Cape Town


<music> welcome back to miles away. This is your host zack owning today on miles away. We have a very special guest. Ken gibson is a weekend anchor at m._s._n._b._c. miss n._b._c. Welcome to the podcast. It's great to be here in kennison. I've we've got a few work-related trips together most recently singapore. Yes and i think roofing back on that singapore trip. There's one moment that i think i'll never forget and that was our dinner in the dark yeah. It was the first time that you and i've ever had dinner together now. The last time i think it was the last ask time who was absolutely memorable anyway moving on from our dinner on the dark to a destination. I've wanted to visit for for as long as i can remember at least a decade capetown south africa. I booked trip finally in december because united is launching nonstop service from newark to capetown yet so three days a week seasonal service starting december fifteenth eighteenth. I'm going on the inaugural flight fantastic roy see you there. I'm hoping so i saw when that you posted that were heading there and i was so incredibly jealous. L. is and immediately when i saw that united was launching this flight like why have another airlines done this before because obviously can fly straight to joe bird but capetown hasn't been available and it's just the perfect perfect flight. I think it'll be long sixteen hours or so but i i was actually expecting them to announce. Johannesburg berg because south african flies not stop from j._f._k. And dulles with a stop off joe burke <hes> and i was really excited. There's capetown so we'll we'll dig into cape town. Quite you bet fries any market. You'll you'll love it especially in december which was the summer of course so service starts in december. It runs through march that summer down there. It's winter here kind of the best time to make an escape it it is. It's probably also very expensive flight. Even if you're not using points just period yeah i haven't looked yet. Oh i've looked role digging towards the podcast but i wanna start with a quick recap of the cultural and political history of cape town i guess and south africa in general i mean if you can kinda philipson on just the last <hes> couple decades that just the last couple of decades really elevator pitch has happened in the last couple of decades in south africa. I'll tell you what in this country <hes>. I've been there now some three times. The last time was in september and on the first visit there. I realized that they have come further along or so. It seemed culturally truly and with race relations than we have in our fifty plus years since we had the civil rights act and integration they are reconciliation <music> after nelson mandela came out of prison back in early in one thousand nine hundred says just been absolutely amazing and you look at the south african flag and it is an indication of blending of all the cultures and the people that are there and that's what they tried to do. You would think if there would be this sort of racist overtone when you get there. I didn't get that sense sense at all. I'm sure it's there of course it has to be there but not as much as i would feel in other parts of this country still to this day. Did you have a chance to chat with any of the locals. When you're there yeah i did a lot so so the second time i went to south africa. We actually wanted to drive around the country. We drove from johannesburg to kruger national park which is about a six hour drive and then we drove from kruger to to durban so that was fourteen hours in that dr kept noticing like all these people who were hitchhiking are like now no thanks for not picking up anybody nobody but then we started like all right you know what kids in uniforms will pick up the kids in uniforms and then they'd get in the car and that's how they'd get to school or get back home home and so we started talking to them and they would tell us some things about where we are and we drop them off and then we said all right we'll start picking up some women because we felt as if we're safer and same thing we'd be taking them to their grocery store or taking them back home and share some of the culture and then we just branched out and it was a packed car. The men women kids go into the grocery. Store is going home from work going to school going back home from school so you really got a sense of the culture and the history by talking to some of those folks a lot of them also then speak english so that was interesting is hitchhiking legal there. It's it's completely illegal. It's completely legal and it became just something that helped pass the time on a twelve hour trip with one of the person so you quite a bit of south africa yeah on your last trip. How many days did you spend their take time. I spent five days the last time and i've bounced around. I've done durban krueger odyssey and johannesburg and i have some friends in pretoria. That's spent a lot of time in the country. I like to drive around the country a garden route which is absolutely beautiful in the in the southeast and just the history colonialist history of his staggering and amazing at how it's come back from that i mean it's just it's it seems like a stunning country. I've looked at so many pictures over the years and especially