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Feeling At Home In Cape Town
“Home” is a curious word. It has a different meaning to different people – for some, it’s the place where they grew up, where the people they care about are, where they feel comfortable and secure and for others, it’s simply a hot chocolate on a cold winter day. For me, it is a sense of belonging and a place that makes me happy. Maybe one day Cape Town could be that home for me.
From an early age on, I have always been running away. I have never felt “at home” in Switzerland. Although, from a certain point of view, I had everything – from beautiful scenery to a very comfortable lifestyle, friends, as well as family and a secure future ahead – I was lacking that inherent happiness of someone who has found their place in life. Sometime during my childhood, I realized, that the town I lived in didn’t give me those warm and fuzzy feelings it apparently should have. Family vacations used to be the highlight of my year and I happily toddled after my parents in busy airports and powered through long flights and bus rides, just to spend a few days away.
As soon as I was old enough to travel on my own, I did. When going out with friends, I would often sip on coke all night and happily be the designated driver, in order to save up the money others spent on alcohol for travelling. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good whiskey or beer like the next person and I am definitely not a kill-joy, but travelling has always been my number one priority in life. I have quit jobs to go travel, dumped guys, missed important events and skipped quite a few university classes – just to be able to hop on a plane a few times a year.
Few things beat the adrenalin rush I get when I’m able to explore a new country or the sense of excitement that grips me whenever I step into an airport. While I’m definitely in it for the adventure and to satisfy my constant curiosity, I think that deep down there is a part of me that is looking for something else, something more.
The happiness others have found in a stable life, I have found in travelling. But I still haven’t managed to locate that sense of belonging. A little voice in my head keeps telling me, that I can’t keep rushing around the world till I’m 80 and a wrinkly old lady using a walker (but I’d be one cool grandma for sure). So what I like to do while travelling, is looking at the places I visit in terms of suitability as a future home. I like to entertain the notion, that one day, I might settle down in that exact spot.
Cape Town was the first place in a long time where everything immediately felt right and there are several things about that city that just clicked with me right away
I’m a sucker for beautiful landscapes. Growing up at the edge of the alps with a beautiful view of the snow-covered peaks in the distance and a big lake right at my doorstep, I got a bit spoiled in the landscape department. Cape Town managed to beat that. I arrived in the city at night and didn’t get a look at the scenery until I stared out the hotel window the following morning and promptly went into a state of shock. I hadn’t seen anything that striking in a while and what made it even more shockingly beautiful was, that I hadn’t even expected it. Cape Town was my last stop on a long trip through Africa and I hadn’t planned ahead or researched the city. Honestly, after all the amazing views in the national parks all across the continent, I didn’t expect to be surprised again.
While driving around Cape Town and it’s surroundings for a week, I realized that I couldn’t stop staring. The mountains, the ocean and the beaches make for a stunning view and Cape Town itself doesn’t feel like a big concrete hell. There are all the amenities of a big city, but only a short drive away is pure, unaltered nature which provides a myriad of escape possibilities. There is much to be seen and done in and around Cape Town, from driving down the scenic roads to Cape Point, visiting the lush wine country, hiking up table mountain to seeing penguins at Boulders Bay. It’s lush and green, it’s beautiful and it’s sunny. Maybe it’s the weather and maybe it’s just the African continent, but somehow people seemed happy. And that happiness is quite contagious.
There doesn’t remain much to be said and I’ll mainly let the picture speak on that topic, but in Cape Town, I ate really damn well. Being a big, international city, Cape Town offers everything from Sushi and Mexican Food to African specialities. The wine from local wineries is obviously prevalent and shouldn’t be missed. All in all, Cape Town seemed like paradise to me after eating simple “pap”, rice and potato-based meals the weeks before and therefore I dove into the city’s food scene like a starving person.
Cape Towns one big drawback is obviously the security problem. Walking around in daylight is perfectly safe, but as soon as the sun sets everyone starts moving around in taxis (or their own cars), even if the destination is just around the corner. Every house is walled in and big fences and an array of security systems are used to deter crime. When checking into my hotel, I was immediately introduced to the security guard, given a code for the front gate and reminded not to let any strangers into the compound. It might seem a bit scary at first, but despite all this, I honestly still felt very safe in the city. And for me, it isn’t something that would deter me from visiting again, or maybe even settling down and making Cape Town my home one day.