Wandering With the Wows: Cape Town, South Africa

It may have a shortage of water, but it doesn’t have a shortage of anything else. 

 

As you might have heard, Cape Town is suffering from a a significant drought.  So much so that originally “Day Zero”, the day the city runs out of water, was supposed to happen during the time we were there.  Fortunately for us and the entire city, it got pushed back 2019.  And it sounds like they have been experiencing a bout of rain since we have left, but that didn’t mean that water saving techniques aren’t still in full effect.

Bathroom taps in restaurants, bars, the convention center, and even the airport had been shut off, offering hand sanitizer instead.  [Note: some sanitizer was great, would dry quickly, and not leave your hands sticky; while others left you still wanting to wash your hands].  If you were able to find a tap that still had water, it flowed out as barely a trickle or a fine mist.  It did the trick, but took a wee bit longer to accomplish the task.

Other water saving aspects included limiting showers to only 2 minutes and utilizing a bucket to capture water to be reused other places, i.e. watering the plants, cleaning, and flushing the toilets.  I quickly realized how much water is wasted just in the time between turning on the water and waiting for it to warm up.

Oh and speaking of toilets, the act of flushing was also scrutinized. People here operated under the motto: If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if its brown, flush it down.

 

Mr.Wow wants to start doing some of these water saving techniques too. Save water and some money while at it!

 

Even though Cape Town has a huge shortage of water, it sure doesn’t have a shortage of anything else.  It is a vibrant city, rich with history, amazing sites, delicious food, spectacular beers, and the cutest little beach bum penguins you have ever seen.

The trip lasted about 2 weeks, with one night spent in Amsterdam on the way out.  The first week we spent exploring the city, while the second week I attended the World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress.

 

Table Mountain

 

I just couldn’t get enough of this view!

 

Upon arriving in Cape Town, unless you are like us and arrive during the darkness of night or it happens to be cloudy, the first thing that you will notice is the magnificent Table Mountain, perched smack dab in the middle of the city.  It provides an impressive backdrop at pretty much any point in the city.

 

 

And its not only just cool to look at from below, you can hike or take a cable car up to the top.  The views are just as impressive from the top.

 

Taking the gondola up to the top

Views from on top of Table Mountain

 

Views of Lion’s head, Robben Island, and the Capetown Stadium

 

Robben Island

 

Cool mural of the legend himself

 

One of the days we took a boat over to Robben Island aka Seal Island and got a taste of it’s repressive history firsthand.  Upon setting foot on the island, the entire energy became heavy and emotional.  It was here that Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life as a political prisoner, confined to a concrete cell, and destined to break rocks and work in a lime quarry.

 

Entrance to the island

 

Incredibly, our tour guide was also a prisoner who spent many years here on the island.  Mr. Wow and I could not get over how this man came back to this island every day despite the hardship that he faced while incarcerated here.  Upon hearing his story, many of the people in our group were in tears.  I would definitely recommend checking this place out, but be warned that it is not an easy part of history to stomach.

 

View of Table Mountain and the city from the island

Bo-Kapp

 

Back on the mainland, there’s a small neighborhood situated at the foot of Signal Hill called Bo-Kaap, which is best known for its beautifully colored houses.  But the houses weren’t always brightly colored.  Back in time, the houses were white when the  Cape Malay slaves lived there.  As the saying goes, when they were granted their freedom, they decided to paint their houses as an expression of freedom.  Each house is painted a vibrant color, from yellow to pink to green to blue.  It is quite a site to see.

 

   

 

It is also where the first Muslim mosque was built in the country.

 

 

Penguins

 

Probably my most favorite thing that I did during our trip to Cape Town was visiting the African penguins at Boulders Beach.  Of course, the day we chose to go down there it was pouring rain with blustery wind the whole time we were there, but it was worth getting drenched to our core in order to see these cheeky little guys.

 

 

There were hundreds of penguins that lined the beach, as well as many tucked away in the trees and the nesting area.  They were actually quite curious and would look up at you as if to ask “What are you doing?” when you were taking a picture of them.

 

 

Many were laying in their nests, keeping their babies warm, while others played in the waves close to the shore.  I absolutely loved watching them walk around on the beach and then pop in the water for a swim.  If it wasn’t for the downpour of rain, I easily could have spent the whole day here just hanging out with my tuxedo wearing friends.

 

    

 

And because of the drought, as mentioned above, I couldn’t be mad about all the rain either.  This was something that was so needed for the city so we just chalked it up to being part of the experience.  I mean, nobody wants to hear how the day was beautiful and everything went according to plan right?

