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Travel like a local in Langa
19 Aug 2015
 
     

Travel like a local in Langa

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

We are always on the lookout for authentic experiences. The word ‘authentic’ obviously means different things to different people, but generally I like to think if you are sincerely welcomed into a community and their homes, invited to eat their food and immerse yourself in their culture, then you are dealing with genuine authenticity.

Globally, more and more people are looking for authentic travel experiences, which allow them to see the city like a local would, by seeking out tours and activities that allow them to travel and experience the neighbourhoods like the locals do.

Ubizo Events and Tours is a tour operator specialising in tours that encapsulate the locals’ lives, focussing on the township of Langa, which was established in 1927 in terms of the 1923 Urban Area Act and one of the oldest of its kind in South Africa. It was also a focal area for much of the resistance against the apartheid government and as such has a rich – if often turbulent – history.

Led by Ubizo’s founder, Sabu Siyaka, our tour of the area started at Cape Town Station with the group travelling by train to Langa. The train ride certainly adds authenticity to the tour as the bulk of the Langa workforce travels to and from work this way. The addition of the train is a calculated move by Sabu, who reasons that to truly understand the people of Langa, you need to get as close to their daily routine as you can. He is also a keen observer of people and regaled us with stories of the unique and entertaining characters working the carriages – from fruit sellers to busking musicians.

The trip is a short one – with just four stops and taking roughly 15 minutes – and is followed by a walk through the neighbourhood towards the first stop on the tour, Mzansi’s.

Ubizo will soon be offering a bicycling option and visitors can also opt to bus or drive into Langa for the tour, but the train trip is a welcome addition in my view. I did ask Sabu how unplanned stoppages will affect tours – there are two train tours every day – and he informed me that a bus will be on standby in case of such an occurrence.

Langa is more built-up than most would imagine, but the level of poverty is hard to ignore. There is a fairly large section of informal housing and it is a stark reminder of the country’s dark past. But what is also immediately evident is the warmth and sense of community in the neighbourhood. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Mzansi’s, which is run by Sabu’s parents, Nomonde and Ace.

“My mother makes the food, my dad gets down and my brother washes the dishes,” laughs Sabu as he takes us on a tour of the restaurant, which was an old family house before being turned into a restaurant seven years ago.

Lunch is a traditional Xhosa home-cooked meal, including local staples like samp, creamed spinach and beef stew. Dessert is local favourite malva pudding. It is a proper local meal and delicious. An in-house marimba band provides the tunes and atmosphere throughout, but the best part comes after lunch when Nomonde and Ace interact with guests. Nomonde with a brief history of the restaurant, Langa and the backstory to how she met Ace, who in turn teaches guests the ‘Pata Pata’ dance made famous by legendary local singer Miriam Makeba. The dancing is followed by a jam session on the marimba drums, which is always good fun.

Lunch is followed by a tour of the neighbourhood, where we are joined on by a bundle of fur known simply as ‘Fluffy’, who clearly knows the way as he takes point immediately. A neighbourhood favourite, Fluffy is a rockstar here and is mobbed by the young kids as we arrive at our first stop, the local Catholic School down the way from Mzansi’s. The poor little guy left soon after – probably in fear of his life – but it was pretty cool knowing that we had just been mixing it up with a local legend.

The tour incorporates, among other things, the church, the Langa Sports Field – which has produced some national sportsmen and no doubt will produce many more – the Arts and Culture Centre, Gugas’Thebe, the Dompas Museum and a visit to a local sangoma, before moving on to Gugulethu where you visit the Gughulethu Seven and Amy Biel Memorial, before wrapping things up with a meal at Mzoli’s - if on a weekend tour – or back at Mzansi’s during the week.

Walking the streets it is hard to ignore the poverty, but is also heartening to see the work being done in terms of upliftment by locals. The sense of pride and community in Langa is immediately evident and as Sabu leads us through the neighbourhood, filling us in on local history and trivia, it is clear that those who ‘make it’ are generally more interested in giving back than getting out. If you take anything away from a tour of Langa, let it be that.

For more information on Ubizo Events and Tours visit https://www.facebook.com/Ubizoeventsandtours or contact Sabu Siyaka on 021 425 8416 / 083 730 7942 or email: [email protected]

Get ready to SUP in Cape Town
12 Aug 2015
 
     

Get ready to SUP in Cape Town

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world and it is quickly taking hold in South Africa, not only as a sport, but as a fitness-orientated pastime as well. Like surfing, part of the draw is the physical element, without it ever feeling like a workout. But unlike surfing, it doesn’t take very long to get to grips with the basics.

I honestly thought I would start this article with a hilarious story about falling into the canal. I generally have the balance of an 11-month-old baby, so I was treating my first foray into the world of SUP with some trepidation.

Turns out my balance is not that bad… that, or even an 11-month-old baby could SUP.

Regardless, there were no major incidents, apart from the odd wobble and near accidental submersion at the start of the lesson, it did not take long to get going. We weren’t going to be winning any races, but we picked the basics up quickly enough.

Under the watchful guidance of Jacques, of Adrenalised Boardsports, Kelly and I were put through our paces. Starting on our knees, we moved in a circle for a few minutes, before eventually moving into a standing position, repeating the circular trajectory, and then finally being adjudged ready to head out into the canal system at the One & Only.

The joy of SUP is definitely the ease in which you can pick it up. Taking it into open water will obviously be more difficult, but with the placid nature of the water and the expansive width of the canal itself, it was seriously easy-going.

