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Cape Town Travel Info

The Beauty of the Cape Peninsula - Cape Town

Welcome to Cape Town, Mother City of Africa, and the Western Cape, an area which is regarded as one of the most beautiful regions in the world. The City is a rare cultural gem, resulting from the amalgamation of Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers, the local Bushman and Hottentot tribes and the Bantu tribes from the north.

Blouberg beach

The impressive presence of Table Mountain, flanked by the legendary Devil's Peak and historical Signal Hill, stands proudly above the city. Beautiful white sandy beaches along a peaceful coastline frame the Cape Peninsula, which is famed for its unique floral kingdom, bountiful rivers, vleis and dams and magnificent countryside. The surrounding area extends far into the winelands, green in summer and red-gold in autumn.

Camps Bay beach

Cape Town boasts a multitude of entertainment, ranging from outdoor activities and adventures in the sun to a roaring night life under neon signs. The vast range of shopping opportunities includes haggling with shopholders at Greenmarket Square Flea Market, as well as breezing through sophisticated and stylish shopping malls. The huge variety of restaurants reflects the multicultured history of the Cape and caters for everyone's taste, from fast-food outlets and casual to the chic to the very elegant.

Cape Town City

Cape Town provides a setting for many scenic wonders, magnificent seascapes and panoramic vistas. The beautiful coastal areas of Camps Bay, Clifton, Llandudno, Bantry Bay, Hout Bay and Blouberg surround the breathtaking tranquility of the winelands, Constantia, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franshhoek.

Cape Town is a city of culture, built on a history that reflects in the architecture, cuisine, music and dance. Together with a warm summer and temperate winter climate and a friendly community, the Western Cape and the Mother City are an ideal holiday destination throughout the year.

 

The below Cape Town trivia is authored by Selwyn Davidowitz who is an accredited Cape Town tourguide/operator:

Why is Cape Town called The Mother City?

Cape Town is also known by South African's as the Mother City. At the same time of every one of us constantly using the phrase I wonder how many South Africans actually know where the phrase comes from? Well here is the answer.

In the 1930's some unknown party wrote to the local cape Town newspaper claiming that Cape Town was the only city in South Africa that could justly call itself a metropolis. The public took to this description and because the word metropolis is derived from the Greek derivation of meter or metros meaning mother and polis meaning city, the nickname of "mother city" was born. Hence today we know our wonderful city as being "the mother city".

Even more fascinating is the fact that few South Africans or Capetonians know that there was a time when Cape Town was known as "Cape Grab". This was because of the grabbing practices of certain innkeepers in the old days in charging exorbitantly for board and lodging to sailors who passed by the Cape on their way to the East.

What is a Cape Town "Living Welcome"?

In 1947 The British Royal family visited Cape Town, South Africa. The joint school board in Cape Town decided that it wanted to do something special to commemorate the event and the idea of a "living welcome" was decided on.

The pupils of Ellerslie, Sea Point Boys High and Junior, Ellerton, Kings Road Primary and Camps Bay Primary were all put through their paces for the living welcome.
Rehearsals took place on the Sea Point Junior School lawns. A piper cub airplane was flown by a local enthusiast during rehearsals so as to check that all looked right for the event.
A site on Signal Hill was chosen. Footpaths were cut into the bushes of Signal Hill spelling the word WELCOME. The letters were 100ft long.

On 17 February 1947 200o schoolchildren, all dressed in white, lined out the marked letters with the girls forming the letters W E L and the boys forming the balance C O M E.
The family arrived in the battleship by name of Vanguard. On sighting the "living WELCOME" a signal was given from the ship that it had seen the WELCOME sign from far and this caused all the children to thunderously cheer. The first contact by the people of Cape Town had been made with the Royal family.

Up until the late 50's the carved paths of the words WELCOME could still be seen on Signal Hill, but alas today they are no more to be seen. The people of Cape Town however have never lost the wonderful sense of welcome that they have always had for foreign visitors to their shores.

Cape Town Rules of the Road - A story

In 1906, the now demolished Baptist Church in Wale Street Cape Town was used as a law-court. Somebody who would not have cared to remember this was a certain Mr.Rorich. The reason for this was because he was the first person to be found speeding in a city street in Cape Town.

He was travelling at a speed of 12 miles per hour in an 8 mile per hour zone. For the offence he was fine 2 Pounds which was a heck of a lot of money in those days.

This case is clearly documented however in my opinion the question remains as to how the speed of 12 mph was correctly determined?

Why does a gun go off at noon every day?

The origins of this local custom are explained at the harbour clock on the V&A Waterfront. Originally, a cannon was shot at noon as a time-check - in 1798 this nearly set all of Cape Town on fire. Later time balls were set off at noon to enable ships to check their chronometers so they could carry out navigational calculations at sea accurately.

Then the Observatory took to shooting a pistol at noon to alert those ships that couldn't see the time-balls, and eventually a cannon was fired. Moving the gun to Signal Hill where it's been since 1902 perhaps recalls another Cape Town tradition, whereby a watch on Signal Hill was supposed to run to town to warn of approaching ships so farmers could bring their wares to market.

Before you check your watch by the gun, remember that sound takes 3 secs to travel 1 km, meaning that if you hear it in Milnerton or Observatory, it'll be 18 or 20 seconds after detonation.

For those who don't know it there is a noon day gun that gets fired daily, excepting on Sundays, from Signal Hill in Cape Town to mark the time of 12 noon for the citizens of Cape Town. There is one exception to this rule regarding the firing of the gun on a Sunday and that is when the Gun Run, which is an annual half marathon, takes place in the city. The race ends at 12 noon and the gun gets fired on that day signaling to those that have not crossed the finish line by the time of its booming that they have not completed the race in the pre-requisite qualifying time.

The gun booming also had another part to play in Cape Town's history when during the 2nd world war when the it was fired all the citizens of Cape Town would stop what they were doing for a 2 minute period of silence so as to reflect on those who had died during the war.

Where did the term "the fairest Cape" come from?

Sir Francis Drake called it this after his circumnavigation of the globe in 1579-80.

How many people live in the greater Cape Town area?

Though the figures are disputed, official counts are nearly 3 million, with the figure for the Western Cape close to 4.5 million.

Why is the V&A Waterfront called the Victoria and Alfred, not the Victoria and Albert?

After the two basins in the working harbour around which the complex was built, namely Victoria and Alfred. On a visit to Cape Town in 1880, Victoria's second son, Prince Alfred, laid the first stone in the construction of the breakwater.

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