Many people fly direct to Cape Town (we plan to do that in the future) but if you get a chance, try to include it as part of the Garden Route. We hired a car in Port Elizabeth (after a short flight from Johannesburg day before) and slowly meandered south, stopping at great places along the way (more posts on that another day). Another option of course is to start The Garden Route in Cape Town.
Driving into Cape Town – LH drive + good roads so easy for countries of the Commonwealth!
We had a very pleasant drive into Cape Town after staying a few nights in the wine district. Of course it’s possible to do a day trip to this stunningly beautiful region but if time etc. permits consider staying at least one night; I would have been happy to stay a week at Auberge Clermont B&B (photo above). We stayed 3 nights (see past post if interested). Even if you don’t drink much wine like me (although love the little I do have!) the scenery, history and food scene is an absolute delight in and around Franschhoek. The people we met along the way, from a range of cultural backgrounds, were warm, friendly and very welcoming.
This photo shows location at the “Victoria & Albert Waterfront” with a glimpse of “The Cape Wheel” to the right of photo. It was mostly cloudly/foggy weather while there so we didn’t use The Cape Wheel. Reviews of it are varied but we might try it on our next visit. Like Cape Town’s version of London Eye! I imagine there would be excellent views on a clear day.
This harbour waterfront (originally developed in 1860s) was redeveloped (some say overly sanitised for tourism) in 1990s. Original Victorian buildings stand alongside some mock Victorian buildings constructed a decade or two ago. We much prefer similar developments happening in more recent years along Sydney harbour areas, as new complexes eg. Apartments with shops/cafes below, don’t try to replicate the historic buildings but adapt/link some design elements into the new architecture. The most recent place we saw this happening was around Walsh Bay/Dawes Point in Sydney (a post for another day).
The mock Victorian in this part of Cape Town, can give the area a theme park/touristy feel especially with the Ferris wheel a major attraction too. However, in other parts of Cape Town, more recent architectural developments are more like what we see in Sydney now. Sydney, and even our relatively young Capital City of Canberra, has it’s share of poorly thought out cultural precincts too…in Canberra some original Art Deco buildings also stand alongside occasional mock Art Deco constructions.
Let’s hope local Governments and developers around the world are now more aware of best design and practice when rebuilding culturally significant public spaces like the V & A Waterfront.
Of course, it’s a must see when in Cape Town and there are many and varied museums and galleries, most within walking distance of the Waterfront, which give greater insights into South Africa’s diverse history and culture…more photos and info on a few of those in a future post.
Truth Cafe – Central Cape Town (near an excellent museum…more in next post)
An arty, hipster/grungy/urban vibe in a theatrical setting (loved the design/fitout as so different)…reminded us of Mad Max movies. Staff are friendly & dressed in costume to match the theme. Coffee, food and service all excellent. A short walk from District Six museum (my future post) and other attractions so we had a half day in the area. A younger/arty crowd but if you’re older & open to new ideas give it a go – v interesting/unique.
Garden photo – Moyo African Restaurant at National Botanical Gardens – Kirstenbosch, Cape Town…v short drive (30+ min walk?) from City centre/Waterfront.
A light lunch after our stroll up/over (there’s a tree top walkway) and around the beautiful gardens.
The architecture and interior design/fit out of this beautiful building is worth seeing even if you don’t eat at the cafe/restaurant. We loved the African influence and openness of the modern design – huge doors and a patio with views towards the gardens and mountain backdrop (more photos next post). There’s a massive fireplace which would be lovely on a cold day (warm when we were there). We had a light lunch – just soup/bread and Tony liked his choice too. We recommend a visit and also hear that “the tea house near the other entrance to gardens” is worth a visit too…we’ll try to visit next time in Cape Town.
It’s easy to spend at least half a day in and around Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – a very short drive from inner City and the parking is v good and close to the main entry of gardens. These gardens were a highlight for me – before my spinal surgery so I did note that access for those with disabilities is rather limited; however, if you can walk a km or 2 slowly with rests along the way, this would suit anyone with v average fitness. When I return, I hope to be able to do the route a little faster while making time to stop along the way to look closely at some of the unique plants and trees of South Africa – some just stunning…more photos in next post + a recipe.
Dinner at Harbour House Restaurant
A very pleasant evening/tasty food. The B&B where we were staying recommended Harbour House. Similar to the elegantly modern restaurants you find along the harbour in many major cities eg. Sydney’s Opera House precinct. However, for us the prices were better; we heard the prices are high for average income earners in South Africa.
None of the dishes were different/memorable (similar to good home cooking) but the quality of food (we had seafood) was excellent and the presentation v nice. We had hoped there were more African foods/flavours on the menu. The staff were also friendly, warm and attentive. It wasn’t too noisy so it’s a great place to meet friends as, unlike some busy/touristy places, you can have a conversation without shouting across the table.
We loved our dinner here as my sister had been travelling in Sth Africa as well so we planned on meeting up one night. We reserved a table with water views; the seafood was delicious and the waiters warm and friendly. Highly recommended.
Dinner at Chef’s Warehouse
Imaginative chef (Liam Tomlin)/casual shared tables
A casual chef’s store at the front including some interesting cook books and a small casual dining room beside that shop. The food was delicious and well priced considering the high quality of food plus time taken to prepare some “tapas”…not really anything like the traditional tapas you have in Spain and we thought it might have been better marketing to call the concept “small plates” and maybe focus on at least some African flavours. The small plates we were served were mostly influenced by European cuisine (see photo of menu). However, even the young chefs in many parts of Spain are experimenting with different combinations of flavours/textures – their grandparent cooks/chefs might think that’s corrupting long food traditions (we have heard that view sometimes). However, all the beautiful tastes we had here at Chef’s Warehouse worked well, some better than others but that’s related to personal taste of course. It’s shared table dining and we were lucky enough to sit with a very interesting couple from the US.
Waterfront cafe recommendation – Vovo Telo – photo below
Before we went off on a few half day trips (many start from piers at The Waterfront) we had a coffee (sometimes a pastry) from this cafe. On cool, wet days it was nice and cosy and had a really pleasant buzz and friendly/attentive staff. A v short walk (minutes) from the main piers.
Other memorable meals/restaurant photos in my next posts too + info on museums and galleries we enjoyed + recipes from our African inspired home cooked favourites.