8-Day Friends holiday Experience in Cape Town

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Cape town Robben island

The sheer magnificence of the Chapman’s peak drive between Hout Bay and Noordhoek has to be seen to be believed. Asking our friendly driver, Papy to park the car, we took in the fresh, crisp air of the pale blue Atlantic Ocean whilst gazing at the imposing, brown, rugged backdrop of the Chapman’s peak mountain range. That against the striking colours of the spring flowers dotted along the winding Victoria road was spectacular and for a moment it felt like something from a Hollywood film. Not surprisingly, I learnt that this stretch of road in Cape Town has indeed featured in films and advertisements. This was Day 7 of an incredible 8-day holiday in and around Cape Town, South Africa.

Let the experience begin

After an almost 12 hour flight from London (with a stopover in Johannesburg), I was ready to explore the city of Cape Town and all it had to offer. I had prepared an itinerary so as not to miss any of the must-do activities. After all, Cape Town is a city that has it all – Countless beaches, Museums, Vineyards, Culture and a vast array of restaurants and bars and I was prepared to enjoy them all.

Cape town Robben islandOur Cape town adventure begins

We spent our first 3 days in the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront area of the city, at the Commodore hotel. This was great as a starting point, it was touristy, arguably, but it was a hub of restaurants and shops teeming with activity and was walking distance to a few of the items on said itinerary. Walking around, we saw Nobel square, with towering statues of the four South African Nobel Peace Prize winners, all the while being entertained by a fantastic group of dancing singers. 25 degrees C weather, sunshine and lots of smiling faces, this was the perfect start to the holiday.

First on the itinerary was the ubiquitous hop-on hop-off bus on our first day to familiarise ourselves with the city, there were 3 different lines, which took us round the city centre, the outskirts and the townships.

Our first point of call was the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, an expansive garden on the slopes of Table Mountain which is about 20 minutes drive from the city centre. It was vast, lush with greenery and provided a nice respite from the sunshine on the bus. I walked along the tree canopy walkway which was splendid, the shade and the smells from the different plants and flowers were incredible and it was serene being in nature. After lots of walking in amongst the trees we had a look around the art shop within the grounds where local artists’ portraits were up for sale.

Kirstenbosch National Cape TownThe premium Cape Town Dining experience

After eating quick, on-the-go food from the V&A food market a couple of times, we opted for something a bit more high end on our second night- On recommendation, I booked a table for dinner at ‘Dash’, an upscale restaurant, housed within the Queen Victoria hotel. Making a reservation was easy enough, being a Monday and it was a short walk from our hotel, which was a bonus. The welcome at Dash was great, the ambience warm and inviting with a pianist playing away in one corner of the huge dining room and an impressive fireplace. There was an extensive menu, the food was to die for; the ‘pressed ox tail’ starter was especially delicious and we were well and truly satisfied. We even got a complimentary dessert plate for good measure, which was a lovely gesture from the hostess. After filling our stomachs we walked back ‘home’ well and truly pleased with ourselves.

Cape town Robben island
New day, new activity- Robben Island: We took a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the ferry stop, got tickets for the ferry to Robben Island, which was where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 19 out of the 27 years he was in prison. The ferry ride took about 35 minutes, and whilst it was warm before boarding, it soon got cold very quickly on the ferry and we were grateful that we had our jackets. Robben Island apart from having served as a prison (disused since 1991, after the end of apartheid) also has homes, a church, a quarry where the prisoners worked, a cemetery and other establishments you would expect to find in a small town. We were shown around by a former political prisoner, now a resident of the island, he showed us the prison and its grounds, Nelson Mandela’s cell and he told us about the dire conditions all prisoners had to endure. This was a very sobering, depressing, yet necessary experience to appreciate the unique history of South Africa. (Total time 3.5 hours, including ferry ride)

Cape Town holiday experience : Day 4

Sea Point: We changed accommodation after Day 3 to the Sea Point area: This was a more residential, ‘cooler’ part of the city, in close proximity to the beaches. Our new home, booked through Airbnb, was an uphill, spacious 2 bedroom loft apartment that provided sea views in an area heaving with restaurants and bars. We took a walk around the neighbourhood to announce our arrival, as you do and got caught in a light down pour. I didn’t mind this so much as I had my trusty light jacket. We also picked up some groceries for our new CT home.
Next on our itinerary was a wine tasting day trip along the Wine route, just outside Cape Town. I had done my research and opted for 2 vineyards that had rave reviews and came highly recommended. However, we first had to get to our destination.

