Jon and I traveled to Cape Town the weekend before last and… it is worth the hype! Man, that place is gorgeous. It really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world – we likened it to a mix of Tel Aviv, Seattle, Denver, Lihue in Kauai (Hawaii) and some Mediterranean place. (My brother, Nadav, suggested Naples. I’ve never been there but let’s go with that.) Amazing. (Brace yourselves, this is a long post. Have a glass of wine ready? Some goat cheese? Ok.)
We flew out of Lanseria Airport, the other, smaller airport in Joburg. It’s a teeny airport where we had to get a ride on a golf cart to the terminal from the parking lot, has 5 gates & easy check-in. The flight is only about two hours and we took a budget airline which was perfectly nice and very affordable. (Hint, hint – come visit us!) We rented a car and drove to our AirBNB, a nice place in the Greenpoint/Waterfront area. It was great because we had underground parking, a grocery store nearby and things to walk to. So we headed out and went to the Long Street area in City Center, stopping for a great lunch at Royale with awesome burgers and shakes. We then went to the Waterfront and walked around. It’s cutesy and touristy but fun and with cool street performers and shops. There’s even a ferris wheel that I might be willing to get on. We made a reservation at Harbour House for dinner and had yummy, fresh line fish and sushi. Mmmm…
The next morning we got up early and drove about an hour to Franschhoek in wine country. It’s a really beautiful town that has cute shops, incredible wineries and some of the best restaurants in Africa. We loved walking around and even found a shop that sells an elderflower cordial from one of my favorite brands, Belvoir! We started our tastings off at Haute Cabrière, where they make the famous Pierre Jourdan champagne line and most importantly, boozy popsicles. I have found my purpose! We then drove to Le Petite Ferme for lunch, which overlooked beautiful gardens and mountain scenery. The service was impeccable and, y’all, they had elderflower sorbet for dessert. I can’t even. We then went to Solms Delta for a tasting. Jon had a conference call so I sat and enjoyed the scenery and tried to get his attention every time the server came by with the next pour. 🙂 Our final tasting – for those who are counting, that’s three – was at Fairview and it was just wonderful. (Not just because I was full-on tipsy by then.) It’s a farm owned by one of our family friend’s relatives and it’s beautiful. They are known for having goats everywhere and they were super cute. The real kicker?? They offer a cheese pairing with the wine and holy Moses it was great. We signed up for their wine club, which basically just required buying 12 bottles (at less than $100 for all of them) and they were shipped for free to our place in Pretoria. In the future, we’ll get discounts and we even get to do a master tasting with their sommelier the next time we’re there. Win-win! The day ended with us going to The Pot Luck Club for dinner. It’s the sister restaurant of The Test Kitchen, the 22nd (or something) best restaurant in the world and it’s world-class in its own right. We loved every minute of our meal. (Especially when we met the chef from TTK in the elevator and Jon geeked out and told him he saw him on a CNN special… If only Jon would’ve charmed him enough to get us in to his restaurant, ya know??)
The next day, we took in the sights by driving to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site and absolutely stunning place. We could’ve spent the whole day there but we still wanted to get a drive in along the coast so we headed out and explored the beach towns along the way. We went to the Boulders Penguin Colony and saw so many of these adorable creatures. We probably could’ve stood there for hours and watched them! We then went down to the second southern-most tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, and saw the Cape Point Light House. It was absolutely stunning. On the way back to town, we stopped at the Cape Town Ostrich Farm and saw more things made out of ostrich than I’m comfortable with. Finally, we ended the night at 95 Keerom, an Italian restaurant, with a friend from Pretoria and her friends who live in Cape Town. Quite a day!
The next day, Jon accomplished the whole reason for our trip – he ran in the Two Oceans Half Marathon! What is said to be ‘the most beautiful race in the world’ proved to be quite gorgeous and quite windy! Jon finished in good time and was such a trooper, especially after having to wake up at 4:00 am to reach the meeting point. I’m very proud of him. Once he had some time to recover, we met friends at a restaurant called Burger & Lobster for lunch and had a lovely meal outside. We then tried out Truth Coffee, which we had also seen on the previously-mentioned CNN special, and it was basically the most hipster coffee bar I’ve ever seen. It’s designed in the ‘steam punk’ style, which I still don’t fully understand, but basically seems to mean that people wear leather and goggles on top of their heads. (Right, Jon?!) We finished the evening at Manga on the coast for sushi and fell asleep around 9:00 pm, exhausted. (Me, especially – watching him finish up the race was so tiring…)
The next day, we met a tour guide Jon found in our Africa guide book for an exploration of the Bo-Kaap. This is a famous area of Cape Town that used to be a township and was called the Malay Quarter. It’s a very multicultural neighborhood with narrow streets, old structures and most notably, beautiful colors everywhere. It was a very immersive tour, which even included walking into someone’s home that the tour guide knew to get dessert and her going to the corner shop and opening different foods and spices for us to try/smell. (She paid for them. I think.) It was very interesting because we really got a glimpse of life there – she knew everyone. She even had candy in her pockets to give to each kid she knew who walked by… After that, we drove to the Waterfront and got on the ferry to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was a prisoner for 18 of the 27 years he was incarcerated. It was a place for criminals and political prisoners (from the apartheid era) but, as we discovered, the political prisoners had it much worse. It was a fascinating and humbling tour. After that, we went to a place called Karibu for dinner, which serves traditional ‘Cape’ food. (i.e., MEAT)
The next day, we checked out of our AirBNB and drove to Table Mountain. The pièce de résistance of Cape Town. Essentially, it’s a mountain in the middle of the city and the views from it are spectacular. Because we were flying back that day, we didn’t have time to hike up and/or down so we took the cable car, which was amazing. It turns 360° while you’re basically going up the side of the mountain at rapid speed. Incredible. We took some pictures, just sat and enjoyed the view, and did a mini hike to one of the ends of the mountain. We also enjoyed looking at the Dassies, little creatures that live on the mountain and can survive without water for weeks at a time. They were super cute. We went to have lunch, headed to the airport and said good-bye to Cape Town. What an incredible trip!
Can we go back there every month, Jon??
– By Naama