Today’s article is a guest post from Marie, a talented watercolour artist from France who lives in Hong Kong and blogs over at Miles of Happiness. She recently offered to share some of her favourite things about Cape Town through her illustrations, so let’s kick things off!
From the moment we started planning our trip to Cape Town, South Africa every traveller we met kept on telling us, “You’re going to Cape Town?! Ohhh, you’re going to LOVE it there!” When we asked why we always got different reasons, but we would soon discover that there are countless reasons to fall in love with the Mother City!
Cape Town was our very first trip to the African Continent, so it was a pretty big deal for us. If the trip went wrong, we felt we might not come back, but if on the contrary, it went great, then we’d probably plan lots of other escapades around Africa.
As our plane made its approach over Cape Town, we couldn’t help but stare at the view. It was huge and magnificent. We couldn’t wait to land and start exploring! As soon as we arrived in Cape Town, we grabbed our bags, picked up our car, and hit the road. It had been so long since we were in such an unfamiliar country – the last time being 4 years ago when we first arrived in Asia. Everything was new and fascinating. Our eyes were sparkly, our minds curious and impatient.
Our ten days in Cape Town would be punctuated by new discoveries every day, but it was clear from day one that we both LOVED Cape Town! Now let me share why.
#1. The creativity
As someone who is passionate about all kinds of art, Cape Town was one of the most fascinating cities I’ve had the chance to visit. Creativity isn’t hidden in museums or art galleries; it’s on the streets, the fashion, the architecture, the interior design of hotels and restaurants, it’s everywhere – it’s even on your plate! I spent 10 days glued to my camera and my watercolours, trying to capture the unique art vibe of the city.
#2. The outdoors
Living in Hong Kong, I know a bit about hiking trails with stunning city views, but Cape Town took things to a whole new level! Actually, I don’t even know how I can compare the two. Just a short drive from the city, we found ourselves at the foot of the legendary Table Mountain, where you can climb all the way to the top or take the funicular and walk around the mountain plateau. Then opposite, there’s Lion’s Head and Signal Hill, but these are only the popular hiking options, there are plenty of other hiking opportunities, with some trails even finishing on the ocean – prepare for some spectacular views! Oh, and if you enjoy hiking, keep an eye out for the shark spotters, these guys spend their days up on the mountain trying to spot if there are any shark down in the water – pretty awesome job, right?!
#3. The wine & food
Every time I explore a new country, I come back saying the same thing – the food was increeedible! – and Cape Town was no different. The food was fresh, colourful, diverse and so ridiculously cheap! Every meal was a feast in the Mother City. Even when we thought we’d end up in a touristy restaurant in The V&A Waterfront, we discovered the gorgeous V&A Food Market serving oysters, fresh spring rolls, green juices, pancakes, nuts, hot chocolate and anything you could dream of! Oh, and if you want to talk about wine, just drive 45 minutes to Stellenbosch and you’ll discover heaven – Audrey will agree with me on this one! 😉
#4. The people
Like most big cities, Cape Town offers a fascinating mix of cultures. We met all kind of people, all in love with their home city. During our stay at Manna Bay, the staff made us feel at home and gave us hundreds of ideas on what to do in Cape Town. In Cafe Africa, the girls sang all night, creating a unique festive atmosphere. If you have the opportunity, one South African tradition you should definitely experience is the zulu dance – quite amazing!
#5. Chapman’s Peak Road
Chapman’s Peak Road is known as one of the most scenic drives in the world and I couldn’t agree more. It’s short but sensational! We drove along the coast from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, stopping at some dreamy picnic spots for snacks, photos and a nap. And speaking of Noordhoek, imagine a perfect long strip of white sand and stunning turquoise waters, and you have all of this beauty to yourself without another person in sight. About a five-minute drive from there, we also stopped at the Noordhoek Farm Village where drinks, ice creams, great food and live concerts awaited. It was almost too good to be true!
#6. The local fashion
Shopping wasn’t part of our plans for our trip to Cape Town, but that was before we discovered South African fashion! They had colours and patterns you won’t see anywhere else, and the fabrics were light and perfect for surviving the heat – a dream for us living in Hong Kong! We found some gorgeous clothes at The Watershed, which is located on the V&A Waterfront. The place is filled with only local designs and crafts, plus we also visited lots of other boutiques all over Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
#7. The live music
Cape Town people know how to party! Sunshine, beautiful scenery, colours and music, baby! You won’t have any trouble finding a jazz bar, a concert or a festival in Cape Town. We missed the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts but it’s supposed to be wonderful! It’s every Sunday afternoon in a gorgeous setting.
#8. The wildlife
Our day exploring the Cape Peninsula blew our minds. Not only are the roads and landscapes incredibly scenic, but you also have wildlife. We visited the adorable penguin colony living at Boulders Beach, saw lots of baboons and giant ostriches at Platboom Beach, and also spotted some lazy seals sunbathing at the V&A Waterfront!
#9. The colors
Bright colours are one of Cape Town’s signature marks. Even under pouring rain, this city still looks colourful and lively! From Bo-Kaap’s legendary colourful houses to Muizenberg’s Victorian bathing chalets, the city is full of colours. A true paradise for photographers!
#10. Woodstock’s trendy vibe
When I started planning this trip to Cape Town, exploring Woodstock was on top of my wish list. I knew I couldn’t miss out on this neighbourhood filled with street art, galleries and an awesome event every Saturday: the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill (9am to 3pm). It was even better than I expected. Woodstock was a beautiful mess, with all kind of arts, cheap shops, trendy restaurants and people having a good time.