The city that will pop up in most people’s mind when speaking about South Africa is Cape Town. I have enjoyed the vibes of Berlin, Stuttgart, London and L.A. – but Cape Town is definitely a class of its own.
In the past 7 years I kept coming back on several occasions under very different circumstances to this city. I have been there as a carefree tourist with enough funds to stay and live well, enjoying all the luxuries the city has to offer. On another occasion we came as poor newly weds without own car or money, enjoying public transport and the countless free events, focussing on all the immaterial pleasures of the city and surrounding areas . Then there was the typical short city visit doing the culture thing. Many of you will be interested what you can do in Cape town and the greater Western Cape province as a mom with a toddler and a granny in tow – been there, done that, enjoyed myself thoroughly. Now all I need is time to go and sort through those awesome photos and come back to you with tips and tricks making the best of your stay in the Cape.
Lucky for you it’s December and Cape Town will be nice, warm and sunny. I have been in Cape Town in July and it’s just a tat too chilly on top of the mountain! We spent New Years in Cape Town before and it was beautiful. Since that was the visit where we tried to do 5 things that don’t cost money every day (simply because we didn’t have any) it turned out to be a marvelously romantic time. We booked ourselves into someones basement in Blouberg Strand – when you do that, be sure to ask a couple of strategic questions on the phone beforehand to make sure you don’t end up in a scary situation.
Our accommodation was about 9 min walk away from the next public transport bus stop. Cheap and convenient, if not always on time, the Golden Arrow bus takes you right where you want to go. We have a friend called pastor Mike, and he always told us everyone in Cape Town knows him. We put that to the test on our many bus trips, and everyone we talked with really knew pastor Mike. How awesome is that. Contrary to everybody being chatty on the bus, the locals got rather quiet in a completely shocked way when we joined them in the Taxi ranks going places with the taxis together. They even switched off the music, they just couldn’t fathom that “whitys” would do that sort of outrageous thing. I have been using informal mini bus taxis a lot on my travels through the Caribbean – the sort of overcrowed little busses who stop for you at the side of the road, haul you inside and have you sit on the lap of an old aunty who places her chicken cage right on top of your lap while the chap across you plays ukulele. The South African mini bus taxis are not that crazy and also much more road worthy, but I wouldn’t recommend them for white girls traveling alone. With my impressive husband at my side, however, it was a lot of fun and even in the days after people would wave at us from across the road: “Hi, I was with you in the taxi!”. Made my day!
New Years Eve was celebrated with a lovely dinner at a tiny family owned Thai restaurant after which we enjoyed the perfect view from the dunes right across the ocean at the fireworks taking place at the V&A waterfront.
At a later stage we stayed again in Bloubergstrand for a week, this time in a beautiful apartment with a stunning view of Table mountain and the best dinner ever at On the Rocks restaurant. If you can afford it, take your loved on for a stunning dinner to this intimate restaurant offering a quite creative, well presented cuisine. (My husband was wise enough to leave mom-in-law back at the apartment to babysit, we took her for some wine tasting to make up for it later!). On the Rocks offers post card panoramas of Table Mountain, Robben Island, the ocean and if you are lucky even a dolphin or whale (we spotted two).
So whether on a budget or affluent enough, make sure you enjoy the classic Table Mountain view from Blouberg Strand.
Spending an afternoon at Company Gardens is a splendid idea if you need to escape the sunny beaches a bit. As most husbands (I guess) mine didn’t like the idea of being smeared with lovely smelling sun lotion by his gorgeous wife. I guess it’s a “me tough cave man” thingy. After the first hour on the first day at the beach he was terribly burned. We spent the subsequent days in shadier if not shady places. I will never forget how we looked for an umbrella to use as a parasol for him since the sun was hurting him a bit. The only one available was pink. Now please don’t try this out yourself, walking through Company Gardens as a guy sporting a pink umbrella. Up to this point I had no idea how many guys would feel attracted to my hubby … Cape Town is a melting pot attracting lots of alternative lifestyles. So be sure to be sending out the right signals.
At the nearby Planetarium you might find some nice shows about the starry skies of Africa. Currently there are no special themed shows on, but make sure to check for yourself. The seats are very comfy and the skies revolving above your head might have a very soothing effect.
Take a boat cruise along the harbour and make sure to engage in lighthearted conversation with the crew. When you are from abroad, that is a must-learn skill to properly be able to enjoy South Africa. Here we don’t just go about our daily business, we are more than happy to interrupt our schedule for anyone who comes along our way. Total strangers talk and joke with each other as long-lost friends would. To be intimidated by this would mean to miss out on something very special South Africa has to give. Go with the flow, laugh and enjoy.
Take an early morning walk on January the 1st on your favorite beach or the long Sea Point Promenade before going to sleep. Looking out over the sea in the very early mornings always makes me feel far away from home and all alone on the planet which to me is a strangely comforting feeling since it throws me right back into the arms of my creator. Such moments are the clearest when it comes to listening to that divine inner voice for direction. And who isn’t open for direction on the first of January?
Go have a ball!