These days most big cities have walking tours and some, like South-Africa’s Cape Town, even has free walking tours. At the end of the tour you can tip the guide but don’t feel bad if you cant afford too, that is why they are called free walking tours. You get a guided tour from a local who gives you some great information about the city and the buildings you pass.
The walking tour started in front of the beautiful St. George’s Cathedral in Wale street from where you continue on to the Castle of Good Hope, City Hall, the Company Gardens, Parliament and the colourful Muslim Quarter. There are a quite a few city tours offered by mainstream tour companies, you can hire a bicycle or do a Cycle Cape Town City Tour or you can even do the hop-on, hop-off City Sightseeing bus (famous for being in every major European city). However, nothing beats your own TWO FEET!!
Having a guide pointing out specific areas of interest and the history and stories that go along with them is definitely better than walking around aimlessly looking at a map and not looking at the points of interest – you might just forget to look up at the architecture!! These local guides also give a unique insight into this beautiful city that I now call home.
As we walked around the guide introduced us to a 17th century water reservoir, the historic Grand Parade lined by the Castle, old Drill Hall and magnificent City Hall. Around every corner we were greeted by stunning architecture, murals and the popular flower market on Aderley street. Along the route we also passed the Church Square, the Groote Kerk and original the Slave Lodge, and then walked into the former Dutch East India’s Company’s Garden, today a green oasis in the middle of town.
The fragrant Company’s Garden is a park and heritage site built in 1652 by Dutch settlers as a provisioning point where sailors could get fruits, vegetables and fresh water. The garden is lined by the Houses of Parliament, the National Library of South Africa, the Tuynhuys and the South African National Gallery, as well as some historic statues.
The Tuynhuys was built in 1674 when the Dutch East India Company first built a “garden house” to store the tools for the Company’s large garden. In about 1682, the toolshed was converted into a guesthouse to entertain foreign visitors of the Governor Simon van der Stel.
In front of the Beautiful High Court of Cape Town the remnants of apartheid can be found. Restored in order that we do not forget what once went on this beautiful city.
Then we leave the city centre behind and find our way to the original Muslim area of Cape Town, the Bo-Kaap. It is famed today for its quaint, colourful houses, and from here we weaved back towards the city and Greenmarket Square. We did not enter any of the museums or beautiful buildings but that will have to wait for my next adventure.