Woodstock is an interesting place in Cape Town. I’m never quite sure how I feel about it. It looks at you with those old, dirty eyes and then smiles sweetly as it hands you a sweetie out of nowhere, for no reason. At least that is how I see it.
Woodstock handed me a little sweetie the other day in the form of Raw and Roxy at the Woodstock Co-Op in Victoria Street. Having played around with vegetarianism for the past 7 years or so and recently added loads of fish and seafood back into my diet (because Cape Town), I’ve become lazy with my creative vegetarian cooking.
I popped into Raw and Roxy for lunch to try out their ‘vegan special’ displayed on the chalkboard outside and was very pleasantly surprised. All fresh, organic and raw, each dish is a treat in itself and a health kick of note. A dollop of each dish is piled onto your plate and called a ‘vegan special’.
The thing with cooking without meat is that you need to take texture, interesting flavours, taste combinations etc. a whole more seriously in order to create a delicious and satisfying meal. This is even more so in raw vegan food preparation and the creativity levels shoot through the roof. E.g. How would you create a lasagna without meat, eggs, dairy and without any cooking?
Well Raw & Roxy did it quite majestically and it was incredible. Add some fresh juice to your lunch and you’re well on your way to food heaven. This was my ‘small’ vegan special (more than enough for a hungry, healthy human):
Also, kale chips are a thing. They’re incredibly high in protein, carb and fat free and yum. They’re also stupid to try and make at home as you need a dehydrator or about 12 hours oven time. Raw & Roxy pump out bags of them and they’re delicious.
*Side note: What really baffles me is that people always say to me that they would really love to have a healthy vegetarian diet, but it’s just too difficult to cook delicious meals. Yet this banting bullshit comes along and they’re suddenly spending over an hour on a meal, transforming every day veggies into carb replacements and buying expensive ‘banting-friendly’ goodies. Apparently being part of a craze is more appealing than clean eating that doesn’t involve animal slaughter. Baffled.
Another thing worth trying (mostly to see how crazy you can get) is the Hot Tonic. This is a nutrient rich drink created as an alternative to caffeine. They should rather call it the Hot Rocket because you will shoot off into outer space, I swear. You can buy it ready made or grab a bag of the mixed powder to make at home. It’s mad.
In usual PopcornCandi style, my first time up Table Mountain in daylight where I can actually see the view (the first time up was a 5am trek up Platteklip Gorge in the rain and mist to try find snow. There was no snow. And no view.) was for the sole purpose of attaching myself to a rope and tipping backwards off of it to abseil off Table Mountain.
Abseil Africa host daily abseil trips off Table Mountain and offer a 112m abseil at just over 1000m vertical, making it the highest commercial abseil in the world. At a cost of R750 and the priceless adrenalin rush, you get to experience the mountain in a very different way.
It’s not so scary until you are tipped off the edge at 1000m, putting your life in the hands of some ropes and some crazy guys at the top. One of the reasons I decided to do this was to experience the literal sense of letting go and placing trust in someone/something else. And that is exactly what you have to do. When you tip over the edge, they ask you to release everything and lean back, arms in the air. Trust the rope, trust the people operating it all at the top and just let go. It’s all about accepting it all and just letting go. It was a fantastic feeling.
Granted, I spent a lot of the time on the abseil focusing on the rock face, trying not to look down and remembering to breathe, but once I jumped past the overhang and knew that there was a ledge somewhere underneath me (still pretty far away, but not 1000m!), just hanging out and looking around at the crazy views was unreal.
Looking back, it was a walk in the park. Table Mountain National Park, but just the mountain bit. And literally a walk down it.
*If you’re afraid of heights, this is NOT the activity for you!
If you’re going on a weekend, go at least 2 hours before the time as the queues for the cable car up can be excruciating and you could miss your slot, particularly in peak season. Alternatively, try and book the earliest slot to try and get in before the mad rush. Book your tickets for the cable car online and use that queue as it moves quicker.
Wear lots of sunscreen. When you get to the ledge at the bottom of the abseil, you still have a 20-30min walk back up to the top in full sun.
