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South Africa - West Coast

October 2015

CAPE TOWN

We landed in Cape Town in the early afternoon and made our way to the apartment we had rented off of AirBnB.  After a bit of searching, we found our home for the next week, which was situated on the 6th floor of a building overlooking historic Greenmarket Square. Greenmarket Square is a famous square in the center of Old Cape Town.  It once served as a slave market and during the apartheid area it was often the focus of political protests, but today it hosts an informal flea market with tons of clothes, crafts, art, etc.  

The view from our apartment!

Once we settled in, we took a walk to the Eastern Food Bazaar for lunch, a recommendation found in the guest book of our apartment.  It. Was. Amazing.  The Eastern Food Bazaar is a huge cafeteria-style "restaurant" with tons of different food stalls.  You can choose from all sorts of curries, dosas, fresh naan, samosas, kebabs, falafel, and so much more (or get everything, like we did).  Fun fact: we started watching Homeland recently and are currently on season 4, which was all filmed on location in South Africa (even though it takes place in Pakistan).  In one scene, Carrie (Claire Danes) is walking through a food market and it's clearly Eastern Food Bazaar!  

And it was so cheap!  All this food (and drinks!) cost like $5. This place was like 4 blocks from our apartment, so needless to say we went there several times.

After lunch we explored a little bit and wrote some postcards.  We've been sending a mix of postcards and the wonderful thank you cards my friend Alicia made us to people as thank you's from our wedding.  If you haven't gotten one yet, don't worry you will!

That night for dinner we went to an Ethiopian restaurant called Addis in Cape.  Neither of us had ever really eaten Ethiopian food and it was delicious and so fun to eat with our hands.

We had about a week in Cape Town, which we both agreed was perfect.  I'm not going to do a day-by-day (partly because I did not keep a good log of this), but below are some of the highlights:

TABLE MOUNTAIN

We had originally thought we would hike Table Mountain.  Boy, were we wrong!  I mean, we could have, we're both pretty fit... but it was a much more intense hike than we thought and we did not budget the time for it.  So instead, we took the cable car up which was actually so much fun!  We bought our tickets in advance so that saved us about an hour of waiting in the line (although we still had to wait a bit) and we planned our visit so that we would be at the top for sunset.  It was gorgeous... and so very cold.

THE BO-KAAP

The Bo-Kaap is an area in Cape Town that used to be called the Malay Quarter.  The residents of the Bo-Kaap are mostly descended from slaves who were brought to Cape Town by the Dutch from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other parts of Asia.  The Bo-Kaap has a large Muslim population and is home to the first mosque that was ever built in South Africa (during a time when religions other than Christianity were not tolerated).  It is a vibrant neighborhood, with beautifully painted homes and super friendly people.  We took a free tour so we could learn about the area (most of which I already forgot) and because we read that there is a lot of crime there but I find that hard to believe.  It seemed like a wonderful community and I did not feel unsafe at all.  

THE BEER!

Who knew that Cape Town had such a great craft beer scene?  We tried so many different beers that we loved.  And the names/labels were great, too.  

THE FOOD!

Everything we ate in Cape Town was great.  And again, so cheap!  Our most expensive meal was probably about $45, and that was a splurge.  Other than the Eastern Food Bazaar and Addis in Cape, we had great tapas at Fork (recommended from a friend back home! Thanks Katie!), traditional African food at Mama Africa (definitely very touristy but yummy still), and great breakfasts at Dear Me, R Caffe, and Lola's.  We also really loved the V&A Waterfront Food Market.  It reminded us of something we would find in Brooklyn and had so many different types of food to offer.

THE WATERFRONT

Speaking of The Waterfront, we really loved it.  The Waterfront is an area of Cape Town that, as you probably guessed, is by the water.  It's definitely touristy but was a breath of fresh air from the constant hustling in the old city, where we were staying.  It reminded us of San Fran and had beautiful views, great food, and fun shops.  

THE LABIA THEATRE

Yes, you read that correctly.  The Labia Theatre is South Africa's oldest independent art theater... and it was awesome.  One rainy afternoon we headed over to The Labia to eat popcorn, drink vodka-infused slushies, and watch Trainwreck (which we loved!).  

 

We really enjoyed Cape Town (but by the end we were verrrryyy sick of getting hassled everywhere we walked.  Street vendors do NOT take no for an answer).  A week was the perfect amount of time to explore the city.

Next, we go a little south to a cottage on the beach!


NOORDHOEK

After a week in the busy city, we were so ready for some down time.  We had found an adorable cottage about 40 minutes south of Cape Town in a little town on the beach called Noordhoek where we would spend the next week.  So we hopped in our rental car (a super cute VW Up! with the steering wheel on the right!!) and drove south to this wonderful oasis...

It was amazing.  This cottage is located on a family's property (but we barely saw them) and we had full use of the pool, which was lovely.  They also had 3 dogs who took an instant liking to Dennis (well two of them did).

The cottage was also right near an adorable little village where we went for most of our meals:

The highlights of our time in Noordhoek included:

BEACHING

Pretty self-explanatory.

PENGUIN WATCHING

We went to two different African Penguin colonies while in Noordhoek.  One was at Boulder's Beach in Simon's Town and the other was at Stony Point in Betty's Bay.  They were so cute and so fun to watch.  My favorite was when they would be preparing themselves to jump off a rock- it's like they really had to think about it before actually jumping.  The babies were adorable, too.

VINEYARD HOPPING

The family that we rented our apartment in Cape Town from actually own a vineyard along the popular Stellenbosch Wine Route, so we took a day to visit their vineyard, Delheim, and a neighboring one, Muratie.  After an afternoon at Delheim, we actually met up with Erhardt and Nora, who own the vineyard.  They invited us into their home and offered us a glass of their own private stock of wine.  We ended up chatting with them for several hours and eating dinner with them and their two children!  The wine was tasty, the food was delicious, and we had such a nice evening with them.  

SHARK CAGE DIVING (!!!!)

Yes.  We got into a cage in the ocean with great white sharks.  And it was awesome... and really not that scary!

We drove the 2.5 hours from Noordhoek to Gansbaai where we took a boat trip with Shark Cage Diving searching for great whites.  After about an hour, we anchored in an area where they often see sharks.  We hung out there for what seemed like forever, just bobbing around in the very choppy ocean, but no luck.  At this point I wasn't feeling so great.  Then, our captain got a call from another boat that they had found some sharks so we headed over to that direction.  Sure enough, there were sharks!  The first cage full of divers went in the water and then Dennis said "I think I'm going to puke." He ran over to the side of the boat and pretty much vomited on a great white shark. Pretty soon after that, I also got sick.  We felt awful.  BUT then we got in the cage and it was incredible!  I don't know how many sharks we saw when we were in the water, but we saw a total of 7 great whites that day.  And Dennis puked several more times.  

THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE

So, some people say that The Cape of Good Hope is the southern-most tip in Africa and is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.  It is neither of those things.  It IS the most south-western point of Africa, though:

It was beautiful.  The views were breathtaking AND we saw a bunch of ostriches hanging out by the road!  It was incredible.

After two weeks on the west coast of South Africa, it was time to head east for our first safari!