CAPE TOWN (Reuters Life!) - Overshadowed by Table Mountain and teeming with soccer fans here to watch the World Cup, Cape Town is a vibrant city at the tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors to get the most out of a 48-hour visit to a city in the feverish grip of Africa’s first World Cup.
6 p.m. - Kick off your stay with sundowners or hot chocolate at Wakame Asian sushi restaurant in Beach Road, Mouille Point, enjoying an uninterrupted vista of the ocean as the waves break meters away. Even in winter, the sun pokes out its brilliant head periodically and this is an ideal spot to relax as the fading light becomes one with the ocean darkness. Call them on +27 21 433 2377. If raw fish isn’t quite your fancy, then try the sophisticated Aubergine restaurant where diners enjoy their meals as a fireplace provides warmth and ambience during the cold winter nights. Situated in the former 19th century home of the Cape’s first chief justice, the restaurant offers innovative twists to culinary classics, with wild boar and geranium scented sauce among the favorites. The restaurant is found at 39 Barnet Street, Gardens or could be contacted on +27 21 465 4909.
7:30 p.m. - It’s soccer World Cup time and the inner-city undergoes a regular metamorphosis as streets are blocked or opened to assist thousands of fans attending matches at Green Point Stadium. The stadium, within walking distance of the city’s central business district, is adjacent to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a mega-mall that offers something for everyone. Having whet your appetite earlier, why not grab a succulent Ostrich (the world’s largest flightless bird) fillet with red wine sauce at Belthazar Restaurant (Shop 153, +27 21 421 3753) or for those with a wilder palate, a game kebab typically featuring meat cuts from Kudu, Springbok, Gemsbok and Impala buck. Also situated at the V&A is Nelson Mandela Gateway (+27 21 413 4217), where you can buy tickets (200 rand p/p return) to visit Robben Island Museum and see the cell which held South Africa’s first black state leader for 26 years. There are usually four tours a day during winter ending 3 p.m. daily, (including Sundays and holidays). To cater for increased demand during the World Cup tournament, there are an extra two boat trips at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The island is a World Heritage site and a former leper colony. All trips are weather dependent.
10 p.m. - Cape Town is a tale of two cities, and for a truly different experience, join a guided tour and visit one of the largest Rastafarian camps situated in the poor Phillipi township. Leaving at 10 p.m. the Rootz Reggae tour, run by Coffeebeans Routes, is a blast of fun where “ital” (vegetarian food) and respect abound in a smoke-filled haze as patrons jump to the beat of Marley and Tosh in a packed dancehall. The cost is 550 rand and patrons are dropped at their lodgings at about 2 a.m. Call Coffeebeans on +27 21 424 3572 or visit coffeebeansroutes.com. If you prefer things a bit more upmarket, try Hemisphere nightclub and cocktail lounge to catch some of Cape Town’s beautiful clubbers. Situated on the 31st floor of the ABSA center (corner Riebeek and Adderley streets) the venue offers great views of Table Mountain as dancers groove to commercial house and R&B tunes of the 70s, 80s and 90s. A strict dress code is enforced, although this is being relaxed during the soccer tournament.
9 a.m. - If the weather forecast is good, the more adventurous can try a tandem paragliding flight off Signal Hill or Lions Head, offering amateur pilots a bird’s eye view of the city, before landing at the trendy Camps Bay or Sea Point suburbs. Call Manu, a qualified flight instructor, on +27 76 892 2283 for bookings or try paraglide.co.za. Alternatively, take a scenic drive about 45 km (27.96 miles) along the False Bay coast, dotted with coastal towns each with its own idiosyncratic appeal, to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Use the “Flying Dutchman” funicular to reach amazing vantage points just below the lighthouse overlooking the meeting point between the mighty Indian and Atlantic oceans, or read a map to track some of the shipwrecks dotting the infamous Cape of Storms, such as the French pirate ship Le Napoleon which was wrecked after being chased ashore by the Royal Navy frigate Narcissus on Christmas day, 1805.
