On the 19th December, I celebrated my birthday in Cape Town. After a week driving the Garden Route and another week dotting between various vineyards in South Africa’s famous winelands, we arrived in the Mother City with a kind of ‘let’s wait and see what happens,’ kind of attitude.
After two and a half months of planning-travelling-planning-travelling, I think our Cape Town prep was a bit more relaxed. But thanks to a certain person, my birthday turned out to be very special. And it was the perfect introduction to what will be almost two weeks in South Africa’s second most populous city. Here are some highlights:
Highlights of a Birthday in Cape Town
It wasn’t freezing!
It was almost 40 degrees in the winelands which phew, was a bit too hot. But on my birthday it was like a beautiful British summer’s day – bright sunshine and temperatures in the late 20s, which felt like such a dream compared to the usual wet and cold weather I get in December in Blighty.
Exploring Long Street
One of the first things we did was do a bit of sightseeing in Cape Town City Centre and Long Street was one of the most interesting. A mish-mash of arty cafes, vintage shops and Victorian buildings bedecked in ornate wrought iron balconies, it was a real feast for the eyes. There are also plenty of opportunities to find some really interesting street art (above) and modern art (second below) in these central parts of the city. I highly recommend a stroll down Long Street if you’re ever here.
Seeing the V&A Waterfront for the first time
I’d read/heard about the V&A Waterfront so many times leading up to our trip. But seeing this vast marina – and its dramatic Table Mountain backdrop – for the first time was pretty spectacular. We’ve been back again since my birthday but strolling around the food markets and taking in the buzz of street performers was a lovely way to spend the day. Oh, and we even managed to fit in a quick ride on the Cape Town Eye (despite my being scared of heights). Sometimes you just have to be a tourist!
A luxurious spa treatment at The One & Only Hotel
This is one I have to thank my other half for. I’ve read about The One & Only Hotel many a time when I’ve researched Cape Town, but I never would have guessed that BC would be booking me in to their luxurious spa. I enjoyed a body and head massage in this gorgeous retreat in the heart of the V&A Waterfront and let me tell you, it was amazing. They use all ESPA products here, they have lovely facilities and the standard of the treatments here are honestly some of the best I’ve experienced. The setting – with those Table Mountain views – is also beautiful.
Dining on Kloof Street
Kloof Street is one of the liveliest streets you’ll find in the Mother City and for my birthday, we spent dinner at the vibrant Kloof Street House. Like many places in South Africa, it’s fairly casual, but has a buzzy atmosphere in both the restaurant/bar and the gardens. It’s filled with all sorts of exposed brickwork, curious, twinkly lights and rustic touches. We could easily have been in London, except here, I could tuck into some fresh-from-the-ocean mussels. We also squeezed in a cocktail (or two) in their very cool sister bar, Asoka, a short walk up the road.
Being in a new country
The last time I was in a completely new country for my birthday was when I was in Australia a few years back (actually, I lie, it was in New York, how could I forget?!) and we all know how exciting it is when you are somewhere completely unknown and new. While I didn’t want to wish away the first 2.5 months of our big Africa adventure, Cape Town has been a place I’ve been looking forward to seeing for so long! We’ve not seen half of it yet but it was great to get our first impressions while celebrating a birthday. So far, we like what we see. We can’t wait to see what else this place has in store for us.