Cape Town received wonderful coverage in a three-part article in the UK The Guardian on Saturday, praising in particular the beauty of the city, and the gourmet and wine wealth of the near-by towns in the Winelands, which should be good for attracting visitors from the UK to our city, given the weaker Rand.
The writer of the trio of articles is Gloria Hunniford, a highly regarded mature Northern Ireland radio and TV presenter, writer (including ‘Gloria Hunniford’s Family Cookbook’,) a travel writer for The Guardian and The Telegraph, and presenter of travel guides for National Geographic. In the fineprint it is clear that the articles were sponsored by SA Tourism.
Gloria reports about her first ever visit to Cape Town, a city that she says she has never heard a bad word spoken about, and about which she had heard ‘glorious stories about the weather, the food, the wine, the people and, of course, Table Mountain’. Worried that her high expectations could be disappointed, she writes that ‘it is more beautiful, more dramatic, and more extraordinary than anything I had imagined’. She writes that she was at a loss of words on top of Table Mountain, and fell in love with a dassie.
During her visit to the Cape, Gloria saw the Twelve Apostles, Cape Point, Lion’s Head, the city centre, the floral diversity of 2000 species on Table Mountain, Chapman’s Peak (exhilaratingly experienced on the back of a Harley Davidson), and stayed at the Camps Bay Retreat. She enjoyed the Camps Bay restaurants and its strip and beach, about which she wrote: “…you would be forgiven for thinking you were on a remote, palm-fringed island, not in South Africa’s second most populous city“! She refers to Cape Town being ranked second in the Lonely Planet’s world 10 best beach cities (after Barcelona and ahead of Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, and Miami), an accolade for Cape Town I had not heard about nor seen publicised by our tourism authorities. She mentions the surfing beaches of False Bay, the ‘remote beaches’ of the South Peninsula, ‘fashionable Clifton’, and the ‘sundowner-haven of Llandudno’. She was taken to Bo-Kaap, to eat Cape Malay food at the home of Zainie. She also ate at the Cape Grace, and was served fresh fish in Camps Bay. She highlights Kirstenbosch as the perfect picnic venue, having recently been named by National Geographic as one of the top 10 places in the world to have a picnic.
In the Winelands, Gloria visited L’Omarins in Franschhoek, enjoying its Cape Dutch architecture, flower paradise, and a wine-tasting. Gloria saw a chocolate-making demonstration at Huguenot Fine Chocolates, raving generally about Franschhoek, with its ‘atmospheric shops and sampling the great food and wine on offer is a must for every visitor’s itinerary‘. She had lunch at Delaire Graff, praising it highly for its setting in the Helshoogte Pass: ‘It’s sheer bliss. To be embraced by the sheer luxury of this elegant, beautiful crafted estate, sipping on fabulous wine and indulging in the tastiest food around, is what dream holidays are made off (sic).” Then she tastes wines at Spier, calling it one of ‘South Africa’s oldest, biggest and most tourist friendly estates’, and its wines as being affordably priced and winning awards. A highlight for Gloria was stroking Hemingway, the cheetah, at Spier. She enjoyed her gourmet picnic at Warwick, writing about it: ‘Our picnic basket is filled to the brim with delicious salads, cold meats, bread, smoked salmon, and sweet treats, a far cry from the picnics I am used to…. It introduced us to more South African culinary treats, from snoek pate to biltong’.
Despite being sponsored articles, it is Gloria’s concluding paragraph that is sure to connect with potential visitors to our city, and her valuable endorsement should be of benefit to tourism to Cape Town and the Winelands: “The last few days have been happy, happy days, thanks in no small part to the people of South Africa who have been so open and friendly and made us feel so welcome. It is the people of a country who can really make an experience memorable. They are so proud of their country and it is this enthusiasm and South Africa’s sheer beauty that I will take away with me”.
POSTSCRIPT 25/10: Today Cape Town and the Winelands received further favourable coverage, this time in the Mail Online, in an interview with Suzi Perry, BBC motor sports correspondent and presenter of the Channel 5 ‘The Gadget Show’. She described her honeymoon in South Africa last year as her ‘most memorable holiday’, having stayed in Camps Bay (staying at Cape View Villa), went on Safari at Richard Branson’s lodge Ulusaba in Sabi Sands, and went winetasting in Franschhoek, staying at Rickety Bridge. She loved going up Table Mountain, recommending abseiling down it, hiked up Lion’s Head at full moon, raved about the vineyard picnics, she saw whales in Hermanus, and ‘baboons on the cape (sic)’.
POSTSCRIPT 27/10: Cape Town has been selected as runner-up as ‘Favorite City World-wide’ in the Telegraph Travel Awards announced yesterday, won by New York, and alongside Venice. La Residence in Franschhoek was a runner-up with Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah in Oman for ‘Favorite Hotel World-Wide’, a category won by Villa d’Este at Lake Como in Italy.
POSTSCRIPT 27/10: Cape Town is basking in the spotlight, and now the New York Times has written an article “36 hours in Cape Town’, published on-line today, and to appear in print on Sunday. It opens as follows: “Cape Town overwhelms the senses. Its cultivated side, the bright lights and big buildings of the city centre, collides with its geography – the dazzle and danger of the wind-whipped mountains and the two oceans that embrace it.” Writer Elaine Sciolino writes that prices soared in the city during the World Cup, and that the ‘tourist trade since then has disappointed‘, that some businesses have closed down, and some constructions sites stand unfinished. ‘Despite the grinding poverty in the townships on the city’s outskirts, this is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world’, she writes. Sciolino’s 36 hours in Cape Town were action-packed, and included a visit to the District Six Museum, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain (stating that it is to Cape Town what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, defining and dominating the ‘cityscape’), dinner at Marco’s African Place, followed by drinks at Café Caprice and clubbing at St Yves in Camps Bay, which has just re-opened. On Saturday it’s an ostrich burger for brunch at the Biscuit Mill, shopping at Greenmarket Square, and then off to ‘wine sipping’ at Groot Constantia, eating sushi at Sevruga in the V&A Waterfront, and then to Asoka on Kloof Street for cocktails, followed by Fiction DJ Bar and Zula Sound Bar. On Sunday morning it’s a drive to Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope), stopping at Simonstown and Boulders’ Beach on the way, returning via Chapman’s Peak. The article links to a travel guide, with accommodation (Mount Nelson and V&A Hotels strongly recommended) and restaurants (Africa Café recommended of all the 27 restaurants listed, but sadly out of date, with Jardine still listed) recommended.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage