The Star is profiling ten top world destinations as part of our Grand Tour series. Check Saturday's Toronto Star Travel section for Adrian Brijbassi's report on Cape Town. In the meantime, here's a blog posting from him to get you in the mood. I'll have a note about Maui right after Adrian's posting.
Cape Town, South Africa — It’s been nearly four months since the World Cup ended and while the games themselves may have left soccer fans underwhelmed (where were the goals, what happened to the Brazilians, why did the vuvuzela steal the show?) one sure winner was the city of Cape Town. South
Africa’s most popular tourist destination was already recognized as one of the world’s great cities and it only built on that reputation during the tournament. The party atmosphere that took over the streets on gamedays impressed visitors, many of whom were media members.
We predicted prior to the World Cup that Cape Town would wow the planet. Not only does it reside in some of the most glorious scenery there is, its tourist industry also has a lot of marketing savvy — a rare thing in South Africa. The city was ready to host games in May, a month before the tournament started and well ahead of the rest of the country.
What I learned during my few days in the city is there’s a lot more to see than the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Robben Island and the soccer stadium. Cape Town has a mix of cultures, beautiful beaches and affluent neighbourhoods. Even more, it’s outlying areas are gorgeous and not to be missed.
That’s why Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula are the focus of this week’s edition of The Grand Tour, Star Travel’s weekly look this fall at the finest destinations on earth. I looped around the peninsula in a car, enjoying vistas from the M4 Highway that included the colourful town of Muizenberg, the fishing village of Kalk Bay, antiquated Simon’s Town, spectacular Houts Bay and a suburb called Camps Bay that makes Yorkville seem low key and homey. The Chapman Peak’s toll road is the highlight of the drive with more than 100 curves over a stretch that lasts about 20 minutes. It’s like taking a slalom-course test while driving California’s Pacific Coast Highway.
Also not to be overlooked (because it’s impossible to do so) are the baboons. Loads of them crowd around the highway and amble up driveways. They’re not the friendliest primates, but they are a sight. You’ll catch a few photos of them in Saturday’s edition of the Star and online at thestar.com/travel.
Travel Editor Jim Byers has already spotlighted Rome and Tokyo on the Grand Tour, which wraps up December 18 in a destination to be determined by you. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to tell Jim where he should go on the last Grand Tour trip. Your choices are Paris, Mumbai and Bangkok.
Here are some more articles we’ve published on Cape Town this year:
Grace and grandeur in Cape Town
Visiting Robben Island on South Africa’s national holiday
South African tourism still counting on Nelson Mandela
FIRST NIGHT IN MAUI
Back to Jim here. I landed late in the afternoon on another lovely day in Maui and high-tailed it to Mama's Fish House, a renowned spot on the coast just south of the town of Paia. I'd heard of it for years but never made it.
Big mistake. The place is awesome; right on the beach with lovely tiki torches and a giant outrigger canoe out front, and a very open and inviting decor with lots of wood and great photos and knickknacks. The food is to die for, with an incredible poisson cru (raw fish marinated in coconut milk with spices and garlic and cilantro; a vast improvement over what I've had in Tahiti), not to mention a baked Ono with caramelized Maui onions. Yum.
It's easily one of the best restaurants in all of Hawaii, with a tremendous setting and food to match. Great people, too.
Stayed the night at the small Paia Inn, which is in the considerably funky/charming town of the same name. Didn't see much last night but there were some colourful characters playing a guitar in the doorway of a closed shop and lots of folks milling about eating pizza or ice cream in a town that seems to have forgotten that the hippie era is dead. Definitely a great little town, and more on that when the Grand Tour gets to Maui in a few weeks.