I had great plans of all the tips and insights I would give you to Cape Town, my place of birth and home for 20 years. But when you go back for 10 days, have to see all your people and it is Christmas, a family engagement party and a celebration of the fact that you got married in the year, the bulk of activities and meals are allocated to not eating out. That said I still have some thoughts and things I wanted to share incase you find yourself heading to Cape Town. Which I think you should because this is definitely a city that is worth seeing!
Cape Town is a beautiful and dynamic city. Without having visited any other parts of South Africa for a while, I would say it is the ‘flagship’ of a country that embraces its multiculturalism so beautifully. In 2014 Cape Town was the ‘Design Capital’ and it is definitely showing up everywhere. I could have spent an absolute fortune in shops all over town, even little stalls in the middle of nowhere. Tip 1: Go with a big bag and spare cash!
Here are a list of my suggested places:
1. Starlings: A coffee shop and restaurant in a suburban part of town. Has great cake and a lovely outside eating area.
2. Watershed at the V&A Waterfront: a great destination for picking up some gifts and souvenirs by local designers who hold concessions in a large old wharf building.
3. The Old Biscuit Mill: on a Saturday this has many of the same designers that you can find at the Watershed but it does have more of a market vibe, as well as a variety of food stalls. My suggestion would be to go early and check it out and then wonder around the other shops and restaurants that are popping up in the area. Definitely a gentrification process going on here which has its pros and cons.
4. Take the metro along the coast: When I lived in Cape Town I used to take the metro to work and on the weekends we would head down to the lower regions of Cape Town for some adventuring. You need to take the route that goes from the City Bowl towards Simons Town. From Muizenberg you start seeing the sea and it is such a lovely trip. Get off at Kalk Bay for trendy shops and eateries or Simons Town for some sightseeing in the former naval town. Locals might still warn you about safety but I had no issues and really felt quite comfortable. Get the Metroplus (which is like first class) as you will have more space and more comfortable chairs and a return ticket is still less than £2.
5. Try out some of the local wines: We went to Eagle’s Nest in Constantia for a picnic which was absolutely brilliant with delicious food and definitely suggested. On Christmas we also went to Blaauwklippen in Stellenbosch (outside of Cape Town) for a Christmas meal and wine tasting. Apparently they also have a brilliant market on the weekend with live music (which is currently my Uncles).
6. Get some fresh air and go for a hike: The scenery around Cape Town is absolutely breathtaking. We went for a hike up Chapman’s Peak. In summer I suggest you go early as it does get hot. Also take lots of water to prevent de-hydration. It probably requires a moderate fitness level but there are also more gentle excursions. There is something particularly special about seeing all the way around the peninsula from the top though.
7. The Oude Molen Eco Village has a little restaurant that had a lovely and well-priced breakfast menu which we enjoyed with the sounds of chickens clucking and a nice view. I felt like we had driven an hour of of town and had found a quaint dorpie (little town).
8. The Imhoff Farm: An old farm in Kommetjie which now has several eateries (we had breakfast at the restaurant with a view of the mountains and peacocks). It also has a few shops and if you have young kids a sort of zoo and camel rides.
9. Truth Coffee: good coffee in a steampunk setting which has some great attention to detail.
Also, I didn’t get to experience it but Cape Town is expanding its public transport facilities with a City Bus. The routes are limited to the City Centre but if you are a tourist in town that is probably where you want to be anyway.
Honestly, I didn’t take my camera out much while in Cape Town and these are all iPhone pictures. I suppose that is sometimes the way when you are just enjoying time with friends and family. But I will be sharing a few more photos of Chapman’s Peak that I took.