Visiting Cape Town soon? Here’s a sneak preview of your first glimpses of the city – what you’ll see en route from the airport to town (click on the CPT to Town tag for all the posts).
The city is in sight! You’re cruising toward downtown, and the landmarks begin roll past thick and fast.
Where are you? You’re on Eastern Boulevard, heading for the Strand Street exit.
What are you seeing? A rapid succession of city sights! Most notably:
Lion’s Head, which is Devil’s Peak’s twin in framing Table Mountain. It’s great for short hikes – especially during a full moon – and slopes down to a lookout point called Lion’s Rump, or Signal Hill.
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District Six, site of Cape Town’s most extensive forced removals during apartheid. After being declared “for whites only”, the entire neighborhood (which comprised “Coloured” and, to a lesser degree, African residents) was bulldozed over, and the majority of its former residents relocated to the Cape Flats – Athlone, Mitchell’s Plain, and so on – far from the CBD. The fact that District Six then stood undeveloped for decades is testament to the strength of the movement that arose from its ashes, preserving it for resettlement, come more favorable political times. The fact that it remains largely undeveloped today is testament to the complexity of post-apartheid politics, and the slow wheels of bureaucracy.
The Castle, South Africa’s oldest building, on Sir Lowry Road/Strand St. It was the primary fort of the Dutch East India Company, which established Cape Town as a “victualing station” for its ships. The sea used to wash right up to its battlements, which were first erected in the late-17th century. No less than five national flags have flown over it, in the course of its long history!
Table Mountain – hurrah! Cape Town’s primary landmark comes into view at last!
The old City Hall, on the Grand Parade, where Nelson Mandela made his first post-imprisonment speech, in 1990. The building now houses the Cape Town Public Library. Lion’s Head mountain is in the background. Crooked photo – taken at about 60 kph!
The Cape Town CBD – and our journey from the airport has come to an end! Some of the major buildings downtown: the Cape Sun hotel on the left, the Shell building in the center, and the ABSA building far right. The “skyway” in the photo’s foreground connects the Golden Acre mall with the Cape Town train station and minibus taxi rank.
Hope you enjoyed the trip!