UIB Travels: Capetown, ZA

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“So This Is Capetown”

After spending a full four days in Jozi (5/2 – 5/5, well technically six days as I landed the evening of 5/1 and departed the morning of 5/6), it was time to board Kulula Airlines to fly approximately two hours to the final leg of my trip in South Africa (SA/ZA) – Capetown baby!  To say that I was excited would be an understatement.  After weeks of viewing various pictures of this city my favorite travel-related Instagram pages, (@TravelNoire and @WorldWanderlust) I was very anxious to explore the city firsthand and see if it was truly as beautiful as it appeared to be.

First things first, Kulula Airlines is bootleg son – BEWARE!  You would think that a damn near two hour flight would warrant the airline to at least give their passengers a bag of pretzels and/or water right? Nope not “Keylolo Air”.  Instead, I received a hard seat with a hearty helping of zero leg room in a cabin so effin’ cold I was certain that I’d go into hypothermia before the plane landed in Capetown.  Nonetheless, I made the best of things and scarfed down the chicken sandwich I’d purchased from one of the fast food restaurants in the airport and proceeded to wrap my body up with my sweater and scarf like a mummy inside a sarcophagus.

Accommodations

When planning my accommodations, I knew that I wanted to stay as close as possible to Long Street (which strikes an uncanny resemblance to New Orleans’ Bourbon Street) because this is Capetown’s “hip strip”.  It is here that you will find an array of restaurants, lounges, shops, stores, boutiques, and bars/clubs to patronize.  With that being said my crew and I narrowed down our accommodation selections to: (1) Once (http://onceincapetown.co.za/) – as this was highly recommended by friends that recently visited Capetown and (2) Long Street Boutique Hotel   (http://www.longstreethotel.com/), the hotel we ultimately went with.   This hotel won my friends and I over because it was conveniently located ON Long Street (as opposed to being near it like the Once hostel was), the rooms appeared to be plush and opulent in the pictures on the website, the prices were very affordable (approximately $74.00 USD/night for a deluxe room), and lastly – your stay included a DELICIOUS complimentary breakfast (I’m such a fat girl, good food always helps me made decisions) from the restaurant located around the corner.

After a seamless check in, I was given my key to my room (two flights up).  As soon as I stepped into my room I knew that I’d made the right choice.  My deluxe room included a King-sized bed, a huge walk-in shower, a Victorian bath (aka clawfoot bathtub). and cable television.  Sorry folks – unfortunately I didn’t take pictures, but I PROMISE you the pictures online do this hotel complete justice – it was fabulous!

I should mention something very important for my lady travelers – Long Street gets VERY sketchy in the evening.  The men are quite aggressive (with regards to trying to get your attention) – be on guard.  It is also important to be aware of your surroundings and belongings at all times – keep an eye out for pickpocketers (carry a small purse that you keep towards the front of your body as opposed to a large one).  When possible move in a groups but if you’re traveling alone be sure to walk in brightly lit places.  Lastly, keep an eye out for security guards (the men on street corners with green berets, vests, and combat boots) should you need any assistance in a emergency.

Weather

The weather was very similar to the weather in Jozi during the day (mid 70’s to low 80’s), but it was slightly warmer than it was in Jozi at night (low to mid 60’s with little to no breeze).  You can pretty much make do without a jacket or sweater (but it wouldn’t hurt to have one just in case you get a bit nippy).

Getting Around

As in Jozi, Uber will be your best friend.  Sure, there are taxi all over the place, but I wouldn’t recommend them.   Uber cars are way cheaper and more convenient – after all, you don’t have to deal with cash (as all transactions are processed on the back end with your credit card information).

When I wasn’t hopping in and out of cars (via Uber) I utilized the driving services of Cyril of EC Distinctive Tours (http://www.ecdistinctivetours.com/).  Cyril is THE man for all your Capetown needs.  He picked me up from the airport and pretty much drove me around to all of my excursions during my entire time in Capetown. I would HIGHLY recommend his services because he’s professional, affordable, friendly, funny, very knowledgeable of Capetown (as he’s a native Capetownian) and extremely accommodating.

