Originally published May 2008 for Smirnoff Experience
I love Cape Town. Even before I started this trip I knew that it was and always will be my favourite city. It is a city of endless wonders and possibilities, a genuine mini Europe in Africa theme park. It has everything I need, fun loving, friendly and vibrant people of all races, colours and creeds. Germans, French, English, Greek, Italians, Americans, Dutch, Asian alongside the already full cultural pallet South Africa has to offer. It is full of life, full of colour and full of energy. It is as if so much is squeezed out of nature to make it what it is – between the sea with its beautiful beaches and Table Mountain, with its one and only views, nature reserves and scenic walkabout routes – Cape Town is amazing.
The Kaap has its unique little quirks, such as rikkis, a safe and fun, mode of transport with super nice drivers and a great way to meet people as they work on a share ride system.
The best place for me and a place to experience most of what Cape Town is about is the city bowl, or the city centre. More specifically within the city bowl that long straight nerve of pleasure, Long Street… which I just luuuurve.
There are a multitude of great picturesque bars, clubs and lounges for exciting nightlife and socializing platforms. One of which is Miam Miam; a scene straight out of Miami with palm trees and beautiful people. The access alley is reminiscent of some backstreet with rough walls and an uneven cobbled surface underfoot. Zula Sound Bar; ever a favorite for a more eclectic mix of world sounds brought home by their similarity to the heart music that artists like Teba bring forth almost every night on the small, but powerful, stage inside.
The music scene on Long street is varied and intriguing, serious bleeping electro sounds of Berlin right next door to some heavy New York hip hop battling it out with some Caribbean riddims across the street nestled against the more sedate sounds of sophisticated Afro jazz just three doors down. Talk about spoilt for choice and who wouldn’t like to be spoilt ;-)
Shopping is another pastime that can be fully explored on Long Street without necessarily visiting the generic super mall near the harbor. *You know which one* Fresh designers sit in mini boutiques delicately a little Paris, Milan, LA and of course Cape Town. Fantastic little finds like MeMeMe, Misfit, Milk, a real style mmmmm, and so much more! The rather grand cherry on top is the vintage emporium Never on a Sunday, where a nifty 50’s pencil skirt will be paired with a neon 80’s ruffled blouse wrapped in a slim cut denim jacket. If only they had my African size in mind in the 50’s. Cool little antiques can be found on a small side street branching off called Church Street. Broaches, musty books and real sterling silver teaspoons all lie lazily on crocheted table tops waiting for a keen eyed buyer to pluck them up and give them a second life. The Pan African Market brings all of the African continent’s art works and styles under one roof. Masks, baskets, toys, cloths, recycled materials, music, an art gallery and the offices of well known magazine called Chimurenga, await you in this three storey building epitomizing Africa. Take your time, for Africa cannot be conquered in a day!
Royale’s king sized burgers have a queen sized taste and are available for less then a princely sum and are sure to leave you feeling like a well fed Cape princess. The ambiance is relaxed and gives you time to take in some of the local artworks on the clean white walls for the Eatery.
I’ll tell you a secret! If you want something more intimate, ask about the Kitchen, and up a flight of stairs you go, to an intimate space with old musical instruments on the walls and soft jazz on the hidden record player, a “mini Royal” with a smaller menu and quieter setting. It gets better, say you want a really super night of good music, great cocktails and superior lounging, up another flight of stairs and voila! The Waiting room, with two bars, a small VIP room and a smallish out doors deck offering a great view along the length of Long Street your night would be complete. But you would be able to see Marvel Street Bar across the way and Fiction Sound Bar on the next corner and the temptation is always too much.
Feeling sleepy by now I am sure, you will find sexy little boutique hotels like The Grand Daddy – The world’s only roof top trailer park which is a real gem that HAS to be experienced, especially because none of the rooms are alike, all having being designed by local artists. There are also quite a few backpackers, for those of us on a budget, if you don’t care for luxury and want to meet the rest of the world also visiting the Cape.
Something all the little nooks and crannies of Long Street have in common are the welcoming smiles and genuine warmth of people living or working there. A long street filled with almost everything I love; food, drinks, clothing and accessories, a fantastic view of Table Mountain, people and whole lot more sights and sounds. It is really a place of endless possibilities and an experience all year round. There is no place like it.