cape town johannesburg seems i mean it it. It can be little rough around the edges and i think it has referenda andrews. It's gotten sort of like <hes> tried to be this hit art jazz sort of center and and they have some good bars in good restaurants but it just doesn't have the feel that cape town has it has more sold than capetown without a doubt but capetown's just this natural beauty. Would you say that you're you know you'd be doing yourself a disservice by focusing on cape town exclusively or would it makes sense for you know first trip. I trip focus on cape town. There's so much to do every every single day that you're there is a different experience so i definitely focus on cape town. If you're going to do more than one city in south africa i'd say or one experience into africa. I'd say do capetown and then do one of the national parks go to krueger or go to safari just to mix it up. I wouldn't necessarily say do durban while it's very nice and fun you. You've been to san diego. You've been durban san diego san diego beautiful destination on. I usually like to start with kind of breakdown of the neighborhoods especially focused on the city. I mean capetown's the city. It's not a huge city right. I mean it's pretty remarkable accessible and at least that's my perspective. It's fairly spread it out. There's a very core downtown area and the hotel. I've stayed every time is right there in the downtown area but it's pretty spread out there are different neighborhoods that are very popular camps bay waterfront. There's so many different options as to what sort of experience you'd want when it comes to the neighborhood so i wouldn't necessarily say that it's a walkable city sure you could walk a few blocks downtown. I've tried running from downtown to the waterfront and i'm a runner like you are. I'm a cyclist. I guys all right. Uh <music> offer fast. I walked quickly. Sometimes so it's a long trek to the waterfront you have to pick your neighborhood and realize that all right on any given day you'll will be going to a different neighborhood to experience something different. What's your what's your favorite goto neighborhood. I staying for your hotel and going out. Can you just kind of walk us through. Maybe a couple of the key neighborhoods that someone might wanna focus on for first trip. Okay so for me personally. I like to stay downtown. The waters obviously not downtown. I i just like to be able to walk to some of the clubs that are there on long street. The hotel that i say is todd capetown hotel and i don't know if you can get an unpleasant. I have never gotten it on point but south africa went through there. It's really cheap on on the run versus. The dollar is incredibly awesome right now. I was just looking at the prices for the hotel that i stay at normally. It's only one hundred seventeen dollars. Oh wow i'll tell you something else exactly. It's a todd show. Tell along the likes of like the taj beer you know the same same company. It's an converted bank building and has the vault in the basement meant there some coffee shops and bars there that there used to be. It's across the street from the church. Were <hes> desmond. Tutu was the priest for so many years and it's like two blocks long street and the most awesome awesome south african clubs are right there within walking distance and it's where locals kind of go to or so it feels. It seemed like that mind you. The streets are fairly dark at night. I don't consider it to be dangerous but i wouldn't necessarily walk. Those streets by myself at night is there petty. Crime is like pick packing issue potentially or is just going to be aware of your surroundings. Supposedly petty crime is an issue. I've never had an issue with it but i think just be aware of your surroundings and don't be stupid. Should i expect an active vacation. I mean both of us are obviously you. You're a runner. You're very active. If i want to get the most out of capetown i'm i'm. I'm gonna need to walk around. Do some hiking you know what would you recommend. You'll do some lifting because you'll go to wine country and lift a lot of wine glasses but also like my favorite thing is to it and it's very very touristy and very cliche but it is to hike table mountain. It's such a massive mountain as you know. It's about thirty five hundred feet. They say it's like a two hour hike. I did it in about an hour and a half because i'm one of those people who just wants to get the pain over with and just feel like all right. I'm getting this done and i also foolishly hiked two times without bringing water forgetting okay. Let's bring water. Bring water but it's a cool cool experience. I'd like to go there early in the morning trying to do breakfast on top of table mountain and then just kind of look at the view and it has of course unobstructed three hundred sixty views of south african you can see robben island where nelson mandela was for so many years from up there as well then you take the cable car down. What's what's the climate like in cape town on. I mean is it seasonal seasonal there. It doesn't get really really cold my birthday in september so i've always gone for my birthday usually the temperature during the seventies so while they have some. I'm great beach areas. I can't go into the ocean at that point. You just