So much had been written about the Irish holidaying and investing in South Africa we’re nearing saturation point, but each time I come home from a visit to Cape Town, I feel compelled to tell everyone about this beautiful, fashionable, cultural paradise.
My most recent trip to Cape Town was a working holiday - shooting fashion editorials for Irish Talter and an ad campaign for a leading department store. Film and photography work make up a substantial part of Cape Town’s booming industry. Capetonians are so acclimatised to cameras flashing and lighting crews on their beaches, that they hardly noticed us working for two weeks on their sandy shores. Everywhere you go, there are model agencies, production companies, lighting hire companies and beautiful people all eager to work. Cape Town has everything needed for a perfect shoot - an abundance of sunshine, beautiful beaches, a choice of two oceans -(The Atlantic and Indian are only 30 minutes drive apart) and one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world (Table mountain and the Twelve Apostles) .
Most of the worlds models who fancy a working holiday, travel to Cape Town during Fashion season ( January to March). We organised our shoot at the right time and had a staggering choice of models from South Africa, Israel, Spain, American, England, Scotland and Brazil!
I found Cape Town full of fashionable places to stay and ultra cool places to eat. For part of my stay, I bedded down at The Twelve Apostles hotel; five minutes drive past Camps Bay’s shops. Built into the mountain, with a view stretching to the Waterfront, it is the most spectacularly located hotel in Cape Town. I chose a mountain view room and spend my time lounging by the heated rock pools and enjoying a Clarins facial in their adjoining spa. Sanctuary Spa passes as one of the most magical places I’ve been to. Its colourful mood lighting reflects in the heated jet pool and rock carved flotation tank. The pools and treatment rooms are all linked together by a little foot bridge built into the mountainside. This hotel is worth visiting even if you don’t stay there. Just have a drink at The Leopard Room bar and watch the sunset. You wont find a better viewpoint for it.
After a luxury weekend in The Twelve Apostles I headed more affordable option in Seapoint This is a vibrant authentic, multi cultural area with lots of shops and cafes close to Waterfront and city centre. I stayed at the Planet Africa Lodge, which is a beautiful African style hostel, hotel and apartment accommodation combo. With it’s own information centre, swimming pool, bar and restaurant it really was a haven of calm and security in an otherwise bustling community.
I never tire of going out to top restaurants and ordering great sole on the bone or cray fish for about E10 per person! Its so refreshing to get pure value for money and leave Dublin’s overpriced restaurant culture behind. Madame Zingaras is a must for any travelling fashionista. Everything about this bohemian den of BoHo chic is flamboyant and camp, including the menu! I ordered Chocolate chilli beef fillet and received a spectacular a chunk of tender beef, smothered in a dark, rich unsweetened Belgium chocolate sauce. Half way through my meal, a frantic wave swept the restaurant as the zealous waiters prompted the diners (no exceptions) to don the ridiculous antique hats from the walls of the restaurant! One of the greatest social levellers (after Karaoke) I’ve ever experienced!
ShoppingFor a city as fashion conscious as Cape Town, with beautiful people lounging in every club and bar and strutting on every beach, I found it surprisingly void of fashionable boutiques. Surf and street styles dominate the new and ultra modern shopping centres like Century City and The Waterfront. Kloof St. in the city centre, is a chic area for a stroll with great kitsch furniture stores like Eddie Zoom and Kitsch Boutique, but again, sadly lacking in high fashion or designer clothes. Long Street, the main street of the city is dotted with little boutiques and antique stores but nothing to get excited about!. Long Street is best visited at night where it comes alive with unlimited choice of bars and clubs.
I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful Irish beau called Ed Finn who lives in Cape Town, running his tour company Planet Africa Adventures www.planetafricaadventures.com A young entrepreneur, he really is the one to know when you arrive in Cape Town. He organises everything from safaris to trips on the Rovos Rail, classed as the world's most luxurious train www.rovos.com
I availed of his good nature and got him to organise a small safari trip for me and although most Big Five safaris are a plane trip away, he managed to find Aquila private game reserve only 90 min drive from the city centre allows you to experience the essence of safari and still be home in time for dinner!
