City Guide Cape Town

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African Beauty

Issue 02/2010


Text Ilona Marx Photos Adriaan Louw Illustration Roman Klonek

An amazing National Park, mellow vineyards, golden beaches: does any other city in the world have this much to offer? Hardly. Table Mountain towers majestically over the South African metropolis, while the clouds lap softly and steadily over its rim – a memorable and spectacular image: a perfect backdrop.

For the amazed Cape Town traveller, the scene that's spread out in front of the thousand-metre-high mountain plateau is no less impressive. The candy-coloured house façades in the Bo-Kaap quarter, the sashaying fashionistas on Long Street, the sparkling white villas in Clifton and Camps Bay – you'd have to be blind in both eyes not to see the beauty of this city. But then there are also the sprawling townships, the Cape Flats, where more than two thirds of Cape Town's three million inhabitants live: contrasts are the rule rather than the exception in this vibrant metropolis on the Atlantic. Some people describe Cape Town as the most inequitable city in the world, and when comparing the vineyards of the Constantia Valley with the huts in the township of Khayelitsha, one is hard-pressed not to agree.

But that is not the whole story. There is no lack of charity and empathy in Cape Town. On the contrary; the inhabitants often go about things with an affirming 'yes-we-can' attitude, thanks to which many small miracles have taken place: volunteers plant organic vegetables on disused township sites or set up crèches for working mothers. 16 years after the end of Apartheid, the Mother City, as Cape Town is known in South Africa, is on its way to becoming a truly multicultural city, in which, slowly but surely, a true community spirit is making itself felt. In the light of the country's political past it is clear that this has been hard fought for: pretty much everyone here has had a chequered past and a life story filled with vicissitudes to go with it. A fact, which, along with its breathtaking natural surroundings, gives the city a certain soul.

This wasn't the first time J'N'C editor-in-chief Ilona Marx succumbed to the city's special mix. Together with South African photographer Adriaan Louw she set off to capture the atmosphere of the city in the run-up to the World Cup. 400,000 visitors are expected to come and cheer along their teams at the newly erected Green Point Stadium and celebrate probably the biggest party on Cape Town's streets since the first general elections in 1994. Not to be missed, but one should also not forget that the true spirit of the city reveals itself in the more tranquil moments: at dawn on the summit of the Lion's Head for example or during a picnic of fruit and wine at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. From the traditional vineyard to the luxury beachfront apartment, or township B&B – we've put together a selection of the most exciting Cape Town locations for you.

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