Tag Archives: cape town

The Lions of Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town (2017-06-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 17 NOV 2017

I’ve written about the Rhodes Memorial on these pages before,  and earlier in June I took my two girls up the slopes of Devil’s Peak to go and see this unique, classically inspired memorial to the English-born South African politician Cecil John Rhodes.

Firstly, if you have never seen this national monument in person before, then the Sir Herbert Baker and Francis Macey designed structure sitting on the flank of Table Mountain (above my old alma mater UCT for that matter) is guaranteed to impress.

(Well, that said, the girls didn’t really think it was all that. The liked the stairs and the horse, but as far as what they were concerned, the most exciting bit was  the prospect of being allowed to take a photo or two with my phone camera, a promise that I had to make before we had even exited the car!)

Flanked by eight lions (cast by J.W. Swan and modeled upon those protecting Nelson column in Trafalgar Square), the memorial is fronted by the dynamic ‘Statue of Energy’, an imposing horse with rider sculpture – said to be a tribute to Rhodes’ restless drive and determination.

49 granite steps (one for each year of his life) then lead you to the main viewing platform which is adorned with a classic arrangement of Doric columns, the center at which stands the bronze bust of Cecil John Rhodes himself.

At this point of the photos, you might of course notice something slightly out of place.

Sadly, during the populist anti-colonialism outcry (complete with symbol defacement) that took place throughout South Africa in 2016, a few activists tried to behead the bust, ultimately failing in their attempt but doing enough damage so as to leave Rhodes without his nose.

As you might imagine, this does rather spoil the whole effect.

The site is also home to a popular tea garden and restaurant (makes sense when you consider the gorgeous view over Cape Town to be had from this location), and is also the starting base for a couple of popular Table Mountain hikes.

(The hour long walk to the King’s Blockhouse being one of those).

For the record, we didn’t pop in to the tea garden because we still had quite a few other interesting things to get to on the day (Llandudno Beach, Hout Bay Harbour, and World of Birds to be exact), but the girls were okay with that – after all, I did let them fool around with my phone camera for a bit…

A visit to Rhodes Memorial doesn’t take particularly long, and no matter your view on colonialism or the likes of people like Cecil John Rhodes, it is worth a visit just for the architecture and view alone!

Related Link: Rhodes Memorial | Rhodes Memorial Tea Garden

Celebrating a Birthday at Food Jams in Woodstock (2017-09-23) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 NOV 2017

We had such a blast celebrating the birthday of Michelle (one of Chantelle’s oldest friends) a couple of weeks ago, with the big birthday bash taking place at the very aptly named, nondescript Food Jams base in Woodstock, Cape Town.

Operating in some form or the other since 2010, Food Jams is the brain child of the fun, energetic and foodtastic Jade De Waal. The concept is simple:  Gather a group of people together for a team build, supper club, party, or social jam, pick a theme and arrive on the day in order to be randomly paired off in groups and receive your specified dish’s recipe, all of which forms part of the special menu that has been cooked up by Jade herself.

With music blaring from the background, and plenty of drinks available from the cash bar, the groups then simultaneously get to work at their already prepped workstations in order to whip up a gargantuan meal that consists of all your just made dishes – all set to be devoured by the group once the small house gets rearranged to accommodate one long dinner table.

As you can imagine, the entire evening is an exercise in controlled, fun chaos! (For the record, I joined Andri and together we made empanadas – which actually turned out quite nice despite the fact we somehow missed a lot of steps from the recipe, not to mention completely changed the suggested cooking style!)

Pro Tip: A good idea, as demonstrated by the main party group, is definitely to rock up to your food jam on a hired party bus. After all, the evening is pretty much guaranteed to be one heck of a good party!

Bonus: To get an even better idea about what Food Jams is all about, One Dog Chicken produced this great little feature hosted on Vimeo:

Also, because I’m not strictly a Capetonian in that I get lost in Cape Town, a map.

Related Link: Food Jams

Tycho to the Moon at the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome in Cape Town (2017-08-20) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 OCT 2017

The Iziko Museums of Cape Town (Iziko is isiXhosa for “hearth”) is an amalgamation of 12 national museums located near the Cape Town city centre. The Natural History sphere consists of the venerable Iziko South African Museum (founded in 1825) and, most pertinent to this particular blog post, the Iziko Planetarium, a project technically launched in the late 1950s, but which only became relevant to the public after the 1987 installation of the Planetarium’s star machine.

