There are a few places in the world (given my very limited tour of it so far) that I can’t wait to return to and set up house one day. Vancouver, with an insanely overpriced studio in Kits where I will miraculously be able to see the mountains and the beach; London, where my main goals will be seeing everything that is playing in the West End and spotting members of the royal family; and new to the list: Cape Town!
Ale and I decided to take a long belated birthday weekend to Cape Town, South Africa. Our original plan was to trek over to Maputo but after a long wait at the visa office (6+hours) and a re-assessment of what we want to see/do, we decided on Cape Town.
On Thursday we woke bright and early to catch a 5 hour bus into JoBurg. From there we checked in to a private room at an airport hostel and spent the afternoon in the city. To be honest, Johannesburg doesn’t wow me. Granted, we spent maybe 5 hours there but it felt ugly and overpriced.
The Apartheid Museum
I did, however, enjoy our visit to the Apartheid Museum. It was (the only thing) on my Joburg to-do list and it was pretty exciting that we got to go on Mandela’s birthday! Ale and I spent a few hours roaming through the museum. I was most shocked by how archaic the ideas of apartheid were but how recent the dates actually are. The photos of the townships, ceiling covered in nooses (to represent the deaths/suicides that took place in the jails), the solitary confinement cells and the videos were the most impactful parts for me. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to learn a lot more about South Africa’s history.
On Friday morning we took 2 hour flights into Cape Town! Once there, we made our way through the rain and overpriced taxi to our hotel/apartment accommodation in Sea Point. The weather was pretty miserable and Ale had a cold so we took it easy that morning and enjoyed nice hot showers in our new place.
Our hotel in Sea Point
In the afternoon, we headed over to the V&A Waterfront: a combination of Fisherman’s Wharf & Granville Island. We walked through the Victoria Mall (HUGE mall) and got our first taste of seafood at the Cape Town Fish Market. After a delicious lunch of salmon, veggies & fish cakes, we walked along the pier and stumbled in to the Craft Market.
The view from V&A Waterfront
BIG MISTAKE (for our wallets!): the Craft Market was amazing and we pretty much spent the rest of the day there! We discovered lots of cool finds and managed to cross a lot of people off of our souvenir list. We also walked next door to the Food Market so we could PIMP OUR BISCUITS! (Basically we spent $5 to bake a dozen cookies – but it was fun and delicious!). After emptying our wallets, we traipsed back through the mall and met Trevor (aka Papa Trevor aka best-cab-driver-ever!) who took us back to Sea Point. We spent a low-key Friday night enjoying Asian take-away and catching up on some bad movies.
Our cookies! I made one in the shape of the letter R because I’m creative like that 🙂
On Saturday, Trevor picked us up after breakfast and we started the beautiful hour drive to Simons Town. We basically drove through gorgeous green mountains with sea views the entire time. Trevor even stopped at the top of one mountain for us to get out and take pictures. Plus he took the time to narrate our drive and point out beaches, the hospital of the first heart transplant and Mandela’s old house!
Driving to Simons Town
We arrived at the Aqua Terra hotel in Simons Town and were stunned. It was GORGEOUS! Seriously, I took so many photos of the house (not to mention the view) for my future decorating plans. I may even look into buying the house from the owners
if when I am rich enough.
Admiring the coastal views
After a cup of tea, we walked along the coast of Simons Town to Boulders Beach. It was a bit of a hike, made even longer by our need to stop every dozen feet to take photos and exclaim to each other how insanely beautiful everything was. I think I beamed for the entire half hour walk. I can already picture retiring here!
Enjoying the coast of Simons Town
At Boulders Beach we finally found all the
people tourists (the rest of Simons Town was pretty deserted) headed towards the penguins! Boulders Beach is famous for its colony of African penguins and we were not disappointed! The funny little penguins entertained us for a couple of hours: waddling along the shore, sunbathing, dipping into the ocean and even delighting us with some kisses and hand-holding. You don’t realize you’re a penguin-fanatic until you spot your first tuxedo-bird awkwardly making his way up the beach.
Smooching sea birds!
After spending some time with our new penguin friends, we had to un-cramp our jaw muscles (too much smiling will do that to you) and fill our stomachs with a late lunch. We enjoyed pizza, pasta and the yummiest dessert (baked red velvet pudding!) at a cute Parisian place in town. Unfortunately, Simons Town is pretty dead by 5 so we had another early night relaxing in paradise.
Enjoying seafood pasta in Simons Town
In the morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and sat out on the patio to take in the views. I had woken a little early and enjoyed the sunrise over the water from the window behind our bathtub. It felt other-wordly. We spent some time chatting with our hosts and playing with the hotel’s cat & dog while we waited for Trevor.
Sunrise from our bathtub!
Unfortunately, our plans for shark-cage diving kind of fell through (we agreed to try again when we both make it to Australia) but we did want to get out to Cape Point. It’s bragged about as the Southern most part of the world where the two oceans meet (lies on both counts but still impressive). Trevor drove us through the national park to the base of Cape Point where we took a funicular and some stairs to the very top.
As clichéd as it is, the views literally left us speechless. We just kept smiling at each other, searching for adjectives that we knew couldn’t begin to justify what we were seeing. The Atlantic Ocean was every gorgeous shade of blue crashing on the shore while the Indian was a foggy expanse of muted greys calmly meeting as a giant ripple effect at the tip of the mountain. It was hard to get ourselves down from there.
After spending even more money at the gift shop and picking up pizzas for lunch, Trevor drove us down to Cape of Good Hope where we were able to stand on the rocky beach, take in the crashing waves against the rocks (a la Little Mermaid when she emerges from the water) and document our journey to the most south-western point of Africa. On our way back to the city we spotted an ostrich (though none of the promised baboons), picked up a hitch-hiking elderly couple and fit in a nice nap.
Us & Papa Trevor at Cape of Good Hope!
On Sunday evening we checked into our last hotel and I promptly fell in love again. It was the perfect bachelor apartment: spacious, beautifully decorated and modern. I think I may have freaked Ale out with how many photos I took. If I could just pick that place up and move it to Vancouver, that would be perfect. Unfortunately, by the time we got back into Cape Town proper, most of the attractions (notably, Table Mountain) were closed. We checked our emails and ended up heading back to the Waterfront.
My future apartment!
Luckily, Waterfront was still pretty lively for a Sunday night. We walked around the mall and explored all the cool shops before settling at Willoughby & Co. for a dinner of fancy seafood. We enjoyed yummy wine, a fish trio, chicken teriyaki and paella. By 10 we were headed back home with a bag of groceries for late-night dessert and home-cooked breakfast. We ended the night with chocolate and a Gossip Girl rerun on TV.
Seafood & wine!
Monday morning we enjoyed our last CT meal and hot shower before Trevor brought us back to the airport. We got a little sad having to say goodbye to Papa Trevor! But we drowned our sorrows in two huge pieces of cake before our flight into Joburg. We made it just as our bus was pulling in.
A long 5-6 hours later (including a crazy border line up) and we were back in Mbabane. It was late so we headed to Nando’s for a last meal of chicken & ice cream before cabbing home. Our room felt different (noticeably cleaner) and we spent the evening unpacking, reminiscing and ooo-ing over our full memory cards from a very memorable weekend.
Cape Town – I’ll definitely be back.