Winter in the African Sun
I’ve been lucky enough to visit South Africa on a number of occasions; thanks to my parents’ property interests in Durban. However, it’s been at least 10 years since I last visited so I was very excited to return. It’s always been up there in my favourite countries to visit; thanks to its various cultures, beautiful scenery, delicious food and warm weather. Tom was quite so entranced with South Africa, so I was determined to change his mind.
We decided to start our ten days in Cape Town. After a LOT of the usual scanning through every hotel site going, trying to find the best accommodation; we eventually settled with an apartment in the City Bowl, very close to Long Street. We arrived at midday on Friday and despite eating everything Virgin Atlantic had to offer on our flight; we were ravenous and set out to find something to eat. We didn’t have to look for long as situated right outside our apartment block was ‘Eastern Bazaar… a slightly shifty looking alley way, filled with delicious smells and incredibly cheap meals. Greek shawarmas and pittas, Indian curries, South African specialities, the obligatory pizza and other stands contributed to our indecisiveness over what to have. All meals were 55 rand (around £3.50).
We started off with a chicken tikka masala dosa from the South Indian stand; and oh wow – it was so delicious. And huge! Luckily we shared it, thinking we could have something from another stand afterwards. Turns out we could barely get through the one item! We were chuffed with our first dining stop; and hoped that all of our meals would be quite so great, and cheap!
We had a leisurely walk to the V&A Waterfront; which was an entirely different atmosphere to the hustle and bustle of the city centre. There’s a much more relaxed feel to it; and you could easily spend many hours drinking and eating your way through the numerous restaurants and bars overlooking the waterfront…. Which is exactly what we did with our Friday afternoon!
Thanks to a long flight, we were both too tired to do much more, so we picked up another takeaway from Eastern Bazaar (told you, we were hooked!) – Bunnychow (a South African curry, served in a hollowed out bread loaf) and a lamb kebab, and called it a night.
I’ve realised I’ve written quite a lot and I’ve mainly talked about food… so, I will try my hardest to stop my waffle – it’s just hard for someone as food obsessed as me! Anyway, on to day two… we decided to climb Lions Head; as I like a bit of exercise, and I equally like a good view. We arrived at 9am to hoards of people circulating the base of the mountain and set off. The 3km hike starts with a steep dusty track and then ascends with rocks that you have to scramble up. They recommend 90 minutes to climb to the top, however, being very competitive, we made it up in 45 minutes. Oh yea! The views were lovely; however, I’d recommend leaving a little earlier as it was scorching, and very busy. Also, maybe leave the climb for a weekday, rather than a Saturday like we did.
We took a few photos up the top; realised we were both getting a little sunburnt and rapidly applied some factor 30 before we hurtled our way down. 40 minutes this time! Feeling good about ourselves, we head off to the Neighbourgoods Food Market in Woodstock; 15 minutes out of the city centre. And, oh wow – we didn’t stay long. It was chaos! I wouldn’t be surprised if there were thousands of people there. If we had more than 5 days in Cape Town, we would have returned, and we’d both still recommend going as the stands looked and smelt delicious, however, I didn’t fancy having lunch standing up whilst being bumped into every few seconds.
We ventured along the high street to ‘Woodstock Grill & Brewery’, where we had a yummy lunch of a burger and bittenballen (a Dutch speciality of pulled beef, breadcrumbed and deep-fried). Tom had heard that Red Bull were holding a kite surfing championship at one of the beaches in Cape Town; so we headed down to Bloemberg to watch the best kite surfers in the world in action. Unfortunately, kite surfing is a sport that is entirely dependent on the weather; so we ended up having to wait 3 hours until it started. In this time, I fell asleep on the beach and got exceptionally sunburnt. However, I like to think it was worth it as the kite surfing was amazing! I got very into it and we ended up staying for the majority of the competition; even in our sunburnt states.
Why is it that you never fully realise how badly sunburnt you are until you go inside? Anyway, we had a shocker. I had somehow managed to burn half of my neck, my shoulders, my shins, my nose and my back. Tom had a VERY red face; which I did find quite amusing. It hurt… a lot! We struggled through, without any moisturiser and had a few drinks and dinner in the City Bowl. We started with a gin cocktail at the Orphanage; which was a cool speak-easy type bar, with brilliant service, but fairly expensive cocktails. We had a couple of drinks at the Brewhouse, which had over 99 types of alcohol on tap, and then ended up at Galbi; a Korean/South African restaurant.
Each table had a mini barbecue slotted into it’s centre; and we had a choice of 10 meats we could order. Priced per 100 grams, we chose ostrich, warthog, kudu, zebra and wildebeest. We had rice, tempura vegetables and salad to accompany our meats and were soon provided with coal to fuel our fire. The experience was brilliant – we were able to cook our steaks to perfection; and season them as we wished, thanks to their seasoning tray. We washed everything down with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the Delheim vineyard and left very happy. For 600 rand; it was well worth it.
Day 3 was another scorcher, and thanks to our sun burns not reducing; we opted to spend most of our day in the car and drive the much-talked about ‘Cape of Good Hope’. We stopped off at various points throughout the drive; with our favourites being Kalk Bay (a beautiful seaside town with quirky shops, restaurants and cafes), Boulders Beach (for the African Penguin) and Constantia.
The drive was beautiful and we could both see why it was so recommended. We had to pay 150 rand each to drive into the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve; which we weren’t expecting… however, it had to be done. It’s a lovely expanse, with beautiful shorelines and various little beaches that you could explore. However, we wanted to spend as little time as possible out in the 30C sun so exploring too much wasn’t really an option!
I forced Red Face Tom to walk up to the lighthouse at Cape Point, rather than take the 3 minute funicular. We both covered ourselves with clothes to ensure no sun attacked us. The views from the lighthouse were beautiful and I’m glad we made the decision to drive this far. We also got to see some baboons; who we were warned would attack for food. They were probably scared off by Tom’s red face, so we survived our time outside of the car.
We drove through Scarborough and Kommetjie on our way back; both kite surfing spots with lovely beaches. We had a terrible lunch which I’m not going to bring up; and ended our drive at Constantia Vineyard. My parents had recommended to go; and they weren’t wrong. It was absolutely beautiful; really, really stunning. We roamed around the vineyard and had a wine tasting for 80 euros… which we obviously had to do inside because we couldn’t risk the angry sun.
We decided to eat in for dinner; so stopped at Pick and Pay and bought biltong, sushi, steaks, salad and wine for our dinner. We also bought our salvation – a huge tub of aloe vera moisturiser; which featured heavily throughout the evening.
I'm going to stop there; as I realise how long this blog has already gotten! Part 2 will be along shortly :)