Destination: South Africa: Cape Town
You need to rent a car in Cape Town and to have a good map. Taxis are available but expensive, and public transportation (buses, trains to the southern suburbs) is crowded, unsafe and slow. However, the city is easy to navigate, and the roads are excellent, although you’ll have to get used to driving on the left-hand side of the road. Don’t worry; the adjustment is easier to make than you might think.
In most central areas you will have to pay for on-street parking. Cape Town has an unusual system; uniformed parking attendants patrol a particular beat with small devices that look like credit card machines. After buying a card, put a small amount, around $4.50, on it. (You can add money as needed.) When you return to your car, the attendant will deduct the appropriate amount, about $1 an hour. Although they’re generally honest, abuse of the system is not unheard of, so make sure to ask to see what is being deducted.
There are no self-serve gas stations in South Africa (at least I’ve never seen one), so enjoy the full service. Petrol attendants will also check oil, water and tires and clean your windows with enthusiasm; a small tip (about 70 cents) is the norm. If you are taking taxis, you will need to call one (hotels have lists of taxi operators). Ask for an approximate price ahead of time; a 10 percent tip is sufficient.
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