Spending any period of time in Cape Town is enough to make a person wonder why he’d ever choose to go anywhere else. The city brims with opportunities to snag a piece of culture, as small or as large as you’d like, take hold of it, make it your own, and let it change you at your core. You’re a bookworm with a penchant for reading novels twice the thickness of your head? Go to the Cape Town Book Festival. You’re a history buff who enjoys understanding the connections between people and events, and how those connections literally shape the future? Head to the District Six Museum, or Robben Island, or both. You think the best way to grab a piece of that ephemeral concept of “culture” that everyone talks about is to chum it up and drink it down with the locals at one of their bars? Go to Stones and play some pool, or take a cab downtown to Long Street, and knock back a few brews with the locals—you know, Australians, South Africans, Ugandans, Afrikaaners, Zimbabweans, Moroccans, Indians, Brits (you get the picture).
You could be in Baghdad Café listening to some remixed version of “Day N’ Night,” drinking a Jack and Coke while simultaneously sharing a hookah with two Xhosa speakers who are educating you about why the South African Springboks are the best rugby team on the planet. Or you could be in Greenmarket Square haggling over the price of a djembe drum, assuring a street merchant that you really only have 400 Rand to pay for the thing (the fact that he saw your five, 200 Rand notes notwithstanding). Wine bars? They never became cooler, and soon enough you’ll be throwing around the term “Cab Sav” more effortlessly than state capitals. Waddle with penguins in Simon’s Town, head out to Jeffrey’s Bay for a surf competition, or travel to Knysna to ride elephants. You’re in Africa, for chrissakes. And the southest of Africas, at that, in the coolest city there—the Mother City. Go to Camps Bay, walk inside a fancy sushi restaurant, buy a cigar at the bar, and light up. Celebrate.