 

Cape of Good Hope

 

After taking some selfies with the penguins, we made our way down to the Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western point of Africa.  The Cape of Storms, as it was originally called by the Portuguese, was hugely important due to the fact that it opened up a sea route along the Spice Trail.  It is also home to the legend of the Flying Dutchman.  Fortunately for us, the rains had lifted by the time we reached the cape, but the winds were still in full affect (I now know why they call it the Cape of Storms).  Can’t complain since the winds acted like a hair dryer, ultimately drying out our drenched clothes.

 

 

Beaches

 

The first week in Cape Town proved to have some amazing weather, with temperatures in the mid 70s- low 80s.  It definitely chilled off at night, but during the day it made for some perfect beach weather.  And fortunately for us, Cape Town is home to numerous beautiful beaches, including a few of which we went to like Camps Bay and Clifton Beach.  After a long week of exploring, it was nice to just sit on the beach, relax, and just take in the fact that we were on the other side of the planet [Note: Mr. Wow kept saying that we were upside down, remember he is a little weird].

 

View from our spot on Clifton Beach #4

 

Clifton has four different beaches, side by side, that are an easy walk from one to the other.  We initially set up shop on Clifton Beach #4 where we put our toes in the water and ass in the sand (any ZBB fans out there?).  It was glorious!

Then just before sunset, we decided to hop along the other 3 beaches, climbing up over large boulders and avoiding getting swept away by the waves and raising tides.  There were very few other beach goers, perhaps since it is winter in South Africa, but that was so nice to ditch the crowds and just unwind with the fantastic sunset that mother nature provided that night. 

   

One of the many amazing shots I took of the sunset that night

 

Drifter

 

Now it wouldn’t be a complete trip for us if we didn’t set foot in a local craft brewery.  Somehow we managed to find an amazing spot called Drifter.  While there, we ended up meeting the owner and his girlfriend and they were absolutely awesome.  And their beers were just as amazing.  [Note: More on the beer in my second post, which is solely dedicated to the food, drinks, and costs of or experience in South Africa.]

We had a great time trying all their beers, chatting with the owner and the head brewers, and really got a taste of what it was like to be a local since this brewery was not in a touristy area of town.  At the end of the evening, we exchanged numbers with the owner and promised to come back to this gem before we headed home to the states.

The next morning we received a text from the owner asking us if we wanted to hop on board their boat and float around the harbor.  BTW, the boat is called Drifter and it is what the brewery is named after. As the story has it, the owner’s parents built the boat and then sailed it around the world 3 times.  When the owner was born, his parents sold the boat, only for him to find it 20-30 years later in Tanzania and buy it back.  He is now revamping the boat in order to participate in the Cape to Rio boat race, sailing from South Africa to Brazil.  How cool is that?

 

The boat

 

Mr. Wow and I didn’t really have plans that day and we knew that we couldn’t pass up this opportunity so we jumped at the chance.  We met up with the owner and his girlfriend, as well as some of their friends.  The boat was docked at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, so we got to check out that place, as well as sail around the harbor for some more killer views of the Cape Town skyline, including Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront.  We also stumbled across some local penguins swimming about in the water.

 

NBD: only some penguins swimming in the water. I thought it was the coolest thing

 

 

We also got to hear firsthand from people who were born and raised in South Africa following apartheid and how it shaped their lives and still impacts them today.  Stay tuned for Mr.Wow’s coming post as he shares a few of their stories.

 

Connecting with the South African Blogging Community

 

As I have mentioned before, one of the best parts of this whole having a blog thing, is connecting with other like-minded people in the community.  Somehow months before our trip, we came across Brendan who blogs over at Take Charge of Your Money Blog.  Being that he is a local Capetownian, we decided to reach out to him in hopes to meet up at some point while we were in town.

We ended up grabbing dinner one night and had a great time chatting about his sacred investment cow, traveling, and plans for FIRE.  We had such a great time, that we ended up meeting him later in the week for a beer at a local brewery.  We absolutely loved getting to know him and hearing about FIRE in South Africa.

Have I mentioned before how much I love this community?  Who would of thought that pretty much anywhere in the world we can find someone who is also a FIRE blogger.  Oh and you should definitely check out his site, especially since he was just featured on Rockstar Finance.

Wrap-Up

 

All in all, South Africa was unreal.  We spent two glorious weeks there, staying in the same AirBnB the whole time.  Interestingly enough, many people couldn’t comprehend why we spent the whole time in Cape Town.

