Jo Duxbury got bitten by the travel bug early, having grown up in Cape Town, with grandparents in the UK. After spending 9 years in London – a perfect travel base and the starting point for her solo round-the-world trip in 2004 — Jo returned to Cape Town and now runs her own marketing consultancy. “Although living abroad was an incredible experience, I adore being based back in Cape Town,” she said. “I feel rather smug being a local in a spectacular city that many people spend thousands to visit.” Tag along on Jo’s adventures on Twitter @JoDuxbury and on her personal travel blog, thisiswhyitravel.com.
My City is Cape Town
The first place I take a visitor from out of town is Blouberg beach, from where you can gaze at the iconic view of Table Mountain across Table Bay. It’s always a goosebump moment for visitors – and as their host, I confess I always get a kick out of it too.
When I crave sushi I always go to Willoughby’s at the V&A Waterfront. Weirdly situated in a mall, there’s always a queue (they don’t take reservations), no matter the time of day. Ask for the 4×4 combo.
To escape from stress and crowds I head to Scarborough beach. A 50-minute drive from the city centre, this unspoilt gem is best enjoyed at sunset when you might be the only person on the shore, or on a blustery winter’s day with the wind whipping salty foam off the tops of the waves.
If I want to feel trendy I go for a stroll down Long Street. During the day, you can watch the world go by from one of its funky cafes or give your credit card some exercise in one of the many quirky clothing stores. At night, energy, music, and laughter emanate from restaurants and bars as diverse as the city’s locals.
For complete quiet, I can hide away in the shade of an old tree in the beautiful Kirstenbosch botanical gardens.
If you come to my city, get your picture taken with a dassie, if you can get close enough to one. These shy ‘rock rabbits’, whose closest relation is (bizarrely) the elephant, can sometimes be spotted sunning themselves on top of Table Mountain.
If you have to order one thing off the menu from Mzoli’s, it has to be meat, meat, and more meat. This restaurant in the township of Gugulethu is not exactly vegetarian-friendly, but it has helped introduce tourists and locals alike to an area they might usually steer clear of. Add a half-day township tour to your Mzoli’s lunch and see what life is like for the millions of people who live in the Mother City’s shanty towns.
Atlas Trading is my one-stop shop for great spices. Whatever you need, from the basics to the more unusual, you can get it at this Cape Town institution. It’s located in the colourful, historic Cape Malay area of Bo Kaap, on the edge of the city centre.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go for a walk along one of the city’s many beaches with a friend.
For a huge splurge I go to The Twelve Apostles hotel. A few kilometres beyond buzzing Camps Bay, this upmarket hotel clings to the mountainside with nothing but a two-lane road between it and the Atlantic Ocean. The Leopard Room is a colonial delight and perfect for afternoon tea or sunset cocktails. Or, for a very special, romantic dinner, book a table on the deck at Azure.
Photo ops in my city include the mountains, vineyards, and sea. The best vantage points are all over town – you’re never far from any of them.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Charlize Theron, of course. She’s a natural beauty who’s put South Africa on the map. And her initials are also ‘CT.’
The most random thing about my city is that locals will tell you that pretty much everywhere is ‘about 15 minutes away’.
My city has the most gorgeous gay men.
My city has the most attractive single women.
In my city, an active day outdoors involves anything from kite-surfing and shark-cage diving to mountain climbing, hiking, or cycling along the coastline.
My city’s best museum is Groot Constantia, the oldest wine farm in the country. Once you’ve had your dose of colonial history in the beautifully restored Cape Dutch homestead, it’d be rude not to taste the estate’s wines…
My favorite jogging/walking route is the Sea Point promenade, at dawn or dusk. Perfect for people-watching and the cool, salty air offers welcome relief from the summer heat.
For a night of dancing, go to Deco Dance, particularly if you’re a fan of the 80s and 90s. Or, for live music, check out The Assembly and any of the bars on Long Street. Better still, pack a picnic hamper and enjoy one of the summer sunset concerts on the lawns at Kirstenbosch.
The Engen garage in Gardens (known locally as Club Engen) is the spot for late-night eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read CapeTownMagazine.com.
You can tell a lot about my city from the way you’re greeted by people – we’re warm, friendly, curious and welcoming.
You can tell if someone is from my city if the directions they give you refer to natural landmarks. Everything in Cape Town is relative to “the mountain.”
In the spring you shouldtake a day trip up the West Coast to see the spectacular carpets of spring flowers.
In the summer you should take a drive around the Peninsula with your car windows rolled down so you can smell the fynbos.
In the winter you should be sure to take advantage of the fantastic restaurant specials. 1kg of prawns for ZAR99, anyone?
- Nat Geo Expeditions
For a great breakfast joint try Miss K in Green Point. The fluffy ricotta cakes with banana, yoghurt, and maple syrup are heaven on a plate.
Don’t miss the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in late March. Capetonians love their music, and this two-day event boasts top local and international talent.
Just outside my city, you can visit around 100 wine farms. A day out in the winelands usually means good wine, good food, and beautiful scenery. Just be sure to assign a designated driver!
The best way to see my city is to adopt “African time,” and take it all in at a relaxed pace.
If my city were a pet it would be napping in the sun a lot of the time. People from high-paced Johannesburg refer to it as Slaapstad (“Sleep Town” – a play on “Kaapstad,” Cape Town in Afrikaans).
If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live out of a backpack as I traveled the world.
The best book about my city is Moxyland by award-winning writer Lauren Beukes. It’s set in a futuristic, alternate Cape Town.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is the amazing local band Goldfish’s “Soundtracks and comebacks.” The line “No matter how much you wanna leave you’re gonna come back!” always reminds me of how much I missed Cape Town when I was living in the UK.
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Being able to buy mobile phone chargers, refuse bags, coat hangers, world maps and beaded wire decorations at traffic lights is something that could only happen in my city.
My city should be featured on your cover or website because our mountain is one of the new seven wonders of the world. And we love visitors!