Cape Town: Days Eight, Nine & Ten

Oopsie, thought I had written this but it seems to have disappeared from wherever (I thought) it was. So here goes.

Day eight in Cape Town saw the University of Cape Town start lectures again, so off my cousin went. My sister and I had decided that we were going to go to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for the day, so obviously our first stop had to be for picnic items. We just stopped in at the Pick ‘n Pay and got some pasta salad, chicken strips, chips and biscuits, and then we hopped into the car and off we went (with the help of the trusty GPS).
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Luckily it’s not too far, and the parking and stuff wasn’t too busy. There is a student discount, so remember your student card if you’re going to pay the gardens a visit (and I definitely recommend you do!)
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We found a spot to set up for the morning, and made ourselves comfortable. It was a super relaxing time spent reading, napping, chatting and enjoying the pretty scenery. Then two families arrived and promptly sat themselves down less than a metre away from us basically. Now, just to put this in perspective, the gardens were pretty quiet. There is loads of space. And these people sat down so close to us and started having very loud conversations. That was our cue to pack up and go find the Boomslang walk, but please people of the world, be considerate towards those around you!
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We went to put our picnic basket in the car and then we headed back inside (you can pass out, just make sure you keep your tickets). We took a walk to the “Boomslang” which is a tree canopy walkway they have constructed. It’s really cool, and designed very well. It doesn’t cost anything extra, so definitely add it to your list! It’s cool to see everything from up there. All in all, Kirstenbosch was a lovely day out. It costs basically nothing, and it’s very relaxing. You can obviously walk around quite a lot there, and it’s a must see for anyone who loves nature – the plant varieties are outstanding! There are also concerts in the park on certain days and an outdoor cinema on others. We wanted to go to Jeremy Loops, but it was sold out weeks in advance (PS: if you ever get a chance to see him live, do it! He’s amazing). We just lazed around the flat for the rest of the afternoon, and grabbed some dinner.
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Day nine in Cape Town, and our second last full day there, focused around getting to the waterfront. In the morning I went for a run (I’ve been trying to get into it). I must say it was really nice to run in an area that has proper sidewalks everywhere. However, my app didn’t work properly because I didn’t check the signal strength before I clicked “go running” (silly me) and so I have no idea how far I went. I’d been to spinning a couple times at the gym, but it was nice to get out!
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I’d made plans to meet up with my friend Robyn, so we headed off to the V&A Waterfront (again with the trusty guidance of the GPS). We found parking (be warned, undercover parking is ridiculously expensive!) and made our way to the Two Oceans Aquarium. Student discount again, yay!
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The Aquarium is great, they’ve got everything from Nemo and Dory to Sharks to Bill and Will the Krill and everything in between. It’s definitely worth a visit, and if you time it right you can also watch them feed the penguins and the sharks. Also make sure you stop at the “touch pool” where you can touch the starfish, anenomes and seaweed under supervision.

