Linda’s Letter – May 2016

Dear Friends,

Lunching in the Cape has been fun these past months.  I have found a few great value and fun places.  My first discovery is the Cape Farmhouse Restaurant, nestling in the Redhill Valley, on the Cape Point at the junction of the M65 & M66 Plateau Road.  Enjoy a simple, small, but delicious menu for breakfast, lunch or tea, prepared with seasonal vegetables and produce from local organic gardens.  Ideal for individuals or groups, this wheelchair-friendly restaurant is sheltered under the oaks of a 250-year-old farmhouse, with fresh air and wide open spaces.  There is also the most interesting shop called Red Rock Tribal, where I picked up some really unusual and gorgeous pieces, at really good prices.  It is owned by Steve & Juliette de Combes, whose collection, amassed over 25 years, is the result of their many travels through dangerous, vast and remote areas of Southern Africa to traditional African villages, where they buy their pieces.

My next find is Strandloper in Langebaan, just 125km up the West Coast – such a joyful place, quirky is the word.  The food is delicious and the atmosphere, with the assistance of a local guitarist, who goes from group to group playing favourite sing-along songs, is just lovely.  It is an open-air, casual restaurant, where meals are served over a leisurely 3 to 4-hour period.  With sand underfoot, blue skies above, at the water’s edge of a magnificent view of Langebaan Lagoon, the central focus is an open braai area, where everything from black mussels in wine to “really strong” coffee takes its turn. Traditional treats include, fish curry, angel fish and snoek, grilled haarders, smoked angel fish, snoek with sweet or steamed potato, and waterblommertjie bredie.

On the way to Die Strandloper, there is the West Coast Farmstall, a little hideaway in the tranquility of the countryside.  Oh my, what a find – one of those best kept secrets!

This quaint, farm-style restaurant serves a selection of toasted sandwiches, all made with daily baked farm bread, homemade pies, fish, calamari, bobotie, eisbein, as well as their world-renowned tripe & trotters and ox-tail.  On a Saturday and Sunday they serve their legendary buffet breakfasts and a buffet Sunday lunch.  Eclictic and unusual gifts abound, but the most amazing sight is the huge aviaries filled with exotic parrots – too beautiful! Then there is the really ‘off the wall’ art, like a wall of vinyl records and a monkey, or lion, photo booth!  Great coffee and traditional South African food in a truly traditional Afrikaans setting – a must!

The Salty Dog, housed in an old fish market, overlooking the historic harbour of Simon’s Town, is also too wonderful, with great fish and chips – fresh fresh fresh for only R65.00 – unbelievable and absolutely delicious!  South Africa’s third-oldest settlement, Simon’s Town, was regarded by sailors as a safe alternative to the stormy Cape coast during the turbulent winter months, and is home today to the country’s main naval base.  It is steeped in history and consists of lovely Victorian buildings, quaint streets and walkways.  Visit the Simons’ Town Museum and South African Naval Museum, as well as the famous Boulders Beach, home to a colony of about 3000 African penguins.

Then I must mention our new walking tour of downtown Cape Town, which starts with a walk down Burg Street to the Peach African Arts and Crafts shop and then a stroll through Greenmarket Square.  The historical square, built in 1696, has, over the years, served as a slave market, a vegetable market, a parking lot and more recently, an informal flea market, trading mainly African souvenirs, crafts and curios.  During the apartheid era, Greenmarket Square was often the focus of political protests, due in part to its proximity to parliament, as well as the ethnicity of its traders and shoppers.

Then it’s on to St Georges Mall and, if you happen to be taking this tour on a Thursday, be sure not to miss the Earth Fair Market, with its healthy fresh choices from the Mother City’s best delis and food artists. A short left takes you on to Church Steet to spend time at the MSK Creative, a funky shop selling hand-made Cape Town clothing and bric-a-brac, followed by a short walk and visit to St Georges Cathedral, known as ‘The People’s Cathedral’ for its role in the resistance against apartheid.  This beautiful structure is the oldest cathedral in Southern Africa and the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, which was headed up Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.  After his retirement in 1996, Desmond Tutu has worked as a global activist on issues pertaining to democracy, freedom and human rights.

A visit to the Crypt, a permanent exhibition of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, takes you through South Africa’s more sobering past.  Pass the Slave Lodge, built in 1679 to house thousands of slaves and which is now a monument that pays tribute to the past.  Finally, visit the ‘Groote Kerk’, a Dutch Reformed Church, which is South Africa’s oldest place of worship, and marvel at its magnificent podium, amazing family pews and crypts underneath the building.

Return to Church Street to wander into the many art galleries and antique shops, or just sit at the one of the many coffee shops, or eateries, and watch the world of Cape Town go by.  Return to your vehicle, with your guide, by 2pm to be dropped off at any of the main city hotels.

This tour can be done on request in most languages.

Until next time, fond regards ……

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