This is the seventh in a series of posts documenting my January 2019 trip around the world, which took me to Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Chiang Mai, and Hong Kong. You can read my last post, which covered my stay at the Park Inn Cape Town Foreshore, here.
The last time I was in Cape Town, I hit a lot of the major sights: Robben Island, the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Bo-Kaap, the Company’s Garden, the Cape of Good Hope, and the District Six Museum. I was enamored with the city, despite some hiccups. I had wanted to have at least three full days on this second visit to really just explore the city more organically, but unfortunately the flight from Cape Town to Hong Kong does not run daily. As I said earlier, I probably should have just skipped Victoria Falls and gone straight to Cape Town, but oh well. In less than two days, I still managed to see a completely different side of Cape Town, which really shone in summer, and had a lovely time despite my bad hotel experience. I will say that it was very strange in that in all of my activities throughout Cape Town on this trip, nearly all of the other guests/customers/beachgoers were white and largely wealthy, even though Cape Town is only about 16% white. As compared to my experience in Johannesburg (which certainly has segregation but also a larger black middle and upper class), Cape Town remains much more segregated, twenty-five years after the end of Apartheid. I found this personal story from a self-identified black professional who left Cape Town for Johannesburg really insightful.
On my first day, I was scheduled to arrive in Cape Town at 1:45, so I thought I’d have plenty of time to do a late afternoon/sunset hike along Lion’s Head, which is one of the two most popular hikes in Cape Town (along with Table Mountain). Alas, not only was I delayed in arriving from Victoria Falls, and delayed by hotel drama, but Lion’s Head turned out to be closed for six weeks of trail maintenance. (Since reopened). I was able to find another hike, though, which was short in length but amazing in experience. I *highly* recommend a sunset hike at Kloof Corner.
Note, there are two different hikes referred to as “Kloof Corner.” One, Kloof Corner Ridge is very hard and involves chains and such. That is not the one I did. I did the regular old Kloof Corner hike which was a pretty easy climb that took me seventeen minutes from a parking lot alongside Table Mountain. You start off with great views of the city and of Lion’s Head.
And then you reach the summit and the ocean, and setting sun, are before you. I even saw some dolphins. It was just incredible.
After a night exploring some of the gay bars of Cape Town (meh), I was up bright and early on Sunday morning, and made it to the Oranjezicht City Farm and Market on the V&A Waterfront, which runs every Saturday and Sunday. My Uber dropped me in the wrong place, but I eventually found it, and it was a bustling farmer’s market and food hall, with tons of produce and prepared food. It was a gorgeous day out, so tons of people were enjoying a brunch in the outdoor seating area. It was completely different than the Neighbourgoods Market I had visited in Johannesburg, as this was much whiter and yuppier, but it was still lively and I enjoyed a cold brew while walking around for a bit.
It was a bit cool still, though was supposed to become beach weather later in the day, so I decided I would have a more formal sit-down brunch, so walked along Beach Road into the heart of Green Point, which had a bit of a Carolinas, condos-on-the-beach feel, but with Table Mountain rising behind them I found a restaurant, Lily’s, where I got an outdoor table overlooking Mouille Point and a great spot to read and people watch. I had some mushrooms and eggs on toast thing was that quite tasty, and only 110 ZAR (~$8).
After brunch, I headed back to the hotel to change, before taking an Uber to the beach. It was about a 20-minute ride from the Park Inn to Clifton 3rd, which is one of five numbered beaches just outside of town, and the unofficial gay one. To access the beaches, you climb down stairs from the main road, and it really is incredible and stunning and unlike any urban beach I’ve ever been to. On the way, you pass some insane cliff-side houses, many with beachfront pools, and I have decided I am renting one for my fortieth birthday in a few years.
The beach was just starting to fill up, as the day was getting warmer and warmer. I paid 190 ZAR for two chairs and umbrella (~$13.50) – I’d met a fellow traveler from the UK who joined me. Vendors were also selling ice cream, cold water, and massages. Restroom facilities were available a short walk away at Clifton 4th. The sand was this incredible white, and it was just a lovely place to relax. I did not actually make it into the water, but, the views!
Sunday evening there were surprisingly few restaurants open, and fewer had reservations available. Bree Street is the hip food and drink street, but there was only one place available, La Parada. I didn’t need a reservation anyway as it was pretty empty, and was seated at a counter looking onto the patio seating and straight. I wasn’t super hungry, and it was more of a tapas place, so went with a Caesar salad, which was overdressed but tasty with a poached egg, and a tapas-size order of short ribs, which were really good. Along with a cocktail, including tip, the meal came to 340 ZAR (~$24).
There wasn’t much going on on Sunday night, so it was an early night before heading to the airport in the morning to start the Asia leg of the trip. I definitely want to return to Cape Town for a longer third visit sometime soon.