Tag Archives: cape town

Paragliders and Softserve along the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town (2020-02-15) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 MAY 2020

The Covid-19 coronavirus is currently happily running amok and we’re rightfully locked down in the hopes of slowing down the spread of the virus. Of course, before it reached our shores we were still okay with walking about among crowds of other people, which is exactly what the girls and I did following one Saturday morning visit to Cape Town’s historic Castle of Good Hope – with a meander down Sea Point’s famous promenade.

Stretching for ±7km along the Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Town’s most popular (and Instagrammable) promenade takes you all the way from Mouille Point to Sea Point, hugging the coastline with its broad walkway and panoramic views of the ocean and your Cape Town surroundings (complete with big ships lazily floating by). The iconic views of Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain all slowly shift into focus as you stroll by the tiny beaches of Rocklands, Graaf’s Pool, Milton and Brokenbath along the way.

Populated with all manner of Capetonians keeping fit with runs, cycles and walks, the promenade is always busy, with swathes of open space filled with gym equipment, art installations and children’s jungle gyms, enough to entertain even the littlest among us. At the far end is the Sea Point public swimming pool, always a smash hit on a hot Summer’s day, as well as a small collection of food, ice cream and beverage vendors – plus an option or two to rent a drop and go bicycle if you are tired of tackling the walk on foot!

Dodging all the descending paragliders, the girls and I joined the promenade at Three Anchor Bay for this particular outing, soaking up the sun as we strolled up to the swimming pools, stopping every couple of minutes to play on a jungle gym or art installation (or in my case to take a photo or three). At the turn around point we stopped for a delicious softserve ice cream and something to drink, before heading back for one last jungle gym bit of play where we parked. It was hot, it was sweaty, Emily was moaning, but I had a ball.

Always such a great spot to grab some lekker Cape Town photos:

A Photo Walk at the V&A Waterfront and Silo District in Cape Town (2019-12-21) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 APR 2020

Forever on the prowl for entertaining things to do with the girls (that also just so happens to get me out of the house and away from the keyboard), this past December school holidays saw me gather Jessica and Emily up in the car, hand over our old point-and-click Sony Cybershot camera to them, and then head off to Cape Town’s premier tourist trap, the V&A Waterfront for a bit of a photo walk about.

The V&A Waterfront is of course ridiculously photogenic, and after parking in one of the many underground parking garages lining the Waterfront, we started our journey with a jaunt through the Victoria Wharf shopping mall in all of its African Christmas decorated glory. Surprisingly, and rather incredibly so, we struck it lucky with our timing because for the most part the Waterfront wasn’t its usual bustling throng of people self, meaning that we had plenty of space to amble, stop and take photos, and not desperately cling to each others’ arms to ward off getting separated and thus lost.

Exiting the shopping complex, our next stop was photos of the golden Oscar the Seal statue standing tall in front of Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel, before sauntering back past some pretty boats and painted rhinos to catch a fun little kids Christmas-themed sing and dance featuring mascots Jellie, Buttercup and Zoemba. Show done, we ambled past the restaurants to Nobel Square, took some photos and then cut past the Alfred Mall to pay a quick photo visit to the Cape Town Comedy Club building, the V&A Food Market building and the colourful curio filled Watershed (complete with its striking Falko One elephant and recycled/reclaimed plastics chandelier.)

The drydock too made for a good photo opportunity, but truth be told, the girls were far more interested in our time spent watching the cape fur seals play fighting and sunning themselves over at the Two Oceans Aquarium Seal Platform! We then marched away from the crowds, over the lifting bridge and past the elegant Cape Grace Hotel, before circling back to once again enter the waterfront area through the now quite artsy Silo Distict.

Impressive public art installations aside (like Dylan Lewis’ scene stealing walking fragment sculpture), I did of course select the Silo District as our turnaround point because we could stop and enjoy a selection of fine Lindt chocolates from the Lindt Silo Chocolate Studio – which I’m pleased to report went down a proper treat with the girls who at this point were just starting to moan about having to walk so far!

