As we are delayed in Cape Town for a little longer, due to some minor tweakage on Lula the Landy, we thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to let you in on all the wondrous things to do, see and eat here!! However, there are so many incredible things that if we told you them all, we would never leave. We have managed to narrow down a large list of favourites to bring you our ultimate weekend in the Mother City. Hold on to your hatsies…
So you have arrived in Cape Town, what do you do first?! Grab a bottle of bubbly and take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain of course! What better way to see the Mother City and watch the sunset? We usually climb Table Mountain, but with only a weekend in Cape Town there may not be enough time to do this. Although, if you do have time, we recommend you go up the shaded Skeleton Gorge route and come down Nursery Ravine. Keep your eyes peeled for rare disa flowers and rock dassies which are rodent like animals who, believe it or not, are the African elephant’s closest living relative!
Now you have probably worked up an appetite, so let’s head for The Grand which is new in town. This place takes the beach bar to a whole new level. Once a shrimp factory, now hip haunt, the Grand is a huge industrial hanger decked with chandeliers on a white sandy beach. Sip on one of the best Caipirinhas outside of Rio whilst watching the yachts come in. It faces north east, so don’t expect a sunset here. Another downside is the service which is a bit ropey, but the food, cocktails and ambiance make up for it. Be sure to make a booking and look the part, as they often turn people away. Usually this sort of attitude would put us off, but they allow Bow Wow to dig holes in the sand and so for now, we’ll let these cool new kids on the beach get away with it.
Let’s now head for the Waterfront for a wander and to watch the street performers. This is super touristy but a must see if it is your first time here in Cape Town. Finally, we hit our scratchers early as we have an action packed day ahead of us tomorrow!
It is Saturday morning, the sun is shining and like every hipster, mover and shaker in Cape town you are heading for the Old Biscuit Mill Market in Woodstock. Set in what really was an old biscuit mill in a very run down part of Cape Town, it is now full of stalls selling local organic produce, hand made cheeses, wood-fired breads and young SA designers’ clothes and jewellery. Here you can get your groceries, browse for vintage sunglasses and have anything from oysters and champagne to sushi for breakfast. The attitude is definitely one of ‘don’t care but do stare’, which makes for fascinating people watching! There is also a stall which serves the second best eggs benedict in Cape Town (the best is coming up!). Wash it all down with an Organic cider as you sit on a hay bale and eat at a table made from an old peeling door. Bow Wow loves it too as he gets his delicious GIANT bones here from a stall called Vondi’s. He likes ostrich knuckles best, the stinkier the better.
Let’s make tracks as you have to get to Muizenberg Beach and get your bathers on now for a surf lesson! Muizenberg is not the most beautiful beach in Cape Town, but it is full of colourful people and has perfect waves for learning how to surf. Book a lesson at Roxy Surf School and you will be standing up on your board in no time!
If you don’t fancy hitting the surf, take this opportunity to visit the Cape of Good Hope. Look out for the baboons though, Bart in particular is very good at opening car doors and can cause absolute havoc if he gets into your car. This is one of the naughtiest troops in Cape Town that Back to Africa help to keep in line. Once you have gone right to the tip, why not visit our ultimate spot at the Cape of Good Hope called Venus Pool and snorkel with octopus, pipe fish and bright anemones.
If you have time, there is an ostrich farm near Cape Point where you can watch baby ostriches hatching and find out about these awesome creatures. They also stock unbelievably expensive Hermès ostrich bags. Don’t be surprised if, at this point, you find your boyfriend has buried his head in the sand.
Now it’s time we were in Kalk Bay, a Bohemian coastal suburb of Cape Town where you will find galleries and fabulous shops with antiques and quirky contemporary designs. We’ll pop into the Olympia Café and put our name up on the board before shopping so that we are guaranteed a table there.
(Shopping Note: Kalk Bay is not the only place to shop, the Montabello Craft centre in Newlands is also fantastic for handcrafted innovative South African products. Long Street in town has lots of trendy boutiques selling young SA designers’ wares. And just off long street is Green Market Square where you will find African artefacts and souvenirs. A lot of the retailers sell similar products, so be sure to barter. Lucie and her Scottish family have been known to buy all their Christmas presents here for under a fiver each (£s).)
For those who do not want to shop, wander down to the Kalk Bay harbour and watch the sea lions and fisherman reel in their fresh catch. Or you can have cocktails at Cape to Cuba. It doesn’t get much kitsch-er than this. Suck on a shisha or smoke a Cuban cigar whilst you enjoy a cocktail. Don’t bother with food here though as it is not very good. Rather soak up the atmosphere before getting your table at the Olympia Café.
The Olympia Café is a legend in it’s own lunchtime! A thousand flies can’t be wrong! This Cape Town institution is the grubbiest and best bohemian place to be. Flames frequently fly high in the open noisy kitchen and fresh seafood comes in daily, from Kalk Bay harbour across the road. Surfers tuck into Strangled Eggs before hitting the surf and we wonder how many novels have been written between it’s crumbling walls and how many friendships made over the ritual dunking of bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The food is SERIOUSLY good, mostly organic and inexpensive, the atmosphere always electric, and the people who the Olympia attracts are wonderful to watch or even meet! Everything about this place is real and being pretentious does not go down well. You either get it or you don’t and we do, frequently! All of the waiters want to be there and are lovely people who welcome Bow Wow and always provide him with a bowl of water. For breakfast, lunch and dinner this is our top of the pops!
