No, it's not quite Paris (well, not even close), but the lights of the little suburb of Camps Bay look somewhat pretty at sunset, don't you think? It's a little trixy to see what I mean on this small version - so go ahead, click on the photo to see the big picture, and what I mean. :)
What's pretty cool about this photo (except that I find the ship's lights and their reflections quite pretty) is that if you look really closely you'll see a silhouette of Table Mountain in the background. See it? Then, if you take a close look in the top right quarter of the photo you'll see a little white light. See it? Yup, that's the cable station, way up top of the mountain!
I couldn't actually see the light when I took the shot, but the 5 second exposure time on this photo was enough to burn the little white speck into the image. :)
It's not at every large harbour that one's able to walk around admiring the ships moored at the piers at night. If you're visiting Cape Town, and if the wind happens to be at bay, then grab your camera and take a walk in the V&A Waterfront.
Harbours aren't necessarily the safest areas, but even at night the V&A Waterfront is pretty safe. CCTV cameras are abundant and there are plenty of security guards roaming the walkways.
This is a sidewalk on the lower part of Kloof Nek road, in the City. As you can see, my friend and I weren't too concerned about walking around with our cameras at night. It's not exactly safe-safe, but there were enough people and car guards around to make it safe enough.
Two guys approached us shortly after taking this photo - asking for directions to some street I'd never heard of - Hofmeyer, I think it was. Anyway, perhaps it's an interesting testimony to modern city life that for some time after they first introduced themselves I kept a cautious distance, not completely sure that they weren't muggers.
As it turned out, their British accents were legit, and it seemed as though the were genuinely unable to find the party that they were searching for. We spent a few minutes trying to find Hofmeyer road on Google maps, but they eventually gave up and decided to phone a friend.
I took this photo from a balcony at Rafikis. Even though the breeze was cold on my back, I didn't mind, it was kinda cool having dinner while overlooking the city streets.
It was the first time I've eaten at Rafikis, and I have to say the pizza wasn't bad at all. The bases were thin and crispy, just how I like them, and the Inferno chili pizza that I ordered was pretty tasty and not quite as hot as I'd imagined it may be.
I stayed over at the Westin hotel in Cape Town a few weeks ago. Tonight reminded me of exactly that night. It was cold, windy, and rainy. The overnight in the Westin was great - it really is a lovely hotel.
Unfortunately I never had one of the awesome rooms - the ones that face Table Mountain and the setting sun! So, if you plan on staying at the Westin, try to organise that you get a room facing Signal Hill's direction. :)
Below are a few more photos taken from my room on the 8th floor - a little later in the evening.
I've always intended to pay a visit to the National Sea Rescue Institute at the V&A Waterfront, but I never seem to get around to it!
The NSRI are a group of about 1000 unpaid volunteers around the country who respond 24x7 to calls for emergency sea rescue. Visit their site for interesting information about who they are as well as stats about how many lives they've helped save.
The instituted is highly respected and I have no hesitation in suggesting that you consider donating towards rescue equipment, fuel and the maintenance of their vessels.
Isn't she pretty? A few years before the stadium was built many people living in this area complained bitterly, wrote petitions and threatened legal action - all to prevent the stadium from being built. They said it would be a blight on the landscape, that it would damage the environment.
To the contrary - Cape Town Stadium turned out to be a remarkable feature sporting a large greenbelt with beautiful lakes.
I took this photo on the night of a double-header between four South African football teams. The teams and the fans are so lucky have the privilege of a world-class stadium.
Jan Cats is the bistro and bar at the old Stellenbosch Hotel, on the corner of Dorp Street and Andringa Road in Stellenbosch (map).
The restaurant was fairly quiet - I suspect because most of the the university students are away on holiday. They had a fairly large selection of meals to choose from and a number of special offers, including 40% off chicken and beef burgers. The food wasn't anything extraordinary, but perfectly acceptable (although, we'd recommend chicken over the beef patties). The day had been pretty warm, so what was great about the restaurant was that we were able to sit outside on the cool patio amidst huge oak trees, enjoying the peaceful evening atmosphere.
If it's a warm evening, and you're in the mood for pub/bistro-type food, and if there's place out on the patio - I'd recommend visiting Jan Cats. If you can't sit on the patio - I'd probably select another restaurant in Andringa Road.
