WHERE I WENT
On a tour organized for those of us who arrived to the city a day early, our first stop was at one of the local clinics who participant in HIV vaccine trials.
It was a bright, welcoming place, surrounded by a high iron-bar fence and beyond this, a sea of shanties.
Next we visited a Youth Centre in what had been a school. We met a young rapper who was eager to demonstrate her skills to us.
Children in a neighboring day care became a rapt audience as we wandered through the Centre’s Children’s Garden.
Our lunch break was at the Groot Constantia Vineyards, where I purchased a bottle of South Africa’s beloved varietal, pinotage. They also produce a stunning sauvignon blanc.
The Victoria and Albert Waterfront, Capetown’s tourist haven and an easy walk from our hotel, is a bazaar of restaurants, malls, and even more ways for visitors to spend money. My favorite place was The Watershed, a warehouse transformed into an African-centered gathering place of local arts-and-crafts, entertainment and workshops. A happy accidental find was a fleet of racing yachts moored for a temporary respite.
Established in 1913, after decades of British landowner and timber company abuse and neglect, under the guardianship of the South African government, Kirstenbosch (Kirsten’s Woods) Botanical Gardens had a long way to go.
After a century of development, it is a stunning garden. My walk through its 36 hectares (89 acres!) in October, South Africa’s spring, is unforgettable, especially when aided by hundreds of photos. Here I show you a very small sample.
WHERE I DIDN’T
Nelson Mandela spent 18 years on Robben Island, inside a prison cell. The city of Cape Town can be seen 9 kilometers to the east of the island. Today the Island prison is a UNESCO Work Heritage site, and currently the place most-visited by tourists to South Africa.
I could see this Island from my hotel window. In my ignorance of the country and history and people, I didn’t know what this featureless expanse of dirt was, but I soon learned, and once I understood the span of years that Mandela endured there, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. On my next Cape Town visit, this place is number one on my list.
For a fabulous virtual tour of Robben Island, click this link.
Next week: Soweto.