But don’t be fooled, while it isn’t hard to get the technique right, it is one heck of a workout. Granted, I was wearing a wetsuit on a cracker of a day, but I was dripping with sweat within minutes, and by the time we turned the first corner, my quads were starting to shake a little too tremulously for my liking…

Thankfully, the fatigue did not rob from the experience and there was certainly something zen-like about gliding across the water, paddle in hand, and being able to enjoy the surroundings from the vantage point of the water.

The Mother City is always on display and there is something to be said about changing up the view. The water is definitely a good place to start.

For more information on Adrenalised SUP lessons: http://adrenalisedboardsports.co.za

Go Skydiving in Cape Town
5 Aug 2015
 
     

Go Skydiving in Cape Town

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

Man is not meant to fly. The words continued to bounce around my head as I made my way out to Mother City Sky Diving. In just over an hour I would be making my first tandem jump and it’s fair to say I was feeling a touch nervous. Okay, so I was terrified…

It is impossible to try and get your head around skydiving, because quite simply, there is nothing to compare it to. I am not a huge fan of flying and while I am not scared of heights, I do not actively seek them out. So why would I choose to leap out of a plane? I was asking myself the same question as I pulled up to the drop zone.

Part of the fear is the unknown. I was not afraid of death or severe injury, but I was scared of something. What if I froze? What if I puked? Hell, what if I soiled myself? I was wearing tan pants after all… By the time I got out of my car I had managed to generate so much self-doubt, it’s a miracle I even let them put me in the harness, let alone step onto the plane.

I decided to be honest and immediately told Mother City SkyDiving’s Drop Zone operator Mike Rumble how terrified I was. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t the first time he heard such an admission and immediately set about placating me, before handing me over to Fred, the guy who would be pulling the strings during my jump.

Fred jumped for the first time 10 years ago and has successfully completed more than 3000 since then. Yes, I asked. During that time he has also become a master of psychology, managing to read people well enough to know what to say. So no gallows humour for the guy he had strapped to him this time around. Instead, he constantly reminded me that I was just there for the ride, to enjoy the view and most of all, have fun.

“Sure, what’s the worst that could happen?” I thought morosely. Well, you are jumping out of a plane at more than 10 000 feet, so death is a very real possibility. But then every time you get in a car you are risking grave injury or worse and that doesn’t stop me getting behind the wheel.

Once I had shuffled myself into the plane, I knew there was no turning back, although that still didn’t stop me from toying with the idea of pulling out. That option was thankfully never verbalised by anybody in the plane and when the door finally sprung open at around 11 000 feet I reluctantly stepped out.

BEST. DECISION. EVER.

It is almost impossible to explain the feeling when you step out into open air, but I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I told you I had an out of body experience. Because even looking at the video (see below), I still can’t believe I am in it. The free-fall was surreal. What I can tell you is that the first three-to-four seconds was scary, but once I opened my arms, it became the most exhilarating experience of my life.

The second I realised I was literally flying through the air, I embraced the experience, exuberantly throwing out multiple thumbs-ups and any other gestures I felt would sufficiently illustrate my uncontained joy.  The freefall lasts for around 40-60 seconds, but it seems like a lifetime before the chute is opened, which provides you with a thrill-ride of its own. As you manoeuvre through the air, floating from above with the world at your feet, you get to take in the view, which is unrivalled.

When I arrived in Malmesbury for my jump I was thinking of ways I could get out it. By the time I had landed, the only thing on my mind was ‘when can I do it again?’     

So yes, man is not meant to fly, but that never stopped us from chasing it and nothing beats that feeling when you spread your arms and soar through the sky. Nothing.  

For more information: 
www.mothercityskydiving.co.za 
The skydive : https://vimeo.com/132835348

Museums in Cape Town CBD
24 Jun 2015
 
     

Museums in Cape Town CBD

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town is a cultural hub and where the history of the country really began, so you can bet we have plenty of both to offer visitors. The Mother City’s history is rich – and at times tragic – and is has a number of world class museums that offer up a treasure trove to the past – both the good and the bad.  A number of these museums are located in the city centre – all within walking distance of each other – and together offer a view as diverse and entertaining as the city itself.

SOUTH AFRICAN MUSEUM

Situated in the Company’s Garden and part of the popular Museum Mile, the South African Museum is home to more than 1.5-million items of cultural and scientific significance. Ranging from fossils and Stone Age tools to a dinosaur exhibit. Make sure you visit the Whale Well, where among the giant whale bones and life-size casts of marine creatures, musical recitals are often held.  A must for families – the kids will love it.

For more information: http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/South_African_Museum

SLAVE LODGE

The history of Cape Town is a torrid one and the Slave Lodge – part of the Iziko Museums – offers a haunting reminder of a darker time. It is not easy to stomach, but it is an important reminder of how the country was built on the backs of slaves and speaks to a global audience with many other countries sharing in the global slave trade. The museum was once where the slaves stayed and as such is very much part of the exhibit, while a visit to the re-created slave ship is an emotional experience and very much worth seeing.

For more information: http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/Church_Square_and_the_Slave...

DISTRICT SIX MUSEUM

Few areas are as vivid an example of the Apartheid regime as District Six. A once racially diverse and vibrant community, the original residents were forcibly removed from the area when the National Party government declared it a “white group area”.  The District Six Museum – formerly a Methodist Mission Church - serves as a reminder of what the community once was. It contains a permanent multimedia exhibition called Digging Deeper, which includes narrated life histories of District Six residents.