Wear pants that are quite thick. The harnesses they use are not padded and not very comfortable, so will cut into you if you’re hanging around too long with thin pants. If you’re a rock climber or that kind of guy, you can take and use your own harness
Take your own food and have a picnic afterwards. The restaurant at the top is overpriced and busy busy busy. Annoying when all you want is an ice cold drink and to sit and chill after your adventure.
Exploring this beautiful city does not need to cost you money. We are lucky enough to have all of this nature and culture and opportunity around us constantly, so it’s easy to tap into when you’re on month-end 2-minute noodles (or anytime, really). Since I moved to Cape Town just under 7 months ago, I have managed to explore the crap out of it without even making a dent. What is even more exciting is that a lot of what you do here doesn’t have to cost you much, or can cost you nothing at all.
I’m constantly doing something fun (and posting my pics to Instagram as proof – ha ha) and my Facebook album “Exploring Cape Town” has become too full to manage anymore. It’s time I started sharing this stuff with you in categories, I guess! So here’s the top things to do in Cape Town for under R100, based on my experience in the past 7 months of living in and loving beautiful Cape Town!
Picnicking on Chapman’s Peak
Here’s a familiar scenario for you. Sunday afternoon, lazy, month-end and no money. Bored.
Option 1: Catch up on series and eat home made popcorn
Option 2: Nap
Option 3: Grab a book, a picnic blanket, a bottle of wine and a friend and go chill on Chapman’s Peak. You’re likely to see something in that water. I’ve often sat and watched dolphins playing in Hout Bay and on this day, caught a pair of whales having a frolick in the bay!
Cost: Nothing. Only a bottle of wine out of your wine rack.
One of my favourites! There are so many hiking trails to choose from that you can find one to suit your specific needs and abilities quite easily.
If you don’t have buddies who are into that, join Meetup and join a hiking group already organised, planned and ready to rock.
Cost: Nada, zilch, niks.
Failed at running due to back issues and trying to strengthen up again with regular walking, biokinetics, blah blah blah. That doesn’t stop me from joining the local races. My favourite is the Park Runs, which are timed 5km runs in various spots all over SA. It’s at 8am every Saturday and if you’re on Discovery, you earn Vitality points for them too! Walkers are welcome and so are dogs. It’s super-chilled. I mean, that is not even my dog. And I just met that other person at the run.
Grab your bike and go somewhere
Another favourite thing to do is just grab my bicycle and ride somewhere pretty. This is Lower Tokai Park and the route is about 6km and flat. Easy to peddle around a few times and easy to jog around. Kids and pets and horses and bicycles all welcome.
Cost: Zero again. See, I wasn’t lying!
Hit the waves!
Cape Town water is fecking cold. And I’m a little scared of waves. But there’s only so much I can keep myself occupied with on the beach so I decided to try body boarding! Blouberg’s Big Bay and Muizenberg are great places to rent some gear and get into the waves. It’s so much fun, I thought my heart was going to explode. I don’t care that I was partying it up with the 7 year olds in the sea, I was happy as a pig in mud.
(I’ve since upgraded to “real” surfing and the fun factor increased substantially)
Cost: R100 for wetsuit and body board rental for 1,5 hours at Surf Emporium in Muizenberg. Surf board hire: R70.
Picnic in Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens
Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens is breathtakingly beautiful and their new Boomslang Walkway is pretty rad too. Take a walk and picnic basket and have a nap on the grass.
Cost: R50 entrance for adults
Get your culture on at the National Gallery
You really should get all that culture on if you’re going to be in Cape Town. A good start is the South African National Gallery in Company Gardens. Take a journey through the years with art.
Cost: R30 for adults
Chill with the squirrels in Company Gardens
They’re so cute. Daring, but cute. I try and chase their tails because they feel like fluffy bottle washers. I probably shouldn’t but I do.
GREAT spot, guys, GREAT spot. Super chilled and beautiful. You can braai here too, which is pretty cool. And also tan without getting covered with sand, if that’s what you’re into. The rock pools are freezing, but worth a daring dip.
Cost: R30 for adults. Free for Wild Card holders
Visit the local seals in Hout Bay and devour the fish and chips
Hout Bay has their own little seal community, who hang around the harbour waiting for fish offcuts from the fishing boats. They’re pretty cool. Often angry at being disturbed, but mostly just pretty cool.
