Cape Town is arguably one of the greatest cities on Earth. The city is fresh, vibrant, colourful and ever-changing. I genuinely do not know how anyone could bore of the Mother City.
I arrived back from Port Elizabeth late on a friday evening, so by the time saturday morning rolled around, I was unspeakably eager to get up and start exploring.
Green Elephant Backpackers – or the Green Ele as it is affectionately nicknamed – stands out as one of the best hostels Cape Town has to offer. It is cheap, the staff couldn’t be any friendlier, and the vibe is super chilled. The only (perceivable) drawback would be its location. Many travellers look for locations perfectly within the city centre to make it easier to get around, and the Green Ele is more than a little bit out of the way. But to me, that just adds to the charm. The Green Ele is located in the student filled and upcoming area of Observatory – or Obs. Located a stones throw away from the incredibly trendy Woodstock area, the development and improvement in this area is more than a little noticeable. Filled with art studios, vintage stores and more new cafes and bars than you can poke a stick at, Obs is definitely the place to be.
Furthermore, getting into the city centre is super easy, and there are a bunch of ways to do so. The easiest and cheapest is the minibus cabs. Travellers are often warned against minibus cabs, and sometimes these warnings may be for good reason. But certain routes that these cabs take are safer than others, and the route from Obs to the city is easy and safe. The cabs are cramped and filled well over capacity and it is certainly not a comfortable ride, but for around 50c-$1 per trip, it’s well worth the short lived lack of personal space.
MyCiti buses were introduced a few years back, and are safe and efficient. To get from Obs to the city with MyCiti buses requires a ten or so minute walk to the Salt River Circle stop, but it’s a pleasant walk, and the buses are quick and comfortable.
Trains are cheap as chips too, and the Woodstock station isn’t too far a walk. These trains are the best way to get to some of the best surfing beaches – like Muizenberg – which are otherwise a bit out of the way. Guidebooks will tell you to always buy a first class ticket, but I always rode in third class with absolutely no problems, I even made friends on my train journeys! Just stay aware and do not stay in compartments that are almost empty and at no point leave any bags or valuables unattended.
Lastly, Uber is huge and thriving in Cape Town. Far cheaper than cabs, safe, efficient and discounts are emailed out to subscribers semi frequently. Cabs are also an option, albeit a boring one!
On this first saturday in Cape Town, I was quick to befriend a lovely dutch girl – Hannah – staying with me in my dorm room. She had plans to meet with her friend Marit and head to the Hout Bay markets and when she invited me to tag along with them, I certainly wasn’t going to say no!
We ended up starting at the famous and ever increasingly popular Neighbourgoods Market, located in the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. It was only a ten minute walk from the Green Ele, and the weather was gorgeous.
The thing about Neighbourgoods is that it gets very crowded, very quickly. An early morning start is pretty essential for an enjoyable experience, otherwise you could easily spend your time there frustrated with how crowded it feels. We were lucky and we got there fairly early, so while it was busy, it was still quite a fun morning!
We then spent a while walking around Woodstock on our way to the train station. Woodstock is a very interesting neighbourhood in the sense that while it is full of artisan woodworking stores, fresh green juice stalls and beautiful street art, it still maintains its gritty urban vibe.
From Woodstock train station, we caught a train into the city centre, and from there we hopped on a MyCiti bus to Hout Bay. We had heard that the Hout Bay Markets were less crowded and had live music, so we were pretty keen to see how they compared to Neighbourgoods.
The Hout Bay market was wonderful! Definitely better than Neighbourgoods. Live music made for an upbeat vibe, the crowds were much more manageable and the food was amazing! We all ate so much that we all were ready for an afternoon nap after. Deep fried oreos, fresh sashimi, amazing fresh juices and the freshest seared tuna I have ever had, all made for a very happy Ellen.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring Hout Bay and its surrounds before beginning a very long bus ride back to the city. Helpful hint: any bus that goes through Clifton beach or Camps Bay will have severe delays from around 3pm onwards due to the huge amount of traffic within these popular beach areas.
It was a wonderful and relaxing way to spend the day, and the perfect way to kick off my few weeks in Cape Town.