A spin in the Zeitz MOCCA spinning top chairs, a little play time on the jellyfish kinetic sculptures, and a crossing over the newly renovated swing bridge, we left the silo and clock tower districts behind, were forced to rewatch the Jellie, Buttercup and Zoemba amphitheatre show on Emily’s insistence, and finally wound our way back through the now slightly heavier crowds at the mall to find our car still happily parked in the shade of the underground garage.

Mission complete, and yes, we generated a LOT of photos.

Blooms, Buds and Bridges in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (2019-03-17) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 06 APR 2020

As one of Cape Town’s premiere Big 6 tourist attractions, the magnificent Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is celebrated as one of Africa’s most beautiful gardens and is an absolute must do excursion if you are looking for a tranquil green escape from the bustling city bowl.

Nestled at the eastern foot of Table Mountain and administered by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Kirstenbosch estate covers an area of 528 hectares with its 36 hectare large cultivated garden placing a strong emphasis on the cultivation of indigenous plants only. Its main conservatory exhibits plants taken from across a number of South Africa’s biomes (like savanna, fynbos and Karoo), while the extensive outdoor garden places its focus on plants native to the Cape floral region.

Established in 1913 on land bequeathed to the Cape Colony by Cecil John Rhodes, the more than a century old Kirstenbosch garden is criss-crossed by a large number of different paths and walkways, each leading you to a different collection of plants and each patiently waiting to take your breath away as you traipse around the foot of the mountain.

In addition to flowers, tree and bird watching, there are of course the expansive lawns beckoning families to sit down and enjoy a picnic, the metal dinosaur sculptures looking to whisk you away to another age, the hauntingly beautiful African stone sculptures dotted around the gardens, the exquisite collections of Proteas (king of our floral kingdom), the twisted metal and wood of the snaking Boomslang foot bridge that takes you above the forest canopy, Moyo restaurant as well as the tea room for those not wanting to eat sandwiches from a basket on a blanket, an art exhibition space, a main exhibition hall, and of course come Summer, the annual (and incredibly popular) Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset music concerts which are an absolute sublime way to experience some of your favourite (both local and international) performing artists.

As for this particular visit of ours in March of last year, we struck it lucky in that the weather was a bit overcast on the day, making for much more pleasant walking conditions up and down the slopes of this magical green space. Not great for photos of course, but certainly very helpful in keeping the moaning of two little girls tired from all the walking slightly in check!

As always, a magical experience and certainly an absolute must do excursion for any visitor to our beautiful city of Cape Town.

Building a House in the Lego Shop in Canal Walk Cape Town (2020-02-15) Photo Gallery | Shopping 03 APR 2020

Having enjoyed a great morning out at Cape Town’s historic Castle of Good Hope, followed by a stroll along Sea Point’s sunny promenade, the next stop for Jessica, Emily and I was a stop at the sprawling Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Century City, Cape Town – primarily so that I could keep my end of the bargain by buying Lindt chocolates for everyone!

These days of course, for me a visit to Canal Walk wouldn’t be complete without popping my head into the wonderfully yellow and over the top official LEGO store that the Great Yellow Brick Company opened in the mall a handful of months ago.

As with any good LEGO selling shop, the breadth of amazing LEGO sets on offer is enthralling enough, but for me it is all the little extras that really make it the best LEGO shop experience, things like the Pick-a-brick wall, the minifigure building station, the play with bricks area, the interactive LEGO displays and of course the beautifully done, custom built Bo-Kaap MOC standing proudly on display in the front window.

And of course, because I never do anything in a hurry or on a schedule, the girls and I enjoyed a right royal time browsing all the LEGO themes and then hunkering down to build a pyramid roof, glass wall house. As always, I’m not sure who enjoyed it more – the girls or me!

