South Africa: The Cape Town Edition.

We had a long wish list for Cape Town & the only thing we didn’t do was shark diving. The reason: It was cold, rainy, and foggy… Just didn’t seem that appealing, ya know? However, we did everything else, and here is the breakdown!

After a terribly uncomfortable flight on Mango Airlines, we arrived that night in Cape Town. We headed over to Thrifty to pick up our rental car. We loaded our belongings into the tiny compact car, that seemed like it might fall apart if we hit the slightest bump. …but eventually we arrived at our hotel, The Portswood V&A Waterfront. We didn’t get to our hotel until around 10 PM, so once we were in our room, we got settled & wound down for bed.

africa & extras 242.JPGThe next morning we woke to a very foggy view of the V&A Waterfront, but we were stoked to be there. We wandered downstairs to enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet. Its the usual things, and similar to those in Europe. lt worked. We ran upstairs to grab our belongings, and then headed out on a grand adventure. First, we wandered down to the waterfront, where we found a fun variety of restaurants and shops. I think one of our favorites was the V&A Food Market. It seemed like it was an old warehouse filled with2 tiny mom & pop shops selling fresh juice, candy, ethnic foods, and gifts. It was really fun, and they had some tasty things.. (I’m sure I will be having a meal or two there  on this next trip.) There was a  stand-alone multi-level gift shop, African Trading Port, that sold all the usual tourist crap, and then carried several types of interesting African antiques… and let’s not forget the animal skins and heads… It was a great experience (no sarcasm here), just outside there was a large life-size chess set for everyone to play with. Brad loved it 1because he is a lover of all things “smart people” and that includes chess.  From there we continued on our journey across the swing bridge to the tiny building, Clock Tower Retail Center, of art and gift shops. There was nothing there for us, so we headed back past the couple restaurants towards the main area. As we headed back we stopped in front of the Victoria and Albert Hotel, where a live band was playing some truly festive music (one of my favorite memories). We decided to have lunch there at Cafe Alfredo, the food wasn’t amazing, but the atmosphere was phenomenal! We ended up buying the CD from the singer of the band because their energy was infectious!

After a magical lunch period, we continued our journey. We ended up discovering The Watershed, another large warehouse style building that has turned into shops on the bottom floor, and a collaborative work space on the top floor, that also had a coffee shop. We hung out here for a while admiring the countless treasures awaiting new homes. Then we went on to find the attraction booths and office for things like boat rides & wildlife 3tours. We found the Victoria and Albert Mall which had plenty of shopping, and great food options. …and a couple fun looking bars, but eventually we lost interest, and headed to the nearby aquarium, Two Oceans Aquarium. It was “seniors day”. The place was plagued with senior citizens enjoying all of the aquatic life in their glass cages. It was so funny to watch the elderly individual behave like little kids with their curious minds, and playing with their friends… Brad and I made our way through fairly quickly because of all of the crowds, but it was still a good use of an hour or two, and the aquarium was really fun, and well laid out.

5We decided to try a different route. We decided to go the opposite direction from our hotel, it took us past the stadium, and lead us to a street of restaurants… We continued further. Eventually, we found our way into a park. We hung out for a while, walked along the wall that lined the Atlantic. There were tide pools below, but they were inaccessible, and I think that is for the best, but you could see starfish glued to the rocks submerged in the clear water. As we walked along, we got to watch some paragliders come down from the mountain behind us, they sailed over head with what had to be amazing views, looped out over the ocean, and eventually landed on the park grass. We started to head back, but decided to sit on a bench for a while. As we sat we watched a kayaker disappear into the distance (I’m still hoping he made it back alive). After this, we did decide to head back! We followed the way a long the ocean, until we reached the gas station, which caused us to reroute back to the way we came.

As dinner time approached we weren’t sure what we wanted, we headed back to the waterfront. Our first instinct was to check the V&A Food Market. However, sadly it was not open during the evenings… Then we continued on checking The Watershed, they were closed. Sadly, I don’t remember where we had dinner, but that’s okay… because I remember all the other places we ate!  We weren’t out too late, and eventually got burnt out on the scene and just headed to bed.

africa-extras-259The next morning after breakfast, we retrieved our car & began our drive to Boulders Beach which was about an hour  and fifteen minutes away. We were going to see the penguins, and I was soooo excited! We popped in our African CD that we bought the day before (which didn’t sound as good as the liver performance) and enjoyed our scenic journey. The drive there was pretty easy. It was fun driving through the small seaside Simon’s Town. Once we arrived at Boulder’s Beach we found a parking spot, and began the decent down. We had to pay a park entry as it is considered a National Park, a very small one.

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There were penguins all over the place along the walk down. They laid in their little dug out nests, and would just ignore you as you walked by. Clearly, people mean nothing to them now. Eventually, we reached the end of the walk where you could oversee the penguins playing in the surf and looking for fish. They would waddle in, duck in and out, and waddle back up.  There were plenty of penguin chicks as well who were clearly in transition to adulthood as they shed their baby feathers. I hung out there for quite a while and snapped a ton of action photos, while Brad wandered off for a little while. I eventually had to go meet up with him. I knew he wasn’t enjoying it as much as I was, and it was time to move on.

