Brenda Hammond has been happily traveling since her earliest teenage years. Her latest novel for a romantic story imbued with South African sun, culture and adventure. Learn more about Brenda and her books at her website.
What a pleasure to be here and to share something of my love for Cape Town, a city I was fortunate enough to call home for almost a decade and a half. These days I live in Canada, but every two years or so, I get the chance to go back and visit old haunts. On the flight I make sure to book a window seat so I can look out the plane window when we come in to land in South Africa’s mother city. I thrill to the sight of the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, majestic Table Mountain as it stands, the rugged rocky altar at the foot of Africa… and I’m not the only one. Just last week I read this airport approach is judged one of the most spectacular in the world.
However, by air is in fact my second favorite way of encountering the city. My first, most favorite is one I’ve experienced only a handful of times in my life. That is, like Alexa my heroine in Sailing for Trouble, to arrive by sea.
Many years ago I left Cape Town harbor on my original voyage to Southampton, England to take up a place at the Royal Ballet School. Still, it’s not the leaving but rather the arriving some time later that I remember, maybe because the latter occurred during the fresh light of early morning. So I recreated this moment in my story. One ex-South African reader responded by writing that the description brought tears to her eyes. Read it for yourself, included in the free first chapter on my website.
Whichever way you arrive—plane, train, ship or car—one thing is for certain: you’ll be blown away by the beauty of your surroundings. Let your eyes soak up the sights of nature’s magnificence: soaring mountains, flowering shrubs, tall pine trees and more. Enjoy viewing gracious and quaint buildings, historic areas such as the Bo-Kaap that are brimming with colour and character. Coffee shops, bars, restaurants… all guaranteed to bring you the experience the French call ‘dépaysment’ i.e. the delight of feeling yourself far from the daily drag, wafted away to a different country.
Recently a friend wrote that she’d been wondering why living in Cape Town always made her feel as if she was on vacation. The answer? Because of the beaches. Ah yes indeed. Choose Clifton for continental (as in Mediterranean) sands and glamourous surroundings. But be warned, on the Atlantic side of the Peninsula the water is quite icy. So, if you prefer warmer waves and sands stretching as far as your eye can see, head for Muizenberg on the Eastern shores, St. James for a protected pool in the rocks, or Fish Hoek or Boulders where you can also be entertained by penguins (for free!) You are, in fact, spoilt for choice, as you will be if you decide to venture north into the Boland wine estate country. South African wines are excellent—and cheap—so treat yourself.
The exchange rate makes a stay in the Cape pretty affordable, but as always, do your research. You’ll enjoy eating out and I can recommend fish fresh out of the ocean at one of the Harbour House restaurants (Victoria and Albert Waterfront, or Kalk Bay Harbour). When I visited this time last year, the great Barbara Kingsolver was doing exactly that!
Sailing for Trouble
A mysterious legacy. A long lost half-brother. An unknown saboteur out to stop her. And every clue unraveled leads to more danger… and romance.
Driven by a longing for family and fired up to discover whether her late father's legacy of a strong box really does contain clues to his left-behind treasure, Alexa Lloyd sets sail for South Africa.
Subject to a series of life-threatening 'accidents', she's soon caught in a web of deceit and treachery. The brother she seeks may want her dead. The uncle she trusts may have designs on the treasure. The guy she's falling for may not be what he seems. But she's strong, resourceful, and absolutely determined to succeed in her double quest.