Let’s continue our visit of Cape Town, with its markets, its different districts, a trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was kept for 27 years. What an amazing city!
Saturday, 18th November 2017
On Saturday morning, it’s market time! And especially the one in Woodstock, district, a huge market where you can easily spend your whole morning strolling, admiring and tasting products and meals from all the origins. All the gastronomies are there, from the most locals to the most foreign ones (Korean, Argentinian, Lebanese…), from salty to sweet. We spent a long time wandering, taking pictures (for me at least) and most important, enjoying the food! I will especially remember the vegan brownies, which was fantastic. Its chocolate taste was so amazing that I had to buy myself a second one!
Another part of the market, the Old Biscuit Mill, is an old factory that was restored to have about fifty art and crafts shops (clothes, dishes, artists galleries…), cafés and restaurants. The articles are of course expensive and the visitors mainly white, but it’s nonetheless pleasant to have a walk there.
Green Market & the Waterfront
As if we had not had enough markets for the day, we then went to Green Market with Solène, a central square where you can find many African art and crafts stalls. Once again, it was a perfect place to take photographs, with all the multi-coloured bags, clothes, jewellery, the wooden dishes and decoration objects… walking there was nice even though I found it annoying to always be nicked by the sellers.
We then went to the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, lone of the most touristic places in Cape Town. The boats leave to Robben Island from there and the place is a curious mix between the industrial harbour and its docks and big malls, with a lot of bands playing music outside… the atmosphere was lively and the contrast between the blue sky and the huge Christmas tree was quite surprising!
We went on heading to the Ocean, having a lunch/dinner stop (it was almost 5 p.m!) in a nice Greek café and following Green Point Stadium’s direction (built for 2010 FIFA World cup). We crossed Green Point Park, which is a very nice stroll with views on Lion’s Head, children playing everywhere and a beautiful light at the end of the day. The area in front of the stadium was all covered in blue (even the vegetation) after a colour run, from which we had crossed the participants a bit earlier.
We took some rest at the hostel and then went to have a drink at Café Mojito, where live music was being played. Empty when we arrived, it was soon full and the atmosphere was very cheerful, thanks to two girls setting the dance-floor on fire and encouraging others to join. It is still interesting to see that in Africa, there is no need to drink alcohol to start dancing like mad!
Sunday, 19th November 2017
On Sunday morning, we treated ourselves with a delicious breakfast at Clarke’s, another of these excellent spots where you can taste delicious toasts while drinking homemade kefir or kombuscha.
We then went to Bo Kaap, the Muslim district in Cape Town, where the inhabitants are called the “Cape-Malays”. On the side on Signal Hill, this place is famous for its multi-coloured facades, where each house is different. The colours were indeed vibrant, especially with this bright sun. Very lively and welcoming, this district was really pleasant to visit and the inhabitants looked happy to talk to us.
However we can wonder about the future of a district with such a touristic potential. Will it always keep its true and authentic spirit?
I then went to visit Robben Island (Solène and Esther had already done it and Essie will go later as she stays longer in South Africa). This island is sadly famous for having been Nelson Mandel’s prison for 27 years. The tour takes about 4h, including the boat trip, the bus tour on the island and the visit of the prison.
I didn’t know that part of the island was still inhabited by the guides and bus drivers that work there. As for the prison guides, they used to be prisoners. It is a priceless chance to visit the jail with them, which the next generation won’t have…
Despite the heat of the day, the air was much fresher on this windy island. We can just imagine the conditions in winter… As for the prison itself, it was striking to see the common cells (for 60 people) and then the individual ones, where the most important prisoners were kept, including Nelson Mandela.
This tour is a must-do in Cape Town so to see, understand and feel the conditions in which these prisoners were treated. The return trip on the boat was rough but very beautiful, with a sunset without a single cloud.
Keep calm and relax
After these three busy days, it was time to calm down for a bit and the weather was helping. We just followed the historical free walking tour with Solène, which we can definitely recommend. This utter and concise tour helps to understand the origins of the city and its complex history, from the Portuguese’s arrival to the Dutch and the English, but also the mark of the slaves imported from India and South-East Asia…
I then spent my whole afternoon working on the blog and the numerous pictures that I had taken since my arrival in Cape Town, which was about time!
We had a last dinner all together as Esther was leaving on the following morning. After a nice Indian meal, we went to Beerhouse,
which is a real beer temple. The choice is very impressive (25 beers on tap and 99 in bottles) and our waiter’s tips were perfect… it was a perfect ending for our stay here!
Tuesday, 21th November 2017
I went to follow another free walking tour, about the Apartheid. It went approximately in the same places than the historical tour, but the explanations were very complementary. Even though I had visited the Apartheid Museum in Jo’burg, I was still surprised when listening to some anecdotes about this cruel system…
After some necessary shopping for the following of my trip, I went back to the hostel to kept on working on the computer. I just had a final windy run in Signal Hill’s direction at sunset time. I wanted to make it longer but it was already too late, and when I saw the heavy rains falling after I came back, I didn’t regret it!
It was then time to prepare my bag for next and final South African destination: the Drakensberg.
To be continued…
TIPS & PRACTICAL INFOS
Zebra Crossing Hostel : R190 – 11,30€ per night in 8-bed dorm, without breakfast. Nice and central hostel, with a pleasant patio. The closest road is quite noisy and there are no lockers. The wifi connection is excellent, which is quite rare and deserves to be underlined.
Food and Beverage
Clarke’s Bar & Dining : R112,50 – 6,7€ for a meal + a hot drink and half a kefir. Another ideal address to taste excellent breakfasts and lunches. Delicours home-made pineapple kefir and kombuscha, home-made bread as well. A sunny and very pleasant small courtyard inside.
Caffe Néo : R112 – 6,6€ for a meal. Café / restaurant with Greek inspiration. A nice place to eat fresh and healthy plates with a good quality-price ratio, while looking at the Ocean.
Café Mojito : R140 – 8,30€ for two cocktails. A small bar with a wide range of affordable cocktails, which is very lively especially on the weekends when there are concerts.
Masala Dosa : R110 – 6,50€ for a meal and a lassi. A modest Indian restaurant with a contemporary decoration and tasty meals. Good quality-price ratio.
Beerhouse : From R40 – 2,30€ to R90 – 5,30€ depending on the beer and the quantity. A real beer temple! 25 beers on tap (most of them South African) and about a hundred in bottles.
Robben Island : R340 – 20,85€ – Price including the boat round trip, the visit by bus on the island and the prison’s guided tour. Count at least 4h for the overall length. Book in advance online because the tickets are quickly sold! The visit can be cancelled if the weather isn’t good (you get reimbursed in that case).
Free walking tours :Price up to you. Three different tours, each lasting 1h30 – historical tour, apartheid tour or Bo Kaap -. Infos and start of the tours at Green Market.