After the Aquarium we wanted to go get lunch, but finding a nice restaurant by the docks that wasn’t too expensive and catered for all our different tastes was challenging. We eventually ended up at Quay Four in the pub type section, after finally managing to get a seat. I’m not going to speak too much about this because then I’ll probably end up ranting, but I will say this – if you do not have at least two to three hours to spare for lunch, don’t go there. My food was really good (I had a seafood platter) and everyone else was also happy with their food but the service was so slow. We were at lunch for almost three hours. We sat watching the boats and the seals – I’d really like to go out on a sundowner cruise one day.
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After lunch and goodbyes, my sister and I headed into the shopping centre to get ingredients to make lasagne for dinner. She also got her boyfriend a personalised mug from one of the stalls there which was cool. We had some ice cream and it was super yummy. Budget for parking if you park across from V&A in a parkade – I think I paid R60 for the time we were there. We got stuck in some traffic on the way home, but at least we could look at the mountain. It was a good day, and we were super tired by the time we got home. Originally we were going to go to the outdoor cinema, but we both decided to stay in and watch movies instead.
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On our last full day in Cape Town, we went to the factory stores at Access Park. They’ve got all sorts of shops there – from Cotton On and Typo to baking stores to sports shops and a Converse store. We both got some things, and then headed home. For our last night, we went to the Tennis Party at the UCT tennis club. It was fun and we had a good time – it was a nice way to end off our holiday.
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Next morning we were up bright and early to catch our flight back to Johannesburg. It was a really wonderful getaway to Cape Town, and I do enjoy this city although sometimes I feel it’s not really for me. There’s still a lot I would like to do and see in Cape Town though, and we will be back in December as part of our road trip, so I am looking forward to that.
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I’d still really like to hike up Lion’s Head, catch the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and visit Robben Island (that’s on my bucket list). Chapman’s Peak Drive is hands down the most beautiful drive I’ve ever been on. I enjoyed the markets we went to, although I have recently found out the paella at our Neighbourgoods is not the same as there, and it’s been decided that ours is better – sorry! I saw a lot of posters and things for shark cage diving, but I don’t think I’m going to be up for that any time soon. In December we’re going to do the City Sightseeing tour (the red bus, like in London) so that will be really interesting. I’d also like to spend a proper night out on Long Street before I’m too old… Haha.

That’s all for now. I’m graduating super soon (exciting!) and then we’re off to PE in a couple of weeks to celebrate my grandmothers 90th birthday, but I won’t be posting about that because it will be a whirlwind. For now, I’m arranging the road trip for myself, my sister and two of my cousins, and (obviously) dreaming about my next international trip too! Fun times.

Cape Town: Day Seven

On the agenda for day seven in lovely Cape Town was Muizenberg and Boulders Beach, and everything in between.

First stop, Muizenberg and Surfers Corner. If there was ever a moment in life that I felt like quitting everything and becoming a surfer who lives on the beach all day every day, it was now. There are so many surfers at Muizenberg! A lot of learning going on, which is super cool. Apparently the hardcore surfers go further along the coast to avoid here because of all the people learning and improving their surfing skills, but still. It’s awesome. Only downside was that the water was a horrible brown for some reason on the day we visited.

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Obviously we needed food first (duh) so we headed to Knead. We sat at the bench looking at the sea while we ate breakfast and drank tea – my French toast was good but a bit expensive for what I got.

Colourful huts up next. You have to see them, and you have to take a photo of them, and that is what is important. Also, the water is so much warmer here than it was at Camps Bay which was great. We spent some time taking a gazillion different (but the same) photos at the huts, and trying to avoid the large amounts of blue bottles that had washed up on the beach. Don’t want to step on those by accident, because they hurt!

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Once we were satisfied with our photos, and had taken some time to look at the surfers, we hopped back in the car to head to see some penguins!

We got stuck in traffic. Almost the whole way is one lane and there were lots of people out and about, enjoying the sunshine and the last day of the long weekend.

Finally we arrive at Boulders, get some ice cream, and I was so excited to see the penguins! Then we found out that it costs R60 to get in, which no one wanted to pay (well, except me – I would have paid at that point). So we decided to go for a walk along the path outside the beach. We walked and we walked, and we saw some penguins behind the fence, and then we came to a beach which you could pay to get into and which had lots of screaming children. And then we walked some more and we came to a parking lot. And on the other side of this parking lot was a gate and another path. So we stood around a while trying to figure out if we could walk in there (there was a sign saying something about the area being rehabilitated) until eventually someone who worked there pointed out that we were welcome to walk through that gate.

If there was one secret place I had to pick from this trip, this path would be it. It allows you to walk for a couple of minutes, basically along the sea front, and there’s nothing between you and the penguins if they’re there. We didn’t see any other people on the path on the way in, and it was so quiet. We did see two penguins which came right close to the path, and then one even joined the path, walked a while, hopped up the steps and disappeared into the bushes on the other side. It was so cool! Then you get to these rocks where you can just sit a while and watch the sea and the penguins. There were people kayaking which is something I would totally want to do! And then, to top it all off, I saw a dassie on the walk back (side note: I really love dassies).

