travel, Uncategorized

Cape Town

Hard lockdown in South Africa is over and the country has opened its borders from October 01 2020. My next post was meant to be on London but with the opening up of SA borders and the hard hit tourism industry (as with most countries), I decided to tell you about one of my favourite cities in the world… Cape Town (aka the mother city)!

I had the privilege of living in this beautiful city for about 5 years and I LOVED it. Of all the places that I have lived in SA, Cape Town tops my list. While there are countless things to do and places to see in this part of the world, I’m going to narrow down my “absolutes” for you.

As most of us are aware, SA does have its challenges as far as safety and crime is concerned, so to be aware and careful wherever you go in the world, is something we should all do. Having said that, many people who have never been to SA, do sometimes have the misconception that its all crime, and danger lurks at every corner etc, this has not been my experience at all. Cape Town is arguably the safest city in the country. Its also, in my opinion, the most beautiful. Its also the food and style, not to mention wine capital of the country. Speaking of food, lets explore where to get some great food in the Mother city…

Reubens Franschhoek

This is one of, if not, my most favourite restaurant in Cape Town. Mike took me to the one in Franschhoek for my birthday a few years ago. Everything from starters to dessert is unforgettable. A main course averages around GBP 10 and is worth every penny.

La Petite Colombe

This is one of the best restaurants in the country winning awards every year, and once you taste the food, you will see why! This is fine dining at its best, with a warm, friendly atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. The food is a gastronomic adventure of flavours, creativity and style. Needless to say the wine pairing is phenomenal and I loved every glass:) I would definitely recommend visiting La Petite either on a romantic night out or with family /friends who appreciate good food and wine as much as you do. Mike and I went with family and friends, also from the UK, and what a great night! In part because of the great food and also because of the amazing company. A night to remember:)

Baia – For some of the best seafood in town.

Cape Town is known for having some of the best, freshest seafood anywhere. Whatever part of the city you find yourself in, you will not be short of options for seafood. I have tried quite a few places and as hard as it was, iv narrowed down my favourite for you in terms of taste, price and location (easy to find and get to). Baia can be found in the iconic V&A Waterfront Shopping Centre. The waterfront is a must see in and of itself so I figure kill 2 birds with 1 stone right? Check out all the waterfronts attractions before sitting down to the best seafood dinner in town. I must especially recommend the Prawns and their Creme Brûlée for dessert.. to die for.

Indian Xpress – Add a little spice to your trip

If you are looking for something a little hotter, spicier, I have just the spot for you. Now a little side note for all you curry lovers, CT is not known for great Indian curries. I have tried a few and its really quite a mission to find authentic “Durban style” curry in this city. I did though 😀 Theres a shopping centre in Big bay, blouberg. The Seaside Village shopping centre is a lovely little centre in the seaside town of Big bay, blouberg. This is where you will find a little takeaway “Indian Xpress”. Run by a young couple, who cook the food themselves everyday, this little place is a spicy secret spot few know about…until now:). Their menu consists of biryani, lamb and chicken curries, bunny chows (for more info on the bunny chow check out my post on Durban, KZN), samoosa, pickles and soft, freshly made roti. And I would recommend them all!

So that makes my list of SOME of my must visit restaurants in CT. There are so many options and so much to say on each one but iv got to watch the word count here haha. Feel free to also leave your comments below on your experiences and recommendations if you are/have been to the mother city. Now that we are fed and full lets go exploring:)

Wine Country

Cape Town has some of the most gorgeous wine estates in the world. And needless to say the wine is some of the best vino you will find anywhere. My favourite wine estates are in Franschhoek. This entire area is so beautiful, peaceful, whatever your worries, this place will take them away or at least make you forget about them for just enough time so that your mind and body can recharge and rest. I would recommend doing the tram wine tours so that 1) you don’t have to drive or have a designated driver between wineries and 2) you get to explore all the wineries you want with the tour guides having done all the research for you. The tram tour will take you to each winery, drop you off and pick you up in about an hour or so. You can choose to skip a winery and catch the next tram if you would like to spend more time at a particular estate. Mike and my favourite winery is the La Motte Wine Estate. It is incredibly beautiful, the scenery is stunning and the food at their signature restaurant is sensational with the friendliest staff. If you can only do one wine farm, la Motte is it.

