1. The Mother City will show you her love and her wrath.
A soft warm breeze may hug you on the boulders of Bakoven beach, but a strong South Easter (called the “Cape Doctor” for cleaning the city) can break an open window in your City Bowl apartment. The summer sun will kiss your forehead when it sets over the Atlantic Ocean, but winter darkness and incessant rain may leave you longing to fly north.
Cape Town is a “fisherman’s village” compared to larger harbour cities — you can take a scenic walk or a single bus ride to most places of interest — but you’ll learn to be vigilant to street crime when you do.
2. It’s possible to feel like an insider and outsider at the same time.
When your friend from out of town asks you if it’s difficult to make friends in Cape Town, you’ll tell them: “Ja, the Cape Townians can be quite cliquey — most of my friends are from out of town.”
But when your local friend complains about all these unfamiliar, summer holiday license plates, you’ll commiserate: “Damn tourists!”
3. You’ll need to learn how to drive all over again.
The first challenge of driving in Cape Town will be to keep your eyes on the road. You can turn any bend and be confronted by another beautiful view of Table Mountain. Its imposing presence will leave you in awe and steal your attention away from more pressing issues.
You’ll learn to navigate with your gut or your nose or something else, because only the CBD has proper signage for street names. Surrounding neighbourhoods have those clever twists and turns that add to the mystery and steep inclines. You’ll have to hone your hill-start skills (or insurance claims skills) quickly.
4. And drive without road rage.
You’ll need to stop swearing at local motorists and acquire the virtue of patience, because “the fast lane” is one of the most elusive concepts in this city.
5. Kaapstad is a slaap-stad.
Cape Town is a sleeping town. After a while, you’ll start to accept that no one’s at an office after 3 pm on Friday, and it may serve you better to have a glass of local red.
You’ll get into the habit of buying booze before 5 pm on a Saturday, as liquor-store owners snooze on Sundays due to a prohibition on alcohol sales. You may lie in too if you spent a late night on Long Street — a place that buzzes on a Saturday, but come Sunday morning, looks like an abandoned Western film set — only waking up in time for brunch.
6. Nothing beats having the outdoors on your doorstep.
Surfer friend: “Golden hour surf after work?”
Jogger friend: “Beach run before work?”
You: “For sure.”
Climber friend: “Let’s climb Table Mountain!”
7. It’s possible for everyday hair to look as good as in a shampoo commercial.
Despite the periodic unforgiving weather, people in Cape Town manage to showcase the most fabulous hair. This doesn’t seem significant? It will once you experience a superb ‘do bend the space-time continuum as the person sporting it struts by in a seemingly slow-flowing-motion.
After a while, you will give up trying to get them to reveal their haircare secrets and accept the obvious fact that they belong to some cult.