When I moved to Canada as a teenager, people would often try to guess where I was from.
“Are you British?”
“From New Zealand?”
Somehow they would never guess South African. Once I told them, they would inevitably then ask questions about living in Africa — including the requisite “are there lions walking down the street?” — at which point I would explain that Cape Town, where I lived, is a big city with a few million residents. It also happens to be the most beautiful city in the world.
“Well, that’s a matter of opinion, isn’t it?”
“No. No — it’s really the most beautiful city in the world.”
Having been back here for the past five months, I feel absolutely justified in restating it. Cape Town is the most spectacular city in the world. For nature lovers, there’s simply no place better. It has its own kingdom of flora, which include some pretty crazy looking plants, and flowers that bloom year round, some only in summer or others only in winter. It’s set on the most stunning range of mountains anywhere, including the iconic Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles.
Today we drove into town to hike up Lion’s Head. I remember doing this hike as a kid. In fact, I remember running up the red dirt path and being affectionately dubbed a little mountain goat by my father. The morning started off cloudy — a good thing, as the climb is steep and rocky at points. Josh actually got grumpy with me for neglecting to tell him just how challenging it would be. But is it ever worth it. The view from the top is incredible — a 360 degree look at Cape Town, from the city bowl to Sea Point, Camps Bay to Llandudno and all the way out to Robben Island and Blouberg Strand.
After hanging around at the top for a while, we struck up conversation with a delightfully friendly young woman, who it turns out is actually from Quebec. She’s been here for five days of a five-month stay during which time she will be working at a backpackers as an internship for a tourism degree. It was funny speaking French at the top of Lion’s head, but a real joy. Her enthusiasm for being here is infectious, and I thoroughly enjoyed giving her tips on places to visit and awesome outdoor activities. Part way through the conversation, the sun broke through the clouds and lit the ocean, warming us in the process.
I stripped down to my tank top for the walk down, and Josh acknowledged that his grumpiness stemmed partly from exertion (“I wasn’t mentally prepared for that climb”) and party from low blood sugar. With some food in his belly — we had packed a picnic — he was a much happier man, and he leapt from rock to rock, stopping periodically to admire the view.
Back at the bottom, he turned and sighed.
“You know what we need now?”he asked.
“An ice cold beer?” I suggested.
Great minds, and all that.