Built as an extension to the aforementioned Iziko South African Museum, the Planetarium is a familiar fixture for any of Cape Town’s former schoolkids – I’m not aware of any scholar that didn’t experience an school outing to the planetarium at least once during their school career!

Of course, as it inevitable does, technical equipment becomes outdated, and as such, after investments totaling R28,5 million were poured into the upgrade project, May 2017 saw the reopening of the new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome (the planetarium’s new, official moniker), now extensively updated and most important of all, featuring cutting edge fulldome digital technology.

The result is beyond spectacular. The new Planetarium is now what is known as a “world-class digital fulldome theatre”, allowing for multimedia image projection and data visualisation on a scale not previously seen in Africa.

Apart from now being able to present interactive teaching and visual learning across multiple disciplines (essentially, there is now no reason that the Planetarium is solely focused on the field of astronomy), the biggest takeaway for this state of art digital dome is the fact that the Planetarium is now also very much an scientific instrument – capable of crunching and displaying complex and important data visualizations, exactly like those produced by the exciting SKA (Square Kilometre Array) project for example!

That said, I have a 3 year old and 6 year old daughter – meaning that our first experience of this glorious new piece of technology was a viewing of Tycho to the Moon – a supposedly educational, Australian produced 21 minute long feature about a dog and his kids that travel to the moon.

Spoiler, while the girls did enjoy the experience as a whole, Tycho to the Moon itself isn’t very good and kids seem to get bored of it VERY quickly.

The adverts for the other science show offerings, not to mention the star/universe gazing segment tacked on by our operator at the end of the show, were on the other hand ENTHRALLING – so definitely a return trip to the Planetarium for both Chantelle and myself is now VERY much in order!

Given the fact that the planetarium stands as part of the museum, with the Company’s Garden right on its doorstep, there is no way that this shouldn’t be on your list of things to do with kids in Cape Town.

Related Link: Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome | Iziko Museums of Cape Town

Things to See in South Africa: Sandboarding on the Atlantis Sand Dunes Travel Attractions 05 AUG 2017

It takes about 30 minutes to reach the Atlantis sand dunes, driving north west out of Cape Town’s city center. The ever-shifting, up to 35 meters high, sand dunes are an important conservation area, protecting the Atlantis Aquifer which supplies water for the Atlantis area.

Sandboarding has become quite a popular adventure sport in Cape Town and given Atlantis’ vast field of dunes and proximity to the city, quite a few Cape Town based adventure operators now operate out on these dunes (with strict regulations to ensure that all who use the dunes keep conservation well in mind of course!).

The soft sands found in the Western Cape allow sandboarders to reach considerable speed and to perform a variety of tricks, making this an adrenaline sport suitable for both beginners and thrill-seeking enthusiasts alike.

(The dunes are also home to other adventure sports like quadbiking and 4×4 handling).

To get a better feel of what to expect, the guys over at Travelvids (a Cape Town based travel video training and production outfit) put together this video of the experience:

Home to interesting plant species and birds like the Black Harrier, these Cape Town dunes are certainly a great example of how adventure tourism and conservation can coincide.

Related Link: Sandboarding | Atlantis | Travelvids.tv

Things to See in South Africa: Glowing Rooms 3D Mini-Golf in Cape Town Kid Activities 29 JUL 2017

So how do you make putt putt even more of a crowd puller if you find yourself trading out of a small boring little shopping center (The Gallery) in Milnerton, Cape Town?

Why you slather everything in neon, glow-in-the-dark paint, airbrush some fantastic wall murals to strengthen the effect, light it all up under UV bulbs, and then make the experience that much more trippy by throwing in some special 3D glasses to give a rather unique view of the world of course.

Welcome to the Glowing Rooms 18-hole glow-in-the-dark 3D mini golf experience.

As part of their Things to Do in Cape Town series, the guys behind Travelvids (a very cool Cape Town based travel video training and production outfit) put together this awesome video of the experience:

Well worth putting on your “what to do on a rainy day in Cape Town” list!

