What it’s like to live in one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet

Cape Town. Picture: iStock

Cape Town. Picture: iStock

If I have a criticism of my fellow Cape Town residents it is they have become somewhat blasé about what it has to offer.

My Mamma said – and this is no Forrest Gump-style homily – that I was born with “itchy feet”: no sooner would I arrive in one place, than my feet would itch to move to somewhere new.

When I was young, she attributed my wanderlust to a love of travel and a desire to learn about other places and cultures. Later, she attributed my frequent shiftings – of jobs, hometowns and even residences within one town – to nomadism and a sort of dissatisfaction with my life.

Then, in 1988, I landed in Cape Town and here I’ve been ever since (okay, circumstances required I relocate from Sea Point – where I’d been for the best part of 20 years – to Stellenbosch a few months ago but that’s splitting hairs).

I don’t know who was more shocked, my Mamma or myself.

It helps that the city where I chose to put down roots is consistently voted one of the most beautiful in the world but it leads, inevitably, to my being asked: what is it like to live in the most popular tourist destination on the planet?

Of course, I have to put up with the jibes of (mainly) my up-country friends with regards to the sloth of Slaapstad and its notoriously cold, wet winters.

Cape Town has started down the road of desalination. Picture: Shutterstock

To the first, I answer that our indolent lifestyle is one of the most attractive aspects of life in the Western Cape. You can always get a flight from Cape Town to OR Tambo on a Friday afternoon (with a return on Monday morning), while the opposite is definitely not the case.

Those Gauteng-ers who can afford a Cape Town pied-à-terre might earn big bucks but they spend a sizeable portion of their disposable income here in their quest for work-life balance.

Thank you. It’s nice not to be outnumbered by English rugby and cricket supporters in our own pubs when the Springboks or Proteas are playing the Poms. As for our winters, there are many more good days than bad.

There are few experiences more enjoyable than climbing on my motorcycle on a glorious winter weekend to go exploring.

If I have a criticism of my fellow Cape Town residents it is they have become somewhat blasé about what it has to offer. I would even go so far as to say that tourists – or even regular visitors – have a far better idea of the range of attractions on offer. Residents are also a tad isolationist and try to avoid the so-called “tourist traps”, even if these are genuinely worth the effort.

I’d say only a tiny fraction of Capetonians have gone up Table Mountain in the past five years. Probably even fewer have tried the hop-on hop-off busses that are undoubtedly one of the best value-for-money attractions.

The Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Shutterstock

Likewise the Summer Sunset Concerts series held every Sunday till March 31 next year.

This holiday season features favourites like Mango Groove, Mi Casa, Lira, Goldfish, The Parlotones, The Soil, Freshlyground, the Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Matthew Mole, Fokofpolisiekar and Jeremy Loops. If your taste runs to them, Boney M appears on December 23!

My explorations have led me to a hidden gem on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. The Joostenberg Bistro and Deli is situated on a working farm on the R304 (less than 1km from the N1) and is a haven.

Surrounded by rose gardens and nurseries, sprawling lawns make it ideal for picnics with the rug-monkeys, and the proximity of the award-winning Stellies brewing company will keep dad delightfully docile.

Mamma would be proud to know that I’ve finally learned … the grass is always greener when it’s between your toes.

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