For more information: http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/district_six_museum

CAPE TOWN HOLOCAUST CENTRE

Few episodes in human history are as dark, or tragic, as the Holocaust. The Cape Town Holocaust Centre stands alongside the South African Jewish Museum – also well worth a visit – and is home to a wealth of information on the period it covers. While undeniably wrought with emotion, the exhibition is beautifully laid out, offering written and verbal – both audio and visual – accounts of the Holocaust. The permanent exhibit is both heart-breaking and inspiring. Be warned, like the Slave Lodge, the Centre will leave its mark.

For more information: http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/Cape_Town_Holocaust_Centre

CHAVONNES BATTERY MUSEUM

A hidden gem at the V&A Waterfront, this museum is not to be missed. Telling the story of the history at the Cape Town harbour, its highlight is the Chavonnes battery. An 18th century fortification, the museum invites visitors to its excavation site in addition to a permanent exhibition. Don’t miss out on the well-reviewed walking tour.  

For more information: http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/chavonnes_battery_museum

ROBBEN ISLAND

This well-known Cape Town attraction has a very chequered past. It was first used as a prison when the Dutch Settlers were in the Cape and was briefly used as a leper colony and animal quarantine station. But what the Island is most famous for, is being a political prison during the Apartheid regime with its most notable prisoner being Nelson Mandela who served 18 years in the island’s prison. Current visitors to the island can get a tour of the prison and see Mandela’s cell first hand. All tours are carried out by former political prisoners. It’s very interesting and everyone who leaves, does so feeling a little more enlightened about the prison and its former prisoners.

For more information: http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/Robben_Island_and_Museum

CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE

The oldest building in the country and a structure that has played an integral part in its history. Completed in 1679, the Castle of Good Hope, once a fort, has been restored and now functions as a museum. Guided tours are offered Monday to Saturday with The Key Ceremony performed Monday to Friday, followed by the firing of the Signal Cannon at 12pm. The William Fehr Collection, comprising paintings and decorative arts, is partly housed here, while the building itself has many a story to tell – including ghostly ones!

For more information: http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/The_Castle_of_Good_Hope

BO-KAAP MUSEUM

The Bo-Kaap – also known as the Cape Malay Quarter - is one of the city’s most popular destinations with its colourful houses a standout feature of the neighbourhood. But beyond the houses, the area has an incredibly fascinating history with many of the residents being descendants from slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries who were forcibly brought to the city in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Bo-Kaap Museum is the perfect place to discover the history of the area with the building dating back to the 1760s and the oldest in the neighbourhood. Amongst other things, the museum recreates the life of a typical Malay family.

For more information: http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/Bo-Kaap_and_De-Waterkant

10 Reasons to Visit Signal Gun Winery
17 Jun 2015
 
     

10 Reasons to Visit Signal Gun Winery

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

I’m a sucker for anything unique to do in Cape Town. So, when we recently visited Signal Gun Wine Estate, I was very impressed with all they have to offer for these 10 reasons.

1. LOCATION 

When you think wine farms, the first area that comes to mind isn’t exactly Durbanville. All the more reason why I love that Signal Gun is located here. It’s not as busy as the usual wine routes and it offers great views for all to enjoy.

2. THEMED EVENINGS 

Whether you visit Signal Gun on a Tuesday or on a Saturday, you will find fun themed evenings to suit all tastes at Ke-Monate restaurant on the farm. Tuesdays are Indian themed, so think curries and spicy treats. Wednesdays you get tasty Italian food, while Thursday brings some Mexican-themed treats your way. Each of these come paired with recommended wines to compliment the food on offer. The free-beer-Fridays sounds great with a free 350 ml beer with any pizza, and Saturdays offers up a fantastic deal of two standard pizzas for R120.

3. MONTHLY EVENTS 

Depending on what’s going on, there are some really cool monthly events happening at Signal Gun. For example, the farm is participating in the upcoming Soup, Sip and Bread weekend organised by the Durbanville Wine Route, as well as hosting special events for Father’s Day and Youth Day.

4. OWN CRAFT BEER AND TOFFEE 

Signal Gun recently started its own microbrewery and developing its own brand of craft beer called Hoogeberg. There are two different types on offer. Namely, the Bonte Bok Cream Ale and the Yster Vark Hybrid Lager. Signal Gun also makes its own toffee with wine directly from the farm.

5. UNIQUE PAIRINGS 

There are some really unique pairings on offer from Signal Gun. Give the pizza and wine paring a go. You get four smaller sized pizzas with four glasses of wine perfectly paired to it. If you’re more of a biltong and beer person, then head to the tasting room to get that pairing.

6. GAME DRIVES ON HOOGEBERG HILL 

It’s not exactly the Big Five, but we think it’s pretty cool that you get to see some Eland, black wildebeest, springbok, zebra, grey ‘ribbok’, bontebok and smaller creatures such as dassies, tortoises and some cool birds. When the skies are clear, there are amazing views of Stellenbosch, the Strand, Simon's Town, Table Mountain, the harbour and Robben.

7. GREAT WINE TASTINGS 

Of course, it wouldn’t be wine farm without a wide variety of wine tasting options. Prices vary depending on what you want and for a small extra charge, you can keep your tasting glass. If you buy wine from the tasting room, you get a free tasting.