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Basically I would recommend Boulders, but don’t bother paying in the beginning. Take a stroll along the path, get some sun, and enjoy being close to the penguins and the sea without loads of other people jostling over you to take a good photo of a penguin from a deck (which is effectively what you are paying for). That walk was so awesome, and you could certainly spend a good amount of time just hanging out at the rocks. Plus, penguins are so cool!

Cape Town: Day Five & Six

Nice chilled day today. We headed to the Old Biscuit Mill in the morning – another market haha! We have a Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein in Joburg too, but the Old Biscuit Mill has other stores as well as the marker. The main focus of Neighbourgoods Market is food (food you eat there, food you take away, tapas and sweet things) and drinks. There are a lot of options! My favourite thing (which we get at the Joburg one too, yay!) is the seafood paella from Gusto. It is so good I get it almost every time I go to Neighbourgoods, and this day in Cape Town was no exception. Bonus on this day though – if I Instagrammed a photo of Gusto Paella (which actually meant a photo of the good looking guys working there) I got a free glass of sangria! It was yummy sangria too! Saw the last few runners of the Two Oceans Marathon coming in to the finish from the cab – I think I’ll train to try do the half next year! We spent the afternoon hanging around the flat just relaxing.

The next day we had Sunday lunch at the Beerhouse in Long Street. They had a sirloin or pork option, but unfortunately for my sister the sirloin option was finished by the time we got there. They have other menu options as well though. I’d definitely recommend Sunday lunch there. They also have live music (seems like this is every Sunday). Did beer tasting too. Turns out that’s a real thing. They have varying “levels” of tasting for different palates and with different numbers of beers. The staff are awesome there – they can recommend others beers you might like based on what you already know that you like. They have 99 bottles of beer on the wall which is really cool, and their main wall has the word “cheers” in different languages which I really liked. It’s a very cool venue!

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Last day of the long weekend tomorrow then my cousin is back to university. We’re off to Muizenberg tomorrow, and not sure where else. Should be fun!

Cape Town: Day Four

Hout Bay and the market, Wine Tasting, and Chapman’s Peak drive are all the things on the agenda for today – my favourite day!

We started off in Hout Bay for lunch at Mariner’s Wharf. It’s a nice place in the harbour, but it’s pretty expensive and the service was not good, although luckily the food was. I had a salmon pasta which I’ve never tried before, and it at least had quite a bit of salmon in it. Cool fact – with certain cocktails you get to keep the branded class, so if you want a souvenir that can be a good option.

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After lunch we went to look for seals in the harbour. We managed to see two – one of them looks like it’s trained by some guy staying there who feeds it, so it was “waving” at us and resting it’s head sweetly on the rocks. The man collects donations so that he can keep feeding the seal which I’m not wild about but I suppose at least he’s being entrepreneurial. Haha. It was so windy, the sand was all across the road, and threatening to whip our dresses up like Marilyn Monroe. If you’re on holiday in Cape Town, it’s possible to use the City Sightseeing bus to get to Hout Bay. Also, if you’re looking for a cheaper lunch option, there is a fish and chips place in the harbour too.

Next up was Wine Tasting at Cape Point Vineyards. Obviously, when in Cape Town and surrounding areas it goes without saying that you have to go wine tasting. We drove over Chapman’s Peak drive to get there, but decided to only stop for photos on the way back as most of the stops are on the opposite side of the road. It’s such a beautiful drive! Important thing to know for the drive is that it is a toll road. It seems like you don’t need to pay if you’re only going to the picnic spot, but if you’re driving through then there is a fee in both directions. It’s sad to see how burnt the mountain is from the fire that there was a while back, but at the same time it is possible to imagine how beautiful it will look once the new vegetation starts growing through.