Constantia is another lovely area with a few must visit wineries. Groot Constantia Estate is my choice when I am in that part of wine country. It is a well known and much loved winery within SA and internationally with many of their fantastic bottles being exported around the world. Their wines are spectacular with their port being my all time favourite (make sure to buy a few bottles to take back home with you to your part of the world).

Now that we have enjoyed the best of food and wine, lets go for a little walk…

Table Mountain is arguably the most iconic landmark of South Africa and the most photographed attraction. It has also been named one of the natural wonders of the world. I must admit, initially when I got to CT, I was like “its a mountain, what’s the big deal?” But after experiencing the view from up there and having climbed up Lions Head (the mountain between table mountain and signal hill), I quickly became an unofficial self appointed spokesperson with everyone I met:-p If you’re a regular hiker, the climb up Table Mountain will be amazing for you but for most of us, Lions Head is just the right amount of “challenge”. The view from the top of both mountains are jaw dropping, Table Mountain taking the win of course. I must remind you to try the breakfast at the restaurant that’s right on top of Table Mountain. Its been a while since iv been, so I can’t vouch for it being as good as I remember, to be honest, but the experience alone is worth it.

Lets Take a Drive

The Garden Route provides a gorgeous 300 km coastline between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay..one of South Africa’s most popular holiday destinations. Travelers love this drive for many reasons, a few being the ancient forests, rivers and lakes, pristine beaches, mountains and fynbos. Take a road trip stopping at quaint little towns, taking in all that this popular route has to offer. It will be one you will remember forever.

Chapmans Peak drive road is on the Atlantic Coast on the south-western tip of South Africa. It is said to be one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world, and I can attest to that! The views on this road are simply breathtaking and rival any world class destination. Top Gear show did a show /drive on this road and raved about it. Considering they have driven on every road imaginable, that is quite a compliment. There is a small fee payable to take this drive but well worth it. It will be the best drive you’ll ever take!

Alright Hunnies, these are my must see places when visiting the Mother City. Let me know your favourites and your experiences too. I hope you love and enjoy Cape Town as much as I have.

Happy Travels

Love

Arita X

travel, Uncategorized

You can thank me later – things you didn’t know about South Africa

Dear South South Africa, where do I begin? How do I describe, adequately, in just one post all the things that I want the world to know about you. Your strength, resilience and untold beauty..

I was born and raised in South Africa (Durban, Kwazulu Natal to be precise). I then moved and lived in Johannesburg (the city of Gold) before moving to magical Cape Town as well for a while. South Africa has many provinces and I have had the privilege of living in all 3 of the major ones.

Each place that I have lived in has had its own unique charms and quirks that made them all keep a piece of my heart. Theres far too much to cover in one post so I have decided to divide my posts about SA into 3 parts ie. Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban.

Lets start with Durban. No matter how old I get or how far away I’m living on the other side of the world, Durban will always have a piece of me. All of my best childhood memories (and not so good ones) , my family and history, are all tied to this beautiful city. First off let me tell you about the food. If you try nothing else when visiting there, you must try the Durban curries and specifically a “bunny chow”. This authentically Durban dish is hollowed out bread filled with a curry and then topped with the bread that you scooped out. On the face of it, it may sound a bit strange but it is a must try. (Mike thought the idea sounded a bit weird but really enjoyed it when he tried one). The fruit in Durban is insane and some of the best you will ever find anywhere in the world. Mangoes, lychee, strawberries, apples, bananas, kiwi and the list goes on. They are so sweet and full of flavour that even I don’t mind having them as dessert (I hate fruit for dessert).

I haven’t really eaten out all that often when visiting Durban as its usually visiting with family so there is always ample amounts of food 😉 but some of my favourite restaurants that I have been to and really enjoyed the evening at, both food and service have been 1) Bel Punto

Mike and I went here after a football match that we watched at the sibaya casino and entertainment centre. (Man Utd & Liverpool if you’re wondering::). The bread was so good and the food was just as easy to tuck into. We had the pasta and King prawns which were just amazing. Dessert was a cheesecake that we shared (we couldn’t manage 1 each with all the food we’d eaten by then). The service was warm and friendly, really comfortable easy going setting with quality food at good prices. The restaurant is on the beach in Umdloti so there are great views.

