The longest chapter of my South Africa trip came to a close in Cape Town when I bid my family farewell in Camps Bay. I had spent the last three weeks adventuring around the country with my mother, father and sister but would spend my last three days living with an old friend in Sea Point. I met Jason in 2007 when I spent a year living in Seoul Korea. We have been in touch via Facebook over the years and I was sure to let him know that I would be in town as soon as my flights were confirmed.
Jason lives with his fiance in a lovely apartment overlooking the ocean in the heart of Sea Point. Both boys work in the fashion industry, Jason writes for GQ and Conde Naste while his fiance is the Editor of GQ South Africa. I was ever so pleased to spend the weekend running around the city with a few local gays who played tour guide.
On my first morning with Jason we hopped in a Mercedez convertible bound for the cities colourful Bo Kaap neighbourhood (formerly known as the Malay Quarter). It is quintessentially a Township, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture in the city. Tourists visit Bo Kaap for its picturesque cobble stone streets and “every colour under the rainbow” painted buildings as well as fantastic Cape Malay Cuisine. Jason suggested his favorite, Noon Gun which offers a panoramic view of the city from their patio. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch enjoying home-cooked Cape Malay standards like chicken biryani, bobotie and samoosas.
Next stop was a stroll through Jan van Riebeeck’s famous garden which was established in 1652 to provide ships rounding the Cape of Good Hope with fresh supplies. Today it is still known as the “Company’s Garden,” and is a leafy, tranquil area that contains an array of exotic shrubs and trees, an aviary, a conservatory and sun dial dating back to 1787. It was a perfectly sunny day and I was so pleased to see that the park was jam packed full of families and wandering couples.
Within the Gardens sits the Iziko South African National Gallery, the countries premier gallery showcasing rotating exhibits from British, French, Dutch, Flemish and South African collections. The current exhibit featured mostly contemporary South African artists so was void of African indigenous’ness that most tourists might be expecting.
Finished at the gallery we zoomed over to a liquor store (I always like to investigate these when I travel) to suss out a few drinks for the afternoon and evening. I could not get over the fact that some of the wine bottles here are 2-3 USD a pop. We spent the afternoon drinking cold cider and eating pizza before heading out for a dance-tastic evening on Long Street. This well preserved historic street in the city centre is lined with elegant Victorian buildings and their delicate wrought-iron balconies. This shopping district turns into a clubbing quarter in the wee hours of the night. Once darting through strobe lights we hopped back into the Mercedes and arrived at the cities Gay Village where we spent a few hours chilling out at Amsterdam Action Bar for a few beers and chats with the loveliest drag queens.
The following morning we embarked upon a spontaneous road trip across the city which still stands in my mind as the most memorable day on my trip. Goes to show you that you don’t need opulent wine estates or adventurous safaris to make a memorable impact. We started off by driving to Milnerton Market, a sprawling outdoor shopping experience where according to Jason, “old retirees come to sell their junk.”
We then zoomed over to Hout Bay Market to enjoy a more refined weekend shopping experience. The space is filled with local artists, fashion designers, craftsman and a munchy inducing food court. We spent the next few hours sampling snacks from several of the vendors: crepes, freshly pressed juice, cookies, squares and kebab.
After filling ourselves to the brim we coasted to Camps Bay where we ordered cups full of gelato and relaxed on the beach. After a substantial sun soaking we headed back to Amsterdam Bar for the evening where we played pool and watched the sun set over the city.
The following morning I bid Jason farewell and spent my final morning with my parents visiting the South African Gold Museum. The museum is home to a collection of 350 West African gold artefacts as well as objects from the ancient gold civilisations of southern Africa. The purpose of the collection is to preserve the art of African gold smithing while inspiring contemporary design.
After enriching our lives with the fascinating history of the local gold rush we strolled downtown for a quick visit at the Iziko Michaelis Collection. Located in the Old Town House, this national monument was built in 1755 in the Cape Rococo style. The original collection was donated to the city by the wealthy financier Sir Max Michaelis in 1914. It was added to by Lady Michaelis after the death of her husband in 1932. The collection consists of a world-renowned selection of Dutch and Flemish art from the 17th century Golden Age.
Our final stop was at the cathedral which sites directly beside the Gallery. We poked our head in to find a neat little coffee shop which raises funds for the church as well as some of the most colourful church pews I have ever encountered.