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When we got back in our rental, we decided that we wanted to see a little bit more of the peninsula, so we continued heading toward Cape Hope. We realized at one point that we would have to turn around because the Cape was also a National Park that required a fee to drive through, and we just didn’t feel that it was worth it.  As we continued our journey back we pulled over near one of the cliffs to snap some pictures of the beautiful turquoise frothy waters below, and the cape beyond in the distance. At that point, we did have to be aware of cheeky baboons in the area. We had heard stories of them breaking into cars to find food, and steal human things, and there were signs near us that warned against such things… Thankfully, we were in the clear & saw none at that point, but we did see others while we were driving. FACT: Poor local dogs probably get so tired of them.

We stopped back in Simon’s Town to find a place at lunch and check out some of the local shops. With nothing to show.. I started getting pretty crabby. We eventually settled on the restaurant in one of the small local Inns. The food was fair to say the least, but it was food, and I was slightly revived. We decided to head back to Cape Town, but the drive was almost unbearable. We got stuck in an incredibly large amount of traffic on the way back so it took us close to double the time it should have.

6With nothing more to do, we just hung out in the Waterfront area, eventually settling on dinner at Mitchell’s Ale House. Apparently it is recommended by tripadvisor, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The food was fair; not the good kind of fair. Flat out disappointing.

The next morning we had big plans again. We were heading to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It was well worth it. It wasn’t overly pricey, and there was plenty of ground to cover. You could easily spend a whole day there exploring, reading, etc. They have a couple restaurants and a cafe. Thankfully, they will let you exit and re-enter.. which worked because I needed something to eat and the cafe was the only thing open and it sits outside the park gate. Aside from that, here is a series of our photos from the Garden (click to make them bigger):

7From here we decided to head toward Bo Kaap, from my understanding it was going to be a great trendy part of town with great opportunities for food and shops…. WRONG… It was basically a few colorful street stuck in a rather run-down part of town, that seemed like it had a heavy middle-eastern influence. No fun shops, no restaurants… Just a couple colorful streets with random tourist trying to get a fun picture. TIP: If you don’t have a lot of time in Cape Town… Skip Bo Kaap, it’s not worth it. There are better places to visit, and better things to do.

After feeling completely let down by Bo Kaap we decided to head on to Camps Bay. Camps Bay is more of a resort, beach town, with mansion built into the hills and mounts that line the ocean. It was truly beautiful, at one point as we were wandering through the hilly roads, we almost hit a little pack of guinea fowl that were crossing the street. It was a funny moment because the birds seemed so out of place to me after just seeing them on safari in the Kruger area. We found our way down, and parked on a random street, where a gentleman assured us that he would be keeping an eye on our car. (I guess break-ins africa-extras-331-copyhappen there??) We quickly found our away across the street by the beach. We wandered off the break wall where we walked out to the surf along the wall, and then slowly made our way back. I looked for fun shells in the man-made “tide pool”, and then we headed back toward the sidewalk. We walked down the sidewalk following the beach, and thought about walking out onto the sand… The issues was that neither of wanted sand in our shoes, so we stepped as lightly as possible toward the water, We walked a little ways on the water-logged harden sand watching the locals and tourists on the beach. But hunger was starting to set in. We head back, and started looking for places to eat. We unanimously decided to eat at Col’Cacchio Pizzeria. It was so delicious! Great pizza, great bread. Not to mention, the restaurant offered us incredible ocean views, and we also looked out over a grass field where we could watch some local young student goof off. TIP: I would recommend it, this to anyone in the area… Camps Bay seemed like it had an amazing restaurant selection.  After indulging in tasty pizza, we headed back, but didn’t want to leave just yet. We wandered into a couple of small gift shops that had some beautiful merchandise, but bought nothing. We settled on gelato… A Bradalie travel fave. We picked Gelato Mania. It was satisfying as we ate it on a bench overlooking the ocean. We full bellies, we decided we should head back to Cape Town… So we found our car and sputtered off along the coast. TIP: If you want a more relaxed seen with great beaches and great food.. Camps Bay would be a great option.

We were left with the usual options… We hung out at the Waterfront, and ended up back at Cafe Alfredo for dinner. We had wine and feasted on so much pasta that we couldn’t finish it. It was far better than the tomato soup we had for lunch the first day. We did our best to walk off the carbs before bed.

It was day four, and we were headed off to Stellenbosch to find wine and adventure. We found our way to Slaley Winery… Where each sampled 6 wines. FACT: I’m not a huge wine fan, so anything I didn’t want Brad ended up drinking in addition to his. Our “wine guide” was great, very knowledgeable and friendly. He made it fun, opposed to stuffy. Once we had our wine… It was shotgun time. Nothing like shooting an old school 12 guage shotgun

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The Farmer’s Kitchen

after buzzing on wine.  It was so fun, (sadly no pictures, I blame the buzz) I hit 1 of 5 targets & Brad hit all 5 which brought us to the usual quoted average of 3 which I thought was rather funny.

