Cape Town, First Impressions

Sunday, March 5

Everyone has arrived (well except Garry, John and Eugene, but that is a different story). You will never again have “first impressions” of Cape Town and South Africa. Some come early, others arrive late. Some get oriented quickly, others feel a bit lost.  Welcome to our global connections trip for 2017.  Please add a post with your first impressions.  What are the things that jumped out at you right away, knowing that you were in a new country and a new culture?  What let you know that you were in South Africa?


View of Table Mountain from Signal Hill


10 Responses to “Cape Town, First Impressions”

  1. Samantha Frapart Says:

    Unfortunately, I came down with some serious food poisoning on the 35-hour travel extravaganza to Cape Town so most of my experience on 3/5 was in deep-sleep recovery at the Pepper Club. However, I did manage to make a small trek down long street for a bite to eat and some people watching. I was surprised to see Long Street had a lively late-night scene on Sundays – especially after we had discussed some of the more religious aspects of there culture. Most places were closed, but those that were open were bumping. I was also (pleasantly) surprised by the food and bev prices, remembering quickly that USD = 13Rand meant my MBA budget would go far. The mix of sights, sounds and cheap, cheap beer made me very excited for the trip ahead.

  2. Caley Says:

    My first impression of South Africa was established on the drive from the airport to Cape Town. Out the window we saw townships that our Uber driver explained were filled with people waiting on government housing that was slowly being built. He explained that people could wait for years before they had any hope of getting a real home. This stark contrast between the have and have nots continued throughout the trip and it was a really jarring first impression that made it clear that I was no longer in the United States.

  3. Phil Says:

    I decided to get in a few days before we officially started to get the lay of the land. Parnali and I landed around 9pm, so unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot to see other than the beautifully lit up stadium on the uber ride to our Airbnb. Of course, I was pleasantly surprised to see that our 20 minute uber ride was only $15 or so.

    The next morning, we decided to start the day off right by heading up to the top of Signal Hill and paragliding down to the beach. First impressions as we got a panoramic view of the city: “Wow, is it gorgeous”. The white sand beaches, vibrant waters, and mountain backdrops were a sight to behold.

  4. Sam Says:

    I landed around 7am, the excitement of arrival in Cape Town overcoming the exhaustion from a second straight redeye flight. On the way to Pepperclub, I had a surprisingly in-depth conversation about the US justice system with my Uber driver, Rogers.

    After connecting with Tyler, we spent most of the day walking around the city – Company Gardens, Long Street, De Waterkant and V&A (unwittingly doing the SA Rugby museum tour a day early). One thing that stood out for me was seeing the Cecil Rhodes statue in Company Gardens. For such a divisive figure to have a prominent display, it reminded me of the Confederate statues along Monument Ave. in Richmond.

  5. John Says:

    My first impressions came a couple hours later, but I remember my very first thought upon leaving the airport: Why are all the cars white?

    I realized pretty quickly that it was a practicality thing when I saw a guy in a black car pouring water on the hood just to cool it down. Turns out a generic paint job is worth the money saved by not running AC as much.

  6. Linda Says:

    I rode from the airport in an Uber driven by who I thought was a 13-year-old boy. I had to ask his age because he just looked too young to me. To my surprise, he was 22! He was very friendly to us. He said he lived in Stellenbosch and was going to school for music – piano. Once at the hotel, a few of us decided to get dinner nearby at Kloof Street House. Everything about the city and the restaurant seemed very European, not like Africa.

  7. Bill Quach Says:

    I knew I was in foreign territory when many of the things we take for granted in the US became inoperable, namely our 4G enabled smart phones. It took us around 40 minutes standing outside of the CPT airport to get an Uber, and about half of those minutes were spent trying to explain to a random driver that we did not want his services.

    The drive from CPT to the Pepper Club gave me glimpses of townships, mountain views, and winding coastal roads. I immediately felt some resemblance to Australia, maybe from the right hand drive cars, weather, or different English accents. Seeing a car loaded with mountain bikes always makes me happy, and served as quick reminder that this place isn’t so different after all.

  8. Tyler Says:

    I arrived to Cape Town almost a full day ahead of the rest of the group. This gave me an opportunity to explore the city on my own terms. One of the first impressions I had of Cape Town was how different it did NOT feel from most Western cities. Besides using a different currency, the general aesthetic and feel of Cape Town was distinctively not what I had envisioned when I imagined an African city. It easily could have passed for a city somewhere in southern Europe. I didn’t have any problems communicating in English either, which further insulated me from potential culture shock. I felt like I was in a bubble as soon as I landed.

  9. Garry Ferguson Says:

    Sunday 5, March: Although I had yet to arrive to Cape Town on this day despite my schedule indicating my intention to do so, I still would like to briefly share my minimally eventful experience in Houston.

    I arrived to George Bush Intercontinental Airport anxiously anticipating my first foray to the continent of Africa only to be notified 30 minutes before my departure time that I would instead be granted one more night in the magnificent state of Texas due to aircraft maintenance issues. Any time you have additional time in Texas, it’s a good thing, but to sweeten the deal British Airways provided lodging and three complimentary meals for the perceived inconvenience. Additionally, British Airways staff promptly rebooked me on a flight scheduled for the following day after the notification of cancellation of my original flight and everything worked out well. I ended up making it to South Africa as you may have noticed, and had a wonderful time. Will I fly British Airways again? – TBD

  10. Parnali Says:

    My first day in Cape Town was absolutely incredible – I could not believe the beauty, culture, historical richness and friendliness of all those we encountered. Phil and I had a full (and busy!) day before the rest of the group arrived and it allowed me to appreciate the richness of the country in so many ways. From our AirBNB host graciously welcoming us into his home, to the friendliness of employees greeting at the local gym and grocery store to the incredible beauty we encountered paragliding, surfing and enjoying the beaches of the city, I had an incredible first impression of Cape Town.

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