The Reluctant Traveler, Part 5: Cape Town, Where I Went and Where I Didn’t


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.

















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.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


The Reluctant Traveler, Part 5: Cape Town, Where I Went and Where I Didn’t — 1 Comment

  1. I lived there for thirteen years. You missed out on a lot 🙂 You should have gone to Rhodes Memorial, and to my University, and to Lanzerac, and visited the Franschhoek wineries, and gone to Nederburg, and walked down Government Avenue and fed the squirrels… and and and… 🙂