Cape Town

Upon arriving in Cape Town, I instantly realized that driving on the left is FREAKING SCARY. I wasn’t actually driving, but just sitting in the car. To me it looked like everyone was going to drive straight into us. I was basically bracing for impact the entire time I was in a car.

From the airport, I went straight to the Backpacker – my hostel. It was gorgeous, clear perfect views of all of Table Mountain. I put my stuff down in the room and instantly noticed something I hadn’t seen in well over a year and a half: a down comforter. A big, fluffy, down comforter. All I wanted to do was curl up in it and be fluffy and warm inside my little dorm bed, but no. I had other plans. Which most definitely included Table Mountain.

Taking a cab, I quickly made it to the cable car station for Table Mountain. It was fascinating talking to the cab driver because he was from the DRC (Congo). We talked about fufu and life in “real Africa.” He invited me to his house for fufu, which I declined.

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And away I went.

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The view was spectacular. You could see everything, all of Cape Town proper, the harbour, Robben Island (where Mandela was imprisoned), the beaches, all from up in the clouds. It was incredibly cold, my nose was running nonstop. And by incredibly cold I mean somewhere in the 50s. While up on top of the end of the world, I grabbed a smallsmall snack. A CHEESE PLATTER. Enough said. I drank it down with some sparkling apple juice. I was back in business.

I made my way back to my hostel and changed for dinner. AKA sexy dress time! Before dinner I was meeting my new friend that I made at the Joburg airport for a tour of his hometown. He is Xhosa and from Cape Town so he took me on a sunset drive of the area. If it had been a bona fide date, it would have been pretty damn romantic. He dropped me off at my restaurant and I invited him to join me. He had a really fascinating job – working with GPS/GIS stuff all around Africa. (We have a big GPS push in PC Ghana, so it was cool talking to him.)

Food porn time. The restaurant I went to was called Azure. It was in a 5 star hotel and the restaurant overlooked the setting sun on the Atlantic Ocean. I ordered two starters: a nice squid dish and duck bresola. The squid was so fresh, you could almost smell the salty ocean coming from the plate. It was served with some squid ink, which reminded me of a fabulous vacation I took with my aunt many moons ago. The duck bresola was to die for, so tender and flavorful, not at all gamey. After the starters (which even though my new friend was joining me for dinner, we did not share. Sorry buddy.), they brought out an interesting looking dish that I didn’t order. It was Asian styled spoons with little baby sherberts sitting on top. The waiter then poured some liquid over it and POOF. It was like a genie coming out of a lamp, the entire table was filled with smoke and fog pouring over the sides onto the floor. They win big points for theatrics. Then came my main dish. Oh lord. Oh lord. Porkbelly, with pumpkin and deliciousness. It tasted like walking into a warm, cozy living room with a roaring fire during fall. It tasted like crunchy, falling orange leaves and pumpkin pie in the oven. It was heavenly. For desert, I had the sampler. Bread pudding, fresh fruit, mocha thing, and something else delicious. It was DIVINE. After dinner my friend drove me back to the hostel and I passed out in my fluffy warm bed.

The next day I woke up and took an incredibly hot, long shower. Because I could. Around 8:30 Rob from Cape Convoy Tours picked me up for my full day tour of the area. I booked this tour ages in advance. I read all sorts of raving reviews online and was determined to do this tour. It wasn’t looking promising until a few days before we some other people booked. THANK GOD. I got to ride shotgun, which is basically like being a princess. Obviously. We drove for a while along the most scenic route I have ever witnessed. Winding roads hugging mountains, waving hello to the ocean below.

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The early morning light was hypnotic, the sun looks so different when you are at the end of the world. We came to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, literally the tip of Africa. I walked up the mountainside and was amazed by the views. The water was clear and shades of blue I didn’t know existed. There is such history surrounding this piece of rock too. The discovery of Cape Point changed the world. Trade routes, British colonialism, the East India Trading company.

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Hard to believe finding this piece of land forever changed the world. The area of the Cape of Good Hope is completely unspoiled. It looks the same as it probably did in 1496. Complete with ostriches roaming the beach.

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For lunch, I had a seafood pizza complete with mussels and crab for less than 6 bucks. After lunch we moved on to Boulder’s Beach, home of the African penquins!! There is nothing more exciting than seeing wild animals in the wild, in their natural habitat, doing their own thing. I’ll never be able to go to a zoo again.