Related Link: Glowing Rooms SA | Facebook | Travelvids.tv

Sighting of Slangkop Point Lighthouse in Kommetjie (2017-02-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 MAR 2017

Gah, another lighthouse tour opportunity missed – I really should look up the operating hours for these things! We were in the Kommetjie area (near Noordhoek) courtesy of a very successful visit to the nearby Imhoff Farm, following which, despite the VERY threatening clouds that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, I manage to convince Chantelle that we NEEDED to drive into Kommetjie in order to visit the Instagram famous Slangkop Point Lighthouse – the tallest cast-iron lighthouse along South African shores.

Sadly for me and my excited expectations though, the barb wire topped gates were firmly shut on our arrival, with the nearby noticeboard taunting me with the normal operating hours for the lighthouse tours. Damn it.

Still, not completely deterred, I ushered the ladies out of the car for a quick stroll up the nearby boardwalk to get a better look at this magnificent 34 meter tall cast-iron beast!

Mind you, this didn’t really work for the girls, as they were pretty much back in the car almost as soon as they left it (too cold for their little shaved legs I would imagine), meaning it was up to me to amble along, snapping some quickfire pictures as the slight rain started to descend in the area.

Designed by the Chance Brothers, the Slangkop Lighthouse (or Slangkoppunt Lighthouse as it is officially known) was originally scheduled to be opened in 1914, but thanks to the commencement of World War I, it only officially launched in 1919.

The lighthouse derives its name from the Slangkop (Snake Head) hill directly behind it, and despite being fully automated in 1979, it remains one of the few lighthouses in the world to be manned by a light-keeper, better known as a lighthouse officer these days.

The particular piece of coastline that Slangkop Lighthouse protects has many reefs and headlands that stretch far out into the ocean, resulting in massive waves that have caused more than a few ships to be wrecked there over time.

Included among these shipwrecks of the area is the 1900 beaching of SS Kakapo, the 1905 wrecking of SS Clan Munroe, the 1906 sinking of the Oakburn, the 1909 destruction of SS Maori, and the more recent 2001 running aground of the Ikan Tanda.

Right. So as I mentioned, the weather wasn’t exactly the greatest and my timing in terms of visiting hours off, which then I guess simply means I’ll need to make another turn out that way sometime in the near future…

Note. Back home, we enjoyed a rather good braai. Also, a map:

Related Link: Slangkop Point Lighthouse | Transnet Ports Authority | Wikipedia

The Beach, Ice Cream and a Festival at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg (2016-10-16) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 16 MAR 2017

It is difficult to deny that the South Peninsula is a particularly beautiful stretch of Cape Town’s surrounds, and in fact, South Africa in general. If you are a surfer or are looking to become one, then Muizenberg Beach’s Surfer’s Corner is probably the spot that you should be – that is if you don’t mind all the sharks in the water!

Funnily enough, despite my main work office being out in nearby Westlake, I hardly ever make the effort of visiting out in that area, so it was thus particularly pleasurable to find myself putting aside some time to visit the Muizenberg beach stretch with my girls for the first time come October last year.

So I guess I had better blog about it then.

As luck would have it, for their very first visit to the famous Muizenberg Beach, Jessica and Emily got to watch some good surfing action, courtesy of a surf competition that was currently on the go.

Also, they got to see a blue bottle (Portuguese man o’ war) for the very first time, which on learning that these things sting and that it hurts when that happens, immediately added it to their ever growing list of reasons not to EVER swim in the sea!

The little coloured changing huts/storage units were of course a big hit, as was the very messy (but delicious) softserve ice cream grabbed from the venerable (and super interesting in terms of vintage decor) Majestic Cafe.

Which just by the way, happens to be the oldest shop in Muizenberg – having opened its doors way back in 1937!

Ice cream. Cones. Sun. Small kids.

Right. As you might imagine then, I was very, VERY grateful for the (architecturally quite beautiful mind you) public amenities that allowed me to get rid of some of that sticky residue that the girls seem to literally manage to get everywhere!

And then the bonus: What we didn’t know was that the day that we had decided to visit this part of Cape Town also happened to be the start of the 2016 Muizenberg Festival – which kicked off right in front of us with a loud parade lead by a giant silver fish puppet being accompanied by a large costumed crowd, and some VERY enthusiastic drummers.