Fish on the Rocks is a great spot for some local fishy goodness and the outside area has a beautiful view of the bay. You’ll probably have some seals swimming around in front of you there too.
A glorious day out also calls for a boat trip out to “Seal Island”. It’s heavily touristic but is actually quite fun being out on the open water, seeing the bay from a different perspective. As a bonus, you’ll feel like you’re in another country because you’ll be the only South African on the boat 😉
Cost: Your fish and chips will cost you under R100, I assure you. A Seal Island cruise on the “Calypso” is R65 per adult.
Walk/jog on the Sea Point promenade at sunset
Because if you don’t, you are wasting your life. Just saying.
Wine tasting in Constantia
Okay, so this one barely makes the cut merely because you won’t go to a place for just one wine tasting. You’ll likely order something to eat as well (I highly recommend the cheese board at Constantia Glen) or move on to another farm for another tasting. If you’re clever, you can make it work nicely for you, though.
Most people head out to Paarl, Stellenbosch or Franschhoek for wine days, but the Constantia Wine Route holds some gems as well and is nice and close for those in the Southern Suburbs. Beau Constantia‘s tasting room view is phenomenal.
Cost: R30-R50 for tastings. Beau Constantia charges R30 for three wines, Constantia Glen charges R50 for 6 wines.
And there it is, folks! I will explore some more and write another one of these in the near future I’m sure! If you have any ideas of your own, please send them my way too by commenting on this post.
Okay, so I know that Cape Town is having some crappy weather for the next few days, but as soon as the sun comes back out to play, you should do this!
Oudekraal is a protected area just past Camps Bay along the beautiful Victoria Road costal drive. It’s a picnic/braai/beach area nestled just under the 12 Apostles mountains, with beautiful views at each little spot. Entrance is R30 for adults and R15 for kids (or free with a Wild Card as not is part of SANParks Table Mountain National Park) and you can chill there the whole day (until 6pm) with your picnic stuff/braai stuff/whatever. The water is kak-cold, but that’s expected, and worth a dip or two in the calm rock pools during the day.
Turquoise waters, white sand, big boulders… it’s a hidden little paradise.
Tip: Go early (like before 10am) to pick the best spot and also to get a parking! Also, it is an alcohol free zone, so take this time to detox while you chill.
We all do it. We post the highlighted version of ourselves to our social media platforms and it all starts to become a competition to see who has the most enviable life. I’ve worked very hard to be where I am today and to have the lifestyle that I do and I’m happy with it, but I also fall into that trap of sharing my life to social media platforms with rose tinted glasses.
It is with this in mind that I thought it would be fun to pick some of my posts from the past week and give you a rundown of ‘Facebook vs Reality’. Mainly just for laughs, but I hope that you give it a go and share yours – I’d love to see!
A beautiful and peaceful bike ride along the coastal road between Camps Bay and Llandudno.
The road is actually quite an incline. Made the mistake of going down first and then up again. The ‘up’ bit is relentless, and for someone who is not really a cycler and has back issues which dictate that I should not be riding up inclines just yet, it was just dumb. The only way to get back up to my car was to push through the pain and think about a long soak in my hot bath afterwards. This shot was taken as I finally got back to my car, happy, but guilty and anticipating the after effects that I would feel the next day.
A breathtaking shot of Chapman’s Peak, clouded by a moody blanket, fast moving along to the city.
Spent the morning trying to work at a coffee shop in Kalk Bay because the renovations of the apartment above me never seem to stop and I could’t go in to the office today. After ordering breakfast and coffee, spent a long while trying to connect to their wifi and used the allocated data in 30 seconds flat, as my Dropbox decided to sync all the biggest files in the world at that minute. Switched off the syncing and got some more data. It got zapped again by something unknown. Managed to reply to an email. Tried my 3G dongle and spent the next hour getting excited every time it looked like a page was going to load. Tried wifi again, then 3G, then gave up and went shopping down the Main Road. Pulled myself out of Oh So Boho by my hair and went home. Nearly killed a cyclist struggling up Chapman’s Peak who weaved into the road at a sharp bend. Stopped at the next viewpoint and took this shot.
Oh how lovely to start the day on horseback!
