Monthly Archives: April 2010

Bombay Brasserie at the Taj hotel

Dining at the Bombay Brasserie

It's not every day that you're invited to dine at as magnificent a restaurant as the Bombay Brasserie (map) in the elegant 5-star Taj Hotel. We've heard so much about the Taj that we were super-excited to finally have the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.

Kerry-Anne and I arrived at the hotel, and in millionaire-style simply stopped at the hotel doors, left the car engine running, and handed the keys to the parking attendant. It was awesome. :D

Stepping into the building, I felt a sense of history coupled with modern style and opulence. Bombay Brasserie, shown in this photo, was spectacular, and the photo doesn't by any means do it justice. The light was soft and intimate and the furniture and décor looked like it had come right out of a rich estate in colonial India. The quiet music and super-comfy chairs and seemed to encourage us to enjoy a long evening of dinner and conversation. It was brilliant.

The waiters were simply impeccable, and even though the Taj is "only a 5-star hotel" the staff made it feel like Bombay Brasserie deserved a sixth. It was really the most attentive, yet not overbearing, service that we've ever had.

Now, I've said so much about everything else, but of course the real reason for visiting such a top restaurant is... the food. In a word, it was "WOW". I think Bombay Brasserie may well be the best Indian restaurant in Cape Town. While the food isn't cheap, it's not outrageously expensive either considering the quality, and the opulence of the experience. I guess you could expect to pay around R300 - 400 per person for a very filling three-course meal with drinks (assuming of course that you're not much into expensive wine or whiskey :) ).

I've saved another photo and a few more details for a follow-up post, so come and check back tomorrow!

Cape Town CBD

Cape Town CBD
Thanks to everyone who left a comment on my previous photo. Allow me to give just one more clue before revealing the location of the building.

I took the photo above only a couple of meters away from the previous one, so if you're familiar with Cape Town, I'm sure you'll work it out quickly.

If you do, please take a moment to leave a comment with your guess. :)

Skyscraper City

A big old skyscraper
Please indulge me, leave a comment, and try to guess which building this could be. It's located in the city's CBD, the style isn't *that* common, and it's found on the corner of two major roads.

Compared to other cities, Cape Town doesn't have a huge number of skyscraper-type buildings, so especially for residents, this shouldn't be such a tough question. :)

Sea, sand and a setting sun

Sea, sand, and a setting sun
This photo is a different perspective on yesterday's sunset picture. I loved the reflection of the sun's rays on the wet sand - there's something so calming and thought provoking about the reflection, the fading light, and the still ocean.

Perhaps being almost surrounded by wide open ocean is what makes Cape Town so attractive to her residents - and to visitors I guess. Were it not for the (often frustrating) wind, our city could be one of the most perfect places on earth. Although, I guess were it not for the wind perhaps we'd be one of the most smoggy and dirty places on earth... :-/

A beach silhouette

A couple's silhouette
This couple ambled slowly along the walkway next to Lagoon Beach (map), talking while the sun set. The sun was bright and the patterns in the sky beautiful. The view was almost a painting.

I spent the day at a conference and slept over at the Lagoon Beach Hotel (to the left in this photo). While the room was perfectly good, in fact - pretty nice, I have to advise that if you ever find yourself staying over, make sure that you're as far away from the entrance to the underground parking as is possible. :)

The way up Signal Hill

The top of Kloof Nek Road
In this photo (map), did you notice the three cyclists coming down the road from Signal Hill? I imagine that they'd been for a morning ride up to the lookout point at the top of Signal Hill.

The ride up the hill is really very beautiful at sunrise. From the road you're able to see the bright glow ascending in the distance over the Boland Mountain Range and the low-lying mist over the city and suburbs that slowly clears as the sun heats the air. The city looks so peaceful from the hill that it's hard to imagine that there is anything but friendly happy people waking up from their slumber.

Rear view

A rear view
Yesterday's photo was taken a little while before this one. At the time I noticed a spectacular view of the mountain and city, behind me, bathed in the late afternoon sun. I took this photo in a feeble and failed attempt and capture the view.