10 a.m. - Visit the Klein Constantia Estate in the verdant Constantia valley area and bask in its rich history, which in the 18th century saw the vineyard produce the “Constantia” sweet wine, highly prized by European aristocracy at the time. Cape Town is one of the great wine capitals of the world, and besides the Constantia wine valley, tourists can also sample a mind-boggling variety of fine wines at two other wine routes within easy reach of the city center - the Helderberg and Durbanville wine routes. Stop at Spier wine estate (+27 21 8091100) situated about 30 minutes drive outside the city, for an unforgettable dining experience at one of its four restaurants called Moyo, where diners have their faces painted in traditional African designs while being entertained by live performers. If you intend to stick around the city center, make your way toward the Pan African Market in Long street, where you can haggle with traders selling a selection of African art and curios. Pick up an exquisitely carved chess set, hand-made jewelry or elaborate wooden decorative masks at reasonable prices.
12:30 p.m. - Hop into a taxi and drive to the historic Bo-Kaap or Cape Malay district, where many of the predominantly Muslim residents are descendants of the slaves captured in Indonesia and Sri Lanka during the 17th and 18th century. Visit the Noon Gun restaurant (273 Longmarket Street, +27 21 4240529), a family-run establishment which arguably has among the best views of the city and Table Bay. In a strictly non-alcoholic setting, sample their delicious home-made victuals, such as “koeksisters,” a sweet-tasting donut and “samoosas” - a triangle-shaped pastry filled with chicken, meat or vegetables.
2 p.m. - Roll back to the CBD and go shopping in Long Street with its excellent book shops, bric-a-brac stores and designer clothing outlets. Go past the Turkish baths at the top end of the gently inclining road before taking a left and walk one block down past the planetarium and into the shaded paths of the Company Gardens (Queen Victoria Street), established by the city’s founding father Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to passing ships. See colorful Koi fish or check your watch against a 1787 sundial. The gardens are surrounded by several museums and the country’s national parliament, a few blocks up from the Castle of Good Hope (Buitenkant and Strand streets), a pentagonal fortification built by the Dutch between 1666-1679 and South Africa’s oldest surviving building.
7 p.m. - It’s impossible to visit a port city without eating seafood. For a sumptuous dinner where diners create their own deep-water delights from an emporium of sushi and seafood, try the Codfather in Camps Bay (37 The Drive, +27 21 4380782). Tickle your tongue with a platter of grilled crayfish, king-sized Mozambican prawns and calamari (squid). If you are in the mood for burlesque entertainment venture to the Vaudeville (11 Mechau street, cnr of lower Bree), where fire-breathing and trapeze artists wait to wow you. A three-course meal and entry to the Fez nightclub forms part of the package.
10 p.m. - Remain in the city center after hours when it transforms into a heaving mass of hedonistic club-hoppers. Visit Zula Sound Bar (194 Long Street, +27 21 4242442) for deep djembe beats, techno pulses or see some of South Africa’s top live bands perform at the Mercury (+27 21 465 2106) in De Villiers street, where DJs also spin 80s classics. Literally next door is the rock music oriented Shack (+27 21 461 5892), which has five different bars, and where you can let your hair down in an unpretentious environment, possibly bumping into the next top South African rock band, with up-and-coming musicians regularly at the venue. Alternatively take a taxi southward for more thumping bass at the vibrantly bohemian atmosphere of Observatory’s main road with its plethora of eateries, clubs and pool halls, about 5 km from the city center.
10 a.m. - Head for Table Mountain, the flat-topped range which has been looming over you since your arrival in the city. Take a 5 minute trip by cable car (purchase tickets online at www.tablemountain.net to avoid queues or call +27 21 424 8181 for info) with its rotating floor ensuring visitors a 360 degree view of the city. If you have the energy, walk to the 1,086 meter summit via one of the numerous hiking trails, such as the strenuous Platteklip Gorge route. Note that cable car trips are weather dependent. Grab a gourmet burger or a champagne breakfast at the self-serving restaurant, which opens at 8.30 a.m. and closes at 5.30 p.m. a half an hour before the last cable car departs down.
12 p.m. - Take a taxi back to the memories of last night’s debauchery in the city center and head to the newly opened five star hotel The Pepper Club, corner of Loop and Pepper streets, which recently played host to some of the wives and families of England’s world cup team. Get a full body African inspired massage at the Cayenne Spa to soothe tired muscles ahead of the journey home. With special African Intonga sticks, skilled therapists literally drum the body, which has been warmed up using heated oils containing the essence of Rooibos, Marula, African potato and Aloe Vera, all extracts from African plants. Pre-bookings are essential for Sundays. Call +27 21 812 8812.
Editing by Paul Casciato