gotta go to those beach. Towns and kinda just hang out and and have some drinks outside still t-shirt weather but you're not necessarily surly going to dip into the indian ocean. It makes sense yeah. What are some of the other must do's and cape town. Well obviously definitely have to hit up wine country which is about forty forty five minutes away from downtown. Capetown saw those famous south african wines just from that area dellenbaugh area. Most of them are so we did a t. b._g. Trip i didn't get to go on and unfortunately really bad number of my colleagues went and they sent home several cases of wine very reason i mean absolutely i did the same thing like less than one hundred bucks case yeah independent. I mean if you have elite status or if you're flying business or first class you can. You don't have to pay to check it on the flight home. That actually counts as as your luggage in some cases. I would not know that i the strategy. I have to say that's that's actually genius. Make up for some of that so i i actually solicited reader questions on instagram and someone asked about safaris that you can do a dietrich safari. Is that a possibility from cape town or is that separate trip. That's a that's a tough tough trick from cape town. There are some safaris in the south but it's probably more than a day trip as far in itself is a day trip <hes> a good so getting to the location would take a little bit of a trick. If you wanna go shark archiving there is that within an hour away so when it asks about shark diving to it wasn't even really on my radar but what did you do it. No not man yeah we don't do that. We don't do shark diving. Put it on my list. Do the but it's it looks really cool. It looks adventurous and they do it every day. They say it's safe. It's fantastic. There are also some great spots. Go apparently bungee jumping. Oh oh nearby now. That is something i do okay. Why are we can treat auto shark diving ugo bungee jump pass on both but there's some cool spot in the south so you mentioned you. I usually go on september and it's temperatures in the seventies. Maybe not ideal for a full day at the beach but have you visited any of the beaches in the area. Is that as beach culture a big thing in case. It's a huge culture. They're big into surfing camps bay ever popular beach clifton. <hes> beaches well is very popular. That's where the rich and famous people are and there's so many amazing beaches over there and it's within like a forty five minute drive of downtown capetown but there's also the cape of good hope as you know which had the reputation in passer people believe that it's more point in africa i was going to say but entre percent sure it isn't it has like a sign and it says southeastern most point in africa. It's almost like in their asterix but it's just a cool point. It's not where the atlantic ocean meets. The indian ocean ed all it's pure atlantic ocean speaking of water though <hes> i can't really think of capetown these days without thinking about the the recent water crisis and how that impacted tourists and i remember remember i mean we covered it very very closely at the point guy and we we actually did we produced a video recently. Our video team did a phenomenal job with video just kind of outlining the crisis there and how that impacted locals and tourists like was that an issue in your there wasn't an issue when we were there but i recall distinctly one of my good friends i used to work at a._b._c. News and our foreign correspondent went there during the crisis and he kind of felt as if the government was being a little bit alarmist about how big of crisis was and when they realized how big of an impact it was having on the bottom line and the tourist dollars suddenly this water crisis our just evaporates rated sort of speak i actually i mean completely took capetown off of my list of potential destinations because not permanently but during the crisis i mean i was reading about how you know. How tells we're rationing like how long you could take take a shower. The there's so many places in the world. It's easy enough to just not go to cape town right now yes so did a lot of people take it off their list and it wasn't really impacting. The people who were visiting south africa at the time the people that it was really impacting were many of the poor people in south africa because you had these cops would be policing the streets and looking for the people who were violating the conservation efforts. I remember even reading about how some people are trucking in water tankers from from elsewhere in the country and bring water in cape town yeah recently it hasn't we haven't heard anything about water crisis south africa at all they did have some water issues but so does much of how than africa a lot lot of those countries are suffering from drought issues because of the global warming and climate change so just so happens at south africa's cape town's problem got <hes> highlighted <hes> in all of this. We're gonna take a quick break and then when we come back we're going to dig into some flight and hotel options <music>. There's one key gateway to cape town the c._p._t. Not in which is the main airport. There is close to the city. Can you can get around pretty easily from from the airport back to you know relatively