Monday, February 15, 2016

Welcome to Cape Town's Most Vibrant Neighbourhood

On our first day in Cape Town, fresh off the long plane ride, we walked from our hostel (Atlantic Point Backpackers in Greenpoint, which I'd highly recommend) towards central Cape Town to do a little exploring, and generally situate ourself in the city. Before departing, I had read about an area called Bo Kaap, which was known for its colourful array of houses. In my head, I imagined some of the energy and colour I had witnessed when travelling through Nicaragua, and specifically Granada. If you clicked on the link in the previous sentence, you can understand what kind of excitement I would have built up. 

As we walked towards Bo Kaap, a rather large silver Mercedes SUV pulled over, and asked politely if we needed any help. I suppose me carefully looking at the map on my iPhone was the giveaway. Anyway, we told them we were fine, and that we were headed to Bo Kaap. When we said this, they perked up a little and said to "be careful" because "it can be a bit dangerous." Being completely unsure of what was true and wasn't right at the beginning, we decided to skip Bo Kaap and get a little lunch on Cape Town's famed Long Street. But, boy am I ever happy that we went back on our last day in the country. 

Visiting Bo Kaap, as far as I'm concerned, is an absolute must in Cape Town. We saw plenty of little tour buses rolling through and stopping here and there, but that's not what I'm talking about. It's an area you need to walk around, to feel. Though, in response to the warning before, it wasn't entirely unfounded, so if you're going to go and do a little exploring, I'd recommend doing it during the day. 

Bo Kaap is also known as The Malay Quarter, a reference to the Cape Malays, who were Southeast Asian slaves brought over by the Dutch East India Company - as the alternate name suggests, they settled in Bo Kaap. It's area that's well known for its diversity and multiculturalism, also evidenced by the presence of the Nuru Islam Mosque, which was founded in the earlier parts of the 19th century. Needless to say, there's much to learn and appreciate about the area. 

Due to how utterly striking and vibrant the area is, I think it's best if I end my rant about the area, and prove some of what I've said above with a collection of photos. As always, I hope you enjoy them. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what makes South Africa such a marvel. In the coming weeks and months, I hope to be able to share that with all via the blog. But, just because an area like Bo Kaap is only a small part of what makes South Africa great, it doesn't mean it's insignificant. It's an area that will surely leave a lasting impression.