oceans meet creates a microclimate that is highly unpredictable. The local saying is that Cape Town has all four seasons in one day. After two days of being there, I completely believed it. I definitely didn’t pack warm enough clothes to be prepared to enjoy Cape Town. Another plus is that being by the sea, there is plenty of seafood in Cape Town. However, being a cautious traveler, I have been hesitant about trying seafood.
Cape Towners are really into fitness. When I was hiking Lion’s Head, one of the three major peaks within the city, I passed many friendly locals jogging up or down from the mountain often with their equally friendly canines. As I huffed and puffed my way up, I realized how riding on buses for over 20 hours at a time has probably caused some muscle atrophy. At the top, the the mountain suddenly became incredibly steep, going almost straight up. I had to climb up huge rocks using all four. I was a bit wary about continuing to go up, as part of me worried about coming down. But, being so close to the top after walking through relatively flat terrain for about 2 hours, circling the mountain, I just had to keep going. At the top, the views were great – not incredible, but still a nice feeling. I rested for some time before taking my descent. The descent was indeed terrifying. My knees were shaking as I reached each foot downwards on the sandy rocks. The sandy-ness of the rocks made them easy to slip off of. I was horrified of slipping and meeting my fate in South Africa. There was a part where I had to climb back down a ladder, the bottom of which was nothing – it looks directly down into the city, hundreds of meters below. I stopped and couldn’t go on. Thankfully, a kind young man recognized my fear and assisted me by going down before me and coached me as I took each step right after he took a step down. He later coached me again through a part that required climbing down on metal bars built into the side of the mountain. I thought I might die. I literally had tears in my eyes after I got through that part. His partner seemed to perplexed by me, asking me nonchalantly why I was doing this if I had a fear of heights, whether I was doing this on purpose to try to overcome my fears. I replied honestly, while slightly annoyed by the question, that I simply was not aware of the steepness of Lion’s Head. I read that this hike was child friendly and thought it would be a relatively leisurely hike. At that point, I understood what my German roommate meant when she said that Lion’s Head is quite an interesting hike and not simply walking up stairs like Table Mountain. Being unaware is probably a blessing and a curse. If I had known the reality of Lion’s Head, I would not have opted to hike it. But, after all, it was indeed a nice hike and I met nice people along the way (further on the way down, I met a nice old man from Manchester). Would I do it again? Probably not.
After Lion’s Head I was sore for the next two days. On the next day, I wanted to be simply shepherded around. I went on a bus tour of Cape Point to see Cape of Good Hope. It was informative, but cold, windy, and overcast, the complete opposite of the sunny and clear skies of the day before. It was cool to see Cape of Good Hope and the African penguins along the way, but I was tired from the day before and a restless evening to enjoy it much. I had a crazy roommate who was extremely loud through the night. Ultimately, my German roommate and I complained about her and she was kicked out – it turns out she is probably a drug addict. This hostel seems to attract some “lowlifes” as the hostel owner puts it, but I also made my first actual friends on my trip there. My German roommate and I became friends and I also met an interesting lady from China who is traveling alone in Africa. She is around 65. I am incredibly amazed by her bravery, independence, and sense of adventure.