Tag Archives: cape town

Snacking from Cooked at the V&A Waterfront Watershed in Cape Town (2021-03-22) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 02 MAY 2021

Having just completed roaming through the blue tinged halls of the excellent Two Oceans Aquarium, Chantelle and her folks decided that it was now time to grab a seat, rest their feet, and nibble on something delicious. Now obviously the V&A Food Market would have fit the bill just perfectly, but seeing as the gorgeous Watershed was standing there right in front of us, we rather wandered in there like a small group of penguins first.

If you aren’t familiar with the Watershed at V&A Waterfront then you are in for a treat. A complete renovation of the space has resulted in a big airy structure that is vibrantly coloured and packed to the brim with all manner of artisans and studios. Art, ceramics, textiles, fashion, jewellery, and of course curios by the bucketload, the Watershed is a buzzing commerical celebration of art and the creation of it.

As luck would have it, we stumbled upon Cooked, a wonderful little eatery space that draws its inspiration from its Middle Eastern and Mediterranean roots. And while its menu certainly does look amazing, it was the baked goods that we were most interested in for this particular visit. A round of coffee and babyccinos for the kids, a selection of baked treats including croissants and muffins to pull pieces from, and of course the visual treat of the surroundings to take in. So yeah, that was our first taste of Cooked. Definitely not the worst of little restaurant experiences to have bumped into!

Rock Faces and Sea Views from Chapman’s Peak Drive (2020-07-04) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 18 APR 2021

Covid-19 and its associated lockdowns kept us all indoors for most of last year, and so excursions were few and far between. Cabin fever certainly became a thing, and to stave if off, one Saturday morning in July saw us all hop into the car and tackle the long drive to Simon’s Town and beyond, with the aim of taking in the views that come with a trip along the legendary Chapman’s Peak Drive.

Stretching between Noordhoek and Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak is the name of the mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, taking its name from John Chapman, the pilot of an English ship that was becalmed in Hout Bay in 1607, and who had been sent ashore to find provisions on an expedition recorded as Chapman’s Chaunce. Chapman’s Peak Drive itself was hacked out of the face of the mountain between 1915 and 1922, and at the time was regarded as a major feat of engineering. Of course, the issue of the numerous (but expected) rockfalls along the road came to a head in the 1990s after it caused a motorist’s death (and subsequent lawsuit), and many subsequent bouts of re-engineering has since taken place to try and make the route safer for visitors. As such the road reopened in 2005 as a toll road (to fund these constant fixes), and to this day remains one of Cape Town’s most famous drives.

The scenery is of course spectacular. With a base of granite, covered in layers of sedimentary rock and sandstone fynbos, the near vertical mountain faces rise up to the one side of you while to the other you are rewarded with the deep blue hues of the Atlantic Ocean, and further on the stiller waters of the ever picturesque Hout Bay.

Passing by energetic (and clearly not risk averse) cyclists and through the odd stone and concrete overhangs, you are eventually afforded a stop at the main lookout point that provides an incredible vantage point across from Hout Bay, with plenty of additional stone steps waiting to be clambered up by those with the energy to get yet another view of this gorgeous landscape.

Chapman’s Peak Drive is an incredible example of the old mixed in with the new mountain pass engineering, and with those incredible classic views on offer, an absolute must do for any visitor to the Cape – plus on this particular day, the perfect way to break out of our Covid-19 cabin fever funk!

Watching Table Mountain from up on Signal Hill in Cape Town (2021-01-24) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 10 MAR 2021

Want a view over Cape Town but don’t actually want to walk to get it? Then Signal Hill has everything you need! For non locals, to reach this landmark flat-topped hill next to Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, take the fun little drive up Kloof Nek Road, swing to the right when you get to the top of the road (do not go left unless you actually wanted to reach the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway station), follow the road past all the eager hikers going up and coming down Lion’s Head, shoot past the eye-catching white and green-domed Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie kramat, and then take the final bend, coming to rest in the handy (but tiny) parking lot right on top of the hill.