Man, having access to stores like this when I was a kid sure would have been heaven! :)

Fun and Facades of GrandWest Casino in Cape Town (2019-06-17) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 26 MAR 2020

We were rather enjoying our little break from the girls, having already spent the morning traipsing around Bloubergstrand, taking photos of Table Mountain, visiting Big Bay, and indulging in much coffee and cake at Cafe Blouberg. I then put on the table to Chantelle that we should extend our outing a little longer by paying a visit to the GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World on the way home – primarily because I wanted to take some photos of its interesting facades. Amazingly (and inexplicably) she said yes.

Opened in December 2000, Sun International’s GrandWest Casino entertainment complex is built on the old Goodwood Showgrounds and is Cape Town’s only registered casino. It is a sprawling operation that features two hotels, a kids entertainment world (with arcade), a concert venue (The Grand Arena), loads of restaurants and bars (plus a fast food court), an Olympic-size ice skating rink, a bowling alley, movie cinemas, lots of conference facilities, dedicated exhibition space (SunExhibits), and of course the actual casino floor itself.

Now neither Chantelle or I am into gambling at all, and the kids are still a bit young to easily manage in the big crowds that the place tends to generate, so GrandWest isn’t actually a location that we visit very often (other than for the odd show or music concert) at all. That said, it was interesting that both Chantelle and I commented on just how eerie it is at how little the place has changed in the now 20 years of its existence!

The place is loud and colorful and full of people, and there is more entertainment on offer than what you can shake a stick at. I of course love the historic preservation effort the architects put into the design of this fun entertainment complex, with much of its external facades modelled after historic and landmark Cape Town city buildings, and the interior decor heavily trading on Cape Town’s rich maritime tradition.

So much to see, so much to photograph, no wonder then that Chantelle almost instantly got annoyed with me and immediately regretted having ever agreed to this unscheduled photo walk in the first place! (Not even Keith Calder’s playful seals out front were enough to appease her.)

Still, I had fun:

USA 2019 – 01 Journey from Cape Town to the Hampton Inn in Washington DC (2019-10-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 MAR 2020

When I left for Washington DC the handy direct flight from Cape Town hadn’t yet launched, so as per usual, it was first the time wasting hop of having to head up to Johannesburg before I could finally leave South Africa’s sunny borders behind.

My Touchwork-organized SA336 South African Airways flight departed from Cape Town International just after two on a Thursday afternoon, meaning that logistically it was pretty easy given that the kids were at school, there was no traffic to battle, and thus no reason then why Chantelle couldn’t dutifully ferry her extremely overexcited and bubbly husband to the airport.

With our farewells said over a cup of Wimpy coffee, Chantelle gave a few forlorn waves as I disappeared through the security checkpoint. (After all, you must remember that I was now resigning her to two weeks of looking after the kids all by herself!)

The flight to OR Tambo International in Johannesburg aboard the Airbus A330-200 flitted by without incident (if I remember correctly, they were playing the inspiring Red White Black & Blue Odyssey documentary about the ICEF Rugby Program that helps struggling kids from disadvantaged neighbourhoods through rugby for entertainment purposes), but once there I still had to find a way to kill 2.5 hours before my journey to the United States would finally begin.

Luckily I travel light, so with my commandeered big sports bag (thanks Ryan!) already checked through back in Cape Town and only my small laptop backpack on my back, I set about following the small signs in the massive OR Tambo airport to try and find the tucked away aircraft viewing deck. As it turns out, this was an excellent idea because a) it is rather hidden away and thus not busy at all, b) it is spacious and gives an excellent view of the airport operations below, and c) it killed a whole lot of time for me.

Having watched all the planes, read all the info boards on SAA’s history and the legacy of OR Tambo the activist, and completed a phone call with the girls back home, I finally made it back down to ground level, headed through security and hunkered down next to a chatty young Ghanaian actress who was heading back home following an ad shoot that she had just completed here in Johannesburg.

