Living in Cape Town

Many unexpected and positive experiences thanks to some nasty mechanical issues
Friday, November 4, 2016 to Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Introduction: making the best of a desperate situation

When I left Nairobi, Cape Town was my main goal. Little did I know what to expect on my journey and how it will turn out. But I always wanted to reach this mystical town on the southern tip of the African continent. The initial plan was to stay for a few days and then drive back to Nairobi. I tried everything to make this happen, but in the end failed. Instead, I was stuck in Cape Town for about one month. During that time, I desperately tried to sort out all trouble with my car. While waiting, I wanted to spend my time wisely, undertaking several trips to explore the greater area of the Cape Peninsula. Within one month, I got to love Cape Town!

Cape Town: European outpost at the far end of Africa

The city centre is only one of many highlights. Here, I learned much about South African bloody history since the first Dutch trading post and early settlements. I passed by remains of the British colonization and slums (so-called informal settlements) of the apartheid area. Today, Cape Town presents itself in the best possible light. Criminality is kept on a decent level by a constant presence of security officers. The pulsating city centre is highly touristic and offers endless cafes, restaurants and nightclubs. Especially, in the Long Street and V&A Waterfront, I found endless opportunities to indulge. At night, homeless people earn a basic income by guarding the open parking spaces. Cape Town feels extremely European, with that special African twist.

Homebase: finding my lost but inexistent grandparents

After roaming around for a week, I found a new home. First, I tried different locations and accommodations within the greater Cape area. Then, I set foot in a cosy, little house near Muizenberg. The Airbnb hosts turned out to be a retired couple, who travelled the world for many decades. Together, they drove overland across nearly every continent and wrote thrilling travel stories. For me, it felt like visiting my lost but inexistent grandparents who emigrated to a distant place. They regularly invited me for coffee and I even joined them for full meals. In return, I helped them with advanced computer and mobile phone issues, as they were comparable tech savvy. We exchanged many travel stories and dreamed about remote places of the world. I could really live anywhere on this planet.

Cape Peninsula: one of the most picturesque landscapes

Multiple times did I drive up and down the entire Cape area. While having my beloved car at a mechanic, I rented an affordable replacement. Renting in South Africa is way cheaper than buying a trashy car in Kenya, but it’s not allowed to drive all over the continent. Having a car is nearly the own option to fully explore the greater Cape area. In every direction, you find beautiful nature reserves as well as lovely villages. Especially the drive down to the Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope is stunning. Especially the drive from Hout Bay via Chapmans Peak and the Misty Cliffs offers a natural spectacle. But also the drive from Muizenberg via the lovely towns of Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town is utterly picturesque. No wonder, so many Europeans immigrate in this jaw-dropping region.

Adventure: many fun ways to get thrilled or even sick

The Cape Peninsula is not only lovely, but is also packed with spectacles. After crossing half of the continent, I was not looking for a big adventure here. Especially, as most offers are rather touristic and not really authentic. I could resist to many temptations, like skydiving, but not all of them. As a fanatic snowboarder, I was intrigued by the possibility of riding on sand. For the first time in my life, I used a snowboard on sand and totally enjoyed it! My biggest mistake on the other hand was shark diving. This adventure was a total failure. Due to the winter season, the water was too muddy to see anything. Moreover, dressing up in a wetsuit on the little boat made me incredibly seasick. I never felt so bad in my life, but recovered within a few minutes on shore. Never again will I board a boat without seasickness pills.

Car: final solution after trying to fix all the problems

As mentioned before, I really tried to fix my car. After all, this car took me on a great journey from Nairobi to Cape Town. However, in the southern metropolis I realized how diverse Africa is. Here, the living standard is way higher and old cars are not accepted anymore. In comparison to Eastern Africa, here, mechanics only want to work on top modern cars. It was unbelievably difficult to find anybody who is able and willing to help me. In the end, I found an amazingly competent and friendly workshop. Shortly the verdict was clear: fixing all the problems and driving back is not feasible anymore. After evaluating all options, I decided to ship the car back and finish my trip in a rented car. Only did I not know how to deal with ocean freight. This turned out to be way more expensive and complex as anticipated. In the end, it took two months to get the car back.

Summary: it came differently than planned, but I loved it

I ended up living one month in Cape Town and loved it. Despite feeling stranded and stuck in my journey, I enjoyed every moment. Once more, I could practice my patience and out-of-the-box-thinking, vital skills in Africa. Furthermore, I deepened my mechanical knowledge about cars and the painful procedures of ocean freight. Amazing people entered and enriched my life. If my car would have run smoothly, I never stayed at this incredible place and did not experience all this. Probably I would have seen other places and met different people, but this is how it happened. It is great to have a plan, but it is better to live life as it comes.

