FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Cape Town: Cross Currents

May 1, 2009
2009 / May 2009

It isn’t difficult to keep children, even teenagers, interested in Cape Town. Once they stand on the promontory at Cape Point, looking down at the deadliest waters in the world, they’re bound to give themselves over to the sheer strangeness of this place.

You don’t have to feed them exotic foods, such as the springbok or warthog or “marrow bones” — even as you enjoy a feast complemented by some of the finest wines in the world. Nor do you have to feed them a history lesson: They probably won’t appreciate the mix of cultures that have scrambled for prominence since the Dutch first settled here in 1652, with the British on their heels and, even as black Africans regained political control, Indians and Malaysians entering the mix.

Just tell them they are watching two oceans collide, where an estimated 2,700 shipwrecks still litter the ocean floor, most with their sunken treasures intact, and they’ll be hooked on the place. Technically, you’re standing a few miles from the actual spot where the cold Benguela current on the west — carrying the dark Atlantic Ocean to “Cape Storm” — crashes into the warmer Agulhas current to the east, bringing the Indian Ocean to its chilly extremity. But you will see and feel the difference: Turn to your right, toward the sunset and Cape Town itself, and the waters darken. Drive five miles up that coast and you may need a sweater. In the other direction, the sea turns teal-green as the air brushing your shoulders loses its bite.

It’s the sort of dichotomy you find often in Cape Town — or, perhaps, it’s an inner confusion you feel, so near the bottom of the world where seasons are flip-side. Visit in spring — Southern Hemisphere spring, September and October — when the region’s sub-tropical plants are at their best, especially at the sumptuous Kirstenbosch Botanical National Garden. More than 5,000 species, all unique to South Africa, grow in this 36-acre municipal garden. No, we don’t expect the kids to delight in the local flora, but it’s a great place for a picnic in the shadow of Cape Town’s most dramatic landmark, Table Mountain.

It is indeed a flat-topped, 3,000-foot mountain, rising from the middle of the city. Every morning a mantle of cloud — the “tablecloth” — obscures its top. Every day, some 5,000 passengers take a 10-minute cable car ride to the summit (the car revolves 360 degrees en route), where kids can marvel at the dassies (rock rabbits) that live up there. In the base of each cable car is a water tank, handy for ballast on windy days. Or, if you feel like exercise, hike the handicapped-accessible trails and have lunch or a drink at the restaurant topside.

Cape Town’s biggest tourism magnet, however, is the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, popularly called the V&A. Packed with boutiques, jewelry showrooms, galleries and restaurants, this vast entertainment complex also sports arts and crafts centers, an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, an IMAX theater, boating excursions and the Two Oceans Aquarium. It’s an innovative aquarium; kids will love the “touch pool” (a watery version of a petting zoo), the seal pool and the intriguing new “kelp forest.”

For shopping in a less commercial setting, head to City Centre. If you’re staying at the Mount Nelson, you can walk there via the half-mile, bricked path that cuts through the carefully tended Company’s Garden. You’ll pass the Cultural History Museum; stop for a look at the musical instruments and toys in the permanent collection. Then continue on to City Centre and Museum Mile — a pedestrian-only avenue of galleries and museums.

Your explorations will take you along Kloof and Long streets, the emerging hotspot of the city core, with its eclectic array of shops and restaurants. Two must-stops are the Antique Arcade, a mini-mall of 17 antique shops, and Clarke’s Bookshop, specializing in works by South African authors. The people-watching alone is a good reason to linger in this district.

While you’re in a shopping mo od, watch for four renowned Cape Town markets. Every Wednesday and Saturday hundreds of vendors set up shop in Green Market Square, a park in the heart of town, selling batik wall hangings, handcrafted jewelry, handbags, baskets and more.

At the Waterfront Craft Market and Wellness Centre, you’ll find more than 120 stalls showcasing quality South African handmade goods, including Ndebele beadwork, recycled-paper jewelry and detailed fabric goods; the Wellness Centre sells health-enhancing products and treatments. Artisans from more than a dozen African countries sell their handicrafts at the Pan-African Market. Each Saturday the Neighborgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill, a skylit Victorian warehouse in the industrial neighborhood of Woodstock, hosts more than 100 vendors selling organic foods and eco-friendly clothing, soaps and other sundries.

Still, there are two good reasons to escape the city limits. The first is the “loop drive” — down the Indian Ocean coast of the Cape peninsula to the Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, then back up the Atlantic coast. It’s one of the most dramatic marine drives anywhere, especially the climbing, twisting Chapman’s Peak Drive. This will be your chance to wow the kids with tales of pirates and shipwrecks; take the entire day and linger in the towns along the route — the fishing villages of Hout Bay, Fish Hoek. Stop at the Boulders, a protected beach just south of Simon’s Town, home to a friendly (but loud) colony of jackass penguins.

