This is for the dreamers, foolish as they are for being brave enough to do what they want to do.
Another year, another birthday. Stuck into the routine of working, avoiding eye contact on the metro and shivering as the winter gusts punch me in my face – I was in need of a total reset. This year I had the opportunity to take a fabulous trip and I chose … *drumroll please*…. Cape Town, South Africa! I have been dreaming of South Africa for years and years. To me it was a different world, a place I would never be able to visit. I am from a small island in the Caribbean, how can little old me ever dream of a place as exotic and far away and magnificent as South Africa? The experience was one that I couldn’t have imagined. Every expectation exceeded and I have returned humble, inspired and grateful.
I planned this trip for two. Life happens and shit happens and as fate would have it, my plans fell to shit at the last moment. I was faced with the decision to cancel or take a risk and go by myself. I had so many reservations going to Africa alone, as a young woman. I went back and forth for many agonising days and nights. In the end, I told myself that it was an opportunity I could not afford to miss. I am young, I am closer than I will ever be, and I could taste the sea salt and feel the wind blowing in my air already. It was my mother fucking birthday. I just had to go.
I scrambled last-minute to finalize an itinerary and book activities in advance to ensure I was both safe and entertained. My final itinerary is below:
Day One: Arrive Morning – Lay out in the sun (finally!) -Watch sunset from the top of Table Mountain
Day Two: Aquila Game Reserve Safari
Day Three (March 18th): Happy Birthday to me! Massage and High Tea at Mount Nelson Hotel and Spa – Dinner at Nobu (#yumyumyum)
Day Four: Visit Robben Island – Roam the V&A Waterfront
Day Five: Wine Tasting at Constantia Glen Winery
Day Six: See the African Penguins at Boulders Beach – Lunch in Camps Bay [Put one toe in the Atlantic Ocean – fyi… its freezing!] – Depart evening.
Table Mountain – Book tickets in advance at https://www.webtickets.co.za to skip the line and get straight to the top. I went up just in time to watch the sunset and it was the perfect welcome to Cape Town. Able to see the fantastic views and the mixing of purple, pink and blue was magical AND theres is a lovely cafe that offers wines and champers. I feel like it was there just for me. A gift from God himself. I knew at that very moment that it was the best decision I have ever made and I was in the exact right place.
Aquila Game Reserve – I booked tickets in advance at http://www.aquilasafari.com. The reserve is about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town. Going in, this was the highlight of my trip. I was not disappointed at all. Picked up from my hotel, I embarked on this day long journey. We drove to the reserve, along the way passing the beautiful scenery and the not so beautiful scenery of the townships. It was then I started to understand the disparity in lifestyle in South Africa. I drove by as babies and children were subjected to the hardship of living in tin homes in the remote lands. A sobering experience to say the very least. I pondered what would possess people to remain forgotten in the dusts of the city. I later found out the reason when I researched the damaging remnants left from the apartheid government. I arrive to the game reserve deep in thought and in need of wine. A beautiful family of peacocks greeted me for lunch. Lush greenery and infinity edge pool greeted me. The juxtaposition of this grandiose and lavish place in the midst of the dry, empty surrounding lands was awe-inspiring. Cut to the actual safari drive. It was a dream of mine, to go on a safari for as long as I can remember. I saw a number of animals – hippos, white rhinos, wildebeests, springboks, lions, giraffes, elephants, buffalos. Being so close was exciting and it was a day I will always remember. In addition to the fabulous wildlife and views , there was sparkling wine, which is always a plus plus plus for me.
Mount Nelson Hotel and Librisa Spa – The Mount Nelson is a Cape Town institution of sorts. White glove service, high tea and theatrics originating from the 1900s. Entering was a total shock to my system. I went for tea, cake and a massage but my eyes were opened to a way of life that I thought ended hundreds of years ago. The scenery is dreamy, the service is superb but I could not help but notice an unspoken tension. I am mixed race, a mulatto princess if you will, my up bringing was an event I took for granted. I live my life not seeing skin colour as a boundary or an indication of class and wealth. Entering this space was like being thrown back into the hands of time, black women and men working to serve the white guests. I sat confused and a feeling a bit guilty. Wanting to scream “I am black!” though my fair complexion acts as a disguise. I spoke kindly to my waitress, Thuli, and she realised it was my birthday and brought me a special dessert and hugged me. She said to me I was special and one of a kind. I thought to myself, that my new friend ,Thuli, has not had one kind word said to her in years.
Nobu – The grand mother fucking event. I LOVE Nobu! Nobu for me reminds me of home – of my Nassau rat life and everything I loved to do : fuck around at Atlantis, eat sushi, drink endless ginger martinis. I have been craving Nobu for months and months. This God forsaken city of Paris doesn’t have a Nobu and I consider it a crime against the heavens. Hands down the best meal I had in Cape Town, reunited with my friends : jalapeño yellow tail, beef toban yaki and green tea ice-cream! SOOOOOO good. Like, really… just go.
Robben Island – I had to mentally prepare for this excursion. I am a person who cries rather easily. When I feel injustice of any sort, I react in a physical way via rash, tears or general rage. Visiting Robben Island, you cannot help but think that the British and Dutch of the time were the epitome of evil. I spoke to a man who met Mr. Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela stayed here, in a cell for 18 years, writing his manuscript – against all odds- on a mat on the floor with no shoes or blankets. My new friend Spock, who is also a former prisoner, told me of the atrocities that took place in this prison. He met Nelson Mandela during a hunger strike in that very prison. He now lives on Robben Island and gives a tour of his former torture chamber three times a day. He is my absolute hero.
Constantia Glen – When I dream, I think of green fields, mountains, ocean breeze and unlimited amounts of wine. Constantia Glen is all of this and more. Never in my life, have I been more pleased to visit a place that understands me. Left alone to eat meats and cheeses while soaking in a view to die for and wine that will change your life. I spent the entire day here not only for the wine but I was absolutely mesmerised by the surrounding beauty.
Boulders Beach – My flight was leaving at 8pm, and I had one full day left in this glorious place. I dreamt about the African penguins and while I’ve seen them in the distance, I needed to greet them personally. The drive from my hotel was about 45 mins to see them. Worth it. I love exotic creatures of every sort. African penguins were the last thing I needed to see before I left. They are absolutely gorgeous and I looooove them. Just go. Entrance to Boulders Beach is 70 Rand.
Hotel: I stayed at 52 De Wet, Bantry Bay. This was the best surprise. I was hesitant because it is a small boutique hotel BUT I got so lucky. The staff took care of me in every way possible. The sunset views will change your life. I have nothing negative to report. I will only stay here on my next trip(s).
Tips and Tricks:
- Book shit in advance – skip the line – Be a pro tourist.
- Eat at Codfather and Nobu
- Watch the sunset(s)