Fun things to do this summer in Cape Town: #Be a tourist in your own city
We were tourists in our own city. And as funny as it may sound you could say that it was purely an exercise in doing something most locals never do, let alone think of doing. And even though we could’ve come up with a million reasons as to why we should; such as keeping the everyday city humdrum at bay. It was in its simplest form a question of; why would we not? And would prove to be all the Nomadic team needed to (literally) step out the front door and cross the road.
But where to start, here’s a clue; don’t come home for the evening. No, not like you usually would but like a tourist, with nowhere to stay. So what do you do? Book yourself into a backpacking hostel silly! It’s the quintessential prerequisite to being a tourist. Especially if you’re on a shoestring budget and you know, like to meet fellow travellers such as yourself.
And the city of Cape Town is chock full of them, just take a look at the listings online and you’ll notice that this city is the backpacking Mecca of South Africa. They’re literally on every corner with one in particular, Once…in Cape Town becoming our preferred choice. It was probably due to a combination of proximity and the fact that we had been privy to all their late night shenanigans from our apartment’s balcony. But, as it turned out we immediately absolved them of any past transgressions for possessing all the hallmarks of a great place to stay. Affordable, clean and boasting a board full of free daily activities to get involved in we knew then we had made the right choice. Especially after checking into our dorm room wherein their friendly staff immediately knighted us tourists in our home city.
Now if that was not enough how about throwing in a truly happening coffee shop to the mix. They did and surprise, surprise, Yours Truly – attached to the premises – was anything but a regular coffee shop. Think live bands, movie screenings and all round late night partying. This establishment it would seem does not know the meaning of an early night in. Just ask the local residents nearby and they’ll tell you the free coffee vouchers are always a welcome treat, it was something I would consider unique in its approach.
Much like being a tourist where meeting new people is something that just happens spontaneously. I mean where else would you normally bump into interesting characters like a life coach and a photographer? Probably if you like us just became tourists for a day or just rolled in those circles, And the best part is they themselves were not even locals to Cape Town but then again who is? I mean when you live in Cape Town it’s as if everyday it’s a new city. And is probably why so many backpackers and immigrants make their way down to the Deep South. Just ask our new friends and they’ll tell you for a backpacker Cape Town has it all but unfortunately most locals just tend to overlook it. But no, not us not anymore as we all saluted each other local and foreigner alike.
So far we had managed to assimilate ourselves quite nicely but still had a long evening ahead of us. But with so many options to dive into and one night in which to do it in what would be our next move? A grumbling stomach quickly put an end to our indecisiveness. And saw us drunkenly making our way to their fully kitted out communal kitchen where we were soon making more friends over a hot stove plate. This was followed by a couple of drinks and silly travel stories shared around their superb outdoor braai pit. Where, the occasional outburst of expressionism was typical of travellers who knew very little about each other as we all shared the warmth of the fire.
As the evening drew to a close, our heads spinning somewhat like a top losing its momentum wanting to fall over, but into our beds, we did come to appreciate something we normally would have overlooked. Why wait to enjoy the city you live in, or wait to go on holiday to be (or act) like a tourist? The opportunity is right there on your doorstep (literally) and all you have to do is cross the road.
- Once offers a fully kitted kitchen, braai pit, en suite bathrooms to every grade of dorm, free Wi-Fi, a Skype booth, a PC room and a daily roster of pay for and free activities. E.g. pay for paragliding or do a free walking tour of the Bo-Kaap. And not forgetting their friendly and awesome staff who were always on hand, remember to tell them you heard it from us.
- Yours Truly coffee bar besides offering up great coffee boasts a deli and pizzeria. Where, especially on weekends you can watch live bands, view movies on their big screen and of course get connected with their free Wi-Fi.
- Once is also a Baz Bus and overland safari pick up and drop off point.
- Its prime location is also ideal for travellers who want to be close to the hustle and bustle of the inner city to but far away enough to enjoy in the tranquillity of an inner city leafy suburb. That’s safe and relatively quiet most week nights yet loud and happening on the weekends.
- It’s also very close to a multitude of activities such as the hop on hop off Red Bus City tours, Lions Head (for hiking and paragliding), Table Mountain (countless activities including the cable car), Long Street boasting restaurants, bars, shops, entertainment, the Company Gardens and of course the Lord Nelson Hotel.
Tips for virgin tourists/ backpackers:
- If possible booked ahead either by email or phone especially if you intend to stay during the peak season. There’s nothing worse than rocking up to your hostel of choice only to be turned down or forced to sleep on the park bench outside.
- Always do your homework beforehand, be it talking to other tourists who’ve stayed there before or by reading up on reviews online on websites such as TripAdvisor. Because most hostels will charge the same rate per night but some are just better kept than others. Oh and don’t always believe/ trust what the backpacking manuals say about a specific hostel, it’s always fifty fifty when you rely purely on them.
- Always check with the front desk the itinerary for the week on offer. Sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances such as the weather (always a possibility in Cape Town) it will change but not on the board. Oh and always confirm the price for any service beforehand, and try not to run up any tabs with the hostels, it could just end up costing you more.
- If you’re unsure of the safety and security of the city you’re in do not be afraid to ask the staff and/ fellow backpackers what are best/ safest times to go roaming and in what part of the city is best for doing so. There’s nothing worse while on holiday being lifted of all your valuables and cutting the adventure short. Walking tours are great way to see the city safely and familiarise yourself with all the spots you might want to check out on your own at a later stage.
Being a tourist and staying at a backpacking hostel in your city ranks highly on the Nomadic Existence: Fun Things to do this summer in Cape Town.
Special thanks go out to the staff at both Once and Yours Truly, the friends we made and our fellow backpackers for providing us with an experience we normally would not have had.
Our trek/ stay over took place on Thursday 30th and Friday the 31st of October.
By Slippery Joe Lyzard © (Writer for Nomadic Existence)
Photography: Nomadic Bug ©
Nomadic Existence 2015 ©
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