Although the evening cools down substantially around this time of the year, we still have great weather. Skies are clear and there's not too much wind around - wind being something that Cape Town is well known for! I'm just hoping that this weather persists for two months more - I hate watching soccer in the rain. ;)

A West Coast goods train

A goods train

This photo nearly cost me my camera. :) I took the shot by holding my camera out the car window, with one hand, while travelling at about 110km/h. Fortunately I had a reasonably good grip as the force of the rushing air hit, trying to pluck it from my hand.

This train line crosses the N1 highway near the perpendicularly-running N7 highway (map), and is (to a great deal) used to transport cargo up and down our West Coast. I've always wondered exactly where it leads to, so I tracked if for a while on a map using Google Maps. If I'm not mistaken this line is the same one that takes passenger trains to well-known places like Evita se Perron in the little town of Darling.

If you're into small and intimate theatre experiences, I'd encourage you to see a performance by Pieter-Dirk Uys at Evita se Perron, his little West Coast theatre.

Longmarket Street in the old part of town

Bo Kaap
I, and many others, have written so much about Bo Kaap I feel it unnecessary rehash all the same information again. Normally, you'll find photos of brightly-painted colourful houses go along with stories about the area. This however is a different perspective on this old part of town.

If you're super religious about reading my posts (and thank-you if you are :) ), you may recall that in April of 2008 I wrote one about Longmarket Street and how (many years ago) farmers used it to get their produce down to Greenmarket Square.

This photo is a different perspective on Longmarket Street. Can you imagine taking a horse cart filled with produce down to the market way below? Wow! :)

There’s a Guinea Fowl in my garden

Guinea Fowl
Besides for the title of this post being a little play on words (based on the title of a well-known South African comedy), it's also true. There really are Guinea Fowl roaming in our suburban gardens every day.

The most entertaining spectacle is watching William (our silly, fluffy, cat) try and catch the whole flock of fowl. He (William) really doesn't stand a snowball's chance... poor thing.

(You can watch the first 10 minutes of this South African classic here, on YouTube)

Breakfast conversations

At Arnolds in Kloof Street
I've never been a waiter, so never had the privileged of being amused by story after story told hush-hush by patrons. I have to imagine though that (however hard) working in a coffee shop, or restaurant of sorts must have it's entertaining moments.

Kerry-Anne and I stopped in for breakfast at Arnolds in Kloof Street (map). The meal was good, but I have to advise you that, unless you like super-super strong filter coffee, you rather order cappuccino. Gosh - the coffee really was that strong.

A perfect location

House with a view
If you drive up Signal Hill, through Bo Kaap, you'll come across a small parking area (map) that shares this view of the city and of Table Bay. There's not much here except for an interestingly strange coffee shop (apparently the Noon Gun Tea Room) that was closed on a perfectly good afternoon.

The coffee shop aside though - isn't this just the perfect location for a home?

Wear a hat

A cap and a hat

If you plan on visiting Cape Town and come from a cooler climate - like say the UK - then may I suggest if you decide on a day of waking about in the sun, do consider taking a hat along.

I've often seen tourists walking around glowing red from sunburn - like a ripe old tomato. While it's nice to absorb the warm rays of the sun, having it burn you could leave you with sun stroke (it's not fun, believe me), ruin your entire week, and even cause you to end up in hospital.

So friends, when playing in Africa respect the sun, it's especially harsh in this part of the world. Wear plenty of sun screen and (especially if you have fair skin) take a hat along if you plan on being out in the sun for longer than half an hour.

Gone fishing

Fishing boat
If you're a keen fisherman, you may be excited to find out that in Cape Town you can not only fish off various beaches or from recreational fishing boats - but you can also do some fresh-water fishing for Bass and Carp, or even try your hand at fly fishing.

Visit this page on for a list of South African fishing-related links. If you're planning on being in the Cape Town area, take note of the links under the heading for our province, the Western Cape.

Roadside art

Man with a brush
I found this guy making decorations alongside the road. He seemed quite happy to have me take his photo - although I can imagine that he may have been thinking "crazy tourist" in the back of his mind. :)

Don't you think it's amazing what these guys are able to do with wire, paper and glue? Isn't it awesome that instead of being depressed at not finding work and begging at the street corner, he decided to start making things that he could sell? While South Africa has many people who choose the easy road and rely on handouts, many times more have found ingenious ways of earning money.

