Nothing good in life comes easily—especially world-class travel. South
African Airways calls the journeys from Atlanta and New York to Cape
Town "the longest flights in the world." Many west coast travelers (31 hours
from San Diego to Cape Town) break the long journey by staying at a JFK airport
hotel (eg, Courtyard by Marriott). Even with this travel break, which
includes complimentary airport shuttle, travelers still face a punishing distance
the next day that can't be avoided if adventure is to be found.
Many opt for South African Airways businessclass. The increased room and the new recliningseats allow for better overnight flight sleepingarrangements, both coming and going. In addition,business class in the Boeing 747 hasimproved interiors, with individual screens offeringa variety of movies and computer laptop electricalplug outlets. Overall, South AfricanAirways is maturing into a well-equipped organization.Be prepared, however, to face an inflexiblecarryon policy: to get on board, your carryonmust weigh less than 7 kg.
THE WORLD'S FAVORITE
"Visitors to Cape Town tend to make 3 mistakes,"says Mariette du Toit, general manager ofCape Town Tourism (www.cape-town.org). "Theycall our mountain Tabletop, they're surprised tofind the weather seasonal—they expect it to be hoteven in our winter—and they always say theyshould have given themselvesmore time to exploreour city."
Condé Nast Traveler
One mistake visitorswon't make, however, isdollar/rand conversion.The dollar, now strongagainst the rand, allowsvisitors a luxury hotelthat can make memorablewhat may be formany a 1-time visit to afar-off land. The new kid in town is the CapeGrace Hotel (27-21-410-7100; www.capegrace.com). Built only 5 years ago, the CapeGrace Hotel was deemed the best hotel in theworld by readers of . One reasonwhy guests like it so much may have somethingto do with its in-room massages, offered toarriving jet-lagged guests.
Another plus is its location on the Victoria andAlfred Waterfront (27-21-408-7600; www.waterfront.co.za) under Table Mountain (not Tabletop).A complex of 75 restaurants and 250 upscaleshops and galleries, the Victoria and AlfredWaterfront has a Colonial Victorian architecturalstyle and is already 1 of the top 6 tourist attractionsin Cape Town today. In addition to its IMAX theater,aquarium, and maritime museum, it has animpressive array of craft shops for local artisans. Astheir skills improve, these local artisans may getpromoted to the "Red Shed" Craft Workshop andthen eventually have their own boutiques.
Locals eat at the Quay Four Tavern & SeafoodBrasserie and The City Grill. When they'relooking to wet their whistle, they head over to thePaulaner Brewery Restaurant. However, themost interesting dining experience in town is byfar Lavender Hill Kitchen, where a local coupleoffers African delicacies in their home to CapeGrace Hotel guests.
Another top-rated tourist attraction in CapeTown is Table Mountain itself. Only a 10-minutetrip from Cape Grace Hotel to the cable car atthe mountain's base, guests are provided with acourtesy BMW for the easy commute. Another10 minutes gets you to the top of the mountain,weather permitting, where unbelievable panoramasof South Africa await you.
The Cape Peninsula National Park (27-21-701-8692; www.cpnp.co.za), on the other hand, isa day trip. Deciding on a tour operator (eg,TessaRedman of Tours and Trails; email@example.com) isa good choice, since there's so much to see.Whether you're interested in watching the famouspenguins at Boulder Beach, enjoying lunch at theCape's Constantia Uitsig (27-21-794-4480; www.constantiauitsig.co.za), or taking a stroll throughKirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens (27-21-799-8899; www.nbi.ac.za/frames/kirstfram), there's enough to keep youbusy for an entire day.
And if you're in the mood to testyour traveler's wings along with yourtaste buds, there's always the Winelands.Located about 45 miles east ofthe city, the Cape Grace Hotel willpack you a picnic lunch and arrangea car and driver to take you there.You should include on your day's to-dolist the Cabrière wine estate, withdinner subsequently following at theHaute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant(27-21-876-3688). This strikinglybeautiful part of South Africa withthe rolling hills, towering mountains,Alpine-like meadows, vineyards, andDutch Colonial villages will give youthe opportunity to experience SouthAfrica's wonders.