In the days before radio signals (i.e. this no longer applies), Signal Hill served as the vantage point from which signal flags were used to communicate weather warnings and anchoring instructions down to visiting ships in order to ensure that they were adequately prepared for the typical stormy weather that accompanies mooring in Table Bay. Similarly, ships could communicate back if in need of assistance or other instructions. Moving on, as the local time signal system, Signal Hill is also known for its very special Noon Gun (jointly operated by the South African Navy and South African Astronomical Observatory) which, although now very unnecessary, to this day still happily gives all local pigeons a hearty fright with its booming midday announcement.

As mentioned earlier, the winding road up to the summit runs past a couple of features, like the Appleton Scout Campsite (operatd by Scouts South Africa), several tombs (or kramats) of Muslim missionaries and religious leaders, and of course the entrance to the super popular hike up Lion’s Head. The flat topped Signal Hill itself comes with magnificent views over Cape Town city centre and the Atlantic Seaboard, and also serves as a jump off point for local paragliders, including that of the famous Tandem Paragliding experience which has since become a popular event for both locals and tourists alike. In terms of ecology, Signal Hill also just so happens to be one of the only places in the world where the critically endangered Peninsula Shale Renosterveld vegetation can be found. Endemic to Cape Town, the Peninsula Shale Renosterveld used to be the dominant ecosystem of the Cape Town City Bowl, but thanks to urban development, only a tiny patch on Devil’s Peak and Signal Hill itself remain as the surviving sample of this type of vegetation.

This particularly little visit to the top with Chantelle and the girls came after first a lovely walk along the Sea Point promenade, followed by some picture snapping in the colourful Bo-Kaap. In other words proper Cape Town tourist stuff, which is exactly then why directly following our waltz about in the wind above Cape Town, we shot down to the V&A Waterfront and made it our mission to make it through to the Lindt Studio before it closed for the day. (We succeeded, but only just!)

Snapping Colourful Photos of the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town (2021-01-24) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 24 FEB 2021

Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap is technically a former township situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre of Cape Town. One of the main historical centres of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town, the multicultural Bo-Kaap has since garnered big tourist attention for its extremely brightly coloured homes and cobble stoned streets, with the added attraction of the area containing the largest concentration of pre-1850 architecture in South Africa – making it one of the oldest surviving residential neighbourhoods in the Cape.

Featuring a mix of Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture, the Bo-Kaap’s origins date back to the 1760s when numerous “huurhuisjes” (rental houses) were built and leased to slaves. These people were known as Cape Malays, and were brought from Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of Africa to work in the Cape. The distinctive splash of colour that makes this particular neighbourhood stand out as much as it does is said to be attributed to the fact that while on lease, all the houses had to be white. When this rule was eventually lifted, and the slaves were allowed to buy the properties, all the houses were painted bright colours by their owners as an expression of their freedom.

With an incredibly strong percentage of Islamic population (upwards of 56% of its inhabitants identify as Muslim), the Bo-Kaap is home to a surprisingly large (given its relatively compact size) number of mosques – nine in total. Of particular interest is the Auwal Mosque, recognized as the first established and thus oldest mosque in South Africa. Dating back to 1768, the oldest house left standing in the Bo-Kaap also serves as the official Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum, and is a must stop if you are interested in learning more about this very distinctive neighbourhood and the history of its people.

Although primarily a residential neighbourhood (living admittedly in the shadow of ever encroaching gentrification), there are a few businesses, coffee shops and an art gallery or two to pop into, with the most famous of these probably being the Atlas Trading Company, a family owned store that has been operating since 1946 and which is renowned for its selection of sensational spices, rice and other rare products from around the world. That said though, 99% of visitors are there for pretty much one thing only – taking lots of photos of people’s very colourful homes!

