Wining about Cape Town

The flight into Cape Town provides excellent views of the mountainous terrain of the Western Cape province. On the day we flew in there was low-lying fog and only a few seconds after entering the clouds in the picture below, we touched down.

Western Cape on a foggy morning.

Cape Town is quite tourist friendly, and it feels safe to wander the CBD and waterfront areas. We dropped by the colourful neighbourood of Bo-Kaap, walked through the waterfront, and visited the District Six museum.

Solid view from the roof of our hotel.
Table Mountain would be visible from the waterfront were the sky clear.
The water struggle is real. There was no urgent shortage during our visit, but low-flow faucets are the default and hand sanitizer is encouraged.
The Bo-Kaap neighbourhood was originally inhabited by Cape Malay people, primarily slaves from Malaysia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. They painted their houses bright colours to celebrate their freedom when it was eventually granted.
Under Apartheid, the District Six neighbourhood next to the CBD was re-zoned as a white neighbourhood and residents were forced to move 15 miles out to the poorly constructed and isolated Cape Flats.

With the exception of cloudy days, the iconic Table Mountain is a constant backdrop to the city. On one of the sunny and calm days we had, we set out to climb to the top via Platteklip Gorge. Reportedly the fastest and most popular route to the plateau, it’s still about 2 hours of non-stop stair climbing.

Cape Town and the sea from the climb up Table Mountain. Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for most of his sentence, can be seen behind the city.

Our hotel was located on the same block as the Eastern Food Bazaar, a cafeteria-style Indian and Middle Eastern restaurant with insane portions. We found ourselves returning regularly and sharing single meals of shawarma roti, biryani, and “bunny chow”, which is South African for curry in a bread bowl. We’ve also enjoyed other South African staples such as biltong (jerky) and springbok bobotie (sort of like shepherd’s pie with egg topping instead of mashed potatoes).

Being in the Western Cape also gave us the opportunity to taste plenty of delicious South African wine.  We went on a tour of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek with a knowledgeable Afrikaans driver who told us some of the history of the region.  We did not realize how old the wine region is here; some of the wineries date back to the late 1600s.  In Cape Town we spent a couple evenings at Publik Wine Bar, familiarising ourselves the South African natural wine scene. And naturally Dan insisted on seeking out a few South African craft beers – we accidentally crashed board game day at the Stone Circle brewery and also enjoyed the offerings from Riot, Cape Brewing Company, and Darling Brew.

Nelson Mandela served the end of his sentence at a minimum security prison in Franschhoek.

Tomorrow we will be leaving on an overland tour of Namibia and Botswana, ending in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.  We probably won’t have much access to internet so check back in about three weeks 🙂

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