City Sightseeing Topless Bus Tour
When I mentioned the Topless Bus to some friends the usual jokes about Mavericks and other places of ill repute followed, but on this bus everyone kept their top on. Now red, double-decker tourist busses are the norm around the world and Cape Town is no different. The shame is that locals very seldom take advantage of this pretty cool experience; we did and loved it.
While driving our cars in Cape Town we are too busy avoiding wild taxi drivers, speaking or texting on our cells and just trying to stay safe (irony noted), we often don’t notice our beautiful surrounds. But riding on the top deck of a fancy red bus, the wind in our face, we let the driver negotiate the traffic so we could just enjoy.
We chose the Blue ‘Mini Peninsula Tour’ Route, which takes in the Atlantic Seaboard, the Cape Town CBD and some of the Southern Suburbs. We boarded in Sea Point at 1pm which didn’t leave us nearly enough time to do all we wanted (first bus is at 9am). These are hop-on hop-off buses so plan your stops and make a day of it. We at least made an afternoon of it.
We enjoyed the initial scenic drive along the Atlantic Ocean, through the Waterfront and into Town, where our modest but not unimpressive skyline caught my eye. I suddenly noticed buildings and small shops I probably had passed 100s of times without paying them much attention, now they stood out. While it was a warm day – travelling on the top out in the open kept us comfortable. Sitting high up on an open top is fun and allows for a great perspective of a great city.
We rounded the mountain past the famous Groote Schuur Hospital, where the first heart transplant was performed on a cousin of mine in 1967. We passed the lovely UCT Campus, where memories of wild parties, card games and a chequered academic career flooded back. We enjoyed the lush greenery that is the southern suburbs and watched as a few passengers disembarked at Kirstenbosch, but we were heading for wine territory in Constantia.
We changed busses at Constantia Nek, joining others on the wine tour shuttle. First stop was Groot Constantia, the oldest wine farm in the country, where for R33.00 we tasted five excellent wines. The next stop was supposed to be Eagles’ Nest, but in our hurry and lack of decent signage we landed up at neighbouring Silvermist Wine Farm instead, and at R15.00 for one measly, albeit good quality, taste of wine we promised to pay more attention next time.
But for now it was time to leave the manicured wine farms and visit Imizamu Yethu Township in Hout Bay. We were met by two guides on the outskirts of the township; we were thirsty and decided to forgo the “formal” tour and head straight for the local shebeen. Our guide led us to Phillip’s Tavern, taking us through dirty narrow alleys populated with life, colour and characters aplenty; friendly mamas, cheeky kids and some rough but slick looking dudes.
Soon we were seated and drinking much needed cold quarts; the dj was spinning some tunes inside while the friendly locals spun us some yarns outside. All too soon it was time to go. That’s why you need more time, it’s no fun leaving somewhere prematurely, and we were enjoying Phillips.
With time running out we hopped on again, dropped some American girls at Mariners Wharf and settled in for the spectacular drive back. Sea views all the way, a cooling sea breeze and a busy Camps Bay. All too soon we were hopping off for the last time, at least for today. We couldn’t believe it went so fast and that we had enjoyed our trip so much – and yes we really did feel like tourists.
Barry Washkansky is a freelance writer and media consultant based in Cape Town.When not pounding away at his keyboard, he is pounding away at the many awesome trails that the Cape has to offer. A seasoned trail runner and mountain guide, he’d always rather be outdoors, but someone has to pay the bills. Barry blogs at www.livecapetown.co.za