At this point our SA209 flight had however been announced as delayed, primarily because there weren’t enough people flying to warrant using the big Airbus A340-300 that we were meant to be making the long haul aboard, so she and I dutifully watched a love triangle play out between the pigeons outside while I was taught all about Ghana and Geisha soap.

So not a bad but not an entirely smooth beginning to the epic 18 hour journey from Johannesburg to Washington D.C. then.

Of course we did eventually board a plane, and because it was half empty the flight was particularly comfortable (just very very long). The in-flight entertainment was great, the food perfectly fine, the halfway stop in Accra (in the middle of the night) uneventful, and I comfortably passed the time flitting between sleeping, eating, listening to music and discovering new movies.

We touched down at Dulles International Airport outside Washington D.C. (it is technically in Virginia) around 06:30 in the morning, just in time to watch a beautiful sunrise break over the airport. After catching one of their strange little 80’s sci-fi inspired shuttles to get from plane to terminal, I successfully navigated my way through customs (no issues whatsoever), collected my bags and strolled through the doors into the land of the free – only to immediately turn around and head back inside because I urgently needed their Wi-Fi in order to sort out my SuperShuttle shared ride to the hotel. (The delay had meant that I had missed my pre-booked pickup).

Anyway, the friendly onsite SuperShuttle staff sorted me out, I jumped into the shared van when it eventually rocked up, and then drove in awe all the way to Washington D.C. making sure to take in the sights, sounds, and gorgeous flame coloured trees around us.

Of course, this is Washington D.C. so I was a little kid with excitement when the first views of all the famous monuments started shifting into sight and by the time we pulled up at the front door of the hotel, I was probably a bit of a bubbling idiot. What can I say, cityscapes excite me!

Talking about the hotel, Rory had picked up a pretty good one location-wise for my first ever trip to Washington D.C., placing me right in the middle of Downtown/Chinatown area, with easy access to all the main tourist hotspots.

Despite its clunky moniker, the Hampton Inn Washington-Downtown-Convention Center, a member of the Hilton hotel group, was comfortable enough, had good amenities, and served a nice breakfast. If anything, it does suffer a bit from a lot of siren noise (especially at night), but seeing as I sleep like a log, this wasn’t something that bothered me in the slightest. All in all a good stay and also a perfect base from which to explore the city of Washington D.C. on foot!

Coffee and Cake at Cafe Blouberg in Bloubergstrand, Cape Town (2019-06-17) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 20 FEB 2020

If you have small kids then you know that you seldom have no kids around you and if you do find yourself without kids around you then you should definitely make the most of the opportunity because they are sure to be around you in no time at all again. So we drove all the way down to Bloubergstrand just to be safe.

To be fair, this was totally a planned excursion for Chantelle and myself because she had been keeping a keen Facebook eye on a little eatery called Cafe Blouberg for quite some time now, and eager to taste their cake wares she was now super excited to make the most of our missing kids scenario (that she herself had very carefully orchestrated mind you).

Cafe Blouberg offers as they put it in their own words on their website: “an aesthetic experience tantalizing the senses with mouth-watering cuisine and delicacies baked for everyone’s delight.” That is of course a lot of marketing guff, but it isn’t too far off from the truth and to be honest, their location does come with a magnificent view that stretches over the Atlantic Ocean towards Robben Island of course Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain.

It is a small cafe that buzzes with eager patrons and we were lucky to snag a seat for coffee and a tasty light lunch, before taking a stroll down the lane to snap some pictures of the sea and mountain, followed by a drive over to Big Bay to marvel at how different the place is to what it was when we grew up. (A lot).

And then we headed right back to Cafe Blouberg to tuck into their delicious cake. Worth it!