8. FAMILY OWNED AND RUN 

This is one of the only family owned and run wineries in the valley. The de Wit family who run the farm are extremely hands-on in the business and ensure that the quality of everything is up to scratch.

9. CANON FIRING 

On the first Saturday of every month, the original canon that used to sit on the hill is fired. If you get there in time, you can watch (and hear) it happen!

10. FAMILY FRIENDLY 

There are wide open grassy spaces for children to run around and, depending on the weather, a jumping castle is set up over weekends. Perfect for those with kids!

Wine with a view at Beau Constantia
10 Jun 2015
 
     

Wine with a view at Beau Constantia

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

Think The Shire with a modern-day twist and you may come close to the boutique wine farm that is Beau Constantia. Close, but not quite on the money, because chances are you have never experienced a wine tasting in a venue quite like it.

A rolling green embankment is the first thing you see as you walk down from the parking, but what grabs you is the squared, brick structures, sitting alongside huge glassed companions at the top of the hill. It is quite simply breath-taking.

The view from inside the venue is even more impressive. With the wine farm situated on the north-facing slope of Constantia Nek, you are treated to panoramic views of the Stellenbosch and Helderberg Mountain ranges and over False Bay as far as Hangklip. Jaw-dropping.

The wine here is equally as impressive, while the staff is knowledgeable and warm and another plus is that it is in close proximity to the Cape Town CBD and Southern Suburbs. All-in-all, that makes for a winning combination.

We tasted four wines during our tasting starting with the Pas de Nom white blend, followed by the Pas de Nom red blend.

The Pas de Nom range of wines has an interesting backstory as they have been dedicated to farm manager Japie Bronn who is recognised for his endless dedication to the vineyards and wine production at Beau Constantia.

But being incredibly humble and reserved, Japie did not want his name on the bottle, so instead the range went with Pas de Nom and paid tribute to Japie by featuring his signature beard on the label.

Next up was the Lucca a classic Bordeaux-style blend of 63% Merlot and 37% Cabernet Franc, a full and rich red with hints of blackcurrant and Morello cherries. Very nice.

The Aidan Shiraz was the last we tasted and was by far my favourite. With a darker texture and a bold, fruity taste, it was incredibly easy on the palate and a couple of bottles will not go amiss in the wine rack at the homestead.

On top of the wine tasting, Beau Constantia also offers a sushi menu from Sushi Box – both upstairs and downstairs – cheese platters, craft beers and wines from around the greater Constantia Valley.

The Tasting Room is open daily from 10am to 4.30pm, while the Wine Bar is open daily from 12pm to 8pm.

For more information on Beau Constantia: http://www.beauconstantia.com

Five amazing Cape Town breakfast spots with a view
3 Jun 2015
 
     

Five amazing Cape Town breakfast spots with a view

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

THE ANNEX  - KALK BAY

Sitting just behind Kalk Bay Books, the Annex Restaurant is just off the main road and sits in a historical building. Guests can enjoy their meals on the Annex veranda, in the courtyard, on the terrace or alongside a cosy fireplace in the library while overlooking the ocean. Delicious breakfast items include poached eggs served on Annex ciabatta toast with spinach and a Hollandaise sauce, French-toasted croissant drizzled with maple syrup and served with bacon and banana and so much more!

RHODES MEMORIAL RESTAURANT – RONDEBOSCH 

Sitting on the northern slope of Table Mountain, Rhodes Memorial Restaurant and Tea Garden gives diners an amazing view that spans from the Cape Flats to the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland Mountain ranges as well as views of both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Here you can enjoy smoked salmon with chives and scrambled eggs on a toasted bagel with cream cheese. Chilli con carne and two fried eggs on toast and much more.

THE MEETING PLACE - SIMON’S TOWN 

This unique spot can be found on the main strip running through Simon’s Town and is quickly becoming a favourite, place to meet. With a relaxed and welcoming vibe, The Meeting Place has been designed with relaxation in mind. Inside, comfortable couches are centred around an old-fashioned fireplace, while outside on the balcony garden-style chairs and tables await you. There are separate menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering a wide range of dishes to choose from. Breakfast is served until 12h00 and favourites include eggs Florentine, the chef’s breakfast croissant and the breakfast pizza. The gorgeous view is of the Simon’s Town harbour.

ON THE ROCKS RESTAURANT – BLOUBERG 

This popular local hangout has a breath taking view of Table Mountain. They’re open for breakfast every day until 12h00 and serve dishes such as a breakfast pan with eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, pork sausage and potato rosti, various French toast varieties and so much more.

CATHARINA’S RESTAURANT - STEENBERG ESTATE 

Nestled on Steenberg Wine Estate, Catharina’s offers a gorgeous view of the vineyards. It’s a quiet setting and will make you feel as though you are well out of the city. The extensive breakfast menu is made up of dishes such as pancakes with various toppings, a farm breakfast with two free range eggs, bacon, pork or beef sausage, grilled tomato, sauté mushrooms and so much more.

Coffee Shops with Character in Cape Town
27 May 2015
 
     

Coffee Shops with Character in Cape Town

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

The coffee culture is strong in Cape Town with shops lining the corners and main strips across the city, calling on java connoisseurs to sample their latest brews. From little nooks in the CBD to seaside meeting places in Simonstown, check out some of our local coffee shops with character.

