Getting around Cape Town on a shoestring budget

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Most of us are constantly looking for ways to save when travelling. I was scrolling my Twitter feeds when I clicked on one such article. It listed a few basic things, like looking at alternative accommodation instead of hotels, eating self-prepared meals, buying tickets on sale, and certain websites for bookings. Two things challenged me in that article and there were money spent on eating out, and transports (excluding flights). So I was down in Cape Town, second of many more to come this year because of classes attended there, and realised that car rentals and even Uber as a primary mode of getting around was not cost effective. I was on route thinking about my options when I remembered this article and so I decided to challenge myself to use public transport from the airport, to my cousin in Gordon’s Bay about 60 km from Cape Town CBD.

For an Uberx in Cape Town it costs R7.00 per km + R0.7 per minutes (assuming 60 km and 45 minutes-which is the estimated travel time without traffic) and R5 base fare, I was looking at paying minimum R 455 for that one trip. I’ve been seeing the MyCiti busses every time I am there but never used them; I figured it was time. I was in no hurry, it was a Sunday and my cousin was only getting off work in 6 to 7 hours.

I walked to the bus terminal, a single trip to Cape Town CBD was R80. Using the same parameters as above it would have cost R160, so I saved half the cost. From my stop at Civic Centre I found my way to the train station where I bought a single trip to the last stop on train to Somerset/Gordon’s Bay. The ticket was only R13! Instead of a possible minimum fare of R 455 for an Uber. Nice! The train arrives hourly, and thirty minutes later I was off in a train.

Now this is where I got some incredible experience and I feel like I’m achieving what I wanted: to provide an honest window on what anyone planning to make a journey to SA can expect across various places of varying affluence and safety. When I was in Mosi-oa-Tunya over New Year I met an Austrian guy who said he practically does not leave Sandton City when he is in Johannesburg. Super sad how much he’s missing out all because of misinformation even by South Africans who don’t bother to get the real information about areas not in their immediate environments. They often give the advice based on affluence; to them a poorer neighborhood is dangerous, period. This is of course pure BS. I am not a native of Cape Town so taking a train there was a new experience for me.

The train started with some commotion from a beggar, but nothing out of the ordinary, however by the third stop things changed quite dramatically. Hawkers boarded selling all sorts of things. I even bought an ice lolly to just make myself feel at home. I was in the middle of this process when what I can call “the star of the trip’ walked in with three women leading in a hymn. Before I could raise my gaze to see what the commotion was about a man broke out in an oratory voice and started preaching. Yep. The message was to encourage people that we’re all the same in God’s eyes, color and class don’t matter to Him. Not one of the possibly a hundred or more disturbed him. Some continued to get a shut-eye, some chatted to their mates, some were nodding enthusiastically in agreement of the man’s words. It was in its own strange way, a beautiful place. The preacher left about ten minutes later and I realised nothing was going to rattle me after that. I hardly noticed as more hawkers came and went enticing passengers with fresh fruits, or accessories. I relaxed, took some pictures and waited for my stop.

The rest of the trip to my destination was a local taxi, ten bucks. I was so pleased with myself I thought I’d repeat the experience the next day going to the city. But it wasn’t to be. There was a huge delay from a train accident so my cousin drove me to town. It took over two hours. I will certainly keep in consideration trains as a good and cheap option to get around, but have a plan B, as you can tell that their reliability is low.

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