We left the winery in search of another that was recommended, but came up short. At this point I was having fairly intense menstrual cramps, and was just suffering… It was the wine, and Aleve wasn’t doing me any good. I was hoping that food would help. We found a really cool restaurant called The Farmer’s Kitchen. They had a pretty good array of food, but at this point I felt so sick, I could hardly think of food, but I knew i needed to eat so I ordered a hot sandwich with fries. It tasted good, but I was to the point of wanting to pass out on the bench.

africa-extras-334-copyWe were back on the road, and I was committed to helping Brad find more wine to sample, but eventually the inevitable happened. I passed out. My body was so exhausted that I just couldn’t go any longer. I ended up sleeping the entire way back into Cape Town. I felt terrible, but there was nothing to be done about it, and I knew I wouldn’t be drinking any more after that. I was slow moving that evening, and once we got back to the hotel, I laid down for a little while longer. Finally, Brad was encouraging me to get up so we could get dinner. I agreed.

africa-extras-343-copyBack on the roads of Cape Town (by foot), we found a really cool beach side restaurant called The Grand Cafe & Beach. It looked interesting, but we weren’t ready to commit. We continued along the boardwalk that was surrounded by these beautiful hot pink flowers, but found nothing but a beautiful sunset over the ocean. We watched for a little bit, and then decided it was time. We walked back to the restaurant, but after looking at the menu, decided to go a different direction. It ended up being Indian food. Surprised???  We headed back to a place we had seen on day one during our explorations, The Jewel of India. The food was tasty, and the service was good. We were so satisfied! Like that, we were good to go. We did our usual evening wandering to take in the night air.

Our last full day ended up being tricky. I had really wanted to go shark diving, but the weather had been so gloomy & unpredictable the last several days we had been there, that we decided we were better off skipping. Instead, we decided to head up to Table Mountain, despite all the clouds. It paid off. We took the packed cable car up to the top, where I was able to fill one of my lifelong dreams of standing on a Plateau. It wasn’t just any plateau, it was the world’s largest. SCORE! We easily spent a couple hours on top exploring, climbing all over, and taking in the breath taking views below. Check these out:

Around lunch time, we headed back down, dropped off the car at the hotel, and headed for Indian food for a real lunch… (Yes, we had Indian food twice in less than 24 hours.) From there we headed back to our ocean side walk. As we walked along the main roads, we watched the local kids mess around after they left school. Some of them were making me nervous as they played along the street, but we continued on our way. We just walked and walked and walked. FACT: We really love walking, well, I do. Brad has weaker feet than I do. It’s relaxing.  Eventually, we started to head back, but we took a different route. We wandered along the coast as long as we could which was pretty awesome! We got to witness some pretty intense waves crash along the wall and come splashing down on the ground around us, but not on us, thank God. We watched the locals let their dogs run in a grassy fields, we saw a fun ocean-side miniature golf course, and few other neat attractions. We walked back to the Waterfront in search of snacks because we were hungry, and decided to head back to the V&A food market for some snacks. I got a crepe (not that great, cultural ingredients are different),  and Brad got sushi upstairs. We were both happy… but we needed more. After more aimless wandering through African Trading Port, we got to watch a beautiful sunset behind table mountain.

When it came time to eat dinner, we wanted something with little effort, so we ended up getting Asian food from the mall food court, and it wasn’t half bad. Then we finished it off with Cinnabon; no regrets!  We ate our tasty meal outside, and watched the funny 80’s music videos that played in the small amphitheater… RIP George Michael. With uncertainty flooding us in regards to what was next…. It was time… time to do something that was totally low priority. We rode The Cape Wheel. It was a pretty decent length of time that we spent going in circles, but it was fun to see the Waterfront from the sky. TIP: I would recommend it for something different and low key! That was it for us. Like that our low-key day had come and gone.

africa-extras-444It was our final day in Cape Town. We had an evening flight that night, so we had the day to kill. We ended up driving out of the city to a massive mall/theme park, Canal Walk Shopping Center. FACT: The name is misleading. The shops are all in a big mall-like building, not along the canal… We tried to walk along the canal, but it kind of sucked. The theme park wasn’t open, but the mall was. We just did laps, for, literally, something to do. It was so boring. We thought about seeing a movie, but there were no options that interested us, so we decided to head back into the city center, and we ended up finding BEERHOUSE, a local brewery serving up tasty food and brews. We were there for quite a while, or until we were tired of all the smoke blowing our direction from the table next to us. We wandered through a couple gift shops, that had nothing noteworthy, just the usual “crafts”. We were over it. We got back in the car and just decided to call it quits. We had killed enough time, and we were ready for the next chapter. Zanzibar!

 

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LESSONS LEARNED: 

1) Having a car in a South Africa, and in a city like Cape Town gives you so much freedom.

2) With the exchange rate what it is South Africa is incredibly affordable.

3) There’s no such thing as too much Indian food.

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The Compulsive Traveler

out to see the world, and snap beautiful photos while doing so.

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