Having traveled as much as I have—not to mention, having lived in Tennessee, Arizona, New York, Scotland, Holland, Denmark and California in the last decade—I so rarely arrive in a city and think: I could live here. I’m to the point where I like being settled, as far as a nomadic spirit like me can, and where I don’t want to uproot my home every year or so in search of new adventure. And then, and then I arrived in Cape Town.
We got to Cape Town with a rough sketch of what we wanted to do but no set itinerary. And it was better that way, I think. We were always stumbling upon gems like Bo Kaap (where we took a Cape Malay cooking school…more on that another day) or hearing about places from locals that we just couldn’t miss.
(We did, however, take one of those big, red, tacky, open-top city sightseeing buses. Whatever, don’t judge. It was totally worth it.)
Speaking of locals, somehow I came to have quite a few friends in Cape Town, despite having never been there before. So the first night, my San Francisco confidante Trish, her boyfriend Brian, and their accommodating hosts Annie and Conor took us for a drink and to this amazing restaurant, the Africa Cafe, where you sample a little bit of everything by way of South African cuisine, all served family style (and you’re meant to eat with your hands, which…we didn’t, because we’re all germophobes like that).
The following afternoon, we met up with Alison, a South African friend who used to work on the red carpet with me in New York, as she’s found her way back to the motherland. She took us to the most precious lunch spot, Bird Cafe, on Bree Street, where we sat on empty milk crates and caught up on lost time.
That night, my Dutch pals Marthe and Serginho gave us a tour of the Obs (or the Observatory), which I would liken to San Francisco’s Mission district or maybe the East Village in NYC. It was there I became hooked on bobote, a South African type of meatloaf, at Cafe Ganesh and also tried springbok (sadly, the antelope-like mammal, not the rugby player of the same name) for the first time.
I thought six days in Cape Town was going to be more than enough. Not even close. Factor in a day to drive Cape Point and a day up in Stellenbosch, and there was so much more we wanted to do in Cape Town that will have to be left for next visit. We also couldn’t get enough of the V&A Waterfront, funny enough as I won’t step foot within 10 blocks of Fisherman’s Wharf in my own city. Sure, it was overpriced and weighed down with tourists, but still lively and oh-so-lovely.
Ditto to Long Street, with its blocks and blocks of cute shops and the bustling Green Market Square. (That said, whatever you do, DON’T go to the Purple Turtle, where my sister was mugged while sober on the dance floor and, after reporting it, was told smugly by the manager, “ha! Honey, we’re known for pickpocketing.”) Also worth a gander is the weekly Saturday market at the Old Biscuit Mill where you’ll find everything from Anthropologie-like clothing (at H&M-like prices) to home furnishings and knick-knacks galore.
And so much of the coastline that encased the city reminded me of California’s Big Sur area. Tell me the two aren’t strikingly similar.
I could just sing Cape Town’s praises for another 1,000 words. But I won’t. After all, I need to save enough content to set up in advance while I’m away on my three-week honeymoon!
The good news is that I’m pretty sure my mom and sister felt the same way about this marvelous city, and I have no doubt Scott would be on board…so when the time comes, we can deport and all be expats there together! Lord knows, it will be a helluva lot cheaper than San Francisco, that’s for sure.