13 months
Nov 11:
beachfront property
Nov 14:
Nov 18:
Nov 22:
10 yrs of freedom
Nov 25:
unfast food
cape town gallery
all galleries
next location
(hong kong)

view from atop Table Mountain
Cape Town, South Africa; Nov 8, 2004

the low down

What we did: We rented an apartment for one month in a lovely neighborhood called Tamboerskloof. We’d describe it as up-and-coming yuppie with good restaurants and shopping within walking distance (see cape town: tamboerskloof for more info). We also rented a car for the month from a local agency so that Grace can be thoroughly confused shifting with his left hand and driving on the other side of the road. We relaxed, toured around the city and took short day trips to surrounding areas.

Overall: We enjoyed our time here. We consider Cape Town our first real “stop” on our world tour since we’re here without guides, prepared meals, and we’re not always on the move. This was a great first stop because it is relatively easy – we can drink the tap water, everyone speaks English and the food is mostly recognizable. There’s also easy access to hikes, the beach, nightlife, shopping, and restaurants. The weather is fabulous; it’s sunny almost everyday. It’s cheaper here than at home but not super-cheap due to the currently sagging dollar. There’s also fairly prevalent and affordable internet access (though the speed is often fairly slow getting back to North America) so we’ve been able to keep in touch with friends at home better and begin work on our website. Mostly, however, we’ve just been able to relax and read, and the time flew by.

Long St. (one of the main drags), Cape Town

Having an apartment: In general, fabulous! We saved a ton of money on lodging and food, since grocery stores around here are convenient. We made a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for day trips and hikes, etc. We preferred eating in anyway since the cheap food here isn’t that good and the really good food is quite expensive. Having the apartment for the month also allowed us to fully unpack (which was a great feeling) and also just sit around the apartment and be lazy when we felt like it.

Food: See above, and also see the cape town: yabba-dabba-doo entry.

People: They seem generally friendly, but not overly so. It’s a big city and we haven’t been able to meet people or make friends very easily. This is partly because we’re staying in an apartment, so it’s not as conducive to meeting other people. (See cape town: 10 years of freedom for more about our respect for the people of South Africa.)

Essentials: You could arrive in Cape Town with nothing, and find almost everything you need there. But contrary to what people tell you, you can’t find *everything* here. For example, if you’re particular about your toiletries (face products, medications, etc.) then you should bring your own; products we’re used to seeing at home can be unavailable or very expensive here.

Daily budget: After car and apartment, we budgeted $40 USD/day for everything else. All told, we stayed well below that number, but we could have easily exceeded it if we ate out more often and at nicer places.

Exchange rate: US$1 = 5.9 South African rand (ZAR)

What’s fabulous: Cape Town is surrounded by beautiful scenery. You can drive a very short distance to do a nice hike in the mountains, find white sand beaches, visit wineries or go to the bay waterfront. As a bonus you can get a proper salon haircut for only $30USD (159 rand) for Susan and only $18 USD for Grace (this is obviously not as cheap as some places yet to come on our trip, but much cheaper than at home).

Specific places we visited/things we did:
  - Hiked up Table Mountain (difficult, but amazing and beautiful)
  - Drove through Cape Town University (beautiful campus, but not a must-see)
  - Kirstenbosch Gardens (recommended - they even have a section of plants that are extinct in the wild)
  - Two Oceans Aquarium (pretty good if you haven’t seen a lot of aquariums, but not a must-see if you have - we're spoiled by the Monterey Aquarium back home, which is absolutely top notch)
  - Drove down the coast to Cape Point (a must-do)
  - Watched penguins at Boulder Beach (worth doing if you like penguins - it *is* a bit strange to see them on a sunny sandy beach instead of an iceberg)
  - District 6 Museum (very education and powerful)
  - Castle of Good Hope (okay, but not essential)
  - Strolled down St. Georges Mall and Long Street (a nice stroll – we did this many times - it's a great place to grab a relaxed lunch and watch the peeps go by)
  - Shopped at the Waterfront (definitely worth a look)
  - Shopped at the Pan African Market (very interesting, even if you don’t want to buy anything - they have stuff from all over Africa in here: masks, instruments, clothing, sculpture, you name it)
  - Lounged at as many beaches as possible (of course, this is highly recommended)

Check out the cape town gallery to catch a glimpse of all this stuff!

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