DELUXE COFFEEWORKS

Deluxe Coffeeworks makes the list for so many reasons: As well as offering fantastic coffee, this popular coffee house also offers great music and welcoming friendly baristas. Another draw of this funky industrial-style coffee house, particularly for tourists visiting the city, is its location: Situated in the centre of the city, just near Greenmarket Square, Deluxe Coffeworks is the ideal coffee stop if you need to spend some time in the city centre organizing your day trips, sorting out banking and organizing your travel money, or simply experiencing Cape Town’s urban heart. There’s no better place to take a break, unwind, and refuel with a delicious cup of coffee.
Address: 25 Church Street, City Bowl 
Website: https://www.deluxecoffeeworks.co.za

TRUTH COFFEE

If you like good coffee served in a gritty and industrialised environment then Truth Coffee is the ideal Cape Town coffee shop for you. Walking into Truth Coffee feels like you’re walking into a Victorian futuristic fantasy: steam punk lovers will be in awe of the well thought of décor. More important than the interior though is the incredible coffee: strong, hot and full of flavour. Looking to contact friends and family back home or simply check up on your emails? Truth Coffee also offers all of its patrons three hours of free WiFi. According to The Guardian, Truth Coffee is the best coffee shop in South Africa.
Address: 36 Buitenkant Street, CBD 
Website: http://www.truthcoffee.com

TRIBE

Some of Cape Town’s coffee shops are busy and bustling; others are perfect for hanging out with friends. The Tribe Coffee Café is a little different: It is the perfect place for enjoying a cup of coffee alone and enjoying some quiet reflection. The atmosphere is zen-like and soothing, there is no better place to relax and take some time out to truly unwind. And the coffee? The beans are gently roasted and the aroma fills the whole café: you certainly won’t be disappointed with the coffee in the Tribe Coffee Café.
Address: The Foundry, 170 Albert Road, Woodstock 
Website: http://www.tribecoffee.co.za

BOB’S BAGEL CAFE

One of those café’s that you discover when you head off the main stretch, Bob's Bagel Cafe, is everything we love about Kalk Bay - chilled, friendly and real. This little café serves up some great brew to go along with its bagels and opens up onto the park in central Kalk Bay. A top spot.
Address: 6 Rouxville Road, Kalk Bay 
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bobs-Bagel-Cafe/158947450935975

THE BLEND

This cosy little shop on Roeland Street is a favourite on the East End of the CBD. Serving a variety of blends, they pride themselves on their love of coffee and claim to have the best wraps in town. Are they? We’re not giving anything away, so you will have to try them yourself as you sip on a good, strong cup of java.
Address: 79 Roeland Street, Cape Town 
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Blend/154584028020921?sk=info&tab=pag...

THE BOOTLEGGER COFFEE COMPANY

Open from 6.30am, serving their much-loved red-eye coffee (just R14 a cup), the Bootlegger is unabashedly passionate about all things coffee. This super-cool, industrial-chic eatery roasts their blend daily and also offers up some seriously tasty meals, from classic breakfasts to tapas for lunch/dinner.
Address: 39-41 Regent Road, Sea Point 
Website: http://bootlegger.co.za

KAMILI

Another popular haunt in the CBD – we’re spoilt for choice really – Kamili may not look like much from the outside, but once inside the warm, ambient interior and basic benches provide a homely feel, while the blissful smell of their roasted coffee only serves to enhance your mood. Friendly staff and great coffee, Kamili is the perfect spot to dodge the rain and grab a quick cuppa.
Address: Corner of Long and Short Market Streets 
Website:  https://www.facebook.com/Kamilicoffee?fref=ts

THE MEETING PLACE

This unique spot can be found on the main strip running through Simon’s Town and is quickly becoming a favourite place to meet. With a relaxed and welcoming vibe, The Meeting Place has been designed with relaxation in mind. Inside, comfortable couches are centred around an old-fashioned fireplace, while outside on the balcony garden-style chairs and tables await you.
Address: 98 St George’s Street, Simonstown 
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Meeting-Place-Upstairs/27604346242317...

LEKKER

How could you possible go wrong at a spot named ‘lekker’? Lekker basically means: good, tasty, delicious, nice or anything to express approval or satisfaction. Situated on the main Kalk Bay strip, the restaurant claims to be the place to go if you’re looking for lekker coffee, lekker pastries and cakes, lekker food, lekker staff and service, lekker local favourites like milktart, koeksisters, botter marie and tea, vetkoek with jam and so much more.
Address: 106 Main Road, Kalk Bay 
Website: http://lekkerkalkbay.co.za

ROSETTA ROASTERY

The guys at Rosetta Roastery are seriously passionate – and knowledgeable – when it comes to coffee and they love to share all of that with their clientele. They source only the best single origin coffees from places as far afield as North and South America and Asia, while their shop has been featured on lists of the best coffee shops in the world. Minimalist, with a black and white interior, Rosetta lets their coffee do the talking for them – and the word is spreading.
Address: Albert Road, Woodstock 
Website: http://www.rosettaroastery.com

Get on a bike to explore the Mother City
20 May 2015
 
     

Get on a bike to explore the Mother City

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

The best way to discover and unlock a city is to hit its streets, pound the pavement and mingle with the locals. Cape Town, naturally, has a variety of tours to help you get to know the city, and few cover as much ground as AWOL Tours Cape Town City Cycle Tour.

For me the guide makes – or breaks – a tour. Fortunately then, we got Mark for our visit into the city. Apart from being knowledgeable of the Mother City’s long and storied history, he was always quick with a quip and kept the conversation rolling with personal anecdotes about his shared story with each location we visited.

