My impending birthday was marred by the fact that I was turning 40 – the dreaded half way mark, if you believe what some people tell you. I was also getting quite annoyed with the happy brigade – “life begins at 40”; “it’s only the beginning” etc. So I decided to go to Cape Town with my family for the weekend, and revel in the ageing process in the privacy of a lovely hotel room. I thought I would share my weekend experience with you, as I rediscovered the brilliance of Cape Town.
*Please note that none of the service providers mentioned paid for a mention here – this is purely an exercise in bragging about what a great weekend I had, and I thought I would give the good guys a punt*
We flew down with Mango airlines – checking in with a grumpy husband who travels often can be very enlightening – or embarrassing if you are a 15 year old girl. Nonetheless you can win a plane so check them out (and no, they didn’t pay for my trip – just thought I would throw that in there).
We stayed at the lovely Peninsula Hotel on the edge of Sea Point – great food, incredibly friendly and efficient staff, and stunning views. We were lucky enough to get a room on the 8th floor, with a jacuzzi on the roof nogal. With a panoramic view of the sea on one side, and Lion’s Head on the other who would want to be anywhere else?
Friday’s lunch venue was Spiro’s – an authentic Greek restaurant on the main road in Hout Bay, on the way to Chapmans Peak Drive. We chose a tapas platter for four, and we left feeling like Dolmades vine leaves i.e. stuffed. For R295 you get 4 dips, 8 tapas, and loads of pita bread. The portions were extremely generous so great value for money – try the chicken livers and prawn-thingies (can’t remember their name).
Saturday was an absolute highlight; we left Cape Town just after 9:30am and started our tour of the West Coast with a visit to Darling. Home to EvitaBezuidenhout (a.k.a. Pieter Dirk Uys), this charming town should be on your list of places to visit. It is a mere hour’s drive awayand is well known for its flowers (during the West Coast flower season) and its budding wine industry. Did you know Darling was the originator of the Wool industry in this country? Anyhoo, we popped into the local museum, and also visited Evita se Perron. We even caught a glimpse of the man (woman?) him/herself. It would be worthwhile to visit when there is a show on at the theatre, and you can even spend the night at one of the many accommodation establishments in town.
We then took a drive onto Riebeek Kasteel – what a gorgeous spot! Unbeknownst to us we happened to arrive on the day of the Shiraz and Arts Festival – art was on display in the town square, which was dotted with wonderful bistro’s, gift shops and wine tasting venues. I was incredibly impressed by the array of goods for sale – it is very sophisticated, and has probably the most upmarket and beautiful Royal Hotel I have ever seen in a country town.
Saturday evening was spent in and around the Cape Quarter – fabulously expensive but beautiful window shopping stores, and more fun than the V & A Waterfront, which we have done to death. There are a number of centres in and around this part of town, so don’t just visit one. The streets are particularly lively at night, with most restaurants featuring outdoor sidewalk and balcony areas.
And just when you thought we couldn’t eat any more food – we stopped off at the Sidewalk Café in Vredehoek (just above Gardens). Set against the foot of Table Mountain, this former corner café serves up great food in a really small space. You have wonderful views of the harbour and because it is situated within a suburb, you feel very chilled and at home. I had a croissant with scrambled eggs, salmon and cheese – and I think a chicken died laying all the eggs I ate – huge portions! I also tried the Belgian hot chocolate – picture a little glass mug, half filled with thick chocolate, and the other with hot milk – and topped with two marshmallows. Check out their website – very cool.
So – I often get annoyed with smarmy Capetonians who harp on about their mountain and city – and I have now decided to cut them some slack because they are SO right – I love Joburg, good and bad, but if you want a break that can offer you everything from shopping, to the outdoors, to weekend getaways, to fabulous day trips, all with excellent choices of cuisine, then book that Mango flight right now (and yes it is another punt, but I loved my trip so much, and you can win a prize).