 10 Things To Do While In Capetown

There are soooo many things to do in Capetown, but unfortunately I was unable to do them all.  That’s OK – all the more reason to return right?  While I didn’t do it all, I did manage to indulge in nine (this is not a typo, time didn’t permit me to enjoy the tenth thing) great things that I would deem worthwhile.  Wanna know what they were?  Sure you do, check it out below:

(1) Table Mountain 

As soon as I touched down in Capetown I was whisked away by one of Cyril’s drivers (Ahmed) and taken to one of the new 7 wonders of the world – Table Mountain.  Table Mountain is the gargantuan mountain that serves as the constant backdrop pretty much no matter where you go in Capetown.  Upon arrival at the base of the mountain you have the option of either trekking to the top via foot or taking a ten minute cable car ride (I opted for the latter).  Please note – the cable cars do not operate in extremely windy conditions as it isn’t safe for the passengers.

IMG_1804
View of Table Mountain from the cable car (on the ride up)
IMG_1810
View from the top of Table Mountain

Before visiting Table Mountain I saw about 50-11 (an arbitrary number for a LOT) pictures (on Instagram and Facebook) from vantage points atop the mountain, but seeing it firsthand was an entirely different experience.  I was floored, literally floored.   The views from atop this mountain are breathtakingly beautiful, quite possibly amongst the most beautiful views that I’ve ever seen.

Heading up Table Mountain in a cable car:

Table Mountain
Look at God!  Here I am atop the majestic Table Mountain

 While on the mountain you can walk around the top to see views from different vantage points and get your model on (the photo ops are ridiculous), shop in the gift shop, or grab a bite to eat in the cafe.

(2) Paragliding

Para 1
Atop Signal Hill – All strapped up, ready to jump!

Speaking of views, I must touch on the dope ass experience that I enjoyed my last day in Capetown.  I had the opportunity to try something that I’ve wanted to try for the longest – paragliding!  While up in the air I was able to see Capetown from a birds-eye view and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Here’s how the experience went:  Cyril drove me to Signal Hill (where the paragliding experience starts) two days prior to the day that I actually jumped, but I was unable to go.  Apparently wind plays a huge factor in whether or not you’re able to jump.  The paragliding pilots (the operators of the parachutes) do not risk their lives and the lives of the daredevils that wish to partake in tandem paragliding if it’s too windy.  I came back two days later and was able to make it happen because the wind was pretty much non-existent.

Upon arrival, paragliders pay 1400 Rands/ $115.00 USD for the jump (which includes HD pictures and video).  After you pay, you sign your life away (by signing a waiver), get strapped up, and then you’re off.

The instruction was basic, “keep running until there’s no more land then jump!”.  Seems simple enough right? After being secured in my harness, I walked to the starting point with two workers on either side of me (they carried the parachute) and my pilot, John, behind me.  He further instructed me to fight the urge to sit down (as the parachute harness is right under your butt, making you want to sit) and to keep running no matter what.  I did what I was told and after about 4-5 seconds of running I was airborne!

Just jumped.  Here I am getting my "Titanic" on.  If you look directly above my head you'll notice a cameo appearance of Lion's Head mountain
Just jumped.  Here I am getting my “Titanic” on.  If you look directly above my head you’ll notice a cameo appearance of Lion’s Head mountain
Steering the parachute
Steering the parachute
Birds-eye view
Birds-eye view

While airborne, I was able to take plenty of pictures (John held the selfie stick), steer the parachute, and take in the beauty of Capetown beneath me.  Before I knew it, it was time to land (on the seapoint).  John told me to hit the ground running  – so that’s what I did.  What I didn’t expect was the slight sting as I landed.  The weight of landing hurt my ankles, but the pain subsided within two minutes or so.  From start to finish, the entire experience lasted about 10 – 12 minutes.

I suggest doing this because it was fun as hell and the air “up there” is crisp and refreshing!

(3) Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour

Cookbook and spices from my cooking class
Cookbook and spices from my cooking class

You know my greedy arse loves to eat so it should be no surprise to you that I seized the opportunity to partake in a cooking class.  Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour is an experience like no other.  Because I don’t want to skimp on the details of this experience, I will elaborate on this in an upcoming post.