A Touchwork Year-end HintHunt in Woodstock (2019-11-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 JAN 2020

To celebrate the end of a successful 2019 work year, the sister teams of Touchwork (Yay!), Hypenica, RegNow, African Agri Council, and Cape Business News all gathered together at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, ready to forgo last year’s wine tasting in exchange for some mental gymnastics instead. Hello HintHunt.

I won’t lie, when I heard that we were doing HintHunt this year I was pretty excited. The escape room concept is brilliant – basically they lock a small group of you in a staged room, start a timer on the wall to mark your 60 minutes, and then every so gently nudge you to use all of your mental abilities and powers of observation to try and unearth an incredibly intricate chain of clues, hints, locks and keys that will eventually unlock the door and stop the timer.

It is an absolutely brilliant experience. The incredible stress that comes from the relentless timer countdown, the thrill of finding hidden drawers, pockets and containers in just about every inconceivable location, the frustration at bashing your head against a combination lock one to many times – it is an absolute intense bit of intellectual fun.

Our group was split up into four teams and each given their own room, two of the teams heading off for the hardboiled detective themed JM’s Office game, and other two to the Japanese-themed Zen Room game.

As it so happened, I was drawn into a team with Jason, Wendy and Beryl, with the four of us getting whisked off to the delightfully themed, but devilishly difficult Zen Room, where we were confronted by not just intricate puzzles (include a splash of Sudoku), but also the need to do on the fly Japanese translations!

(For reference, the Zen Room’s scenario is as follows: “A recently orphaned Japanese girl has requested your help in retrieving her priceless family heirlooms. Latest intel suggests that the heirlooms are hidden within one of the culprit’s safe houses, you don’t have much time till they are sold in the black market and completely lost forever. This mission will require your teams cooperation and fine eye for detail if you intend to succeed in the recovery of the heirlooms. Act now, you don’t have much time!”)

It was incredibly tricky, incredibly frustrating, incredibly fun – but I literally won’t say anything more so as not to spoil it for anyone still to play. In the end the escape room proved to be too challenging for our quartet, with the timer running out with a few locks still lying in wait for us. Nevertheless, I think we did a damn fine job anyway. (In fact, as far as what I can remember, none of our four groups actually managed to escape – so there is some solace in that! :P)

Having all taken the bus from our Westlake office to Woodstock, the next leg of our year-end function required us to bundle into some Ubers and head down to the always vibrant V&A Waterfront, where lunch at the Mozambique-themed Mozambik restaurant awaited us.

It was good, very good. And the plenitude of wine certainly didn’t hurt either.

Smelling the Roses at Chart Farm in Wynberg (2019-03-17) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 08 OCT 2019

Understandably, Chantelle was a little miffed that she still hadn’t been to visit the charming Chart Farm in Wynberg, despite my blog having already loudly exclaimed what a lovely place to visit it is. Obviously this then needed to be rectified, and seeing as we were off to traipse through the gardens of Kirstenbosch for the day anyway, I carved out a little piece of time for us to also stop and smell the roses. After all, happy wife, happy life.

As I mentioned last time around, Chart Farm (situated right across from the bustling Wynberg Park) is known for cultivating all manner of fresh produce across its 18 hectares of land, but is especially known for its robust rose growing operation.

Home also to the famous Ludwig’s Roses, Chart Farm grows an amazing array of rose varietals in their rose garden, all of which can be ready picked for special orders, or if you feel like using your own hands (and the secateurs and buckets supplied down at the farm stall out in front), snipped straight off any bush that is looking at you funny.

The farm stall itself stocks a dainty selection of preserves and other produce produced on the farm, and then there is The View @ Chart Farm, a charming coffee shop that serves a mix of delicious home-made cakes and light lunches while offering up a spectacular view over what is a very lush Cape Town greenbelt area.

Although this particular visit wasn’t ever going to show off Chart Farm in its best light (at the end of rose season, loadshedding affecting the kitchen), it nevertheless did more than enough to charm Chantelle, meaning a return trip is now definitely on the cards! And so, a fan is born…

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