The city of Cape Town is a drama queen of note, and during winter her moods are all over the place.
She charms you with beautiful sun drenched days and just when you have unpacked all your favourite T shirts she throws a tantrum. Icy winds blow in from the Arctic, and black clouds rain on your dreams of outdoor living. Mountains and views disappear into the mist, and the wind is in cahoots with the bad hair day monster.
The city becomes fifty shades of grey, but trust me, you do not want to be naked.
Don’t allow the weather to trap you inside as there are benefits to braving the elements and exploring Cape Town in winter, all you need is a positive attitude and warm clothing of the layered variety.
I became a #CheapflightsExplorer of Cape Town for a day and it was not sunny at all. I must admit that I would far rather be out and about as nothing makes me more miserable or cold than being inside looking out at a grey day. Depressing stuff.
Kathryn Rossiter and I were sent off from Constantia to explore Hout Bay and Chapmans Peak and this is what we found.
Hout Bay beach, windswept ,wild and awesome. This is not the calm bay of summer where boats cruise smoothly on a turquoise sea and the large block of rock called the Sentinel draws your eyes to marvel at it’s greatness.
Today it’s a beach with grumpy birds flying like drunkards in the wind. The sea is a cold green and the waves are fighting the air and throwing seaweed onto the sand. The Sentinel is a dark blob, half obscured by a very black cloud. It’s raw nature showing who is boss and it is a beautiful sight, but you have to hear it and feel it to enjoy it.
When the feelings get too much, three steps from the beach will take you to Dunes Restaurant. It is family friendly with indoor and outdoor options and the best views in town. We warmed up with coffee on the deck upstairs as I resigned myself to a mad hair day.
Leaving Hout Bay, headlights on and windscreen wipers needed we drove up Chapman’s Peak , one of the most scenic drives in the world, whatever the weather. This road was started 101 years ago and took seven years to complete. It is sometimes closed due to rock falls, causing Capetonians to freak out and the tolls brought in in 2003 caused a huge furore, but if that’s what was needed to keep “Chappies” open, so be it.
We drove, marvelled at the views, the engineering, the giant steel meshes to keep the rocks in place, paid the toll with a semi smile and stopped at various viewpoints without getting blown out to sea. We also met Clara who was selling her colourful beaded animals at one of the viewing points and she was good enough to pose for a pic.
Heading down into Noordhoek we decided that retail therapy and a comfort stop trumped a long walk on the beach. This beach is dreamland for dedicated surfers and equestrian addicts, and it’s good looking too, even on a moody, drama queen day. For more info on beach rides click here
The Farm Village in Noordhoek is a curious mix of eateries, a Hotel, a deli, coffee roastery, info centre and unique clothing and speciality shops. It was too chilly to sample the temptingly named Kirsten’s Kick Ass Ice Cream but we did enjoy the excellent coffee from The Village Roast.
The browsing took longer than anticipated as there is so much to see, a refreshing change from a collection of chain stores. Shopping for non- essentials is a highly recommended winter hobby, and this is the place to do it.
Colourful things that must be examined.
Creative displays to make you smile.
Coffee to fuel you to explore / shop all day 🙂
Back in Hout Bay we followed the road until it ended and found the locals favourite fish shop, aptly named Fish on the Rocks. Something of an institution in Hout Bay they have been selling fish to the community for over 25 years.
Being in a working fishing harbour the smell, while not my favourite aroma, certainly lends authenticity to the statement that the fish is really fresh. Take a walk over to the cannons right next to the shop, it’s a great spot to watch the waves and imagine the drama as enemy ships tried to enter the bay. The cannons are in working order and the tourism office can provide information on when they are fired. Boom, this weather looks just right for a war movie.
Braving the light rain we walked around the area that on Friday, Saturday and Sunday is where you will find the lively Bay harbour market, an energetic celebration of tastes, cultures, music, art and bargains, offered in real, noisy Cape Town style. Being a weekday we missed it, but being a weekday, we found parking everywhere we went, and did not fight traffic, not even once, a rare thing in Cape Town.
Shopping and eating is thirsty work and a good craft beer goes down well in any weather. The Urban Brewing Co is a convenient few steps from Fish on the Rocks, it would be criminal to leave the area without sinking a pint or two.
Some interesting street art adorns the walls in this street.
A community project, I love that.
Back tracking we went to the more mainstream Mariners Wharf, in their words “ a harbour front emphorium” that is bounded by the beach, the road and a dock and has a long pier that must be walked to see the fishing vessels, seals and sea birds. The seagulls will do their utmost to share your food, so look out, the calamari we had there is way too good to share.
Kathryn braves the elements to walk along the pier and say hi to a really fat seal.
Look at these silly birds lining up for who knows what.Roll call?
A last walk on the beach before heading home.
Cape Towns moods don’t get me down, I enjoy seeing the real side of this temperamental diva.
Get yourself to Cape Town this winter, pack your warm clothes but throw in a T-shirt or two, beat the crowds, the traffic and the boring picture perfect views and experience a slightly different Cape Town to what you see in the brochures. She will still steal your heart.
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Disclosure: This post is part of a Cheapflights campaign, opinions are all my own.