Although Table Mountain is one of the great wonders of the world and any visitor to Cape Town is guaranteed to have it at the top of their GO NOW list, I would have been just as happy to sit at its base gazing at its wonder from below. Unfortunately for vertigo-challenged me, that’s not exactly how it was to play out…
Earlier that same day, we had been waved off the Blue Train. I still don’t understand why I couldn’t just ride back and forth from Pretoria to Cape Town, sipping cocktails and snacking on biltong for the rest of the week. Still I would have missed out on Cape Town and, more importantly, we had been asked to lunch at the One & Only Cape Town. Best Bits would never miss a party to which she had been invited!
Our Ilios Travel guide was there at the train station to collect our very well rested selves to escort us to the V&A Waterfront. On the way, he gave us a quick history of how the V&A came to be. (FYI, V&A stands for Victoria and, wait for it you Brits, Alfred – no, not Albert! Her son was the first to start construction on a harbor in this spot and the name stuck.) Its current appearance is only about 25 years old and home to some pretty nifty hotels as well as the shopping hub for the city.
The One & Only Cape Town has received tons of awards for style, spa and serenity. I was ecstatic just to be sitting outside on a sunny March Day without wearing boots, puffy coat and a winter scarf. Two days ago we had been in blustery Britain and now I was ordering grilled octopus for lunch with a banana split chaser, and of course that de rigeur glass of rose, that, oh so, slowly puts you in the summer mood by just lifting it to your lips. As the rose glow moved from my tummy to my head, I was brought to reality when our guide informed us it was Table Mountain time.
I downed the last drops in my glass and as we drove closer and closer up a windier and windier road, I thought I could try and “treat those pesky feelings…of fear…like a reading light and turn them off.*”
It’s not that I didn’t want to be up there, it was the getting up there that freaked me…gondola is a word that should only be used in Venice. A proper gondola is not a tiny aluminum vessel hanging by a thread in the air. Still I wasn’t going to come all the way down here and not do the one thing everyone else couldn’t wait to do.
We got out of the van and into line, up the stairs until it was our turn to step into the pod. My whole body said no but I let myself be mosh-pitted in by the crowds of happy excited people. Head down and standing in the middle, few histrionics were had but then only a little more than 4 minutes later we were there. Thanks to our wonderful guide who regaled me with Cape Town history the whole way up!
Next thing I knew, I was there on the top of Table Mountain – in one piece. Now I could relax until we had to get down, but I wasn’t going to worry about that now, I was going to enjoy being up there. The morning has been cloudy and a bit windy but it was all clearing up and Cape Town was peeking through the clouds. About 800 people go up an hour, but it seemed almost empty and we were able to explore almost as if we were alone. In fact, the only small crowd we came upon were surrounding the sexiest South African in town sitting atop the rocks sunning himself.
He waved goodbye as we left him to explore the other flora and fauna on the rest of Table Mountain. Descending was less of a drama than ascending – no tears or breakdowns – and after stocking up with a few cans of Grenadillo Soda and bars of Peppermint Crisp, we were ready for our adventures into the famed South African Winelands.
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Best Bits: Travel Cheat Sheet