i flew from durban to capetown 2 days after running comrades on a short, inexpensive Mango flight. I considered renting a car and driving on the garden route, or some other slower transportation, but received advice to fly instead- as a safer, streamlined option. when I arrived, I tuned into the gorgeous accent of airport shop attendant (nothing like what I had heard in Durban!) and got a city buss pass to go straight to table mountain then my accommodation.
the cable car was closed at table mountain due to wind (capetown gets crazy windstorms- poke around YouTube for videos of baboons getting picked up and people hanging on to telephone poles for reference) so, I took pictures halfway up the mountain with some friendly people from a double decker bus and then bounced. I saw a lot of comrades runner hiked or ran up the mountain to make up for the cable car closure- but I think I went straight for another coffee instead (call it it jetlag or self-care). I also ubered part of the way because I confused the bus lines. Uber works great in South Africa, and is reallly cheap, so enjoy your recipes for those $1.80 fares! Even getting lost on the bus line added something to the excursion, Capetown has such an incredible mix of people (South Africa has like 7 official languages after all) and the coolest style so literally injecting myself in the middle of all this on a public bus was memorable. And if I had followed instructions properly it would be have been way cheaper!
i stayed at an airbnb that was organized like a small hostel in the greenpoint neighborhood. since we have a hip neighborhood called greenpoint in ny, the choice felt familiar and nice. I had a dark a-frame room with its own kitchen and a small porch for $16 a night. I remember the Afrikaans woman who ran the house, she was a true gem who washed all my clothes and I introduced her to Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches! That’s not to say book this AIRBNB because the propertier will wash your laundry and carefully lay everything out in the sun- your mileage may vary. But what I generally love about AIRBNBs is that they are very reasonable with plenty of opportunity for hosts and guests to help each other.
Outside the AIRBNB there were cute coffee shops and a kwik-spar in walking distance. spar supermarkets are ubiquitous in SA, as is woolworth’s. both excellent places to peer around for new snacks. look for biltong, rusks, stoney gingerbeer soda, roobois tea, and my all-time favorite CRUNCHIES!
I went to one “fancy” dinner at a Portuguese restaurant called Pigalle, also in Green point (SA has a great vein of Portuguese influence, the national condiment is Perri-Perri sauce!) and tried ostrich for the first time, followed by a super sweet Malva pudding. I became a regular at the Italian grocery down the street where I met more comrades runners who just got back from a ParkRun!
There was no 5K for me, though. The next day, I met another runner who had rented a car already and headed to the vineyards- Stellanbosch! We ate lunch watching the crazy weather patterns out the window, it was about 5 courses, excellent, and $30 USD. We drove to a couple more, some were closed. We learned baboons are a pest to the winemakers, they eat the grapes and love a sweet white.
One place on the itinerary was closed due to weather maybe, but a business card stuck in the back of my wallet from a rosé cruise on the Hudson River in NY was the Hail Mary of the day.
I took the suggestion of a rep I had met in NY selling South African wine as a matter of course, and now here I was at the Boschendal Estates vineyard, it was sweet.
The next day, I let more karma from my life in the US play out in Capetown and rented a car to drive down the coast with a friend of a friend I happened to see at a wedding right before I left for SA.
We found a cute Cuban restaurant filled with colors and swings. We climbed over a fence to a cliff cave overlook, we watched surfers in wetsuits at Long Beach.
We drove back to the city and ate pizza on Long St. We stuck around when the unassuming California Pizza Kitchen -esque restaurant and bar cleared tables to create a dance floor and installed a cute DJ.
I felt happy to be alive and chatted with everyone, we ended up sticking with a rowdy group of ~Bishop’s (School) Boys . One was a blue-eyed Namibian named Allie. They pestered him all night by howling “ALLEZ LES BLEU” at the bar. We all ended the night eating pizza and samosas at at a cheap late Indian place. I even got my own nickname, “the Americano” -weird flex but OK!
And of course I would be remiss if I did not mention THE SOUTH AFRICAN PENGUINS. Somewhere in making plans around the weather and a million distractions, I actually did spend one afternoon lifted from a top 10 list of things to do in South Africa- visit the penguins at Boulder Beach!
I took an Uber there, and that’s it, you pay for a ticket and you look at these funny little penguins and take care to follow rules so you don’t anger them. And they’re fluffy and funny and nestle in little holes and hustle when these zookeeper like people come around. And of all the fun and new experiences you can have in Capetown, African penguins are a good place to start.