Cape Point Vineyards is a pretty vineyard with a view of both the sea and the vineyards from the deck. They offer picnic baskets, and there are cushions and blankets to use if you want to laze about on the lawn rather that sitting on the deck. The wine tasting costs about R45 for 5 wines, and they’re really nice. I particularly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc Reserve. You can buy the wines that you like there too!

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Chapman’s Peak drive has got to be one of the most beautiful drives you can go on. It’s all along the cliffy coast line, and has the most spectacular views from the designated viewpoints as well as along the drive itself. You have to stop for the “famous” photo at the big stop; it has a sign for Chapman’s Peak when you’re coming up to it. Please obey the warning signs about staying behind the barriers – they are there for your safety! The view is amazing enough from behind the simple barriers to not have to risk your life to see better.

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Next up was the Hout Bay Harbour Market. We walked in the door and spotted fudge – I mean who doesn’t love fudge? And this fudge was so good! We looked around at some of the clothes and jewelry and things and then decided we needed food.

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By the way, it is at this point that I realise how much I’m writing about food. Sorry about that. But I suppose we did eat a lot. Oh well.

If there are two things that I recommend that you eat at the market it would be the following.
1) Cheese bread sticks (for a fairly decent price too)
2) A lamb ciabatta from “The Lamb Man”. So so good! It has loads of tender lamb, mint sauce, feta, rocket and roasted tomatoes (as far as I remember) and it was the best sandwich I’ve eaten from a place before. 
There’s also loads of sweet-tooth options, and lots of other food such as Chinese food, Greek food, pizzas to name just a few.

I would definitely give the market a visit if you’re in the area. While there’s no shortage of market options in Cape Town, the Hout Bay Market gives a bit more clothing, jewelry and decor options than I’ve seen at most others. Go hungry, take cash, and just chill! It can take ages to find a table to sit, so be patient. But it’s all part of the vibe.

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And DEFINITELY drive Chapman’s Peak. Such a good day!

Cape Town: Day Three

In case you missed it, you can find Cape Town: Day One & Two here.

First Thursdays tonight, but we have a whole day of things to do first!

We had breakfast at this small place in Claremont called “The Larder”. I had what was possibly the best breakfast ever – it’s called the Johnny Depp and its sourdough bread with poached eggs and hollaindaise sauce, and then wait for it, HONEYED BACON. I know, I almost cried it was so good.

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We went to do out grocery shopping for the next few days, and then we went to watch Cinderella at the movies. Just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how old we get, we’re all still little girls and fairytale fans at heart. It was a really cute movie, and I’m so glad that they didn’t try make it all dark and scary but rather stuck to (what I think is) the original story.

Anyways, then it was time for First Thursdays. Basically, First Thursdays is an initiative where “art galleries and cultural events around Cape Town’s central city stay open until 9pm or later on the first Thursday of every month, allowing anyone to explore the city on foot and experience the cultural wealth this city has to offer”. It’s an excuse to get out on the town, see some artwork, drink some wine, and generally just act more sophisticated than you probably are.

Check out their website at http://www.first-thursdays.co.za/ if you want to know more! Also a fun fact, they’re starting it in Johannesburg this May! Yay!

We had looked into a couple of the places we wanted to go, and you just get there and then find a map and begin your art adventure. We started down at one of the smaller galleries, which may or may not have been the best place to start. Firstly, we thought that the exhibition that was on (called “Lunchbox” I think) would actually be a cool story about how school lunches have evolved over time which, in all fairness, was what the description said. Or implied, obviously, as it was not about that at all. In fact, I’m not sure there was a theme at all – except maybe confusion. There were one or two cool concepts, and some really nice watercolour paintings that told a lovely, but kind of sad story. Then there was a wall that left us all so confused, we were actually thinking that the piece of glass duct taped to the wall was part of the exhibition. Yes. Oh, and there was a whole wall dedicated to the “C-Word”, which is not a word most people use in polite conversation. I don’t know if we were just not cool enough to grasp the whole concept of the venue or what, because there were a number of people strolling around saying things like “Oh this really speaks to my soul” and stuff, and we were just giggling in the corner (quietly, for fear of getting stared at by a hipster). Anyway, hipster rant over. We did get free wine, so that was a bonus.

