Cape Town

Cape Town is South Africa's second-largest city, behind only Johannesburg, and serves as the country's legislative capital. Known as the Mother City in South Africa, Cape Town began as a trading post in the 1600s. Early settlers, aside from the native Strandloper, or bushmen, were Dutch.

Today, Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city with much historical importance, a busy nightlife and a large gay population. Its diversity is reflected in the many annual festivals held in the city, which draw visitors from all over the world.

Cape Town climate

Located along the Atlantic, Cape Town normally experiences fairly mild winters, with occasional cold fronts off the ocean accompanied by rain. The city averages about 20 inches a year. Summers, which stretch from early December to March, are warm and usually dry. The city's average amount of sunshine is comparable to that of Los Angeles. It's during February or March when the Berg Wind blows in from Africa's interior that Cape Town temperatures rise to uncomfortable levels.

Cape Town sightseeing

The Rhodes Memorial honors Cecil John Rhodes, one of the area's founders. Located within Table Mountain National Park, the memorial is easily accessed and offers stunning views of Cape Town, Table and False bays and the Hottentots Holland Mountains in the distance. Visiting during dusk allows sunset views, while going earlier lets visitors grab food at the outdoor tea room. Built in 1912, the memorial features 49 steps that represent each year of Rhodes' life as well as a bust of the honoree with a poem written by Rudyard Kipling, who was a friend of Rhodes.

The city's most famous and most visited landmark is Table Mountain. Its aerial cableway takes visitors to its summit of 3,500 feet in as little as six minutes. Once on top, there are several activities, including watching for birds and or looking for the endangered plant fynbos. Free guided walks are available. Simply observing the spectacular view is always an option, or taking a hike over mountain paths to see more of Cape Town and the nearby ocean.

To study recent South African history, visit the De Tuynhuys building. This is where the end of Apartheid was announced to the world in 1992. The structure was once used as a 17th century guest house for important Cape Town visitors. Since then, it's been used to house governors and state presidents. Now the office of South Africa's president when in Cape Town, it's closed to the public. However, visitors can view the building's exterior and its sculptures, fountains and well-maintained grounds.

The century-old St George's Cathedral is found in the city's Company Gardens. This Victorian design is known for its stained glass windows. The church is also celebrated for taking an inclusive stance during apartheid, welcoming all visitors regardless of race into its services. Because of this, St George's is commonly called "The People's Cathedral." The church is found in the city's Cathedral Precinct, an area of town in which visitors can easily find all kinds of cultural and historic places of interest. Look for museums, monuments and ancient architecture.

The Victoria and Albert Waterfront once suffered from neglect, but is now a vibrant center that appeals to visitors interested in trendy and modern landmarks. Watch for the district's red clock tower. The area's old warehouses have been converted into restaurants, cafes and shops of all kinds, making this an ideal district to spend a leisurely day. Visitors can also spend part of the day sailing on a chartered cruise.

Cape Town activities

The Cape Town International Nando's Comedy Festival features comedians from Great Britain and the United States as well as local acts. The Best of the Fest takes place on Sunday nights and allows visitors to see a variety of the most popular comedians from the festival, which began more than a decade ago. Six different programs are held to ensure that everyone finds something they like.

What began as a bid for an international design award has now evolved into a unique annual event. Creative Week Cape Town is designed to give a platform to the city's creative community and give artists a showcase. The event draws architects, authors, artists of all mediums, musicians, advertising employees and others each September. All participate in a series of festivals, award ceremonies and other events.

Cape Town is home to the largest beer festival in the Southern Hemisphere. The Cape Town Festival of Beer celebrates brewing heritage and craft locally and from across the globe. The festival features more than 200 beers from more than 60 international breweries and draws beer drinkers both hard-core and casual. With beer, visitors can sample a variety of food stalls, listen to music and watch live rugby.

The annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival began in 2000 and has since grown into a draw for more than 30,000 people. The festival brings more than 40 local and international jazz artists to perform on five stages during two days.


Cape Town cuisine

The city has a huge variety of foods, with its major influences coming from its colonized past, which includes the English, Germans, Dutch and French. Even before the area was colonized, however, meat was a staple for inhabitants. Common meats include biltong, which is dried and salty, and preferably made from beef. Bobotie resembles meatloaf topped with raisins and a baked egg. Expect to see chutney included with most meat dishes. Like ketchup in the United States, this fruit-based sauce is often poured on everything. For dessert, koeksisters are a deep-fried, heavily sugared pastry while malva pudding is sweet, spongy and made of apricots.

Cape Town travel/passport

The Cape Town International Airport is the country's second-largest airport, with multiple daily flights to Johannesburg, other major South African cities and other African cities such as Nairobi. Visitors can also catch international flights from South America, the Middle East and Europe. United States flights stop in Johannesburg. Visitors can also take passenger trains to Cape Town. Traveling in Cape Town could be via MetroRail, which has commuter trains in and around the city, or by car as most roads are in good condition.




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