I am sort of an adventurer. I like to explore new places. I don’t get to travel as often as I would like but I love it. -Edi Gathegi
Growing up my family didn’t travel at all. My parents didn’t exactly have a ton of expendable income at the time and it didn’t ever seem really important to them to travel, so I guess it was less of a priority. Up until high school the only places I’d been was Northern California and Las Vegas, Nevada, and for a kid growing up in Southern California that wasn’t very exciting.
I would really like to travel more, both stateside and internationally, but it’s challenging with work + 2 younger boys, not to mention we don’t have a limitless budget. However, I was fortunate enough to travel to Cape Town, South Africa for business and it was AAAAAMMAAAAZZZZING, so I felt it was my duty to tell everyone to PUT CAPE TOWN ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST!!!! There wasn’t a moment of my trip I didn’t enjoy; friendly people, delicious food and a beautiful area to explore- couldn’t ask for more.
First things first, getting there took me 24 hours and maybe next time (and there will definitely be a next time) I’ll plan for a couple days at my layover to break it up. Also a tip here for all you other international travel noobs: you should pack at least one change of clothes and overnight essentials in your carry on. My luggage didn’t make my connecting flight and there was only one flight each day to CPT with that airline, so I had nothing for 24 hours. Not ideal.
There are three things I need for any trip: a comfortable bed, delicious food, and great friends and I had them all in Cape Town. I met one of my Cape Town co-workers, Liz, when she was in Seattle for a business trip and we became fast friends. I think some friendships are just meant to be and ours definitely is. Kindred souls. Liz is also a fellow foodie and made amazing recommendations, so you really have her to thank.
I stayed at the Hilton Cape Town City Centre, which ended up being the perfect location for dozens of yummy eateries and cafes. Bree Street is filled with excellent dining choices. Here’s the scoop on where to eat if you’re down near Bree Street.
My first morning in Cape Town Liz met me at my hotel and took me to Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room for a cappuccino. I immediately fell in love with Clarke’s and we went back two more times. The atmosphere was so chill, the coffee was perfect and the food so tasty.
Also on Bree Street is La Parada where we had a feast. Literally. A table full of food, 4 people and over 16 tapas. Every. Single. Thing. Was. Delicious. Great wine selection.
SeaBreeze Fish & Shell is also on Bree Street and a great choice for appetizers and drinks. It’s a cute little restaurant.
Folk Cafe was my favorite coffee & breakfast spot. It’s on Bree Street and is super cute. Great espresso, delicious breakfast, friendly staff.
My SECOND favorite breakfast was from Jason Bakery, also on Bree Street (are you seeing a common theme here??) Get the breakfast toastie- it had the most amazing mushroom ragout and perfectly toasted, freshly baked bread.
Honest Chocolate Cafe on Wale Street has something called “bunny chow” and you have to try it. It’s basically a banana bread with chocolate chips and is stuffed with vanilla ice cream. Also awesome- there’s a gin bar in the back that had a cool vibe.
But the most epic of restaurants was Chef’s Warehouse by far. I, literally, would choose to go there every meal if I could. There is not one thing that I didn’t find delicious. Fabulous staff. Excellent wine selection. Intimate vibe.
Okay, now I’m going to stop talking about all of the delicious, mouth-watering places to eat, because we also did a lot of fun things- even with the rain!
Things To Do
Hout Bay Night Market was fantastic. It’s about a 30 minute drive out of the city but is well worth the effort. It’s only open Fri-Sun nights, so plan accordingly because you don’t want to miss this. It’s an artisan craft market with locally made goods, over a dozen tasty food options, live music & drinks. We had the best time, picked up some gifts & goodies for ourselves, and would have stayed longer to drink if we didn’t have to wake up super early the next day. If you’ve never tried biltong (similar to beef jerky, but more moist) this is a great place to pick some up.
If you’re looking to shop, you have to go down to the waterfront and visit The Watershed. It’s got a huge collection of local artisans in a cool venu. Everything from local artwork, leatherwork, apparel, housewares, toys, & jewelry. Right next door there’s a barn full of food vendors, so you can get hours of shopping & snacking.
My co-worker and travel buddy Damin and I spent Saturday at the Aquila Private Game Reserve which was the closest thing we could get to a safari so close to the city. The reserve was about two hours outside of the city and is a sanctuary for several species, including the big five. Our tour guide didn’t just drive us around, he broke open some rhino dung to show us how poorly they digest grass. Now that’s commitment.
It was really cold out on safari so a lot of the animals were laying low. But we did get to see two buffalo elephants, several white rhino, some ostriches, and zebras. We lucked out and it didn’t start raining until the end of our time at Aquila.
Since the weather wasn’t the best, we decided to head out to Stellenbosch, where there are several wineries (“wine farms” in SA) and a cute little downtown. Our first stop was Spice Route, and if the weather had been better we could’ve stayed hours.
There’s food, drinks, & shopping in a beautiful setting. But the torrential rains made the mostly-outdoor space less than ideal so we headed over to Spier Wine Farm and it did not disappoint. Their Creative Block wines are inspired by art and take grapes from different vineyard blocks to craft a unique blend. After our tasting we had an amazing dinner at Eight, their artisan, farm-to-table restaurant. It was a bit of a challenge fitting the half-case of wine into my luggage for the trip home, but well worth it.
Last, but definitely not least, is Table Mountain. Table Mountain is one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature and a true beauty. I would have loved to climb Lion’s Head and look on to Table Mountain, but that wasn’t an option with the weather conditions. Instead we took a rotating gondola ride up to the top of the mountain.
None of my photos really capture the beauty of being on the mountain. It was the 4th of July, so taking in these views was an excellent replacement for fireworks. So grateful the weather cleared up before we left. Next time I’m climbing up the mountain. Maybe.
Until next time CPT, XOXO.