We walked around some of the other galleries. One had the most amazing sculptures, and also the most incredible pastel drawing I have ever seen – it was even clearer than a photograph! More wine, yay.

It was time to eat, and so we wanted to go this place called the “Royale Eatery” which is on Long Street. They were fully booked already when we tried to phone that morning, so we decided to take a chance as walk-ins. We had a bit of a wait, but they direct you to “The Waiting Room” next door where we got drinks. The cool thing is that if they phone you because your table is ready but you’re still busy with your drinks, you can take them to the restaurant with you. The food at the Royale Eatery was so good – we just split two pizzas and some sweet potato fries between the three of us. I seriously recommend the Margherita pizza with baby spinach – so good! Their burgers looked amazing as well, so I would definitely go back there. Remember to book if you want to go! By the time we left dinner the galleries had all closed unfortunately, so it was on to our next plan.
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I had a friend from university that was also in Cape Town, so I got in contact with her and we met up at Honest Chocolate, which has a secret bar area in the courtyard at the back. It was so packed though, so we decided to find somewhere else to go. The Waiting Room was charging entrance, and as students it goes against our morals to pay entrance for a bar, and so we made our way to The Beerhouse. It had a really cool vibe, and was also pretty busy. Stayed for a while, and then the three of us were off to Assembly. We had pre-booked tickets so we couldn’t miss out.

Assembly is quite cool – we have a venue similar to it here in Pretoria but it doesn’t feel as big. Das Kapital and Haezer were the acts for the night. I’ve never either act live before and they were really good! They use these UV stamps to get in at the entrance and we were so confused because you couldn’t see the stamp (duh) and the girl behind the counter was just like “Yeah well that’s because they’re UV”. Like SORRY that we come from a place that doesn’t use things like this. Haha. Was a fun night though! So tired at the end of it, and my ears were ringing from all the music. Assembly is definitely somewhere I would recommend though if you want a cool night out with live local acts, so if you’re heading to Cape Town check out their website at http://theassembly.co.za/ to see if anything cool is on!

Tomorrow is Good Friday and we’re off to Hout Bay Market! Yay!

Cape Town: Day One & Two

Yay, we’re in Cape Town! My sister and I are lucky enough to be on holiday in beautiful Cape Town for about ten days. We’re visiting my cousin, who lives and studies here. I’ve been to Cape Town twice before – once for a waterpolo tour, and for one day in 2012 while I was on a train tour to Stellenbosch. My sister has never been before.

After an early-ish flight out of OR Tambo in Joburg, we arrived in Cape Town. I haven’t been on a plane since my return from my London and Contiki holiday in 2013, so that was nice. It was an interesting flight – just over two hours, but we were seated between a high school rugby team, and some of them had never flown before.

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My cousin only returned from a varsity trip the day after we got here, so we had the first day to ourselves to “explore” a bit. It’s super nice being able to walk around here (she stays in Claremont) so we took a stroll to Cavendish which is a mall here to find a snack. We decided to go to Hudsons for burgers for dinner. Hudsons is great – they’ve got about three Cape Town branches I think, and one in Joburg too. The Claremont one has happy hour from 17:30–18:30 (apparently every day, but don’t hold me to that) where you can get cocktails for half price. I had a cheese burger which was great, and my sister had a veggie and chicken burger which she said was great. One of the cocktails I would recommend is the “Prohibition Lemonade”.

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We were both pretty tired so we had an early night – ready to see our cousin!

Day two in Cape Town. The sunrise from my cousins room is really nice, so that’s a plus. Normally at home I only see the sunset. We fetched my cousin from UCT Campus, and thought of what we could do for the day.