I have been on a fair amount of guided tours around the city and it’s always unique because of the guide. Nobody sees the city the same way. One person’s favourite spot is not always going to be yours, while the diversity of the locals in the city means you are guaranteed to enjoy some friendly debate at some point over who makes the best coffee in the city or whether or not one takeaway joint is better than another.

AWOL offers a number of different tours and we went for the three-hour jaunt around the city, which combines both the old and the new around the city. Starting at the V&A Waterfront, Mark took us through the back-end of the docks and into the city, where we stopped off in Adderley Street, The Bo-Kaap, The Company’s Garden, St. George’s Mall, Cape Town Stadium and Eco-Park amongst other prime spots in Cape Town.

Something I really enjoyed about the tour is that while guides are expected to hit the major landmarks, they are not bound by any specific route and can add their own favourite spots and talking points during the ride. With the guides given this freedom, It makes the experience all that more unique. It also means that while you will be educated on the history of the city, you will also be given the insider’s guide to Cape Town by somebody who knows what makes the city tick.

The Cape Town City Cycle Tour takes around three hours from start to finish, but the speed is leisurely with very little climbing – with the exception of the hill into the Bo-Kaap – meaning it is the perfect way for everybody, young and old, to explore the wonders of the Mother City.

For more information on AWOL Tours Cape Town City Cycle Tour and all the other tours on offer, visit their website: https://www.awoltours.co.za

Four Food Trucks to Visit in CT
11 Feb 2015
 
     

Four food trucks to visit in CT

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

We predicted that food trucks would be a trend to watch in 2014 and we were right. Here are 4 food trucks to keep an eye out for in 2015. 

LIMONCELLO 

Limoncello Food Truck - Often seen at major events, the Limoncello truck gets around Cape Town, but it can also be visited at various markets and parking spots such as the Oudekraal market, Charley’s Bakery parking lot and the NeighbourGoods market in Woodstock. They serve up tasty Italian dishes that include pastries and pizzas.
Location: Cape Town markets and events
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Cape-Town-Food-Trucks/424139807602526
Twitter: @CTFoodTrucks
Email: [email protected]

FETTY’S STREET FOOD 

Fetty's Food Truck - Inspired by his travels around the world, Chef Damian has named his truck Yatra (meaning ‘journey’ in Hindi) to serve food that he has learnt to make on these trips. The focus is mainly Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Mexican and US style food. You will find authentic and fusion dishes ranging from Thai egg fried rice and Phad Thai to Butter chicken, burritos and pulled pork burgers. The menu changes regularly so there’s always something new on offer.
Location: Various festivals such as the Festival in the Valley in Franschhoek this coming weekend (13, 14 December) and at the Vineyard Oval next Saturday. It’s also available for private functions.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Fettysstreetfood
Twitter: @thefet
Email: [email protected]

BRAZILIANT EXPRESS 

Brazilliant Food Truck - This family owned business has been around for just under three years and is the truck to look out for when you need a beverage to quench your thirst. They serve both hot and cold in the form of cappuccinos, lattes, iced lattes and slushies.
Location: Festivals and events such as Killarney race days, music festivals, craft beer projects, private event
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BraziliantExpress
Twitter: @Info_Braziliant
Email: [email protected]

BAGUETTE SANDWICHES 

Bagette Food Truck - Having started off as a joke between the owner, Steph, and the owner of his favourite coffee shop, Baguette Sandwiches is now a popular Cape Town food truck… of sorts. The sandwiches were first sold out of the basket of a vintage delivery bicycle and it’s now a fully-fledged sandwich delivery business. You can’t find them on the steps of the coffee shop anymore, but you can call them to deliver to you or find them at local events. The sandwiches have gone from being simple to gourmet as time went on. There is now a variety of breads including the German pretzel, rye, whole wheat and wheat-free.
Location: Anywhere you want them to be, festivals and events.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/baguette.sandwiches
Twitter: @BaguetteBicycle
Email: [email protected]

Top four summer markets in Cape Town
4 Feb 2015
 
     

Top four summer markets in Cape Town 

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

Summer in Cape Town is a thing of beauty. Locals and visitors spill out onto the beaches and into the bars. But summer in the city is also about the markets! Here are 4 markets you need to visit in the city this summer.

CAPE TOWN SUMMER MARKET:

The annual Cape Town Summer Market is held in the Company Gardens. Kiosks and stalls line the pedestrian roads and lawns as far up as the Iziko National Arts Gallery. Around 200 vendors set up shop, selling everything from leather bracelets to Italian ice cream. The perfect setting for a lazy summer market, the natural ambience provided by the tranquillity of the gardens makes this a must-do this summer. We visited the market last year (www.capetown.travel/blog/entry/lazy-nights-at-the-cape-town-summer-market) and came away with some solid purchases. Join us in the gardens this year for more of the same!

THE BAY HARBOUR MARKET :

Situated on the water’s edge at the old Hout Bay Harbour, with more than 100 stalls, a fish factory, and a stage for live musical performances, is popular with locals and tourists alike. The KWV Sound Stage has been graced by some of SA’s best musicians and always draws a big crowd. You can also expect a wide range of 80 awesome weekly traders, 9 draught beers on tap, artisan food stalls, art and crafts. The Market has also geared itself towards the festive season with its Thingz Festive Season Shopping Markets with the final one taking place on 20 and 21 December - Kids Thingz.