Special thanks to everybody who helped turning misery into the greatest time!

My waypoints on this journey

Fiction - dancing through the night with young South Africans so close from my backpackers
dancing through the night with young South Africans so close from my backpackers
Cape Town - the end of a great journey, but not yet the final destination of my epic African road trip
the end of a great journey, but not yet the final destination of my epic African road trip
V & A Foodmarket - having a yummy bite and bubbly milkshake in a lovely vintage restored ship hangar
having a yummy bite and bubbly milkshake in a lovely vintage restored ship hangar
V & A Waterfront - strolling along the harbour and navigating through endless arcades of tourists
strolling along the harbour and navigating through endless arcades of tourists
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden - hiking up the beautiful hills below table mountain for a stunning view over Cape Town
hiking up the beautiful hills below table mountain for a stunning view over Cape Town
Big Bay - sitting in a cafe, doing some work on my laptop and observing the kite surfer in the ocean
sitting in a cafe, doing some work on my laptop and observing the kite surfer in the ocean
Table Mountain - admiring the omnipresent and most iconic mountain in all over Southern Africa
admiring the omnipresent and most iconic mountain in all over Southern Africa
Atlantis - Sandboarding - standing on a snowboard in South Africa - and riding down a huge dune of white sand
standing on a snowboard in South Africa - and riding down a huge dune of white sand
Camps Bay - spending a perfect afternoon at the golden beach on the other side of Table Mountain
spending a perfect afternoon at the golden beach on the other side of Table Mountain
Clifton - enjoying the burning sun at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (top ten)
enjoying the burning sun at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (top ten)
East Fort - climbing the crumbling remains of a 18th century defence battery high above the Hout Bay
climbing the crumbling remains of a 18th century defence battery high above the Hout Bay
Hout Bay - having a coffee in the lovely fisher town and meeting one of my favourite authors
having a coffee in the lovely fisher town and meeting one of my favourite authors
Muizenberg - being too lazy to learn kite surfing myself, but still observing others riding the wind
being too lazy to learn kite surfing myself, but still observing others riding the wind
ANG Service Centre - finally getting help for my Mitsubishi from the most friendly workshop in Cape Town
finally getting help for my Mitsubishi from the most friendly workshop in Cape Town
Simon's Town - eating fish'n'chips and working on my blog from one of the most picturesque villages
eating fish'n'chips and working on my blog from one of the most picturesque villages
African Penguins - my first time to observe birds... along the coast near the village of Simon's Town
my first time to observe birds... along the coast near the village of Simon's Town
Bo-Kaap - exploring a former township of Malaysian immigrants with the most colourful houses
exploring a former township of Malaysian immigrants with the most colourful houses
Stimming @ ERA Night Club - hitting the dance floor with German techno / electro in the heart of Cape Town
hitting the dance floor with German techno / electro in the heart of Cape Town
Cape Town Comedy Club - half priced Sunday evening laughter with standup comedy in a unique atmosphere
half priced Sunday evening laughter with standup comedy in a unique atmosphere
Tony Fletcher - having fun with my airbnb host, a magician and his selection of puppets
having fun with my airbnb host, a magician and his selection of puppets
Rhodes Memorial - honouring the adventurous Cecil Rhodes with a quick coffee at his memorial
honouring the adventurous Cecil Rhodes with a quick coffee at his memorial
Company's Garden - strolling through one of the oldest European parks in Cape Town
strolling through one of the oldest European parks in Cape Town
Cape Point - beautiful Nature Park with its highlight the most famous Cape of Good Hope
beautiful Nature Park with its highlight the most famous Cape of Good Hope
Olifantsbosbaai - following the trails of rusty shipwrecks along the coast of the Cape Peninsula
following the trails of rusty shipwrecks along the coast of the Cape Peninsula
Au Revoir @ Kalk Bay Theatre - watching a funny burlesque dancing show in a small town on the Cape Peninsula
watching a funny burlesque dancing show in a small town on the Cape Peninsula
Kalk Bay - having a yummy cheesecake in an artsy cafe in a colourful township near Cape Town
having a yummy cheesecake in an artsy cafe in a colourful township near Cape Town
Castle of Good Hope - wading through flooded underground tunnels underneath the city of Cape Town
wading through flooded underground tunnels underneath the city of Cape Town
TRANSylvania - Redemption Island - dancing two days at my very first and colourful music festival in South Africa
dancing two days at my very first and colourful music festival in South Africa
Ann & Val King - making new friends through staying with locals and sharing the passion of travels
making new friends through staying with locals and sharing the passion of travels
Shipping my Car - going through hell on finding a competent partner to ship my car back to Kenya
going through hell on finding a competent partner to ship my car back to Kenya