We headed off for lunch at a place called Salushi. They have a budget-type menu in place on certain days where you can get some of your normal sushi for decent prices, as well as some more “trendy” sushi meals. I had prawn and peppadew fashion sandwiches, and some salmon thing with tempura prawns – both were really good!

After lunch, we went to Creamery, which is a homemade ice cream shop. It’s such good ice cream! They have a couple of standard flavours, and then rotate some of the others. I had sea salted caramel, and it was divine. That is always one of the first flavours I want to try because of Italy when Grace and I ran around trying to find salted caramel gelato the whole time. There was also chocolate, peanut butter, sweet cream, red fig and hot cross bun flavour. Feeling that our sweet tooth craving was satisfied, we went to our next destination – Charly’s Bakery.

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For those of you who don’t know, Charly’s Bakery is a bakery (duh) but they have a TV show called “Charly’s Cake Angels”. Obviously we had to go there. We were all so sweet from ice cream that we just decided to share a cake – we had the chocolate fudge brownie I think. Wow, but that was good. I’m glad we shared it though, because I never would have been  able to finish it by myself. The building is really cute, and the prices vary so you probably could find something you wanted for a price you are willing to pay. It can get quite busy though, and then the service gets a bit slow behind the counter, so be patient. Everyone just wants cake like you do.

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After Charly’s, we took a drive to Camp’s Bay. Our first CAPE Town beach experience. Now, let me tell you something about myself – the beach is my ultimate happy place. I love the sand and the sea and the sound of the waves. So I was VERY happy when we got to walk on the beach and put our toes in the water (it’s freezing by the way).

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For dinner we went to Foresters Arms. It’s a local pub, which has been around for quite a while – some of our parents used to hang out there, so we certainly had to go see what it’s like. It’s got wood furnishings and it’s really nice, with lots of place to sit! The food was really good, and good value too. While there, we saw John Smit – he is one of our previous Springbok rugby team players and captains. That was pretty cool – you never know who you might see in Cape Town!

Tomorrow is Thursday, and so we’re off to an event called “First Thursdays” in town. Should be cool!

There’s No Place Like Home.

When can I return to Paris? Oooh what about Croatia? Maybe Thailand, it’s more affordable. Maybe I should work on summer camp in the USA?

These are the questions running through my head a lot of the time. However, there’s the small fact that I’m about to register for my Master’s degree, and I don’t exactly have a world-travel budget at the moment…

I have spent so much time day-dreaming about adventures in far-off places, and then I realised that there is so much of my beautiful country that I have not explored or experienced yet. And so, my 2015 travel resolution is to spend more time with my dreams focused on South Africa.

Paris Hilton has been quoted as saying “I love Africa in general. South Africa and West Africa, they are both great countries”. It is also reported that Britney Spears thought that Japan was in Africa, and that fish is really popular here. Strange.

So while we do have great seafood in South Africa, and we are indeed a country – I know that much – I’m going to focus on learning more about my “homeland”. I’ve been fortunate that I have seen some of South Africa, such as Dullstroom and the Kruger National Park. I also spend almost every December in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and have been to Durban and Cape Town before on polo tours. I’ve passed a few other places, and even spent a night or two there, but I’ve never really planned my own holiday to anywhere in South Africa.

This is the year for that to happen.

My sister and I are off to Cape Town in March/April which is very exciting. It will be the first time that I’m there on holiday – I previously visited it in 2012 for a day while we are on a train tour to Stellenbosch. And a day in Cape Town is certainly not enough.

Then in December. I am going on a road trip with my sister and cousins along the Garden Route – but more about that later.

There will hopefully also be smaller local adventures, such as a visit to the Apartheid Museum, the Union Buildings, local concerts and markets, and other fun things.

I decided to blog about these a bit more, firstly because I enjoy it, but also because I believe that there are so many people who are unaware of all that South Africa has to offer, are maybe too afraid to come visit here, or just need to be reminded of what we have (like I sometimes do!).

Plus, these are also my travel adventures. And local is lekker, after all.

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