The other compelling reason for leaving the city is the Winelands region, a 30-minute drive east of Cape Town and a good time to engage the “childminders.” Hire a guide as your designated driver to take you through the gently rolling vineyard terrain, marked by 300-year-old Cape Dutch homesteads set against a backdrop of tall mountain peaks. Choose from several dozen wineries for tastings or lunch. Stroll around Stellenbosch, a university town, and Franschhoek, which exudes a slight French flair with its sidewalk cafés, bakeries and chocolaterie.

Cape Town is one of the world’s more diverse destinations — in its cuisine, culture, history, arts and scenery. The wine is more predictable: It’s all fine and, in this land of terrific shopping bargains, it’s one of the best deals of all.


Perched on its own private quay, this hotel offers evening story time and sitters so parents can explore Cape Town nightlife. $$$$
West Quay Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
tel 27 21 410 1700

At this iconic pink hotel, families find X-Box 360s on loan, kids’ books and multilingual babysitting services. $$$$
76 Orange St.
tel 27 21 483 1000

In-room herbal teas and biscuits keep young appetites at bay. Sitters take over while parents escape to the state-of-the-art gym. $$$
On the Waterfront Pierhead, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
tel 27 21 419 6677


Brightly-colored walls and fabrics set the tone. Enjoy a Congo salad and chicken macadamia, and take home unique ceramics or a cookbook. $$$$
108 Shortmarket St.
tel 27 21 422 0482

Famous for their fresh fish and chips. Spot whales and seals from June to November at this beachside restaurant. $$$
Harbour Road, Hout Bay, Western Cape
tel 27 21 790 0001

Seafood, choose-your-own live lobster, abalone and a sushi bar star in Jack’s family-friendly, relaxed Caribbean atmosphere. $$$
Quay 500 and Eastern Mole Road, Cape Town Docks, Paarden Eiland
tel 27 21 447 3992


Cape Town International Airport (CPT) is 12 miles from City Centre. Average travel time is 20 minutes; add 30 minutes during rush hour. Look for Touch Town Taxis. Visit www.capetown.travel.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.


Insta Feed
Oct 28, 2021

Vegan Dishes from Around the World for World Vegan Day

Celebrate World Vegan Day Nov. 1, with these vegan dishes from around the world.

The Future of Hamad International Airport

Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.

eFlyer Reviews
Oct 27, 2021

AMERON Zürich Bellerive au Lac Review

The Hotel AMERON Zurich Bellerive au Lac, forged from the collaborative efforts of interior design firm Monoplan AG and other cutting-edge design firms, bills itself as a celebration of the 1920s and ‘30s aesthetic. The story behind it is compelling as the building dates to 1928 and has connections with the early days of Switzerland's movie industry. However, there are several fun Mid-Century Modern and late 20th-century design touches in the public and private areas. Clearly, it's going for the "modern luxury" vibe Millennial and Gen-X business and leisure travelers look for when seeking a quality smaller property with a great location.

eFlyer Deals
Oct 27, 2021

The 1946 Offer from InterContinental New York Barclay

InterContinental New York Barclay is the perfect spot for luxury in the heart of Manhattan. With the 1946 Package, enjoy a two-night stay in the Penthouse Suite, an exclusive InterContinental75 cocktail lesson with a mixologist, 75-minute couples massage with Zeel, a movie screening on the Penthouse Suite terrace with classic films from the year of InterContinental’s birth with a premium 1946 vintage wine to enjoy.

Register Today for the Most Important Gathering of Business Travel Professionals

The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.

eFlyer Deals
Oct 27, 2021

Buy One, Get One 50 Percent Off with Uniworld

On Black Friday, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is offering a one-of-a-kind chance to score two luxury river cruise sailings by the end of 2021, with the second cruise at 50 percent off.

Class Act 2021
Oct 26, 2021

Travel Brands Revamp Loyalty Programs to Keep Customers Engaged

One of the many fallouts from the turbulent past 1.5 years of pandemic-related travel restrictions and lockdowns has been the rethinking and imminent restructuring of loyalty programs throughout the travel industry, from airline and hotel brands to cruise and rental car companies. Loyalty programs are more than a perk for customers; they can be worth more than the brand itself for the program owners and operators. For example, the world’s largest airline, American Airlines, is valued at roughly $6 billion, whereas its passenger loyalty program, AAdvantage, boasts an estimated worth of $24 billion according to a recent analysis by Financial Times.

Greece: Destination Culture

History and culture are etched into every corner of Greece. Beginning with its language, the oldest written language still in existence, and moving from the traces of passing civilizations and religions to pre-historic findings and works from many movements, there’s a wealth of culture to discover on your next trip to Greece.

Oct 26, 2021

6 Reasons to Put Ayutthaya, Thailand, on Your Travel List

It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Ayutthaya, Thailand, with us.