Person: How long are you in Cape Town?

Us: 2 weeks

Person: You going on a Safari?

Us: No

Person: Where else are you going?

Us: Nowhere

Person: You’re spending the whole time in one place?

Us: Yep!

This conversation happened numerous times throughout our trip.  I can’t even explain the faces we got when people realized we were spending the whole time in one place.

Now, two weeks in one place when compared to typical American travelers who usually only spend a few days in one spot, may sound like a lot, but we still barely scratched the surface of everything to see and do in Cape Town.   There is so much to that city and I know that we will be back.

17 Comments

  • Joel June 6, 2018 at 9:30 am

    What an awesome trip! My wifey wants to hear more about the food/drinks part. Looking forward to that when it comes out!
    Joel recently posted…Retire Early with Parkinson’s Law

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW June 6, 2018 at 9:56 pm

      Oh it was for sure! I’m sure we’ll discuss it some tomorrow night. So excited for your adventure too!

      Reply
  • Wealthy Content June 6, 2018 at 10:54 am

    So glad you guys enjoyed our country! Cape Town is really a gem, although the water is a bit scarce down there we hope it will get better soon. Looking forward to the next posts.

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW June 6, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      Cape Town was awesome! I’m bummed that we didn’t get to see more of South Africa, but I am thankful that we got to spend as much time as we did in CT. Fingers crossed the rain continues. Thanks for stopping by WC!

      Reply
  • My Sons Father June 6, 2018 at 11:08 am

    It sounds like a blast and those penguins must have been fun! Having a positive attitude while traveling makes a huge difference and I think your penguin day is the perfect example of that!
    My Sons Father recently posted…Throwback Thursday – State of the Union

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW June 6, 2018 at 9:53 pm

      They were just the best! I reckon if you can’t be positive then traveling would be rather hard, since more likely than not things will go wrong while on the road.

      Reply
  • wendy June 8, 2018 at 6:15 am

    Sounds like a very cool trip! It’s great that you were able to stay for two weeks and get a bit more of an in depth view of the city.
    Looking forward to the beer/food/money post!

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW June 11, 2018 at 5:41 am

      It was a cool trip indeed! Beer/food/money post is coming up next

      Reply
  • Mr. Tako June 11, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I’ve heard from South African friends that crime is really rampant in SA. So much so that they will never move back.

    I would be curious to hear your perspective and how safe you guys as tourists felt.
    Mr. Tako recently posted…How Much Does This Blog Make?

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW June 11, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      It is definitely a place that you want to stay alert regardless of where you are, some areas being worse than others. We actually had our ATM card stolen while we were there, but the reality is that can happen anywhere. As a woman, I didn’t feel safe walking around by myself at night, but I think Mr.Wow felt fine. One of our friends was approached by some guy with a knife asking for money, which they just started talked in Icelandic and the guy ran off. So to answer your question, there is definitely a lot of crime and some areas of the city that aren’t the best to go as a tourist. But there are also plenty of really nice areas that aren’t any more crime-ridden than the major US cities. I also believe that Johannesburg has way more crime than Capetown, but we didn’t go there so I’m not 100% sure.

      Reply
  • Ms. FI-ology June 12, 2018 at 4:02 am

    Wow, what a trip! I loved reading about Robben Island and the neighborhood of Bo-Kapp. I never tire of stories of redemption.
    Ms. FI-ology recently posted…My Experience On The Dave Ramsey Show

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW June 12, 2018 at 6:02 am

      There was definitely a lot of that in South Africa and yet still a lot of poverty and wealth disparity too. The country is still very much dealing with the aftermath of Apartheid and it is still obvious even today.

      Reply
  • FIRECracker June 13, 2018 at 9:37 am

    Wow! Cape Town looks beautiful. I especially love the penguins (they remind me of the Galapagos!). Super cool that you guys got to meet up with a fellow blogger there too. Yay for the FIRE community!
    FIRECracker recently posted…The Fuck-over-ability Index

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW June 13, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      Cape Town is beautiful!! The penguins were definitely one of the best parts of the whole trip, even with the rain and wind. You guys need to make it out there one of these days.

      Reply
  • Julian Green June 19, 2018 at 6:44 am

    Looks like an amazing trip! So glad you had fun. Sounds like it was definitely worth it to indulge. My wife wants to hear more about the food/drinks part.

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW June 19, 2018 at 5:53 pm

      It was amazing! We had a great time. I’m working on the food/drink post, got a lot of stuff to include so it might take me a minute.

      Reply

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