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Cape Town

Cape Town, described by English explorer Sir Francis Drake as "the fairest cape in all the lands" sits on a peninsula at the southern tip of Africa.



Facts

  • Third most populous city in South Africa - nearly three million inhabitants
  • Provincial capital of the Western Cape
  • One of the world`s most beautiful cities
  • City dates back to 1652
  • Seat of the National Parliament
  • Spectacular backdrop of Table Mountain
  • Located on the southern tip of the African continent
  • Long tradition of wine production

    Cape Town, described by English explorer Sir Francis Drake as "the fairest cape in all the lands" sits on a peninsula at the southern tip of Africa. Thirty miles south of the city centre the Atlantic and Indian oceans converge at the Cape of Good Hope.

    The city`s most famous landmark is of course - Table Mountain - towering to a height of 5,000 feet above the metropolis and forming the perfect backdrop to Table Bay, the harbour and the Central Business District.

    The first European settlers, Dutch and Portuguese, arrived in the mid 1600s, built the Castle on the shores of the Bay, and thereafter spread into the countryside building their farmsteads and vineyards. From that time Cape Town became known as the `Tavern of the Seas` - a major strategic port at the oceans` crossroads.

    Finally after many years of British rule and, later, minority white nationalist government, the liberation struggle culminated with the release of Nelson Mandela in the early 1990s. Since that time tourism, particularly in Cape Town, has prospered and the city has become a favourite destination for Brits and other European nationalities, and has won many accolades and awards in the European media.

    Stadium

    The new football stadium, for which building commenced in 2007, is centrally situated in parkland, with Table Mountain as a backdrop and Table Bay in the foreground. All preliminary rounds and one semi-final are scheduled to be played in the 68,000 seater stadium.

    Going Out

    If you want a traditional English-style pub then the Fireman’s Arms is the place to go and has been since 1964.

    The owners assure Goal.com that it is going to be football central during the big event with nine Plasma televisions and two big screens all in HD 1080; and 4 HDPVR.

    But if you go for the football, you’ll stay for the atmosphere, the food and the impressive array of beers.

    Near the Newlands Cricket and Rugby Stadiums, this old style pub is regularly packed out for big sporting events. It serves lots of food and lots of beer.

    Modelled somewhat on Casablanca, this City Bowl hangout is more of a restuarant than a straight pub. The roof garden is a great place to chill with a bottle of wine and offers stunning views of Table Mountain. The wi-fi is free but the food is not but is a selection of global tapas, Moraccan specialities and Mediterranean grills. There will be big screens for the football.

    This Portuguese pub is known by locals as the `Portuguese Embassy`. Enjoy the excellent seafood, raise your eyebrows at the inexpensive prices as you watch a host of Cristiano Ronaldo fans cheer on their hero. It has been around for the best part of three decades but closes early in the evening - that may chance next June.

    A good, cheap and sociable place to stay, especially for those travelling alone. The bar is often very lively and very reasonably priced. A great place to meet people in the trendy Kloof Street area.

    The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront entertainment area with its pubs, bistros, restaurants, cinemas, excellent aquarium, shops, museums, boat rides, helicopter trips and more, is adjacent to the stadium. The area has 5, 4 and 3 star hotels.

    While just to the east of the stadium is the Green Point `strip` with its many late night clubs, bistros, and quality restaurants.

    Here there are a large quantity of hotels of all grades, hostels, and plenty of self catering rental apartments.

    A couple of miles further along the coast - Sea Point - has a huge range of self catering apartments, hostels and hotels.

    Back to the Central Business District and City Bowl (an area just below Table Mountain), there are again plenty of accommodation options, and all these areas within 5 miles of the stadium.

    Places of interest

    With 2010 spectators making at least one trip to Cape Town here are some suggestions for spending free time:

    Take a bus from the city centre to the lower cable station for the ten minute rotating gondola ride to the top. Outstanding 360 degree views over the Atlantic coast, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), across the plains to mountains of the winelands area, and closer views over the city and bay. The restaurant at the top serves good meals and snacks.