close. It's about thirty minutes away from the city city public transportation or do you have to drive. You rent a car but rent car. Rental is so inexpensive about twelve dollars a day. Oh okay absolutely the airports in in johannesburg and in cape town are wonderful gateway airports. I think they they build them up for the world cup okay in two thousand ten easy to get to downtown from the airport and it's a beautiful drive into the city from there. You can see the table mountain. He drive pass <hes> the townships which by the way i actually recommend doing day-trip to the townships townships. There primarily were black folks. I used to live back in the days and it's the only place it they were allowed to live but they still remain some of the poorest areas around but the culture and the nature of those townships are just. It's just fantastic. Kinda soak it up the one between the airport and downtown town. It's called google. It is massive skyscrapers or anything like that is just huts for the most part but within those huts. It's really like living and vibrant auburn city. Were there some cool restaurants where you could get some great street mate and some cool little clubs where you can get a sense of the nature of the actual south south african people in mandela's people as well. It's worth going to and they're more than welcoming to strangers. Can you just drive through some research and advanced research research events and tried to find out like what restaurant trying to go to a where that restaurant might be after the first time i went there and realize how poor some of these areas were and how awesome the kids were when yeah i've gone in the past just kind of linked up with a church group and it's just taken like suitcase at eight want and just left it with a church group of close to this kind of give out because the kids need stuff. That's good hip so when you're flying business or first class on the cape town fill your suitcase with things you want to donate and bring back some line yes and so you feel guilt free green. You're sipping back on that yeah. I like that <hes>. What's what's the food like in general. I guess in cape town. I mean any must-have dishes. It's a mix of all the cultures cultures at have kind of taken over south africa over the year so there was a big influence so there's some great roti lots of good curry. There's a lot of dutch food food as well and then there's some some good african fair. I don't eat red meat lamb big. There's a really really fancy restaurant that we went to that takes about a month or so to get a reservation but if you go to a nice hotel obviously you're concierge can get you in. It's called test kitchen. It's in the woodstock area of town on which is beautiful area. It's nicely painted buildings. It's about twenty minutes. I'd say from downtown. It's <hes> famous south african chef. It's got some amazing dishes it is it's a little pricey by south african standards for two. Maybe it will cost you about two hundred dollars but it's like food orgasm. It's awesome. Oh man all right so my last yes so so speaking of getting to cape town. We talked about the airport obviously but the options are somewhat limited and they have been for quite a while. Obviously there haven't been any nonstop flights from the u._s. Ever ever to capetown so united going into that market in december is huge. I can only imagine yeah they're already marketing the flight <hes> like connection to north america yeah in south africa as well but aside from the south african flights you know the one from dulles and newark j._f._k. There really haven't been very many options. You'd have to connect in europe. We're giving addict considerable table amount of time to your trip. It does but i'll tell you. There's a natural connection that i've done several times with air. France retake a three eighty from d._c. Or new york mark and you get to paris and there's such a long layover gives a natural long layover about seventeen to twenty hours depending if you're coming from dulles or new york city where you can just kind of make a day trip out of it in paris and then get back on the plane and then head south for me. It's always meant the best of both worlds where i felt as if i spent some time in paris and then back down south to capetown. That's a good tip because i mean that might be something that people would even want to consider now. After united launches the flight because the fares on this united flight are really really high yeah so i've found some dates where you can book economy for about a thousand dollars business for maybe four thousand dollars round trip which is not too. I mean it's high but it's not too crazy considering. There's no competition yes but the award rates are out of this world how how incredible or the price them out. We're going to see about one hundred hundred forty thousand miles each way for economy on some economy on amee and then business class three hundred thousand miles. Each way is not uncommon <hes> for this new nonstop flights egregious so if you're a couple going down to south africa nonstop newark to cape town. You're going to need one point two million miles. It's for two tickets round trip in business class. I would completely recommend taking the air france flight where you can sit upstairs