The Southern Hemisphere In December
We finished off our 51 day cruise adventure in Cape Town, South Africa. We would enjoy 10 days over Christmas in Cape Town before heading back to Dubai for what we hoped would be an awesome New Years celebration. December in Cape Town is the summer season. There was no snow this year for Christmas!
As we travelled in December, it was hard to remember it was the Christmas holiday season. The sun and palm trees were great to experience while it was snowing at home. Travelling through the Maldives and Seychelles were a beach dream come true. We were certainly not missing the cold!
We got pleasantly surprised when we walked around Mahe, Seychelles to find Christmas decorations everywhere. Other cruise ship guests talked about the great Christmas store they visited.
On our countryside tour of Nosy Be, Madagascar we found signs of Christmas at the resort where we stopped for refreshments.
But for most of our trip through India and Africa in December, it was hard to see signs of the holiday season. Tour guides would often point to the Flamboyant Tree (or Flame Tree) and refer to it as the “Christmas Tree”. It blooms with bright red flowers only in December!
Christmas In Cape Town
We did not arrive in Cape Town until December 20. I had a long list of holiday activities to do for Christmas in Cape Town. Unfortunately, we were too late for most. Carols by Candlelight at the Kirstenbosch Gardens and the Constantia Gift Fair had both been held earlier in December. Many places in town were closed much of the time we were there through the holidays.
As we walked about the town, there were surprisingly little signs that it was the holiday season. The big Christmas tree and lights were up in the very touristy Victoria and Albert Wharf area. On Christmas Eve, the hawkers on the street corners were asking for donations in exchange for a Santa hat.
The first hotel we stayed at in Cape Town was decorated well for the holiday season. But the hotel we moved to on Christmas Eve had only token holiday decorations.
It was very hard to get in the holiday spirit.
Christmas Day Afternoon Tea
But Christmas Day did not pass by totally without celebration. We had met new friends on the cruise ship and had plans with them for the day. The Afternoon Tea at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel was on the list of things that people should do in Cape Town. We love to enjoy the luxury and tradition of Afternoon Tea, so this was an easy choice for the day.
The hotel lobby was decorated for the season. As we entered we were greeted with the awesome sweet table. A good tease for what was to come.
We started our Afternoon Tea with champagne and a toast. We got a range of teas to try around the table. The savoury selection was good. But we were careful to save room for dessert!
Staying inside the hotel let you maintain the illusion that it was Christmas. When we walked in the gardens with the palm trees swaying and the flowers in bloom, we left that notion behind.
Afternoon Tea was a great way to spend Christmas in Cape Town.
Christmas Away From Home
This was the first time we had been away from friends and family for the entire holiday season. We missed the annual Christmas open houses. The Christmas Eve dinner at my best friend Rob’s house went on without us. And we only talked to our kids electronically. They were with friends or other family for the holidays and thought our adventure was so much better!
With no snow, no tree and no room in our luggage, we did not even exchange gifts at Christmas. Our big 10 week adventure was our gift to each other. So much better than more stuff we really do not need.
Spending the holidays and Christmas in Cape Town was another great adventure on our amazing trip. We really had no reason to complain. But it was a good reminder that holidays are sometimes all about the traditions that you build. We missed those traditions. It was hard to be away from friends and family. But then we did not really miss the snow and cold weather.
Our 10 days in Cape Town offered lots to enjoy. Finishing up with a week in Dubai for New Years raised our spirits even more. The extreme decadence of having not one but two first class trips with Emirates was the icing on the cake. Christmas in Cape Town would just be the start of saying adieu to the old year and ringing in the new! It had been an amazing 2016 travelling the world. And soon we would be starting on the new adventures that 2017 would bring!
Have you spent Christmas in Cape Town? What is your favourite holiday activity? How early do you need to arrive?