    For the more athletic visitor there are designated climbs up the rocky face to the summit, and there are hikes along the front and back of the mountain.

    5 miles west of Cape Town harbour the island prison was home to Nelson Mandela from 1964-1982 and many of his compatriots involved in the struggle against apartheid.

    Visit Mandela`s prison cell, and the quarry where he spent so many years `breaking rock`. The moving experience will give you a greater appreciation of this passionate world statesman.

    Through the leafy southern suburbs with the side of Table Mountain to your right, on to the wide surfing beaches of Muizenberg on the Indian ocean, through the fishing village of Kalk Bay with its many art and antique shops, on past the family seaside resort of Fish Hoek into the naval port of Simonstown, an ex-Royal Navy base.

    Past Simonstown enter the Cape Point National Park and drive down to the monorail that will take you to the lighthouse at the Cape of Good Hope. Have lunch at the Two Oceans restaurant.

    Now adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, pass the surfing beaches of Scarborough and Kommetjie and start the climb over Chapman`s Peak - a majestic cliffside drive eventually winding down into the large fishing suburb of Hout Bay. On through the upmarket, seaside suburbs of Llandudno, Camp`s Bay and Clifton and back to the city.

    Cape Town and the peninsula has over 70 separate beaches, from long sandy strands to small rocky coves. Windsurfing, kite boarding, yacht racing and surfing are some of the many watersports enjoyed by locals.

    The oldest wine farm, Groot Constantia, a national monument, lies in a beautiful valley in the southern suburbs, ten miles from the centre.

    The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront complex (V&A) in Cape Town`s historic harbour area is a new shopping and entertainment development. The area contains the historic Breakwater Lodge Hotel, previously a 19th century prison.

    From the Nelson Mandela Gateway there are boat trips to Robben Island and the Two Oceans Aquarium.

    Local Sports

    Rugby is a major winter sport and the Super 14 side the Stormers play at Newlands stadium, six miles from the centre of Cape Town. Watersports of all kinds are readily available.

    Tourist Offices

    Visitor Information Centres (VICs) at the City Center branch at City Bowl (Tel: 021 487 6800) at the corner of Castle Street and Burg Street and on the Waterfront at the Clock Tower Center (Tel: 021 405 4500).

    Getting There

    Air: At present an average of 10 international flights arrive daily, mostly from the UK and other parts of Europe, and to a lesser extent from the Persian Gulf, Malaysia, South America and other parts of the African continent. Visitors from the USA and other areas presently have to change at Johannesburg airport.

    There are roughly 30 flights daily in each direction Johannesburg - Cape Town, with a flight time of 2 hours. Less frequent daily flights are available to Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and Nelspruit (all World Cup venue cities).

    Rail: There are also luxury coach and train services to Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and Nelspruit. Train to Johannesburg- 26 hours.

    Bus: Coach to Johannesburg - 16 hours.

    Getting Around

    Car hire is a good option for visitors. Cape Town transport interchange - railway station, national luxury coach station, local bus station and taxi rank are situated in the centre of the city about 3 miles from the new stadium.

    Green Point is on a major throughway and even in normal times there is a regular bus service and mini bus service through the suburb to Sea Point.

    Taxis are readily available and operate at all hours. The international airport is 20 minute drive fom the center of Cape Town and a regular coach service is available.

    Tour Bus

    Another great option is to make use of the tour buses, which travel around the city throughout the day and allow visitors to get a real feel for Cape Town, while explaining the history of the Mother City.

    Security

    During the day all the areas mentioned in this guide should not present any problems regarding personal safety.

    At night, with reasonable care, they are "safe" but as a precaution the visitor should not walk long distances while alone.

    Like any large city there are "no go zones" which do not normally form part of the tourist routes. The South African government are aware that public safety is a major issue and are determined to increase the quantity and proficiency of the police force over the next couple of years.

    Goal.com

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