After our refreshing pit stop in Sicily, we flew to the UK for a wedding and for Moo to see his family before leaving Europe all together. It was a wet, windy but wonderful trip – especially seeing friends and family, which always makes the shitty weather worth while. (Bare with me as I reminisce before I get into the finer details about how Cape Town was the cheapest city we’ve been to!)
So from Heathrow, we did something a little unethical.
We flew business class to Cape Town. I can hear you now – how on earth did you afford that? How is that unethical? Well, simple really. Moo had been collecting frequent flyer points and instead of letting them sit there, we used them up! Why is that unethical? Business class is proven to use more fuel per person, and creates more waste (offering three course meals and the like.)
So why did we do it? Moo had never flown business and we didn’t really think we’d ever have the opportunity again. I’ve vowed to offset my future flights to make up for it. What was most interesting was just how little we saw of single-use plastics. Which proves – if business class can utilise reusables – then economy definitely can and should!!
Arriving in Cape Town was a huge culture shock.
I know people use the word diversity a lot when describing South Africa, but the word doesn’t even come close. Shanty towns line the main highways, gated communities line their compounds with electric fences, biltong stores are as plentiful as coffee shops. Thatched roofing is more prevalent here than the U.K and whether you’re black, white or coloured there is invariably a class system you’re being pegged into.
We were beyond grateful to not only know a few locals, but to be staying with them while we were here in Cape Town. We based ourselves in Stellenbosch with Moo’s family (the wine capital of South Africa). Base is the right word, because we ended up staying here for close to three weeks. Coming and going, sightseeing, hiking among other things – mostly – wine tasting (more on that later).
This post will mostly cover the wonderful places we enjoyed in Cape Town (the waterfront, Woodstock, Table Mountain and Bo Kaap).
But before all that – let’s get into the headline of this blog:
Cape Town: the cheapest and least sustainable city we’ve been to.
Cheapest, because the South African Rand comes out at 10 to 1 Australian dollars, which is invariably low. Most items on menus are around the 100r mark, a nice meal at a fancy restaurant is costing you about 600r. While a normal breakfast is coming out at 300r. It basically feels like half of what we were paying in Italy. And – seriously – it’s no wonder we were always going over budget.
So, why was it the least sustainable?
The lack of recycling and the abundance of plastic packaging in supermarkets is something we were really shocked about. We’ve asked a few locals why they don’t recycle and the general feedback was that by not recycling, they were promoting ‘job creation’ for someone else. The thought being that someone would then sort it at the other end… we weren’t so convinced.
Which I’m not sure I agree with – to me, it seemed like the easy way out. We’ve seen rubbish being thrown out of cars, over back fences, out of windows. It’s a serious mess of all sorts. On the positive, we’ve been to a few places now that have been repping the paper straw and biodegradable cutlery. But for the most part it’s still mostly single use plastic.
Back to Cape Town before I get too down about the environment, the future and the planet in general.
Here’s where we started: Table Mountain! We hiked the Platteklip Gorge route (supposedly the most popular, but we didn’t see an awful lot of people along the way). It was a fierce ascent in parts, rugged in others but most of all, a really good challenge. It took us about two hours to get to the top. Where we were covered by the table cloth (the cloud that drapes over the top). A 360 view was partly blocked by cloud, but for the most part, the views were unreal (feature image). We caught the cable car back down and headed straight to Nourish’d for a buddha bowl and smoothie afterwards #blessed.
V & A waterfront is Cape Town’s answer to Sydney’s Darling Harbour. Except that instead of one shopping mall, they have about four. The local artists arena ‘The Watershed’ was the best to explore locally made produce, art and gifts. The food around here also looked pretty incredible. On the way back, we stopped into Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay quarter. Famous for their brightly coloured houses and seriously good fusion food. It’s way better than it sounds and I definitely wouldn’t miss it if I were you!
But, my favourite suburb was definitely Woodstock. Eclectic, diverse, grungy and definitely vibing. The food scene here was unreal. Same goes with shopping, but we stayed at bay, trying not to be tempted to add to our carry-on luggage. The street art in this suburb was unreal!! We had lunch at The Kitchen, which had a queue out the door for deliciously fresh sandwiches and salads.
It was unreal to have a base in Cape Town. Getting to know the culture from the ground up is something we didn’t really get the chance to experience on our Europe trip. And certainly something we can try to add to our next destinations (more locality)!! Plus, given that Cape Town was the cheapest city we’ve been too, we more more inclined to linger and soak up as much as we could.
From Stellenbosch, we first headed north west to visit Paternoster. A sleepy fishing village, perfect for R & R, especially beautiful in wildflower season. The café Junk and Disorderly is without a doubt still the best coffee I’ve had in S.A.
Did you find Cape Town the cheapest city too?
Until then xo