I’ve just returned from a glorious week of traveling around the Western Cape. I was completely off the grid for much of the trip, with no cell phone coverage or email access. I must say, it was rather enjoyable. But I’m happy to be back in sunny Jozi, just in time for peak jacaranda season.
I haven’t even unpacked or sorted through the dozens of unread messages in my inbox. So I’m not ready to delve into the real meat of my journey just yet. Before I do that, here are some shots of Cape Town’s beautiful Bo-Kaap neighborhood, where I stayed for a couple of days before venturing out into the wilderness.
Formerly known as the Cape Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap is the historic home of descendants of Asian slaves brought by the Dutch from Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and other parts of Asia and Africa. The neighborhood has undergone serious gentrification since apartheid ended, but has maintained a visual and cultural character unlike any place I’ve ever been. It’s still a bit edgy, as well. I wouldn’t walk around alone after dark.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out the history of the brightly painted houses in Bo-Kaap. Here’s some interesting background on Bo-Kaap’s unique architecture, but my Google searches on color, which I found to be the most striking aspect of the houses, came up empty. Of course I could have asked someone, or visited the Bo-Kaap Museum on Wale Street. But that would be far too easy. Perhaps one of my readers can fill us in.
Bo-Kaap is the center of Cape Town’s Islamic community, which means visitors get to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to the Muslim call to prayer. I personally loved this.
Teenagers trickle out of one of Bo-Kaap’s mosques, ironically positioned on Church Street. The white mosque, and the kids’ white and block clothing, are an interesting contrast to the colorful houses.
We stayed at a charming B&B called La Rose, owned by a charming Frenchman named Yoann. La Rose is a perfect place to spend the weekend — lovely and quaint, well priced for Cape Town, free parking, close to everything, and breakfast to die for. (Get the poached eggs and try the bran muffins. They are divine. My friend Michelle almost shed tears one morning when she discovered there were no bran muffins that day. Be sure to request them the night before.)
Rates change by season and vary by room, but I paid R600 (about $80) per night.
My room boasted a spectacular shower head and a view of Table Mountain on a clear day. It was a bit noisy though, due to proximity to the street and the dining area. If you’re a light sleeper, ask Yoann for a room upstairs.
In addition to being quaint and fascinating and beautiful, Bo-Kaap is extremely convenient. It’s a five-minute walk to the restaurants and bars on Long Street and about a 20-minute walk to the Waterfront. La Rose is on Rose Street, which is right off of Strand Street, one of the main drags in and out of town.
When I visit a city more than once, I usually like to try out different places each time. Last time I was in Cape Town I stayed in Tamboerskloof, which is also quite nice. But after my stay in Bo-Kaap, I can’t imagine staying anywhere else in Cape Town. It’s too perfect.
It’s great to be blogging again. I promise to catch up on everyone else’s blogs in due time.