Now that our tummies are full, let’s get a wriggle on to Boulders Beach and swim with the penguins. They are called Jackass penguins and although very friendly, they are attracted to red toe polish – you have been warned! Forget people watching, this beach is all about the amazing penguin watching!
We had better smarten up now and dust off our gladrags for some old world luxury. The Mount Nelson has barely changed since Lucie’s Grandparents spent their honeymoon there. Make sure that you take a peek around the hotel, inside and out, and take your cozzie in case you feel like a discreet dip in their beautiful pool surrounded by the sweetest smelling roses (keep in mind that this isn’t really allowed and Lucie’s mum has been escorted off the premises for doing this before). Mingle with the stars at the Planet Bar and we don’t mean the ones in the sky, we’ve encountered everyone from Hollywood actors to famous rock stars here. Ask Benson for a Gorgeous Girl; Lucie’s Dad taught him the secret art of concocting this yummy pink cocktail.
On a Saturday night, Long Street is where it’s at. Let’s grab a light snack or one of the most delicious burgers that you will EVER taste at the trendy Royale Eatery. We don’t even like burgers that much, but these are something else (especially after a few drinks at the Mount Nellie). There is a real vibrant beat to Long Street. Everyone is hustling and it’s exciting, but watch your belongings as pickpockets are rife.
Once we are fed and watered, we should cross the road to experience the marimba band and African dancers at Mama Africa. Then later on you can practice some of your new African grooves at The Waiting Room above Royale.
That’s all for today, rest your sleepy noggin, for tomorrow you will need all of your energy when you experience the opposite extremes of life in Cape Town…
We’ll go for breakfast at The River Café on the Uitsig Vineyard, Constantia. Choose from the most delicious healthy (ish!) fruit breakfast with granola and yoghurt terrine or THE best eggs benedict in town which come on a potato rosti and are done to PERFECTION (Lucie’s Dad’s feet have barely hit South African ground before he is tucking into his first poached egg here). Lunch and dinner are also excellent. Clean, fresh and relaxed with friendly waiters. The food is slightly cheaper and less complicated than Uitsig (a restaurant set in the same vineyard in Constantia and of a similar ilk) and perfect for special breakfasts and laid back lunches. Constantia is the poshest part of Cape Town and The River Café is a prime spot for observing the Constantia ladies of leisure in their suspiciously immaculate riding gear (another reason Lucie’s Dad is often found here).
We mentioned Uistig restaurant, which unfortunately we don’t have time to visit this action packed weekend. You will just have to come back, but we can tell you that it is rumoured to be Richard Branson’s and Prince Harry’s favourite place to eat in Cape Town. It is best to go for lunch and to sit outside so that you can fully appreciate the beautiful surroundings. Set in a vineyard with mountain views, we cannot find fault with the elegant service and delicious food. Our personal choice starts with the oysters with pickled lemon grass, followed by the springbok and finished with iced berries.
You will also have to come back to do some wine tasting. Constantia is full of fabulous vineyards with Uitsig being just one of them. Others include classically Cape Dutch, Groot and Klein Constantia, where you can sample Napoleon’s favourite tipple, Vin de Constance. Steenberg is wonderful in a totally different way, ultra modern and set in exquisite manicured grounds. Tasting is usually free. However, we don’t have time for all that because we have a Township Tour to go on! Come on!
The Township Tour leaves by bus from the Waterfront. This is also where you can catch the boat that goes to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. Although going to Robben Island is extremely thought provoking, we feel you will get a better idea of real Cape Town life and the impact of Apartheid by doing the Township Tour. Also, by supporting a Township Tour you will help many people who live there. Townships are informal settlements which were created during apartheid when black people were evicted from white areas. The poverty that you encounter can be heart breaking and you will be humbled by how welcoming the community is and by their irrepressible strength. See real township life with it’s hair dresser shacks complete with hand painted signs, shops selling township delicacies like sheep heads which are called smileys and kick a ball made from bound plastic bags with some kids. You will also see dogs that look a lot like Bow Wow! If you can, bring a real football, pencils, toothbrushes or anything else with you that you could give to help the people who live there. Visit schools, B&B’s and even a shabeen, which is a township pub, and sample some home made beer. Marvel at the rainbow warrens of shacks with their wallpapers made from washing powder boxes or newspapers and how neatly kept they are. Often the tours include a visit to the District 6 museum which explains how these townships came about.
It’s time for a late lunch at Caprice which comes alive at the weekend. Make sure you get a table outside for a front row seat in beautiful people watching by the palm lined, Camps Bay beach. For somewhere frequented by models, you’d expect food to be scarce, but it is surprisingly good. Go for the Seafood Tagliatelle as it’s a taste sensation. Walk off lunch along Camps Bay and Clifton’s four beaches, then let’s jump in the car with our designated driver for the spectacular views and awesome engineering of Chapman’s Peak drive. You’ll probably recognise parts of this from many international car commercials.
To finish off this wonderful weekend we will have a picnic and sundowners at Llandudno beach. While the waves lap at our feet and the sky turns pink, we shall toast the Mother City and then collapse in a heap!