KIRSTENBOSCH CRAFT MARKET:

The ever-popular market at Kirstenbosch consists of around 180 crafters who sell original, hand-crafted goods and there is plenty of food on offer as well! The market operates on the last Sunday of every month – with the exception of June, July and August – and proceeds from stall rentals goes straight to the Development Fund for Kirstenbosch Gardens. Speaking of the gardens, the market is situated directly across the road at the Kirstenbosch Stone Cottages, meaning you can pop across for a stroll when you are finished shopping!

RONDEBOSCH CRAFT MARKET:

The perfect way to spend a relaxing Saturday afternoon. Browse stalls of hand-made goods, have breakfast under the shade of the trees, or just do both. Held on the second Saturday of every month, the Rondebosch Craft Market continues to be a popular port of call for market shoppers.

The Kwak Beer Experience
28 Jan 2015
 
     

The Kwak Beer Experience

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

“We will need your left shoe please sir, we can’t have you running off with our glass…”

And with that begins my Kwak Beer Experience at Den Anker at the V&A Waterfront. The relinquishing of my left shoe dates back to a tradition which began in 19th Century Belgium. If I want to drink the beer, I need to forfeit my left shoe… for a time at least. The tradition started because the glasses were extremely expensive and difficult to replace at the time. It sparked a Belgian custom in which the barman kept the left shoe of patrons until the glass had been returned.

Well, it turns out they are still expensive and in Den Anker’s case the tradition is going strong. So as you sip at your beer, your shoe will be kept in a basket behind the bar for as long as you have possession of the bowl-shaped glass. Thankfully I wore old shoes in preparation of my Kwak… just in case.

The experience is all part of the fun. Once you have handed your shoe over for ‘safe-keeping’, the beer arrives at your table served in a 25cm glass tube with a flared top and a round, bulbous bottom and is held by a wooden clamp. The reason for the clamp is that without it the glass would not stand. It would then break and I would be without a left shoe. Yes, the shoe is not just held in case of theft, but for breakage as well.

Turns out more than a couple of glasses have been lost to both. Customers have even been known to wear slops so they don’t feel too much of a loss when then make off with the glass. It is all shrugged off by Den Anker as part of the fun.

Apart from the quirkiness of the experience, the beer itself it worth the strange looks one gets while quaffing a beer sans left shoe. The beer is deep amber with a thick, creamy head. It is sweet, with a hint of fruitiness that makes the transition from lips to gut very pleasurable indeed. In short, the beer is far more than a quirky glass. 

I am joined at my table by Den Anker manager Brandon, who is not only the person who took brief ownership of my shoe, but is also a beer aficionado. He regales me with the history of the Trappist order of monks, who are famous for their Trappist beer, and gives me a rundown of what is available at the restaurant.

Now Belgians are to beer what South Africans are to wine and Den Anker has plenty on offer apart from the Kwak. They have six Trappist beers available to order and a multitude of others to sample. The restaurant also offers a beer tasting, which consists of six draft beers, including the owner’s Anker beer.

Me, I will be back for the beer tasting, but the Kwak is going to be hard to surpass. So was it worth giving up a shoe for the duration? Hell, I would have given up two. Next time I am going to be wearing slops…

For more information on Den Anker and the Kwak Beer Experience: www.denanker.co.za

3 Cape Town Restaurants with Spellbinding Seaside Views
21 Jan 2015
 
     

3 Cape Town Restaurants with Spellbinding Seaside Views

Robert Peters for Cape Town Tourism

Here are our top 3 restaurants in Cape Town with spellbinding views of the sea:

THE TWO OCEANS RESTAURANT

Cape Point, the southern-most tip of Africa is a vista at the edge of the world – crowned by fynbos and sunlight and surrounded by the majestic meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, there isn’t a better place to celebrate the sunset. The Two Oceans Restaurant overlooks this superb panorama and is famed for its sophisticated seafood and chic sushi combinations. Or how about a delicious ostrich burger?

THE GRAND CAFÉ AND BEACH (GRANGER BAY)

Or why not enjoy your own private beach at the stylishly relaxed Grand Café at the V&A Waterfront? Umbrellas and tables stretch onto the sparkling white sand as the ocean beckons and the cocktails arrive cold and colourful while your pizza gets nice and crispy in the wood-fired ovens. You’ll feel like celebrity and you might just spot one.

THORFYNN’S RESTAURANT

Thorfynn’s Restaurant combines a wild ocean with an ancient Milkwood forest that tangles around the deck in the candlelight. It’s an unbeatable vista in the heart of Noordhoek’s Monkey Valley Nature Resort, with accompanying home-cooked goodness and family friendly ambiance. Burgers, pizzas and delicious vegetarian dishes compliment the landscape – the kiddies menu is also a real draw.

Photo: courtesy of Two Oceans Restaurant

5 Fun Facts about Whale Watching in Cape Town
1 Oct 2014
 
     

5 Fun Facts about Whale Watching in Cape Town

Alessandro Candotti for Cape Town Tourism

Did you know that there are whale songs in space? As whale season in Cape Town approaches its glorious whaling crescendo, we bring you 5 fun facts on whale watching here in our beloved Western Cape. 

Ready! Set! Go! 

FACT 1 

The best places to watch whales from June to November along the Whale Route, which spans along the coastline passing Gordon’s Bay, Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay en route to Hermanus.

