Cape Town: Wonders, Weirdness and Off the Wall Sightseeing
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
The problem with British Weather, which is never really too cold or too hot, is that it drones on forever. From November to June-expect grey skies with a mild drizzle that make sunglasses irrelevant and curly hair impossible to maintain. The good news is that you don't really need to spend $850 on a Canada Goose to see you through the winter. The bad news is that you will need to spend that money hopping on a jet in search of some vitamin C via sunshine.
When anyone asks me how I cope with the weather in London, the greatest city in the world, I simply reply 'Being happy in London is to be able to leave it often."
This brings us to Cape Town, and the joys of the Southern Hemisphere.
Cape Town, South Africa is roughly 12 hours from any airport in Europe, with a two hour time difference and no jet lag. One rough night of sleep with deliver you, via a jumbo jet, to warm weather and days with more that four hours of sunlight. The flights are a bit of an ouch to the pocketbook, but once you arrive, everything is very reasonably priced.
The usual South Africa itinerary is...garden route, wine tasting, beach, safari, yatta yatta yatta, which is perfect and wonderful. But just expand your interests and, like with any city, you will find enough wonderful weirdness to fill every day for a year.
Citing my new favo travel site; atlasobscura.com I set out this summer/winter to find some some wonderful and quirky new things to see and do.
Dilly and I went off one beautiful morning in search of the Macassar Beach Pavilion, just off the N2 near Strand. Macassar Beach Pavilion is a water adventure park, built in 1991 and deserted, due to financial mishaps, soon after. The brightly coloured buildings and attractions, decayed by age and blown over by years of beastly Southeasters, are a popular backdrop for artists and photographers looking for a contrasts between sun, seas and dereliction.
We put the destination into Google maps and unfortunately ended up on an unpaved road behind a water sewage treatment plant. Having no desire to beach my Honda Jazz in a sand dune in search of a mythical, missing Adventureland, we turned around and went wine tasting instead.
I was slightly discouraged by my lack of courage, but still determined not to find my best adventures at the bottom of a wine bottle. On the way back to town, I turned into the private drive to the Cape Town Film Studios where there are pirate ships and shanty towns that rise right up out of the fynbos covered dunes. Dilly, showing more courage than I, jumped out of the car and took a few shots. It wasn't long until we were in hot pursuit by a rather large man in a very large Range Rover. He pulled us over and instructed Dilly to delete the pictures from her phone. I felt like we were doing serious investigative journalism in a hot zone.
After driving away, Dilly showed me how to recapture deleted photos from a camera phone.
In Netflix's Death by Magic, Drummond Money-Coutts (of Coutts Private Banking, hence adding the word 'Money' to the family surname), celebrity magician and heir to the Latymer Barony explores magic tricks that other magicians have died preforming, and updates them for a current audience. The first episode features the College of Magic; which has an entirely volunteer staff and is the only non-profit college of magic in the world. We went off in search of the school, located in the Claremont suburb of Cape Town, and found it next to a petrol station on Landsdown Street in a beautiful Victorian house.
Anyone who has driven in the Cape Town CBD will surely have witnessed the oddity of the Foreshore Freeway Bridge. Work on the bridge began in the early 1970's to elevate future traffic congestion. Financial constraints at the end of Apartheid meant the bridge was never completed and just ends...mid air...and it has remained that way ever since.
During the 2010 World Cup, the bridge was fastened with the world's largest vuvuzela, which was blown to signal the start of each game.
In 2012, the Transport for Cape Town initiative announced a design competition to finally solve the problem of the bridge. Students from several design programs developed ideas for the bridge including planting it up, building a skate park or turning it into a rollercoaster. As the best solution continues to be debated, the Foreshore Freeway Bridge serves as a parking lot.