Isn't it strange that in some hardship stimulates thought and ingenuity while in others it encourages defeat?

Blue tiles and pillars

Blue tiles and pillars
I complained bitterly about Adega at Willowbridge in my previous post, however, in this post I'm highlighting their one redeeming factor.

The restaurant has a light, bright and spacious feeling about it. The décor is attractive (don't you love the tiles on these pillars?), and on one side the patrons have a view of people walking in the beautiful open-air mall, and on the other side huge glass windows provide a view of lush green hills.

While not able to compete with views of Table Mountain, Signal Hill, and the ocean, it really is a beautiful setting - arguably one of the most beautiful in the area.

Adega’s Sunday buffet lunch

Adega at Willowbridge
Since colleagues had been raving about Adega's Friday lunch specials, we decided try the Willowbridge branch's Sunday afternoon buffet. After our visit I unfortunately have to give the restaurant a huge thumbs down. The buffet doesn't have a large selection at all - especially of veggies and dessert. I have to admit that the prawns were great, but on the other hand, the oysters weren't exactly fresh. All in all, I'd give the buffet a rating of 4 out of 10.

The service wasn't very good at all. Drink orders took very long and after our meal and the passing of far too much time I eventually stood up to find someone to ask for the bill. The manager also had a strange sarcastic and patronising attitude towards another patron who complained about a similar lack of service that we had observed.

Perhaps this was an off day - as I said, colleagues had raved about the restaurant. At this point I'm however completely unsure why.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream
Back in the day when I was a kid and holidays comprised long trips to sunny caravan parks, my parents use to buy us chocolate-dipped ice creams - almost every day. Wow. I'm really surprised that I managed to avoid diabetes and becoming all podgy! :)

About a week ago I suddenly had a craving for one of *those* ice creams, and eventually in a moment of desperation I drove to the local Spar convenience shop and bought one of those divine Magnum ice creams (the one dipped in white chocolate and with crushed almonds). In short, it was delicious. Occasional indulgences really are awesome. :)

Silhouette in the morning light

Silhouette of a man
I said in a previous post that there's something special about morning light. This photo hopefully shows to you why I, and all the photographers that I know, love morning light.

Looking at this one I can almost feel the cool morning air and warmer rays of orange light. This sure was a beautiful morning at the Waterfront. Wouldn't you agree Beverley? (At the time she was shooting a similar photo slightly behind and to the right of me.) :)

Ostrich egg art

Ostrich Eggs
I'm not sure of their numbers, but South Africa has plenty of ostriches. In fact, it's normally pretty easy to find in local supermarkets, and you'll regularly see Ostrich Fillet on restaurant menus.

In case you're curious - ostrich fillet is pretty tender, it looks a lot like beef, except that it's slightly darker in colour and you will likely never see fat on the meat. Ostrich is in fact one of the healthiest meats with a fat content lower than that of skinless chicken or turkey, and high in protein and iron.

All this said, while ostrich meat is fairly similar to beef, I have to say that I still prefer a good, thick, T-Bone steak - every time. :)

Morning harbour

Table Bay harbour
Do something good, for yourself. Visit Table Bay harbour (at the V&A Waterfront) on a clear day, early in the morning, as the sun is rising - at least once. It's one of the most beautiful and peaceful experiences you'll have while visiting Cape Town.

Click here for a map to where I took this photo.

Public telephones in South Africa

Public Telephones
Public Telephones like these are operated by Telkom, South Africa's land-line service provider. Some are coin-operated, whereas others require a phone card (which is obviously easier for Telkom as they don't have to collect money from the phones each day). :)

Coin-operated phones are blue, while cardphones are green... so your guess is as good as mine in this case. I unfortunately failed to check these phones (at the V&A Waterfront). For plenty of information about how to phone to and from South Africa, read this article on the SouthAfrica.Info website - it's pretty informative. Alternatively, if you'd simply like some information about Telkom's phonecards, you'll find the information here.

Phonecards can be purchased from shops that display the Telkom logo. Visit this page on their site for more information.

The Golden Seal of the Table Bay

The Golden Seal
This golden statue of a South African Fur Seal (aka Cape Fur Seal) is found outside of the V&A Waterfront's Table Bay Hotel (map). In fact, the windows in the background are those that you're able to gaze out of while dining at the hotel.