Aquila also has a horseback safari so I booked overnight in one of their cottages to avail of this special combination. This was my first Safari and I found Aquila unbeatable. A shuttle picked me up from my hotel and within two hours I was saddling up my horse Spirit for a trek through the plains of karoo. I couldn’t believe how close we were allowed get to these great animals including Lions, Zebra, Giraffe, rhinos and antelope. (The park will introduce elephants in June 04.) It costs about E100 for a day trip and an extra E100 for an overnighter. Stay overnight!!! My chalet was pure luxury with a healthy mini bar and huge outdoor hot tub. The views were unparallel and the policy of no phone or TV made it even more special.
I fitted in another gallop on Spirit the next day and was home in Seapoint in time for Dinner.
On my last night, my NBF Ed brought me out for dinner with his NBF Conrad Gallagher. They became buddies while setting up a luxury culinary tour for Ed’s company. It’s a special 10 night Gourmet Epicurean Tour to Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Zimbali Lodge near Durban. (details below)
We dined in the newest, coolest spot in the Cape Quarter called Tank, then headed for a new champagne and caviar bar off Long Street called Sobeit. It’s an elaborate Russian themed bar with spectacular décor, including a glass coffin containing a life size corps of Lenin set into the floor. After a few hefty cocktails we went on to Rhodes House, a very beautiful and very chic club, ideal for anyone who likes stylish décor, gorgeous people and funky lounge music.
Personally, I loved the vibrancy and ethnic mix of Seapoint and although you must take care wherever you go in Cape Town, the tales of high crime and violence are often exaggerated. Street cameras have been installed in many areas and a new police force dealing specifically with crime in the city has dramatically reduced the crime rate.
Sara Colohan travelled with Slatterys who fly direct from Dublin to CapeTown.
www. slatterys.com or by call 066-7186230 (RoI) and call-save 0845 300 4309 (NI), or contact your travel agent.
Must Do List:
Aquila Private game reserve & Safari
0027 (0)21 405 4513
Theatre performance @
Maynardville open air theatre in Wynberg
Outstanding Shakespeare productions.
0027 (0) 21 410 9800
Lunch at Moye @ Spier wine farm
Drinks at sunset in The Leopard Room, Twelve Apostles Hotel
How2Help, A Guide to Worthy Causes in Cape Town, Tracey Young (Aardvark publishing)
Written especially for people disturbed by the poverty in Cape Town and eager to help genuine projects. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgWeb: http://www.africanvoices.co.za
Places to eat:
Madame Zingaras192 Loop St
Ph 0027 (0)21 4426 2458
Ph 0027 (0)21 438 2040
Planet Africa Adventures, Tel +27 21 9795663 Fax +27 21 9757928 - email
incoming travel company that specialises in booking all your travel requirements From May 2004, they will also be offering special 10 night Gourmet Epicurean Tours to Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Zimbali Lodge near Durban. For the Big 5 experience they also offer a variety of luxury game reserves.
Tried and tested Places to stay:
The Twelve Apostles
PH + 27 (0) 21 437 9055
Room Rate approx E380 euro per person
Planet Africa Lodge
17 Kei Apple
Ph +27 (0) 21434 2151
E mail: email@example.com
Approx E55 per Double Room
242 High Level Rd
Sylvia Katz+27 21 434 1879 (Tel)e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Approx E25 per room
Sobeit, Longmarket Street, Cape Town
Marvel, Long Street (casual, NY style great music)
Ivory Room, Loop St ( posh, house music bar)
60 Queen Victoria St, Gardens, Cape Town
Upstairs @ Mama Africa s (traditional music) 178 Long St, Cape Town