During the painfully slow ascent up Kloof Street, I have had many an occasion to put myself in the passengers? shoes (or seats). We locals can take the city?s surroundings for granted, but the view of the Atlantic as one makes the descent into Camps Bay is always spectacular ? and must be even more so from the open top of a double-decker bus.
And so on one fine Saturday morning, with husband and family in tow, I hopped on a bus at the V&A Waterfront for a morning of sightseeing. We opted for the shorter 'Red line' City tour, which did a loop around Cape Town city centre, up to the Lower Cableway Station, down to Camps Bay, past Bantry Bay and Sea Point and back to our starting point. The other option would have been the Blue Mini-Peninsula Tour, which does all of the above, but also makes a stop at The Mount Nelson, Kirstenbosch Gardens and Hout Bay.
Unlike similar bus tours I?ve been on in cities like New York and London, Cape Town?s bus doesn?t offer live commentary, but this isn?t necessarily a bad thing ? tours led by guides/comedians often have the potential to make one want to jump off the bus.
Instead, all passengers are given a set of headphones, and an informative commentary provides one with historical facts and interesting information relevant to the immediate surroundings.
It?s even interesting for local Kaapenaars. Who knew that the statue of Jan van Riebeeck in Adderley Street is decked out in clothes from the wrong era? And even though I?ve driven past it hundreds of times, I?ve never noticed the hedge cut to resemble a cat outside the Camps Bay vet.
Those were the two facts I managed to take in ? for the rest of the time I was trying to stop my two-year-old from using the upper level?s guard rails as a jungle gym. At this point, it might be wise to warn parents: if your child has just learnt to walk, do not be tempted to bring them along. Although CitySightseeing thoughtfully provides a colouring-in book and crayons, seatbelts and threats of extreme punishment are not enough to keep toddlers still.
For tourists without their own transport, the bus makes it really easy to get to the city?s best tourist sites as it stops at points of interest along the route. Passengers can get on and off as they please ? a bus arrives every 20 minutes, so you never have to wait around for long.
And for the locals, the bus tour is a fun excursion and a great reminder of how fabulous the Mother City is. Just do yourself a favour ? or, more importantly, do the other passengers a favour ? and leave the little ones behind.
Find out more at www.citysightseeing.co.za, or buy your tickets from the kiosk outside the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront.
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