Hi friends! Sorry we’ve been absent for the past several weeks but it’s my fault for leaving to Cape Town, South Africa, on a whim. I left my cooking in crime, Anne, in Boston (sorry Anne I missed you!) for this whirlwind trip and I documented this beautiful, romantic, and most visited city to share with you all! My lovely Capetonian friend and his family kindly accepted me to their home and showed me what Cape Town had to offer. There was never a dull moment except when cricket was on TV. If you’ve seen Blood Diamond or Invictus, you might have a better sense of this rainbow nation, but if you’re like me and only watch a handful of films every year, then everything might be a surprise for you.
First visit was to Hout Bay, which is a fishing harbor just 20 km (or 12 miles) outside of the city.
We grabbed lunch at the original Snoekies for some fish and chips! Indulging in seafood from the beginning. Typical.
Right outside the restaurant we spotted seals resting. Cute, yes. Scary, YES!!! One audacious fellow decided to attack us and I ran for my life. Everyone laughed. Lesson learned: I have to be amicable with the animals here because they run freely everywhere! Ask me about the African squirrels and baboons if you’re interested.
Chapman’s Peak is one of the world’s great ocean drives, winding along a cliff-edge east of Hout Bay. Simply breathtaking.
In 1930 the last leopard was shot in Hout Bay and so Ivan Midford-Barberton built this bronze statue onto a rock in 1963. Leopards are shy so they would sneak up to farmer’s livestock, and as a result, they were shot. Here is a funny conversation I had with my friend about this photo.
Anonymous: That’s not a leopard.
Me: Yes it is.
Anonymous: NO it’s not. It’s green.
Me: I know, it’s a statue. It’s a leopard.
Anonymous: No it’s not. It’s a baby leopard.
When I was googling ideas for activities in Cape Town, I came across The Old Biscuit Mill and I fell in love. Every Saturday, food vendors and artists come together and produce this lively community. Most of the food resembles a lot of what we have here, but you can also find some local dishes and souvenirs such as biltong, aka better quality beef jerky.
The Old Biscuit Mill did not make it into my Rough Guide (shame), so we were under pressure to find the breakfast of champions. Following my gut instinct, I chose the Rachel sandwich that consisted of: corn beef, sauerkraut, and island dressing. So d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.
Thank you gut.
Dessert was a honey-liqueur (SA spelling) shot in a chocolate cup so I got the best of both worlds. I also tried the pistachio macaroon…didn’t beat our Chocolate Cinnamon Macaroons!
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is CT’s original Victorian harbor. There are shopping malls, nineteenth-century buildings, waterside piers, and a functioning harbor with Table Mountain in the back drop. So basically it’s a tourist destination. Nonetheless it’s a beautiful area and it’s the embarkation point for trips to Robben Island.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is SA’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 22,000 indigenous plants. This place is a Botanist’s heaven.
Mandela’s Gold and some AloeOff to Constantia we went to educate ourselves on wine. South Africa is HUGE with wine. So huge I couldn’t keep track of what I was drinking, but I did learn interesting facts; Wine stored in American barrels give a cinnamon flavor to the red wine.
After exploring downtown Cape Town, it was time for our road trip. The Garden Route has a legendary status as South Africa’s paradise with a diverse scenic view of soft green rolling grass cutting through rivers that turn into rocky shores and sandy beaches. It was amazing. It was also amazing that I, the driver because foreigners get unlimited km per rental, safely drove for five days on the LEFT-hand side.
Our first stop was in Knysna, a small quiet town known for their Oysters (I forgot to take a picture). I bought some beaded bracelets made by the Zulus. The colors are delightful. After Knysna, we were on a mission to go inland and visit Prince Albert, a favorite Karoo village. Unfortunately the most dramatic drive, Swartberg Pass, was closed down due to heavy rainstorm damage, but we still had an incredible view.
After a long drive and getting good rest (ignoring the church bells every hour) we were revitalized for some Karoo adventure. We visited the smallest wine estate in SA which made an incredible dessert wine, and then we were seduced by the smell of apple pie into the Lazy Lizard. The cheese on the plate is from Gay’s Dairy Farm around the corner, and olives are locally grown. Priceless!
We drove by Oudtshoorn, which is the ostrich capital. Have you ever encountered one before? I’ve only seen girls carrying them as hand bags in the States. They can run up to 45 km/hr and it’s the strangest looking thing! I also decided that if I have any regrets on this trip, it would be that I could not convince my friend to ride of one of these. Next time!
Finally we arrive to Warmwaterberg Spa. It’s a Karoo farm with natural hot water and at night there is star gazing. I saw two shooting stars! But the highlight of this night: sleeping in a $10/night trailer. Rustic!
Back to Cape Town and then we drove towards south, destination point: Cape of Good Hope.
Fish and chips overkill.
Everything on the menu was written in English, but if you didn’t know already, SA has 11 official languages. There is a lot of slang in South African English, and at times it’s hard to understand never mind the accent.
e.g. “Howzit boet?”
Translation: How are you friend?
Okay, maybe that was too easy.
Dessert at Olympia Cafe. Best decision to have hot chocolate and a really rich brownie when it’s chilly out…
I can hear the squealing! Yup, African Penguins hanging out and close enough to touch. Saw some Dassies, too.
I didn’t know what Dassies were either.
We made it! Cape Point, the most southern tip of Africa and where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet! Well, it turns out this is the biggest misconception and I’m not sure why because if you look at a map it’s pretty clear that Cape Agulhas is as south as you can get.
I’m still proud that we made it to Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western point of the African continent.
Even Real Saffer was misguided. It happens!
The trip was coming to an end so I decided to put some closure on my wine experience and drive to one of the most reputable Winelands, Stellenbosch. We had lunch at Moyo to eat some traditional African food (sorry, no photo again), and ended the evening with more wine tasting.
You can’t visit Cape Town without visiting Table Mountain. It’s the best view of the city, and even during the middle of winter the temperature is really mild. There are about 1400 species of flora on the mountain, and you can spot some animals.
Already packing your bags? Hope you enjoyed catching up on my trip! Without a doubt SA should be a top destination for everyone, and I can also connect you to the best tour guide. SA has continually been receiving positive attention and the country is flourishing, but the harsh reality is that more than half the population still live under the poverty line, and you will witness many townships on your visit. Let’s hope someday everyone will have access to water, electricity, and education.
Since I did not have a recipe to post (coming soon!), I left some travel quotes to think about.
Cheers for now!
All journeys have secret destinations – Martin BuberIf you are physically fit, hungry to learn, and be better, I urge you to travel as far and as widely as possible.
Sleep on floors if you have to.
Find out how other people live, eat and Cook.
Learn from them wherever you go.