We crowned our South African adventure with a stay in one of its most brilliant gems: beautiful Cape Town. Like so many before me, I was struck by the city’s dualities and endless facets: concrete giants next to some of nature’s most stunning miracles, a town that’s hip and happening yet very much in touch with its history, open minded but undeniably marked by the ghost of the past, with a touch of Europe alongside deep African roots.
During our first days at the Cape, we visited the beautiful “Victoria & Alfred Waterfront” for some nice dinners and late night shopping sessions, spent a morning at Muizenberg beach, admiring its charming colored little beach houses, headed out to Cape of Good Hope to witness the not-so-southernmost point of the peninsula and went to meet the super cute suited-up inhabitants of Simon’s Town (PINGUIIIIIINS <3).
Later, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset walk on Lion’s head and went on two great daytime (guided) walks, one in the historic center and one in the Malay Quarter, better known as Bo-Kaap. We also set out to sea, towards the impressive Robben Island, and on our very last day we took a detour to Stellenbosch, to visit a craft market/padstal and discover “The World of Strawberries”.
To shop: While wandering the city, we stumbled upon a cluster of super cute stores on the corner of Church Street and Long Street. Mungo and Jemima, which offers a beautiful (and affordable) selection of fresh and wearable pieces from all local designers, Babette Clothing, a vintage wonderland for all you boho lovers, Mememe, the embodiment of African chic, also from local designers, and Ceramic Factory, a little treasure room filled with pretty printed design wannahaves.
To stay: We booked an apartment at the Icon Luxury Apartments and were not disappointed by this choice. Not at all. Standard but not too basic, nice but not too pricey. Quite centrally located and with a kick-ass rooftop swimming pool (believe me, after an afternoon of walking the city under the African sun, you’re gonna want that refreshing dive!)
To eat: For the healthy/yummy hipster experience, one of Cape Town’s food markets is definitely the way to go! We really liked the happy vibes at the V&A Waterfront Food Market and had a top lunch at the Earth Fair Market (which you can find every Thursday at St. Georges Mall).
Should you Belgians be feeling a bit homesick, you can always head over to “Den Anker” at Waterfront, which has some pretty funny African interpretations of Belgian food on its menu. For a “classic” African meal, on the other hand, you should head to Mama Africa in Long street (be sure to book your table in advance, though!)
To explore: Like many other big cities, Cape Town offers free walking tours, to discover the city guided by a local. We took 2 free tours, one of the historic center, and one of the Malay quarter with its brightly painted houses, also known as Bo-Kaap. We were blessed with a great (albeit slightly sarcastic…) guide: Paul, who told tales of the city’s history with exceptional verve, interlaced with authentic personal anecdotes of growing up under the reign and fall of Apartheid.
To drive: Fancy a scenic road trip? Chapman’s Peak drive, which stretches out from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, is said to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. You shouldn’t always believe what “they” say, but I can personally attest to the marvelousness of its sea view! Extra tip for you fellow lovers of all things yummy: we ended our drive at the lovely Dunes beach bar in Hout bay, with cocktails and ice cream ^^
Mind the fog! A stop at Cape of Good Hope is a definite must for an all-rounded Cape experience. Sure, it’s not really the most southern point of the peninsula, but there’s just something symbolic about it. However: make sure to plan your stop a bit better than we did. We did the Cape point walk when it was covered in fog and even though it’s quite a remarkable feeling to find yourself at the tip of that massive continent, a little glimpse of the outstretched waters at your feet might be a considerable plus :) Same goes for Table Mountain: when it’s not covered in its cloudy table cloth: get your ass up there. You might not get another chance.
PINGUINSSSS. Ok, they’re a bit smelly. And funny looking. And they don’t do much more than stand there and soak up the sun. But there so freaking adorable! We obviously went crazy for these suited up inhabitants of Simon’s Town. Btw: on the beach in Simon’s Town you can take a casual dive and swim right beside these black and white cuties. No biggie.
Robben Island Testimonies. On Robben Island, we got a tour around the prison facilities by a former political prisoner. Sure, he might not have been the most eloquent guide we had throughout our trip. But he was definitely the most impressive one. What a strength of character it must take to go back to that place of suffering, to share your stories with future generations, helping ensure history never repeats itself…
Badass grannies. Imagine: you’re sitting on a boat, on your way back from Robben Island. Waves are pretty hefty (yes: you almost fell on your face/in the arms of a friendly sailor). You are surrounded by a group of retired school teachers from Soweto. All of a sudden, one of them starts singing an African folk song. Another one chimes in. And another one. And another one. And all of them! There’s clapping. And chanting. And dancing! A delightfully surreal experience… Gotta love badass old ladies <3
Oom & Tannie <3 Travel memories are made by the people you meet, and we were lucky enough to meet some of South Africa’s finest. Katrien’s Oom & Tannie welcomed us with open arms on our very first day in Pretoria, and waved us goodbye in Cape Town. They introduced us to South African life, the art of Braaj and the beautifully quirky Afrikaans language (Drukkies – hugs – will forever be my favorite word!) Lots of love and baie dankie to these two warm and wonderful peeps!