After passing by the security checkpoint at Cape Town Stadium and beholding this view, I realised again how privileged we are to have such a beautiful and well designed stadium.
If you're disappointed at the lack of text in this article, don't be sad, please refer here for the background.
Even though I didn't have a tripod handy, the final colours of the setting sun were too beautiful a photo opportunity to pass up. In the distance a handful of people still walked along the water's edge, soaking up nature's tranquillity, while behind me the bars and restaurants teemed with the beautiful people of Cape Town.
You only have a few weeks left before the cold weather sets in, so if you haven't been out to Camps Bay for dinner and drinks yet, I strongly suggest that you do so soon. :)
"I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay - Ain't it sad?"
After the brilliant performance by Johnny Clegg on Saturday we found ourselves at the Aqua Festival's AquABBA show at the V&A Waterfront. What a spectacular spectacle it was - especially with the likes of Amra-Faye Wright (cast as Velma Kelly in The Broadway Company's musical, Chicago), Jody Williams (winner of SA Idols 2007) and the members of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra gracing the stage. Other artists taking part were Craig Urbani (known, amongst many other things, for his role in the SA soap-opera Isidingo), Chrissy Caine, and Alistair Izobel.
They sang all ABBA's best-known hits, as well as a few songs from the musical Chess (which was written by Benny and Bjorn, of course); and by the time they got to "Thank you for the music" the crowd was on their feet, singing and dancing along. Kerry-Anne pointed out that the setting was absolutely perfect for an ABBA tribute show, as the harbour backdrop was very reminiscent of Mamma Mia.
If you don't yet have plans for New Year's Eve, (and especially if you're going to be at the V&A Waterfront anyway), consider booking your seat for AquABBA - I believe the ticket price includes not only the show, but the NYE afterparty at the Aquarium as well.
I've put together an album of photos from the performance. Check it out here.
Kerry-Anne and I were invited to watch the legendary Johnny Clegg performing at AquaFestival at the V&A Waterfront last night. This year is the first AquaFestival, and if last night's performance, vibe and setting were anything to go by, I can only imagine that the performances over the remaining week and a half will be magical, and that the festival will definitely be back next year!
You can't see it in the photo above, but in this photo you'll see that the entire stage on which the band performed was floating about 5 metres off the pier in the V&A's yacht basin. Table Mountain, the setting sun, beautiful yachts, and the city lights filled the background to make the setting comparable in beauty to that of the Kirstenbosch concerts.
Johnny Clegg is performing again on Monday night (at 20h30), and I think there are still a few tickets up for sale. Even if you can't make that show, check out the circus that's performing at 14h00 every day until Thursday, or book tickets for the evening ABBA or ballet shows; tickets cost between R60 and R250, depending on the show.
P.S. In case you're concerned about the persistent wind we've been having - I can't speak for the shows that I haven't been to, but there was only the slightest of breezes in the yacht basin last night, which was a freakin' fantastic break from the wind we've been enduring!
Every first Saturday of the month, a variety of crafters get together under the trees in Durbanville to sell their home-made products at the Durbanville Craft Market. In December the organisers put together special night markets for people who would like to buy hand-made gifts for their friends and family. Apart from the handcrafted items that you can purchase, there's always take-away food available, and a variety of entertainers to keep shoppers amused. The night markets are finished for the year now, but keep them in mind next year - they have some pretty cool stuff for sale.
Click here to see a list of craft markets around the country.
In 2007 I posted a photo taken at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. The mill looks pretty at night, so I thought that I'd post this photo taken from outside the premises and at the same time draw your attention to the awesome flash website that they've put together. Now, while I'm generally not keen on Flash sites, this one grabbed my attention because of the music playing in the background and the fair-like feeling that it conveys.
We had the chance for the first time to visit & Union (yes, that's And Union) for drinks and a light snack last Friday. We had an awesome evening, not only due to the fun people that we met up with, the exclusive selection of imported beer, and the yummy bratwurst snacks, but also because we were fortunate to be treated to a few dozen songs by photographer and musician, Andy Lund (pictured here, on the right).
As you may have gathered, summer has arrived in Cape Town. Days are getting longer and evenings are getting warmer - which means that restaurants have started spilling over into the open air, creating an awesome party vibe throughout the city. I love this time of year!
