Home Cape Town This is what Cape Town is like to a first-time visitor

This is what Cape Town is like to a first-time visitor

by InnsCape

This is what Cape Town is like to a first-time visitor first appeared on www.capetownetc.com.

What is our city like through the eyes of a new beholder? For those of us who aren’t Capetonians but have lived here for some time, or even for frequent visitors, it can be difficult to stretch our minds back to our first time experiencing the Mother City.

However, recently on Reddit, one user took the time to pen something akin to an open letter to Cape Town titled Impressions of CPT from a first-time visitor: The good, the bad and the ugly.

Here’s what user u/Jazz-like-Us had to say:

Table Mountain is always visible 

For frequent Cape Town visitors and locals, Table Mountain is such a staple in our visual landscape that we may often forget how grand she is to someone who has never met her seating. However, to the virgin eyes of tourists, she’s a permanent point of gaze.

“The stunning, huge, imposing Table Mountain is seen even when you’re driving from the airport. That landmark is visible in almost any part of the city and surroundings indeed a symbol of national pride,” writes u/Jazz-like-Us. 

The City is much bigger than it sounds

“When we talk about Cape Town, it’s meant in a loose way because this place is huge! There are plenty of suburbs and neighbourhoods far apart, located around Table Mountain, Lion’s head and Signal hill,” writes the observer.

As a Capetonian, it’s interesting to be reminded of how vast and different all our various aspects of livelihood can seem, writes Cape {town} Etc’s Ashleigh Nefdt. I remember being overtly aware of the differences and distances upon first moving here, but with time, our slice of the world seemed to shrink to me. Perhaps it is that the distances and differences seem far more daring when things are unknown, and perhaps it’s the knowing that acts like the shrinking potion from Alice in Wonderland.

‘Everything works’ 

“It’s a vibrant, modern city, everything works: Uber, UberEats, Netflix, Airbnb, etc you can pay for most services and products with your cellphone,” u/Jazz-like-Us pens.

Perhaps to the tourist coming from overseas who believes that locals roam alongside lions, modernism may seem surprising. At this point, I had a good chuckle. Isn’t it wonderful that we can surprise people with such seemingly obvious points to those in the know?

The real estate here is confusing

The traveller expressed that they saw “TONS” of “For Sale” or “To Let” properties, whilst also expressing awe for our various beautiful suburbs, and noted shock at this.

Another user hopped on to explain the down market as follows:

“A lot [of properties] were owned for AirBNB and there has also been a fair bit of emigration out of the city bowl. Historically a lot of people were prepared to pay to live in the city bowl/ aboard to reduce time in traffic. This is no longer a factor,” user MonsMensae explained.

Additionally, there is the obvious hit of the pandemic where many people could no longer afford to keep their properties, or moved away from more expensive areas. Further, the cost of living here is hefty, and as much as it may seem like everyone who lives here is rolling in rands, this is far from the truth.

Homelessness stands out 

As much as visitors may gush at our beautiful city, there are also the realities we must face. One said the reality is that of homeless people, which our first-time traveller observed as follows:

“They became a part of everyday life and people kind of learn to be indifferent to them. I don’t think the government has any idea what to do with them.”  the traveller noted.

Capetonians know that the homeless problem in our city is a big one, and has only worsened in recent times. The cost of living in Cape Town is no small feat, and the problem of the homeless certainly requires more government attention. However, not everyone is indifferent to them, and there are a myriad of ways to help out the homeless community, beyond a few coins. 

The people are sporty, beautiful and obesity is uncommon 

In noting observations of the Cape Town population, the first-time traveller expressed that we seem to always be “jogging, running, cycling, walking [our] dogs and of course hiking. Obesity is not common [here].” 

Of Cape Town’s women, the writer expressed that “they will definitely make your head turn.” 

Indeed, Cape Town is a highly active place. However, in terms of beauty standards, it’s not always as lavish, or accessible as it seems. Beauty alterations do conform to the wealthier realms of society. Perhaps this beauty spread seems common here because we have a higher volume of wealthy people in Cape Town in comparison to other parts of SA.

 Capetonians appear also ‘cliquey’

Ah, the adage is as old as Cape Town’s time.

according to the traveller, the local people were found to be a “little cliquey”“Most stick to their own social circle or social status cronies,” they note.

Certainly, Cape Town is notorious for its ‘cliquey tendencies,’ but there are reasons for this and we have a little exploration here.  

It’s a city of duality 

From first-time travellers to those who have lived here for what feels like forever, the dualism, or juxtaposition between wealth and poverty is painstakingly evident.

Through the gaze of the traveller, we are the city where if you have enough money, you’ll “enjoy your own world” but there is another entirely separated world that lives in wealth’s backyard, and it isn’t gorgeous.

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