FACT 2

The Southern Rights make the pilgrimage from the icy waters of their Antartic homelands to the coast of South Africa to mate and calve every winter. Up to 50 pairs of whales can be spotted playing together at a single time along the coasts of the Western Cape!

FACT 3

Whale activities include breaching (leaping out the water and twirling around), fluking or sailing (raising the tail vertically out of the water), lop tailing (slapping the tail on the water’s surface), sprouting / blowing (the old classic out the blowhole) logging (lounging on the surface like a log) and spyhopping (when whales peak their heads vertically out the surface for a little peek).

FACT 4

The Hermanus Whale Festival is into its 23rd year celebrating the gentle colossus and welcomed over 110,000 visitors last year.  1.5 hours outside of Cape Town, Hermanus is considered world-wide one of the leading land-based locations to spot these beautiful marine goliaths, with magnificently clear views from a scenic cliff-top walk. This year the festival runs from 3-6 October.

FACT 5

Whale songs, which are strikingly similar to human symphonies, were included in the Voyager Golden Record and sent off into space. If an alien civilisation ever discovers and decodes the message, they’ll be listening to whales singing Earth's praises!

Photo: Dave de Beer, www.hermanuswhales.co.za

Top 3 Places You Must Eat at this Spring
24 Sep 2014
 
     

What’s New in Cape Town: The Top 3 Places You Must Eat at this Spring

Fazielah Williams for Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town, the gorgeous Mother City, has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to being the trendy gourmet capital of Africa and as such, there is never a shortage of hot, new restaurants to feast at.

Join me at these most delicious, why-haven’t-you-been-there-yet top places to eat at this Spring:

WOZA!

This corner street hot spot in the City Centre is serving up authentic African township grub hot, fast, cheap and DELICIOUS!

Formerly located in the Golden Acre Shopping Centre , Woza! is now rocking the corners of  bustling Burg and Church Streets and is a great alternative to the Food Lover's Market or Café Mozart if you just need to satiate that craving for samp, vetkoek, beef stew, tripe or quarter chicken.

Got a MASSIVE lunchtime craving but low on cash? Get Woza’s oh-so-scrumptious-and-filling Vetkoek and mince curry for just R 17! www.wozafoods.co.za

DOWNTOWN RAMEN

So you love the hipster vibe at Lefty’s in District Six as much as I do? You’re going to love its latest addition too – the too-cool-for-school foodie kids have recently opened the noodlelicious Downtown Ramen in their loft upstairs.

Come and slurp some of their tasting offerings, including pork or vegetarian with tofu ramen noodles, served in a shoyu (soya-based) broth with bao (steamed buns) and stay hydrated with a small selection of trendy drinks, including  the Japanese beer, Sapporo.

Seating is limited so yes, you’ll have to share a table with perfect strangers and accept that you’ll all look fairly silly slurping your tasty broths but hey, that’s a part of the fun at a hipster joint, isn’t it? www.facebook.com/pages/Leftys

MIAO

No one does re-invention quite like the fabulous residents and business owners of De Waterkant, so it comes as no surprise that the former It’s a House is blossoming in its rejuvenation as the whimsical eatery, Miao.

Besides its mouth-watering gourmet offerings, Miao also caters to your cultural palate with weekly cult film screenings, a library, live performances by upcoming musicians and comedians. Business folk will appreciate the free Wi-Fi and boardroom style table for those unconventional client meetings.

While best known for its dinner and lunch options, Miao offers irresistible desserts too – my favourite is the Death by Pancake - a banana, peanut butter and caramel pancake tulip, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream… yummy! www.miao.co.za

No-Work-Wednesday
17 Sep 2014
 
     

Enjoy an action-packed #lovecapetown adventure on no-work-Wednesday

Leonie Mollentze for Cape Town Tourism

Say goodbye to the Hump Day blues and hello to a day of freedom and fun!  

Forgot about your pasella day off this coming Wednesday for Heritage Day? We will show you how you can #lovecapetown from morning to sunset, doing the action-packed fun things you can only dream about when you're stuck in the office...

BREAKFAST HIKE UP TABLE MOUNTAIN

Pack a breakfast picnic, put on your hiking shoes and take the Platteklip Gorge scramble to the top of Table Mountain, where you can soak up the sights of the Mother City.  

Explore a little and watch the city come to life before you take a relaxed ride down in the cable car.  

And remember, birthday boys and girls get a free ride!  Simply bring your SA ID along. www.tablemountain.net

WATERSPORTS AT BLUE ROCK

Still feel energetic after your Table Mountain adventure?  Then jump into your car, head out onto the N2 and make your way to Blue Rock on the beautiful slopes of Helderberg Mountains.

Blue Rock with its crystal clear lake offers cable water skiing, wakeboarding or knee boarding, with loads of other fun activities for the whole family.

Refuel at the restaurant (remember to book) and spend the afternoon lazing in the sun.

Your action-packed afternoon starts here! www.bluerock.co.za

SUNDOWNERS ON THE CAPE WHEEL

End your day with a spectacular 360 degree panoramic view of Cape Town on the Cape Wheel, which operates at the V&A Waterfront.

You could even enjoy a sundowner picnic while you ride! For a few bucks extra, you will get a basket that you can fill with your picnic goodies of choice, and a Cape Wheel ride that will last twice as long (30 minutes instead of the normal 12 - 15 minutes). The perfect way to end off a perfect day!

Bookings essential. www.capewheel.co.za 

Enjoy the fabulous freedom of no-work-Wednesday!

Photo: Claire Butler

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