If you're looking for directions to & Union, no worries, here's a map. :)
The canal is known as the Roggebaai Canal, and apparently water taxis depart from the Westin Grand Hotel every hour on the two-kilometre, 20-minute trip. From the hotel, the taxi takes passengers under the freeway, past a fresh sea-water waterfall, and then past the City Lodge Hotel. After the City Lodge the taxi heads on under more bridges, past the West Quay offices and under two lifting bridges, through the marina lock, and then to moor at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
The one-way trip costs just R20 for adults and R10 for kids, and as soon as the weather clears up, we're definitely going to take the trip! Take a look at the route map that I've plotted on Google Maps.
According to their website, the Constantia Nek Restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Cape Town. I think that my mother would contest that as she often feels like her kitchen is the oldest restaurant in Cape Town. ;)
Seriously though, I can't confirm whether or not it's true, but based on the fact that the restaurant is in a spot secluded from the city's development I guess that it's possible that the restaurant is the oldest surviving restaurant in Cape Town. I have to be honest and say that we've never had dinner there, but I do remember stopping by for a couple of beers while watching a friend of mine play guitar in a band.
Back then the inside was decorated old-style, with benches that you'd expect to find in an old English tavern. What was really cool about the place was that they had extra-warm (that's slightly warmer than warm) fires burning inside to keep the place nice and toasty during winter evenings. While I stood outside taking this photo, I could hear voices and laughter emanating from the building - it would seem as though that warmth lives on, fire or no fire.
... falls mainly on Greenmarket Square. Well, not actually. The rain in Cape Town has been falling pretty much everywhere over the last day or two, and in rather large quantities too.
We had to go into the city for a friend's birthday party, and both wondered at times whether it wouldn't have been better to take a motorboat or canoe instead of our car. There's been flooding in quite a few areas, including Camps Bay, Newlands and Somerset West. Fortunately our neighbourhood seems to have escaped with a bit less rain than everywhere else, so we weren't affected in any way (apart from getting a bit wet walking from our car to the restaurant from which this photo was taken).
Of course, the great thing about Cape Town's winter is that we get all the cold, rainy weather in a few short, intense bursts, and for the rest of the time it's sunny and clear. ;-)
The Lower Deck Bistro at the Blue Peter has never been one of my favourite spots in Cape Town, although it seems a lot of our friends like it - I know this because we keep getting invited to things there. :) Usually these "things" are informal lunch-time meetups or sundowners, but this time it was an evening birthday party.
Although the birthday party itself was lovely (we got to see a whole lot of old friends we hadn't seen in ages), the experience pretty much sealed my impressions of the Blue Peter as A Place I Don't Want To Go To Again. As you may be able to tell from the photo, there weren't a lot of other people at the venue. In fact, there weren't really any other people at all. In fact... yes, I think you get the picture. This struck us as rather odd, given that it was a Saturday night.
Apparently the first members of our party to arrive had been told (at 6pm, before they'd even placed their first drinks orders), "Last rounds are at 21h45... as long as you know that." An odd start to the evening, wouldn't you say? By 20h00, after we'd finished our pizzas, it had become clear that the manager and his waitrons were rather keen for us to move the party elsewhere. We were obviously the only customers there by that time, and they'd presumably decided that getting an early night was a better option than wasting their time serving just one table. They hovered near the entrance, glancing over at us constantly, and the waitress passed a remark at one point that she was "just worried, because no-one's drinking", which wasn't true, of course - we just weren't drinking much alcohol. ;-)
All in all, it became pretty weird and uncomfortable, until we eventually left at around 9pm; and Paul and I certainly won't be going back if we can help it. If you don't mind being watched by the manager while you sip your latte, or having the waitress raise her eyebrows in disbelief when you order your whiskey without ice, then you'll probably enjoy it more than we did. :)
The building that you can see more or less in the middle of this photo is the Panorama Medi-Clinic, one of the best known private hospitals in Cape Town. Take a look at the lights spreading out in the background and you'll probably be able to work out why this area is called Panorama. It's located on the slopes of Tygerberg Hill, in the northern suburbs, and from here you can see a very large part of greater Cape Town.