2) The Ocean Terrace – Oyster Box Hotel

This restaurant has stunning views of the Indian Ocean and serves up a bistro style menu to its customers. I loved its casual, alfresco style and sitting outside on the terrace, overlooking the ocean, cocktail in hand, was blissful. (you will need to share your views with the seagulls, who are slightly in the way sometimes but its not a big deal. We are on their territory after all;)). The menu has something for everyone from fish and chips to English breakfasts, each one as delicious so make sure to treat yourself while on your Durban vacation.

Ushaka Marine World is a 16 hectare theme park consisting of, amongst other attractions, the beach, sea world, the aquarium, wet n wild park etc. There are many options to choose from when it comes to food including Cargo Hold Restaurant which is a restaurant aboard a cargo ship. Once seated your are surrounded by the sea creatures in their tanks which gives you the feeling of being under the sea yourself. A must for me when I visit, is Moyo restaurants Pier Bar . Pier Bar is a beach bar at the end of the newly revamped pier. Apart from the delicious cocktails and fun jam jars, the bar has incredible views as you are surrounded by the ocean while sipping the afternoon away. The average cocktail is around GBP 3-3.50 / $4-5 (and they’re really good cocktails too:))

The Bunny Chow, as iv mentioned, is a Durban favourite for both locals and visitors alike. There are a huge number of places that you can find this Durban classic dish at but there are 2 in particular (that I have tried and know of) that are especially fantastic. Orientals restaurant at the Workshop Shopping centre serves up freshly made bunny chows that are as tasty as you are going to find in Durban. Its not the fanciest place you will ever eat in but most places that serve bunny chows, (the really good ones anyway), rarely are. Here, as in most of the authentic bunny chow takeaways and restaurants, its not about frills and fancies, but the focus is on that good flavour filled Durban food that most of us love. Right, enough with all these words, lets get to the best bunny chow spot (in my opinion). Goundens at 520 Umbilo Rd & Deodar Ave, Glenwood, Durban does arguably Durbans best bunny chow, according to the locals. The mutton bunny in particular seems to be their most popular so I’m saying please try them out😀 Either of these “bunny” spots should give you a fantastic Durban bunny chow experience.

Now on to one of the most magical places in KZN. The Drakensberg Mountains. How I truly love this place. I have so many wonderful memories of my family and I (I mean ALL of us , cousins, aunts, uncles etc) driving from my aunts house (they lived about an hour away) to Drakensberg. We spent many many hours at a time here. Its such a peaceful magical place filled with walking and hiking trails, ponds and lakes, picnic spots and breathtaking scenery. Its the type of holiday or weekend getaway that will stay with you forever. Its equally stunning in winter as it is in summer – in different ways. In winter there’s snuggling up by the fireplace, smores and making snow angels while the summer lets you braai (South African for “barbecue” and picnic in the mountains, hike and take romantic walks and dinner under the stars. I can’t think of anything better quite honestly.

Yes, South Africa has many problems. Thats not a secret by any means. And it certainly has gained a reputation for the land of crime and corruption, poverty, to name a few. And this is partly true, it does have all these issues, but that’s just a fraction of what people hear about and see. South Africa has another side, one that’s not reported about because its not sensational enough I would assume. The side of her that’s generous and houses a nation of some of the most resilient people you will ever meet. A nation that has overcome insurmountable odds to overcome oppression and great divides to emerge as the rainbow nation it is today. SA rivals any other vacation destination in the world with scenery and beauty you will never forget. This is a nation of some of the friendliest people in the world, with hardships, trials and sorrow but what shines is their hope and tenacity. Yes, South Africa is a country deeply flawed but even within those flaws, despite them, she has a magic…one that I hope everyone can be lucky enough to experience at least once. SA is beauty, she is strength, she is a survivor, and even though im not there..she will always be mine! #MySouthAfrica

Happy Safe Travels

Love, Arita X