Off the beaten tourist route on a private tour – the only way to deal with plans going awry.
Last week’s tours were planned in advance. After a day on Table Mountain and in the city centre, we hoped to visit Cape Point, Kirstenbosch, and the Constantia Winelands, the basic and most popular sightseeing attractions of the Cape. But when the devastating mountain fires affected some of the road access and even forced some Constantia wine estates to close their doors so that they could concentrate on saving vineyards and museums, we had to make alternative arrangements. This is the beauty of private tours – total flexibility! Luckily, our clients were very understanding.
One afternoon, instead of visiting the Constantia wine estates, my clients mentioned they had heard of a fun and interesting suburb called Observatory. So we set off in that direction, away from the fires and smoke. Obz, as it is known locally, is a vibrant suburb full of old houses, funky shops, artists, students and quirky characters. I used to live there so I was able to provide some personal context – we even stopped in front of my old house and I explained the unusual layout of the houses that are so typical of that area.
On another morning, unable to visit Cape Point (which we eventually did a few days later), my clients told me they are both optometrists so I made a quick change of route and we went to the city centre to visit Cape Town’s oldest optometrist – Mullers. They, and the friendly staff at Mullers, were thrilled with this interesting and not-on-the-tourist-route visit. They discussed old methods and machinery, the differences between South African and French regulations for opticians and optometrists, and of course the lovely old building in which this company is located – the oldest art-deco building in Cape Town.
In the end we still managed to do everything we had planned! Here are two very classic shots of two very classic tours: Cape of Good Hope and Franschhoek.