and if you sit upstairs on a three eighty in economy it sort of like the poor man's business class. I don't know if you've sat in those seats up in the back on economy on the air france a three eighty but i was i. There's this one seat that has seen front of it because there's an access panel on the floor so that there's an entire area cabin to the back of the three hundred hundred air france flights that our economy pricing it makes it seem as if it's a small little cabin that you can just kinda hang out there and it's almost like premium economy seats and it's a cool little spot. You get comfortable ride. It's not very expensive. Normally on air france and then you spend some time in paris and then just do another ten hours to capetown perfect wrong. I mean if you're using delta miles. I mean near france and kalem are your only options to get to cape town and there really isn't any i mean there's very limited business class award availability so you're you're kind of limited to economy anyway if you're going to be looking at a fifty thousand miles roughly each way in economy so one hundred thousand miles round trip. It sounds like that bad south that bad. It really depends on the cash fares so i mean if you're finding eight hundred dollar cash fares really wanna use one hundred thousand miles plus taxes probably not it's a good way to put it if you if you do you wanna use ninety miles. You have other affordable options. You can fly with tons of like you mentioned swiss through they do a seasonal flights as well. Australian flies down there obviously south african airlines but those flights are going to johannesburg so then you connected johannesburg and make your way over but that could actually save you some time over a connection in europe especially. If if you don't want to spend a full day european city and emerets also is competing in that market as well yeah this other emirates you can use alaska miles to fly emirates and then you can use emerets miles as well all transferred from american express so that that is an option but the surcharges are pretty high okay and then i if european is also an option and you can connect in addison davos avenue as well <hes> and usury nine miles for that ethiopian has been competitive as well and what about kenya air because it's seen airways. They seem like they've been trying to. They've really been training. They don't <hes> so it's it's not really something that you can really miles for easily but it is an option definitely and then you compare it with with stop in kenya of course yeah exactly and then one one world is well very limited. When it comes to one world there's british airways but you'll have very high taxes and fees on the first class. Yeah i think qatar airways as swallow which could be an option in may have availability and then you mentioned the hotel rates are pretty reasonable. It's easier to just put it on your american express card or chase reserve reserve card and get the plants from that instead of using points for it. Well i mean the other options here is you can use credit card points to offset the cost. If you have fixed value points or or you can book with hotels dot com and the venture card which is something. I've been doing a lot more recently because if you have a capital one venture card you can get essentially twenty percent back by booking through hotels dot com tom so an option to consider. I didn't even think of that but that on the yes there aren't any hyatt hotels and high. It's kind of become a go to for me recently only but no hyatt's but there are plenty of mary options because marriott has pro protea yeah so they're part of the marietta chain now and some the rates are really reasonable with points starting at twelve thousand five hundred points per night. That's not bad not bad at all now. I will say the best hotel in south africa that i've never stayed at but it's nice to just kind of go and check out part of a chain is the one and only in cape town. It's right in the center of downtown capetown and and sort of like a moat around it. It's like an old an old <hes> colonialists type building. It's beautiful little space. I mean there's a pretty a good chance that could be part of the amex fine hotels and resorts program too so certainly worth looking there as well. I didn't know about that but a lot to talk about. I want to know of course they have hotels in <hes> in dubai and the maldives you can have someone wants to follow along with your adventures on social media where they find you on instagram and twitter instagram. I met candace gibson twitter candice. Gibson very creative recognizable is brand name. I think you've got it that yeah and and by following me along it just means following my legs which are falling you. I'm living vicariously through. I hope we get to do another trip together. Says yeah that'd be great. Thanks for coming on. Thanks for having off. Thanks against candidates gibson. We can anchor m._s._n._b._c. and two cats for offering up their fantastic studio here in tribeca. I also wanna thank margaret. Kellyanne caroline chagrin are fantastic tastic podcast producers ryan gabose for ending the podcast and music by alex ship. I'm your host zack konate. This is miles away. Safe travels uh.

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