The golden statue was erected in honour of an old fisherman, Oscar, who often spent time fishing off a nearby pier. Oscar, reportedly, made friends with a seal who use to visit him each morning. The fisherman occasionally use to feed the seal some of his bait, or sometimes even fish that he'd caught. The story on the Table Bay's site is a typical ad copy, so be sure to conjure up a warmed heart when reading about the seal from the hotel's perspective. ;) You'll find their page here.

A call to save Cape Town City Ballet

The Art of Living

Cape Town City Ballet opened it's doors *way* back in 1934, and today faces the possibility of closing up shop for ever. Even though I hadn't planned to write about ballet, I've just realised that the photo that I'd intended to post fits the theme - in some manner at least. :)

Ballet is indeed an art, and for the dancers involved with Cape Town City Ballet, it is a way of life. If you feel that you would like to support this organisation, please visit the Save Cape Town City Ballet website. There's a huge "donate" button towards the bottom of the homepage.

Thanks to Chris and The Forge Web Creations for bringing the cause to our attention and for setting up the Save Cape Town City Ballet website. You guys rock!

Gumboot dancers

Gumboot dancers
Kerry-Anne once learned a gumboot dance for a show that she performed in along with a few other dancers. When you're use to seeing a group of black men performing the dance, it's wildly different to see a group of woman do the same. :)

If I remember correctly, they danced the dance to a popular song by South African kwaito singer Mandoza (pronounced Mun-dor-za). Take a moment to listen to the song here, but note that unless you speak Zulu you have little hope catching the lyrics. :) Nevertheless, if you've never heard it, crank the volume pretty loud and enjoy the beat!

A school outing

A school outing

About once each term, when I was in primary school, our teacher would organise a class outing to some place like the botanical gardens, some historical monument, or once simply to the slopes of Table Mountain (where we learned about geology).

We found this group of school kids seated on the grass at Mouille Point (map), opening their snack packs as two or three very strict-looking teachers ensured that they were (reasonably quiet) and well behaved. :)

The Waterfront from Signal Hill

The V&A Waterfront from Signal Hill
If you head up the slopes of Signal Hill, above De Waterkant and the last row of homes, you're able to scramble a little way up among the trees to get this view of Table Bay and the V&A Waterfront. It's a great vantage point, and one not often visited by tourists - or even locals (I'm hazarding a guess!). Imagine the early morning view as the sun rises over the Boland Mountain range (slightly to the right of this photo).

We live in a very special city folks. Cape Town <3. :)

Stained glass windows

A stained glass window
Even though I can't argue that stained glass windows are pretty, I've never been much of a fan. This particular church building had a few old stained glass windows, but also a couple of plain glass windows that look as though they'd been recently replaced. Presumably the stained glass equivalents were too expensive so the cheaper clear glass alternatives were used.

The new clear glass windows looked awesome - they let in so much light, and made the building appear welcoming from the outside. I think my aversion to stained glass may simply be because (even though some would not say) I love minimalist décor, and stained glass is perhaps simply too busy for my brain to make sense of. :D

Autumn and Winter in Cape Town

Puffy white clouds
The early mornings have cooled down considerably - the inevitable sign of winter approaching. From now on, the number of beach day's will be few, and folk will start wearing warmer clothes, and moving traditional weekend braais to start a little earlier in the evening.

The arrival of autumn and winter conjures mixed feelings in me. On the one hand I love hot days and warm evenings, but on the other hand, the autumn and winter light together with the cool crisp air sets the scene for beautiful photo opportunities.

Oh, and this year, besides these both, we'll be having a fantastic June/July - roll on 2010 FIFA World Cup! :)

Beautiful Llandudno beach

Llandudno Beach
Llandudno beach (map) must be one of the most beautiful beaches in Cape Town, so if you're prepared to brave the reasonably steep and narrow residential roads and happy to contend with the distinctly limited number of parking spots, then you have to make this beach part of your visit to Cape Town.

I believe also that Llandudno is also an awesome place to surf, and not only because of the easy-going waves, but also because of the beautiful mountain and beach view that you have when standing on your board. It's simply breathtaking.