Managed to get my horse in at a yard which I thought was perfect for us, but is far from it. This shot was taken after I had to ask a favour of another rider to please help me get my horse from her yard, across a main road in peak hour traffic, past a taxi rank and 10 minutes down the road to an arena that we can actually ride in. After that trauma (it was pretty bad… cars back up and hooting and a terrified horse stuck in the middle of it with me on top!), I spent another half an hour trying to control a horse that was spooking at every little thing – a tree, a rock, the sand, the sky, horses, dogs, a ghost for all I know. Fought some more and managed to do a bit of schooling (took this shot at one calm moment). Attempted a walk back along the river and she wouldn’t touch the water. Spent more time fighting and tugging and trying to coax her across. She wouldn’t budge, so we gave up and went back along the road.
Lovely day for a picnic in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens!
Went out for drinks the night before and made the mistake of ordering a large frozen margarita at Rafiki’s, because the little ones looked REALLY little. Turns out that a ‘large’ is actually a big jam jar, so is more like a jug. It was delicious so I drank it all (and before it melted), so woke up with an unplanned hangover. Dragged myself out of bed to make hummus and get to the picnic with my friends. It was such a beautiful day and a beautiful picnic but I wanted to die.
Beautiful sunset while strolling along the promenade in Sea Point.
Yes, it was. I spent the whole time wishing I was running it, rather than strolling it. My current back issues prevent me from running at the moment and that’s all I want to do. Running on the promenade and up Chapman’s Peak are my favorite things in the world to do and I miss it terribly. I tripped up some runners in my mind out of spite and then immediately felt bad and turned to gawk at the sunset instead.
So it”s not all entirely false, but every picture has a story and it’s not always as rosy at it seems. We all exaggerate our successes and our happy moments with the social media versions of ourselves. I’m okay with it, I quite like it. It helps me to see the beauty in every situation and also helps me through some obstacles in the road. I’m more than happy to continue to highlight moments in my life. It’s important to appreciate.
You start your journey at Kaskazi Kayaks in Three Anchor Bay and paddle around at sunset at your own pace with a guide. It’s so easy and breathtakingly beautiful. On our trip we came across seals, penguins and a whale up close! Nevermind the reflection of the sunset off the water for 2-2,5 hours of bliss!
The ‘c’ is pronounced as a ‘th’ sound, so it’s actually Valen’th’ia.
Valencia is a Province and the City of Valencia is within this Province. Gandia, which I wrote about before, is in the Province of Valencia. It’s all very confusing, I know.
Valencia is the home of the paella (‘ll’ is pronounced as ‘y’, so it’s a mind-twisting ‘paeya’ when said correctly). The traditional Valencian paella is with rabbit and chicken.
Valencia is also the home of some pretty good oranges. You’ll see fresh orange juice machines at most coffee shops.
There was once a river running through the middle of the city, which has now been turned into park areas. It’s a bit strange to hang out in a park with traffic on either side of you, but it’s quite novel and really pretty. It also provides plenty of space for people to walk their dogs (it seems like every resident owns a dog). Beware of the poop.
The pretty beach of Valencia is hidden behind the city, almost like it’s a secret. The city is built as if it’s not there.
You can get a massage on the beach.
You can drink on the beach (suggest tinto de verano for this exercise).
You can most definitely be topless on the beach.
The only ugly part of this beautiful city is the bull ring (to the left of the train station in the pic below), where bull fighting is still an accepted part of local culture and provides regular entertainment for locals and tourists alike. I like to refer to it as ‘The Ring of Death’ and am pleased to report that popularity for this heinous ‘sport’ is dwindling. Perhaps one day we will see it gone for good.
It is the home of Fallas – the biggest fireworks festival in the world, in March every year. The whole city stops for the duration of this festival to enjoy the people, the food, the fireworks, the music and the party. They even have a band that walks around the streets waking people up with their music to start the party again each day. This is on my bucket list for sure (before health and safety get involved – it’s not something you’ll see allowed just anywhere!).
La Tomatina festival happens every year in August, which is basically one big tomato throwing fight. I didn’t take part, but the locals tell me that it has become more of a British and Australian tourist event and the locals don’t really attend anymore. It used to be free, but now has ticket sales managed through tour operators. Not ideal, eh?
