Despite almost being a local in my adopted country, England, that little hint of South African accent that is picked up still, has taken some time to wear as a badge of honour, something to be celebrated. Fortunately, I have professional connections with the mother ship which means some travel, but not enough in my view.
Cape Town is full of things for the visitor to do; from the majesty that is Cape Point to the breathtaking views atop Table Mountain. But, as I discovered earlier this year, Cape Town is also full of the expected. What I experienced is surely part of the reason Cape Town has just been awarded the prestigious 2012 Telegraph Readers award for Best WorldWide City.
An energetic tortoise, butterflies and a huge dragonfly complement a lazy breakfast in a peaceful garden.
Browse any tourism website and the same words are widely used; sustainable, projects, reality, authentic, real lives, genuine, crafts, meeting the locals, engagement, helping communities etc. We were intrigued, as what does this say about the rest of the destination? That it is all fake?
People have been visiting impoverished areas of cities since the late 18th century, when ‘gentlemen of means’ travelled the distance from west London into the docks and associated slums in east London to see how the locals lived. They wrote in their journals about the living conditions, the smell and of children left to fend for themselves whilst adults worked in the nearby factories or docks.
It’s not just about grand vistas and easy to capture statements of beauty, it’s in the detail that a landscape’s story is told. Full of bold statements and a mind-boggling array of activities, I wasn’t sure five night’s in a resort would do the Overberg region in the Western Cape any justice.
The High Commission of South Africa in London is the diplomatic and public face of South Africa in the UK and has one of the best addresses in town – right on Trafalgar Square.
I have visited many times, and it feels just like stepping into a time capsule that takes me back to a South Africa of austere gloomy government buildings resplendent in dark wood panelling, a warren of corridors and staircases leading off who knows where, and massive paintings depicting scenes from a chequered history alongside the portraits of the main players who look disapprovingly at you from the walls.
This short travelogue follows the discovery of a set of images taken during a trip a relative took whilst on holiday in South Africa in 1957. His handwriting was even worse than mine, so I am unfortunately not able to identify specific locations or people. He traveled from Germany by boat, calling in at Cape Town, then disembarked at Durban and travelled by car into the interior. I wish he had kept a diary of this trip to give some insight into his and the locals’ interaction as I don’t expect many spoke German!
Meet the vintner who reaches deep into the South African soil and history, who like a good wine, has blended ancient rocks, sunlight, the smell and memories the soil holds, Cape honey bees, Cornish tin miners and black magic. All of which cast a spell over me!
There are some parts of the world where crime flourishes, and gun crime in particular. This article is not about the rights and wrongs of gun ownership, but the impact it has on international tourism which is vital for job and wealth creation in all participating destinations.