Table Mountain comes for free if you are prepared to hike up one of various trails. Strangely, a few million locals never have been up the Mountain despite the fact that every South African citizen gets a free ride once a year, upon presentation of a valid ID document, on his or her birthday. In the same vein, we live in one of the loveliest cities in the world, featuring the most scenic train ride globally (to the best of my knowledge) yet so many locals never venture out.
|Our Metrorail Journey From Cape Town To Simon’s Town|
At just R35 (thirty-five Rand) or roughly three United States Dollars, one can board at Cape Town and enjoy a day’s scenic rail travel, hop on,hop off and return via Metrorail.
|Typical 1 Day Tourist Passes|
Also, no parking problems, one can stretch your legs even on the train but we usually hop off at Muizenberg, where the world renowned surfer’s corner is.
The train stops right at the beach!
|Bridge Crossing At Kalk Bay Harbour|
The salty sea provides the signature fresh ocean fragrance, locally referred to as “champagne air.”
|Sniffing “Champagne Air”|
The tidal pool is great for safe bathing and this is a favourite with families as well, as children can play and swim safely. The colourful beach day cottages are a world renowned landmark.
From nearby rocks, the whale season usually provides the sighting of many Southern Right whales.
These rocks are situated directly opposite the St James Metrorail station. Whale season is defined by the whales themselves but usually runs from April to November.
Our train terminated, unusually, at Fish Hoek. This is because wind had blown hundreds of tons of sea sand onto the tracks and earth-moving equipment is being employed to clear the tracks. Also, other railroad maintenance is being carried out as passenger safety does not get compromised.
We were taken to Simon’s Town by a luxurious Mercedes-Benz coach, air conditioned and with comfortable seating.
This at no extra cost, of course! The elevated seating position afforded us better views of the railway line that hugs the coast.
|Our Luxury Coach At Fish Hoek Metrorail|
Simon’s Town Metrorail station, is where the Historical Mile begins.
A leisurely stroll took us into the village, past the Admiral’s Residence, Simon’s Town Museum and beyond. This time around, we visited the expertly maintained SA Navy Museum, well worth a visit.
From there, we visited our friends at Harbourview Restaurant, which is situated right above the jetty and overlooking the yacht basis and naval harbour. We were informed that they are expanding their footprint by adding to the extensive veranda as they are loved by large tour groups arriving in their droves. Harbourview is otherwise quiet, intimate, romantic. For many years now, we had accompanied visiting friends there and never had any disappointment. Not very cheap, yet their service is excellent, food memorable and views to die for.
Just below is the smaller Salty Sea Dog, housed in the historical fish market. They offer great fried fish and chips, our favourite upon every visit. Like Harbourview, there is a full bar. Views are restricted unless you are seated at the large windows and it is more suited to small groups. We have fond memories of Salty Sea Dog, which is where you can also pick up a nice T-shirt. It also sits adjacent to the yacht basin and almost directly on the jetty, you will just love the setting.
Moving on, we came across the purveyors of hand crafts which included traditional hand-made toys like so many of us grew up with on South African farms. Then, something caught my eye – a Golden Retriever at leisure in the shallows of the yacht basin, just below the statue of Just Nuisance.
Venturing on across Jubilee Square, we visited the Tourism Info which is very close to the Toy Museum. We will try to visit the Toy Museum next time, as our time had run out. One can buy a Two Day Tourist Pass at R60, which may be a great idea, as there really is way too much to see and do in just one day.
Kalk Bay and Muizenberg need to be revisited as there is so much to see and do, either could easily keep you pleasurably occupied for a day or more. From Muizenberg to Simon’s Town, one is enveloped in between the mountains and the ocean. The natural beauty is augmented by historical architecture, also designs by the late Sir Herbert Baker. There is a myriad of little stores where you can eat, drink or indulge in buying vinyl records, arts and crafts, hand made clothing, artisanal bread -too much to mention.
You will most likely agree that our visit is incomplete. Remember to buy your 1 Day Tourist Pass – which also is a return ticket – at Cape Town Station and then use it to hop on, hop off.
Also, if you are on a budget, you are welcome to pack a picnic and enjoy your meals at any of various scenic spots, not needing to pay for entrance to most public beaches and leisure spots.