24 hour vending machines for sex emergencies.
Almost nobody works for the whole of August. The whole city (and country) takes the month off over the summer. I can understand why. One day it reached 46’C. You can’t move in that heat.
Lladro… Oh Lladro. Beautiful hand crafted porcelain. This stuff is breath-takingly beautiful. You must see it in real life. These are my two favourite pieces from the showroom (pics from their website):
Mansion of Marquis of Dos Aguas. A museum of sorts now, but you can tour this elaborate and beautiful old mansion for only €3. I absolutely love old stuff – where care was taken in the crafting of everything and it was all about who can make it better, not who can make it cheaper. This is a perfect example. The walls, the ceilings, the furniture, the adornments – all exquisite. I just loved it and can totally see myself living there (hee hee).
I will miss you, Valencia, but this is not the last you’ll see of me!
As much as I love traveling and exploring, it’s always good to come home.
Although this is true, leaving the life you are comfortable with from time to time is essential to a healthy life and gives perspective (else you get stuck in your little bubble and forget that there is a world out there.)
Here’s some of what I’m happy to come home to:
Exercise and healthy eating. My Spanish holiday diet of oily tapas, pastries for breakfast and tinto de verano/clara (half beer, half lemon sparkling water) all day has taken its’ toll
South African men. Except the skinny jeans, full beard and strange half-shaved heads ones in Cape Town – what exactly is that about?
My mountains and my sea
Grabbing my bicycle and riding out somewhere beautiful, just on my doorstep
Rain and moisture in the air (the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. I clearly wasn’t on the plain.)
A decent schedule that involves getting up before 9am and going to sleep before 2am. Dinner before 10pm will also be nice.
I also miss my work, my clients, my colleagues (yay!)
Understanding the language of the city I live in! If you travel to Spain, you’ve got to learn some of the language else you don’t fully take in the culture
I miss the tiny little beaches of the Cape southern peninsula – the sea that takes your breath away when you get in and tingles your skin when you get out.
I miss hipster restaurants where chairs don’t match and the menu oddly always has some beetroot.
Vegetarian food that doesn’t have canned tuna in it
South African cheese and wine
My home, my stuff, my bathroom, my wild lavender, fynbos, my takkies and my beauty therapist (she’s got a big job ahead of her after this trip!). Am sick of airports, planes, trains, busses, someone else’s house, my suitcase.
Overpriced, completely incorrectly made coffee. I’m lying about this one, I miss proper European coffee already (around €1,10 for the best coffee, made correctly and enjoyed on a street sidewalk cafe under the trees, chatting away). Truth coffee can kiss my ass.
I’m home baby, and it feels GOOD! I heart South Africa and I especially heart Cape Town. Muchos gratitude.
If you happen to find yourself hanging around in Gandia and feel like one big night out in Ibiza, it’s very possible to do. Here’s how:
Grab a bus in Gandia and head to Denia
Spend some time wandering around the old streets of Denia. It’s such a pretty little town. You’ll also find some good tapas, coffee and cocktails.
You’ll need to grab the ferry at the port. You will have needed to pre-purchase your ferry tickets and if you have some decent Spanish, phone ahead to book and find out their special deals. We booked tickets leaving at 5pm and returning at 7am the next morning at half the price because of a special overnight deal, so it’s worth looking into.
The best news is that there is a pool on the top deck of the ferry and a bar with normal drinks prices not yet hiked up to Ibiza drinks prices. Winning. Also, sunset.
When you dock in Ibiza, head to the town (you can walk there – it’s about half an hour and you can stop along the way for a drink). You can buy your tickets for the clubs pretty much anywhere around the and grab a cab to the club (the party only starts at around 1am in any case so you can take your time).
Then do what you will and make sure you don’t miss the morning ferry and then do the whole trip backwards again and sleep through it all. Easy peasy!
This was Amnesia.
You’re not too old for one night in Ibiza, my friends. Just find a good way to justify it. Mine was all ‘when in Spain’….
*Warning… Ibiza is EXPENSIVE. €10 for a bottle of water (as opposed to around €1 anywhere else). So you really want to get in and out as quickly as possible!