(4) Stellenbosch Wine Tour

Wine tasting at the Middlevlei wine estate
Wine tasting at the Middlevlei wine estate

C’mon son.  Did you really think that I’d be able to squeeze all of the fabulousness that comes from a day of wine tasting at the various wineries in the Stellenbosch region of SA with your girlfriends into this post?  Yeah, I didn’t think so. My lush ass plans on elaborating on everything from the wine company that I used, to the wineries that I visited, to the sexy ass wine connoisseurs.  Stay tuned friends!

(5) (Robben Island)

The Robben Island sign - written in Afrikaans
The Robben Island sign – written in Afrikaans

A visit to the prison (Robben Island) that held the great apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela deserves its own post right?  I thought so too – stay tuned for a detailed post.

(6) Tour of the Western Cape

Marine Cove - First stop on the Western Cape Tour.  Chillin' on the western cape admiring the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain
Marine Cove – First stop on the Western Cape Tour.  Chillin’ on the western cape admiring the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain

The tour of the Western Cape is definitely one to include on your list!  I was able to visit Hout Bay, an ostrich farm, Seal Island, Camp’s Bay, Simon’s Town, the Cape of Good Hope, Boulder Beach, and a visit to Two Oceans Restaurant (at Cape Point).  Again, since I explored so much I don’t want to skimp out on anything.  A detailed experience of this excursion soon come :).

(7) Nightlife

Earlier on I mentioned that I stayed on Long Street and was in the middle of everything – including nightlife.  I wish I could tell you which clubs that I visited by name, but I can’t (I suck, I know).  I may not be able to tell you about all of them, but I can tell you about one of them – the one that has reggae night on Wednesday night.  This club is located directly next to the Long Street Boutique hotel and they have the livest reggae sounds and crowd on the entire strip.   If reggae isn’t your kind of groove, you can simply walk up Long Street and follow the music.  You’ll hear everything from American music (rachet & non-rachet hip hop, rock, r&b) to African music.  Wear your dancing shoes and prepare to have a good time.

(8) Massage

Who knew that I’d go the motherland and would wind up using the little Thai that I learned in Thailand some six months prior?  On my first night in Capetown my body was extremely tense and in dire need of a relaxing massage.  I was in luck, directly around the corner from my hotel was a quaint and clean massage parlor called… called…. I can’t recall the name – ugh.  However, you can’t miss it, its located next to a flower/plant shop and the sign has “Thailand” in it.

 350 rands/$29.00 USD gets you an hour long massage (Thai, oil, or combo) with warming peppermint oil in a dimly lit room atop a heated massage table with soothing music playing in the background.  The experience is capped off by a cup of pipping hot green tea – the perfect ending to a relaxing experience.

(9) Mama Africa

Be sure to visit Mama Africa (http://www.mamaafricarestaurant.co.za/) for DELICIOUS food, great service, and  awesome live music (on Thursdays) sure to make you get up and dance!

Game skewers - ostrich, kudu, and springbok meat with dipping sauce. My favorite was the ostrich
Game skewers – ostrich, kudu, and springbok meat with dipping sauce. My favorite was the ostrich
My main dish - Chicken Dovi; a chicken stew with peppers, onions, and a creamy peanut sauce - DELICIOUS!
My main dish – Chicken Dovi; a chicken stew with peppers, onions, and a creamy peanut sauce – DELICIOUS!

My girlfriend and I had great seats as we enjoyed the live music:

(10) Mzoli’s

 This is one of the excursions that I missed out on because time didn’t permit (and I am still kicking myself).  I was told by several friends that THE place to be on Sundays is Mzoli’s (http://www.capetown.travel/attractions/entry/mzolis_place).  Mzoli’s is a meat lover’s dream – here you can enjoy BBQ so good it’ll make you wanna smack your mama, live music, and chill vibes.  Be sure to visit when you visit, I know I will when I return!

So that’s it folks.  I hope that I was able to give you insight on things to do while in Capetown and wet your palate in anticipation of upcoming posts about my detailed experiences in Capetown.

***

Until Next Time Friends!

XO

~ Pennie Penz

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