With the exception of places like Tsarabanjina, a small island off the northwest coast of Madagascar, which you can apparently circumnavigate on foot in a matter of hours, most cities require days and even weeks to properly explore.
Cape Town is no different. The Mother City, as us locals like to call it, is a popular tourist destination and it’s easy to understand why.
No matter if you’re a sun worshipper, kite surfer, outdoor enthusiast, wine aficionado or just up for a good party, Cape Town has it and then some.
So you’ll understand why I couldn’t just write about my hometown in one go, at least not without sounding like a holiday brochure.
We live in a shopping center (literally), there’s a MyCiti bus stop right outside and Sporty’s office is a 15-minute walk (5 if there’s a strong south-easter blowing) from home, so we were fresh out of reasons to hang onto our orange bug.
Getting around the city by public transport and on foot is more than doable; in fact I’d go so far as to say it’s quite pleasant. With my angle decided on, all I needed was a willing cohort.
In search of caffeine
Sporty and I stopped in at our local Woolworths to pick up a coffee en route, but the Sunday morning pre-braai rush thwarted our plans. As a result the mood at the bus stop was a little subdued. Given the coffee situation, or rather, the lack thereof, it made sense that we headed straight to the V&A Waterfront.
For one thing, the bus would take us directly there, but more importantly we knew we’d be guaranteed of getting our morning fix. The Waterfront is huge and has a lot of establishments to choose from, but if it’s decently brewed java you’re after then you only have two options: Vida e Caffè or the Woolworths Café.
Food with a view
Woolies scored major points with us on two counts. First, they’ve really upped the game in terms of their menu offering, which means our vegan selves could enjoy an early lunch there in addition to the ermahgerd delish soy cappuccinos we always indulge in.
And secondly, they’ve also dramatically improved their service. Good times.
After eating our fill we went outside for some ‘photo ops’ and to check out the possibility of taking a little boat ride. The fun ones were all only leaving much later, so we decided to put that on hold for another day.
Time for a walk
The start of the Sea Point promenade is an easy 15-minute walk from the Waterfront and a good way to work off any indiscretions. It’s a pleasant stroll on a mild day, but less so in mid-summer as there’s little in the way of shade. Sporty and I have walked and run the route often enough though, so when we reached the Mouille Point lighthouse we veered left into Green Point Park.
After stopping to watch, I want to say the ducks, but I actually have no idea what they were (besides fluffy and sweet), we headed out the other end and onto Main Road to catch a minibus taxi down to the Cape Quarter market.
At R6 (± $0.70c) a pop it’s a cheap and easy way to get around the city bowl. That said it’s not for the fainthearted, as the drivers are less than mindful of the speed limit. Still, it got us to our next destination in about five minutes, so not bad (especially when you’re hot and thirsty).
It was past the yardarm by the time we arrived, so after a brief look around we made our way to the bar for some craft beer. After conferring with the server we settled on a Boston Lager and a Naked Mexican. They went down like a couple of homesick moles after our long walk and before we knew it we were going back for seconds and…er…thirds.
All the while cleansing our palates with whatever vegan friendly food we could lay our hands on. I have to say, the Cape Quarter market is pretty impressive from that point of view.
If you’re omnivorous you’ll be in heaven with all the sweet and savory treats on offer, but even for the likes of us there was a fair amount to eat. We enjoyed some steamed Vietnamese turnip cakes, a lentil roti and some dhal samosas. All really tasty and ridiculously cheap — it was like street food without the street.
We ended up hanging out there a wee bit longer than we’d intended, which meant we didn’t make it to the Company Gardens, Iziko museum or the planetarium. All of which are on our bus route home.
That’s the thing about the Mother City, whether it’s the beautiful beaches, impressive mountains or simply a Naked Mexican, there’s always the chance of being waylaid.
We walked from the market back into town to catch the bus home again. We might not have gotten to everything on our list, but we certainly achieved our aim of showing how easy it is to enjoy the Mother City without a car.
The best advice we can offer if you’re coming to Cape Town is to make sure you have the time to explore.
Ang and partner in crime, Sporty, are couch potatoes turned vegan health & fitness nuts. They’re on a mission to help as many people as possible live healthier, happier and simpler lives. Stalk them on Twitter, harass them via email or wander over to Balance & Life to find out more.