by Ali Findlay on October 19, 2016
4 min read

“This cape is the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth” — Journal of Sir Francis Drake, 1580

A view of the spectacular Cape Town

4.45am: My alarm goes off and jolts me awake out of a deep sleep. I resist the temptation to bury myself under the covers and somehow force myself out of bed. A few minutes later I am on my way to Lion’s Head to start the day in the best way possible; with an increased heart rate, fresh air, and incredible views. I am surprised to find that the city is already awake; the trail, though quiet, is not entirely deserted during the wee hours on a weekday. Watching the sun rise over one of the world’s most exquisite cities makes the early wake up well worth it. The morning light reveals Table Mountain, the centrepiece and crowning glory of the only city bordered by two oceans — Cape Town. In most cities, the skyline is a jagged line of skyscrapers but in Cape Town, my eyes always travel higher to the flat peak of its iconic mountain.

Sunrise over Cape Town

8am: After descending Lion’s Head, I make my way to La Belle Bistro & Bakery in Camps Bay to grab an eggs benedict breakfast while revelling in the ocean views. Cape Town’s famous picturesque sunny days are always beach days. Although it’s early, eager beach-goers are already claiming their spots.

9.30am: The sun’s warm rays encourage me to head down to the beach. After a short walk, I find myself at the sandy shoreline of Clifton, adding my towel to the skew line forming. The beach is already clogged with visitors and locals alike; colourful umbrellas dot the white sand like sprinkles on a cake. Some beach-goers let the sun bake their skin a few shades darker, others busy themselves by reading or playing Frisbee, and the brave submerge themselves in the chilly but refreshing embrace of the Atlantic. After dozing in the sun the heat forces me to sprint into the sea. I dive under an icy wave and the sudden change in temperature takes my breath away. I scurry back to my towel and let the sun reheat my skin.

The sunny Clifton Beach in Cape Town

12pm: Clear days are not just beach days but also Table Mountain days, perfect for riding to the peak in the rotating cable car to enjoy unobscured views. The city unfolds below me, getting simultaneously bigger and smaller with each turn of the car. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty you experience when standing on top of this Wonder of Nature. Green mountain slopes blend into the offices, shops, and homes that form a solid line winding along the natural shape of the ocean. To see Table Mountain is to see something majestic and standing on top of it is almost dream-like. To spend time in Cape Town is to have this magnificent landmark overlook your day-to-day activities.

A cable car makes it way to the top of Table Mountain

1.30pm: Can you say that you’ve eaten a meal on a table that is over 1,000 meters high? I can.

3pm: Afternoon brings a visit to the historic Company Gardens. I stroll slowly along the paths, letting the tame squirrels eat nuts from the palm of my hand. A large coffee at the vibrant restaurant goes down well after an early start.

6pm: As the sun moves to the west and shadows lengthen, the city’s best lookout points begin to reel people in. Signal Hill is my chosen sundowner spot. As the magical dusk light spreads over the city, the yellow-gold lights begin to dot the landscape.

Sunset brings out the city lights of Cape Town

8pm: When evening dissolves into the night and the water-coloured sky fades to black, the city’s nightlife hubs come to life with a whoop and a roar. Although Capetonians are well known for being rather relaxed, this doesn’t mean that the city goes to sleep with the sun. On the contrary, certain areas are busiest at this time of day. Wining and dining is a big part of the Capetonian way of life; with such a large selection of top-class wines and restaurants, it’s not hard to see why. Kloof Street House, a well-known restaurant in the CBD, is my choice this evening. I sip white wine outside, while the warm summer air hangs around me like an invisible blanket; the best end to a day in the Mother City.

Adderley Street in Cape Town

11pm: The taxi passes the dark gap in the city that is Table Mountain at night, but from this angle, I can see its majestic rocky walls are lit up with large white spotlights — Cape Town’s most famous resident never fails to impress.