Jwine tasting day in Cape town

As we were going to be drinking, we decided on UBER, which we had already discovered were cheap and plentiful in CT. So 45 minutes later, we arrived in Stellenbosch at the Delaire Graff Estate: Sat outside, we were overlooking the most stunning mountain views and gorgeous greenery and not even the slightly cold breeze could dampen our spirits. Three wine tastings (Sauvignon blanc, Shiraz, Botmaskop) paired with crudités later, we were ready to move to our next stop, but not before we walked around the estate and took stunning photos (You’ll be unable to resist). We moved on to Franschoek which was a 15 minute drive from Stellenbosch and again we were able to order an UBER with no problems. On getting to Dieu Donnẻ Vineyards we again were given a table outside in the garden overlooking the beautiful Franschoek valley. We were a lot closer to the vines this time and it was great to see where the grapes of the wines that we were going to taste were grown. We had 4 tastings: A sparkling white, Chardonnay, Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon, all delicious and I got myself two bottles of the Cab as a souvenir. We managed to book a table for dinner at the Vineyard’s famous ‘Roca’ restaurant within the premises and had a sumptuous dinner; which was much needed after all the alcohol consumed. The highlight of the meal for me was the Malva pudding dessert, which was irresistible. UBER back into CT took just under an hour and it was straight to bed after a full day of activity.

 

Welcome to the Cape Town Board Kaap museum

Bo-Kaap Museum was a welcome change of pace, a small museum within walking distance from the city centre, nestled among the most brightly coloured rows of houses you would ever see. Turquoises, hot pinks, reds and yellows abound and it was not surprising to see hordes of people drawn to this part of the city. Reading and learning about the ‘Cape Malays’, a predominantly Muslim population descended from people from South East Asia was fascinating and further added to our knowledge of the diversity of CT (Total time spent: 30-45 minutes). After several false starts we headed to Table Mountain National Park (Access to the mountain itself is weather- dependent and can also get very busy, so planning is advised). A bit of a wait to board the cable car, but once on, it took approximately 5 minutes to ascend the wonder of the world known as Table Mountain. With the Atlantic Ocean ahead of us, it was breath-taking seeing the city from a height. Once atop the mountain, we saw Lion’s head, Signal Hill, Robben Island and the city below us. It was a truly spectacular sight to behold. We walked around, took in the views and I wondered how on earth I had delusions of hiking up the mountain (3-4 hrs), Perhaps Lions head is a bit more realistic (45 minutes-1 hr). We saw people abseiling and paragliding and half jokingly agreed that we hadn’t come dressed in the appropriate attire for such.

Time to Shop in the beautiful Malik Bay

Market hopping: {Booked through Airbnb experiences} Thanks to our interesting tour guide Selvyn, We wandered around Kalk Bay checking out the beautiful seaside souvenir shops, stopped for coffee in one of the charming cafes, moved on to the ‘ice cafe’ an ice cream shop where we sampled refreshing Roiboos ice cream and then on to Muizenberg admiring the colourful, toy-looking changing rooms by the beach. The tide was very high but some brave surfers were riding the waves without a care in the world. We finally came to Cape Point Vineyards Estate in Noordhoek, A wine estate/venue with an open stall food market selling foods ranging from Sushi to Gyros to Bratwurst and everything in between, this I learnt is where the locals hang out after work on Thursdays, we saw groups having picnics on the grounds and it was the most beautiful setting for a laid back evening of good food and drinks with incredible views. Watching the sunset here was a major highlight of the trip. Lots of food and drinks later and armed with my bag of spicy biltong, we moved on to Mojo market in Sea point. This again was more food stalls but in a huge warehouse setting across 2 floors. The atmosphere here was louder, as there was a live band playing and several bars dotted around. I was told that this was a daily market and it reflected because there was altogether a more bustling vibe about the place. We had drinks with our group and vowed to come back as it was walking distance from our Airbnb.

Cape Town is a Beach haven

Beaches: Clifton 1-4, Camps Bay, Muizenberg and Boulders: You will be hard pressed to find a bad beach in Cape Town. There are several beautiful, white, sandy beaches with varying degrees of the ‘cool’ factor. Clifton 4 is supposedly where all the models go for fashion shoots. The other Clifton beaches all have their individual charm and it’s simply a case of finding the right one for your needs. The Clifton beaches, Camps Bay and Boulders are all situated on the Atlantic seaboard side of CT while Muizenburg is on the Indian Ocean side of the city and favoured by surfers. We settled on Camps Bay on our penultimate day and were rewarded with locals playing music from their vehicles, sun bathers and family and friend groups relaxing by the beach. Along the palm tree- lined promenade were lots of seafood restaurants, cafes, arts and crafts sellers and further down the road were the most expensive houses in Cape Town, hidden among the cliffs, some of which require lifts to access. A short stop at Boulders beach saw us hanging out with an African penguin colony (from a great distance).
This was altogether an incredibly fun, eye-opening trip, there were so many highlights and I shall definitely return.

Here are some travel Tips you ll need
i. Book trip and accommodation well in advance for great rates.
Ii. Have an itinerary!
iii. Be mindful of the micro climates and bring transitional clothes/ light jackets just in case.
iv. Be prepared to have a fantastic holiday(

A few special Mentions to;
Commodore hotel, V&A Food market, AirBnB, Dash, Delaire Graff Estate, Dieu Donne Vineyards, Roca, UBER, Cape Point Vineyards Estate, Mojo market, Virgin Atlantic, South African Airlines.

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