Delights of Cape Town – travelling with children By Guest Blogger Jacqui Thomas

Delving a little deeper into the delights of Cape Town
There’s much more to Cape Town than Table Mountain, the Waterfront and a few great beaches. But to really appreciate what this wonderful city has to offer, you’ll have to stay longer than the average 2.5 days. We checked ourselves into a local “flashpackers” called The Backpack, for an extra week in Cape Town and we’re still here. For those not in the know, “flashpackers” are the new breed of backpacker hostel. They meet the needs of the worldwise traveller – ie, café, wifi, tour booking facility, money exchange, along with comfy rooms, and shared lounge, kitchen and laundry facilities. The Backpack also boasts a swimming pool, bar and restaurant, and super friendly and helpful staff. Long story short, this is aimed at the budget conscious savvy traveller, who still wants a bit of style. They also are actively involved in several community projects, warranting a big “Thumbs Up” for the Backpack from us!
So, once you’ve ticked Table Mountain and the V & A Waterfront off your Cape Town “To Do” list, here’s the next 10 Must See’s:
1. Get yourself on a tour to Robben Island. It amazes me that many Capetonians I’ve met haven’t been here. As far as I’m concerned it’s an important piece of history and a visit here is a must. The tour takes 3.5 hours and runs several times a day. Numbers are limited so it pays to book ahead. The highlight for me is a tour of the old prison with an ex-political prisoner as your guide. You’ll see the cell where Nelson Mandela spent almost 20 years of his prison sentence. Thanks goodness times have changed – but it wasn’t that long ago.
2. Take a stroll through the Company’s Gardens. Buy a bag of peanuts to feed the friendly squirrels. Here you will also find the South Africa Museum, the National Gallery and the Planetarium – all worth a visit, and with very reasonably priced entry fees.
3. Take a drive into the Winelands and sample some of the many wines on offer. The closest wineries are in Constantia Nek. These wineries can also be reached from the City Sightseeing Bus – Peninsula Tour. We visited Groot Constantia, one of the oldest wineries in the region. The wine tasting is exceptional value – R30 for 5 very generous tastes, plus you get a glass to take home! With 2 different restaurants to choose from, a cellar tour and a small museum, you can easily spend a good few hours here, and this is just one winery from literally hundreds on offer in the Cape Town region.
4. Take the train to Kalk Bay. The local railway gets a bit of a bad rep, but we took the train to Kalk Bay one public holiday and it was a great trip – cheap, safe and scenic. Have lunch at the Brass Bell and you will likely have waves crashing right onto the restaurant front windows, but that’s the charm of the place. After lunch stroll around the boutiques and arty shops before taking the train back to the city.
5. Walk up Lion’s Head. A monumental landmark in Cape Town is this hill which looks like a lion’s head. It’s a much quicker and easier walk than Table Mountain, and it still has gorgeous views. Take a picnic for the top and for an added bonus, head up late afternoon, when its full moon. Watching the sun set into the Atlantic, and then a Full Moon rising is very special indeed.
6. If it’s Saturday, head to the old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. This fantastic food market is a Cape Town institution and one of our favourite places in Cape Town. This place alone could be enough to persuade us to come and live in Cape Town – it’s our new happy place! Bring a healthy appetite and plenty of time to wander and graze.
7. Head out to Blouberg Beach and watch the kite surfers do their stuff with the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town in the background.
8. For a hidden gem that most locals don’t even know about, take a drive to Philadelphia. It’s about 20 minutes drive out of the city. If you blink you will miss it and if you get to Namibia, you’ve gone too far! It’s a tiny little town, but a nice drive in the country and you’re rewarded with a lovely little café called the Pepper Tree, along with several art studios and quirky shops and galleries.
9. Spend some time at one of the many beaches. Camps Bay is my favourite of the easily accessible ones – partly because I like to have good cafes as part of my beach experience, but it’s also a gorgeous white sandy beach. Clifton has 4 beaches which are very popular but there aren’t any cafes or shops. If you actually want more café than beach, head for the Grand Hotel Beach where you can dine in style whilst still having your toes in the sand.
10. Last but not least, and Samantha’s favourite attraction – The Scratch Patch. Africa is rich in minerals and precious stones. The Scratch Patch is a visitor’s version of a mineral mine where they show you how they cut and polish the stones. The highlight is a room full of semi precious stones where you can do your own “prospecting” and fill a bag to take home. Samantha spent hours here sorting through the treasures deciding which “gems” she would choose. The main Scratch Patch is in Simonstown, with a smaller one also at the V & A Waterfront.

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