Granite, Sand and Tears at Llandudno Beach (2020-07-04) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 NOV 2020

As the initial lockdown restrictions began to ease and we were starting to get to better grips of knowing how to approach the whole Covid-19 pandemic, the family and I decided that we desperately needed a change of scenery from our own four walls at home and so headed out for a bit of a bit of a drive around the peninsula. Halfway around I decided on an impromptu stop at Llandudno to show off its famous beach to Chantelle, seeing as she hadn’t been with us the time that I first showed it off to the girls back in 2017.

In theory this was an excellent plan, but in practice it all fall apart, as on arrival at the small parking lot by the beach, Jessica promptly took a tumble over a tree root on the tarred path down to the sand, tossing Astros everywhere but more importantly horribly grazing her knee and hands. Blood, snot and tears, and a wife who was now inexplicably angry at me meant that our little saunter about this incredibly small and picturesque beach didn’t quite have the impact I would have liked – though that said, it is pretty hard not to marvel at Llandudno beach’s prettiness.

Big granite boulders just asking to be clambered about on, soft white sand, pooches running around and having fun, icy cold water to refresh, and of course for the surfers, waves, not to mention views of the Twelve Apostles, Little Lion’s Head, and the Karbonkelberg Mountain all around.

As for the town itself, it is named after the Welsh town that features a very similar look, and lies just outside Hout Bay on the way to Camps Bay. It is an extremely upmarket residential suburb of Cape Town and is famous for going out of its way to ensure the residential feel of this stunningly scenic space by disallowing pretty much all commercial ventures, street lights, and basically maintaining as little public parking spaces as what it can get away with! Ah, the joys of having money…

A Fort of History at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town (2020-02-15) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 JUL 2020

Back when the world was still mostly blue skies and smiles, with not a single Covid-19 mask in sight, I took the girls out for an exploratory jaunt around the Castle of Good Hope, otherwise known at the Cape Town Castle, a 17th century pentagonal shaped bastion fort standing in the heart Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest city.

Built by the Dutch East India Company around 1666, the stone fortress that is the Castle of Good Hope served to replace Jan van Riebeek’s older wood and clay fort (Fort de Goede Hoop), and is currently the oldest existing building in South Africa. Built primarily in response to rising tensions between Great Britain and the Netherlands, the fort was seen as a way of safeguarding the Dutch Cape settlement which was responsible for replenishing ship supplies on the lucrative but long trade route between the Netherlands and the Dutch East indies, now known as Indonesia.

Although it seems out of place, originally the Castle of Good Hope actually sat on the coastline of Table Bay, but following extensive land reclamations that took place around the city, the fort, an historical monument (now a provincial heritage site) since 1936, now sits completely inland, with its five bastions (named after the main titles of William III: Leerdam, Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau, and Oranje) surround by the city it was once tasked with protecting.

In the past the Castle acted as local headquarters for the South African Army in the Western Cape, and today houses the Castle Military Museum and ceremonial facilities for the traditional Cape Regiments. The Castle is also the home of the Cape Town Highlanders Regiment, a mechanised infantry unit. Extensive restorations were completed in the 1980s, resulting in the Castle of Good Hope being one of the best preserved examples of a Dutch East India Company fort still left standing.

In its heyday the yellow painted fortress, that colour chosen because it lessened the effect of heat and the sun, housed a church, bakery, various workshops, living quarters, shops, and cells, among other military-themed facilities. A dividing wall was eventually added around 1695 to protect citizens in case of an attack, serving to split the courtyard and also to house the De Kat Balcony (now fronted by four legendary bronze South African warrior kings).

These days the Castle serves as a museum, with the public invited to stroll around the grounds, watch the ceremonial guards of the castle undertake the daily Key Ceremony, observe a signal canon being fired, browse around the top of the bastions, visit the military museum, take in the William Fehr art collection, peek into the torture rooms, or simply join one of the many guided tours to learn more about this bit of our shared City of Cape Town history.

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.