In other words, quite the loud affair.

So, a great vibe and colourful sight indeed, but unfortunately also a completely overwhelming in terms of noise experience for the girls (Emily in particular) – all of which meant that we had to quickly cut our visit short, hightail it out of ground zero, jump into the car, and try and navigate our way to nearby Kalk Bay before the route closed because of the ever approaching parade!

A pity, but I guess then the perfect excuse for another visit in the nearby future – especially since I would love to take Chantelle to the brilliant seafood restaurant Live Bait (which I’ve had the pleasure of eating at for a business lunch before).

She would appreciate that I think.

Also, if you do decide to visit, take your camera along (if you are not going to surf). There is plenty of nice photogenic things to snap away at…

Also, just in case you can’t quite pinpoint where I am talking about on the map – a map:

Related Link: Muizenberg | Wikipedia | Muizenberg Festival

Birdwatching at Intaka Island in Century City, Cape Town (2016-09-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 15 MAR 2017

It is not exactly hidden, but if you only ever travel to Century City for the Canal Walk mall, Virgin Active gym, or Ratanga Junction theme park, then you may have missed the incredibly enjoyable nature experience lurking within its boundaries – Intaka Island.

Situated in the heart of Century City (which is about 7 km away from Cape Town CBD), Intaka Island is a large 16 ha wetland and bird sanctuary conservation area.

Intaka, which means bird in Xhosa, was actually setup by the main Century City developer Rabie – in response to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) which preceded whole area development – with the result being the creation of this sublime multi-purpose nature reserve.

In terms of credentials and recognition, well Intaka Island did receive the Voluntary Conservation Status from Cape Nature in October 2006, and to further their newly entrusted mission, the Intaka Trust followed up with the construction of a modern Environmental Education Centre, opening its doors to the public in 2010.

The site contains numerous paths for exploration (the longer round trip is 2 km in length) and bird watching (essentially it is littered with viewing platforms and bird hides wherever you look) – well worth it if you consider that over 120 different bird species call this unique area home!

Paradise for birders, photographers and nature lovers then.

Funnily enough, despite visiting the adjacent Central Park for many a year prior, I had never set foot on Intaka Island before last year September, when I decided to convince Chantelle that the girls would love a trip out that way.

Naturally, I was completely wrong.

It was hot, the girls weren’t interested in the surroundings, the path was too long, and basically they moaned for most of the walk.

Charming.

(Thankfully, they both loved the boat ride on the Canal that followed our little walkabout – meaning that all was soon forgiven!)

In other words, I need to make a plan on going back out there on my own, without the little ones in tow. So in summary then: Intaka Island is well worth a visit, though you may wish to give it a skip if you have little ones with a strong aversion to walking!

Also, if you have a camera, be sure not to leave it at home.

Also, just in case you want to got and do some birdwatching yourself, here’s a handy map:

Related Link: Intaka Island | Century City

Train Rides at the Century City Natural Goods Market (2017-01-29) Markets | Photo Gallery 08 MAR 2017

I like the Century City Natural Goods Market. Not because we’ve traded there in the past, but rather because of the always enjoyable vibe that emanates from this particular market.

The atmosphere is laid back, there is always chill music on the go, you have the openness that comes from being situated in Central Park, you are surrounded by the gorgeous modern architecture that makes up Century City, and most important of all, this always feels like a market that is catering directly for families as opposed to just trying to look cool.

That said, it is a little sad to see the market in its current shrinking form. The number of stall holders is definitely and very noticeably diminishing, which is a pity because as the stall holders become less in number and thus less diverse in offerings, so too does the number of visitors also eventually drop.

Nevertheless, there is still more than enough life in the market, as the girls and I found out for ourselves with an impromptu trip through to Century City at the end of January.

As expected, the music was good, the mini train ride lots of fun, the dog show via Dogz Cool entertained the kids, and all those little treats like hand-folded ice cream, fudge and millionaire’s shortbread delicious!

Not a bad way for the girls and I to start off a day that would eventually see us slumming with the Ostriches down at the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch!

(Naturally, I greatly annoyed the girls by taking pictures at every opportunity that it occurred to me to do so! These are some of the better ones that I decided to hold on to…)

As always, a handy map:

Related Link: Century City Natural Goods Market