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We continued on to a couple different sites afterwards, but the weather had changed to rainy, cold, and windy so my mind was focused on just staying warm.

After the tour, I got all dressed up and ready for my big night out. I made restaurant reservations for The Test Kitchen back in June. I read up everything on this place. The restaurant was everything I ever wanted in a meal and more. It was by far the best meal of my life and is going to be very hard to top.

My table was at the counter basically in the kitchen. I chatted with the chefs as they prepared my delicious meals. I watched them pull out all sorts of tricks that I didn’t know you could do with food. I ordered the tasting menu with wine pairings. 11 courses. 11 glasses of wine. They brought a small plate of goodies before my meal that had me salivating. My waiter was incredibly sweet and gave me extra attention because I was eating alone. Everyone was super fascinated by my story of being a single American female living in the bush in Ghana on vacation. There were only a few tables in the place and one table came super late, so I got to hear all the gossip in the kitchen about that group. Loved it. The first dish made me a radish fan. The second dish converted me to turnips. The third dish I almost bought the place. The wine paired with the food was perfect, it complemented each meal and didn’t detract from the food. My favorite was the 3rd and the 5th dish. The 3rd was a rare slice of beef with blue cheese, pears, and all sorts of goodies. The 5th one came in a glass jar filled with smoke, which was released for me and wafted in front of my face. There was a palate cleanser that included a small vial of liquid, the maître d spritzing orange essence over me while I ate, and a frozen holed out clementine. There were two deserts and I ate everything. If it was on the plate, it was in my belly. It was everything I ever wanted. If I could I would eat there every day for the rest of my life. It was spectacular.  If you are ever in Cape Town, you need to eat at the Test Kitchen. You need to experience food that way. It wasn’t just a meal it was art. If you think I’m drinking the Koolaid, then you haven’t tried their Koolaid yet. 2012-09-20_20-39-47_491[1]

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I went home happily satiated and a little tipsy. Over the taxi radio while driving back to the hostel I heard the taxi drivers discussing where to find a classy brothel for a passenger.

The next day was rainy and cold, so I slept in and went to a museum – the Gold of Africa museum. Much smaller than I thought it would be, but interesting nonetheless. Probably because almost all the gold is from Ghana. It is all chieftancy gold regalia. It was really fascinating to see all the Ghanaian artifacts. After that, the skies cleared up and I walked over to the Victoria and Albert waterfront, where I spent the rest of the day. I just walked around the mall there and enjoyed the sunlight. It was like being back in America. Going to a real mall. I enjoyed every second of it. Before dinner, I took a harbor cruise, which gave me great views of Table Mountain. It is so fascinating to see a city from such different elevations. For dinner, I made my way to the One and Only Hotel for dinner at Nobu – a sushi restaurant. The place was pretty deserted, so I had my own private chef basically. An Italian sushi chef. I had chatted with him prior to ordering, so we were working on a good relationship by the time I ordered “chef’s choice” a 5 course meal that was a big “let’s surprise you!” I had told the chef I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana (which by the way wins you major points with anyone. I’m willingly poor and live in the bush, is a great way to get brownie points.). So what does he do? Gives me all the SUPER EXPENSIVE stuff, because he can. You pay a set price and not based on what you order, so he gave me all the cool fish I have never tried. I had a really great salad there too. Turns out you can fry spinach leaves. Do you have any idea how good raw fried spinach leaves are? No. Go google it and find out. I tried angel fish and raw sardines. The whole meal was super classy, delicious, and a true treat.

After dinner, I went back to the hostel and I was invited to dinner and out to a party with all the hostel staff. Sure why not. I went to dinner and didn’t really eat, but just joined them for the conversation. At the hostel bar beforehand, I befriended an incredibly gorgeous local guy, who I then spent the entire night flirting with. Also, suckering him out of a few drinks. Obviously, girl code. A group of the staff,  other guests, and myself made our way to Long Street. Party central. I danced like I always “I JUST WANT TO DANCE” exclaim. I danced the entire night, I didn’t make it back to the hostel until after sunrise. I was pretty damn proud of myself thank you very much.

Two and a half days in Cape Town was not enough. I’m definitely going back at some point in my life, hopefully soon. The people are beautiful, the scenery is amazing, and the food is to die for. What else could you want in Africa?

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