The Panorama Medi-Clinic was opened in 1986, and was the very first hospital launched by the Medi-Clinic group. I'm not a big fan of hospitals in general, due to having spent quite a bit of time in one when I was a toddler. Being in a hospital environment always brings up vague feelings of trauma for me, so I avoid them as far as possible. If you don't have any such qualms, though, then take a visual tour of the Panorama Medi-Clinic. :)
As I mentioned, Kerry-Anne and I were invited to a friend's birthday party at fashiontv on Saturday evening. The theme was to dress like something or someone related to the famous Jackson family. Soon after arriving, I looked around at the stylish patrons in the club and realised that perhaps I'd taken the theme an inch or so too far... but, I'll leave that up to your imagination (and those with access to my Facebook photo gallery). :D
Needless to say, Kerry-Anne complemented the other exceptionally beautiful and sophisticated people. The music was loud, but not loud enough to make my ears uncomfortable; and what was pretty awesome was that while the DJ played, a guy walked around the bar area playing a saxophone in harmony with the DJ's tracks. It really was pretty darn impressive and created an interesting blend of hip-hop and pop music crossed with a live sax performance.
All in all it was a pretty good experience - the club wasn't too crowded and the dance-floor opened fairly late, giving people a chance to socialise. The drinks weren't cheap (about R20 for a 330ml beer), but not unreasonably expensive either, and there were plenty of places to grab a seat if you got tired of standing.
I think we'll have to visit again some time (so let us know when you're looking for a party ;) )!
Our friend Sidney invited us to his birthday party at Plaasteater (an Afrikaans word for farm theatre) at the Hazendal wine estate last weekend. Plaasteater is a cosy bar (or pub) that hosts live music shows, so Sidney asked These Three Words (who happen to be friends of his) to be the entertainment for the evening. They did a really good job, and I think it's safe to say that everyone had fun. :)
South Africa has a huge number of largely unknown bands playing in pubs all over the major cities (and many small towns) every weekend. Each of these bands has a small following of enthusiastic fans - not large enough to allow them to actually make a living from music, but large enough to encourage them to spend their evenings after work practising their music.
Of course, then there are those like Prime Circle, Seether, and Just Jinjer, who eventually reach critical mass and become full-time musicians, playing with the big boys in Europe and the USA, and making most of their money from live shows and band merchandise.
The question that's being asked these days, as the Internet matures and large record labels lose control over "piracy", is how the local music scene will be affected, and whether the development of the Internet will lead to greater equilibrium between large and small (but still really good) bands.
If you're unfamiliar with South Africa you may wonder why I named the title of this post "Black" taxi, especially when there are no black vehicles in this photo. The orange minivan in the photo is in fact known colloquially as a "Black taxi"; this form of transport is used by a large portion of the country's population to get to and from work, and by far the majority of these commuters are black. These taxis are generally (and perhaps ironically) white, so this orange one is an exception.
If you are unlucky enough to find yourself on the N2 highway during rush-hour you're sure to experience the taxi operators' phenomenal driving ability - often you just have to sit back and laugh at these drivers' arrogant resourcefulness when navigating stopped or grid-locked traffic. And, oh, by the way, the unofficial rule of the road is that unless you have a significantly large vehicle and/or don't particularly mind your car being scratched or dented, these taxis have right of way. ;-)
So we got all dressed up last night and went off to join about 200 other party people at Chevelle, to find out who the winners were in this year's SA Blog Awards. If you're a regular reader, then you'll probably know that we were nominated in three categories again this year. And if you're somewhere in this photo, then you'll probably know that we didn't win anything this time around. :)
We came second in the Photographic Blog category (the winner was I Wrote This For You) and second in the Travel Blog category (the winner was the Portfolio Collection blog). Strangely, we're not particularly disappointed about not winning - the thing that's meant the most to us throughout the process has been the constant stream of people telling us either in person, or via email or Twitter, or right here on our blog, that they'd voted for us and that they really enjoy and value our photos and our commentary each day.
(We've also had a whole lot of compliments on the new design, by the way, but those compliments must go entirely to Max Kaizen, the creative brain behind this beautiful layout.)
So, from the bottom of my heart, a huge thank you to all of you. Winning awards is not what makes this worthwhile. Knowing that we regularly brighten your day, teach you something, persuade you to get out there and do things, rekindle your memories, or make you want to visit our fabulous city - those are the things that count, and I sincerely hope that we can keep on doing them for a long, long time.