April 16, 2014
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By Kim Bougaardt

Visitors to Cape Town are lucky. I say this because I recently experienced my city through the eyes of a tourist and took in the natural beauty and gorgeous scenery of a beautiful autumn day – some things Capetonians (including myself) often take for granted.

Tina Cloete (décor assistant) and I joined a few media professionals on the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour with City Sightseeing open-top decker buses. The tour has 17 stops and destinations that allow the visitor to hop on and off at leisure or stay on board and listen to all the interesting information about the sights (narration in 14 different languages).

The tour allows you to get reacquainted with the Mother city and includes history, local ‘isms’ and quirky tales which attempts to make the tourist feel like they’re listening to an old friend telling a tale rather than a tour guide.

We drove past the award-winning Cape Town International Convention Centre and drove through the CBD, down the main street, Adderley street and into Long street where the hip and trendy gather to enjoy the many pubs, restaurants, African craft markets and theatres – day or night. It’s also here where you can check into any number of boutique hotels and backpacker lodges. In Long street you can still see the Dutch architectural influences on many of the buildings but many of them have received a fresh lick of paint that adds colour and intrigue to this particular street.

This unused silo opposite the V&A Clocktower is destined to become a new hotel.

This unused silo opposite the V&A Clocktower is destined to become a new hotel.

Cape Town International Convention Centre has won numerous awards for architectural excellence.

Cape Town International Convention Centre has won numerous awards for architectural excellence.

Long street where the hip and happening come out to play.

Long street where the hip and happening come out to play.

Then we cruise past The Mount Nelson Hotel – one of the oldest hotels in the city and popular with international celebrities. Legend has it that a guest once complained that a vagrant was sitting on the lawn, when staff went to investigate it turned out to be John Lennon doing yoga in the garden. The Nelly, as its known to the locals, is part of the hustle and bustle of the city and a short walk from the Cape Town Company Gardens.

The entrance to Kirstenbosch.

The entrance to Kirstenbosch.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is acclaimed as one of the great botanical gardens of the world. Situated on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, the garden was established to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa and is the first botanical garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora. During summer, concerts are held in the amphitheatre where you can picnic on the lawns while enjoying quality and diverse acts in this picturesque setting.

Imizamo Yethu township where Original T-Bag Designs are produced.

Imizamo Yethu township where Original T-Bag Designs are produced.

We then reached the halfway stop on this tour, Mariner’s Wharf – a little shopping destination with a restaurant boasting décor sourced from old ships – some dating back to Queen Mary’s time. The venue has breathtaking views of the ocean and Chapman’s Peak. Mariner’s Wharf also has an antiques store that’s filled with nautical finds and a pearl shop where for just R85 you can buy an oyster and dig out your very own pearl. A bakery has just opened and the seed loaf and snoek pate is a must buy. A trip to Mariner’s Wharf is not complete without fish and chips. Alfie, the manager reckons that on a busy day they can sell up to 4 000 boxes of seafood. With the waves crashing around you, the seagulls milling above, and fresh air swirling around there can’t be a more picturesque spot to enjoy your lunch.

Hout Bay harbour and Mariner's Wharf in sight.

Hout Bay harbour and Mariner's Wharf in sight.

The Antiques store at Mariner's Wharf.

The Antiques store at Mariner's Wharf.

From Hout Bay we travelled along the coast with gorgeous views of the Atlantic seaboard back to the Waterfront, where the tour started.

Views of the Atlantic Seaboard, Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay.

Views of the Atlantic Seaboard, Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay.

Highlights
There’s a lot I could highlight, but what stands out in my mind is the friendliness and hospitality that Capetonians gave us “visitors” – there were plenty of hoots and waves, while coasting along the roads.

Contact numbers to keep at the ready when visiting Cape Town:

CitySightseeing www.citysightseeing.co.za/

Mariner’s Wharf www.marinerswharf.com/

Orignal T bag desigs www.tbagdesigns.co.za/

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens www.sanbi.org/

V&A Waterfront www.waterfront.co.za/

Cape Town Tourism www.tourismcapetown.co.za/

Home Magazine www.homemag.co.za

Experience Cape Town and The Blue Mini Peninsula Tour. City Sightseeing Cape Town’s blog tells you the stories behind the best attractions and events in Cape Town, South Africa.
Get your City Sightseeing cape Town tickets at www.citysightseeing.co.za