I landed in Cape Town International Airport in South Africa four weeks after Nelson Mandela died.
There was a sense of lingering sadness to the passing of this great man, which was reflected everywhere in the street art, the quotes, the exhibitions and various other memorials. We still got a sense of this sadness as we made our way along the coast and up part of the Garden Route and back to Cape Town.
The first part of our stay in Cape Town was in the surfer paradise town of Muizeneberg. We pretty much dumped our luggage in the bright large windowed and cool wooden floored apartment and decamped to the private swimming pool. We had many a barbeque around that pool. It took a good hour before we managed to drag ourselves out of the pool to go explore our surroundings.
The nearest analogy I can think of for Muizenberg is Brighton – except Muizenberg has sand and sun. It’s a cool place to live, full of young, trendy people (very difficult to avoid getting organic food), hanging out and surfing. And to top it all, we made the great discovery that the coffee was universally good. As in really, really good.
It was fun hanging out with cool, well-travelled people, with very diverse and interesting views but all with a ‘go-getting’ and ‘we can do it’ spirit. There appeared to be a huge spirit of starting things, of having a go, of not being afraid of failure – something I imagine parts of the US are like, something that reminded me of Sierra Leone.
We were very lucky to have family living 2 mins away to show us the what is what in town. The best day we had was at a picnic they organised at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. It was brilliant. We sat around in the sunshine eating our fill, in-between managing to ‘lion’ chase our children through the trees as well as try and convince them to keep their clothes on. I think my favourite sections were the medicinal plants, the teas and walking through the large range of fynbos on display.
The Botanical Gardens don’t actually need to do much more in view of their stunning setting and plants. It was great to also be able to take in some local art in the gallery and have the option to chill out at the regular open air concerts. We unfortunately just missed a concert by South African music legend Hugh Masekela.
We did most of our own cooking at home as that suited the children’s timetable. That gave us endless opportunities to wander through vibrant bustling markets picking out fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits. Plus we fell in love with biltong. I am talking 10 kilos of biltong over a month. I am talking the paper bag full of biltong being the first thing we packed for every outing – even before the sun cream and nappies.
As a foodie I really wanted to take in the trendy food and wine scene so managed to sneak in some restaurant time with meals including big juicy burgers, paprika chicken livers, grilled snoeks (a type of fish, rather like mackerel), lime milkshakes and a new favourite bobotie. I fell in love with it and managed to convince our cookery chef to rearrange her entire cooking class just for me so that we could make this traditional South African dish of spiced mince with a creamy egg topping. OH is still supremely grateful for this.
And the beaches – sure, the sea was a bit cold but the sand… Muizenberg beach was one of our main hanging out spots but we visited tons of other beaches within easy access. The children are just at the age when playing in sand for hours is heaven, and even better heaven is playing in the sand and then splashing in the sea and then throwing shells into the sea and then playing in the sand and then splashing – and so on all day.
So, very sandy children, very sandy clothes, very sandy car, beds, floors and everywhere. Worth it, though OH still maintains that the pebbly beach and brown North sea of his native Suffolk is better but that’s just grumpy national pride flying in the face of obvious facts.
Muizenberg Cape Town, is a beautiful place. One I could easily imagine coming back to. Warm (sure it is colder in winter, but nowhere like here), good food, a cool gang of people, easy to get out and about…
Guess where we will be heading back to in a few years?